Blogs...My Faves

I am still trying to figure this blog thing out.  What do I do with it?  Do I create a niche blog?  Do I advertise?  

Should I have maybe had this all figured out before starting it?  (Yeah, probably.)

While I am still trying to figure it out, there are some experts out there.  Some women (and a few men) that have created communities with their blogs.  Inspire and entertain each day.  

Here are a few of my favorites--just click on the bolded name above each description if you want to click through to their blogs. 

Making this Home
When I think back, I believe this is the blog that sucked me in.  I had been hearing about this whole "blog" trend, but hadn't really dug into it.  But, alas, as a new stay at home mom, I had the time.  

Katie's blog struck a chord with me, as she is a creative and caring woman who splits her time between a tiny apartment in Germany (hello, fello expat!) and a tire house (yes! tire house!) in the Rocky Mountains.  

I actually came across her site by looking for a baby book.  Katie's business, Gadanke, features some of the most interesting journals--from baby book journals to travel journals to prayer journals. 

Isn't this awesome?  Meg and her kids created a few of these one afternoon.  Love them.    Meg's posts range from random pieces of her family's life to craft projects like these.  Always positive.  Inspiring.  And just plain fun.  

Oh, and can I just tell you how much I love her hair?  Totally irrelevant, but think I might be printing off a photo for my next visit to the hairstylist. 

Lisa Leonard 

Lisa creates beautiful, personalized jewelry.  She features her jewelry and tales about her beautiful family throughout her blog. 
It isn't just jewelry that she crafts.  Check out these awesome magnet boards: 
I just stumbled onto this blog very recently.  But I am smitten.  Love when there is a post from Kelle in my reader.  For a little taste of her writing, as she suggests on her blog, start by reading her youngest daughter's birth story. But please, have kleenex ready.  Absolutely heart-wrenching, truthful and beautiful.  I had tears running down my face (and I don't think it was just my hormones).  

Young House Love
There may be a chance you have heard of these folks. They have a ton of readers and have successfully made their blog their careers.    

They remind me a bit of J#1 and me.  They are now living in their second "fixer upper" home, and split their time between working on their home and caring for their one-year-old baby. But that is where the similarities end.  

They make their living working on and decorating their home, and blogging about it.  Truly entertaining and informative.  Not extremely applicable for me right now, since we aren't exactly doing much any work on the rental we live in, but I am reading anyways.  

Here is just one of their many projects I heart so much!!
There is just a peek into a few of my favorite blogs.  I think I will continue to feature a few of my favorites each week or so.  If your day is brightened at all by being introduced to some entertaining and informative writing, I will be a happy camper. 

Do you have any favorite blogs to share? 


Good-bye clogs and tulips. Hello bagpipes and kilts!

This isn't just a post about our travels. 


We are moving.  


We are the perpetual movers, after all.  Would you expect anything different from us? Like I said in my last post--we are not people very adverse to change. 

J#4 will be initiated into the "world of constant moves" (most likely) within the next few months.   

Poor girl, she doesn't know what she got into being born into this family.  This is not new to us.  

J#3 had moved from New Jersey to Minnesota by the time he was four months old. Luckily, J#3 has adapted very quickly to new environments.  

I am just going to assume J#4 will be the same way.  She has to be.  Right?  Cross your fingers.  Please. 

We are off to Scotland this time around.  I guess when J#1 went on a Scotland golfing trip a few years back, and we thought, "well, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity", we were mistaken.

J#1 took some photos on a recent trip to give us a
taste of the landscape

At least I will definitely get that country knocked of my bucket list.  And I already have, since we have visited to "check it out"(more on that in a future post).   

A few things I am excited about?  Being in an English speaking country, having a car again (a must since stores and such won't be as close as they are here), and all of the history and charm of Scotland.  

Driving on the "other side of the road" is maybe not at the top of my list.  Although, having tried it for a few days, I am pretty sure I will get used to it.  I just wonder why the curb seems so much closer when you are a passenger on the left side? 

Oh, and there are Costco's in Scotland.  Yahoo! Not quite Target, but getting closer.  And can I tell you about the grocery stores?  So much more familiar.  Not sure if it is the size...or the selection...or the English language, but it feels so much more like "home". 

We've known about the move for some time, so for some of you this news is NOT news.  But, for once in our lives, we are facing a "wait and hurry up" situation, instead of "hurry up and wait" situation.   There is still a bunch of paperwork that needs to occur for this to happen, but once it is done, it will be a quick move for us. Our guess is that our move will happen sometime between mid-August and the end of September.  Evidently this is God's way of teaching me not to be so hung up on "planning". 

So, when are you coming to visit?  :-) 


Father's Day & NEW Floor 1 tour

First thing first.  

My guess is that there are very few dads (other than J#1) who read this. But, if there are any--HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!  And a special "Happy Father's Day" to my #1.  :-) 
J#1 getting quite a bit of help
opening his father's day presents
Now, lets get down to business. 

Just last week I took you on a little tour of the first floor of our home here in the Netherlands.  Yes, floors #2 and #3 are still on their way.  

But first I need to share part of our first floor with you again.  See, if you know J#1 and me at all, you know that we are NOT adverse to change.*  I think I actually thrive on it.  So, our Saturday project this weekend was perfect for me.  After eight months here we decided to make a change to our family room, and changed around the furniture.  

Here is a reminder of how it looked before: 
play area behind the couch.
what kid would want to play back there? 

not a lot of rolling around room for a certain
four and half month old roller

Now for the new arrangement: 
play area isn't as "shut off"
plus, way MORE play room

even though you can't really see it,
MUCH more rolling space

You wouldn't believe the way changing a few pieces of furniture around has really opened up this room.   It makes it feel so much larger, and I hope it will give J#3 and J#4 their own areas to play in for a while (since they aren't exactly playing with the same toys right now).    You can't tell from the photos, but this even makes our "dining" room feel larger.  

So, change is good.  Well, this change is good.  

*Note:  Make sure to remember this comment when you read my next post, coming within the next few days.  


A blog about music. Don't expect much.

Disclaimer:  I have a pretty wide taste in music.  Alternative (Foo Fighters), classics (Frank Sinatra), country, and more.  But this post is not about a wide range of music.  Pretty much revolves around pop and "top 40" (as it is referred to in the States).  So, if you don't like that...please don't be too hard on me.  

Music can be very therapeutic. I am now in the perfect mood to start the weekend after jammin' to some of my most recent downloads from Itunes.  

Seriously, what did we do before Itunes?  I know, I know.  Buy CDs.  And tapes.  And (not me, but some of us) eight tracks and records.

For a peak into my brain, here are a few of my more recent purchases on Itunes:  

  • Bruno Mars "Just the Way You Are".  
  • Far East Movement, "Like a G6".  Yes.  I did go there.  
  • NKOTB and NKOTBSB.  Yes,  I went there too.  Read on further. 

So here is my stream of thought this afternoon.  

First of all, bands must make HUGE money off of reunion tours.  

Yes, I am referring to NKOTB (and yes, that stands for New Kids on the Block, in case you weren't sure).  I paid good money for a ticket to go to their concert this summer.  Mostly because it is going to be an awesome girl's night.  

But I DO want to remember at least a few of the words.  

Low and behold, doesn't take long for them to come back to me.  Maybe because it seems every other word  is "baby".  

At least that makes it easy for me to "sing" them (if you have heard me sing, that is a very loose description of what I do) to J#4.  

So, these bands obviously make quite a bit off of the concert tickets and t-shirts and such that are sold at the concerts.  But think of how much they make off of purchases of their music.  I can't even remember when I got rid of my NKOTB c.d.'s.  But alas, I find myself downloading the "classics".  And yes, making sure J#3 knows the arm swing for Hangin' Tough.  

There was an arm swing, right?  

So this all lead me to think a bit further of some of the music of my youth.  

Milli Vanilli.  

Want to know a little known fact?  That was the my first concert ever.  Stop.  Can I even say that was my first concert?  

I was thinking.  And this time, it was just thinking (no action taken) about downloading a few of their tunes. You know: "Blame it on the Rain" and "Girl You Know Its True".  Who gets the royalties from those sales?   Guess it doesn't really matter, because no one will get them from me.  Listening to the preview in Itunes was enough for me. Pretty sure I am going to wake up in the middle of the night to feed J#4 with those songs in my head. 

So yeah,  those are my deep thoughts regarding music for a Friday afternoon.  I told you not to expect much! 

What are your favorite 80's and 90's tunes?  The tunes of your youth? 

Oh, and does anyone have a crimper I can borrow?  I have the blue eye shadow, just need the crimper.  

I am kidding.  Totally, totally kidding. I am going to wear a scrunchie, so I won't need the crimper. 


Bucket list: Ireland? Check! (part 2)

Hello there... I'm back with the rest of our trip to Dublin.  It was only three full days, but evidently I am taking my sweet time telling ya'll about it.   

As I hinted last week, the last stop that we took on the "hop on, hop off" tour was a prison.  When we are out and about while traveling, J#3 doesn't always get a nap.  He usually does pretty well without one.   But this day he evidently decided he needed a nap.  And that Daddy would be the perfect "pillow". 

J#3 waking up from his nap
So while the rest of us took in the interesting history of the Kilmainham Gaol,  J#3 snoozed away.  Oh, and I may have not learned too much from this tour, since J#4 decided to be vocal. It might be just a bit stressful trying to keep a three month old quiet in a prison. Luckily, Miss Kara was able to help her settle down, so mommy could take some photos.

And yes, of course we told J#3, "you better behave, or we might just leave you here in the prison."  Aren't we required to say that as parents?  Ha.  

After finishing the tour we stopped at a nearby pub for a few appetizers, and then went to find a kid friendly restaurant.  FYI, kid-friendly in the Temple Bar area of Dublin?  Hard to find.  And sadly, it was time to say "bye-bye" (in the words of J#3) to our friends.  

Monday was the day that Barack Obama visited Dublin.  The city, police and restaurants had started preparing earlier that weekend (just after they recovered from a visit from the Queen).  

Can I tell you how odd it is to be in Europe and see flags and signs with President Obama on them all over? 
one of many restaurants with signs
welcoming the President
lots of prep happening for the big speech

hilarious.  stores had Barack and Michelle
featured in their window displays. 

hard to make it down the sidewalks on the day of. 

watching the speech in our hotel room

buses lined up outside of our hotel
That day, we started out doing some shopping and had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.  We did not venture into the estimated crowd of 100,000 (?!?!) there to see the President speak.  Well, I guess we did venture THRU it to get back to our hotel.  We watched it on the television, and actually did get to hear it "live".   The city had set up several speakers so that those farther away from the College Green (where the President was speaking) could hear him.  And hear him, we did.  

So there you have it.  Highlights?  Our friends.  And the Trinity College library.  

How about you?  Been to Dublin?  What are your favorite places there?   Any recommendations for our next trip to Ireland? 


Bucket list: Ireland? Check! (part 1)

We didn't see any leprechauns.  But we did enjoy a pint (or two) of Guinness.

Our trip to Ireland was limited to Dublin, since we only had a few days.  But I think that it still qualifies for being checked of the bucket list, right?   I am hoping that we will get a chance to return to Ireland to take in more of the country side.  While Dublin was interesting, my feeling (and from what I have been told) is that the beauty of the country is mostly outside of Dublin.

This was J#4's for plane trip--and she was a pro!  Barely a peep out of her.

not quite at the smiling on demand age, I guess. 
This trip was special, because we met up with our good friends Kara and Mike (from Minnesota) in Dublin.  Yippee!
said friends meeting J#4 for the first time

J#3 was just a "bit" excited about seeing familiar faces.  do you see him
holding Mike's hand?  the kid barely EVER holds hands.  with anyone.
I tried something new before this trip.  See, I am not one to delve into history books. Pretty sure that history didn't rank in my favorite school subjects.  But before this trip, I read "101 Things You Didn't Know about Irish History".  Huh.  Who knew visiting a city (or country) would be so much more interesting once you know some of the history?  

After trips to our hotels and a quick rest...our first stop:  Dublin Castle.  Never in my life did I think I would be visiting so many castles. 

the throne room.  Queen Victoria, I believe was the last
royalty to actually use the chair.  
We were talking about how perfect of a photo it would have been if J#3 would have jumped up into the chair.  We would have gotten kicked out.  But, seriously, wouldn't that have been a perfect picture?

J#3 making himself comfortable at
Dublin castle.  Queen Elizabeth had done the same
(but on a chair-well, I just assume) a few days earlier
in this very room. 

Sunday morning, we rose early to meet at Trinity College.  The plan was to take a hop on/hop off tour bus from there.  But, first we wanted to view the Book of Kells (an extremely old written version of the four gospels, circa 800 AD).  An interesting fact about Trinity College--Catholics weren't allowed to attend school there (without getting special permission from the Bishop) with out the threat of being excommunicated from the Church until 1970.  

one of the older buildings on campus.  the college was founded in 1592. 
Of course, you aren't able to take photos of the Book of Kells. Or what can now be considered one of the top ten places I have seen.  For some reason, the library at Trinity College took my breath away.  This photo doesn't do it justice, but can give you an idea: 
The massive amount of books.  VERY old books.  The wood ceiling.  

Maybe you had to be there?   Have you been there?  Am I the only one that thinks it is awesome? 

J#3 tired of acadamia, so we moved on
So, we headed to the bus.  Thought we would get on right near Trinity College.  But, due to a certain visitor (more on that soon) who chose the same week to visit Ireland as we did, we had to walk through a shopping area (closed.  boo. hiss.) to get to the bus. We hung on the bus for awhile, passing the many other historical churches and neighborhoods of Dublin.  On the open, top level.  In the rain.  Good times.

Next stop?  Here is a hint... 

doesn't help, does it? 

maybe this will?  
Or not.  Well, maybe a few of you will have a guess based on that photo. Here is one that will give it away.  For sho.


That's right folks,  the Guinness Brewery.  President Obama (yup, that would be the visitor) said something in an Irish pub about how the Guinness in Ireland is better than you can find anywhere else.  He wasn't lying.  In fact, I think he stole that line from us.  

And, as far as brewery tours go, this one ranked up near the top.  It was self led--which usually means I speed through to the samples--but kept my interest.  And the top floor?  Gravity Bar.  Your ticket gets you a free Guinness.  Well, I guess since you have to pay for the ticket, it isn't really free. 

settling.  (the beer, not us)
awesome views.
But, the cost of the ticket was worth.  Good beer, good company, and good views.  Pretty much the perfect trifecta. 

Uffda (don't worry-haven't lost my MN speak).  I'm tired.  How about you?  More of our Ireland trip to come.  Soon.  I promise!  

Still to come?  A prison visit.  It was riveting.  Well...maybe not for J#3.  


House tour: Floor #1

I love taking peaks into other people's homes, don't you?  Well, thought I would give you a peek into ours.  

Most of the time, when people add photos of their home on blogs, rooms get "styled" before photos are taken.

I will admit I cleaned before I took these photos.  But that's it.  No styling.  This is how it is.  Tricycles in the kitchen and all. 
our kitchen.  
Yes, there is a trike in our kitchen. We don't have a garage to store outside toys in.  Those windows?  Open like doors.  So, J#3 just gets to sneak out there to play outside.  This faces the courtyard that is in front of our house. 

more of the kitchen, including our fridge.  see it?  
The other side of our kitchen.  See the oven type looking thing?  That would be our microwave/oven/grill combo.  Interesting.  Haven't tried out the grill function yet.  Don't think we will.  Just doesn't seem right.  

The fridge is right next to that (on the right as you are looking at the photo).  Kind of fun that it blends in with the cabinets.  The size ends up being pretty comparable to fridges in the U.S.  Well, maybe a bit smaller.  The freezer though?  MUCH smaller.

To the right of the fridge/cabinets is my "command center".  Sometimes.  I move stuff around a lot.  I lead an exciting life, right?  Right now that table is mostly bare.  

Hiding to the left of these cabinets is our extra kitchen shelf, with the limited cabinet space we just had to have more "pantry" space. 

the view from our kitchen to the rest of the first floor

dining room.  yes, the lights are uneven.  

Stroller in the dining room?  Doesn't everyone have a stroller in their dining room?  No?  Hmm.  A victim of limited space.  Our entry way just isn't big enough. 

Those shelves are really the only place we have for photos and decorations (with a two-year-old running around).  I am guessing the shelves should actually be used for dishes.   Our "not so pretty" plates + need for space for photos = improvisation. 

Living Room
You ask "why nothing on the walls?".  Good question.  See the wall behind the TV?  Concrete.  We just aren't going to be here long enough to overcome that obstacle.  

The windows here?  Overlook a parking lot.  Nice.  

Our Ikea couch.  Perfect for our situation:  extra sleeping space (folds out like a hide-a-bed) and somewhat inexpensive (have you seen what two-year-olds do to furniture???).  

Oh, and this is baby world.  There is another baby tool hiding behind the chair.  She almost has more places to hang out than we do. 

a view of the living room from the other direction. love our
world map.  now we just need to start adding some pins. 

hiding behind the couch?  J#3 world.  toys.
 oh, and another place (walker) for J#4 to hang out, guess that
means she definitely has more places to hang out than we do.
Next up.  The bathroom.  I usually wouldn't share photos of the bathroom.  Or, this bathroom could possibly earn its own post (but that seems wrong).  This bathroom though?  Well, I will let it speak for itself: 
yes.  NEON green.  yes. grass art piece.
neither of these are our doing.
Also, notice the lack of a mirror.  Always present in an American bathroom--not in a Dutch guest bathroom, I guess.  Oh, and in Dutch guest bathrooms, they usually have a "birthday calendar".  

And, in the profound words of Forrest Gump, "That is all I have to say about that."

Next up?  Floor #2.  After our steep and winding staircase.  

Let me know if you have any other questions about living in the Netherlands--I'm all ears... 

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