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Are You There Blog? It's Me Kaitlin

Oh my dears, I have missed you so much! I now know why people schedule guest posts when they travel, it is just too darn hard to find the time to post when you are not home. There is so much I want to tell you! I feel like my I've been going non-stop for the last month. I have some big things on the horizon like posting more regularly and finding my blogging passion again. I mean, I have to tell you guys about the States right?

I love you guys for sticking around, and if you are new, welcome I do actually post here. 

What have I missed in your lives? 

P.S Don't you guys love my hat, I stole it from my Nana. 

 

Until next time!

 

 

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28 Things Before I'm 28!

Hello Lovelies,

I hope you are all having a wonderful day! Today, I turn 27.  This year, I really thought hard about my list of things I want to accomplish before this time next year. I think I did so horribly last year on my list because I didn't make a plan for how to achieve them. This year, theses are being printed out and posted. No more out of sight out of mind. Here goes the list!

  1. Learn Dutch: This is my number one priority this year. I know, I say this every year, but this year there will be no other distractions. 
  2. Learn to Sew: I really really want to learn to sew. Really really! Someone teach me please?
  3. Ride my Bike to Work: My new job participates in the National Bike Program, which means that I can get a brand new bike for very cheap. It would take me 40 minutes each way, which is less time than the bus takes.
  4. Grow my Blog: Just be a blogger in general. What kind of posts do you like? What do you want to see from me?
  5. Be a More Active Commenter: I am such a blog creeper, its time to start connecting with my favs!
  6. Organize More Blogger Brunches: Ladies it has been too long!
  7. Become a Better Photographer: We just bought our first DSLR and now, we want to learn how to use it. And, I want there to be more photos here in each post.
  8. Take Care of my Health: It is time to get serious about my health, especially since there might be a   chance there might be babies in the not so distance future. 
  9. Start Exercising: There is a gym less than a 2 minute walk from my flat. I need to at least check it  out.
  10. Try a New Sport: I promised my doctor I would.
  11. Write More Letters. This is one of the reasons why I love the Snail Mail Collective. I can't wait to introduce you guys to my partner this month!
  12. Be a Better Godmother: Being far away from my family is the only thing I hate about living abroad. I'm going to make more of an effort to have regular skype dates with my godbabies!
  13. Skype More with Friends: I miss you guys! Thanks for still making the effort to be my friend even though I live so very far away.
  14. Become a Better Cook: We have been stuck in a rut. I want to try new recipes and different cuisines from around the world. 
  15. Do More Online Courses: Just because I'm not in college anymore doesn't mean I don't want to learn. 
  16. Save 1/3 from Each Paycheck: Just because I am making more money doesn't mean I need to go on a spending spree. This is a mistake soo many of us make.
  17. Finally Put Pen to Paper on 1 of the 3 Novels Floating in my Head:
  18. Go on More Dates: Hooray for having the same days off as your love!
  19. Develop a Personal Style: I am the queen of t-shirts and jeans, which is great if you are in college, not to cute when you are now 3 years shy of 30.
  20. Keep the House Company Ready at All Times: I hate hate hate cleaning, but I do love how relaxed  and inspiring a clean house can be. I also want to have dinner parties.
  21. Hang More Photos: We have lived here almost two years and there is no art on the walls! No wonder I don't feel like this place is super cozy and welcoming. 
  22. Explore more of the Netherlands: I have more weekend time off to go and explore some places a slightly longer train ride away from Utrecht. 
  23. Take Full Advantage of my Vacation Days: One of the best things about working in Europe, the amount on vacation days you get!
  24. Dance in my Kitchen: Because it makes me happy!
  25. Watch Every Episode of Gilmore Girls, Again: Even though I love living in Europe, I really wish that Star's Hollow existed. 
  26. Appreciate the Magic of Everyday Life: It is easy to appreciate the big events in your life, but appreciating the little things in life can go a long way towards making you happy. 
  27. Accomplish my List this Year: Last year, I lost focus on what I wanted. This year, I am going to check back on my list to remind myself what I wanted to accomplish. 
  28. Be Happy!

Whew, 28 things is a lot of stuff! Think I can do it?

Tell me, what do you want to accomplish this year? How do you keep yourself motivated?

Until next time,

 

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Birthday's are Strange Creatures

Sure, when you live abroad, your day to day life is challenging at first, but eventually it becomes part of your routine. You forget about the little things that make your daily life different than back at home. For me, the oh my gosh I live in  a different culture are most apparent when it is time for celebrations. 

Each culture has its own way of celebrating times in one's life. With my birthday coming up this Wednesday, I thought I would take the time to share with you some traditional Dutch birthday customs and how they drastically differ from the one's I grew up with. 

Let's start with the overall attitude. Back home, being the birthday girl made you special. People would make you the breakfast you want, take you out to lunch and dinner. Heck some restaurants even give you a free meal or some cake. In the Netherlands, this is not the case. Being the birthday girl means that you invite people over to your house and make sure you are the perfect host. There is no taking it easy because you are the birthday girl. Oh and if you go out for drinks, guess who is picking up the tab for everyone? Yep, that would be you birthday girl. According to the Verlo, it is actually only the first round you are expected to buy, but still!

Although they are less popular with younger generations, Dutch circle parties are still the thing with older generations. During these parties, all the chair are arranged in a circle. When you enter, you must go around the circle and say, "gefeliciteerd met jouw (insert relationship that the person has to the person who is celebrating their birthday) verjaardag, for example gefeliciteerd met jouw dochter's verjaardag. This translates to congratulations with your daughter's birthday- which makes sense, as the parents are responsible for this day. What doesn't make sense is congratulations with your cousin's, boyfriend's, friend's or co-worker's birthday. Also, make sure you make it all the way around the circle. 

The birthday person is also responsible for bringing their own cake into the office. Well actually, you bring your own vlaai. Which is can be either extremely pie like, or can be like a mix between a cake and a pie. I personally like the chocolatey ones. 

Sometimes, I really miss the corner slices of a rose covered butter creamed grocery store cakes. Publix makes the best! I also miss going out for birthday dinners and taking it easy for the day.

Tell me, what are birthday's like for you? Oh and remind me sometime to tell you about birthday bathroom calendars! 

Until next time!

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27 Things Before I'm 27 Revisited!

My 27th birthday is in a week! As is my tradition, last year I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish before this birthday. I'm not sure how much I accomplished this year, the list kind of took the back seat. All I can do is make better decisions about what to add to this weeks list.

  1. Get Top Marks this year in my HBO Program.This is no longer an issue because I decided not to continue with the program, but with the exception of spanish, I did pretty well for myself. 

  2. Pass the Staatsexamen or NT2, with this I will get a diploma stating that Nederlands is my official second language! Dutch took the back burner this year with my degree program, and having to learn spanish. I am going to recommit myself to learning.

  3. Read more classics! I read a few classics, but not enough to cross it of my list. 

  4. Try 3 New Sports. Nope, not even one, unless you count running in dunes playing laser tag!

  5. Learn to love my bike. I ride it more than last year, and now I am getting a new one! 

  6. Leave The Netherlands this year. I made it to Berlin, and in 10 days, I will be flying to the US.

  7. Go to more Festivals. I forgot about this one! I still haven't been to a concert! 

  8. Work Hard. With going to my degree classes fulltime, my dutch classes part time, my job part time, and wanting to start a more vigorous exercise program. My new motto is going to have to be Work Hard to Play Hard. I worked really really hard this year. Next year I may have to take it easy.

  9.  Run in a race this year. Nope, exercise was not high up on my list. 

  10. Write a novel. Again, school and work took over.

  11. Be more socialable. I have friends, but sometimes I am too much of a hermit, and I get really intimidated in large groups of other women.I even started a blogger brunch to make new friends! 

  12. Stop Comparing my Life to Others.  I've mostly done this, you should too, it is the best thing I've ever done!

  13. Do more art.

  14. Learn to Meditate. 

  15. Practice my cartwheels.

  16. Furnish the Kitchen. I have dreams of a crockpot and immersion blender. I've done all of this including  a new fridge and stove!

  17. Learn to sew.

  18. Join more clubs. Really, I should put attend more club meetings also. Or start new ones!

  19. Be more organized Still need to work on this at home but I'm working on it!

  20. Make meal plans.  Do this, it makes your life sooo much easier!

  21. Spend more time in the Southern and Eastern parts of The Netherlands. I haven't gone exploring there yet. Still haven't been, no weekends off. Until now, I'm going to start exploring when we come back from the States.

  22. Become a morning person.It wasn't easy when you worked until midnight, but I managed to wake up in the AM hours, so I think that counts. 

  23. Continue to grow my blog. Oh little blog, we have so much work to do on you. 

  24. Continue to save for retirement. Bad, Kaitlin. 

  25. Eat more veggies! Turns out I like most of them, who knew?

  26. Keep better in touch with friends and family in The StatesI'm going to see you very soon!

  27. Do what I say I am going to do and honor my commitments. 

Like I said, Not the best. Tune in next Wednesday for my whole new list! What did you accomplish this year?

 

Image courtesy of / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Snail Mail Collective

Getting mail is amazing! There is nothing better than someone sending you a care package or a letter, perhaps most especially when you are an expat. Which is why when I read about the beginning of the snail mail collective, on a blog I had been admiring from a far for a few months, I jumped at a chance to participate. The collective was started last month by Melyssa of The Nectar Collective and Chelsea of Lost in Travels, go forth and check out their blogs. The goal of the collective is to connect people from all over the world and to encourage new, motivating friendships and cultural understanding. You get a partner, and you spend two weeks getting to know them and then you send them a present in the mail. 

I was so honored when Melyssa picked me to be her partner for the first one. I had such an amazing time getting to know her this month! I got her gifts the other day, and they are so cute, I can't wait to start using them. She sent me so much cool stuff I have no idea how she stuck to the 5.00 budget. I have to admit, I wasn't the best partner, I sent my stuff a bit late because I couldn't figure out where to send mail from since all the mail shops closed. The answer is bookstores, because that makes sense! 

I loved participating in this sooo much that I have already signed up for the next month. You can sign up too until the 7th of each month. Go forth and make some new friends!

This is what my package arrived in, really cute right? 

 

Dank je Melyssa! So tell me, do you miss getting snail mail? What is the best thing you ever received? 

Until next time,

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Birthday Wishes Do Come True

It's hard to want anything for your birthday when you know your birthday wish will come true three days later. That's right, in just 16 more days, the Verlo and I are going to be landing in the States for the first time since I moved here almost two years ago. I can't even believe it has been that long. It really feels like a few months ago I was boarding a plane to move here. That is until I see pictures of Logan and Leland who were just babies when I left and now are full blown toddlers and both will be big brothers by the time I land. I can't believe it's been almost two years since I saw anyone from my old life in person besides my mom and godmother. I can't even put into words how incredibly happy I am. 

I can't wait to introduce everyone to Loek, so they can maybe understand a bit more why I am so happy here. I can't wait for Loek to get to meet everyone so he can put a name and personality to the co-stars of all my great stories. I'm so excited, I want to pack already!

It is going to be a whirlwind trip. We have so much planned, but I wouldn't have it any other way. After a day and a half at my parent's house, we are all going to pile in the car and head up to Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina to see my Nana, cousin Alice, Uncle Jim and Aunt Jan. I'm so excited for some family time. Oh, and the beach, but to be honest, Loek is way more excited about the beach than I am.

After 3 days in South Carolina, we will come back home to Georgia. Where I will get to see my old coworkers and just have general fun being back in my home town. The weekend will bring a welcome back party with for me with friends and family coming in from in from all over. Luckily for me the next day is my best friend Christy's Baby Shower! I can't believe that the 3 girls I consider to be basically sisters are all going to have babies this year! I have to say that I am in awe of my friends' transitions into motherhood. Seriously, Ash, Hayley and Christy thank you for being such great moms to my five favorite people under three.I lovingly refer to them as my Fab 5. 

 

Christy and baby Grayson! You have no idea how excited I am to feel this belly! 

Our last few days are going to be spent in South Georgia with my godbabies! Yep, I'll have both a godson and a goddaughter! Kinley, your Aunt Kaitlin would really like you to be born on time okay? In fact, if you wanted to come a week early, she wouldn't mind at all sharing her birthday with you. Seeing them is a big deal! 

I honestly can't believe it is coming so soon! You guys, I can't wait to see your faces! 

 

Photo AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by Travis S.

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You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth?

I am furious! At first, I wasn't sure if I should talk about this on here, because I try to be really positive in both life and on my blog. I am a big believer that we are as happy as we want to be. However, after much thought, I think that I will feel better if I talk about it. 

Yesterday, a complete stranger called me a stupid American c*nt. Seriously! I don't really want to go into specifics, but this was a middle aged British man who knew full well what that word means and how awful it is. Why on Earth would anyone every call someone this? Especially over a small, non-issue. It's just hurtful. 

I acted very classy and got myself away from the situation, but what I wish I would have said was:

Words are hurtful, and they say much more about the person who says things like this than the person they are said to or about. After I left, and calmed down because I was so pissed I was visibly shaking, I couldn't help but be really thankful that I only have to listen to the filth that this man spews once. However, this man had to have had a mother, a grandmother, perhaps a sister, maybe a wife, and the worst thought of all a daughter, who might have to deal with his mood swings and misogyny on a daily basis.

What motivates people to be so nasty? Why on Earth do people think that it is okay to say degrading things to another human being? I think I am still in shock because no one has ever called me this before. People don't generally call me names. I guess I'm lucky.

Ladies, if you are with someone who says degrading things like this about other people, remember that they are probably saying the same things about you when you are not there. Fellas, there is not a word that anyone can call you that can even compare to how awful being called the c word is, don't use it.

Okay, off my soapbox now. I feel better. Thanks for sticking around why I vented. What do you think? Is it okay to call someone a c*nt? 

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Around Here

Hello Lovelies! How's your summer going? I've missed you! Last weeks I told you about the major changes coming in my life. I'm super thrilled! But, I've been lacking in the inspiration for blogging lately! So, I wanted to give you a small look at what has been going on here the past few weeks!

It has been incredibly hot here in the Netherlands. Hear me out, I'm from Georgia, but even I think that 85 degrees when you don't have AC in your home is way too hot! You see, AC is not a thing that most of us have here. In fact, a big advertisement for some restaurants is that they have AC! Normally, its fine. I mean I was wearing a jacket this time last year. But we are in a heat wave, which is so rare that I have found that maybe I do need more summer clothes. It's an interesting change, and I feel really bad for my long haired cat, Lulu. Speaking of Lulu, She is the queen of finding places to sleep. Sleeping on a wire clothes rack was her new favorite this week. Seriously, she is so weird! 

Crazy cat

In other animal news, remember that cute little swan baby picture I posted a few weeks ago? The one peeking out from under his/her mom? Well those babies are growing fast! I've become so invested in their upbringing. Bird watching is a normal hobby for someone in their 20's right? Nope? Well I'm an old soul. 

We have been making a ton of changes to our apartment lately. Trying to make it feel more like a home and not like a dorm room. I have been saving for months to buy a new stove. Previously, we had a stove top and an oven the size of a microwave. This is what a lot of people have here, space is at a premium and appliances are expensive. You have no idea how happy I was when our new stove came in last week. However, and I have been told this is normal, it came without a plug! We have to hire an electrician to come and rewire it! So, while I have a beautiful new stove, I haven't been able to use it yet! Regrettably, we had to move the stove top as the stove needed to go into its place. Which means, if we can't cook it just in our tiny oven or in the deep fryer, we can't eat it. I think the electrician is coming this week.

We also moved around all of our furniture in the main room. The space feels so much bigger now! We are still putting the finishing touches on it, but I'm finally starting to like our apartment. Its only been almost two years, but it is finally starting to feel like a home. Which is good, because we got a great deal on it, and we plan on living here until we have a significant down payment for a house. It's so funny, when we first moved, I would have given anything to move closer to the city. Now, I realized that I actually am a little bit country. Here is a sneak peak.

Lastly, I have been experimenting with my hair. I'm appalled to say that I haven't gotten my cut in a year. Before you get all judgy, I was bang butchered and I have been growing it out. Plus, let's just say that hair dressers here do not have the best reputation. Now that my hair is the longest it has ever been, I can try some fun updos. Like this one, which I loved, but fell out on my way to work. 

What has been going on in your lives lately? I want to hear all about it! 

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Big GIANT Changes are Coming!

The blog's been a little lack luster lately. Which is actually on par with my personal moods as of late. After much naval gazing, I have decided that it is time to make some major changes in my life. Before you get all worried, I am not moving away from the Netherlands. 

While I love living here in the NL, I sometimes feel like my professional life took a few steps back, when I moved. I have always been someone who prides themselves on being a great employee, and a lot of my self worth comes from my job performance. I have also discovered that I am not cut out for student life. I despise almost everything about it. Its not that I don't love to learn, because I do, but it needs to be on my terms. I also hate the working nights and weekends, because I can't live without money, and the no free time. 

It got so bad that I realized that I haven't spent one whole weekend with my love in a year. A year, and he is the whole reason I moved over here! I can't see anything being worth that sacrifice, but it would help if I was in love with my program, which I wasn't. It was a lot of this is how you improve your English, and this is how you act professionally. Which is great, if English is not your native tongue and you haven't been working for the last ten years. Plus, having the Spanish requirement was making my Dutch go down the toilet. What I'm trying to tell you is, I'm done with it! 

That's right, I am no longer a student. Although, I will miss my girls! One good thing that came out of the past year is that I found a company that I like a lot, and I am thrilled to say that I am being promoted. That means that I'm going to have a regular schedule, a salary, and a position that is more like what I am professionally accustomed to.

So, what does this mean for the blog.  It means that you will get an even happier less stressed out Kaitlin. It also means that I will have more time to pursue my passions. I don't know if you guys really know this, because I don't share it very often, but I love to  cook, bake and craft. We just bought a new full sized stove, which will be delivered this week, so I can start to share some of the recipes I love. I'm also quite thrifty so I might throw in some of those tips as well.

I hope you guys will like the new changes. I am just so happy with this new direction my life is moving in! How about you, tell me what is going on in your lives! 

Until next time,

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Current Obsessions: Susanna Kearsley Novels

Susanna Kearsley Novels

I know, I know, you should never judge a book by its cover. But sometimes, beautiful covers can lead to beautiful stories. When I first got my kindle, a cover on the Daily Deal caught my eye. It was so pretty that I barely, read what the book was about I just hit purchase. A few months later, there was another beautiful cover for less than 3 dollars so I bought that one two. Then another, finally I realized that all these books I was buying soley based on the beautifulness of their covers were by the same author, Susanna Kearsley. Since I had amassed about four of her books on lack of impulse control, I finally set about to reading them. 

As it turns out, I love Susanna Kearsley's storytelling. Each one of her novels are set in throughout the United Kingdom with some element of the paranormal. Besides the interesting turns into the fray, her novels have strong characters and her descriptions of the landscape make you feel like you are there. I might also have more than a little thing for old English cottages which play so heavily in her stories. I'm going to go through her novels in the order I've read them.

Mariana: Julia Beckett has always been in love with a house she say when she was a child called Greywethers. Her whole family thinks she is a bit crazy for buying the house, but she is so drawn to it. As it turns out, Greywethers is exactly where Julia belongs, and has for centuries.

Shadowy Horses: This is tied for my favorite of her novels. Archeologist Verity Grey decides to escape London for a bit and help out her old professor on a dig to find a lost Roman legion, what she learns it that some of the legion never left. 

The Winter Sea: Carrie McClelland is a bestselling historical fiction writer who is in Scotland chasing up a lead. What she finds is a story she never expected and unbreakable ties to a place she had never been before. This is tied with Shadowy Horses as my favorite. 

The Rose Garden: The novel I am currently reading. Eva Ward returns to Cornwall where she spent her childhood summers to bring her newly deceased sister to her final resting place. She rekindles her relationships of both the recent past and the very, very distant past. 

Kearsey has other novels and I am sure I will read those as well. Maybe I should get a job as a book blurb writer. Have you ever read any of Susanna Kearsey's novels? What are you reading this summer? I would love to know!

Image complied from GoodReads

Until next time,

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