Monday, April 29, 2013

My Clarks

The very first post on my blog was about My Crocs, and it is seeming that once a year I some how bring up shoes again.  You all even helped me decide which shoes to buy last year heading into the fall season.  So I guess it's time for another shoe post, this one is about My Clarks.  I'm sure you've all heard of the brand, they make shoes for men & women.  Even my husband was hooked on the Clarks slip-on dress shoes for years.  Since he seemed so happy with them (and seeing my mother-in-laws reaction when she saw the Clarks store here in town) I knew I had to give them a shot.  I'm not exactly sure when I bought my ankle boots maybe a year or two ago, and unfortunately it's starting to show.  I remember when I saw them on sale, they were marked down from over 100 euros to something I could actually bring myself to spend on shoes.  But yet I still left them sitting there in the box on the rack for someone else to snatch up.  The shoes played on my mind though, which is very unusual for me.  Sure I own way too many shoes, but I don't collect them or obsess about them like some women.  So when I kept thinking about these shoes, I knew I just had to go back and buy them.  They were my first pair of ankle boots and to be honest I had no idea how to wear them.  I probably still do them injustice, just like the photos I took.  Because I lacked proper skinny jeans in my wardrobe I could only wear them with tights but since then I've made a few adjustments (yes, I gave into the skinny jean trend - not so much a trend here as a staple).  One thing I liked so much about the boots were the different materials and textures, they were unique.  But now that they're showing their age it's time to start considering buying another pair (or at least cleaning these in the meantime)!  For all of the events I've worn these boots to only once have they hurt my feet.  A couple weekends ago, on a night out, I put them to the test, roughly 2.5 miles of walking plus 3 hours of standing.  Needless to say (since I almost always wear flats) I had a blister on the bottom of my foot by the end of the night.  My husband will never understand a woman's vanity, but I found the blister to be worth it!  Do any of you have a favorite pair of ankle boots or brand?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sayonara Stroller

Goodbye (sayonara) trusty stroller!  Our heavy duty stroller finally bit the dust yesterday.  I can't actually complain considering what we put this stroller through.  We bought the Mutsy Transporter over 3 years ago and we used it to its fullest.  At least once a week it made a journey through rain, snow, or sunshine to and from swimming class (3-3.5miles).  It went on endless walks, and since I don't have a car it was also my tots mode of transportation for everything from playdates to the playground.  It also totted full groceries and purchases, I'm surprised the mesh basket underneath held up as long as it did.  It was a comfy place for my tot, even when she technically was too old and weighed too much for it.  We even used the stroller to the point there wasn't any tread left on the tires. 

Last week on the way to swimming class I pressed down on the handle bar to pop the front wheels up in order to get the stroller and tot up on to the sidewalk and I heard a pop.  I could see the stroller was leaning a little to the left but it was still working.  At that moment I knew we wouldn't have much longer together.  Then yesterday before swimming I mentioned it to my husband, probably manifesting its end.  On our trek to and from swimming class I made sure to only use ramps and avoid having to lift her up on to the sidewalks.  Luckily I did, because a few minutes from our house, on the return journey, I had no choice but to pop a wheely and sure enough the right side of the frame broke also.  If I hadn't have been in a hurry I would have told my tot to hop out and walk, but instead I lifted the back end and trucked it home (she was basically in a recliner at this point).  I was so glad this happened close to home, otherwise I'm not really sure what we would have done.  Before leaving for swimming I ran a lot of scenarios through my head and most of which were quite inconvenient.  It's not like it's an umbrella stroller and can be tossed out easily.  And after swimming she would have been too worn out to walk that far anyway.  Again, we were very lucky! 

When our girl was just a baby the stroller had a bassinet attachment (and also attachments for the car seat), I saved them thinking we could reuse the stroller for the next kid.  But at that point so early on in my daughter's life I had no idea what I was about to ask of this stroller.  I feel like the Mutsy Transporter went above and beyond my expectations, and I would defnitely buy another one in the future. 
Sayonara stroller!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday #50

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

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Eye Opening

I've always enjoyed photography (even wrote a post about it)... I'm far from professional but that doesn't make me enjoy it any less. But in the past year or so my interest has taken on a new life, and in a way, I can thank this blog for that. We all know the term stop and smell the flowers, well, I feel I have been doing that more often. Used to I would just go from point A to be B lost in my own thoughts or on a mission but nowadays I actually look around, take in the sights, look for interesting pictures and posts. I feel media like this blog and Instagram have opened my eyes. There are many fascinating things around us everyday and yet we over look them.

I was sure to include photos of things I often see in my life recently. Are you overly focused on your daily tasks or do you take the time to look around & appreciate your surroundings?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Puppy No Longer

Yesterday was our Wheaten Terrier's 1st birthday!  It's hard to believe she is just one yr old and that she has only been in our home 9 months, it feels like we've had her forever.  We've had our ups and downs with Maggie, she is very energetic and doesn't listen well outside of the house, but no matter what she has won our hearts over.  Despite how many times I get mad at her, eventually we always make up.  Plus my husband and toddler adore her, according to my toddler they're best friends.  As I mentioned in previous posts I'm not big on b-days but my tot is, she was prepared to throw a birthday party for our dog and was disappointed when I said no-way!  But I did agree to at least buy her a couple birthday presents, this made my toddler happy again.  We set out to the store, I was going to buy one toy and next thing I knew I had spent way more than our usual b-day budget.  Dogs are expensive, don't kid yourself!  I must say I am pleased with our purchases though.  And yes, most of the supplies were more for us than her, oops.  For those of you with over-excited dogs you know how difficult it can be to walk them when there are other animals or people around.  We live in a big city so it's nearly impossible to avoid contact with others.  The basic collar just wasn't working for us anymore, so I decided to buy her one that fits around her chest instead of just the neck, and I am over the moon.  I have so much more control over her out in public now, at this rate walks might actually become pleasurable!  And the harness is a 2-in-1, it can also be used to fasten her in the car.  In The Netherlands there are not yet laws about buckling your dog in the vehicle, but in some adjoining countries the dog is required to be fastened in while riding in the car.  And since we briefly mentioned a summer car trip with the family it'll come in handy in the future.  Besides other basics like shampoo and a replacement pink collar, we of course bought her a toy.  When I saw it there was no doubt it's perfect for her.  It's a large ball that can't get stuck under the furniture, it's hard enough she can't tear it up in 2 seconds, and you can fill it with treats!  The combination means she'll be entertained for quite a while and hopefully work off some extra energy.  Both her and the tot were happy when they opened the snack ball yesterday morning.  It's been a big month for Maggie, we decided to trim her ourselves (not a success, will tell you about it another time), she was fixed a couple weeks ago and basically recovered, then she had her big 1st birthday.  Let's hope she matures some this year, so that other dogs actually like her, she's welcome more places, and learns to overall tone it down!  Happy birthday, Maggie!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday #49

Link up here for Wordless Wednesday! 

Our curious camera compilation can also be found here...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Obviously you have all heard of Someecards by now, and if you haven't you have probably seen them and just didn't know where to find them.  I'm a little behind but I finally went on the site and took a look around.  For people like me without a Facebook account you can still manage to make a card and pass it on if you like.  (Why is everything Facebook related!!!) 
I'm sure this will not be the last time you see a silly ecard pop up on my blog.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Birthday Season

It's birthday season again.  Starting in April we have 2-5 birthdays a month that we either have to recognize, buy a present for, attend a party, or all of the above.  And this lasts for about 5 months!  I do my best to get excited about parties, what's not to like about spending money to stand around and talk to strangers/acquaintances, ha-ha!  I'm not exactly the most social person.  But there is one person in my family who loves birthdays, my toddler.  Whether it's her own party or just someone in her class, she's excited, hands clapping, eyes twinkling, talking 90mph.  Wow, I wish I had that enthusiasm.  One thing is for sure though, she is motivating... there's no way she'd let you forget to decorate or buy a present if needed.  And almost every day she asks, "who's birthday is it today?"  That could also be because we have a b-day calendar next to our toilet.  To American's this probably sounds very strange, to a Dutch person this is quite normal.  In theory it's a great idea, you're guaranteed to go to the toilet every day, so there is no way you miss seeing any upcoming b-days.  In reality, it looks kind of strange, but hey, when you're integrating you jump on the bandwagon. 

Yesterday was the first of many b-day parties to come, and to be honest, it was wasn't bad.  The guests were friendly, the kids happy, the food was good, the weather great, and there was plenty to keep everyone entertained.  Oh, and when the 2yr old opened his gifts there was a big smile, which means the presents were worth it!  So I must say it's a good start to this years b-day season.  I'll have to try and remember to follow up on this post after birthday season, ha-ha! 

One thing I do like about parties, cake!  On occasion I miss American birthday cakes.  Cakes shaped like dolls & animals have been popular in The States for a long time, but it's within the past few years that they're catching on in The Netherlands.  So far we haven't bought one for our tot yet, but considering she's seen everything from elephants to Super Mario, I have a feeling we'll be searching for a cake designer in a few months.  If you happen to know anyone in the Eindhoven area please let me know!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Crazy Cat Lady

Not sure how many Simpson's fans I have reading my blog, but maybe since the show has been on for over 20 years you've possibly still heard of the Crazy Cat Lady.  I am far from the Crazy Cat Lady, I'm not middle-aged, I don't live alone, and I'm not addicted to cats, but that didn't stop me from earning the title years ago.  At one point prior to my tot coming along, I was easily feeding 11-12 stray cats on a daily basis.  I'm not really sure what happened first, feeling sorry for the cats when winter hit or seeing stray kittens.  Needless to say, it was like the chicken vs the egg, it was an endless cycle.  As soon as some cats would disappear another would get pregnant, and on and on it went.  When you're just tossing out leftovers you don't think much about it.  But eventually, I found myself spending our hard earn money on stray cats.  I would buy canned food and even bought a basket for them to sleep in and put their babies.  I was giving up towels so they would stay warm.  It was going too far.  When my husband mentioned this little problem of mine to some friends, they immediately thought of the Crazy Cat Lady from The Simpson's and all this time later I have not yet been able to shed the nickname.  I stopped feeding the cats when I was pregnant, I didn't want to risk my baby being exposed to strays.  I knew if the food supply stopped they would disappear, unfortunately the neighbors didn't get the memo.  In the past 3-4 years the cats have stopped lurking around our back door and all of the familiar faces are now gone.  Getting a dog really helped, ha-ha!  But now I'm afraid I'm about to earn a new title Crazy Dog Lady.  Sure, I take my dog on walks, it's part of being a good owner.  But there are often times I can't just leave the house, for instance when my tot's asleep.  Luckily in our parking lot there are a few patches of dirt and plants (this really helped with potty training the dog in the city).  One particular tree and patch of dirt has become my dog's back-up toilet.  This patch is off to the side and only us and our next door neighbors even pass it.  But that doesn't mean you can't clearly see us from the parking lot.  I'm a stay-at-home mom, I often wear pajamas, it's cold in The Netherlands, so I often wear jackets, there are times of the day I have on no make-up and my hair tossed into a ponytail, and yes, there are plenty of times I let my dog out looking like this.  So for some neighbors they never seeing me looking acceptable, they see me in mismatched pajamas covered in a beat up ski jacket, oh yea, not winning any fashion awards!  And then for those who don't see me, hear me.  The patch of grass/dirt is located under let's say 20 bedroom windows, so every time my dog has diarrhea in the rain or snow, or when I'm freezing waiting for her to decide on just the right place too pee, or when she refuses to get in the patch of dirt and protests in the parking lot, they all get to hear my choice words.  So I guess, for those neighbors who don't know I'm actually a fairly normal person, I am officially the Crazy Dog Lady.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Spring Planting

Last year I tried my hand at a little gardening.  And with success I managed to grow basil and flowers, and even started some carrots & tomatoes.  I was sure to keep you all posted through my progress and even into the fall.  In my last post I had just repotted everything, preparing for the cold.  This didn't go as well as I planned, I lost a few plants during the transfer and then in the end I never bothered to bring any of them in and they died during the winter.  In the mean time I picked up more seeds and eagerly awaited a warm spring day so my tot & I could plant new seeds and start from scratch again.  But during the course of the winter and after a few rain showers I realized the wood containers I had purchased in the fall didn't drain.  Which meant I was often having to dump excess water out, not to mention this standing water would most likely kill any new plants I added.  I waited and waited for the beautiful spring day, and well, it hasn't exactly arrived yet.  (O.k. there have been few and far between.)  Needless to say April quickly rolled around and I still hadn't yet planted the seeds, something that should have taken place in March.  But it was still snowing in March, c'mon, who's out gardening!  Anyway, I knew I had to get my butt in action and get out there before I missed my chance.  And since the containers weren't draining I had two options, get new pots (which is wasteful) or drill holes in the old ones (which is smart).  Which one do you think I picked?  Yep, I pulled out the old drill while my tot puttered in her sandbox and took care of the drainage problem.  There wasn't as much team work this year, last year she was fascinated with the seeds, this year she only cared about her one little wooden container.  As I mentioned, the sandbox was open, and that was only the 2nd time this year!  I made the holes, dropped the seeds in, covered the holes, and watered the soil... there's not much else to it when you're an amateur.  Now we wait.  Since it's been raining most of this week, I can just set the pots under the overhang to shelter them from too much water and put them out again for a good dose of clean city rain water.  I'm crossing my fingers I didn't wait too long.  This year I skipped the flowers, they die out anyway, and went straight for herbs & veggies (seems more useful to me).  My only issue now is keeping the dog out of the soil, on occasion she gets left on the terrace and when I go to let her in her little white beard is black and I know I have to go clean up the mess she made.  And once the plants start growing I have to keep her from eating them, she has a thing for basil.  The tot learned plant appreciation (she used to rip the leaves off everything), and so can the dog.  I'll be sure to give you an update in a couple months!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Music Moments #4

Music can influence peoples lives, and activities.  We use music to inspire us, to make us happy, to make us remember, to make us dance, the list goes on and on.  In previous Music Moments posts, I was sure to let you know what was playing around our house at that time, or even what I was using to motivate myself during exercise.  This post is similar, but I'm not going to delve into the tunes filling our heads at this moment.  This post is about a small phase I went through a couple months back, I wouldn't say I'm embarrassed just saying it was unusual for me.  Here goes, I went through a short country music phase, there I said it.  For those who know me, well, they know country music isn't really my thing, as a teen I would cringe when I heard it.  But now as an adult I am a lot more open and occasionally I actually hear songs I like when I give them a chance.  Now, in most of my Music Moments posts I'll mention what I am listening to while writing, whether writing a blog post or a fictional story you can basically say I write most days of the week.  This is actually how I stumbled into this country music phase.  I was working on a love story (all of my stories are love stories, but not your typical mushy romance novels) and one of the main characters happened to be southern.  So to put myself in the right mood, I decided to get my hands on some country music.  Obviously since I don't listen to country I have no idea what is considered good these days, but I do know what was considered good years ago.  Don't laugh, because I ended up with the strangest combination... Johnny Cash, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, & Garth Brooks.  But it worked, it helped me to put myself creatively and imaginatively in a southern town with thick accents all around, helping the story feel more realistic.  Then I ended up planning a trip, back in March, to visit my grandmother in Tennessee, so this sort-of continued the country phase.  Luckily, because there are limited radio stations an hour outside of Nashville.  Turns out country music is different these days, it almost leans more towards pop than drawn out sad ballads.  There were even a few songs I could bounce my head to, but I must say I have no idea who the artist was and I probably never will.  For now, the country phase is finished, I'm on to the next story (I have a lot of unfinished stories) and this one needs dubstep and not country. 

(For those of you who do thoroughly enjoy country music, like my grandmother, I'm not putting it down, so please don't misunderstand me.  Whether I enjoy it or not doesn't mean I do not appreciate the talent.)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wordless Wednesday #48

Link up here for Wordless Wednesday!

Our curious camera compilation can also be found here...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Makes Me Laugh (#1)

There is a sushi restaurant around the corner from where I live.  In the window hangs this sign:
Every time I see it, I laugh.  It is such a subtle mistake in spelling/grammar, but such an easy one when it comes to translating from one language to another.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tank Weather

I'm not a fan of extremely hot weather (not really sure how I survived 20 yrs in Florida).  But I am a fan of a sunny day and the only clothes needed are a pair of shorts and a tank top.  In preparation for the spring/summer I bought a few new tank tops while visiting The States.  I'm getting a little tired of waiting to wear them though, it's still ranging between high 30's and low 50's here!  I know I can team them up with a cardigan or something but I don't actually like layering... even though it's something you have to do in this climate.  I love the "boyfriend tanks" from American Eagle, I already have a couple, one solid and one with a mesh backWhen I popped into a mall somewhere in TN I was sure to hit up AE and buy a couple more.  I decided a dark pink almost purple and a dark grey would be perfect for my collection.  But then when I visited an Old Navy to buy a few things for my husband & tot I couldn't help but pick up one of their "perfect tanks" too.  It wasn't that the cut or tank was so spectacular, I just love the color combo.  Since I'm horrible at matching clothes, I figure the color combo will help me create more outfits.  At least every other day while I'm getting dressed the striped tank crosses my mind, I don't think I'm going to be able to hold out for the warm weather before I find an excuse to wear it!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Good Bye & Good Luck

As an expat you make a wide variety of friends & acquaintances in your new country, ones native to the land you live in and then of course other expats.  When I moved to The Netherland over 10 yrs ago at first I acquired friends, mostly my husbands old friends & their girlfriends.  It didn't take me long to start making my own friends though, some of which I still see.  But for the most part my friends were Dutch, and it took me a while to realize that.  It wasn't until my daughter came along and I had to start seeking out activities with kids that I started making my own expat friends.  At first the relationships seemed ideal, no obligations other than occasional play dates, this fit into my schedule well.  But of course when you're seeing someone on a weekly or bi-weekly basis you can't help but get to know them better.  And of course a few of these people actually became friends.  When they talked about the possibility of leaving The Netherlands because of their husbands jobs it all seemed so far away.  I guess I figured I knew what I was getting in to and I was o.k. with temporary friends.  But now that a couple have actually left, permanently, off to new adventures, lives, jobs, & countries, it's actually sinking in.  The first one that left went fairly easy, I was able to say goodbye, I didn't mention to my tot it was the last time, I just let her enjoy her time with the little boy she had grown so fond of.  But this last friend to move has hit a little harder.  The way our schedules worked out we didn't even get to say goodbye properly, in person.  It's making me question if I can actually handle temporary friends.  Part of me knows I have no choice, being an expat and involving your kid in international activities means contact with people that are just temporarily here.  It's something I just have to accept.  I have to remember the fun we had and be sure to stay in contact, who knows where we'll all end up in the future.  So, I guess, it's good bye & good luck, and until the next time.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

ChiChi's Tex-Mex

You all know I often plug companies or products I like, but it's not often I write a post to steer people away from a company - unless you're despicable RyanAir.  But unfortunately, I'm here with another warning.  Now it only applies to The Netherlands, so for the rest of you it might not be very interesting.  Over the Easter weekend our immediate family here (9 of us) decided to get together for a fun evening of bowling and dinner.  Now there are options here in Eindhoven but thanks to advertising we heard of a new company in Nederweert that offered bowling and a tex-mex restaurant.  For American's living overseas, you jump at these opportunities.  We're often on the hunt for somewhere that reminds us of the conveniences of The States.  When we arrived at Chi-Chi's it seemed perfect, spacious restaurant decorated with a fun western theme, modern bowling lanes and computers, even nice new bowling shoes.  We had a great time bowling, it was also the first time our toddler has ever gone bowling so it made it even more special.  After a few good laughs and an hour of bowling we headed over to the restaurant portion of Chi-Chi's.  Again still excited, ready for fajitas, ribs, quesadillas, jalapenos poppers, all of the fun tex-mex food.  The service wasn't bad, so we had no reason to complain.  Then the starters arrived, they were just o.k., I think we all blew it off, still hyped up on bowling and the arrival of our main meals.  When the main course arrived I noticed right away that my fajita meat on the skillet didn't look charred, it probably could have used another ten minutes on the grill but I blew it off.  As I continued eating I immediately noticed the lack of flavor, but I didn't want to complain, I was just happy we were out to eat together.  Three family members order burgers, now here in The Netherlands there are two types of burgers, Dutch burgers and ones that resemble American burgers.  I stopped ordering burgers at restaurants here because I personally don't like the Dutch burger.  At first their burgers appeared to be American-style but they all quickly agreed they were Dutch-style patties.  Then my brother-in-law made the announcement he didn't think his burger was cooked all of the way.  You should have seen their faces, I think every one's stomachs flipped and the ones with burgers stopped eating shortly after that... all agreeing there was something off.  Then more people started speaking up, one salad only had about 4 shrimp on it, the ribs tasted like microwaveable ones from the grocery store, and luckily for the kids it's not hard to cook fish sticks & chicken nuggets.  After we all partially ate our food and hoped we didn't get sick, the bill arrived.  It was just short of 300 euros for the 9 of us to bowl and eat, I nearly fell out of my chair.  If the food had been delicious I still would have been a little put off by the cost considering 3 of the 9 are kids.  Plus Chi-Chi's never mentioned the costs of the lanes were more expensive on a holiday instead of a normal Sunday (they could have said something when I made the reservation).  Needless to say we could have bowled and eaten for cheaper in Eindhoven and saved the 30 minute drive there.  Now I intend on spreading the word about the food at Chi-Chi's, so I started today with an American friend at toddler swimming class.  As soon as I said Chi-Chi's it was obvious she had been there before.  We both agreed the food was horrible, I wish I had thought to ask around before making the reservation, live and learn.  So here I am warning you, Chi-Chi's in Nederweert was great for bowling, but I will personally never eat there again!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wordless Wednesday #47

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