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I Leave in a Month from Today!

I can hardly believe it, I leave a month from today to go live in Utrecht, The Netherlands. It feels like it took a long time to get to this point, but it also feels like everything is happening so fast. I am sure this month will be a blur. There is so much to do! 

My fiancee was offered a new job this week, which is exciting and thankfully we meet all the IND criteria for him to sponsor me that he is able to take it. If you don't have a 12 month contract, they look at past employment so this is his last month of work at hive ins current company. This is also my last month in the office, my last day is the 23rd. So, three more weeks. On my last day in the office is also the day Loek gets the keys to our apartment , so he has a ton to do to get it ready to live in. 

This month is not all work and no play though, I am having a going away party and a lingerie engagement shower before I leave. I am looking forward to seeing my friends and family all gathered together for one big weekend of awesome. This also means that my mom and best friends have a ton of planning to do. Because, I want it to be epic! We have so many people coming in from out of town and I am truly grateful to have so many amazing people in my life. 

As far as prep goes, the last thing for Atti is, I have to send in his papers to the USDA. And, of course, I have to pack, and pack, and pack. Those of you who have been reading for awhile, know that I am an avid planner and occasionally do packing trial runs. I plan on making a video so you all can see just how it is done.

People keep on commenting on how well prepared I am, I don't think you ever can be for a life change so drastic as this. My whole world is going to change. I am incredibly happy with my decision to move to be with my love, but I would be lying if I didn't admit to a moment of panic a few times a day. But really, I can not wait for my adventure to begin.

I also plan on keeping my blog updated everyday until I leave. 

 

Atti Went to the Vet!

I've written quite a bit about my preparations for Atti's move with me to The Netherlands. This is because, it is quite a process and there is not too much online that makes it really easy. Last Saturday, Atti and I went to our USDA approved vet to have his European Microchip put in, as well as his rabies shot. I wrote a post about where to find a Euro Microchip, for those of you who are interested. You have to get a rabies shot either after or at the same time as the microchip insertion. I took Atti in a different carrier because I did not want him to associate his Sherpa bag with a negative experience.

Atti, was great. The vet said he was a fantastically behaved kitty, which of course I knew. The Euro 998 form was filled out and now I just have to send it into the Georgia USDA office to get it signed. Also, because he is flying with me and not below, he can be sedated. Which is awesome for everyone. It means he can go to sleep and wake up in Holland. The other passeng intereers wont be bothered either. Everyone will be a lot happier.

Atti did not want to get back into the carrier after his ordeal, so he crawled into my purse. He was so cute and comfy that I just carried him out that way. It is such a relief to have Atti, unlike myself, almost ready to go. 

 

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On Cooking

I love food! It is one of the great passions I have in my life. I love reading about food, talking about food, cooking and baking, experimenting with new flavors, grossing my friends out with my fearless pursuits of interesting exotic flavors, and of course consuming it. (Just don't let me near a red bell pepper, there is nothing more disgusting on this planet than a bell pepper, and the red ones are their own breed of disgusting). Some of my favorite memories come from food, I was fortunate enough to be able to bake my two best friends wedding cakes.

It should come at no surprise then, that over the years, I have acquired a pantheon of cooking supplies. Cookbooks, dishes, measuring cups, decorating tips, whisks, flower nails, and my prized Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer. Naturally, with limited space and bringing just 4 suitcases under 50lbs a piece, certain sacrifices must be made. Instead of transporting about 20 cookbooks to The Netherlands with me, I have been painstakingly writing out the recipes that I like from each of them. Yes, it is time consuming, but I have managed to put all the recipes I want into a two inch binder! I do the same thing with the uncounted multitudes of cooking magazines I had in my possession. All those recipes can be found on the magazines' websites- I've wasted a lot of money over the years. I made Loek check to make sure we have access to each site in Holland and then I write down the title of the recipe I want to try later, along with the issue that it came from. Of course, there are some cookbooks that just contain to many fantastic recipes so I brought those with me and left them with Loek when I was in Holland in April: The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser and Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. 

As for the rest, it is simply not coming with me. As much as it pains me, I simply do not have the room. Instead of taking the assorted measuring spoons and cups I had, crammed into several drawers,I purchased on set a piece of truly fantastic peices. I bought a beautiful flower shaped set of measuring spoons and a set of stackable measuring cups in the shape of Matroyshkas dolls. This way, I can measure my American recipes in cups and tablespoons. Everything else, can be bought there gradually, which will be better since my oven is going to be the size of a microwave, and my kitchen in a much more condensed space. My beloved mixer is going to my mom. I hope to eventually get another one for my Dutch apartment, but Loek is in shock of the price and space is limited. 

Thanks to a few new expat friends, I do know to bring baking powder, soda and karo syrup with me, as these things are hard to find in most Dutch grocers. I am sure that cooking using the metric system is going to be its own special challenge and I pledge to keep you posted about it here on my blog. 

*And, why yes, I did make that cake! 

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How To Decorate Your Apartment From Across The Ocean.

I might have mentioned the fact that when I move to The Netherlands, it will be into a brand new apartment. This is  both really exciting and nerve racking. It will be the first time, for both Loek and I, that we will live in a brand new place and the first time we will live together. Renting an apartment in The Netherlands is not like renting one in Georgia. Here, when I want to move I have a few choices: I can drive around, go to a standard apartment complex either in or out of the city with beige walls and appliances included. Or, I can go to an old house turned into an apartment and maybe get to paint the walls.

In The Netherlands, if you are renting in the public sector, you put yourself on lists. When an apartment becomes available, you basically get a shell of an apartment. It is not uncommon to have to put in new floors and light fixtures in your rented apartment. As well as, bring all the appliances you might need with you. When Loek picks up the keys to our new place, hopefully in a few weeks, we(he) will have to put in new flooring, put up wall paper, install light fixtures, paint, move all his stuff and appliances. Keep in mind, we don't have a car. I'm kind of glad I might get to miss all the fun!

I am a huge fan of decor, so naturally, I have been trying to be involved every step of picking out materials for our new home. What I have learned through this process is- 1. It is difficult to combine households anyway, when doing so via webcam is almost impossible. Things that I love, Loek seems to hate. So there is a lot of compromising 2. Colors look totally different if you don't have the sample in your hands.

So far, what we have agreed upon is a grayish laminate wood floor, and damask white wallpaper for the living room. Our apartment is mainly two rooms, a small bedroom and a catch all room that will have to be, our living room, dining room, kitchen and home office. When you translate it from meters, it comes to about 650 sq feet. The smallest apartment I will have lived in and perhaps the largest Loek will have lived in.

If anyone else is in the same boat, whether you are in the same country as your new live-in fiancee or across the ocean-I would recommend a ton of patience and compromise. For those of you trying to plan abroad- If you need to pick out materials, have your spouse go and pick up the ones they like and mail them to you. Look at lots of design blogs to identify both of your styles. 

I chose the white damask to make the room appear larger, while the pattern will add some texture. We still haven't agreed on what to do about the bedroom. In addition to all the materials we have to buy for our home, Loek and I are planning on purchasing a new closet from Ikea, right away. Eventually, I would love to get a new bed. But for the time being, we will share a futon. Aww, to be young and in love.

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Do Your Research Or Your Budget Will Suffer.

When you are preparing to move some place new, especially abroad, it is important to do your research. Often, the idea of the city in your head is not going to match reality. Loek tried to tell me about Holland in the Summer. He told me all about how our home would not have AC and neither does his office. In my Southern mind, I could not imagine. I was convinced that I was going to die of heat exhaustion. I knew it was bound to be colder there than here. But no air, the Dutch must be insane. It was not until I found a 24 hour streaming webcam and saw that people were wearing jackets in Utrecht, in July.... That I realized, I don't have enough clothes that I can layer.

So what does this have to do with my budget? Well, because of my "oh shit, I'm going to freeze" epiphany, I started spending money on things like jackets. Two beautiful wool coats to be exact. Because in my mind, if the dollar is less than a euro, my clothes might be cheaper here. I also went scarf crazy! When making my original budget,  I didn't think about the fact that I will have to buy things like suitcases. Since I overestimated on the amount of money that I would spend in other areas, I will still come out pretty much on budget. 

Here is my new money saving tip: When trying to save money, it helps me to think about what I can't have if I go out to eat or buy that magazine. When you compare what you could do with the money as opposed to what you want to spend it on at the moment. The better thing will win, hands down. 

Image from Pinterest. I really need to learn the art of light layers. 

 

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