26 November 2014

Good Gravy! Thanksgiving 2014

Today, many of our friends and loved ones are traveling or at home preparing for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, so it seems fitting to do our annual bit about Thanksgiving in the Netherlands.

I love American styled holidays. Because FOOD. And we Americans certainly know how to celebrate with food from the end of November through the end of the year. Thanksgiving in particular is THE holiday for food, and it's one that's hard to replace in Europe. But we've managed to do a rather decent job of it the last few years, and this year is looking to be one of the best abroad yet.

In years past we've used turkey breasts and a whole goose as the meal's centerpiece (both delicious, by the way) - but this year our friend scored an actual whole turkey! I've just about perfected baking with pumpkin chucks, so pumpkin pie is on the menu. Another guest found orange sweet potatoes rather than white - which is sometimes harder to do than you would think. And this year I'll be re-attempting cranberry sauce from whole, fresh cranberries - the process for which I have no expectations because it really could go either way... The meal is looking like it's going to turn out great, which is increasing my excitement for our celebration this Saturday.

While the food has had me salivating at the thought for the last two weeks, really, the best part will be the company and sharing with friends. I don't think I can overstate how fortunate we've been to find good friends that we can share these special holidays with. And when you get down to it, the food helps bring a sense of home, but it's the people you share it with that make the holiday what it is.

Happy Thanksgiving, folks!

22 November 2014

Dutched Up: Rocking the Clogs Expat Style

I've had the pleasure to get to know some other bloggers on the interwebs, and I've connected up with quite a few based here in the Netherlands. In the process of getting connected, a collaboration began to get stories from all these bloggers into an anthology and get it out to the world. And now it's here!

Dutched Up: Rocking the Clogs Expat Style is a compilation of the experiences of expat women living all over the Netherlands. There's a little bit of everything in here, giving you a glimpse into every aspect of expat life. Whether you're thinking about moving to the Netherlands, have lived in the Netherlands, or are considering visiting the Netherlands, this book has some great stuff in it. I'm honored be among these fabulous writers. 

You can purchase Dutched Up here at Amazon.com or here at (the recently launched) Amazon.nl.

Dutched Up is also available here at iTunes books.

The fabulous contributing authors:

The European Mama – Olga Mecking

The Nomad Mom Diary – Lynn Morrison

Stuff Dutch People Like – Colleen Geske

Finding Dutchland – Rina Mae Acosta

The Three Under – Farrah Ritter

Neamhspleachas – Molly Quell

Currystrumpet – Deepa Paul

George With Ears – Zoe Lewis

Dutch Australian – Reneé Veldman-Tentori

Expat Life With A Double Buggy – Amanda van Mulligen

MissNeriss – Nerissa Muijs

2 Little Monkeys in Breda – Rosalind Van Aalen

Olympic Wanderings – Caitlyn O’Dowd

Smart Tinker – Lana Kristine Jelenjev

Expat Since Birth – Ute Limacher-Riebold

Life In Dutch – Aislinn Callahan-Brandt

The Non-Hip Hippies - Alexia Martha Symvoulidou

Naturally Global - Katherine Strous

Amayzmom – Shivangi Tiwari

Naija Expat In Holland - Tamkara Adun

Amber Rahim – Amber Rahim

Amsterdam Mama – Catina Tanner

Like A Sponge – Marianne Orchard

The Tini Times – Damini Purkayastha

Bardsleyland - Donna Stovall Bardsley

Foodlovas – Kerry Dankers

Social Fusion Amsterdam – Iulia Modi Agterhuis

12 November 2014

Life with a 5 Year Old

In the Season of Crazy, we have made it through the first event. Little Man is officially 5 years old (a whole hand old!) and we have fully celebrated with friends that feel like family and friends from school - though "Happy Birthday to You" is still being hummed around the house and will be for the foreseeable future.

It feels a bit strange to think that Little Man is already 5 years old. Five years is simultaneously not all that much time and a very long time. So what do you do when your kid turns 5 years old?

  • Marvel that you've all made it this far.
  • Contemplate the difference between that 7 pound little baby you rarely put down, this big kid that can now touch your shoulders, and all the changes that happened in between. 
  • Realize that you now know more information about dinosaurs and dragons that you would have ever guessed... or voluntarily learned.
  • Laugh at the most unexpectedly profound and/or hilarious things that come out of a 5 year old's mouth - especially when the phrase "when I was a kid" is used.
  • Find yourself totally amazed at the new physical abilities and intellectual developments happening in front of your very eyes every day.
  • Wonder how it is that this kid makes you feel so. old. and. tired. while also making you feel so young and playful.
  • Cherish all the moments of babyhood, toddlerhood, and little-kid-hood that seemed to pass so quickly.
  • Look forward to another year of amazing milestones and development.

Happy birthday, Little Man!

03 November 2014

The Season of Crazy

November is upon us, and while it's already been warmer than expected, the odd weather seems to be an appropriate beginning to the insanity generally swept in by November.


For the last five years, November ushers in what I can only describe as the Crazy Season. We have (what feels like) non-stop activity that begins with the Little Man's birthday. This Friday our Little Man turns five - perhaps he's not so little anymore - and the fever pitch is building. Our count-down is on the door in the living room, and he's been happily removing the next page every morning. He doesn't know what he'll be receiving for his birthday, but he knows that there will be gifts, baked goods, and decorations, which is good enough for him at the moment.

The birthday hype leads into Thanksgiving. We don't celebrate on the actual Thanksgiving day, but this year we're pretty close, celebrating on the Saturday afterwards. The idea of a delicious food coma induced by bread stuffing and pumpkin pie is almost as good as the food coma itself - I'm having a hard time staying awake just thinking about it; but knowing that we've found some good friends to celebrate with over the last few years has made our Thanksgivings away from home enjoyable.

Thanksgiving is quickly followed by the arrival of Sinterklaas. This will be our third Sinterklaas experience - and the excitement surely has not worn off for the Little Man. In the Netherlands, Sinterklaas is not just the held on 6 December - there is a huge building to the gift day, starting with his arrival from Spain (the intoch), happening on 15 November this year, and he continues to make appearances around the country until he delivers the gifts on 6 December. The morning children's television has been ramping up the toy ads, which is why I can sing the Pillow Pets jingle by heart and Little Man talks about how ALL THE THINGS are so cool to get from Sinterklaas. Every Dutch parent knows the excitement and stress fueled by the dude in red, and somehow we all make it through.

Once Sint has retired back to Spain for the rest of the year, we move toward Christmas. This will be our first Christmas in the Netherlands, but we won't just be staying put in the house. We've already got plans for day trips to some Christmas markets in NL and Germany, and we'll be expecting some guests as well.

And for the first year, we'll experience New Year's Eve in the Netherlands, which I understand will likely be filled with an insane amount of fireworks as it's the one day a year they are legal in the country. In years past, we've returned home to find the streets littered with what I can only describe as a "disturbing" number of empty cartidges, and I can only hope that it's not on a higher level than the illegal neighborhood idiot fireworks on the 4th of July in Chicago.

So there you have it. We have entered into the Season of Crazy, which will also be dotted with occasional decorative changes in the house - as I remember. I hope to see you on the other side in one piece.

When does your "Season of Crazy" take place? Is it crazier if you live abroad?

Did you know we're on Facebook? Come follow us through the Season of Crazy!

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