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Happy Birthday to me: I've turned twenty


Today marks the first day of my twenties. Happy birthday to me!

I'm in two minds about turning twenty. On one side I'm excited. Apparently your twenties are the best years of your life and I honestly can't wait. But on the other side I feel old now that I'm not a teenager anymore. I don't want to grow up. You don't realise how quickly time goes until you look back. Oh my lord time went fast and as of lately the days seem to turn more quickly than ever before.

So yeah, so far my birthday has been good. This morning I had a lovely brunch with my family whilst opening presents and this afternoon my parents will come to visit me. I love birthdays. There is lots of food and cake involved and I always find it lovely when people congratulate me. It's nice to know people care about me and  shoot me a message. And getting gifts is always a bonus too right? This morning I got a lovely new eReader from my parents which I absolutely love. I can't wait to put my books on it and start reading. And from my brother I got an awesome laptop sticker. I'll show you sometime soon.
Anyway, I just wanted to shoot a quick message to all my lovely blog readers. Are any of you doing anything fun today? I'm going to spent my day eating all the cake and opening presents.

Have a lovely day.

Birthday and Christmas Wishlist


I love shopping during the festive period. Apart from the crowds, it is always such a beautiful experience. I like to buy cosy sweaters and look for festive things I can decorate my house with. Also everything in the city at the moment is beautifully decorated and I just love the atmosphere that is around at this time of year. The cold weather makes it perfect for nipping into the warm shops or go for a hot chocolate.

It's also obviously the season for gift buying and I thought that maybe you and I could both do with a little bit of inspiration for that. These are the things that I would love to get for myself or for others that have the same taste as me. Since my birthday is coming up in a week, this is always the time of year where people are starting to ask what I want and I can never come up with anything. So this is a way to answer all their questions. Mum, if you are reading this, these are the things I would love to get for my birthday or christmas.

25 facts about me

I thought it would be time to write about a few things you don't know about me. I haven't been blogging for long and I thought it would be a nice way to introduce myself to all of you. I love hearing about other bloggers random facts about themselves. Now it's time to try it for myself. Let's go.

(I have to say it's really hard to come up with 25 interesting facts about myself, but I hope these are ok).

1. I wear glasses all the time.  I've never owned contact lenses, though I'm thinking of buying some for a holiday that's coming up.

2. I hate clipping my toe nails, even the thought of it makes my skin crawl *shivers*

3. I'm completely addicted to tea in general, but one kind in particular. It's called autumn storm and is basically a blend of apple and cinnamon. It comes out only in autumn here, so I buy it in bulk and stock up for the entire year.

4. I'm a dog person. We had a Golden Retriever up until last Christmas, when she became so ill we had to let her sleep in.

5. People normally don't consider me small, but in actual fact I'm only 5'2.

6. I favour bananas when they have brown spots on them. I'm probably the only one. Everyone else thinks it's gross.

7. I have a massive sweet tooth and would probably eat chocolate all the time if I could.

8. I'm currently doing a degree in Human Geography and am a second year student at Utrecht University.

9. My all time favourite tv show is The Great British Bake Off. I could honestly watch that every single week for the rest of my life if I could. 

10. I failed my driving test six times. From the second time onwards I got so nervous I just couldn't pass, though I'd like to believe that it's harder to pass a driving test in the Netherlands then anywhere else. I did pass my theory test the first time though.

11. I had my first kiss when I was nineteen in a club in Budapest with an Irish guy.

12. One of the most special trips I've been on was an exchange to Saint Petersburg with some Russian geography students. It was amazing to discover a culture that is so different from my own.

13. My full name is very posh: Elisabeth Petronella

14. I'm kind of a nerd. I love studying and organizing and any kind of planning.

15. Stationary is my life.

16. I have a really bad taste in music. I listen to anything cheesy and poppy. I honestly feel quite embarrassed when people ask about my favourite music. 

17. I hate putting myself in the spotlight and am a real introvert.

18. I have had quite an obsession with anything British since the age of twelve and it has always been my dream to live in Great Britain one day.

19. I will never pass up a trip to London.

20. I have actually not mentioned this yet, but my nationality is Dutch and although I have been obsessed with anything British from the age of twelve I'm still a real nationalist at heart and I won't pass up an opportunity to cheer my country on and celebrate it's traditions.

21. My obsession is watching sports on tv. I probably know more about football than my brother and dad do.

22. My favourite time of the year is the period between October and December. I love everything about autumn: the leaves, spices, pumpkins, anything christmassy. 

23. I'm a real homebody and don't like going out to party at all. That being said I'm also a morning person all the way.

24. I've never been drunk and don't plan on getting drunk anytime soon either.

25. I'm a book worm at heart and can't help to always have a book with me. I like to read as a way to relax, which means it isn't likely you will see me with some literate novel, though I would love to make it through Rory Gilmore's list of literary books one day. 

So these were some facts about me. I hope you liked them and I might do another one of these sometime in the fuut

The start of the festive season

Christmas is just around the corner. Are you excited?

For most of us in the Netherlands Christmas is not something we think about just yet. That will come after the fifth of December, when Sinterklaas has gone back to spain. But the festive season does start right now, with the arrival of Sinterklaas. This might sound weird for the people who don't live in the Netherlands, so let me explain.

Believe it or not, but for children in this country Christmas is not the most important holiday of the year. We don't believe in Santa Claus or Father Christmas and the tradition has never been to receive gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. Instead we celebrate the birthday of Saint Nicolas on the fifth of December. And that is when we receive presents. The tradition is that Sinterklaas or Saint Nicolas arrives from Spain (he lives there with his helpers) on the second Saturday of November, which was last week. He will return on the sixth of December and the night before that on his birthday he will hand out presents to all the children that have been good in the past year.
It's basically the same thing as Christmas but on a different day and in actual fact Santa Claus and Sinterklaas are the same thing.

I can remember from when I was younger about not really caring all that much about Christmas. The most important date was always the fifth of December. I didn't believe in Father Christmas. Here in the Netherlands Christmas was always about food and celebrating the birth of baby Jesus, never about receiving christmas under the christmas tree. And I still love that about Christmas.

In the last few years with social media and blogger friends from other countries, my love and excitement for Christmas has grown and now I love the whole of December with it's festive spirit.

So yeah, the arrival of Sinterklaas last Saturday marks the start of the festive season for me. I'm officially allowed to watch Christmas movies, listen to christmas music and drink hot chocolates. It's always a crazily busy period, but it's my favourite time of the year. 
These are the plans I have for the coming month and a half:
  • First of all it will be my birthday at the end of November. I will celebrate it with my family on my actual birthday. I'm also planning on meeting up with a good friend and my group of uni friends will meet up the day after to celebrate my birthday, but also Sinterklaas. We are doing secret santa.
  • As I said, my birthday is closely followed by the celebration of Sinterklaas on the fifth. I don't really know how we are celebrating it this year, but I won't be receiving any presents. We might go to the movies though.
  • And then we are storming right ahead to Christmas. I actually have something really really exciting planned for the week before Christmas. I will tell you about it later, but you can expect lots of pictures.
  • And then hopefully we will be partying out 2015 and making awesome resolutions for the New Year.
It's weird isn't it, how traditions alter from family to family and from country to country and I sincerely hope that the celebration of Sinterklaas will never disappear, because it's one of the characteristics of the Dutch culture. Tell me about your plans and traditions surrounding the festive period.

Beautiful Paris

I feel like I'm obliged to write something about last Friday's events in Paris. I was still at work when the attacks happened. After I came back, my family and I spent the whole evening in front of the telly to keep up with the updates. It was truly awful to see it getting worse by the hour and with more information came more deaths. It just kept getting more horrific and it was awful to watch. I went to bed worrying about all those people in Paris. And when I went to work the next day it was all we talked about. That was when I realized that I couldn't form the words to describe it. I didn't know what to say. What can you say about an event like this?

But I feel that we should talk about it. It's important as a community to stand together and support each other as human beings and since I couldn't form the words to talk about it out loud, I thought why not try to write it down.

When seeing those awful images, it made me angry. It made me wonder how people can do that to their fellow human beings and it made me angry to see such a beautiful city in despair. A little more than a year ago I went on a trip to Paris with my best friend and it was honestly one of the best holidays I ever had. We still talk about it. That July we celebrated Quatorze Juliet in France with fireworks over the Eiffel tower and a parade in the streets. The weather was beautiful and everyone was celebratory. It's a jarring contrast between those two images of Paris I have.

The weekend back then was one of the most relaxed city trips I'd ever been on. We had an impromptu picnic in our hotel room, because we were too lazy to go out for dinner. Spent a free afternoon simply reading a book in the Luxembourg Gardens and another night we watched the world cup final in a packed cafe. That was the trip that made me realize how mesmerizing Paris actually is. I want to remember that, instead of those awful images we have seen from Friday night.

I honestly can't imagine how those terrorists are able to do what they do. I can't comprehend it. How can you do something like that to your fellow human beings? I suppose they must be brainwashed, but it's just so awful to imagine that people are capable of something like that. I already feel guilty when I don't go to church on a sunday, imagine if you have the deaths of hundreds of people on your hands.
And it's not that these attacks are worse in Paris than in any other part of the world, where they are more common. It's the fact that it's so close to home that you can imagine it so much better. It's far enough from your bed when the attacks happen thousands of km away that you can't imagine it, but when they happen so close to home it is much more jarring.

I have no clue how we are to proceed from this. How to stop those attacks from happening and what to do with all those refugees. But I think we should at least just try to remember how beautiful our planet is and how lucky we are to live on this planet. There are still good things in the world, I truly believe that.

Utrecht: better than Amsterdam?

There is more to the Netherlands than just Amsterdam. Utrecht is the fourth biggest populated city in the Netherlands, right behind Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague and in my opinion one of the most beautiful. I would urge you to give Utrecht a go. Not only is it the most centrally located city, it's also a university town and bears close resemblance to cities such as Amsterdam.  I might be a bit biased mind you as Utrecht is my University town and where I live at the moment, but it's still it is one of the most beautiful cities I know. In some occasions I would even say it's better than Amsterdam.

When I mention to foreigners that I'm from the Netherlands, the reaction always is: Oh, Amsterdam, right? And then they look surprised when I mention that I don't live in Amsterdam. Obviously there is more to the Netherlands than that. And a bonus is that Utrecht won't be as packed as Amsterdam is. When you visit the main city centre on a week day in Utrecht, there won't be any tourists, just a few locals most likely. It's so much more peaceful.
I went into town yesterday to pick up a few things and I was again struck by how beautiful Utrecht is and I couldn't help but take a few pictures. It has a lot of the same things that Amsterdam has too: canals, bikes, lots of shops and beautiful old buildings. There are almost no tourists and compared to Amsterdam Utrecht feels much more like a small town instead of a bustling city. And that is one of the things I love most about this city. It has a very cosy feel.

Utrecht is mainly a university town. It hosts the largest university in the country and lots of other higher education schools. This means that everywhere you go you will see students and youth. You will also see people biking absolutely everywhere. The city has been known for their traffic of cyclers.

The city's origins date back to the Middle ages and you see that back in the structure of the city centre. Most of the buildings are from that area. The pictures below are taken in my favourite part of town. It's situated just behind the main shopping streets. I was there during the day, but when walking around there at night it feels like you've been transported right back to that era. I've always loved that. The Dom tower stretching out above the little houses gives it even more of a middle aged feel. Especially since there are some creepy stories surrounding it. I might post about that sometime if you'd like.

The city is very small. I wouldn't if you would be entertained for a few days by just visiting Utrecht, but because Utrecht is so centrally located in the Netherlands you could easily visit other cities, like Rotterdam or the Hague. Or you could even go on a day trip to Utrecht from Amsterdam. It's only 20 minutes by train and definitely worth a visit.

I'm curious have any of you ever been to Amsterdam and/or other places in the Netherlands? What did you think of it?

Life lately: I'm happy to be back

I'm back, and here to stay for a longer time than last hopefully! I've missed you guys so much.

I've been trying to blog on and of for a few years now and every single time, before I start to get into a routine, life happens and I just simply forgot about it and leave my blog behind. Poor blog, always second place to whatever happens in my real life. I suppose that is the way it is. I'm sad about it though and envious of those who do make it happen and manage to blog consistently while also studying and having a social life. I simply can't manage it, it seems. However, the coming few months will be a lot less busy and I'm determined to do get my blog back on track. And this is I guess an introductory post to the coming period and a little catch up of what I've been doing these past few months, since I last blogged back in September. Welcome back to my blog guys, you can expect a lot more from me in the future.

These pictures were taken on the first day of November, last Sunday. What a beautiful day that was. It was probably one of the hottest days of autumn we had up until that moment, although this past week has been exceptionally hot too. It was one of the most beautiful autumn days I can remember in a long time. When I think of November, I think of cold, rainy weather that is great to stay indoors with a nice hot cup of tea and a little bit of chocolate, but not this. Though I love my cold, rainy weather too, I think we might need to make the most of it. And that is exactly what we did last Sunday.
We went to a forest close to my new home in Utrecht. It's actually really close to the home of our retired queen, princes Beatrix in Lage Zwaluwe. The landscape is stunning over there, lots of beautiful old trees and winding lanes, with patches of open field in between. There is a very posh feel to it, which isn't too surprising when royalty actually lives there. But still, there are a lot of absolutely stunning country homes, in which I could imagine myself living when I'm old and grey.
It was beautiful, and the sunlight streaming through the colourful leaves made it all the more stunning.

So what happened in my life these past few months? I guess the biggest thing that happened is the fact that I've moved out of my parents home back in september. I have been trying to adjust to living on my own ever since. It has been awesome so far. I love that I don't have to travel back and fort every single day and that I'm able to actually workout and do more social things in evenings as well. And I love to cook for myself every day. I'm consistently thinking up recipes and tweaking them to my satisfaction and I bloody love it. I can't wait to share a few of them on here.
But at the same time it has been kind of lonely too. Mind you, so far I've been home every weekend to visit my parents and work part time at the local super market, because I still do that on weekends. I can't complain about that really. I mean, I see my family and friends every single weekend. But still. I was so used to catching up on our days at supper with my mum. I guess that is what I miss the most. It is simply not as fun to eat dinner all by yourself.

So yeah I've been adjusting to living on my own and have also been extremely busy with course work too. October was extreme. I was stupid enough to think that I could manage four courses instead of the usual two. That was a big mistake. I think I managed to pass each of them in the end, but I didn't enjoy a second of it. This past month consisted of rolling from one project into another and I've spent a serious amount of time in the library. I'm so glad it has died down a bit now. Last week, while some of my best friends went on a midweek trip to Dublin, I had my last test of the first period and I'm so relieved. Next week, my new courses start and I thought it would be wise to tone down the amount of courses I took on, now it's three instead of two, which is so much better!

And that means a lot more free time, to actually get back into the blogging game.

I honestly don't know what it is about blogging. I keep getting back to it and trying again and again and again. Hopefully one moment in time, it should finally stick and I will manage to keep going. I hope this is that time.

I haven't talked to you guys in ages, so what have you all been up to? I need to catch up on all the blog posts I missed too, so send me your latest blog posts! It will be lovely to read them and hear from you.

See you soon!

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