This Week In Instagram

I admit it, I have utterly failed in keeping up with the FATMUMSLIM photo challenge. But I have still been taking photo's. So, I thought I would post them on Sunday's from now on. It's my week in Instagram!

The only photo I remembered to take from the Photo Challenge, something I am grateful for!

I passed this in Utrecht, it is a hat seller and a shoe seller that decided to hang their products on telephone wires. This doesn't inspire me to buy their products.

While waiting for my friend Amanda, I ordered a Hoegaarden Rosebier. It is one of my favorite's, raspberry flavored and pink! 




Springtime on the Canals

One of the things that I wasn't expecting to love about The Netherlands is all the canals. I, unfortunately have a deep seated fear of boats. I blame my mother, although when I was a teen I was more adventurous. Basically, there was an incident when I was about seven in which my canoe was capsized in alligator infested water,then I sunk at jetski when I was 15 or so, and I am named after my mother's childhood friend who died in a boating accident. All these things combined together is traumatizing! Needless to say, I tend to avoid situations what require me to be on a boat. But, here in Holland, there are canals everywhere,  some people even make their homes on houseboats. I have to admit, seeing kids kayaking in the canals by my house when they get out of school, does look pretty cool. Maybe this is one phobia I will have to get over. 

Anyway, here in Utrecht, we have a bi-level canal that runs through the center of the city. (The Oudegracht) Lately, it seems like almost every time I come to the Center, there is some sort of performance by boat in the canal. Yesterday, I met my friend Gabby from Holland Daze to help her out with her Master's thesis. (She is still looking for a few volunteers to help out here in The Netherlands, so if you have any spare time, it would be cool if you could help her too) We met at the Coffee Company and I had a super yummy Frozen White Mocha. After we left, we decided to walk around a little bit. I noticed some fire boatsin the canal and had just wondered aloud what was going on, when a band started to play. I don't know why, but for some reason performance by boat in the middle of The Oudegracht reminds me of how special it is that I get to live in Europe and experience things like this regularly. Hopefully there will be more performances this summer! 



Week One of Photo Challenge for April, Plus What Happened Here This Week

I'm participating in the Fat Mum Slim Photo Challenge for April. Each Sunday I will share the photos I took. 

Day One: Reflection

Day Two: Color!

Day Three: Mail


Day Four: Someone (something )that makes me happy!

Day Five: Tiny

Day Six : Lunch, I forgot!

Day Seven: Reflection 


Day Eight: Inside my wallet

It was a pretty exciting week! How was yours? 











11 Things I Love about My New Home After 6 Months.


I can't believe I have lived here for half a year! It feels like just yesterday and years ago, that I was waiting with Atticus at Hartsfield International to board our flight to take us to our new home. I'm still having the time of my life, but being an expat is not all dinner parties with diplomats and trips around the continent. It is real life, just on the other side of the world. With that in mind, here is my list of 11 things I still love about The Netherlands after living here 6 months. This list is going to be different than my things I love after 3 months, although all those things still apply. In no particular order: 

1. The lack of dubbing: The Netherlands, unlike most countries, does not dub films and shows into its native tongue (unless the show is designed for little children) This is amazing, it means that I can go to a movie here and hear Woody Harrelson's voice when he's playing Haymitch. (Hunger Games again, I know!) It also means that I can watch American and English shows and read the subtitles to try and pick up basic words and sentence structure of Nederlands.  

2. Inburgering, yes I know, I said no more posts about this for awhile! But, I think it is really cool that the government will pay for me to learn the language of the country I now live in. 

3. The Bibliotheek: With branches spread throughout the Gemeente, thousands of DVD's to borrow, hundreds of English books, and tens of thousands of Dutch titles, all for 40 euros a year. What's not to love? I am at one branch or another at least once a week. More about this in another post.

The Central Branch

4. Speculoos Spread: Cookie spread that I am obsessed with and it is all Lily's fault! Seriously though, this stuff is ground up cookies combined with oil and made into a spread roughly the consistency of peanut butter. It's magical! 

5. The Cheese Mongers: In a country known for its cheese, Gouda is actually a city here, you don't have to look far to find people who's whole shops or stands are devoted to cheese! These are also the places I can find cheddar the easiest. In Utrecht, we have a Farmer's Market every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, there are normally at least 5 different cheese stalls set up.

6. The fish stalls: Available at the pre-mentioned markets and spread through out the cities here, these are stands were you can buy both cooked and uncooked fresh fish. Where the Dutch can get their haring! I prefer kibbling. Tiny pieces of deep fried fish, it is sooo amazingly good!

The markets are even active in the snow

7. The cheap booze: Go on call me a lush, but the booze prices here are incredible. You can get beer for under a Euro in a grocery store, a six pack for under five. Perfectly good wine for 2.50. And it is cheaper to order a beer in a restaurant than a coke!

8. Ontbijtspek, dutch bacon: For those of you who know me well, know that I don't like most products that come from a pig. I accidentally tasted bacon a few years ago and became hooked! The dutch version is much saltier than it's american cousin. For a person who prefers boiled peanuts to cake, this is heavenly.

9. Free Education: Tuition here is on average around 1770 Euros per year. In the US, it is more than that each semester. Add that to student grants and travel cards that you can get here if you are under 30 and that you can pay most schools in installments and the Dutch can go for basically nothing. Of course, you do have to pay living expenses, so you might have to get a loan. But trust me, it is nothing compared to the amount of debt the typical american student acquires. 

10. It is totally acceptable to not have your shit together in your 20's: In the States, we put so much pressure on ourselves to finish University as soon as possible and start on our career. It seems more acceptable here to not rush yourself when you are young. People also aren't having babies or getting married nearly as young. I would say that about 1/2 of my friends are married and 1/3 have a kid. The Verlo is five years older than me and I would say less than 1% of his friends are married or have babies. There is no rush here. 

11. I have friends! After 6 months, I can finally say that I now have more than one friend that lives here, I have a few! Friends go a long way towards making a place feel like home! 

What do you love about where you live? 


The End of March Photo Challenge, What I've Learned, and What I Will be Doing Different in April

We are finally at the end of March. Which means that,  I have blogged every single day this month! During the process, I saw my blog traffic increase drastically, as well as the amount of interaction from you guys! It has been really fun to challenge myself to try and make all the photos somehow relate to my life as an expat. It spurred all sorts of "oh yeah, I should blog about this" moments. But, it also limited some of the topics that I wanted to talk about this month, because I didn't want to over post. I am also going to continue my daily blogging, but now about the topics I choose. So much is about to happen and I want to keep you guys in the loop!

I am still planning on participating daily in the April Photo Challenge from Fat Mum Slim, but I am going to make them all instagram photos and post them on twitter and facebook daily. I think every Sunday I will take the photos from the week and have a post on here. If a topic really resonates with the expat experience then I will go into more details and turn it into its very own post. 

So, without any further ado,  today's topic. Where I Relax

I decided to pick a picture of Utrecht. Even though I have only lived here 6 months and I don't speak Dutch very well yet, Utrecht feels like home to me. I love it here, and have no plans of reverting to my nomadic lifestyle. The Verlo-and I will probably stay in our apartment for at least the next four years. This is a huge step for someone who has moved eleven times since they turned 19. For those of you keeping track, that means I've changed homes on average every 6 months. But not anymore, I'm putting down some roots. 

Where feels like home to you? Let me know below! 

Don't forget to follow me on twitter


Kijken, Kijken, Kopen!

Culturele Zondag

Yesterday was Cultural Sunday here in Utrecht. This time it was dubbed "Kijken, Kijken, Kopen" or Look, Look, Buy. I'll confess, I hadn't much paid attention to the signs around town for it, only enough to note that stores in the Center would be open. (This doesn't happen every weekend). Since it was such a lovely day the verlo- and I decided to go look around.  

I needed to go because it is a certain Dutchman's birthday today and I needed to get him a present. So, for a little while we separated. Most of the stores were having some awesome sales! On my way back to our meeting point, the largest crowd I have ever seen in Utrecht was in front of Winkel van Sinkel and suddenly there was a glorious sound of Opera. Performers from De Utrechtse Spelen preformed songs from Orfeo ed Euridice from a boat in the canal. It was beautiful, but I had no idea what was going on until I looked it up today. 

After the performance we went to check out a book store I had never been to, De Slegte. After exploring their extensive art collection, we walked downstairs to leave. But were interrupted by a a group of three actors from the Aluin Theatre Co. They performed 3 scenes from some of my favorite Shakespeare plays: Othello, Macbeth and Julius Caesar. The whole thing was done entirely in Nederlands. The actors were superb and I was able to follow along because well, I have read all these plays. I was surprised that they even translated the famous latin line "et tu, Brute?" into Dutch. I noticed also that before each scene there was a tremendous amount of explaining the plot. I asked about this later and apparently Shakespeare is not required school reading for all schools here!?!  I mean, I know he is English but he is also one of the greatest playwrights the world has even known. Once I got over my shock, I managed to ask what is actually required reading here in school because The Verlo- never had to read Anne Frank or Shakespeare! Maybe, I can understand Shakespeare, but Anne Frank? Her diary was written in Dutch and she was in hiding in Amsterdam! Does anyone else find this odd?

Anyway, literary tangent aside it was a lovely day to spend in the Center. If the point of this showcase was to get people interested to go to the theatres, I think it worked. I for one now know that we have great acting here in Utrecht. 

What unexpected thing happened to you this weekend? 



March Photo Challenge: Day 25: Breakfast

*Disclaimer, this is not the breakfast I had today, this is actually the breakfast I had the first time I visited Den Haag (The Hague). I was by myself and had to get some papers legalized. So, I stopped by this little cafe and got all this for less than 3 Euros. Isn't the decor cute? 

I am not a big breakfast eater. Mornings for me are typically a pot of french-pressed coffee. On the weekends though, we try to do a nice brunch. Today, I had mini-baguettes with goat cheese and honey. I can tell a difference in the season just by the fact that I am eating a lot lighter! Maybe next weekend we will do some fresh fruit and slagroom (whipped cream) 

Any expats out there notice a huge change in their eating habits? 


  • Day 19 of the March Photo Challenge, I showed the worst picture of me EVER taken!
  • Day 20, was all about the cuteness that is my cat.
  • Day 21, I posted my meatloaf. I'm making it again for the verlos- birthday so maybe you will get the recipe next week
  • Day 23, oops I skipped a day! Was about the moon! Or, I got all sentimental! 
  • Day 24, seagulls, they are everywhere! 





March Photo Challenge: Day 18: Corner of My Home

I never want to hear my American friends complain about their limited closet space again! This is my closet, it is less than than a meter wide. It does have some drawers which did not make it into the picture. I have to switch out clothes with the season.

One of my big regrets is how many clothes I actually brought with me. A lot of them have no place in my new life and I find myself wearing a bunch of the same things over and over again. It could just be that it is winter. I'm not sure, I am going to give it another season before I completely clean house. I felt the need to bring a lot of clothes with me because clothes are much more expensive here in Europe, however, people here also dress differently. I wonder how long it will take me to start blending in and dressing like a chic European lady?


  • Day 12 of the March Photo Challenge. I talked about what a cool maze Utrecht is.
  • Day 13, I talked about how the Dutch ignore no parking of bikes signs. 
  • Day 14, I took some pretty rad pictures of clouds all around The Netherlands
  • Day 15, was all about how much I don't miss having a car! 
  • Day 16, I'm missing football! 
  • Day 17, The Keukenhof! 





Lapjesmarkt or Fabric Market

Yesterday, I finally made my way to the Center for Utrecht's Saturday Lapjesmarkt or Fabric Market. This market is on Breedstraat, located near the Neude and has been going on for over 400 years. You read that correctly, there is a market in my new town that has been going on longer than my home country has been a country! The first market took place in 1597 and was a semiannual event. Today, the market is every Saturday from 8:00 to 13:00. That's right, I actually tell time like that now. 

Utrecht's Lapjesmarkt, Fabric Market

This is canvas, how cool is that! 


Utrecht Fabric Market


With a setting like this, it is easy to picture yourself back in the Renaissance. 




You can get anything from terrycloth to tulle!


Utrecht Fabric Market

Utrecht Fabric Market

Seriously, how incredible are these colors!



It was an incredible way to spend a gorgeous morning in Utrecht. The prices were really competitive too and it made it even harder to not try to make a case for that sewing machine I want! 

Open air markets are a great part of living in Europe, which one's are your favorites? 


Saying Yes, New Friends, and a Video of Me!

Something that no amount of preparation is going to get you ready for is just how lonely your first months as an expat will be. With a language barrier and no built in way to make friends, it takes some serious effort to get over the “expat blues” .

That being said, I am a big fan of taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. After all, you never know what path will lead you where and the adventures you will have along the way. Recently, I was contacted by three groups of students studying journalism here in Utrecht. They had a class project and needed to interview an American living in Holland. I said yes to all three groups, but since two of them were in the same class, I could only help out two of the groups.

The first ones up were Sandy and Eefje. We met at 10am at Starbucks to discuss what kind of questions they would ask. At first, I was really nervous, what if they thought I was a dud?!? Luckily, both girls were super friendly and put me right at ease. We covered a lot of topics, anything from what I was doing in The Netherlands, to if I was keeping up with American politics. They even got a shot of me trying some haring. (I ordered it correctly in Nederlands, thank you very much). Unfortunately, I didn’t think to have them document the moment for my camera. We then walked all around the city, doing lots of shots of yours truly. It made me feel like a movie star and I think we all had fun.

I met group two Tuesday at the library. I had an equally amazing time with Robert and Marije. Again, I got to talk about myself, my impressions of The Netherlands, and American Politics. We got to hangout in the library and walk around Utrecht. I even got to see some parts of the city I don’t normally wander to in my weekly strolls. I also got to check out a cute cafe that gave out chocolate chip cookies with your coffee! *you get cookies most of the time when you order a coffee from a dutch shop, they are just not normally chocolate chip! Also, I didn’t take a picture of them, I am a failure of a blogger!

So, what did I gain from this experience? Besides, being able to be more candid about my political views. I have very strong opinions, but typically don’t express them because, you are going to vote for who you want and I will vote for who I want, you aren’t going to change my mind and I won’t change yours. Hopefully, I convinced them that most people in the USA are embarrassed by Rick Santorum’s blatant lies. I got to meet four people from my new country who are around my age and who seemed to like me too. Both experiences were some of the best days I have had here in Utrecht, and I think i can with confidence say I am on my way to making four new friends!

Long story short, if someone seeks you out to do something. DO IT, you will probably have fun! Below is the first groups video, group two hasn't shown their's to their class yet. Also, how epic is the guy's mustache in the back of the top photo? 




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