Day 143: Delft

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We all explored Delft today for the first time. Delft is about 35 minutes away from our home and is a quaint town to visit. It has a new church and an old church and a town center. There are quaint shops and a Saturday market place selling stroopwaffels, frites, fruits and veggies and flowers.

The architecture is beautiful to look at, especially along the canals. I enjoyed watching the kids explore and walking in and out of the antique shops. My mom loves talking to the shop keepers and telling them our story. She loves to speak Dutch and to connect with the locals. She makes friends everywhere she goes.

We were outside for several hours and it was freezing cold out. We’re starting to get used to the weather now and dressing more appropriately. I still prefer the warmth but am choosing to not hibernate indoors! We’ll see how I feel next month!!

My favorite part of the day was finding an antique red bread box, that my mama bought for me. 20121215-222514.jpg

We had been looking for one and today was my lucky day. I also loved watching the kids explore and seeing what they found interesting.

I hope you enjoy(ed) your loved ones today, too.

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Day 72: Happy Hour, Happy Friends

TGIF! Don’t you love Fridays??  It is one of my favorite days of the week. I feel like it’s time to relax and wrap up the week and usually the kids don’t have any sports’ activities, so it feels more free. Plus, there’s usually the anticipation of something fun happening on the weekend.

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Today some friends came over for happy hour to celebrate Patti’s birthday. Everyone brought something to share and it was so nice. I really enjoy entertaining and gathering friends together. I loved watching the kids all play together too, like they’ve been friends for years!  They ran outside and into the “forest” and painted nails, played computer games, and did some art projects. The little ones played with balls and play mobil toys and ate up m&m’s and fruit and crackers. The women all gathered in the kitchen, sipped wine and enjoyed Julie’s recipe for baked brie with apples, cranberries, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter – I just forgot the slivered almonds! Oh well – it was still yummy.  Great way to start the weekend!

Life is sweet. Hope you all have a good weekend. xo

Day 69: Orange and Halloween

There are so many good things about the color orange:

It’s a happy color.

It’s warm.

It’s the color of the sun – at least in my drawings!

It’s bright and cheerful.

It’s the color of Holland and part of my nationality.

It’s one of my favorite colors (today).

It represents the changing of the seasons  – fall and holidays.

And it makes me think of Halloween! I love Halloween. And today, my other family sent us a care package filled with Halloween goodies that made us all so happy!! It was filled with candy and decorations and magazines and even our California mail!

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I still have the best wife ever!! 😉 Thank you for making our day and spoiling us, April!! I wish you could have seen the kids’ faces. We love Halloween and we didn’t pack any of our holiday decor and I was starting to feel a little sad about that. Halloween isn’t celebrated in Holland, although the Americans at the school are putting on a Halloween event – nothing like Halloween Happening, I’m sure!  But at least we’ll get a taste of tricks and treats. Charlie wants to be a leprechaun!! I don’t know why, but that just makes me laugh! Wish me luck in pulling off that costume!

Back to colors – what is your favorite color?

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I mentioned that mine is orange, and sometimes blue, oh, and purple and red too. But today – Orange.  Today, I looked through my closet and found these orange pieces – I have to wear these more often because they make me feel happy. I tend to wear black and neutrals, and workout clothes. I need to change this and dress it up a bit! I love to wear my orange Stella & Dot Olivia necklace – it’s my favorite piece from the Fall Collection.  Yes, I still love my Stella & Dot and wear it all over Holland. Hup, Holland!  

So what’s hanging in your closet? Are you shining in your favorite?

Day 67: Connecting to the Past

Today we spent the day with Dorine and Nadja in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.  Nadja made us a delicious Moroccan pumpkin soup for lunch. There home is so gezzelig – filled with artifacts from their many worldly travels, and travel books and maps. Every nook has something to see and touch and explore and to be curious about.  We love going to their house.  Christian was curious by all the travel books and didn’t want to stop reading. I see Africa in our future.

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Christian peeking through the book shelves at Dorine and Nadja’s.

Charlie loved playing with all the musical instruments, especially the drums from India.

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Little drummer boy

The kitchen was my favorite room of the house. I loved the smells, the lighting and the pots and pans and spices and coffee makers and glass jars and such that filled the space. I especially loved looking at the framed pictures of our family that were sitting in the kitchen.

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The little girl in the picture is my mama at Dorine’s parents wedding. My Uncle Bill is the little boy.

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This picture is of my namesake, my Great-Oma, Adriana Van Elderen. The little girl is Dorine, and the baby is Rob – my mom’s cousin who I met for the first time last week.

After lunch, we went to explore more history by visiting a castle called Slot Loevestein that was built in 1361. Can you even imagine how long ago that was? This castle is most famous as a state prison. Hugo de Groot was a famous scholar and lawyer who fought for freedom of thought (like Martin Luther King) who was imprisoned there. He used to receive scholarly books in the prison and one day escaped in a large, book box in a plan devised by his smart wife.  You can read more about the castle here:  http://www.slotloevestein.nl/documents/home.xml?lang=en

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My 3 Knights!

The infamous book box that Hugo De Groot escaped inside.

I find it fascinating to imagine life before we were around. When I walk through old castles and churches, I try to imagine the people that lived and worked here before, and to imagine their daily lives. Do you ever do that?

After the visit to the castle, we went back to Dorine and Nadja’s for an unexpected Moroccan chicken stew dinner. It was so sweet and savory and delicious and something we haven’t had since we were in France at Marco and Kathy’s years ago. I forgot about how much I love the flavors and want to try cooking something new very soon.  Thank you for the yummy dinner!

One last thought before I end this long post — I love how Dorine and Nadja had planned to have us stay for dinner, even though we came over around lunch time. This is something new to me… when we went to visit for the afternoon, I never expected them to also have dinner for us. This is supposedly the way things are done here. The same thing happened at Rob and Wendy’s last week. We went to visit in the early afternoon, and the stay turned into dinner.  I guess this is typical here. So now I know and I like this tradition very much. When we move back to the States, I’m taking this idea with me. Heck, I’m starting it this week! If you plan to come for a visit, I’ll have lunch and coffee and dessert ready for you when you arrive, and wine and cheese in the late afternoon, as well as dinner and dessert and coffee ready to make your stay as comfortable and as long as you wish.

Thank you for this great way to spend a Sunday afternoon and evening and teaching me more about Dutch hospitality. I love it!

Life is good!

 

 

Day 52: If it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much!

I’m enjoying exploring Holland, meeting up with friend’s and hanging out with family. I’m appreciating the differences and enjoying slowing down and living it up at the same time.

This morning I met up with Beth, from PEO, for coffee in Amsterdam at her house. I loved her company and having a place to go and meet up. It got me out of the house, off the computer and out the door before 10am.

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After our brief coffee chat, I headed home with a smile on my face and got ready to pick up Juliana from her Challenge trip. She had a good time with her new friends and we were happy to have her home again.

This afternoon, we headed to Den Bosche to explore the 900 year old Saturday Market tradition!! Isn’t that crazy? The streets were bustling with people (except Dorine and Nadja, whom I believe were out of town this weekend) and filled with fresh flowers and fruit, ice cream and stroopwaffels! I love this town and it’s unique feel. It’s a large place but it doesn’t feel touristy.

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We explored a street that had open front patios with outdoor seating and most the tables were full but we found one that was a tapas place, which was good enough. We were trying to fill the time before heading over to Gerard’s house to celebrate his birthday.

The Dutch celebrate birthdays by inviting people over after dinner. This invitation was for 8- 8:30pm and typically late parties like this go until 2 or 3 in the morning. Coffee and cake is served first, when you arrive. Then beer and wine are shared – and crackers with cheeses and meats and salads and bread. Everyone sits around the kitchen table and hangs out. Later the deep fryer gets going and the company enjoys bitter ballen and frickadels! We made it until after 11:30 pm! Not a bad way to celebrate life. Happy birthday, Gerard!! Thanks for a great evening!

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