August Rush

I wish this blog post had the same budget as that movie! Alas, this is not a feel-good Hollywood drama.

However, this post is supposed to make me feel good by reminding me of all the progress we’ve made on our home despite the financial setbacks. Bring on the Hollywood ending!

It did feel really good to open up here and be honest about the job snafu and all the trials that come with expat-riatism (should be a word!), so I will definitely be doing that more. I hope that writing about my experience will make some new expat feel better by knowing she is not the only one struggling with immigration issues.

Anyway, you want to know what never fails to turn my sad face upside down? This happy one:

Our kitten Ludovico

Yes, that’s an updated picture of our little fuzzball Ludovico. He’s made such an impact on our lives already — I actually okayed a scratching post the other day saying “I guess that doesn’t look so bad.” If you want to see A LOT (okay, too many) pictures of Ludo, I post them on my Instagram almost daily. You should follow me!

Ludovico was a big change for us, but a lot of the updates we made  this month were small, affordable ones like adding some hooks and hardware in our toilet and bathroom, thrifting some kitchen necessities, and splurging (well, as much as broke people can splurge!) on a designer clock.

Ikea Grundtal toilet paper roll holder

I didn’t blog about this, but it bears mentioning that you can make a stuck-to-the-wall toilet paper roll holder much prettier by running some acrylic caulk around the edge and smoothing it out with a paper towel, like so:

Ikea Grundtal toilet paper roll holder

See? No more gross see-through holes!

We did make a couple of big changes this month. They were just ridiculously cheap! We added a bunch of hand-me-down furniture to our living room.

Living room

And ain’t nothing wrong with this discounted Pax wardrobe:

Ikea As-Is Pax wardrobe

Well, that is, until we broke it.

Ikea broken Pax wardrobe

Womp womp. That’s okay. “We can rebuild him…we have the technology.” More on that later.

This month, we also added a thrifted chandelier to our living room, lovingly spray painted white, the rainbow’s most forgiving color.

Thrifted chandelier spray painted white

Funny story, I am in the process of repainting it. Yes! It’s true! Maybe this month has been a wash.

Ah well, at least we got some relaxing in before the summer ended.

Bosbad Amersfoort


Clocking in

Yesterday I posted about how I behaved myself and didn’t buy the basket light of my dreams, but today I’m here to tell you that we actually didn’t go home empty-handed on Sunday.

At a little general store in the city, we happened upon another big sale with items discounted up to 70%. That is where I made the mistake of picking up this clock and showing it to Rolan.

We could see that it was a designer clock (Arne Jacobsen) and well made. We did need a clock, but with the discount it was still €30. So I made Rolan put it down and marched him out of the store. But Rolan was not phased. He turned to Google. And when his search led him to find this online shop where they are selling the €30 clock we just passed up for €215, he marched me back into the store.

So we bought it. We reasoned that even if we decided not to keep it, we might still be able to sell it online for closer to what it’s worth and thereby make some money.

But who are we kidding? We are smitten with the thing! Designed by one of the most influential Danish architects/designers of the 20th century AND at a 70 percent discount? Yeah, I guess we’ll take it.


Thriftin’ for the kitchen

With my recent employment snafu, we’ve had to put some of our big ticket purchase plans on the backburner. That’s okay — I’d rather research a big decision to death before pulling the trigger anyway. And it will give us some time to live in this space, figure out what we really need and what will actually work for us.

It’s also forced us to be more choosey about what we bring into the apartment and how much we pay for it. We only buy something if we really love it. And if we know we will use something a lot, it doesn’t hurt so much to shell out the Euros for it. And it doesn’t hurt when everything we buy is only a couple Euros total.

On our last thrift store run, we found a bunch of items that help make our kitchen and cooking sessions more enjoyable.

I don’t know what this was originally intended for, but we have adopted it as our new spoon rest.

I like how it looks like a fish from the side since Rolan and I love all things fish.

I had been on the lookout for a cake stand to use as a nice landing spot for things next to the sink. Rolan wasn’t sure about this idea at first, but…

… for €1, it had to come home with me.

Also thrifted the oil bottle where we keep our dishwashing liquid.

I had gotten tired of my fruit going bad so quickly because it was piled into a regular bowl with no way for the fruit on the bottom to breathe.

Problem solved.

Never thought I’d find such useful tools at a thrift store!

Salad tongs, egg slicer and pasta measurer — little things we would’ve happily paid full price for. Don’t mind getting them for cheaper.

And, of course, I can’t forget our newest addition.

While Ludovico is technically a “thrifted” kitty, I was talking about his little food and water dishes. We also thrifted a white tray to put under them so his spills don’t end up on the laminate floors. Turns out it was a smart buy. How can such a tiny animal make such a mess?

Hopefully our little spending hiatus will be over soon so we can make this place feel a little less empty. Until then, I’m perfectly happy to keep adopting other people’s unwanted stuff.


July on the fly

Whoa. So. That was July.

I’ve noticed that there are days that feel like we are crawling in progress on projects and then the next day I actually hear myself tell Rolan that maybe we are taking on too many projects at once. How can both of those statements be true?

July was a big month for us.

First of all, I started this blog at the beginning of July. I started writing as a way to keep track of all the progress we were making on our new home, but I also wanted a place for my friends and family overseas to see what was going on in my world. So if you are reading, thanks!

We also signed the contract and moved into our first apartment at the beginning of last month. Did you guys enjoy the tour of our new apartment?

We packed all our belongings and loaded everything into the back of an uncle’s van. And yes, the thing smooshed in the bottom of the pile in the picture above is indeed our mattress.

Moving is always fun, but for some extra kicks throw in a pair of elevator doors that close after 2 seconds and you’ve got yourself a regular ‘ole hootenanny! (Favorite new word: hootenanny!)

It wasn’t long after moving in, we realized we needed to shed some light on our new baby. Holland stays pretty bright late in the day during the summer, but an apartment with no light fixtures does not make for very safe midnight snacking.

So we hunted down a few light fixtures on the cheap, including a great thrift store find by Rolan.

My man seriously delivered on his promise. Which means I should probably follow suit on that promise I made to finish the laminate trim.

Still haven’t made much progress on that front. That is such a boring job. I was much more interested in dreaming up plans for our bedroom, which include some really beautiful prints that I shared with you from my new favorite Etsy seller Seasideprints.

The bedroom plan also includes a beautiful Maskros pendant lamp from Ikea, which I just so happened to find 50% off!

It just needed a loving touch from a completely sane person. Who would return something so beautiful to Ikea? Maybe the crazy person was hoping for a store credit to use on all the new stuff from the 2013 Ikea catalog.

I shouldn’t be so hard on us, I guess. Looking back through the archives, we’ve been risking life and limb to quickly get settled into our new place. Poor Rolan put his health in danger installing steel pipe curtain rods and I had a tonsillectomy!

With any luck, we’ll have some curtain updates coming after the weekend when we get back from our vacation — which, spoiler alert, won’t be to any of these unique Holland vacation destinations.

Well folks (or should I say folk? Hi, mom!), that was the last month all wrapped up into one nice little package. Feels good to look at it all together like this. I think we deserve a vacation. Heck, I think I deserve a vacation after writing all of this up.

I even updated the To-Do List. For preservation’s sake. You know, in case I ever get to thinking we’re slacking off again.


Here comes the sun

Well, not really since it’s raining yet again. But! We do have two new light fixtures installed in the apartment. Three if you count the vanity light we “borrowed” from Rolan’s grandfather’s house.

We picked the Ikea Fuga spotlight flushmount for our kitchen light fixture because the kitchen is kind of a square with a lot of corners that need light. We didn’t want a drop pendant hanging down here getting in the way, so a flush mount fixture it was.

Maybe someday we will have some track lighting drop pendants hanging over the countertops instead, but this works really well for now and we can’t resist an affordable modern glass and steel fixture.

This is the powder room we neglected to take pictures of before we moved in.

It was kind of.. erm.. essential that we find a cheap fixture for this room quick style. Even though peeing in the dark may help avoid cancer(???), I’m a scaredy pants and Rolan is both near-sighted and over 6-foot-tall. He does not need any more handicaps while doing his business.

We spend a lot of time in Ikea recently as it is both a.) budget-friendly and b.) the only modern one-stop home decor shop that we know of in the Netherlands. While there, we spotted and instantly loved this Ottava light. However, after Rolan’s not-tall-at-all brother paid us a visit, I started to question whether we made the right choice.

In fact, Ramon’s visit made me ponder whether we can have drop pendants at all. I’m thinking in the case of the powder room, the verdict is, sadly, no. But I’ve promised Rolan to live with it for a little while. We’ll see what happens.

We also stole borrowed a light for a temporary fix for the hole in the wall above the mirrors in the bathroom. Rolan got it installed last night so now it’s actually hanging on the wall and not off the wall.

I say “temporary fix” because, like most everything else, we have big plans for this fixture in the future.

Another temporary fix in this picture is the bare light bulb you see dangling from the ceiling on the left. Yeah, we are not that minimalist. Our budget is, though.

So that is what we have so far. It’s just three little tweaks, but they sure have shed some light on the situation. Wop wop. Bad pun intended.

How about you guys? Have you ever had to resort to a “temporary fix” while you (or your budget) got prepared for the permanent solution? Or have you ever had a tall relative bump his head on a light fixture?


Tour time!

Is it a blessing or a curse when you can pack all your belongings in less than 3 hours? I’m going with blessing.

Yep, we planned to move on Sunday and we began packing around oh, I dunno… Sunday afternoon? We borrowed Rolan’s uncle’s band bus (complete with giant band name stickered onto the side) and filled it full of our stuff. Then we unloaded it in a matter of an hour because we have so much stuff you guys.

Internet was connected yesterday, so today I’d like to just share some pics of the apartment before we moved our things in. The pink wallpaper is in full swing in these pictures, so try to divert your attention more to the beautiful laminate flooring we installed.

Here is the view from the front door. The open door you see on the right leads to the powder room and the open door on the left walks into the living/dining/kitchen.

My plans for this space include a “landing zone” for mail, keys, jackets, shoes, umbrellas (we need umbrellas A LOT here), etc. The little telephone hanging on the wall is a video feed of the front of the apartment building and allows you to open the door (or not) for visitors. I am living in the future, ya’ll.

The biggest room in the apartment is the one that melds three vital rooms together: the living room, dining room and kitchen. I should call it the dinkitchliving room. Or the kitchdinliving room. Maybe I’ll go really wild and name it the lividinkitchen.

This room is home to two of the apartment’s biggest selling points: these big, beautiful french doors that open up to let in sunlight and fresh air. Another selling point was how big this room is. The pictures do not do it justice.

The door you see on the left of the above picture walks out onto this big balcony:

Sometimes the sun actually shines in the Netherlands, so we were thrilled with the idea of having a private place to enjoy those 2 spectacular days.

Back inside, the kitchen is extremely modern, with sleek white cabinets, stainless steel hardware, and brand-new Siemens appliances. There is also a hidden fridge, freezer and dishwasher in there (all on the left).

I’m planning on adding some open shelving on the left. Not sure what to do with the big wall over the sink, though.

The bedrooms are nothing spectacular — yet.

This is the master bedroom, you can tell because of how master-y it looks. Actually, it’s not much bigger than the other bedroom.

We’ve already decided that this room should become the office/studio. Rolan is a music man on the low down and desperately needs a place to put his keyboard and sound equipment. And so it shall be done.

In the bathroom, we have dual sinks and a walk-in shower.

And a bath. A big-enough-to-actually-enjoy-yourself-in bath.

Just for fun, here is our auxiliary room.

I hope that someday (in the very near future) this will house a washing machine. We have a severe lack of washing machine in this apartment. I’d also like to get some kind of dirty laundry system and linen closet thingamajig in here.

Not pictured is the powder room. It’s just a room with a sink and a toilet though so you’re not missing much.

And that’s the new place. We have already made some improvements and touch-ups since moving in so I’ll be sure to update with those.

What do you guys think? The wallpaper, is it as horrific as I think it is?


To-Do List

Our apartment is a brand-spankin’ newly built apartment, which is awesome because it’s got a modern look and feel and (almost) nothing needs to be updated (they put pastel pink wallpaper on all the walls! why? whywhyWHY!?). Ahem.

However, since it is brand new and no one has ever lived in it before, it comes without some necessary things. Like floors. And light fixtures. Those kinds of things will obviously take precedent over design-y and decorate-y things. But we are glad we get to live in the space while we tailor it to our liking and — of course — update you guys along the way.

Here, I wanted to keep an ongoing list of the projects we are planning for each room. You know, to keep things organized and maybe even keep us honest.

Take a look, but don’t get overwhelmed. And I’m pointing at myself with that last sentence.

Whole apartment

  • Install laminate flooring
  • Install quarter-round wall trim
  • Paint baseboards white(?)
  • Decide on color scheme
  • Decide on what to do about the wallpaper (leave it? paint over it? take it down, fix the wall behind and paint? hang other wallpaper?)

Bedroom

Bathroom

  • Find & install ceiling light fixture
  • Find & install over-sink mirror light fixture
  • Find storage solutions
    • Under sink?
    • To right of sink?
    • In shower?

Powder Room

Entryway

Kitchen

Living/dining room

Studio
  • Clean out this room
  • Figure out best use of space in here
  • Figure out curtain situation
  • Find & install light fixture
  • Find furniture

Balcony

  • Find furniture
  • Build pallet benches
  • Outdoor rug
  • Find small outdoor table and chairs

Utility room

  • Washer (dryer?)
  • Find & install light fixture
  • Figure out best use of space (storage? laundry?)

Storage room

  • Don’t let this become a mess! Get some kind of system in here pronto!

Just writing that all out was daunting! Sheesh! What have we gotten ourselves into!?