Saturday, February 20, 2010


In most parts of the Netherlands, Carnival is readily celebrated (or Carnaval as it is spelled in Dutch).  Carnaval is a celebration that is much like a Mardi Gras that leads up to Lent.  A whole year of planning and designing will usually go into many of the floats used in the local parade.  Also most younger children will go to school wearing costumes and many games and activities will be available for the children.

My two children dressed up for Carnaval for school..
My oldest wore the popcorn costume last year and won a prize.  We then sold the costume on Marktplaats (sort of like ebay) for 25 euros. 


If you want to see the best Carnaval floats and parades, the place to be is in the south of Holland, particularly Den Bosch, and Mastricht.     The floats are to be seen the weekend before Ash Wednesday and many parties are also to be found from Thursday until Tuesday and the Wednesday (Ash Wednesday - or in Canada we called this pancake Wednesday) the Dutch would finish off their party days with eating a raw haring Mmmmm (*shudders*).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Music Was my First Love...

I have always been a music freak.  As early as music class was available in school, I was apart of  it.  Apart from the mandatory choir, we had the unique chance to learn a string instrument in grade 5-6 (I chose violin).  In grade 7 we were able to chose to a brass or woodwind instrument and so not only I chose the clarinet but my mother (with stars in her eyes) ran out and bought me one just knowing that I was going ALL the way.  Through high school I continued playing clarinet but really fell in love with the bass clarinet which I played in the concert band.  I also took advantage of learning a few other instruments; the flute, the trombone, and the alto saxophone (which I wish I went further with). While I was taking in all of my music lessons, what else could I do but... take more lessons!  I was also taking private vocal lessons to get my Royal Conservative Music grades.  I managed to get my grade 9 in singing and grade 3 in theory.  Dont ask where my voice went - I think I left it somewhere in one of the music halls because I certainly don't have it with me any more.

One of the things that really attracted me to my husband was his true love for music and vice versa.  His hobby was/is making his own trance music - I don't love trance but I love his work.

When I first moved to the Netherlands, I was very biased about music. There was no way I was going to like the music nearly as much as I like my North American/English music.  Slowly as the years went by the Dutch music worked it's way into my heart.  How could it not?  There are so many talented artists in this small country it really astonishes me.
Some of my personal favourite artists (in no particular order) are:

Anouk - Not just this song - all of her songs.  Is it me or does this woman get more beautiful as she ages?

Racoon - When I heard this group I couldn't believe they were Dutch - I really thought they were American!  I love their sound!

Krezip - Another group where I love almost all of their songs.

Bløf - For a Dutch singer, I really do like his sound!

There are quite a few more artists I sincerely enjoy but I do have to stop somewhere.
This country certainly did surprise me with their talent.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What I miss most

My mom's coming in a few weeks and she asked me what she can bring for me and for the first time I really had to think about it.  I used to have this HUGE MUST HAVE list of things I miss from Canada but over the years that list has gotten small and smaller.  Sure when I come home from Canada, my suitcase is full of purchases but now it is mostly clothes (clothes are cheaper there than here especially brand names).

My list used to be full of candies (anything grape flavoured - which they don't have here), many chocolate bars (coffee crisps, score bars, eatmore's), red licorice, coffee, relish, chips especially dill pickled and salt and vinegar and those flavoured rice cracker chips and flavoured salts for popcorn.  Not to mention all the pops I missed.

No wonder I weighed so much when I moved here and I was able to lose so much weight after living the Dutch lifestyle after awhile. 

My list (I say my list because my daughter had her own list lol) this time was Coffee Mate Hazelnut Coffee Creamer I Can not drink my morning coffee with out this.  My second request was Tequila Rose.  I had this at my sister in Laws during my last visit and hoped to find it here but with no success. So incredibly yummy, strawberry cream goodness, almost like a strawberry milkshake but better.
My daughters list is mostly just red licorice and gum.  Normally Reece's Pieces and or reece's cups would be on that lists but we still have some from my last list (I monitor them so they don't get eaten up to quickly).
We would normally ask for crystal light packages but we have lots from our last visit and we will probably be going again in April/May.  Relish is also still normally on the list when it is needed - it's a non-Dutch item. 

Can you tell by my list I have done a lot of growing up while here in the Netherlands?  I think I even lost my sweet tooth (as hard as it is for me to say/admit it. 

What I miss about Canada.
  • Most of all my family and friends.  When I left for the Netherlands I left many loved ones behind and I think of every single one of them every day.  They are the reason I go back as often as I do.  
  • Blue skies - especially days like today I miss blue skies.  When it rained in Ontario it poured for maybe an hour or two then cleared up and there was blue skies again.  Here when it rains it can rain for weeks. 
  • Open space.  Here we live on top of each other and most back yards are next to nil. 
  • Going out to eat is affordable and family oriented. 
  • Frozen concentrated fruit juices!  I wish they had them here!
  • Assortment in grocery stores especially for baking but I am starting to find a lot of my needs in Germany now.  It's just finding the right translation now. 
  • Shopping - everything is under one roof. Bad weather? Who cares! Go shopping! 
    In the Netherlands Bad weather = stay home. 
  • On the same note as shopping - I touched on the subject earlier - clothing especially brand name clothing is much cheaper in Canada compared to the Netherlands.  I do a lot of the children's shopping there. 
  • The people!  They are friendly.  You can make friends with the next person standing in line for groceries.  The Dutch on the other hand tend to acquire their friends in school or in their childhood and acquire acquaintances in their adulthood.  I am not saying the Dutch aren't friendly because they are - they just are not about to make you best buds.  
  • Tim Horton Coffee - I did buy a tin but it never tasted the same made up as it did in the store - I think there was something in their cream. But it's not just their coffee - it's sitting and socializing with friends.

Here's one for my fellow Canadians away from home.