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living in the netherlands

In Memoriam of the Victims of MH17

It is National Mourning Day here in the Netherlands. Words are failing me as I try to describe the shock, heartbreak, rage, fear, loathing, and finally the microscope ping of relief now that some of the bodies have been brought home to Holland. My beloved adoptive country is small, only roughly the size of Maryland, almost everyone I know here has some sort of connection to at least one of the 193 Dutch victims on MH17. I am so proud of how the country has responded to this unthinkable tragedy. If you have a spare moment today please think some positive thoughts to all those affected by this horrible event. Thank you.

 
 

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Will I Ever Write a Post Again? Yes! Weekly Wishes Vol 6

I slept until 3pm today. Am I ashamed of this fact, not really as I have a wicked head cold with a migraine to match. Then I ordered my groceries to be delivered, because I am a woman on leisure, because I don't have a car and I am cooking for 11 on Saturday. Needless to say, not a very productive start to the week.

What I am proud of though is I completed all of my weekly wishes for last week. I think I have found my fig, or what I want to be when I grow up. But plans aren't finalized and there are some logistics to look into. I also finalized the menu for Thanksgiving and I found a place in Utrecht to order a turkey. Turns out, you need a poelier which is kind of like a wild game butcher. The turkey is to be picked up on Thursday morning for brining. I love that I can say missions accomplished.

This week, my plans are as follows:

  1. Write and schedule some blog posts. I miss you guys! I just haven't found any inspiration.
  2. Pull of this Thanksgiving. The verlo and I have never hosted a dinner party in our two years living together. I have never hosted one in the Netherlands. Somehow we are going to cram 11 people into our euro sized apartment. Luckily, I have pretty great friends who won't judge for the lack of a gravy boat or even proper chairs.
  3. Take care of myself and my home. Of course there is still some company cleaning to be done, but I would like to get around to hanging some art before people come and I need to be healthy!

What are you going to do this week? 

Until next time,

 

The Nectar Collective

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10 Great Things About Life in Holland

rijksmuseum love

Hello Dear Ones,

So as it turns out, I am actually a bit late with this post. My brain was convinced that I moved here on the 9th of October, but it turns out it was the 5th! Whoops! I guess time really does fly when you are having fun! As I have said before, picking Loek and moving here are the two best decisions I've ever made.

I think the Netherlands is an amazing place to live, I'm so glad this is where we chose to make our life. And although it takes time no matter if you move across town or across the world to adjust, I am home. 

So, here it is the reasons I love the Netherlands!

1. My love is here, okay this one is a gimmie, but there are so many people with partners of a different culture who don't like the culture. Sure there are somethings that I find baffling about the Dutch, but to be fair, I find just as many things baffling about Americans as a group.

2. The international community is thriving. It is so amazing to me that my friends and co-workers are from all over the world, from so many different cultures, it helps me learn something new everyday.

3. Each city has a distinctive and very cool feel. Amsterdam is not Utrecht, Den Haag is not Amsterdam, Maastricht is not Groningen. Actually, I have never been to the last two cities, I need to rectify this ASAP. It is a small country, only about the size of Maryland, but there is a ton to do.

4.  No dubbing of tv shows. If a show is in English, then it is presented in English. Same with German or any other language. They just add Dutch subtitles! This is amazing and I think it is part of the reason the Dutch have an extended English vocabulary.

5. Drugs are well treated differently here. I'm not going to go into the whole drug debate, but coming from a place that is investing a ton of money into the war on drugs, and the crime rate associated with it, to a place where the whole attitude is different and the crime rate is much lower. 

6. Stroopwafels and oliebollen: My favorite Dutch treats, the latter of which is only available in Winter. But in the words of the Starks, "Winter is coming!"

7. I do not need a car: They are completely redoing the train and bus station here in Utrecht, and while it is driving me bonkers, I am glad that I do not have to drive a car. I hate driving!

8. I have great friends: Seriously, you just have to reach out and people are there to hang out with you. And, they make the days that you have expat blues so much better.

9. Living here is fun. There is always something to do or some new place to explore. Plus, the work/life balance ain't bad!

10. It's Europe. If my contract is renewed at work I will have 5 weeks of vacation. There are lots of places to explore and inter-europe travel is pretty cheap. I've got trips planned in my head. Here's hoping my contract is renewed.

Can you guys believe it has been two years already? What do you love most about where you live?

Until next time,

 

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Weekly Wishes Vol 2

Last week was such a daze that I didn't get home until way past 2 in the morning on Monday! Therefore, I was unable to do a follow up on my weekly wishes. I didn't do too bad. I did do a lot of planning to make my life easier, still need to work on that study plan though. I made a dent in my ever growing load of laundry, and I totally ate more whole foods, I even have an every other week whole foods dinner parties arranged. Goals almost accomplished.

This week my only goal is to have a great 2 years in the Netherlands week. 2 whole years, can you believe it lovelies? Moving here to be with the Verlos is the best decision I ever made!

 

Until next time,

 

 

The Nectar Collective

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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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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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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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June's Expat Blogger Brunch is Just Around the Corner

Expat Blogger Brunch June

Hello lovelies! 

Can you believe it will be June tomorrow, craziness right? I wanted to let you guys know that the June Edition of the Expat Blogger Brunch will be held in Leiden on June 16th. Lily and I look forward to these brunches so much each month and can not wait to see you guys there! If you want to attend  please RSVP by June 14th to GAPeachAbroad@gmail.com. We try to keep the number around 15. 

Can't wait to connect/reconnect with you guys!

Just a reminder, the expat brunches are open to anyone with a blog! And our goals are to:

  • Generate a creative, social form
  • Expand experiences abroad through a network of expat bloggers in the Netherlands
  • Cultivate Social Media contacts into real life connections
  • Exchange ideas, suggestions and support about and within the expat community
  • Inspire each other through topic discussions and special events

Hope to see you there or at the one in July! 

Until next time,

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