Thursday, February 23, 2012

Free Haircut!

Is a free hair cut a good thing?  I'm still trying to decide.  There's a hair salon just down the road from me, it's been through multiple owners & names and I've visited at least once every time.  It's where I actually met my favorite hairdresser in the Netherlands, her name is Razia, and she is coincidentally the daughter of an old colleague.  Unfortunately Razia doesn't stay at one salon long, since using her I've had to visit her at 3 different locations, she was last at Salon Lenie (and I was definitely was the youngest customer in the place!)  I actually dislike going to the hair salon, probably because of all the years I colored my hair.  I have extremely long hair and for them to highlight it blond & trim it, I was usually stuck at the salon for about 2hrs, which is more than I can handle.  Despite loving the trash/gossip magazines the boredom of it all was too much.  A couple months after having my daughter I decided to be bold and stop coloring my hair, I had been blond since middle school and wondered what my natural color looked like.  Plus, like I mentioned I wanted to cut back on the time spent at the salon (and the money I was spending - around 100 per visit).  To be honest I had to dye my hair dark brown a couple times to get the ball rolling, but now it's mostly my natural color (you can see a bit of a difference near the tips.)  Anyway, this has cut my visits down to 30-60min depending on wait time, and if I go to the right salon I only spend about 25 on a cut.  In this quest to find a reasonably priced haircut it has taken me full circle... back to my old hair salon in Best (Imitch) then back to the salon down the road from my apartment.  Like I said, the salon has been through many owners and I noticed there was now a man running the place.  And the name changed from Scissors & Nails to Necmi Hair Design.  Walking by I wouldn't say I fit in there, it was always full with groups of Middle Eastern women who appeared to be getting ready for events.  I saw that often there were two hairdressers to each woman, I thought maybe they were in a hurry.  (It turns out he has at least 3 hairdressers-in-training that he teaches on a weekly basis.)  Then one day a sign appeared on the window, one of the hairdressers-in-training was looking for someone to practice on... every Tuesday she offered a free haircut to those willing to let her cut their hair.  Being frugal (aka cheap), this spoke to me.  Everyday as  I passed on the way to the shops or the school I saw the sign.  Considering I only cut my hair about once every 3 months, I had plenty to spare.  After dropping my daughter off at school I built up the nerve to call for an appointment.  I had to go then and there or I was going to chicken out.  Unfortunately she was busy that day but told me I could come in the following Tuesday for a cut (of course I had the girl herself on the phone and I didn't want to hurt her feelings so I made the appt).  For a week the thought of the appointment popped in and out of my head.  I went through many emotions; I told myself... you have so much hair she could make a mistake and it'll be o.k... she needs to learn... you're crazy... you're so cheap... you have to back out!!!  I called and called to cancel but there was no voicemail and no one picked up (of course not, they're closed on Sun. & Mon.)  I had the 1st appt of the day Tuesday, there was nothing I could do... and to top it off there was no school this week and my 2 yr old was going to have to join (and she's never sat through something like this!)  When I arrived at the salon I told the girl how nervous/excited I was and she told me how nervous/excited she was, GREAT!  But to be honest, she was nice enough and put me at ease chit-chatting.  Sure there were things she did that screamed she was new at it, but I was already in the chair, hair washed, ready for the damage.  She took her time, really, really took her time.  But we did get to chat during the 45-60 min and it turns out the man that runs the salon is apparently a Turkish hair genius, she said he can work miracles with a blow drier, and women come from all over to have him work wonders on their hair.  According to her she was being trained by a genius, it was nice to hear how proud she was.  At times as I sat in the chair I just smiled, wondering how I ended up in this situation, I still haven't decided if it was brave or crazy.  She didn't do half bad, I still have long hair (no need to turn it into a bob due to damage), but I can't say it has the layers I expected.  She cut it quite thick at the bottom, she repeatedly mentioned how nice thick hair is, and when I think about most of the Turkish women I have ever met they do have a lot of thick hair.  I doubt I'll go back there, but it was fun, it was thrilling.  And if there are any other brave (crazy) souls out there willing to get their hair cut by a hairdresser-in-training, her offer for a free cut on Tuesday's stand, just make an appointment with Sema.
In this blog I included a pic of the inside of the salon, it's looked basically the same since the 1st owner and a pic of their business card (I wouldn't say the business card would sell anyone on the salon, luckily word of mouth is a great marketing tool!)  And for anyone curious about salons in Eindhoven/Best, I've tried out quite a lot and I'm always willing to dish out my opinion!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Carnival Chivalry

Carnival (Dutch = Carnaval) celebrations aren't high on our list of priorities but we do occasionally join in; most years we don't even bother to dress in costumes or even step foot in the city center.  The idea behind it is fun; dress is crazy costumes, get drunk, and listen to Carnaval music while crammed into a dangerously full bar.  But the level the Dutch take it to can sometimes be intimidating, drinking for days on end, all hours of the day, can make most foreigners shy away.  I have nothing against alcohol or even getting a babysitter and having a wild night but I just can't hang with the Dutch when it comes to Carnaval.  I've heard rumors that some people are actually afraid to go into the city center during the celebrations because the level of aggression and drunkenness is too high.  This has never affected me or my husband until this past weekend.  Friday night my husband and a friend decided to head into the city center during Carnaval and grab a drink at a couple of our favorite places in town.  They first stopped at Popocatepetl, a Mexican restaurant that was selling beer outside for Carnaval (that's where the above photo was taken).  After that they headed on to Dr. Ink, a unique bar we pop into occasionally.  Then between Dr. Ink and their next stop, O'Sheas Irish Pub (another favorite of ours) they made a chivalrous decision that ended in a fight!  "Fight" is a strong word, it implies everyone was fighting but that wasn't the case.  "Jumped" that's also strong, it implies a group of people attacked them, which didn't happen.  I'll just get on with the story... my husband and his friend noticed a young man in his 20's arguing with a girl around 15 yrs old.  He was forcing her along, yelling at her, while she pleaded for him to stop & let go of her.  Ryan hoped it would diffuse without his involvement but it kept on, she would get away and the man would again latch on to her.  The couple weren't alone, all of the friends with them (guys & girls) were also trying verbally to get the man to stop.  When my husband & his friend realized he wasn't going to give up and he was going after the girl again (she had managed to break free for a moment), they yelled and caught his attention and told him to leave her alone.  Ryan said all he could think about was our daughter and that he would want someone to help her.  The man, his face painted white for Carnaval, decided to then unleash his anger on Ryan & his friend.  Ryan's friend, dressed in a Sumo costume, took the first punch.  The man hit him in his face sending his glasses flying, he ended up getting punched in the face 2-3 more times.  My husband doesn't like to fight, he is anti-fighting, so when the psycho went at him he was smart enough to block his face.  The man put him in a headlock and repeatedly tried to punch my husband in the face.  Ryan blocked all the shots but one, when the psycho clipped my husbands forehead causing him to bleed he had enough, put him in a headlock then forced him to the ground.  The man jumped up and continued yelling at Ryan & his friend, but eventually conceded and ran off.  The girl luckily got away and the man luckily didn't pull out a weapon or involve his friends, but my husband & his friend ended up with cuts & bruises just for trying to help out a young girl.  They never once threw a punch and yet were attacked repeatedly.  I sometimes wonder what this world is coming to, I'm just glad my husband got involved.  People think they can get away with everything these days, they think people are afraid of them, and will not step in.  But guess what, there are still decent people in this world, people willing to help and willing to get involved even if the person at risk is a stranger.  In this day and age everything goes viral, there's always someone standing around with a phone/camera, so of course I checked You Tube.  A guy in Sumo suit getting punched in the face or a brawl in the middle of town near the main cathedral is something I thought would end up online, but it hasn't.  We'd love to be able to take the video to the police, but then again being that it was Carnaval and the man's face was painted it would make it hard to identify him.  If you happen to have heard anything about this, please let me know.  I've included a photo of my husbands forehead, hope no one is squeamish.  Despite this incident it does not make us fearful of Carnaval or going out in Eindhoven, we've enjoyed Dutch celebrations and the city center for years with pleasure!!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Week's Difference

Until February it seemed we were going to have a mild winter, but then the temperature dropped and a decent snowstorm hit.  Being a Floridian I can't say I appreciate it when the temp drops below 20°FIn general I'll pick cold over heat, but the last couple of weeks have been enough to keep me inside unless necessary.  The ponds and canals froze over, the snow wouldn't melt because it was too cold, and the skin on my hands painfully cracked.  On the walk home from my daughters swimming class I snapped a shot of the canal that runs through the Ton Smitspark.  It was partially frozen over, but surprisingly enough there were a lot of ducks collected along the canals edge.  Despite disliking it being super cold, I do love the beauty of the snow.  The park was basically undisturbed, unlike the city center where I live.  Snow and cars don't mix, the ugly black snow it creates just ruins the view.  Just when I thought the cold was going to carry on for weeks longer, the temperature rose to a tolerable mid 30°FSo the next week on the walk home from swimming the rain had melted all of the snow and canal was flowing again.  I snapped another shot, shocked at the difference a week makes.  Besides the trees still being bare, you wouldn't guess the photos were taken a week apart.  I was glad the snow was gone, mostly because I was allowed to start driving again.  I know how to drive in rain but snow and ice, well, my husband wasn't comfortable with me driving our daughter around after only having a license for a month (I completely agree).  I'm crossing my fingers that the weather will only improve.  I'm ready to get back outside, go walking, take my daughter to the park, and above all go outside without gloves & a scarf!  I used to laugh to my husband when the Dutch would rush outside on the pretty days, but after 9yrs of living here, I'm starting to get it.  For all the times you're stuck inside due to the cold or rain, when it is nice outside you best go out and enjoy it! 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Beloved Cross-trainer

In 2006 my husband bought me an early Christmas present, my beloved cross-trainer.  I haven't been to a gym since 2001 and at that time relied mostly on exercise DVD's and my own calisthenics routine.  I originally wanted a treadmill (one of my old favorites from my gym days) but they are unfortunately too big for most Dutch homes, especially apartments.  I did some research and it turns out the cross-trainer (aka elliptical trainer) is actually better for you than the treadmill.  We ordered it online and it was delivered to my front door.  When it arrived in a box I grew concerned, I convinced the delivery man to at least lug the heavy box to my bedroom but he refused to assemble it.  Sometimes customer service baffles me, you pay hundreds of euros for something and they will not even put it together for you!  I pulled out the instructions and managed to assemble it myself, later I realized I had mixed some of the nuts & bolts up, and they later broke off.  So I advise you to read the instructions carefully if you ever purchase fitness equipment for your home.  I was immediately over the moon with my cross-trainer, it was such a smooth work out and had great results.  The biggest problem (I found) with exercising at home was boredom, using the cross-trainer while just listening to music wasn't enough.  I had to make it entertaining in order to make myself get on the thing (getting in shape apparently wasn't enough back then).  Grey's Anatomy was a fairly new show at the time, so I bought the first few seasons on DVD and started watching them while exercising.  One show lasted about 45 minutes, that was enough time to exercise and stretch out.  Eventually I ran out of tv shows and went on to movies, splitting it up over a few workouts.  When I became pregnant in 2009 I told myself I would keep using the cross-trainer, besides overhauling my diet I planned on exercising too.  But pregnancy wiped me out and I didn't set foot on the cross-trainer.  Even after my daughter was born I still didn't get on it, it haunted me, everyday hovering over me in our bedroom.  (It literally haunted my husband, he would hang his shirts on it and awake in the middle of the night thinking someone was in our bedroom, ha-ha!)  Finally after a series of efforts to lose the pregnancy weight... pilates, zumba, walking... I decided it was time to get back on the old machine.  Five years, and many workouts later it had grown creaky and was too loud to use while my daughter slept.  Excuses, excuses, I had plenty.  After growing depressed about the lack of weight loss, I knew I had to do something, I had my husband drag the cross-trainer to our shed and I set up shop there.  While my daughter napped I could use the loud old cross-trainer in the comfort (yeah right) of my shed!  In the summer it is occasionally too hot to go out to the oven for a workout and in the winter (weeks like now, -8°C/17.5°F degree weather) it is unbearable to exercise in the shed.  But all of the time in between, which is a lot, I can get out there 3-5 times a week, I try not to let more than 2 days go by without a good 30 minute workout.  I even added extra arm exercises with weights while on the cross-trainer to help tone up one of my problem areas.  Nowadays I get to stare at a supply shelf and listen to music through my cell phone, but I'm not complaining, I'm just happy to be toning up and shedding the pounds!!!  I'll leave you with a recent photo of my cross-trainer, it's cracked, chipped, and about to fall apart but I still love it.