Showing posts with label Dutch Days. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dutch Days. Show all posts

Sep 29, 2015

Dutch Days: Tanya's Trip to Amsterdam

By Tanya

I have only visited Holland once and that was around 9 years ago when we went to Amsterdam for my 30th Birthday.  A group of 6 of us went and it was a great holiday. I have to say many things shocked me about Amsterdam in such a good way. Firstly the airport was massive and so efficient and the trains were double deckers. We stayed in a hotel that was fairly close to the train station. It was so tall and narrow that we had quite a climb up lots of stairs to our room. Apparently they were built like this because at the time they were taxed on the space of ground that they took up. 
The city is really picturesque with some gorgeous buildings and all the canals. The main square, as is the case in most cities, was a hive of activity and was a place to be seen. The bars and restaurants around there did charge a premium. I can’t say we really tried a traditional Dutch meal but we did taste a few beers along the way!!!! The trams were effective and constant. I was amazed with the number of bikes and always wondered how they found their bike at the end of the day as they are parked 5 deep all along the side of the many canals. Around Wales you would not have that as way to hilly.
We squeezed quite a lot into those few days including a visit to the unmissable Anne Frank museum, which was a place that I had always wanted to go to since I read her diaries as a teenager. As you go into the building there is an eerily quiet and a strange feeling that cannot be explained. All the visitors showed the respect the place deserves as they took in their surroundings. It is a memory that will always stay with me.
Another of the places we visited was the Heineken brewery and believe me if you ever needed to organise a P***up in a brewery this is the place to visit. We had such a fun time and were quite merry when we left and it only cost us E8 at the time. Mind you we did get extra drinks because we were singing along to Tom Jones and the bar staff enjoyed it. On exiting we were desperate for food as we didn’t think they would let us back on the trams unless we were slightly more sober.
The next morning hubby and I shot of early to one of the flower markets it was so colourful even though it really was not the time of the year for tulips. We did buy some bulbs there which still flower now. We also bought a Christmas decoration to remind us of our holiday.
I have to say I would love to visit Amsterdam again and can recommend it as a great trip.  

Dutch Days: HI-Di-HI Bag & Wallet Giveaway

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a HI-Di-Hi bag and wallet. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Dutch Days: Blond Amsterdam Mugs, Tea, Shopper, Bracelet & Beauty Giveaway

Enter this giveaway to win a Blond Amsterdam shopper filled with two mugs, a cake plate, tea, a bracelet and beauty products. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Dutch Days Book Review: The Girl With Nine Wigs by Sophie van der Stap

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Suze

The Girl With Nine Wigs is an impressive book about a 21-year-old girl who has cancer. Sophie gets a rare diagnosis and an uncertain year for her begins. A year with a lot of downs, but also several ups, because even though she has cancer Sophie manages to embrace life and to find ways to get through the horrific treatments, feeling awful and being afraid. She starts with one wig she doesn't like very much, so soon she buys another one, and another. Sophie ends up with nine wigs that each have their own nickname and matching personality. Stella, Sue, Uma, Daisy, Platina, Blondie, Bébé, Pam and Lydia all have their own benefits and characteristics. They often make Sophie bolder and more confident and because of them she ends up in all kinds of fascinating situations. She can hide behind them, but she's also showing more of herself when she's wearing these wigs.

I read 'Meisje Met Negen Pruiken', which is the original Dutch title of this book pretty soon after it came out. I think it should have been translated into English years ago. I'm glad I can finally share this impressive Dutch book with my readers now. All Dutch women I know have read this book and each of them was and still is equally moved by Sophie's story. She doesn't constantly focus on the medical side of cancer, instead she writes about what it is to go through life with cancer, which means she describes the whole package. Her story is about the encounters she has and how they make her feel. Even if there's a wig that makes Sophie look great she's still vulnerable and she carries her diagnosis with her wherever she goes. 

Sophie is looking for love, like almost everyone else. She meets the most wonderful men and flirts whenever she can, but she wants someone to be close to. Meanwhile her character is rapidly developing, probably a lot more quickly than it would have if she'd remained healthy. She starts her book being a regular girl with so much potential and then she turns into someone extraordinary while she's dealing with a terrible illness. I think that's an amazing achievement and think it's only just that the whole world has the chance to read about it. I think everyone should read her story. It's beautiful and open, it's sometimes sad, but mostly hopeful and the writing is really, really good.

Sep 28, 2015

Dutch Days Etsy Spotlight & Giveaway: Suze Loves EvelinesGarden!

I love Eveline's Garden, a shop filled with wonderful, magical items.

Eveline sells the most beautiful filled orbs and glass bottles.

Her felt work is also stunning.

I love the versatility and the dreamlike quality of her creations.

What I also like is that she sells a lot of book inspired items.

I've asked Eveline a few questions to find out more about her and her shop:

Why did you start an Etsy shop?

I started a shop on Etsy because all my creations slowly began to take over the house. Etsy is a place I always liked to spend a lot of time on. The amount of creative talent that can be found on Etsy is so impressive. I was very keen to become part of this network of creative people, dreamers and hard workers.

Where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration mainly comes from my love of fairytales and the fantasy genre. I also find an endless source of ideas in nature, in my garden, on the beach and in the woods. There is so much beauty in this world, visible to those who go through life with an open heart and open eyes.

How did you learn to make your jewelry and felt work?

I learned by trial and error. When something grabs my attention I check out whether there is a Youtube tutorial. Then it's really a matter of just practicing and do it over and over again until I'm satisfied with the result.

What are you most proud of?

I am proud that my creations bring a little bit of magic and enchantment into one's life. I think the people will be able to see and feel how much love I put in all of my creations.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I want to continue making felted creations and jewelry. For me, it's the perfect combination of hobbies. I really like the warm, soft felt and wool combined with the luxury of dazzling jewelry.

I love that this jewelry makes you feel like you're in a different, better world.

When I look at the pieces Eveline makes many happy memories come to the surface.

Check out this fantastic Etsy store...

Enjoy browsing and have fun shopping!

One very lucky reader of my blog will receive a fantastic prize:

This stunning poetry necklace will be for the winner of this giveaway. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Dutch Days Giveaway: Pip Studio!

Pip Studio is one of my favorite Dutch brands. I love their colorful designs and the quality of the items is amazing. Pip is a brand that is gathering worldwide popularity. I love the designs and think it's amazing. 

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a Pip Studio towel, washcloth, notebook, makeup bag and pencil case. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Dutch Days: Facts and Myths


The Dutch love to cycle, there are 19,000,000 bicycles in The Netherlands. Which means that there are more bicycles than people.


The Dutch are cheap. There are plenty of expressions about the Dutch and their money. With less than 17,000,000 people the Dutch have spent 1,964,000,000 euros on charities alone in 2014. 


There are no mountains in The Netherlands. There are hills in Limburg and the highest one is only 322,7 meters. 


Tulips originally come from Amsterdam. This isn't true, tulips were imported from Turkey in the 16th century and we weren't even the first foreign country to be introduced to them either.


Dutch is in the top 40 of most spoken languages of the world. It has three versions, Dutch spoken in The Netherlands, Flemish and Suriname's Dutch. 


All Dutch use cannabis. With 7% it isn't higher than in countries where soft drugs aren't legal.


Dutch has a large number of words, which is mainly due to the fact that we combine words and together they'll form a new one. That makes Dutch a language of endless possibilities and very long words.


The Dutch all wear wooden shoes. Only part of the farmers today still wear them and the rest of the production is mainly for souvenirs.


The Dutch love their licorice, averagely they eat 2 kilos per person per year.


The main export products of the Netherlands are Cheese, beer and flowers. This isn't true, in reality it's oil and machinery.


The Dutch bought Manhattan from the Indians for only 60 guilders in 1626. New York was first named New Amsterdam and was renamed on September 8, 1664. Many Dutch people think selling Manhattan is the most stupid thing the Dutch have ever done.


The Netherlands might have a big population density, but we don't actually have a metropolis. There are a little over 820,000 inhabitants in Amsterdam. It's our biggest city, but actually it isn't very big at all.


The lowest point of The Netherlands is 6 meters below sea level.

Dutch Days Etsy Spotlight & Giveaway: Suze Loves DutchNeedle!

I love DutchNeedle, a fantastic shop filled with stuffed animals, decorations, garlands, etc.

There are classic and romantic designs and whimsical animals.

They are all beautiful and really well made.

The owner, Francis, knows what to do with a needle, the quality of her work is fantastic.

I've asked Francis a few questions to find out more about her and her shop:

When and how did your Etsy adventure start?

Unfortunately I lost my job because of the financial crisis. Suddenly I had a lot of free time and I started crafting. I opened my shop less than a year ago. The idea is to sell most of my creations on Etsy otherwise it will become very crowded in my house.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I get a lot of inspiration from browsing the Internet. I also like visiting stores and reading magazines.

Where did you learn how to craft?

I've learned to crochet when I was a child, at school. Later, when I was pregnant of my oldest daughter, I went to a sewing class. I practiced a lot while sewing my own baby clothes.

 What are you really proud of?

 I am proud of the fact that people from all parts of the world are interested in things that I have created. It is very nice to know that something of mine is cherished in for example a nursery on the other side of the world.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I hope I'll manage to keep plenty of inspiration and imagination to create many great items that a lot of people will enjoy.

I love the choice of materials and the color combinations.

Everything is so beautiful and it all looks perfect.

There's a great variety of items and I like that there's so much choice.

Check out this fantastic Etsy store.

Enjoy browsing...

And have fun shopping!

One very lucky reader of my blog will receive a fantastic prize:

This gorgeous heart decoration, a signature item of DutchNeedle, will be for the winner of the giveaway. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Dutch Days: Book Reviews - The Angel Maker by Stefan Brijs & The Twins by Tessa de Loo

Reviews by Eline

When Suze asked me to write something for the Dutch Days, I immediately started thinking what I could do. Something YA related in Dutch should be possible, right? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized YA and Dutch don’t go together. At all. About 95% of Dutch YA books you find in the bookstore are in fact translations, either translated from English or German. I don’t think I’ve read more than five Dutch YA books in my entire life. So that is why I have decided to do something completely different. In this post I want to cast a spotlight on two novels that I absolutely adore, both for very different reasons. They have been translated into English, so who knows, maybe you’ll pick them up and love them as much as I did!

Amazon USA Amazon UK

The Angel Maker by Stefan Brijs

The Angel Maker is with ease one of the most intriguing and fascinating books I have ever read. It’s a story about a well-acclaimed doctor who moves back to the town where he grew up to start a small practice there. Needless to say, that is not all that is to it. With him, the doctor has three seemingly identical children. The children are kept inside, never to be seen by anybody, and the people of the town start talking. Who is this strange doctor really, and why did he give up a good career to come back here? Are these children his, and if so, who and where is their mother? And most of all, what is so incredibly wrong with them that the doctor can’t bear to let them go outside? 

The book is divided into three separate parts. The present, that shows the situation as it now is. The past, which slowly gives you more information. And then the present again, to tie it up in a way you simply can’t even imagine. This is one of the most clever endings of a book I have ever seen, and that says a lot. The characters are well-rounded and surprising, and the writing is beautiful. Most of all, though, this book makes you think. It searches for ethical boundaries, and goes beyond them. Even after finishing, this book simply wouldn’t leave me alone. I still think about it sometimes, and it has been a little under two years ago that I read this. Another added bonus is that it reads and feels like a YA, whilst it very much is a novel in its themes and language. It is the perfect marriage of the two, and I certainly would recommend it to young adult fans too.

Amazon USA Amazon UK

The Twins by Tessa de Loo

If you are only going to read one WWII novel in your entire life, make it this one. The Twins tells the story of Anna and Lotte, two young German girls who are twin sisters. Their mother has died, and when their father dies too, the family argues over who gets to take them in. Lotte, who is ill, goes home with the Dutch side of the family to get better, whereas Anna stays with German relatives. The two grow up separately and very differently. This difference is only increased when the second World War breaks out in their early twenties. There is a falling out between the two, and they don’t speak at all until they run into each other when they are both in their seventies at a spa treatment in Belgium. Lotte wants nothing to do with her estranged twin sister, but Anna won’t give up. Over many shared cups of coffee and pastries, Anna and Lotte tell their stories and prove once again how war comes between people.

If I’m being honest, I must say that I usually avoid books about the second World War. I find it depressing, and since I already know how it ends, I feel like I don’t have to read about all the cruelties in it. I made an exception for this book, and I am very glad that I did. Not only did it give insight into the way of life in the Netherlands, an occupied country, but also into the life of the average German. Even though it is very hard to morally justify this sympathy, you feel for Anna and her tough life. There is so much depth to this book, and the story progresses so naturally and beautifully. It feels as if a lot of research has been done before writing this novel, and it clearly shows. Despite not having read many others to compare with, The Twins is my favorite WWII novel. The movie adaptation is also one of the finest in its genre I have ever seen. The German characters actually speak German throughout the movie, and everything is so incredibly accurate and well done. It is a Dutch film, but if you can get it with English subtitles I would definitely recommend checking it out alongside the book. It is in my top ten favorite movies ever, after all.


Dutch Days: Suze Loves Return to Sender & Giveaway

I love Return to Sender, the concept behind this brand is fantastic. The basis of these products is the story behind them. Return to Sender thinks everything and everyone has a story. It's a fair trade brand with a wonderful vision. they let their profits flow back into educational projects. This is a great way to help the people who are making the products. Hema is one of the shops that sells Return to Sender products. I like them a lot and think they're gorgeous.

One very lucky reader of my blog will win a package with two Return to Sender bracelets, a bag, notebooks and pencils. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Dutch Days Spotlight & Unique Giveaway: Dutch Kawaii

There a whole story behind Dutch Kawaii. First of all, My husband and I are the owners of the brand. Two years ago we started a project to make our own happy kawaii stationary inspired by the Dutch landscape. We contacted several designers and eventually we chose two of them to design a collection for us and they came up for these (upper: Sofie and lower: Sanne) characters. We took it to a printing house and ordered samples. We opened a shop on Shopify, also with the name Dutch Kawaii and started selling the stationery online. Eventually, especially due to high shipping costs and no promotional budget we couldn't get the company at financial break-even. We took it offline to some crafts fairs as well, but my husband didn't like to spend the little free time he had in this way. Eventually we quit selling our stationery and we both started new projects (we seem to do that a lot). We have very little stock left, so this is a truly unique giveaway. And maybe if I will get a lot of positive comments, I could persuade my husband to start again...

Enter the giveaway for a chance to win 6 full sized A5 letter pads and a bunch of cute postcards (I'll add some extras, so you'll get more than the ones on the photo)

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Sep 27, 2015

Dutch Days Book Review: The Girl Who Broke the Rules by Marnie Riches

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Suze

Chief Inspector of the Amsterdam police van den Bergen has to solve a complicated murder case. There are two bodies, women with a link to the sex industry. He calls Georgina McKenzie because he thinks she can help. She's doing a PhD in criminology and pornography is her field of expertise. George wants nothing more than to go back to Amsterdam and she decides to help him, no matter what it will cost her. Together they're trying to make sense of the murders. Unfortunately the killer doesn't stop and their case becomes more and more complicated. The same goes for the relationship between George and van den Bergen... Will they come out of this horrible mess unharmed?

The Girl Who Broke the Rules is the second book about George and van den Bergen. I love this unique duo and think they are a great team. Their case is so big that it's difficult to make sense of it. I couldn't wait to find out more and couldn't stop reading. I kept wanting to know more and ever since I finished reading this book I only have one wish and that is to read the next book in the series. Marnie Riches is a great writer who knows what she's writing about. She chooses more than one country as her setting and it works. I love the international aspect and reading about Amsterdam through her eyes is fabulous. 

I really enjoyed both the suspense and the abundance of gripping aspects in this book The story has a clever construction and I like that every character is educated. This is a high level thriller. For me the story couldn't be long enough, I didn't want to stop reading. I liked the end and think the cliffhanger is fantastic. The Girl Who Broke the Rules is intelligent, filled with tension, moving and entertaining, it's a more than complete package that I highly recommend. 

Dutch Days Etsy Spotlight & Giveaway: Suze Loves Delft Blue Cufflinks!

I love Delft Blue Cufflinks. It's a great shop filled with beautiful contemporary Delft Blue porcelain items.

 The owner, Marion Wijnberg, makes stylish Delft Blue jewelry, tableware and buttons.

I like that she sells things that can be worn by both men and women.

Marion was the first one in the country who organized workshops in her home where people could paint their own tableware and have a cup of coffee. 

I love the selection of items that Marion sells. It's all beautiful and artistic. Plus it's authentic and made in The Netherlands, which is something that makes me proud.

Marion's designs are stunning, I can't stop looking at them. They're often simple and elegant.

A lot of the porcelain can be ordered in sets which is a great option. For example it's possible to have a unique and original breakfast set.

I think Marion's art is impressive and I love her collection, which is diverse, but still a unity.

I also really like it that she doesn't forget your pets.

Her jewelry is stunning.

The buttons she makes are fantastic.

And these tags are so thoughtful.

Check out this unique Dutch Etsy store.

Enjoy browsing...

And have fun shopping!

One very lucky reader of my blog will receive a stunning prize:

This really pretty Delft Blue heart leather wrap bracelet will be for the winner of the giveaway. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.
Be an e-tailPR blogger