Thursday, June 28, 2012

Casino Night

Recently we had a family/ladies night out at the casino, I love the casino!  I enjoy spending time with my in-laws, so a dinner & casino night seemed like a great start to the summer.  Despite my excitement I physically and mentally tried to sabotage the evening (again, my wording is extreme, I am a storyteller).  Before I get into the details, I'll let you know we all had a good time and will do it again.  My issues started weeks before, we kept having to reschedule the date of the night out thanks to someone (you know who you are, ha-ha!)  This waiting built my excitement to a level I could barely contain.  It was a problem I had when I was younger, I would get so excited about an event that by the time the event came I had a headache, felt sick, and made it miserable.  Seriously, I thought I was over this! 
The next problem (self created) was my perfumed body lotion.  I don't generally wear perfume, I find the smell too strong and it easily gives me a headache, plus I have allergies.  So what did I do an hour before going out, I lathered my body in perfume lotion, I ended up taking an aspirin before I even left to meet everyone.  My next issue, I started drinking at the restaurant.  I don't get many child-free nights out, so I wanted to take advantage of it.  During dinner I managed to drink 2 beers, which doesn't seem like much, but like I said I was already having mental & physical issues (excitement + perfume).  I enjoyed dinner, but to be honest my head was focused on the casino and the hundreds of euros I was going to win.  I wanted to prove to my husband that he's not the only one that can rake in the mula (money) at the casino, which I didn't.  Now I've added alcohol and pressure.  I'm lucky I didn't throw up! 
And last but not least, I get nervous while playing roulette.  I don't like any other game at the casino besides roulette, I seem to hold on to my money longer at the roulette table than anywhere else.  Why do I get nervous, who knows, maybe because I'm a tight wad and hate losing money, maybe because I feel like all eyes are on me???  The best way I could explain it to my mom was, I felt like a kid playing an adults game, but c'mon I'm 30 yrs old, I'm allowed to be there.  So, excitement + perfume + alcohol + pressure + nerves = stuttering at the table while speaking Dutch to the dealer, shaky hands while playing chips, spilling my beer all over the table in front of the in-laws (I had 2 more), & breaking into random sweats, plus a general unwell feeling!  But like I said, all in all it was a fun night out, and according to my mother-in-law I wasn't annoying in the slightest, ha-ha!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hair Salon : √

Well, I think I finally found my new permanent hair salon, Coupez in Eindhoven! 

Like I mentioned in a previous post about hair salons, I've been searching for a decent salon for some time now.  My last two cuts didn't turn out quite like I hoped, nothing to do with the salons but the stylists lack of experience.  The stylist at Coupez, Rachel, also owns the salon and takes pride in her work, and her experience shows.  She listened to what I wanted, gave some advice, and the result was a great cut!  For the first time in ages, I left the salon and actually wasn't embarrassed.  Usually the stylists give me some ridiculously large, product filled hair style, that I want to run home and wash out, but not this time.  I actually felt like a million bucks.  The stylist is friendly & knowledgeable, the salon itself is cute & clean, and the price was worthwhile.  And to top it off she's within walking distance, making it a quick trip.  She also cuts children's hair, there's a cute chair and tv screen for the kids.  Up until today I only knew of one other salon in town that catered to kids.  (Maybe when my daughter turns 3 yrs old, we'll get her hair cut for the 1st time.)  The true test of the cut will be after I have washed and styled my own hair, but as of now I am very content.  I definitely plan on returning to her salon (even when it moves down the road in September).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Park Observations

I wish I could say this post is about the great sculptures in the parks around Eindhoven, or about the beautiful landscape in the center of town, or even about the silly signs the city is putting up everywhere, but it's not.  It's about random yet semi-disturbing (a bit extreme, how about bothersome) things I saw in the park on the walk home from toddler swimming class. 

The first was two large black birds eating a field mouse.  I spared you the close up, but here's a photo from a distance.  It's nature, it's the food chain, it made me want to lose my breakfast!  Pushing the stroller with one hand and shielding my 2yr olds eyes with other I rushed passed, but something in human nature makes us look back.  It's fascinating and vulgar at the same time, the way the black birds pecked the mouse and flipped him violently was almost too much though.  And yet I stopped to take a picture, maybe I'm the gross one, ha-ha!

The next thing I observed was the fact people actually shave their dogs in the park.  Maybe to dog owners brushing and shaving their pets in the park is normal, but to people like me with a kid running around it's actually just nasty.  Sure my stomach was still queasy from the black birds, but the clumps of matted dog hair were repulsive.  Of course I had to take a picture, otherwise these random blog posts might not be as interesting.  What were these people thinking leaving these hair/fur clumps behind?  Are they just hoping they blow into the wind, get shredded when the city mows, or get recycled by birds for nests? 

And the last thing I have to complain about is an old shopping cart situated next to a trash can.  Again, what are people thinking, maybe they hope the city will pick it up when they collect trash?  The amount of rust and the odd & end items (one being a child's bike seat) in the shopping cart did spark my curiosity though.  Was it fished out of the bottom of a nearby canal when they recently redirected it?  Was it buried for ages in the tall shrubs, recently found by the city worker as he cut the grass?  Is the 50 cents still in the coin deposit? 

I thoroughly enjoy the parks here in the center of Eindhoven (our own Central Park), but today was a let down.  Or was it... I did get a blog post out of it!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sticker Graffiti (#2)

Ever since I wrote a post about sticker graffiti throughout Eindhoven I can't stop seeing stickers everywhere I go!  And neither can my dad because he's sending me his own shots. 

The first photo was taken in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA.  (You can't miss the palm trees in the background.)  If you look close enough there's also a reoccurring theme to the stickers on our drain pipe, apparently cats & light bulbs are popular among taggers.  Since I wasn't there to take the photo I can't make out too many of the stickers, at the top I do see Wa* though.  Of course I Googled this, I couldn't find anything matching it, but it did seem to bring back a lot of results for the Japanese word Wa, which is the oldest recorded name for Japan.  Maybe my dad has some background on the stickers...  Dad, a little help?

The next shot my dad took while he was in New York City, NY, USA.  Here the taggers take a different approach, they use the sidewalk (as well as everything else).  I'm actually surprised the stickers have held up so well with all of the pedestrians in NYC.  This photo has quite a few legible stickers; and keeping up with my last post about sticker graffiti, I'm going to list off what I see.  I'll let you do the background work and if you see something I don't, let me know!  Cr8 Your Fate, Decon, 10Deep, a paintbrush, some guy with a  crew cut, Asian triangle guy, and a heart.  O.k., o.k., I couldn't let it go, I looked one up, I'll give you a heads start, Cr8 Your Fate.

Like I mentioned, I can't get away from the stickers here in Eindhoven, NL, so here's a photo I took of a door near the center of the city.  In the bottom left corner you can see old friendly Gato & Reus (cat & giant), they're also on the drain pipe outside of our apartment.  And obviously a lot we haven't seen before, luckily the graffiti artists haven't gone this crazy on our drain pipe.  Some of these I actually bothered to look up (I promise, I really do have better things to do, ha-ha!)  There are a wide range of stickers, some stickers are protesting against the treatment of animals prior to slaughter, some are just advertising music festivals, and some are marketing their own companies.  Some are a bit more interesting, like Big Daddy Gun, he's a graffiti artist (sticker-sticker, funny), and you can find him on You Tube.  And there is even one promoting a band through MySpace (wow, does that still exist). 

No matter what, each sticker has some sort of story behind it.  Maybe the sticker itself has little to no meaning and the story lies within the act itself.  In my teenage years I definitely stuck random stickers around town, what a silly adrenaline rush!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Potato Tacos

Yes, you read this correctly, I'm blogging about mashed potato tacos.  You're probably thinking WTF??!!  Because that's exactly what I thought when the recipe popped up in my email box.  I subscribe to and receive new recipes daily, and generally they have decent suggestions.  But this, mashed potatoes stuffed into a taco shell, c'mon!  Was no one paying attention when they sent out the Daily Dish that morning?  I love mashed potatoes and I love tacos, but together, I'm still trying to grasp this.  You know what is even crazier, they recommend it as a good snack for kids!!!  And we wonder why there are so many over weight people in the world.  I couldn't just let the email go by without checking further into it, when I opened the site I saw the recipe received 4 out of 5 stars!  One persons comment even said it was a good idea as a vegetarian meal, now I know a few vegetarians and I doubt they would eat this.  I guess the name of the site proves correct,, not GoodRecipes or HealthyRecipes, but AllRecipes.  If any of you are brave (hungry) enough to try this, please let me know if I am missing something!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Guest Blogging

I'm going for a record of 2 posts in 1 day!  I usually try and space my posts out, especially considering I knew I was guest blogging on someone else's blog today.  But the post about belly-flopping needed to be told and just didn't happen yesterday, so it was pushed to today. 

How exciting, someone actually let me write a post on their blog!  It was great to be able to ramble, complain, rant & rave, call it what you will, elsewhere.  I read a lot of blogs, more than I actually "follow", and one I've picked up along the way is Confessions of a Curvy Girl.  When they put out a request for guest bloggers, I jumped at the opportunity.

It's a blog most women can relate to, the struggle with our weight, appearance, and self-esteem.  Though I am not curvy, I am also far from skinny, something today's society makes you feel quite bad about.  So for me following their blog was an easy decision.  I get a lot of laughs reading their (3 women contribute) blog and sometimes they even touch on sensitive issues.  To all of my female readers, I definitely recommend you take a peek at what they have to offer.  And to my male readers, if you want to know how us women feel about our weight (other than what we freely complain about), also click on over.  A big thanks to the ladies at Curvy Girl for letting me guest blog (even though I might have been the only candidate, ha-ha)!


No matter how old I get a good amount of alcohol can make me do stupid things!  Over the weekend the Netherlands played Denmark in the UEFA Euro 2012 (soccer/football to those of you unfamiliar with the European Championship).  We were invited to a friends house to watch the game, but somehow I ended up being the only woman there.  I don't mind, there's just no one to reign me in when the drinks start flowing, and men tend to drink far more than women during these events.  The get together started at 5PM and we headed home around midnight, you can only imagine how much beer (oh yeah, can't forget my fav vodka/redbull) you can drink in a 6-7hr period.  On the bike ride home with our friends we cut through a skate park.  I was sitting on the back of my husbands bike when he thought it would be funny to scare me.  We were already biking quite fast and he decided to beeline it towards one of the skateboard ramps, all the while threatening to shoot us up the ramp.  I can be quite  a wimp at times, so I panicked, the last thing I wanted to do was crash the bike with us on it.  I often go to the playground with my daughter and as we're swinging I leap from the swing mid-air and land on my feet to impress her.  So when my husband said we were headed for the ramp I thought, I can do this, just like the swing I can leap off the bike.  Thanks to the alcohol, I didn't factor in the speed or the angle.  When my feet hit the ground they were immediately swept out from underneath me!  Boom, I landed on the hard pavement like the people you see on Funny Home Videos, body parts flying, basically a belly-flop on the pavement.  I was dazed but I jumped to my feet, something the adrenaline always makes me do.  I guess I had to see if I was still capable of moving.  The first thing I noticed was my ribs killed and I was extremely winded.  My husband and his friends ran over to me, all checking me over, especially my face.  Apparently it looked like my face slammed into the pavement, but luckily for me it didn't.  I was embarrassed but still too dazed to focus on that.  I had been telling a story earlier that night about relaxing when you fall, so it was perfect timing for one of my husbands friends to get his wise cracks in.  That night as I went to bed I knew my shoulder and knee hurt (opposite sides), and I kept waking up checking myself, it was hard to believe I didn't break something.  The next day the shoulder ache was gone, but then I started to feel like I had been in a car wreck.  Now two days later, my abdomen aches a lot, like I side the first thing I noticed after jumping was the pain in my ribs.  My knee is aching and a bit swollen, and I still feel like I hit a brick wall.  Oh yeah, and the embarrassment has definitely grown.  It's not often my husband invites me to tag along during a guys night out, and I doubt that'll be happening again soon! 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Music Moments #2

Here's another follow-up post!  It's not that I'm out of things to talk about I just wanted to share some great albums with you. 
What's playing in the background as I work on my blog and books?  I keep switching because I can't decide which album I like better.  There's stiff competition between Fun. - Some Nights & Lana Del Rey - Born To Die.  They're not exactly the type of music I have always listened to, who knew I liked Indie Pop; my husband says it's because I'm getting older so the music I listen to isn't as intense.  Maybe he's right, or maybe I haven't heard any rap or rock albums that really interest me lately.  Well, except for Jay-Z & Kanye West's album - Watch the Throne.  Needless to say there are some great songs on the above albums, besides their main singles you should listen to Carry On & National Anthem.

What's playing while I'm exercising.  Rihanna's 4th & 5th albums, Rated R & Loud.  I still can't believe how many popular songs/albums she has pumped out over the years, she's on #6 now.  She makes great music for dancing and exercising.  My daughter also loves her music, unfortunately she's not allowed to watch any of the videos because of their intensity.  Actually there are few videos my daughter is allowed to watch, most of them are quite disturbing these days.  Sometimes my husband and I flip on the music channel (not MTV because they don't even play music) and after a few videos we look over at each other questioning what we were just exposed to.  We're not prude, it's just most videos these days are strange, they'll do anything to get a rise out of you.  (Seriously I'm not getting old.)

What's playing in the house that my daughter enjoys?  Right now thanks to American Idol she's enjoying Creedence Clearwater Revival.  We just play a best hits albums and she thoroughly enjoys it.  Even at 2 yrs old she can appreciate real music and instruments.  And since the entire family loves oldies, you'll also occasionally hear the Forrest Gump soundtrack, and if it's just the girls even the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.  I think movie soundtracks are a great place to find a good compilation of music.  Plus you get the added benefit of having great movie scenes pop into mind when you hear the songs, it's an all around fun experience.  Since American Idol had such strong contenders this season, we are also eagerly awaiting albums from Joshua Ledet & Phillip Phillips.

I hope all of you have background music in your lives.  Whether singing along in your car, bopping around your living room, or just kicking back and taking it in, everyone should have music moments.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Helicopter Flights

I don't know if you've ever had the chance to take a flight in a helicopter but I highly recommend it!  I've been lucky enough to have done this twice.  The first time was when I was fresh out of school with a credit card burning a hole in my pocket.  Living near Orlando gave me access to all of the great things available to tourist, so a friend & I booked a flight and took a tour over Orlando with a group of people.  It was fun, it was new, it was exciting, and we were able to see the theme parks I often visited from a new angle.  The second time was during my honeymoon.

We were in Florida for 3 weeks and during that time we took a trip down to Key West.  Wanting to take full advantage of our honeymoon we decided to book a private helicopter flight over Key West.  It was expensive, the pilot said the flight would cost 100 dollars to fly over the city and if we wanted to fly over the water it would be another 100 dollars.  Being young and not having much money we opted for the shorter trip.  The pilot gave us an option to fly without the doors, of course we took it, we didn't think it could get much better.  He flew us all over the island, we were able to take pictures of our resort and even see the golf course my husband played; it was great, then he took us to the water's edge.  Knowing how beautiful and exhilarating it was, he offered again, 100 dollars and I'll take you over the water.  We couldn't say no, and I'm glad we didn't.  It was one of the most special things I've ever been able to do in my life (again, my husband making dreams come true). 

We saw everything from ship wrecks to groups of dolphins, stingrays, paragliders, and lots of boats.  And when we saw a shark the pilot lowered the helicopter to get a better look, we were so close to the water it was chopping.  We were able to make an incredible movie of the shark and put it on You Tube for the world to enjoy.  At that moment he could have charged us any amount and we would have kept flying, it was such a rare experience.  When we landed my husband and I were so moved by the trip that we seriously talked about sending my husband to take flying lessons (then we looked up the costs, ha-ha).  So again, I say, take a helicopter flight, but be sure you are actually flying over something worth seeing.  And if doors are optional, you have to take them off, you see more, you feel more, you experience more!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Quiz Night

I've lived in Eindhoven for almost 7 years, and it wasn't until this past year that I ever heard of International Quiz Night at the Carrousel.  Now I know pubs in Utrecht host them, because my husband & his friends used to go, but now there's one nearby!  I love games, video games, board games, and especially quiz games.  I rarely win but luckily I'm not a sore loser.  When I heard about quiz night, I jumped to join in, even though I was told it's quite hard.  It's been over a decade since I graduated high school and the past couple years of my life have mostly revolved around my kid, so I was a little intimidated to participate.  I didn't let it stop me though.  Back in April I met a group of women for the 3 hour quiz, and I was shocked to see how many people were participating, there were 30 teams!  We didn't come in last, but we sure didn't come in first either.  And to be honest, I felt I contributed little.  At times I wondered if I had ever paid attention in school, and other times I questioned if these were the subjects students learned about in college.  (I only went to a couple years of community college.)  No matter what, I had fun, and it was nice to challenge myself in a new way, and clear out some of the cobwebs cluttering my brain. 
When the opportunity arose last month to go to quiz night with Mums & Toddlers, I signed up right away.  This time it was a whole new group of women, some I knew and some I didn't.  We pulled together, different ages, different backgrounds (Australian, South African, Scottish, & American) and didn't do half bad.  And this time I actually felt like a worthy member of the team; I was able to provide answers other than the ones you're given hints about the day before the quiz.  Last time I was a little embarrassed that some how every question made me think of children's movies and songs, I am a SAHM, but this this time it actually came in handy (you never know what kind of questions you might get).  I'm not going to form an official team and compete weekly, but it is a fun night out once a month.  The company, Number42, does a good job at coming up with interesting and challenging questions (in English), and the fact they host it at a restaurant gives us access to food and drinks which I can't complain about.  Something about two beers and the quiz ending after 11PM, means I am no longer capable of doing math because both times I have gone I have forgotten to pay my complete tab.  I guess by the end of the night my brain has had enough!  I highly recommend participating in a quiz night in your area, and for those of you near Eindhoven, it's at the Carrousel on Thursday nights!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Verbal Back-pedaling

Verbal back-pedaling, social blunder, there are many terms for saying something stupid and possibly offensive during a conversation.  And I am unfortunately highly prone to this!  I can't even begin to count how many times I have said something without thoroughly thinking it through during a conversation and it played on my mind for days.  (Note to self : think before you speak.)  I wonder if I should contact the person and apologize, I wonder if it went unnoticed, and in the end I often have to just let it go or I'll drive myself crazy.  It's so easy to say something stupid when you talk as much as I do.  When I'm comfortable, I talk.  When I'm nervous, I talk. 
And when I say something offensive I tend to keep digging the hole deeper, instead of just ending it right then and there.  I think, "oh if I say something more or just divert the conversation I can fix this!"  It never works and tends to make the problem even worse.  I really need to listen to myself when my head is screaming, "stop, just stop talking!"  So if you happen to be one of those people that I have said something stupid, offensive, or just plain idiotic to, I'm sorry, I truly meant no harm.

Friday, June 1, 2012

6th Anniversary

It's hard to believe it's been 6 years today since my husband and I married.  I still remember the day vividly.  Getting ready separately that morning, him not seeing me in my dress until I walked into the chapel, the smiles we couldn't wipe off our faces, the tears of family & friends, the mix of American & Dutch traditions, the beautiful reception & dinner, the 5 tiered cake, the great gifts, accidentally deleting the wedding video... it was one of the best days of my life.  Funnily enough my husband & I often forget about our anniversary, we tend to count the years together (almost 11) rather than the years married.  But that doesn't make the day any less special, it was everything a girl could have dreamed of.  (And to think I wanted to run off and elope!)  My husband has made all of my dreams come true.  Thanks babe, I love you!  And also a special thanks to all of the family that pulled together to help make the event possible, even if some were unable to attend!