Friday, November 10, 2006

Brugge, Belgium

Brugge Canal

We went to Brugge, Belgium in November. What a beautiful little city. We stayed in an old converted home from the 17th century. And yes, I do think it was haunted, I got very little sleep! Brugge is full of lace, chocolate, beer and beautiful streets. What more could I ask for!

This is some of what we saw:
-We toured several cathedrals (one had an original Michaelangelo sculpture of Mary and Jesus that was beautiful)
-An old brewery that has awesome beer, the tour had hundreds of steps, many that had to be navigated backwards!
-Lace and Chocolate shops of course!
-Chocolate Museum (this was very stupid)
-Canal boat tour (the boat was a little too small and too crowded for my comfort!)
-Several beautiful municipal buildings
-A medieval public hospital

It was quite a full day. We went back to the hotel where we had a 6 course meal! It took 3 1/2 hours! The best part was the dessert, chocolates and coffee! They had a set menu of rabbit, goose liver and eel. I didn't want to be impolite but there was no way I could eat that. I'm pretty much vegetarian these days except for the occasional chicken when nothing else is available. The chef's were very gracious and fixed me some fish which was actually pretty good.

Sunday we left Brugge and headed to the sea. It was quite windy and chilly, but I've always preferred that to the heat of summer on a beach. Plus, no bathing suits! We then drove to Ghent; by this time, my back and feet were in agony so I really didn't appreciate Ghent as much as I probably would have otherwise.

It was a great trip, very romantic and would definitely go back again!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Things I Miss About the States

My kids (that includes you, Christopher!)
My dog and cat
My old house
Laraine, Gregg, Andrew and Lizzie (Not Kujo though!)
Chuck, Kelly, Jenna, Katie & Hampton
American television
Nascar (I know, I'm a dork)
American medicine
Low fat and non fat foods
Being able to read stuff (signs, books, magazines)
Poptarts (I know, I don't need them!)
Weight Watcher meetings (silly, to put that under Poptarts!)
My favorite stores (A C Moore, Michaels, Barnes and Noble, Hancock Fabrics, JoAnn Fabrics, Target, Hudson Belk)
American radio
Quilt Stores with American Prices
My dentist in Apex
Fall (real Fall)
Garbage disposals
North Carolina's blue skies
Have I said SUN?
Awesome thunderstorms in North Carolina
Fox News, (Yes, I know, I'm sorry Kelly)
Local News
Reading the newspaper
American grocery stores
North Carolina Barbecue
Being able to tell what I'm buying, i.e. I bought toilet bowl cleaner to use as bleach for clothes!
American beef (I probably have mad cow disease by now)
Have I said SUN?????
Central heating and airconditioning
Country music
A goooooooooooooood hamburger
Manicures and pedicures
Quick dinners in a restaurant
Rice Crispies and marshmallows (So I can make Brad mega Rice Crispie treats)
No bikes (the bikes are ok, I'm just scared I'm going to hit the people on them)
My kids :(

Things I Love About the Netherlands

I get to travel to awesome places
It's nice spending more time with Ed
Gorgeous churches
A large majority of people can speak English
The cleanliness of the Netherlands
I get to see Steven, Susan and Jonathan!
Cows (They are so beautiful and healthy!)
Thursday nights (the downtown is open until 9 and it is packed!)
The Netherlands farms
Church bells
Markets on Saturday mornings
The Dutch children are darling
Flea markets
Dutch traditional fabric
Dutch quilt shops (unfortunately expensive)
European coffee
More time to quilt
I like living on one floor
Wonderful bread
Fun to shop
Sex shops (kidding ;) )
I am walking more and getting more in shape
Slower pace of living, it's not crazy like in the States
The Dutch television channels don't dub their American tv shows like the French and Germans
Channel 211 on the TV (you have to come visit to find out what it is!)
Sundays are very peaceful, nothing is open except restaurants
I love to see 80 year old men and women riding their bikes!
You can sit for hours in a restaurant
No telemarketers (not that I could understand them anyway if they called)
No junk mail

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Giethoorn, Netherlands

Saturday Ed and I headed to Giethoorn, (voted the prettiest village in the Netherlands.) It's about 2 hours Northwest of Enschede. On the way there we saw beautiful farms with the healthiest horses, cows and sheep I've ever seen. So pretty. We've gotten lots of rain lately so everything is bright green. Arrived in Giethoorn and had some lunch. I had my first official "Dutch" pancake, YUMM! We then walked around the old historic part of town. It has canals winding through it with rustic bridges crossing them. Individuals can rent boats to tour the canals. We ended up walking; I thought I would end up in the water if I tried to get in one of those little boats! Next year I will though when I'm in better shape! Giethoorn is a darling town; it's hard to believe anyone actually lives there.

Ya Gotta Love Yard Art!

On the way home Saturday we drove country roads back to Enschede. We drove by this awesome house!

Lots and Lots of Windmills

More to Come!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Note to self...

Don't put on makeup before I have my coffee in the morning. I used pink lip liner as eyeliner this morning and didn't notice it until I was in the car running errands! Duh.

Market Garden

Saturday we drove to Arnhem and visited the site of where Operation Market-Garden took place. That was the battle that had the most Allied casualties during WWII, most of them British. The book and movie "A Bridge Too Far" tells the story of this sad couple of weeks in September 1944. The museum is in an old hotel that was used as the Allied headquarters. There was such heaviness there. I've gotten the feeling maybe five times in my life of overwhelming sadness of tragic past events at locations I have visited or objects that I have been around. I know, weird. It's hard to describe.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Went to Amsterdam for the day a couple weekends ago. Wow what a crazy place! Ed, me and the kids were there about 14 years ago. I can tell I'm getting older! I prefer the quiet farm fields and cows these days! I didn't see many people younger than 30! Maybe they were all in the coffee shops! We hit the American Bookstore and picked up some books. I got a couple of books on Netherlands history; I hope I can get through them. They don't seem to dry. We then headed to an antique mall. A little overpriced, more "fancy" stuff. I love the more primitive style of everyday folk. I haven’t found any really good flea markets yet. That will be where I will probably find more items to my taste. We then drove up to Volendam, an old fishing village and had dinner. By that time I had a migraine. I finally found out what the Dutch word for MSG is. It's funny the things that you have to learn when moving!

Health Care in the Netherlands

I have been pleasantly surprised by the health care here in the Netherlands. I've gone to the dentist once and had a filling replaced. Met with our new doctor (female, very nice.) I have also gone to the physical therapist several times for my shoulder. Language is the biggest problem I've come across. Everyone speaks English, but sometimes word order and the "correct" word is hard for them to find. I went into an Apotheque (pharmacy) the other day to try to find Tylenol. They had never heard of it and suggested I try such and such. I ended up buying it thinking - well I hope it doesn't kill me! Turns out it was plain acetaminophen. Silly me.


London was awesome! I think my feet and back have finally recovered from the miles of walking we did!

Ed and I flew from Amsterdam to Heathrow on Saturday, August 5th. We took a cab to the London Bridge hotel located in the Southwark section of London. We then headed out to do some walking and find a place to eat dinner. We ended up at a pub called "The Anchor" which has been there a couple hundred years. Food was ok, but it was so pretty and right on the Thames River.

We took a double decker bus tour of London. Traffic was crazy due to a triathlon in town. Had lunch in another old pub. I was really enjoying the fish and chips! We headed to Harrods department store and spent $4.50 on a single scoop ice cream cone! Crazy! It's the most gorgeous store I have ever seen; too bad I can't afford anything in it!!! We then went to Harvey Nichols, another really pricy store and didn't buy anything there either!!! We walked around Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar square. Very fun!

Tower of London first thing in the morning. Very cool - I really enjoyed the crown jewels. So amazing they looked fake! Headed over to St. Paul's Cathedral, so beautiful. Took an in depth tour and was really touched to see the Memorial Chapel for US service members who died in the UK during WWII. At the entrance of the cathedral it was amazing to remember that Princess Diana walked to the altar in that beautiful wedding dress many years ago. We then headed over to the Churchill museum and under ground cabinet room. The Churchill museum was very well done, very creative. The under ground cabinet room was where Churchill and his staff were housed during the bombing raids on London during WWII. Very interesting. Several rooms were just as they had been left 60 years ago. Walked around St. James Park and fed the pigeons (flying rats) and ducks. Had dinner at the George Inn that evening, a several centuries old inn.

Went to Westminster Abbey. It's hard to wrap my brain around the idea of a building being more than 1,000 years old. We paid for a guided group tour of Westminster and I was glad we did. We were allowed access to many parts of the cathedral that were off limits. Went to the British Museum in the afternoon and checked out the Egyptian displays. Had Greek food for dinner (YUMM!) and then went to the Globe Theater and saw Anthony and Cleopatra. Globe Theater is the reconstructed 17th century theater of Shakespeare. I'm not a big fan of Shakespeare, but it was interesting. I only understood about half of what was said due to the accents and the Old English, but I got the jist of it.

Went to Buckingham Palace. During the month of July and August the State rooms are open for public viewing. I'm so glad we went, though the ticket prices were high ($36.) So gorgeous. We also went to the Royal Mews where the horses, carriages and cars are kept. I could travel like that, though I don't know if I could get into one of the carriages! Headed out to the Guards Museum. We then caught a cab to the airport.

We woke up Thursday morning at home to find out that we missed the closing of Heathrow airport by about 5 hours due to a terrorist plot to blow up planes to the US! I'm glad to be in my own bed!

It was a great trip! London is expensive but I'm so glad we went! The people were great and everyone speaks English!!!!! Plus I can read everything! We hope to get back soon - there is so much to see. Check out the pictures on Webshots!

Monday, July 31, 2006

A Little Bit About Me

I'm 46 years old, have three children (ok, 3 adults.) Kristen is an eighth grade English teacher, married to Chris and living in Virginia. Kelly is a journalist for a newspaper in Virginia and Brad is a junior at Appalachian State in Boone, North Carolina. I have three cats (all orange tabbies.) When each of the kids went away to college, I replaced them with a cat! It did help somewhat with that awful empty nest feeling. The picture is of Krisi's and Chris's wedding with our family.

I had a bad shoulder injury in June so have been slow in quilting the last few months, it is much better now so I am hoping to get busy again with all of the ideas in my head.

We're not sure how long we will be here in the Netherlands, but the people are lovely and their are oodles of quilt shops and many talented quilters. I hope to meet more in the future. I usually try to rope in a quilt shop when Ed and I go on a day trip. He hasn't complained too much yet!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Denial Got Me Through It

Denial got me through it!

I haven’t posted since April, but this is what has been happening:

-Sold the house in Apex, North Carolina
-Flew on an airplane 11 times in 3 months (yes, believe it!)
-Quit job (Yeah!)
-Packed up overseas shipment to the Netherlands
-Kelly graduated from James Madison University (Yeah! See pictures)
-Helped Krisi with wedding stuff
-Rented 3 U-Hauls for the kids so they could cannalbilize our possessions!
-Packed long term storage and air shipment to the Netherlands
-Said goodbye to Tommy (cat that Brad is taking)
-Flew to Michigan to see Larraine, Greg, Andrew and Lizzy
-Fell while in Michigan, dislocated shoulder, compression fracture and torn rotator cuff
-Krisi and Chris were married July 8th! (See pictures)
-Got to see my cousins that I haven’t seen in 12 years!
-Said goodbye to my 3 babies (Krisi, Kelly, Brad)
-Said goobye to Tazy (dog that Krisi and Chris is taking)
-Flew to Amsterdam
-Moved to Enschede, the Netherlands
-Settling in hanging curtains and pictures


I’m tired, but it’s nice to be back living with Ed, even though he does snore! We have a pretty two bedroom apartment and the only thing I hate is that it is not air conditioned. It has been so hot here. No one has air conditioning so I guess we are all in misery together! I’m trying not to think of my nice air-conditioned house in Apex! At least we won’t have the $500 electric bills for air-conditioning!!!

One nice thing about the heat is that it is too hot to cook! I’m not sure if I remember how after not cooking for a couple of months! We have this teeny, tiny oven. I asked Ed where I put the batteries because it reminded me of the “Easy Bake Oven” I had as a child. The refrigerator is cute and little too, though it necessitates going to the grocery store every day! That makes it hard to stay away from the bakery!

We are hooked up on “Skype” so we are able to video call to anyone that has downloaded that program and has a web cam. Definitely nice to see the kids plus it’s free! I’m lolaj19 so if anyone wants to call me, please do!

Well off to do some more decorating.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Trip Back Home

It's been a crazy week. Ed flew in from Holland and a couple of days latter we flew to Moline, IL for orientation on his assignment overseas. I was really impressed, the people were so nice and thorough. A little too thorough as the corporate nurse wanted to give me shots! That's quite ok, I told her I would get them from my home Dr. (We'll see about that!) After the orientation we toured the John Deere store. They probably make more money from their merchandising than their tractors! It was very cool to see though. Made a quick stop in the John Deere Museum before it closed, very interesting. Also stopped by the Isabel Bloom store. Darling concrete sculptures native to that area.

We drove down to Galesburg. It's been 12 years since I had been back to my home town, since Mom died. It was very emotional, but I'm glad I went. Hardest things were seeing my Grandmother Rylander's house and gardens torn down and visiting the cemetery. Best thing? That would definately be seeing my aunts, uncles and cousins on my father's side. They were great and look great too! I've posted pictures in Webshots.

I managed to get on 4 airplanes in 2 days! I hate to fly, but I have to force my self to do it. It's hard to get to Holland by car - so I have to get over this fear! Or at least not freak out about it so much.

We got back and then it was a mad dash to get things done around the house that only Ed could do before he flew back to Holland, like go through his tools and clothes. He's the energizer bunny, he wears me out!

Easter was a weird one. Took Ed to the airport at 11:00am and kind of spent the rest of the day on the phone! It was hard not having anyone here for Easter, I really missed the kids! I'm used to making big Easter dinners and having lots of guests. Life does change doesn't it.