March Photo Challenge: Day 8: Windows

There is nothing like windows in The Netherlands. They open different from American one's and people are in the habit of leaving their curtains open. Part of the fun for me walking around is taking a look in and seeing how people decorate and live their lives here. It's pretty awesome. 



March Photo Challenge: Day 7: Something That I Wore

"What do you mean, you are bringing 12 pairs of shoes?" Loek said, when I told him what I was packing to bring to live in The Netherlands. 

" What do you mean, you are only bringing 12 pairs of shoes" My American friends would ask. 

Honestly, compared to most girls I know, 12 seemed like a small number. I wasn't sure what Loek was complaining about. But now that I live in the reality that is my life in The Netherlands, I do feel a bit silly about the 15 pairs of shoes that eventually made it into my suitcases. You see, I've worn the same shoes almost everyday this winter. My flat, pleater, combat boots. There is a perfectly logically explanation for this: Its cold here, people don't pick up after their dogs, it rains, like all the time! They are comfy, and I walk all the time. I can't walk in heels in the best circumstances, and there are cobblestones here. See, there are in fact several reasons! 

When it gets slightly warmer, I will try to wear my favorite brand of shoes, TOMS again. They are the most comfortable shoes in the world. But they are made out of canvas, so alas, I will only be wearing them on days that I check the weather forecast. If you don't like the look of traditional Toms, they just came out with a line of ballet flats for the Spring. I've owned 7 pairs of Toms and I am uber excited about this. So if anyone wants to supply me with a pair, size 7.5. I will love you forever. 

For those of you wondering, I am planning on going through my shoes. We have no shoe storage and some I will probably never wear with my new lifestyle. I do really need a pair of sneakers. Yep, you read that right. 15 pairs of shoes and none to exercise in! 

If you are coming to visit The NL, I suggest you invest in some good, waterproof walking shoes. 



March Photo Challenge: Day 6: 5PM

It was a relatively nice day here today. The air was brisk but not unbearable. It was cloudy but the sun was out. And, the days have been getting longer for awhile now so that means that there is still plenty of sunlight out at 5pm. Which is why, I decided to take to the roof for my Nederlands lesson today. Since Loek and I live on the ground floor, we are not lucky enough to have a marvelous balcony to call our own. But, we do have access to our roof and this summer, that will be where you can find me. You know, on the like, 15 days it is not raining! I might even try to get a tan. Those of you who actually know me will know how funny this is. I got sunburned last year in April at the Keukenhof. I was even wearing sunscreen! But today was perfect for some studying up there.

I have become extremely diligent in my learning of Nederlands in the last two weeks. The language is Nederlands, not Dutch. Dutch is what foreigners called it because they got it confused with Duits.  I digress, after months of sparse attempts to learn and not wanting to turn into an expat who can’t communicate with the people who’s country she has invaded in their native tongue. I decided it was time to get serious. ( No offense to the expats who don’t feel the need to learn Nederlands, that is just not how I roll and I plan on being here for the long run.) Since my job feel through and we don’t have money for lessons, I have been treating learning Nederlands as my full-time job. Currently I am using The Rosetta Stone and Klare Taal in De Klas, a student’s grammar guide.


I actually really like Klare Taal in de Klas. Everything is in Nederlands, but since it is for school kids I can understand it. It does a really good job of explaining grammar and has exercises that I make Loek check. I realize that I can only get so far being my own teacher. Here in The Netherlands, they have a program called Inburgering. Basically, there are a lot of tests you have to take, a year’s worth of intense classes before those tests, that you have to take if you are a non- EU resident. Most people dread this like it is the black plague. You can either wait to be called or you can volunteer to start. Guess which one I did? Just waiting to hear back for my interview. Yes, I know I am crazy.

What are some of the most effective ways to learn a language you have in your arsenal?


March Photo Challenge: Day 5: Smile

“ Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they are always there”.  Old Saying

Look at those girls up there. Those are my soul-mates.

My cousin Ashley ( the blonde in the black shirt) who I have known my entire life, growing up we would spend our entire summer’s together. She married her high school sweetheart, and a year ago this month gave birth to my Godson! My best friends Hayley (red shirt) and Christy (white shirt dark hair) who I met in 6th grade. Growing up we spent more time in each others homes than our own. These are the sisters I got to choose. My other sister I got to choose is my cousin Alice, but she is not pictured.

I remember this particular day, like it was yesterday. It was over 10 years ago. It was at the last ever concert for Marvelous 3 before they broke up. Marvelous 3 was a great local Atlanta band, who’s lead singer was Butch Walker. It was the first concert we all got to go to without our parents. A few of us got fake tattoos, and a few of us flirted with boys. But the important thing was that we got to say goodbye to one of our collected favorite bands, together.

Since this moment captured in time, our lives have all changed. Three of us are married (hint, its not me yet), two of us have babies. We all live in different places, although coincidentally enough for at least a few months all three of them are going to live in South Georgia. We no longer have the same taste in music, but we still have our friendship. No matter how far away on of us might choose to move. And we always will.

Here is the song the Marvelous 3 is probably most famous for. They broke up because their record contract was ruining their friendship.

This is one of my favorite songs by M3, it is sung here by Butch Walker. I couldn’t find a good enough recording of it live from M3. And before you start, why yes, that does sound a lot like the Mott the Hopple, David Bowie written song all the young dudes. Mr. Bowie is listed as co-singwriter on the album.

I think that each of us has a band that takes us back to our formative years. For me it is M3 and Butch Walker. Who is it for you?



March Photo Challenge: Day 4: Bedside

Today's challenge is bedside, We don't have a bedside table, but we do have the coolest headboard with built-in shelves. This is what lies on top. It is my jewelry box, the book I am currently reading, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, the book Loek is currently reading, the Dutch version of The Diary of Anne Frank (the language it was written in), and my kindle.
The jewelry box is one of my most prized possessions. You might recall from my post about the Utrecht Soepbus, that I haven't seen or heard from my father in many years. This jewelry box is one of the two things I have that he gave to my mother.


March Photo Challenge: Day 3: My Neighborhood!

Leidsche Rijn

As I have said before, Loek and I live in a little suburb outside of the City Center of Utrecht called Leidsche Rijn. A relatively new neighborhood, it is nevertheless ripe with history and artifacts. Leidsche Rijn itself has at least three distinctive neighborhoods, and where Loek and I live is right in the middle. For this challenge, I chose to use a neighborhood of Leidsche Rijn called Parkwijk. Mostly because it is my favorite!  

De Grauwaert:

De Grauwaert, Leidsche Rijn

De Grauwaert, Leidsche Rijn


The Netherlands loves its parks and Leidsche Rijn is no different. Off the top of my head, I can think of six parks or playgrounds that are within a eight minute walk from my apartment. Above is De Grauwaert, one of the coolest parks near my home.

Translated, the sign roughly says: In Leidsche Rijn lies a large amount of archeological monuments protected by law. One of those is Park Grauwaert where lies the remains of a small castle-island and a front terrain surrounded by canals.

The Grauwaert must have been special in the late middle ages, from how the complex was shown on old maps. On the map of Specht from 1696 you can see that the castle was in a corner of the Old Rijn. When the buildings were demolished is unknown, but the castle doesn't appear on maps from after 1800.
The results from both archeological research and the information of historical maps have inspired the designers of Park Grauwaert. In the design all the characteristic elements of the Grauwaert are found back: the island, the Old Rijn, and the surrounded by channels front terrain. 
You might remember from a previous post, this is why I am convinced our apartment is haunted
This is also part of the Grauwaert. I have seen more of these scattered throughout the countryside here. I really need to look up more about them! The building on the right is my local branch of the library!
swan, leidsche rijn
Today, I got to see this guy fly over my apartment to this park. It was a beautiful sight, but he made me sad because he was all alone! Swans are everywhere here and they still haven't lost their majestic loveliness to me. 
Leidsche Rijn College
This is Leidsche Rijn College, think high school if you are American. I included it in my neighborhood tour because its students are everywhere, all the time. I call them the delinquents because when school ends, they wont let you get off the bus. They swarm at all exits trying to sneak on. It is the only time most weeks where I want to yell at a Dutch person. 
The road to the City Center. You have to go past the concert hall and over the yellow bridge. 
The streets here all have theme names. Every street connected to the main road have spice/ herb names, another main street has all its connecting streets named after butterflies. It is a pretty cool little tie in. Can you guess what this street name translates too? 
Thanks for allowing me to show you a little bit about my new neighborhood. What do you like most about the neighborhood you call home? Remember, it is not too late to join March Photo Challenge from Fat Mum Slim


March Photo Challenge: Day 1: Up!

Koninklijk Palais Amsterdam, Royal Palace Amsterdam

Last month, I had so much fun checking fellow expat blog Lily Wanderlust's post for fatmumslim's February photo challenge that I felt the need to join for March! Today's challenge was the word up. So, here is one of my favorite photo's looking up. These are the unicorns that adorn the  Koninklijk Paleis, on the Dam Square in Amsterdam. This beautiful building was commissioned to be built in 1648 and was the palace of Louis Napoleon, and William of Orange. Koninklijk Paleis translates to Royal Palace. 



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