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moving to europe

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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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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The High Exchange Rate for Peace of Mind

I think I have mentioned a few times that I am a worrier. I am almost always in a panic about something. I don't want to be this way, I just am. So you can imagine what my blood pressure was like in the weeks leading up to the Debt Ceiling Deadline. That's right, full on panic tizzies about what Congress was going to do and how that would effect the exchange rate when I was ready to move. 

Being an always plan for the worse case scenario kind of gal, I began looking for solutions to change my money into Euros, before August 2nd. It also didn't help that the price for a Visa in The Netherlands went up more than 400 Euros in July. At first, I looked into getting a passport card from Travelex. A kind of pin card that you can pre-load with Euro's before you go. Apparently, I wanted to do too big of a transaction for the day, so my bank blocked my getting one. When I called to get it unlocked, the customer service rep recommended my calling my local branch and seeing what exchange rate they could offer me for buying Euros. I did, and it was a few pennies better in my favor. But, when you are talking a few thousands of dollars, those pennies add up. 

So, I emptied what was in my savings account and purchased Euros from my bank. It was pretty easy, except for that they didn't know to type in The European Union as opposed to The Netherlands in order for me to get Euros, not Guilders. Luckily, I caught the mistake. The Euros were then mailed to the bank and I could pick them up 2 days later. The fee was like $10.00, it was really so easy.

Was this a better exchange rate than if I had used the ATM in The Netherlands? Who's to say? But I feel at ease knowing that I have enough Euros available to pay for my Visa.

In this case, peace of mind trumps cost. I needed one less thing to worry about.

Flickr Image above by donaldtownsend

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An Atticus Update: A Practical Guide for Moving Your Pet Abroad

A few weeks ago, I posted about how I was planning on taking my sweet cat Atticus with me to Holland. I wrote about how I was planning on being courteous to the other passengers by storing my baby below. After some intense research and reading countless horror stories, I have decided to hell with the people on the plane I will only see for 9 hours of my life, my baby is coming with me.

I started the process by first calling the airline to book Atti's space. You need to do this as soon as possible, as only a certain number of animals are allowed in the cabin. Of course, they couldn't find my reservation! But I got it taken care of. I had to specific if Atti would be traveling in a hard or soft carrier. I hadn't even bought one yet so I said soft. I wanted to make sure he could fit in the seat in front of me. For Atticus, I have purchased the small Sherpa bag from Amazon. It had favorable reviews and co-workers of mine will find humor in the name. The bag is incredibly small, but so is Atti and, he seems to enjoy it. 

When you are traveling with a pet, it is important to look up information on the country you are traveling to specific qualifications. For The Netherlands, Atti needs to be microchiped with an ISO Chip. You can not get these from your normal vet and the literature on the net really sucks in helping you. Here is the easiest way to make sure your pet is covered if you are moving to, not just visiting Europe- A special shout out to the staff of HomeAgain for helping me figure this out.

  1. Go to microchipidsystems.com, click on products. Click on  The TRAVELchip™ then select the World Chip. Place your order. 
  2. Check with your local USDA approved vet and make sure that they have a HomeAgain scanner with the yellow sticker. This will read ISO 134 kHz, which is required for Europe.
  3. Make an appointment and bring in your Euro 998 form to your vet. You can get this from the Dutch Embassy or any number of Pet-Relocation sites.Make sure the vet uses a blue pin.
  4. Mail the form to your State's USDA Vet Office, so that they can sign off on it. 

As of right now, I am waiting for the microchip to come in. I will keep you updated as the steps unfold. 

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I Have Been Remiss At My Duties

I have been remiss at my duties dear readers. I haven't been keeping you all as up to date in everything that is going on with my preparations of becoming an expat. I am sincerely sorry for this. Things have just been pretty hectic lately and work has been really stressing me out. You see, last week I changed positions and have been slowly transitioning my clients over to other people in preparation for my departure. It is absolutely necessary, but has really been taking its toll on me, because I allow myself to get too emotionally involved.

But enough excuses, in order to keep you all up to date on just what has been going on with my preparations to move to The Netherlands, I am going to write a post a day this whole week to get you caught up. That's right, I am making myself a post schedule and sticking to it. Here is what you can expect from me this week.

Tuesday- An update on Atti, booking him on my flight and all the prep that goes into taking a cat abroad. 

Wednesday- Buying Euros, and stock piling my visa funds. 

Thursday- An update on budgeting and what has me freaked enough to do some not like me shopping.

Friday- I've had a few tiny freak outs. I think this is probably totally normal. 

I hope you all have a fantastic week! 

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My Gift to Myself on This My 25th Birthday!

Birthday's tend to make people reflect on their lives thus far. I have been very fortunate in my quarter of a century on this planet. I have learned a lot about myself and I continue to do so on almost a daily basis.  While it is true, given that I am moving to a country where I don't speak the language in order to be happy and spend everyday with the person I love, it might appear that I don't give a fuck what people think about what I do with my life. I still do a little bit. Slightly, alright really not all that much.

My birthday gift to myself, besides a kindle, yay kindle with Euro adapter. Is, I am going to listen to myself more. When I was younger, before high school took its toll, as it does to most of us, I was fearless. I would wear whatever made me happy, gold lame pants, hot pink sparkles- I know fashion victim, but I had no fear. It would surprise most of my friends now especially co-workers, that I am actually quite the fashion lover and I believe that what you wear has a direct influence on how you feel. So yes, I dress dumpy and dingy to my current job because being there makes me feel dumpy and dingy. After my few short workdays left, all those clothes are going to a new home. I will never again wear something I don't like because I am too lazy to get done up in the morning, and feel sad about going to work. 

I love how carefree I am in these. I also love my hair that color red. 

With life kind of up in the air career wise when I move to Holland, I vow to trust my instincts and to never again take a job that gives me nightmares in the middle of the night. I am going to work on listening to how I am and making myself happy. Which will in turn strengthen my relationships. I am also not going to buy clothes unless I love how they make me feel just because I am convinced that I am going to freeze in The Netherlands. Which let's face it, this girl from Georgia who is used to at least 97 degrees in the summer, probably will.

What gift will you give yourself this year? Also, just 50 days until I leave the Country! 

Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I Am No Longer a car owner- My second to last big thing before I move

I am no longer a car owner. Under normal circumstances, this would be a near impossible thing living in Metro Atlanta as I currently do.  But I am lucky enough to be able to carpool into work with my mom for my remaining work days. So, why you might ask am I so excited to no longer be a car owner? Because this means besides my student loan, I don't anyone a thing in this world. 

Now, instead of my money going towards a car payment, car insurance and gas, everything I make until I leave can go into a savings account. With the exception of a pair of TOMS wrap boots that I have had my eyes on for years. They aren't that expensive, I just never got around to ordering them. If you have never worn TOMS, this is my 7th pair because they are the most comfortable shoes on the planet. Rumor has it, there is a shop in Amsterdam that sells them. But this is a bit off topic. 

When I move to The Netherlands, the Verlo- and I won't have a car. Nor, do we need one. He doesn't drive and while it is shocking to my American friends, I have no intention of ever buying a car again. For one thing, I actually hate driving. For another, the cost of petrol is insane and public transportation is not like it is here, it actually gets you around. Perhaps my mind will change after a few soaked days waiting for the train. But right now, I could not be more excited to not be a car owner. 

(As a complete aside if you are looking for a car in Metro Atlanta, I recommend Auto Loan Finders in Marietta. Full disclosure, I do know the owners, but they really do go out of their way to get you a car you can be proud of. Just see there 300 positive reviews on their website. )

Image: nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

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One More Cup of Coffee for the Road- My last Road-trip!

I went to Columbia, South Carolina this weekend to see my cousin Alice for her 24th birthday! Alice and I are exactly one week less than being a year apart. While this caused some rivalry when we were little, as we have grown into adulthood, we have gotten to be super close. Columbia, is about 4 hours away from Atlanta. So, not too long of a drive, but very fitting for my last mini trip in the United States until I move. It is going to be really strange to not just be able to jump in a car and go see my family.

While on the road, my mom and I stocked up on my favorite food, boiled peanuts. For any non-Southerners out there, boiled peanuts are fresh peanuts boiled in an insane amount of salt and water for at least 8 hours. The squishier the peanut the better! I have some serious love!

We then made it to my aunt and uncle's house where my cousin met us for dinner. My aunt and uncle's reminds me a lot of Dutch houses. It is nice and cheery, but there is basically no clutter. Possessions are less important to them then spending quality time with the ones they love. It is just so darn cozy and quaint. 

When my cousin Alice arrived, we went to eat at this place in Columbia called Hunter and Gather. I had the mac and cheese and it was amazing! They brew their own beer there, but their pale ale tasted to much like an IPA for my taste. But, if you are ever in South Carolina, I highly recommend it. 

This morning it was time for presents! My cousin got some really cool stuff, like an art pass to the Columbia Museum of Art and a Gamecocks luggage tag for when she comes to visit me in The Netherlands. I got my present from my Aunt, Uncle and Alice a week early. I got the ulitmate present- Money, because really, what else should you give someone who is packing their entire life into 3 suitcases? 

It was an extremely fun ,albiet short weekend. I will really miss going to my Aunt and Uncles. Road-trips are pretty important to Americans, perhaps I might want to rethink my no driving in The Netherlands stance. 

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I'll Be Missing You! Paycheck Edition

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1671

I feel like I have not been present this week on my blog nor twitter. This is mostly because, after two years of work for the company I work for, (being the 3rd person hired and growing it from infancy,) this has been the most challenging week ever. I don't know if it is the debt ceiling or what, but clients have been even pickier than normal. As trying as this week has been, I keep on reminding myself how little time I actually have left to bring in a steady paycheck.

When I leave my job in September, there are potentially a few freelance gigs here and there, but basically, that is it for the money to come in. For first time since the age of 16, that I will have nothing that I have to go to. during the week.How do you cure an American of her workaholic tendencies? I get a lot of self satisfaction in my work ethic.The unknown scares me a little, (okay a lot.) From all I can tell, finding a job as an expat can be a challenge, especially after some new E.U sanctions. 

It is time to really investigate what it is that I want to do with my life. Why is it that when you have plenty of time to do fun things, you have no money to do them? The future hubs and I will be fine financially, as long as we stick to a budget. i.e. no retail therapy. I think the bigger adjustment for me ,more so then moving to a whole new country, is going to be not bringing in the bacon and not have something to fill up my time. Very thankful for a Museumkaart!

I don't want you to worry though, because I have a grand plan. It will just take awhile to execute. 

Image: Kittikun Atsawintarangkul / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Where the Heck is Holland? Is that In Asia? And Other Tales of Geography Woe.

You constantly hear that the United States Education System is lacking. I never really put much thought into this because I feel like I got a pretty decent, broad education. Sure, I am not yet bilingual, but I took a class where I got to wield a blow torch. Perspective people, honestly. It wasn't until I started telling friends and co-workers about my upcoming move to The Netherlands, that I realized- American's have no clue about Geography. 

Of course, it is understandable that people get Holland and The Netherlands confused. Holland is actually two provinces in The Netherlands. North and South Holland. Utrecht is actually in the province of Utrecht. So technically, I am not moving to Holland, even though it has been used synonymously with The Netherlands for so long, I don't think anyone will freak out on you for using either.

I did an experiment today with some of my work friends, I printed out a blank map of Europe and asked people to identify where The Netherlands are. ( I know, it is a marvel that I have friends). The results were, well.... I know it is a small country, but dang. The most common answer was either Sweden or Denmark, kind of close, but no. The Netherlands is actually that tiny country located next to Belgium and Germany. It is not however, in Asia, which I have been asked from time to time. 

People tend to also not know what language they speak in The Netherlands. For the record, its Dutch or Nederlands. Someone also told me that they always wanted to go to Holland because they are a really big skier. For those of you who have been to The Netherlands, I will let you process that for a moment... For those of you who haven't been, The Netherlands is almost entirely flat and the reason for all the canals and dikes is all about Dutch ingenuity and reclaiming landmass from the sea. 

I am very much looking forward to the day that my friends come visit me in my new home. Assuming of course that they can find it! 

What are the weirdest things you have heard about the place you call home? Can you find The Netherlands?

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