Mlle in de Grote Appel

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I've moved! I'm quick... I know it!

Please note that I will not be posting on this blog any longer (unless I end up hating Wordpress)

You can find me HERE from now on. I just set this up, so I have a lot of work to do before it looks the way I want it to.

I'm going to ditch Blogger. I've been thinking about it for a long time, and today another person suggested it and I think it's just long overdue.

Whilst I plot my move, enjoy this rather dull layout which is one of maybe 10 sad and outdated templates that Blogger offers.


night time doings

After a stressful day in which nothing is yet resolved, I decided to take a bottle of Spanish red and a glass up to my room to "contemplate life's inner workings" but I got side tracked in Google Reader and found this business card tutorial at Luxa.

What did I think of the tutorial? Very easy and straight forward, although the author has obviously taken steps in his design that he doesn't list, so achieving the same look would take some degree of intuition as you need to apply some text effects and play with your layer settings.

Finally, the author refers to the back of the card although there is no visual example. I think if a total beginner were doing this, they would perhaps struggle to design the back of the card keeping the front and back relative to one another and it may have made this tutorial more complete if the author touched on it a bit more.

decided to loosely follow the design after I had issues downloading the floral element. Instead I just used one of the brushes that I already had loaded and for all intents and purposes I think it's fine. Keep in mind folks, I do not have a design company or a logo, or any idea what I would call my business. Lola was my kitten when I lived in Brussels, and sometimes I use her name as a filler for these types of exercises.

Final thought: this was fun, easy, and possible to accomplish even after 3 glasses of wine. Not bad!

so um, yeah....

So, last night I received an email from my advisor at SCAD to congratulate me on being accepted to the graphic design program as a transfer student (hooray for me!) She also informed me that I was awarded a scholarship of $3,000/year from the school for my artistic abilities. After the initial "here's what you get" shpeal, she then listed generic FAQs for new students.

The very first step apparently is for me to pay them my non-refundable deposit of $500.00 to secure my place. AFTER that, I can access my account online to view my financial aid paperwork and register for classes.

Well, even though I've filled out my FAFSA, I haven't received any information about how much of my tuition was covered by Stafford Loans and all those government sponsored loans that usually take care of a lot of your balance. I've not seen anything.

So I emailed her and said, hey look, I need to know how much money I need to cover before I am sending you 500 bucks!

She responded and said that I hadn't applied for any "Alternative Loans" (which btw, I don't know what that is) and so, aside from the scholarship, I am responsible for the rest of the tuition (uh, 23,000 dollars for this year) and would I like to pay that balance out of pocket, since classes start next week.

Uh, yeah, let me just reach deep into my pocket and pull 23 thousand dollars out of it. No worries.

So, I'd like to take this moment to say that it is INSANE that for the amount of my measly little scholarship, EU citizens can pay for an entire year of tuition + books and I am sitting here wondering A. Hrmm... what lender with approve me a loan for 23,000 dollars? B. Hrrmm... HOW much money do I owe in college loans already? Oh, enough to buy a house and a car... that's right.

So as it looks right now, I am postponing my entrance to the school for September and I am not happy about it at all. I'm also considering just saying screw it and going to school here in Leiden. The tuition is half that, and at least I can talk to someone face to face instead of waiting all day for a 3 line response from some snotty 20 year old asking, "So you'll be paying out of pocket, I assume?"

No Courtney with a southern accent. I am NOT paying out of pocket you silly twat!

tie my hands behind my back, please?

I wanted to write something just now and then I thought that someone who is looking at me as a potential hire might Google my name and find this blog and not appreciate it. Maintaining privacy or anonymity on the Internet seems somewhat difficult in today's world, and I have the feeling that I've already made too many careless errors in the past that can't be fixed. For example, once I Googled my name and found a very funny blog post by some teenager with a friend of the same name as mine. In the blog, they wrote something about this person discussing sex, or sex toys, or something very funny. Well I posted that in my blog, with my name in the text, and wouldn't you know it...that particular post shows up in my name search. After I realized it, I removed my name from the text but it still shows up. Dang!

I was actually halfway through writing about how next week I have my first interview and in an effort to express my insecurities and fears about interviewing with a HUGE international company, I was going to write this joke about commonly asked interview questions, and how I might blow them by answering incorrectly (or vomiting, which would also not bode well for me). As I snickered at my witty responses, it dawned on me that I need to be more careful with what I write and so I deleted it. I don't know if I am disappointed in myself for bowing to my own fears or in the fact that so many people have been fired or gotten in trouble for putting a lot less on the web and it seems like a real concern to have.

Anyway, it's true, my first formal interview (EVER... in my life) is next week. Needless to say, I am totally freaked out. I have the next 7 days to obsess over it... because let's face it, you never know what to expect:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

sleepy time

since I just posted that other terribly indulgent and overly ornate, yet inviting and sinful bed... I thought I would add this one. I can honestly say that I love this bed. I'm attracted to the almost luxurious yet shabby look of it... (although the duvet they're using is fugly.)

I like worn looking things and I have no idea what that says about me. I mean, I wouldn't want a whole room full of fluff and doilies at all, but a nice balance of old and new, clean lines and some texture suits me quite well. - and that's my final random thought for the evening!
slaap lekker!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

my life is a video game

Today was a flurry of obstacles (rolling barrels, man eating plants, and even a fire world) in my path to finding a job, however, I did manage to make both of my appointments and by the end of the business day, I have my CV going forward for 3 positions and a 4th on hold until the position is officially posted. Sooo... let's see how it goes. In the meantime, I'll be playing minesweeper.

getting cozy

I'm sat here typing this before I wander off to my bed. In truth, my bed is about 4 feet away from me- so I guess I'll stand up, turn around, and I'll be on the bed and under the blankets in just 2 steps. There's no wandering in that, is there?

I happen to like my bed. It's really small and it looks like it was purchased from an outdated hospital ward. Just sort of plain black metal. I can't say that I would want the bed that's pictured, but looking at my bed right now and then at this one, I wonder if it wouldn't be a fun indulgence.

Tomorrow I have to be at a job recruitment agency in
Rijswijk for intake #4 and then it's straight to #5 in Amsterdam. I hope these lead to something... anything.

Monday, June 15, 2009

a busy day ahead...

It's always those days when I have heaps to accomplish that I stall at the laptop blogging.

hot or not?

Ohhh.... I don't know. I like the sofa and the record player. I can imagine lying there on a Sunday afternoon with a book, listening to Miles Davis. But the cat? I don't think I would want him looking over my shoulder.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

marketing for dummies

call me what you want, old, lame, out of touch, uptight, or on the flip side, informative, thoughtful, insightful... your choice (there's also full of crap, boring, and other rude things, again, up to you) but I happen to think that there is something so completely wrong with Hello Kitty as a wine. There are soooo many reasons that I think this idea sucks eggs. One, it's tacky, not clever, and not even cute. This looks like something Gwen Stefani would come up with...

Then there's the issue of well, this is a character that children follow. I suppose it could be confusing for them to see a bottle of Hello Kitty grape juice that they aren't allowed to have. I'm sure someone out there (moi?) could also suggest that young girls will want to drink it because at the end of the day, the character sells and kids will see it as an extension of the product Look I don't care about kids drinking, because they do and they will continue to, so there's no point in trying to prevent it, but this is practically an invitation. How about Hello Kitty cigarettes? Did I mention that the wine is sold with pink rhinestone crystal studded goblets?

Final thought: I hate it, I hate the idea, and I hate the fact that dumb ass people who don't know anything about wine will buy it.
Oops... have I gone off on a tangent?

Friday, June 12, 2009

catering to negligence

I've mentioned my disappointment with the fact that the Netherlands isn't as forward thinking about recycling as it is about other hot topics. I've managed to set a no excuses standard in this house that we recycle every piece of paper and glass that we can but when it comes to aluminum and plastic, there's nothing more that I can do. I've contacted the local garbage people to find out if there is a location for bringing these types of items, but haven't found anything promising. With that in mind, I have tried to minimize the food items that I purchase that are in those materials, such as plastic trays for pre-chopped veg and I choose glass jars of food product instead of aluminum.

I think, that if the Netherlands doesn't see that it is feasible to recycle across the board then at least they could make small changes in how their products are sold. For example, in the US there is a national supermarket chain called Whole Foods which specializes is selling natural products and organic foods from companies which package their goods using recycled materials. Today, I came across a blog post on the Sustainable is Good site which discusses how Whole Foods has made a move to eliminate unnecessary packaging waste often created by in-store bakeries. They've sought to solve this waste issue by using a product called Renew-a-Pakthat is manufactured by Biosphere Industries which is made from 100% renewable materials that allows them to bake in the package, sell it in the same package, where is can then be used at home in the oven or microwave and when the consumer finally disposes of it, it is 100% compostable. That's a pretty impressive zero waste concept.

If supermarket chains here made small changes in their mentality on packaging, much of the waste that we create would not end up sitting in a landfill in a million years. I'd like to know why the initiative hasn't been taken and why people here seem undaunted by that fact. That's food for thought, that is.

flip & tumble

There are a few things that I do enjoy in life, and if the recipe is right, I like it even more. In this case, the recipe is equal parts: affordability, style, innovation, practicality

flip and tumble have designed these super cool reusable and well designed bags that come in a lot of colors and patterns (style)

they are quite affordable at 9 USD for 1 to 3 bags, 8 USD if you buy 3 to 6, and 7 USD for 7 or more (this earns them high scores for being affordable but ALSO for great marketing)

the detail that ultimately sold me, is the fact that they fold up into a peach sized ball in a matter of seconds (holy crap practical!) So you never have an excuse for leaving it at home.

Unless you're in Norway or Japan, you'll have to make your purchase online. In the US, you can get up to 7 bags for a flat shipping rate of 4 USD. International purchasers have to go through the order process before they can find out how much it will cost.

for boys too!

sugary goodness

donuts... mmmh. Admittedly, I don't go out of my way to eat donuts, but there's a bit of me that will always have a soft side for them. I think in America they're a lot more popular, so it could be a cultural thing although I did see some crazy orange donuts here in the Netherlands around Queen's Day, so who knows really. You'll have to check back in the future for my follow up post,"The Origin of the Donut"

Anyway, I was over at Web Designer Wall and found out that they're having a Breadou donut giveaway! At first glance I thought, uh, how do you mail donuts? But then I read on and saw that Breadou donuts aren't for eating, they're actually squishy little rests for your wrist when you're on the 'puter. An odd detail that I should mention here, is that it actually smells like real bread. I'm not a huge fan on non food items (candles, incense, memory foam wrist rests) smelling like food, but these are so awesome looking that I felt compelled to share the link here so you can try to snag one!

Post a comment on their site by June 26th to enter.

FYI: Breadou also sells their product line via their website. If you want double wrist support, try their Breadou Loaf and if you have a temper, you may like their stress roll.

Monday, June 8, 2009

did you notice?

Yes, I was the person at the train station who got off her bike and walked it down the ramp to the parking area even though everyone else rides down at full speed. I then spent the next 5 minutes looking for a good spot to shove my bike, because I am still not sure what degree of shoving or stacking is appropriate and what may get my bike taken by the city. You may also have noticed that I did not have a bike bag, and so I tied my work bag to my bike and secured it with my bike lock... I know it looks funny, but it works most of the time! Oh, and by the way, I didn't mean to make you miss your train because I was afraid to pass that family that was riding with 4 babies on one bike and so you were stuck behind me. Hey, I'm a foreigner - what do you want from me?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

330 kilometers of history

Today began at 6:50 am, when my mobile phone buzzed me awake. I had a horrid night of half sleep and felt exhausted which was worrisome considering the fact that we were being picked up around 8:15 for a day trip to shoot some photos. Because I was using the Lesser Canon (but still 1000 times cooler than my trusty point and shoot) and I was going to try out shooting in RAW, I tried my best to be a good sport and keep myself together despite my low energy levels ( I think I did a good job Di, don't you?)

Anyway, we drove a little over an hour away, to the village of Mesen where we were granted access to an old abandoned brick factory. We paid, but we were given permission to shoot all day long (although he was adamant that nude photography wasn't allowed... of course we were sorely disappointed by this fact, since were were looking forward to being naked in the rotten old building, but we rallied and persevered despite the set back). The factory was everything you'd want as a first time abandoned building photo op, as it was full of ragged old furniture and relics of the past.
We were only permitted to see a small area of the vast series of buildings, and I can only assume that it had something to do with safety because this place is over a hundred years old and it hasn't been touched in over 40. Every nook and cranny held treasures... old decomposing Dutch clogs, a super cool ancient radio, milk jugs, tools, plates, equipment, tea pots and a stove, and there was even an old German bunker in the basement and some creepy old bombs, oh, and stinky sheep too.

We wandered from the factory over to the "city center" (it's a village of 3.5 square km so I don't know if this really qualifies as a center, but basically the place where all the stuff is) for lunch at a tea room and then a visit to the church and through some gorgeous fields to the Island of Ireland Peace Park, which was established as a memorial to fallen Irish soldiers during WWI. Ironically, Mesen is the smallest village in all of Belgium, and yet the Battle of Messines was fought here, which was a precursor to the Battle of Ypres in 1917. Some 19 mines were blown up across the area in order to halt the Germans and I don't know if it's true, but Ive been told that the sound of the explosion was so loud that it was heard as far away as Dublin!

I can't say how I felt exactly upon seeing the rolling hills of Belgian farmland before me, but it was so familiar to me and I could have walked around aimlessly all day long taking it in. I miss Belgium so much. It really is such a stunning country... sigh.

OK, back to the story, so after we wrapped up at the Peace Tower and had some drinks, we hopped back in the car and went to Ypres. I've heard a lot about the city, but I had no idea how beautiful it was going to be! I was bombarded from all angles by the gorgeous buildings surrounding the Lakenhalle and couldn't take 10 steps without seeing something that I wanted to get a shot of. Ypres was pretty much destroyed in 1917 during the Battle of Passchendaele and apparently it's is one of the first cities where chemical warfare was used, which helps to escalate the fact that this particular region of Belgium hosted some of the most gruesome and deadly battles in the first World War. As a result, it is a city fiercely dedicated to the memory of the thousands of fallen soldiers who fought against the Germans. There's a beautiful memorial in the city called "The Menin Gate" which lists the names of fallen soldiers with no known grave. What is amazing to me is that since 1928, The Last Post has been played every single night by buglers to commemorate the British soldiers that were lost at the Battle of Ypres (except the 4 years that the city was occupied by the Germans during WWII.) This weekend the crowd was larger than normal because of the anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy so I couldn't see too much, but it was nice to experience the ceremony.

I should also mention that the day began cool with overcast skies. On the way to Mesen, it rained a bit and when we arrived at the factory the sun was poking through in patches. While Di and I were at the Peace Tower, the sun was warm and the sky was blue as ever with huge fluffy clouds everywhere. After we arrived in Ypres, it poured like mad for a bit, sending patio diners running in all directions seeking cover and then as quickly as it came, the clouds dispersed leaving behind deep blue skies and a lovely end to the day. In Belgium I would have expected nothing less.

Before today, I had visited spots along the Maginot Line in France and some bunkers in Ostend, but I'd never really taken the time to think about the impact that the war had on life in those regions. As an American, you learn about the war in school, but it's so far away from everything that you know that it's hard to feel astrong connection to it all and certainly not in the way that people do when huge areas of their country have been destroyed by it. Writing this tonight though, I feel a new found interest in the subject and I want to spend more time wandering and learning about the history of places that I visit. This entire day was such an enriching experience and I feel privileged to have been invited along with 3 truly amazing photographers (and lovely people.) Thank you!

Photos to follow, but now, I am dead, and I need to sleep.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

yesterday was about

Conjugating verbs on the train. A feeling of being back home. Westmalle Tripel in the sun. Framing art. Persian chicken. Chatty Belgians (it's true!). Beer talk. Too much wine. Finishing the evening with a trip to the night shop for some chocolate.

Today is about a little kiwi named Sahara and her ballet recital. Later with some luck we'll be dining al fresco as I've heard that Gert plans to make a huge salad for dinner... and then there's tomorrow when I'll be behind the lense of the Canon 400D at Flanders Field and an old brick factory (although getting into the factory is shaky at the moment, so we'll see how that works out). Either way I'll be trailing behind some impressive photographers... so excited!

Friday, June 5, 2009


There's something so mysterious and sad about this woman. I look at her and wonder how many years she's been waiting at this doorway in the center of the city. I think that she could have been waiting here before my grandparents were even born, and that she's weathered countless bitter cold winters, sunny days, and seen complete lifetimes pass her by.
Her face, the way it's aged, or how it was carved leaves her looking scarred and shy, but she's quite demure and lovely, isn't she?