Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's a bikers country

Netherlands is a 'fietsers' /bikers country.   The roads are often very small and often the city centres are closed off to motorized vehicles.   You will see mothers biking daily with a child on the back of their bike, a child on the front of the bike (more than one child if they have a bakfiets ) and a child biking beside them.  Even when it snows and the roads are slippery than an ice rink, it doesn't slow them down.  I am hoping it is something in just being Dutch that keeps them safely on the bike while going over these black iced ridden roads with out wiping out. Now that I have my Dutch citizenship I am looking forward to staying on my bike when hitting a patch of ice or being hit by a gust of wind, for some reason I am blaming my cursed clumsiness for a life of many more falls to come.  I am still having bad side effects from a bad fall in September from being knocked over by the wind... yes the wind. You would think I knew how to bike.  I had my youngest daughter on my bike and luckily she was unharmed, I unfortunately suffered a concussion.    Yesterday I hit a patch of ice that has luckily only left me with a black and blue knee.  I am seriously starting to consider trading my bike in for some snow shoes! How these Dutchies do it with out a helmet nor a care in the world is beyond me. 

There is said to be more bikes in the Netherlands then there are people and there are more than 750,000 bikes stolen a year.  The Dutch learn at a very young age the importance of keeping their bike safely locked up. 

I'm officially a CanDutch

About half a year ago it came to my attention that because I am married to my Dutch partner, I can become a Dutch citizen and keep my Canadian citizenship.  After ten years, the only reason I did not get my citizenship was because I was told this was not possible to have a dual citizenship. Every five years we would pay about 300 euros for our residence permit but every five years this price would drastically seem to increase. Unfortunately our residence permit had to be renewed a month ago and I had to have a valid residence permit in order to obtain my Dutch citizenship so with in the same month we had to pay for the residence permit and the 650 euro citizenship fee.  That was a hard blow but now we are finished with all expenses that will keep us in this country.
Other valid reasons for obtaining Dutch citizenship :
  • I can vote
  • I can live anywhere in Europe if I wish (Italy is looking good about now) just joking.... a little. 
  • Easier to get a passport
  • I'm not a "foreigner" and don't have to worry about the government putting me through more courses.
  • My husband is not financially responsible for me.
 Today with great pleasure my daughter and I received our Dutch citizenship.  What also made this day special is that today is "Nationale Naturalisatiedag" National Citizenship Day.  The press was present at our ceremony and a picture will be printed in our local paper and the photographer from the press said he will send a picture to my home address. 

For any  foreigners considering this big move, some of the requirements to become a citizenship are:
  • You must live in the Netherlands for 5 years or have been legally married to a Dutch partner for three years. 
  • You can not have a criminal record. 
More information can be found at:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sinterklaas Surprise

I loved this time of year when I was younger.  I was always right into the Christmas mood - yes I was the kid wearing the lighted up Santa hat to school with matching mitts, earrings and socks! I may have toned it down over the years (I know my husband is grateful for that) but that doesn't mean I love Christmas any less. One thing I always looked forward to was secret Santa at school (or any other after school organization I was in).  For anybody who has never heard of a "secret Santa": everybody draws a name and doesn't tell anybody who that name is.  You discretely try to find out what your victim  chosen secret Santa's interests are and you buy a little gift for them and wrap it nicely and give it to them on the arranged day. 
For the Dutch children that are a little old to believe in Sinterklaas (about age 10 plus), they also have a "secret Santa" but they call it "Sinterklaas surprise" (surprise is pronounced sup-reese). Children write their name on a piece of paper and make the quest a little easier by adding what their interests and hobbies are ex. soccer, spider-man, and swimming. Just like a secret Santa, the idea is that the name you have chosen is kept top secret.  The children then buy a small gift (usually no more than a few euros) and then they decorate the gift to one of the chosen childs interests. 
Last night I found my self once again making Breanna's Sinterklaas surprise at the last minute!  I love this child dearly but she did not inherit my creativity (and she knows it - or she is just smart enough to act like she doesn't have any creativity so mom will do it all for her). Her friends are all on msn together and they all figured out who chose who, so there really is no more surprise.  The girl Breanna chose is into field hockey - we couldn't make a stick thick enough to fit the gifts and Breanna didn't want to make the field (thats boring mom). So I made her look on her Facebook to find out more about her - found out she likes to ski too.  So here was her  my late night last minute creation.

Here are a few from previous years:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Getting into the Christmas spirit

I always find it difficult to get into the Christmas spirit early in the Netherlands.  The majority of people will not decorate until Sinterklaas leaves for Spain on the 5th of December.  Even my husband has set the rule (maybe the ONLY rule he has been successful in enforcing in our house) that no Christmas decorations go up until Sinterklaas goes out. But let me tell you as soon as that Dutch Christmas party pooper is out... I am decking the halls with boughs of holly!
One way I can always count on to get into the Christmas mood is by going to Intratuin (our largest garden centre chains).  They always have this garden centre so beautifully decorated that scrooge would even be inspired to decorate. This one is in Duiven, when it opened up it was the largest indoor garden centre in Europe.

Notice how big this display is!  This is just one of many.
With beautiful Dickensville displays like this it makes me almost want to start another space consuming pricey collection...... Almost.
I really got some superb idea's and some great inspiration.  I can't wait to decorate.  I even hope it snows (really snows not just sprinkles) to add to the Christmas feeling (the snow can leave in January).

And, la piece de la resistance, radioactive animals!

Another great way to get into the Christmas feeling around here is by going to the markets, particularly the German ones. My good friend Sonya went to one in Osnabruck, Germany this weekend (I´m so jealous), she has some beautiful pictures you can see her blog at Home Cooking with Sonya

Friday, November 26, 2010

Report card time

My oldest daughter Breanna came home from high school (middelbare school in Dutch) with her report card and a big smile on her face.  I knew it had to be good, she was just so excited to show us.  I remember report card time as a time of grief, guilt and wondering how I can hide it from my parents.  We will expect to see about three or four report cards from Breanna each year.  This one wasn't perfect but it was one to be very proud of.  Marks here are graded out of 10 and not A,B,C... The value is pretty much the same though.
After looking at her marks and telling her how proud we were of her she was very quick to ask, "well, what do I get?" hmmm don't get me wrong I am extremely proud of her but maybe it's just me but I never got anything for report cards except my end report card.  Apparently offering a hug and a pat on her back wasn't what she was looking for.  That offer sent me on the "worst mommy of the year list".  To put myself back on the best mommy of the year list, my husband and I offered to bring her to the Harry Potter movie this weekend.  BINGO that worked. 
Supper time was at Oma and Opa's today and Breanna as proud as she had every right to be brought her report card with her.  Oma and Opa were also very proud of their granddaughters grades and like second nature had their wallets out and they were emptying it out into Breanna's hand.  Ok I barely bat a lash, I'm used to this by now - Oma and Opa spoil their grandgirls. Then uncle came and right away Breanna had her report card out again and she was hinting telling him how much she just got from Oma and Opa.  I gasped and turned to my husband and asked him under my breath if she is asking for money.  "No this is normal" he reassured me.  Normal?  are you kidding me?  My husband continued to tell me how he would make his rounds with each and every report card robbing his poor aunts of their hard earned money (and anybody else he could sucker out of their money).  I think something happens to these Dutch people when they see a teenager with puppy dog eyes holding onto a fresh report card, it just makes them want to pop their wallets out.  I swear I grew up in the wrong country cause I know for sure I could have made a killing with my large family!

That time again... Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piete

I know I have been M.I.A. lately.  There has been a lot of personal stuff with my parents visiting and my first niece/ God daughter being born.  My mind has just been else where lately.
I know in the past I have made this blog more about what you will expect to see in the Netherlands but now I am running our of idea's here.  I have decided to turn this into just plane and simple my life and what we as a family experience in the Netherlands.  Some of it may or may not be Dutch living related.  If I do come across a "must see" tourist spot or something you "must try before you die" - I'll be the first to tell you.


Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet has once again invaded the Netherlands with whipping pepernoten at children, leaving goodies in their shoes and making parent's wallets a little lighter.
Last week Kiana (my youngest daughter) starts off her school morning as normal as can be, being greeted by her Siamese twin  best friend.  This time her best friend had a pretty little gold box in hand with a glass angel in it, "See what Sinterklaas brought me?".  Kiana's jaw dropped.  Ever since she saw this glass angel in the pretty gold box she could not stop talking about it.  Every night she would put her shoe out and beg pray ask Sinterklaas for a gold box with a glass angel in it just like he gave to her best friend.  She even wrote a letter in the best writing a 5 year old can. What was I to do???  As a good mommy Sinterklaas, I went to every single store in town in search for this golden box with the glass angel in it.  Four hours later I was tired, still empty handed and about to give up.  I started to head back to my bike and noticed one last gift store, "Pour Toi". Deep breath, fingers crossed... oh who am I kidding?  I went in, started to look around and finally in a ray of golden heavenly light... there she was ... HALLELUJAH!! Ok she wasn't in a gold box but at this point I did not care! Pink is pretty, my daughter is a girly girl so ya pink is good!  I had her wrapped up [yes this is one luxury of the Netherlands - almost every store will ask if your purchase is a gift and they will wrap it for you] and I biked home as fast as my tired legs could.  While waiting to pick Kiana up from school I decided to share my scavenger hunt story with Kiana's friends father.  Before I could finish the story he stopped me to inform me that they bought that gold box and angel in.... BELGIUM! If I would have known that in the first place, I would have saved my self a whole morning in the cold searching for my child's happiness! Since when do children want golden boxes with glass angels anyways?  At that age I was more than happy with toys... real toys! Anyways, I almost couldn't wait to give it to her, just to see her happy little face but I did at least wait to put it in her shoe that night.
The next morning I really did want to sleep in but around Sinterklaas time.... that is just not going to happen.  Kiana came running into my room "mommy mommy mommy!  Sinterklaas brought me the glass angel!!" All of a sudden the excitement left her face so I asked her what was wrong "it's not a gold box".

Monday, September 13, 2010

Medical emergency?

My youngest daughter woke up this morning with a bad tummy ache.  She didn't want to do anything just laid on the couch clenching her tummy the whole morning. Now this really gave me a flash back, if I still lived in Canada,   I would have bundled her up thrown her in the car and taken her to the emergency and put up with the ten hours of waiting in the waiting room, like the over-protective mother I am.  This is just how it is in North America.  Only if we have a small complaint that (we feel) can wait will we call our general practitioner and make an appointment. 

In the Netherlands it is much different and probably much more efficient.  You are only granted entry into the emergency with permission from your general practitioner or if you have been brought in by an ambulance.  Otherwise you must call your doctor and he will decide if he needs to see you right away. There is an after hours clinic that also requires you to call them first.  The secretary or doctors assistant will decide if your medical emergency needs immediate attention or can wait until your own general practitioner sees you in the morning. Personally I do like this method, this frees up the emergency room for REAL emergencies. 

So anyways, I called my own family doctor this morning and he was on vacation.  I swear this man goes on vacation at least 3 times a year (or only when ever I need to make an appointment).  I don't think my Canadian family doctor ever went on vacation or even had a sick day for that matter.  So I get the doctor answering machine telling me to call the "doktersdienst" Doctors service who will then direct me to the doctor who is taking my doctors patients.  I called the suggested doctor and they requested we wait to see if the pain gets worse.  I can imagine they are getting double the amount of patients today.  After a visit to the bathroom, my daughter is already feeling much better, is now dancing and singing to the Backyardigans and will probably go back to school before the day is out.. 

This is the new hospital about to be opened in my city.  It's been really neat watching it being built over the last year or so and in a few weeks it will be in full working order.  

Monday, September 6, 2010

Slagharen Theme Park

As the weather gets noticeably cooler and we seem to have more rain clouds than sunny days, I decided to take advantage of what possibly could be the last "warm," sunny weekend of the summer.  I packed up my big knapzak (backpack) with sandwiches, fruit, drinks and sultana crackers and we headed off to Slagharen Theme Park.  This country and western themed park has the right mix for young and old children.

My children being almost 5 and almost 13 were both able to find attraction that suited each other well.  

My oldest daughter is brave and will go on almost any ride.  

My youngest is still at a very unsure age and takes the easy safe looking rides.  

Whether you are in North America or Europe, theme parks seem to be relatively the same.  The same type of rides, the same overly priced fried tasteless foods, the useless knick knack souvenirs, large crowds and long lineups.  There was still a few differences I noticed from the theme parks I have visited in North America and here in the Netherlands namely, Slagharen:
-Height requirements weren't as strictly controlled as I have seen in N.A. theme parks.  I was seeing children that were too big getting on kiddy rides and children that were too small getting on big rides.

-Safety precautions are not as strict as they are in North America.  On many children rides the parents would stand at the inside of the exit gate (inside being where the ride is).  I remember in theme parks in Ontario the yell at you with there policing type voice "stand back behind the yellow line ma'm".  There was a small merry-go round ride at Slagharen where parents were throwing their kids on the ride and taking them off while it was still in motion. Other older children were jumping on and off the ride and running around it while it was in motion.  The operator didn't say anything about it. 

-All theme parks I have visited in North America frowned on bringing food in the park.  You would then have to fill a cooler box with ice and your picnic and leave it in your car, exit the park and re-enter after you eat your lunch.  The parks in the Netherlands seem to know that they will not be able to pry a cold botterham (sandwich) out of a Dutch persons hands so they don't even bother trying, instead they set up picnic areas all through out the park.  Whats even better? If you forgot something, they have a supermarket in Slagharen!  Ok I must add they also have cabins and tepee's so you can stay over night but the super market is in the theme park and not where the cabins are. Nifty!  Mind you the prices are probably doubled!

-I have mentioned before the Dutch love their dogs and they bring them every where... shopping... into restaurants etc.  You can also bring them into the theme park.  Mind you I can imagine there would be an even stricter poop and scoop rule in a park then there is in most cities (at least I would hope so).

- And only found in the Netherlands... Bong shaped slushy and drink cups... I kid you not! Kinda eerie watching a kid sip from one of these!

All in all we really enjoyed our sunny day out at Slagharen and would recommend this theme park to any one else. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Holland DOES have talent!

I admit, I watched the first few seasons of Dutch Idols but after awhile it got to be the same ol same ol boring stuff.  To me it was as if they found all the talent they were going to find in this small country.  Shortly after Dutch Idol seemed to also fizz out for the Dutch audience (maybe it hasn't and I am still speaking on personal opinion), Hollands Got Talent seemed to be the next reality talent show to make your big debut on.  I started watching the first season not finding myself impressed and quickly zapping the channel.  This year I entertained my oldest daughter, Breanna,  and decided to sit along side her while she watched Hollands got Talent. Was I ever in for a big surprise... it was as if they found a whole new group of REALLY talented people, especially children.

These amazing little guys are only 9,11 and 14 and making moves that hurt my bones just looking at them.

This is another great duo.  I love how they work in synchronized with one another.

This is the cutest little girl.  She went up and auditioned on her own.  At the end of her perfect audition, the judges asked where her mother is and asked if she would come on stage.  They then found out it was her mother who taught her how to dance so well.  They all decided that the young girl can come back IF she was accompanied by her mother (because that would make such a nice show... and it does).

Not too bad for a 9 year old. Ok it wasn't perfect but HE IS NINE!! Can you just imagine how he will sound at 16? Hopefully he will bump Bieber off the charts! {I kid Breanna I kid.... or not ;-)~ }

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Veluwe

One place I must recommend for anybody who loves the nature or who feel a little cramped up in this over populated country and want some open land to escape to, is The Veluwe (The site is available in English - look for the UK flag at the right top corner).  For the last month or so , we have been exploring  a different section of the Veluwe knowing that it will take forever before I see all of this national park.

Lately we have been visiting the Veluwezoom just outside of Arnhem where the highest point reaches 110 meters above sea level, which is one of the highest points in Holland with exception to the very hilly south Limburg.  The Netherlands is known for being a very flat piece of land and this is no exception for the city I live.  What I find so interesting is that the Veluwzoom is within a half hour drive from where we reside. 

You will not just see beautiful plants and wildlife but you may come across some very social Iceland ponies.
Some of the other bigger animals that can be found there are wild boars, Scottish highland cows and sheep that are rounded up by boarder collies and sheep herders. 

There are also many volunteers walking around very willing and eager to supply information, some of them bring along their very knowledgeable children or grandchildren who are just as enthusiastic as them selves. 
At the main visitor centre at the Veluwezoom there are many activities, a bistro, bike and scooter rentals and even a beautiful butterfly garden.
And if you aren't all that scared for honey bees you can visit where they keep their honey bee hives and I am sure they have an organized time and date when a bee keeper goes out to collect the honey. I was using my zoom on my camera making sure not to get too close, mind you these honey bees really were not interested in us humans. 

Admission into the Veluwezoom is free, although admission into all of the Veluwe  unfortunately is not  so please check before you visit before hand. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pancake supper

The Dutch LOVE their pancakes or "pannenkoek" as they call it.  The Dutch pannenkoek is very much like the french crêpes.  It is much thinner than the "North American" pancake.  The Dutch do not eat these for breakfast, however, this is purely a supper meal. Specialty pannenkoek restaurants can be found through out the Netherlands in huge quantities, they really take their pannenkoeken seriously.  As a topping they will often add bacon, cheese, peppers, mushrooms, pepperoni, Turkish meats, apples, strawberries,  or anything else they can think of.  Commonly eaten with "stroop" (syrup), sugar (brown or confectionery), "appel stroop" (a very thick syrup that tastes like apple) or jam.  The desired size?  The bigger the better!  There is a true technique to eating these too...  particularly the plain ones are rolled up and eaten like wrap.  Plain ones can be found pre-made ready to eat in packages in the grocery stores but they are never as good as fresh made ones. 

As a Canadian we try to have (North American styled) pancake breakfast at least once a month with maple syrup (of course).  When ever we have the children's friends sleep over they think we are crazy for eating (what they think is) supper for breakfast but they never seem to complain while they devour the thick pancakes.  We do have Dutch pannenkoeken once in awhile but not enough because they are LEKKER (delicious).


  • 250 grams of Flour 
  • 2 Cups of Milk 
  • 2 Eggs 
  • 3 teaspoons of Sugar 
  • Dash of Salt 
  • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract 
  • Oil , to brush your Pan with so they don't stick

Mix the flour and milk together until smooth. Add the eggs, sugar, and salt. Mix together until smooth. (optional let the batter rest for 30 minutes for optimal results)
Heat up the largest frying pan you own on medium heat. Brush the oil onto the pan. Pour batter in ensuring a thin round circle covering the whole bottom of pan evenly.  Cook until batter sets and is golden on the bottom, usually about 1-2 minutes. Flip the pancake and cook until golden on the other side, another minute or so. Add any preferred toppings (ie bacon, ham cheese peppers etc) serve with stroop or sugar. 

Eet smakelijk!

Edited to add :

All this pancake talk had my husband craving pancakes (American ones) so I woke up this morning to very tasty pancakes.

Here is the exact recipe he used and trust me they were the best we have ever had!!!

Fluffy pancakes


  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • cooking spray


  1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to "sour".
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into "soured" milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Our Dutch boys are home!

Our Soccer boys played really well but yet were defeated in the last few minutes in over time against Spain making the score 1:0.  With their tails between their legs, the very sorry soccer players arrived back in the Netherlands yesterday.  Today their day was packed with a meet with the Queen, press conference, canal tour and a salute celebrations "de Huldiging".  I am sure after they saw over 500,000 people show up to the celebrations, their confidence were renewed! Our boys may not have come home with the world cup but they certainly put up a fight for it!

Sorry the video is in Dutch - This video was thanks to our media but it was to give you an idea of how much of a hype our boys in orange are. They may not have come home with the world cup but in my eyes they are winners all the way!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Biggest Water Falls in Holland!

The weather was piping HOT here this weekend.  It was 30 plus degrees and sticky humid.  So we decided to go to the biggest water falls in Holland to cool off.  The Loenen water falls, 15 km from Apeldoorn.

Now coming from Ontario, Canada and driving distance from Niagara falls, we would visit the falls often and still do on our trips back to Canada.  Canada is full of hills, mountains and drop offs..... and the Netherlands full of .... well flat flowing ground.  Did you really expect them to have a huge water falls?   The actual size of the waterfalls might surprise you.... or not!

The girls enjoyed cooling off their feet while walking to the falls
There are a total of four steps to the waterfalls - the fourth step is closed off to walk beside but it is about half the size of the rest seen in the picture above.  The total hight of the falls is about15 meters tall. 

Hmph not very impressive compared to Niagara falls?  Maybe not but it is a different type of experience.  Niagara falls is completely over run by tourists and will always be that way.  The Loenen waterfalls will (hopefully) always keep it's natural beauty in the middle of the forest where you can take a long walk and enjoy the pure serenity of nothing but the leaves blowing in the wind.  

Even Daisy enjoyed enjoyed the day out and met a few friends a long the way...

The lovely walk we had to the falls was ended by a delicious ice cream cone. How could we not make a perfect ending out of this day? There is an ice cream van in the parking lot to the waterfalls but we decided to go into town where we could sit and enjoy an ice cream (from the same company as the ice cream van). 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Orange you Glad?

The Netherlands soccer team (football) is through to the finals!  They just played a very exciting game against Uruguay and came out winning 3:2. If only you could hear the partying going on in my street right now as I type this (yes I guess I prefer to sit here and type this then to party in the streets). Cars are honking their horns, squealing their tires. Fireworks are being shot off, vuvuzelas are being blown at full force and the out of tone singing of drunken men set the perfect tone for an after game win party!

Now on to the Finals either against Spain or their rivals, the Germans.  The last time the Dutch played the Germans in the finals was in 1974 and unfortunately lost. I have confidence that they can take it ORANGE all the way!!!

Even Daisy was sporting an orange bandanna to support her favorite Dutch team!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Amsterdam canals

If you live in the Netherlands or visit the Netherlands, one thing you MUST do is a boat trip through the canals of Amsterdam.  For our Canada Day celebrations, a friend of mine organized a 3 hour Canadian themed boat trip with 40 Canadians (and associates) through the canals with an all you can eat BBQ incl. side dishes and all you can drink (that's usually where it goes wrong for me but that's another story).  The food was beyond delicious!

Even my dog Daisy was invited, in fact, I don't think I would have been allowed on board with out her.

I was totally surprised by the pure beauty of the canals and what was to be seen.  It was hard to socialize with everybody because there was so much to see along the side of the canals.

The Netherlands is very much known for having very little land space and because of this, many people decide to live on boat houses.  During my 9 and a half years living in the Netherlands, I have seen many boat houses but none as beautiful or modern as these.

The different boats and the different type of people that we came across on the canals is what made the trip spectacular (besides the atmosphere inside of the boat of course).
I even found my future boat ;-) 

I know where I will be next Canada Day!  Yup, celebrating it with my new found friend Mr. Moose!