Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve

I hope you all enjoy a safe and happy New Year's Eve.  Don't forget to reflect on all of your successes in 2012.  Tomorrow 2013 begins... for many of you this means the beginning of new resolutions and new phases of life, I wish you all the best!   
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Worthy Wine

I'm a big fan of dry red wines, you'll almost never see me with a glass of blush or white wine.  This Christmas season my husband decided to surprise me with two bottles of lovely red wine.  Not the usual reasonably priced merlot I pick up at the grocery store, but bottles that cost more than I would ever fork out for wine.  I am happy to say I enjoyed each one to the last drop!  I am far from a wine connoisseur but I could definitely taste the difference between the two bottles, and if I had to choose again, I would go with the Amarone over the Château Preuillac any day.  I can not justly describe the wines to you, so I looked up the descriptions.  And since I couldn't find the right photos (Google let me down), I took my own!  Anyone else enjoy a worthy bottle of wine this holiday season?   
 
 
Amarone Villa Arvedi 2009 Valpolicella Bertani
Borrowed description :
Deep dark ruby with a violet rim. Notes of black and sour cherries, berries, spices and dried fruit. The palate is creamy with soft tannins and integrated oak. A lighter, fruitier and younger version of Bertani’s icon Amarone Classico.



Château Preuillac Cru Bourgeois 2006 Medoc
Borrowed description :
Classic, balanced wine with a twist of richness. The black currant flavors are almost jelly-like in their sweetness, although these flavors are well balanced with acidity and a firm layer of dry tannins.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Where To Eat?

With hundreds of restaurants to choose from in Eindhoven, it can occasionally be difficult to decide on where to eat!  Eventually it boils down to what are you in the mood for, how much do you want to spend, and how close is it... very normal questions.  But what about the restaurants that you've personally never visited or heard any reviews about, are you the type to give them a chance also?  We are, as long as the place looks clean we're usually willing to give it a shot, at least once.  This past month we tried two new restaurants, well, one is new and one is new to us.  Being that we're American we are spoiled when it comes to a good steak, and it's been hard to find one here.  There is at least one restaurant in town that knows how to cook a steak, Rodeo.  In years past it was better, but it's still a decent place to eat.  Sure it's small, the tables are too close together, and it's usually warm in there, but the steak is worth it.  Then a few months back a new steakhouse opened, Sméagol.  It took us a while to try it out but once we did, we had no regrets.  Finally another option for a great steak in town!  This restaurant has a completely different atmosphere, is well lit (yes, I'm getting old and can't read the menu in dark restaurants), the service was great, and the price... wow, I swear they must have forgotten to charge us for something.  We'll definitely be going back for the mouth watering Argentinian steak.  Turns out the owner used to work at Rodeo, no wonder the steaks are comparable.  The only shocker was they don't serve alcohol, which was fine for a dinner with our toddler or parents, but if we're going to camp out for hours with friends this might affect our restaurant choice. 
The other restaurant we tried out was Juffrouw Tok.  This restaurant has been in Eindhoven for years, we've passed it everyday for the past 7 yrs we've lived in this apartment (we nearly share a parking lot).  And in all this time, we didn't try it until this past week... and it happened per chance.  Actually we went to the tapas bar next door, Senora Rosa, a place we thoroughly enjoyed during the summer.  But this time went all wrong.  We had a reservation, but yet the woman couldn't seem to find it, no matter, she still seated us within minutes.  Then it took about 15 minutes for someone to come by and take a drink order, which we could handle.  But after a total of 30 minutes passed and we still didn't have drinks or even placed a food order we couldn't take it anymore.  We had a movie to catch and time was running out, so as a group we decided to pick up and leave, and hopefully find a place that could squeeze a meal into about 45 minutes so we could make The Hobbit on time.  Luckily there was a nearly empty restaurant next door, and they were more than willing to accommodate us.  The main reason I had never eaten at Juffrouw Tok's was because it seemed like all the meals I could make at home.  And it turned out to be true, but it was still nice, sort of like eating at grandma's house.  The service was friendly & quick enough, it had a ski hut feel (large fire & wood everything), and the food was tasty and reasonably priced.  I doubt we'll go back, we like to eat out because they can make things I'm not capable of doing.  But at least we know it's a great fall back restaurant if everything else is booked. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday #33

Link up here for Wordless Wednesday!
 
Our curious camera compilation can also be found here...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Movie Time #2

I'm not exactly sure how I find the time to do it, but I watch a lot of movies.  I've been a movie fan since my grandpa bought me a VHS series of Disney Classics when I was around 8yrs old.  I watch all types of movies, sci-fi, drama, romance, action, etc. etc.  (But no horror flicks for me!)  I've previously blogged about movies, giving my oh so desired opinion, ha-ha!  You can see those reviews here : Chick Flicks & Movie Time #1.  And here's the next round, just a portion of the movies I've watched over the past two months. 

The Dark Knight Rises
My husband is a huge fan of the new series.  I enjoyed the older more colorful Batman series, Val Kilmer/George Clooney days.  But I have to admit the latest installment wasn't so bad.  Anne Hathaway isn't one of my favorites, in my mind she's still just the awkward girl from The Princess Diaries.  But Tom Hardy made up for that, even though he gained weight and they covered his face.  No matter what the bad guys in the "darker" series are well done and keep the movies interesting.  And I'm definitely curious about JGL's role in the next film.  Would I watch the movie again?  I already have and will again in the future.

Total Recall
Since I never watched the original with Arnold Schwarzenegger I didn't have much to compare it to, which made it obviously more enjoyable.  Some people I've talked to thought the women weren't good choices, but I think Kate & Jessica did just fine.  I enjoyed the movie from beginning to end, whether predictable or not.  I liked the action and the hint of love, and I really enjoyed the futuristic feel to it.  I haven't seen many movies with Colin Farrell, but he did well and was believable.  I feel they could have done more with the movie, but possibly conformed to keep it similar to the original.  Will I watch it again?  Yes, definitely.

G.I. Joe - The Rise of Cobra
I love this movie.  Action movies are one of my favorites, and this one adds futuristic technology, a little romance, and some humor.  I've always enjoyed a movie that kicks ass, this goes back to the days I watched endless JCVD movies as a preteen.  Plus I like it when they develop movies based on things I remember from my childhood, still waiting on a He-Man & She-Ra movie though.  I'm thoroughly looking forward to the 2nd one, which comes out in 2013.  Again JGL is in it, who ever knew he'd turn to action flicks after 3rd Rock From The Sun.  Have I watched this movie repeatedly?  More times than I can remember.

Lawless
This doesn't exactly fit into the usual movie's I watch, it's on the slow boring side.  I actually thought my husband would enjoy it, but he refused to watch it with me.  I have to admit, I fast forwarded through parts of the movie, this might have contributed to my disappointment in the end.  I waited and waited for it to get interesting, then they killed off the only character worth anything.  Obviously the point of the movie was about the younger brother moving up and developing himself but I just couldn't get into it.  I also expected something to happen romantically between two of the characters and it never quite panned out.  Will I watch it again?  No.

Prometheus
I haven't watched a true sci-fi flick in a while.  My husband doesn't enjoy alien movies so I have to watch them in my own time.  (I did get him to sit through Attack the Block, though).  I tried everything to convince him this film had nothing to do with the movie Alien (which I never saw) but he knew better.  I didn't find it to be too scary, but I did look away on occasions.  The cast did o.k., but I do wish they had brought in more big names like Charlize Theron.  The robot did well, and turned out to be the most interesting character.  There were things I didn't pick up on but I'm sure a quick look at IMDB would clear that up.  Do I plan on watching it again?  Probably not.

The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey
As expected, the movie was top notch.  The money they put in to it is obvious.  I heard complaints about it being in 3D but we had no issues.  I don't feel it needed to be in 3D but it didn't take away from the movie either.  The detail was amazing, the storyline interesting, the characters well chosen, I can't complain.  And even though the movie was 3hrs, I could have watched more... I actually expected about 30 minutes more.  We had great seats, front row of the balcony!  Will I watch this one again?  Maybe.  Will I watch the next one?  Definitely.  Do I wonder why they make so many and drag the series out?  Yes, but money is the answer.

Hope you enjoyed my quick reviews, done my own way.  I also hope you check out at least half of the movies I mentioned!  And keep an eye out for more reviews in the future.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The X Factor

In years past my husband & I watched American Idol, then there was a bombardment of these types of shows (I can list 3 right off the top of my head).  So, naturally we lost interest.  Then while visiting The States in 2011 we tuned in and found a new appreciation for the show.  We even followed season 10 completely, the talent was great, even though neither one of us are huge country music fans.  We also watched season 11, I even picked the winner, though my husband was convinced Joshua Ledet should have won.  This year we were side tracked and decided to give The X Factor a chance (US version 2nd season).  The first show I watched didn't sell me, it all seemed too staged.  We wanted to watch the talent and instead it was endless backstory, even our toddler complained.  But once you start watching, curiosity grows.  All of my favorites were kicked off early into the live shows, Lyric 145 & Beatrice Miller were awesome!  Then as the live shows continued we realized the lack of talent, X Factor didn't hold a candle to the talent on American Idol.  Then when it was down to the last 4 contestants (inc. 2 groups) we just stopped watching.  Then I read on the news Tate Stevens had won.  He seems like a nice guy, probably has fun singing for his friends, but I'm sorry, he wasn't good enough to win the 5 million dollar contract.  We've seen potential country singers at work on American Idol and they would have blown him out of the water.  If I had to choose out of the last contestants the only one with talent was Carly Rose Sonenclar, she was just on the boring side.  But I bet there's already a broadway show waiting to hire her.  We gave The X Factor a chance, and I can tell you, we will not be watching next year.  If you're wondering why we didn't follow American Idol this season, it's because I just can't understand why they chose the judges they did, hopefully next years selection will be better!  Despite constantly promoting their music, we liked the trio from season 10 & 11.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Windows Phone

I have a small issue, a luxurious problem if you will... I have to decide between a new Windows phone or my husbands old iPhone4.  I am a happy Windows smartphone user, and I thoroughly enjoy my HTC 7 Trophy.  My husband is an Apple iPhone user, he's tried HTC & Blackberry and every time he goes back to the iPhone.  The contract on my phone is almost up, so it's time to renew which means I get a new phone!  Exciting, can't wait to get a newer version of the Windows phone, whether it be HTC or Samsung.  (Samsung is also a great product, we love their tv's & media players.)  But then the luxurious dilemma arose.  Through work my husband received a new iPhone5 which means his iPhone4 needs a home.  Considering my contract is almost over and my phone is beat up after 2yrs of use, the most logical choice is that I take over his old (basically new) iPhone4.  If you've followed my blog, you've learned I like to make logical money saving choices.  But in this circumstance, I really don't want to.  I'm not an iPhone kind of person.  It sounds silly but I am a Microsoft fan, I love most of their products.  I have Windows 8 on my home computer, I have Windows on my smartphone, we own an Xbox; I love Microsoft and I don't want to switch to an Apple product.  It sounds silly but to me you're either a Microsoft user or an Apple user, one will suit you better than the other.  I'm familiar with Apple products, we have an iPad and I've used my husbands phone before, but I am just more comfortable with a Windows phone.  I think my husband is going to use my own words about being frugal and sensible against me, forcing me to take the iPhone.  It just seems unfair, there are people out there who dream of having an iPhone and I'm having one forced on me, it's not right.  I guess I should take it, be grateful, and the first opportunity I get, go running back to a Windows phone. 

What do you think?  Any Windows fans?  Any Apple fans out there?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday #32

Link up here for Wordless Wednesday!
 
Our curious camera compilation can also be found here...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Disney On Ice

Yay, after a long wait it was finally time for the Disney On Ice show on Sunday!  A couple months back my husband & one of his friends teamed up to score points with the wives & kids... they bought 2nd row seats to Disney On Ice!  Not only did they treat us to a quality show they were also sure to buy the kids fun things during the show, like spinning Minnie lights, Mickey binoculars, Tinkerbell snow cone cups & Disney balloons!  And after the show we all popped into a pizzeria before picking up the dogs from the in-laws.

The show was 90 minutes with a break, which was perfect for the kids.  And like expected, Disney did a great job.  My only issue was it was in Dutch and I wasn't able to sing along to the songs (I understand Dutch, just don't know the Disney songs in Dutch).  But when Beauty & The Beast hit the ice, I was singing in English no matter what.  Even though many of the Disney prince & princess aren't original, they're still magical.  Every time I see them I think of the endless great movies I watched repeatedly as a kid.  The ones I get to watch again now that I have a daughter.  So many of the great fairy tales have inspired my writing as an adult.
 
Besides Disney royalty their were the usual characters, the only ones my tot seems to care about... Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, & Pluto!  There were a lot of fun themes touching on holidays, from birthdays to Christmas, and through this they were able to incorporate many more characters.  I think the brochure said there were 50 in total.  We did miss Rapunzel & Flynn from Tangled, though!
 
During the 90 minute show only one couple fell, ouch!  A lot of it was skating for fun, but there were a few couples that were able to perform incredible moves.  The show wasn't just for the kids because the moms & dads were getting eye fulls of extremely fit skaters all the while.  My husbands favorite was Princess Jasmine, her outfit did enhance everything.  And mine had to be David Kawena from Lilo & Stitch, it was what he wasn't wearing that was so nice, ha-ha! 
 
When I lived in Florida I took Disney for granted.  The money and effort they put into everything they do from shows, to movies, to even the theme parks, is top quality.  They make dreams come true for young and old, thanks Walt!
 
My husband took so many great photos, but I'll only include a few.  Thanks again to my great husband for a wonderful day! 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

New Hat

I don't often wear hats, mostly because I'm afraid of the dreaded "hat-head" when I take it off (I have the type of hair that immediately fills with static or gets a strange ripple across the back).  But I keep seeing this hat around and I was just positive it would suit me.  Technically it's a cap, it has a lot of different names one of which a military cap.  During the summer I couldn't find what I was looking for (cotton/twill), but then the other day at H&M the winter (wool/polyester) version popped up and I was sure to buy it!  H&M call it a flat cap but if you look up a flat cap, it's similar but not quite the same.  Maybe it's just the female version.  Needless to say it's super cute!  I wore it the first opportunity I could, and my niece's soccer in the middle of December was just the right excuse.  I'm sure it helped keep me warm, hat's are there to serve a purpose.  But I have to be honest and say I wore it purely because I liked how it looked, how vain of me!  Sure times will arise that I'll actually use it to stay warm, giving me more options than the one white knit beanie I own.  Actually I own other hats, but I don't think I'll be wearing the leopard print cuffed hat I bought in the 90's that's still lurking in one of my drawers. 
Which reminds me, why do we keep these things?  Anyway, I just wanted to show you all my new winter hat, and the one I hope to find during the summer.  Speaking of summer hats, I still regret not buying a straw cowboy hat with seashells I fell in love with while dress shopping in 2006!  This doesn't happen to me often, but it was one time I wish I hadn't taken the cheap road and put the hat back on the shelf.  Maybe the next time I'm back in Florida I'll find another one.  And if there are any men reading this post, I promise you there is a difference between the two hats pictured besides the color, ha-ha!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Shopping

It's time for dreaded Christmas shopping again.  Just in case you missed the post, I am a big 'ol scrooge.  Every year I plead with my husband to change our ways, and yet every year some how we wait until the last minute to go shopping.  So not only are we shopping (which we don't like), we're shopping under pressure and fighting large crowds while doing it (prime ground for bickering).  My husbands work schedule has been slammed for months now so there's no time for shopping after work.  Last weekend we were all sick, leaving this weekend to shop.  And now somehow our schedule is filled with everything but Christmas shopping, argh!  I feel sorry for the guy, he hasn't had a break in forever and now he doesn't even get a moment of relaxing down time this weekend; any spare moments will now be filled with unpleasant shopping.  While being pushed through the stores, disagreeing about Christmas present budget, and trying to keep a 3 yr old entertained while going store to store, I am going to have to keep one thing in mind.  We get to go see Disney on Ice this Sunday.  It'll give us all a moment to regress to childhood, take in a well done Disney show, and also see the twinkle in our daughters eyes as she gets to watch the characters from the 2nd row!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday #31

Link up here for Wordless Wednesday!
 
Our curious camera compilation can also be found here...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pet Insurance

I'm definitely looking for feedback on this one... do you think getting insurance for your pet is worthwhile?  I think maybe, my husband thinks no, so I'm basically throwing all of this out there to convince myself and him that it is necessary. 

Pros :
-Maggie is purebred and runs a higher risk of diseases
-We live in busy downtown which can be dangerous for a dog
-She needs to get fixed, and they cover 1/2 the costs
-Checks up & meds are expensive
-She's only 8 months old, so it's not like if she develops something serious she's had a long life

Cons :
-Paying around 35 p/m but most likely not needing to use it
-If they pay 1/2 the spaying costs you have to use them for 5yrs
-They don't cover medicine for fleas which can cost around 30 a month
-We'll eventually move to a quieter neighborhood, lowering risks
-They cover the costs of a chip implant, but she already has one

I am big on health insurance, despite the fact I actually despise insurance companies.  We pay a lot for our little family but I at least know we get compensation for most of the health bills I turn in (and I turn them all in!)  I figure we take the precautions for the humans so why not the animal too?
Anyone have experience with Proteq (Dutch animal insurance)?

Monday, December 10, 2012

PhotoFunia

Just a quick tip for anyone who enjoys playing with photos, it's called PhotoFunia!  It's a fun app, that you can download for free.  I don't manipulate many photos, but if I do, I tend to use Picasa and then add just a boost or something simple.  But on occasion it's fun to go a step further.  This app allows you to apply all types of pictures (mostly human faces) to around 298 options of photo fun.  I've included one original picture to show you what you can do with the app, and I've also included a few other fun ones we have made.  (Wow, so far I've used the word fun, 5 times!)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Circle of Sick

Our family has been rotating a cold now for a while.  We sent our visitors from The States back with a cold, and we have been spreading it ever since.  This week has been the worst so far.  My husband missed two days of work, my toddler has been participating in minimal activities, and now it's my turn.  It's what I get for dancing around Tuesday night bragging about how healthy I am!  I spent most of today on the couch trying to convince my daughter why the Santa Clause trilogy is way more fun than playing outside in the snow, aww poor kid.  As soon as the body aches and sore throat are gone, I hope to get back to blogging as usual.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday #30

Link up here for Wordless Wednesday!
 
Our curious camera compilation can also be found here...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Maybelline

When it comes to makeup I mostly use Maybelline or L'Oreal products, they're affordable and still reliable.  This morning when I opened the cabinet in my bathroom and pulled out my trusty eye makeup remover it crossed my mind just how long I've been using this particular product.  For around 15yrs I've used Maybelline Expert Eyes Moisturizing Eye Makeup Remover for Waterproof Makeup (that would be a mouthful to say).  No matter how bad your mascara smudges under your eyes from a day of use or activities, or even after a shower, it takes it off in one wipe.  It's one of the few products I still ask my mother to send me from The States, I can't imagine not having it on hand.  Every once in a while though I start wondering about long term usage, will this product help to lessen wrinkles, does it possibly have some type of adverse effect that I'll discover years from now, should I be researching long term use?  But as quickly as the thought came it went (fleeting thoughts, that's what this blog is all about).
 
Besides being an adamant user of Maybelline eye makeup remover, I am also a huge fan of their mascara.  In my younger years I solely used their Great Lash Waterproof product.  But I've moved on to Volum' Express Waterproof these days.  Over the years I've tried other brands but nothing suits me like Maybelline mascara; I know how to use it, I can make it look as natural or thick as I like, and it stays in place as it should.  Sure after swimming or a long day it smudges, but they all do.  And since I have oily skin I have to completely avoid anything that isn't waterproof or trustworthy.  What's even better, I can buy it here in The Netherlands! 
 
Do any of you have products you would never go without?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bloom Chair

This past week we retired our daughters' high chair.  It was strange to see it go into storage... this chair has been with us for the past 3yrs.  I still remember the day we ordered it, I was 7 months pregnant and we hit up the baby store with my in-laws.  We ordered her entire bedroom set, everything else we needed, and more.  As a gift from our in-laws they bought us a high chair (really contemporary but fits our house) and a baby monitor (it had a camera and we could actually see her on the monitor).  My father-in-law loves gadgets so of course he bought us the latest and greatest.  The Bloom high chair was unique in the fact it could be used from 6-36 months (it had 3 different stances).  So many memories were made in that high chair, her first tastes of fruits & vegetables, learning how to feed herself, to even being able to directly use the dining room table and eat like everyone else.  I know it's just a high chair, but it's also a phase of life passing.  Some of my friends are finished having kids or never plan on having kids, but I at least have the hope that we'll be doing this all over again.  It is such a strange thing a woman goes through, despite the complaining, endless supplies, and lack of sleep, you miss it and want to do it all over again.  So, it's not goodbye Bloom high chair, it's until next time! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Whistle-stop Tour (2)

Unfortunately during my dad's visit to The Netherlands my husband wasn't able to get any time off work (but hey, that's what happens when you're GM).  He was kind enough to let us borrow his SUV as often as possible though.  On one of these days I was sure to take my dad & his partner to one of my favorite places in The Netherlands, Valkenburg.  Like Den Bosch, a lot of the older buildings survived the war and it has an added bonus, caves!  Since we were going to be gone for most of the day we had no choice but to bring our dog, so we all piled into the SUV.  Valkenburg caters to tourists, so there are tons of places to eat & shop.  During the summer there are also fun outside activities like a cable lift and castle ruins.  And during the winter its known for the multiple Christmas markets.  Throughout the year you can visit the caves, and during the winter holiday they are decorated for Christmas.  I am yet to see the Christmas market inside the caves, I was finally there at the right time of year and someone had to wait outside with the dog, oh well.  I have toured the caves during other trips and they are adorned with incredible artwork, the caves housed many families during WWII, and the guides have a great knowledge of their history.  We happened to arrive in Valkenburg right at lunch, so we quickly found a place to eat.  The Dutch don't mind you bringing dogs to restaurants as long as they stay outside, and luckily a lot of restaurants provide covered (and heated) terraces to eat on.  Long live the smokers and people-watchers who have made this possible.  We happened upon a great restaurant named meat@Valkenhof, the portions were huge, the food was excellent, and the service was friendly, jackpot!  After lunch we were off to explore the town, my dad pushing the stroller, Ron controlling the dog, and me rotating between cameras.  Overall it was a successful day, and worth the hour+ trip down there.  Hopefully next time my parents can visit longer from The States, but no matter what it was great seeing them.  I'm sure after a week with a talkative toddler and energetic puppy they were happy to get back to their tidy house.  It was hard to see them go, and even harder to hold the tears back in order not to upset my daughter.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday #29

Link up here for Wordless Wednesday!
 
Our curious camera compilation can also be found here...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Whistle-stop Tour (1)

As I mentioned, we had family visiting from The States.  I don't like to write about it until they're safe back home, so when I saw the email this morning they had arrived back in FL I knew I could finally write a post.  It was a short visit (hence the "whiste-stop tour" title) but still a nice one.  My dad & his partner flew over to spend a week with us!  They started off in London for a couple days, headed our way for a week, and then rounded their trip off back in London.  A week doesn't allow for the grand tour of The Netherlands but luckily my dad has visited a few times before.  A week does allow a quick mix of seeing some of my daughter's activities (school & swimming) and a couple short trips.  This will be a 2-part post, mostly because I want to spend my time rambling on about Valkenburg in my next post.  Today's post will be about a side trip we took during their visit to 's-Hertogenbosch (aka Den Bosch).  If you ever visit The Netherlands I recommend a 1/2 day visit to Den Bosch.  It wasn't hit too hard during WWII so there is a lot of great architecture and history to be seen.  We were on crunch time, a rush between nap and dinner so it was a whirlwind visit.  My main goal was to show them the incredible cathedral there, Sint-Janskathedraal (St. John's).  It's one of those places you learn about in school but can't imagine ever seeing in person.  The detail that went into the cathedral is beyond words.  It's construction dates back to the 1300's, and if the outside didn't take your breath away the inside will.  The paintings that are larger than life, the stained glass, the tombs, the fact that you can't even begin to count how many people have walked through there since it's construction.  My dad has a great appreciation for architecture and I knew he would be highly impressed with this stop.  Besides getting lost and struggling to parallel park we made it inside the church 20 minutes before it was to close for the evening.  Once everyone was shuffled outside and the large wooden doors were closed we decided to loop around the center of town before heading back to the car.  The town always has something to offer from restaurants to shops, and being winter it's also decorated with Christmas lights.  The mix of old buildings and new shops is typical of The Netherlands, and the small canals winding throughout the city also add to its character.  I think my dad & his partner were delighted with our visit, and maybe next time they fly over we can enjoy a meal on one of the side streets.  My daughter wasn't as impressed with the cathedral as everyone else, she found it to be scary... maybe because of its size, the fact the sun was setting and it was dark inside, or possibly the freezing temperatures turned her off.  At least the Christmas lights dotting the city and decorative stores made up for it!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mini Countryman

While my in-laws were on vacation in sunny Florida, my mother-in-law entrusted her car to me.  Which was a surprise considering I totaled the last car they let me borrow.  Sure it's been just over 10yrs since I ran the red light and sunk their purple Chrysler PT Cruiser into a truck across the intersection but that doesn't mean I wasn't reluctant to borrow one of their vehicles again.  When she said I could use her red Mini Countryman, I was going to pawn it off on my husband and then drive his SUV in the mean time.  But he had no intentions of downsizing.  My next plan was to leave the car at her house and borrow it sparsely... we live in the center of town and only have one private parking spot, being cheap I wasn't going to pay the city to park the car for over 2 weeks in the public lot.  Then just before their vacation new renters moved in next door, renters with a parking spot and no car.  They were kind enough to let us borrow their spot, and before I knew it the little red car was at my disposal.  Of course I made sure to visit all of the places too far to walk to, we did plenty of shopping over the course of their vacation.  I always told myself if I had a car I would still walk, it's healthy and good for the environment.  But when normal activities arose, ones we always walk to, we ended up in the car.  I think my daughter was happier with the car than me, I can imagine sitting in the stroller for extended periods could be quite boring.  I would ask which one she wanted to take and she always voted for the car over the stroller.  It took a while to get used to the Mini, even though I took driving lessons in one, it's a lot different than my husbands Hyundai.  It feels wide on the road and has a narrow windshield, and the pick-up well, let's just cross our fingers that I didn't rake in too many tickets.  By the end of their trip we were zipping around easily though, I doubt I would buy one in the future but it turned out to be quite fun to drive.  My mother-in-laws car was impeccably clean when we first borrowed it, but after a couple weeks parked under a pine tree losing its fall leaves, a dog that leapt into a muddy canal to chase ducks, and the general messiness of a 3yr old, I had a lot of work to do before I returned it.  I don't remember the last time I cleaned a car like that.  When I used to live in Florida I owned a red Chevrolet Cavalier and I didn't mind cleaning it, mostly because it involved a bathing suit and getting a tan.  But cleaning a car in cold weather is much different, thankfully there are drive through car washes!  The day I was to return the car I grew nervous, I had managed to drive it the entire time without damaging it and all I wanted to do was get it returned to her driveway in one piece.  Then her sister called asking for a ride, this meant not just a trip one town over to return the Mini, but now I also needed to swing by an additional town to pick up my husbands aunt.  This meant an additional half hour of risk, luckily it went smoothly and I returned the car clean and in one-piece.  I don't know if I'll have the nerve to borrow it in the future, but I did enjoy the time I had bopping around town to town in it!
The included photo is close to what her car looks like, I meant to get a shot of me driving it but that didn't happen.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Absence

Please excuse my absence... we have family visiting from The States and of course while they're here our time is dedicated to them!  I promise by next week to have some nice posts for you... ranging from my time with a Mini Countryman (a car) to more tourist stops within The Netherlands. 
 
And no, that's not my home office, but it's cute.  It's occasionally fun to imagine the possibilities for the future... one day we'll be out of this apartment and into a house!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday #28

Link up here for Wordless Wednesday!
 
Our curious camera compilation can also be found here...

Monday, November 19, 2012

GLOW off.

Besides the official GLOW taking place in Eindhoven, there was the unofficial GLOW off.  This is where amateurs make their own venues and display them during the last day of GLOW.  Us and some friends decided we wanted to make our own film so that we too could participate.  One weekend we set up a make shift studio in a friends backyard.  This including white sheets hung between ladders for a backdrop... an iPhone for filming... a few props inc. a wind machine... and a computer program to turn our images into silhouettes.  Again I'll reiterate we're amateurs.  Living downtown gave us the prime location to display what we created.  So after an afternoon of filming and some 10 odd hours of editing on the computer (thanks Mike) we had a short film to air.  To be honest, I expected loads of people standing outside of our apartment watching the film we were airing on to our front window.  But we only had a few passerby's.  Sure the larger light displays in town were nice, but we were easily comparable to the smaller ones.  Needless to say we had fun and made a night of it!  Unfortunately I didn't get the best photos but I do have the movie for you!  The film could have used a bit more tweaking but we had already put enough time into the one night project.  The photo I included above gives you an idea of what the movie looked like displayed on our window.  The funniest part of the entire night was when the neighbors above us couldn't figure out why there were people outside taking pictures and pointing... maybe we should have warned them, oops!
video
 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

GLOW

Living in a large city definitely has its perks, as in there is always something interesting taking place.  Right now Eindhoven is hosting GLOW.  It's an incredible display of art projected around the city onto a variety of buildings.  Besides just light shows, there are also many odes to artificial light and its capabilities.  GLOW brings people from all over... once the sun sets hordes of people wander around the city gazing up at the displays. 
 
It's also a great opportunity for photographers, so besides crowds oohing and awing, there are also tons of people running around with cameras and tripods.  Since we live in the center it would be pure lazy if we didn't step out our door and participate.  One evening after dinner I realized my husband would be late and there was still around an hour before my daughters bedtime, so we bundled up and headed into the crowds.  At first my daughter was impressed with the street lights, she's not often out after dark.  But when we actually neared the displays she was overly impressed.

Some of the displays combine poetry & lights, some music & lights, and others, just art & lights, each one interesting in it's own aspect.  We saw around 7 displays and my favorite this year has to be the garden of lights on the Wilhelminaplein.  My daughters favorite has to be the display on the cathedral, she told her dad all about the people dancing on the building (what she didn't realize was that it was a conductor and parts of an orchestra, but I will not burst her bubble).
 
Sometimes the displays are too artsy for me, I remember last year watching one (a combo of poetry and light) waiting for something to happen but that was it... someone reading text to dramatic music as it flashed by on a wall.  This year they also displayed and read text, but the words were projected over a huge building giving it more of an affect.  If you're in the Eindhoven area, I recommend joining in the fun.  It's free, it's interesting, why not take advantage of it.  GLOW runs from November 10th-17th.  I didn't get the best photos, I was using our small camera at night, but I wasn't there for the pictures anyway.