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


Friday Favorites

Been doing some browser window shopping this week and I kept finding things for the entryway.

Like how cute would a row of these Canal House hooks look in the entryway? Adorable.

In the same vein, this prettymaps art of Amsterdam from 20×200 is gorgeous:

I never was a big wallpaper person, but I adore this Whitby Wallpaper in Lido from Mini Moderns. The beautiful teal color is almost a neutral.

And I kinda have my heart set on this hippo mat greeting us when we walk in the door.

Happy weekend, folks!

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.

We all scream for Ikea!

By now you have no doubt already seen the new 2013 Ikea catalog that popped up online today. You haven’t? Okay, go look. I will wait.

Ikea 2013 catalog

So many great ideas, right?

I have been flipping (virtually, of course) through it all day, so I will cut straight to the chase.

This Trådklöver fabric:

I want to buy a whole shipment of it and staple it to my walls so they will look like this:

Image via

I’m also a big fan of this black and white graphic Lappljung Ruta rug.

It’s tres 8-bit chic, non?

These new Överens dishes are really beautiful and, thanks to their neutral coloring, could easily work themselves right into your everyday dishes:

Or they could be a fun new take on a Thanksgiving table setting.

It doesn’t say how it does it, but this new Jubel self-watering pot supposedly “helps your plants thrive”:

I guess it’s worth a try if it means I can stop buying plants over and over again. (I’ve a terrible black thumb.)

Not necessarily a new item, but I really love this idea from the catalog (haha) of taking pictures of the PIECES of something and framing them in a gallery on the wall, like so:

You could easily do the same thing with a puppy, a baby, your significant other, your family. Such a great way to cherish the details.

Finally — an organic way to hide a power strip in the nightstand:

I tried to hack my Malm nightstand drawers for this reason to no avail, so it’s nice to see this Nordli nightstand embracing the age of cell phone alarm clocks.

These new Skäret bath towels are cute and a half:

And such a good price!

Holy beautiful, affordable armchair, Batman!

Those shiny metal legs are calling to me.

There was so, so much new stuff that I loved. I will probably flip through it about 10 more times tonight.

Was there anything in there that caught your eye?

Trig and trim

If there is ever a situation in which you are faced with either doing something extremely difficult or putting down trim for a laminate floor, trust me on this one: go with the extremely difficult thing. There can be nothing more difficult than laying trim.

Yet, that is exactly what I am stuck working on. In the name of saving my sanity, I’ve been doing it little-by-little over the course of the last two weeks. Basically, if I’m not stomping around super frustrated about something, then I do some trim and quit when I find myself stomping around super frustrated.

I think there are two opposing forces that make this particular part of the laminate-laying process so difficult:

  1. Very precise trigonometric angles
  2. The general laissez-faire attitude with which my miter shears go about helping me make #1

Has anyone else ever used miter shears? Got any tips?

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?)



  • 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



Living/dining room

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


  • 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!?