Sunday, April 18, 2010

Going Home for three weeks!

Yes after 9 years I still refer to my birth city as home even though I reside here in the Netherlands and know I probably will the rest of my life.

Thursday morning we plan to leave for a very well needed three week vacation back to my family and friends.  That is, if this ash cloud blows away and the air space opens up again.  During our vacation I will not be able to update my blog so please be patient - I will be back hopefully with more fresh ideas of differences between my two loved countries.

A while back I did a blog entry about what I miss most - a wish list I have when people come to visit me.  This time I will show you what I usually bring to surprise my friends and family or to fulfil their wish lists. My husband says I spoil my friends and family but I feel I don't even come close to spoiling them.  I am not there for them every day like I wish I could.  Wouldn't it be nice to just warp from one place to another?

Warning  for any friends or family reading this before I leave - you may see things you will receive.  Please look away or smile and act shocked when I give these gifts to you!

1. Clothes - mostly for one of my best friends children who I adoringly call  my niece and nephews. Plus a shirt for my mother.
2. My brother and is beautiful wife is expecting so I have a few gifts for the little one to come.
3. When ever I have been to Canada with my youngest, my sister in law raved about the smell of my daughter.  I told her it's just Zwitsal the most common baby brand in the Netherlands.  I must admit that I love it to and won't use any other brand now.  I promised her that when she ever got pregnant that I would fully supply her cupboards with Zwitzal products.  I just saw in a flyer they now have Zwitzal perfumes for mommy - I will have to buy her some. 
4. A birthday calendar - standard in every Dutch bathroom.  The Dutch do not like to forget anybodies birthdays. A friend asked me to bring her one.
5.Dutch Pride paraphernalia for Queens Day since we will be celebrating it there.  I brought lots to force hand out to my friends and family.  Includes: 2 hats, boa, sunglasses, flip flops and hairband flag things.
6. A washball.  You can use this in your wash instead of soap.  My mother requested this.
7. Red Band Candies. 
8. Duo Penotti - My sister in law is Polish and when she was younger and lived in Poland she used to enjoy this chocolate spread.  We found it sold in a Dutch Delicacy store in Canada for over $10.00 - it's sold for around 2 euros here ($2.73 CAD).
9. Tuc Crackers - my mothers last trip here she fell in love with these so I bought her a pile of them.   
10. Lots of chocolates.  I am probably not done buying chocolates and just thinking now I forgot to add some to the picture.  Seriously - if you have never had European chocolate, you have not tasted chocolate!
11. Lenor - I'll add it to this picture but for the first time I don't need to pack it.  On my recent trips home, everyone raved about how good my clothes smell and my kids clothes smell.  Lenor is the reason why.  I would have to bring a bottle of Lenor home every time.  Luckily for my weight allowance, my sister in law found a Polish store near Toronto who supplies Lenor so I no longer  need to supply their clothes softener.

11.  So the 11 in this picture is instant coffee (cappuccino's) I forgot to add them in the first picture.  My dad and my best friend loves these.  

I will also probably still buy some stroopwafels and I also have zout drop (salty licorice) which I forgot to add to the picture. I usually bring a block of cheese back - I am waiting to hear back if this is needed this year.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter

Vrolijk Pasen is Dutch for Happy Easter.

When I first moved here I found Easter was hardly noticed.  There was barely any decorations sold in stores or special foods/meals sold in the grocery stores.  My oldest daughter did go to an egg hunt at our local soccer club but this isn't something I hear every child gets to experience.  Now a days it has become more to what I am used to. Rows of decorations and Easter chocolates can be bought in many stores and many special festive meals are available in the grocery stores.
While walking through town today I stopped to talk to a friend who's family owns a Turkish butcher shop.  She said that this year has been much busier than years before.  People want special dishes and large offerings at that.  Five years ago she would never guess that this was a festive occasion but now you would almost think this was Christmas.  I am very happy for her families business that it is very busy right now.
Growing up in Canada we always had a small Easter egg hunt with a few small spring gifts (ie. skipping rope, side walk chalk, bubbles etc.).  I carry on that tradition with my girls but I understand that children here do not normally get a gift at Easter.