England doesn’t have a kidney bank, but it has a Liverpool.

This title’s for you, Alex. Because you sent me it in November 2016 and I never actually used it. This post has a significant lack of mentioning England, kidneys, and Liverpool, but that’s alright.

When I graduated High School, Alex gave me a VWBoxVolkswagen Bus Lego set as a gift.
This one, to be specific. (see the picture!)

It sat in my room for…. 10 months. I mean, if you count it being on a huge moving boat for like, two of those months.

After months of my brother asking if we could FINALLY build the Volkswagen Bus, I gave in on Wednesday (April 12th, for those of you keeping track).

So this thing, it starts out in over 1,000 pieces. 17918690_1468116489896239_239547583_nThere’s two books, and at first when you dump everything out, it’s just a mess of red, white, gray, and black colored pieces. While my brother (who, mind you, is half the minimum recommended age) got building, I started sorting the pieces. My floor was quickly covered in many many piles.

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On Wednesday night when it was my brother’s bed time, this is what my floor looked like. Somehow- by some miracle, neither of us stepped on a Lego.

We picked it back up around 5 pm on Thursday. We started out with it looking like a boat, as pictured here to the right.17965249_1468116499896238_181761979_n

We spent until approximately midnight building, and we finished the first instruction booklet.

At the end of the night, the bus started looking more like, well, a bus. The curtains gave me so much happiness, and so did the very realistic gas pedal and clutch. I’d forgotten how incredibly accurate Lego sets can be.

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The rest of these pictures are actually going to be super good quality; I took them with my new camera. It’s a Nikon D3, and I’m super happy with the badassery it is. I’ll absolutely be taking it on any traveling I do (and I have some big travel news to announce soon!) and posting here. Anywho, back to the Lego Bus.

As soon as my brother woke up today, he came to my room and started working on the bus, even before I was fully awake. We finished the bus around 3 pm, and my brother was super exited. He was able to build most of it, and he was incredibly happy to be able to build the “orange part on the top”. It was adorable. It *almost* made up for the fact that we listened to the song Vivi Nell’aria over and over. (I’m totally kidding).

So without further ado, here are three pictures of the end result!

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This was one of the most fun things I’ve done in a while, and I’m glad I was able to do it with my brother. I think I created a new Volkswagen enthusiast.

Make Lego models, not war.

-E.🌸

My blog is one year old!

A year ago today I posted an 190 word blog post, titled “Why am I a lion?”. My inspiration came from taking a baby Simba lion stuffed animal that my boyfriend at the time got me to Chicago, Illinois. That’s when I realized how freaking amazing lions are. They’re fierce and strong. Exactly like how I wish to live my life. “She Became a Lion”. A quote from that very first blog post- “I like to think of myself like a lion. Strong. Fierce. An over-comer. Yet, gentle. Because, everyone sees some shit in life. But, it gets better. As stereotypical as that may sound. Really… Everyone can find their lion. My inspiration just happened to… actually be a lion.

I ended that post like I’ve ended almost every post on my blog; with a quote or small, uplifting statement. That statement was “smile, you’re amazing“. fiftyLittle did I know that statement would lead to so many more.
Over the course of a year, I posted 50 times. I got this cool little notification from WordPress right after posting my April Goals update. Fifty posts, anywhere from poetry and posts about myself, to Simba traveling and whatever else random I come up with, all these posts make up my blog.

From my fourteen followers, my friends that regularly read my blog whenever I post on Snapchat that I’m “back at it again”, to my fantastic editor and countless drafts that have lived on my account or ages, that’s what SHEBECAMEALIONTWOmy blog is. It’s nothing big, nothing popular. Sure, it’s the link in my bio on all of my social media accounts, but that doesn’t mean anything. I’m super thankful to those of you that read my posts, those of you that express your excitement about reading my posts to me. All of you are so fantastic.

So, that’s where my blog has come in a year. But… what about me? Surely I changed a little. And change, I did.

If you would’ve asked me on April 9th, 2016 where I saw myself in a year, I could never have imagined where I am right now ever being an answer to that. My answer would’ve been somewhere along the lines of “finishing my second semester as a Music Education major in college and with my amazing boyfriend”. Never in my life did I think I’d be in the Netherlands, taking a gap year from school, and single. Not on April 9th, 2016 anyway.

Now, just because I said I never thought I’d be here, doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. I may not have my boyfriend anymore, and yeah- it took me incredibly long to figure out how to be okay again- but I did, and I’m better than before. I am so thankful for the memories I was able to share with him, for the part of my life that he was… But it was without him that I learned to truly love myself. I have the best friends anyone could ask for. They go out of their comfort zones to make sure I’m okay… rescuing me from the side of the road when I slid on ice, telling me I’m amazing and encouraging me, and just being the helpful amazing people you are. I couldn’t thank Lauren, Kat, and Alex enough for always being my best friends. I may not be in college, or even in America for that matter, but that doesn’t stop me from realizing that being in the Netherlands can be an amazing experience. I’ve done so much that other people my age would never have been able to, I’ve seen family I haven’t seen since I was a little older than a toddler, I’ve done a bunch of really fun things, and I’ve definitely brushed up on my ability to speak the language.

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Oh, and of course Simba is here as well. He’s the little lion that started all of this, why wouldn’t he be?

In summary, I suppose I do kind of miss the idea of where I thought my life was going. But everything happens for a reason, and sometimes life’s just about riding it out and finding exactly what that reason is. There’s no shame in changing majors, re-thinking your friend group, cutting toxic people out of your life, or even completely changing who you are. Be you, be confident, break out of your shell.

A year ago today, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable going out in public and showing enthusiasm for something no one around me had enthusiasm for. Yesterday, at the Day of Music, I realized I no longer cared. I was happy to be doing improv and singing and being excited about music again, and I didn’t care that everyone around me thought the leaders of the workshop were completely insane for being so energetic. It was an amazing experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I couldn’t be more thankful for the people around me who have helped me realize this, who have pushed me to be the best me I can be. Lastly, I’m thankful for this blog- for being my creative outlet- for being somewhere I can go to write. I’m thankful that it’s helped people and that it makes people happy to read my thoughts. Here’s a little something from that very first blog post again:

These are my journeys, my thoughts, Simba’s travels, my poetry- well, I really just hope for this to be an inspiration to others. For others to find their lion. Or owl, gazelle, octopus, eagle, stork, anything. For others to keep fighting, to find life’s beauty, to be strong.

Here’s to many more years of happiness, figuring out who I am, and maybe blogging about it along the way!
And don’t forget to smile, because you’re amazing.

~E. ♥

Happiness Is Where You Are

Sometimes it takes not blogging for a month to really find something to blog about.

With that being said… I’ll say Merry Christmas– and then get right into my post.

So, the last time I posted was November 22nd – over a month ago. I showed you my room and talked about Hamilton and other life happenings. This post is going to have a bit of a different spin. I’m going to talk about everything I’ve done in the past month- because heaven knows it’s been… crazy.

On November 27th, my family celebrated Thanksgiving by attending a potluck supper held by other local Americans in Groningen. That was 20161127_190604pretty awesome. The macaroni and cheese was the best. And I never really liked turkey that much- but this turkey was fantastic.  The building pictured is where it was. It was really nice… a great spot for it. It was also decorated beautifully. The lights inside were amazing.

Then… the month turned. December was upon me. It still hasn’t set in that it’s almost 2017, but that’s for a different time to freak out about.

20161203_200144December 3rd I got on an airplane and I flew to Ohio.  It wasn’t spontaneous, I’d had my tickets booked since October. I had been so excited to go back for months… and it finally happened. I didn’t think time would pass that quickly… but it did. So, December 3rd. I landed in Columbus and a family friend, “L”, who was also watching my car, picked me up from the airport. The first thing we did was go to the store and buy Fruit Loops. Man, I’d been wanting Fruit Loops for far too long. The night of December 3rd I spent at L’s house. I took a long shower and slept really well.

December 4th, I woke up and drove to Youngstown where I took part in20161204_144415 Tuba Christmas for the fourth year in a row. It was absolutely worth the 3 or so hour drive. I got to see Ky and a few other friends. I even made new friends! Tuba Christmas took most of the day, but after that I went to Steak and Shake with Ky and my two new friends. It was great. I drove, because man I’d missed my car. Looking back, I’m glad I drove as much as I did. Hmph. But that will be explained later. After Steak and Shake, I drove to where I’d be staying for the remainder of my trip, with a friend named Michelle and her husband and three kids. I got there, took a bath, and fell asleep.

December 5th was relatively normal. I spent time with Michelle, and in the evening I had my first Civil Air Patrol meeting being back. It was PT night. I’d say it went rather well if you overlook me falling because my ankle gave out. Oh well. This is why I carry ankle and knee braces. I got a nice bruise from it, that’s just today finally starting to fade. That’s how you make memories, right?

20161206_122341December 6th was Tuesday. I had a chiropractor appointment for the first time in 4 months, and it was heavenly. After my appointment, I got free Panera by using my saved up rewards and my free birthday pastry. This too was heavenly. I didn’t realize how much I also missed Panera even though I rarely went there.

December 7th. CyberPatriot practice in the evening. Other than that, I spent the day with Michelle. We got really expensive macarons, and they were fantastic.

December 8th. The morning started out with Michelle and I doing one of those black face mask things that supposedly hurt like hell when peeling it off your face. It wasn’t all that bad… definitely not as bad as every video made it look. Michelle and I then got lunch at the Kitchen Post, a really awesome small business that has amazing food. That night, I had aircrew training for Civil Air Patrol. I’m studying to become a mission scanner! I don’t know of many cadets who do it, so I decided I’d give it a chance.

December 9th. I went shopping for the first time being back. I got myself a winter coat. I got a few other Christmas presents. I ate lunch at Chick-fil-A. It was a pretty fantastic morning. In the afternoon, I got my hair dyed again. The same reddish color… 1481338637338but just so the roots didn’t look as horrifying as they had. Ha. That night, I spent the night at my friend’s house. She’s a C/CMSgt in the Civil Air Patrol, and we spent the night partially because we had to meet early the next day for CyberPatriot. We’ll call her KJ. KJ’s mom made me my own pumpkin pie because I’d been so deprived of anything pumpkin here. It was fantastic. However, KJ and I both will confirm that you shouldn’t eat fresh-out-of-the-oven pumpkin pie unless pumpkin stew is what you’re after.

December 10th. CyberPatriot competition, held at Kent State University. It was my first competition as a mentor, and it was interesting. I kept track of some of my favorite quotes from the day. These included:

  • “We put an antivirus on it, right? That’s what CCleaner and Malwarebytes is, right?”
  • “The local security policy is where a lot of stuff is”
  • “That’s not how you spell ‘logging'” “have fun loge-ing on”
  • “No more messing with FTP. We’ve done enough FTP” “But there’s 5 points left! They have to be FTP”
  • “WAIT! Go to Nautilus!” “What is your obsession with Nautilus, child?!” “Well, we haven’t gone through the slash var thing!”
  • “Either this will kill it… or it will kill it and give us points”

If any of my readers know computers, those should have made you chuckle at least a little. I know it was funny in the moment. And it half hurt to not be allowed to say anything. I spent the time by designing a photo book on Shutterfly. It was a good purchase.

img_20161211_132541December 11th. I spent the previous night at KJ’s again. Her sister really liked me. She’s 6. I don’t know what it is with children.  I also cracked my phone screen on December 11th. It wasn’t fun. Oh well. I put my case on afterwards and it’s fine. Didn’t break the digitizer so all is well.

Other than that, the rest of my day was phenomenal. Hi mom, here begin the things you didn’t know about. *hides*.

December 11th, still. Alex, his girlfriend, myself, and one of my friends went to Pittsburgh to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens to see the Christmas lights they had there. Let’s just say, the weather wasn’t the greatest. The way down was okay. We stopped and ate Chipotle. Then we drove. The lights were incredible.

The way back, we did like, 20 miles per hour in a 75. We couldn’t see. But hey, we’re alive! Shout-out to Alex for being a pretty awesome person and great driver and getting all of us home safe. Alex and his girlfriend got home at like, 3 am. But was it worth it? Absolutely.

December 12th. I spent time with Michelle during the day, and I had a Civil Air Patrol meeting in the evening. I taught drill for the first time in forever, and it was amazing to be back. I also started to get sick today. Nothing like Ohio!

December 13th. Hi mom, you didn’t know about this one either. I’m safe and alive though! 20161213_180047The Rickenbacker Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol, is located near Columbus. That 3 hours or so I had to drive to get from L’s to Michelle. My friend “T” and I decided it would be fun to go down to their Christmas party, since we were invited down by multiple people. So, we went. We watched the weather all day, and when it came time, I drove. We kept a running tally, we passed 9 wrecks or 20161213_194026accidents on the way there.

It really wasn’t bad to drive in, though. Like, people are just idiots I think. We left the worst of the weather behind. As soon as it got bad in NE Ohio, we were out of there. T and I had a fantastic time at the Christmas Party. We saw some people we didn’t think we’d ever see again, and caught up with some old friends. After the party, I drove back to NE Ohio and we didn’t pass a single accident. We really did miss the bad weather. I slept good that night. Especially because of this pillow Michelle had. Ha. It was like, memory foam or something, and honestly my favorite thing on Earth.

December 14th. I slept in. Whoa! Haha. Aside from that, I visited family friends, and had CyberPatriot practice in the evening.

December 15th. I went to the movies with KJ and Lauren and saw “Moana”. I fell in love with Disney all over again. I may or may not have been listening to the Moana soundtrack nonstop since then. I’m absolutely not listening to it as I’m typing this… no… Ha. After Moana, I had aircrew training/staff meeting for Civil Air Patrol. I got my first few tasks signed off. That felt pretty good.

December 16th. I didn’t do a whole lot on the 16th. I spent it with Michelle and her family.

December 17th. This day, this day was kinda perfect. It was after all the reason I came back to visit. It started off pretty cool, I saw Alex and we did Christmas presents. Then I went shopping, to get some final Christmas stuff. Then… why I came. The Squadron Awards 20161217_200935Banquet and Christmas Party. It was… amazing. I was awarded two cyber awards, I was given my Amelia Earhart award for promoting to Cadet Captain, I got a challenge coin, an achievement award, and I was awarded Squadron Cadet of the Year. Everyone also loved the slideshow I made. It was so perfect. It was also amazing to see everyone from CAP I missed so much. The picture shows my view for most of the night. I was in charge of sound and slides. it was really cool. Definitely worth going. I’m so glad I20161218_141522 had the opportunity to.

December 18th. I spent the morning with two friends from CAP, playing Cards Against Humanity and building a gingerbread house. After that, I visited a Santa in my hometown. It was sweet. Then I stayed home with Michelle’s kids so she and her 20161218_173111husband could go out for their six month wedding anniversary. It was my first gingerbread house ever… and yes that is a gingerbread man “chalk” outline.

December 19th. Michelle and I went shopping, and out to lunch at Olive Garden. It was very nice. Then I just hung out with her until my Civil Air Patrol meeting. I left really early so I could drive the route I used to drive since it would be my last CAP meeting for a while. After the meeting I went to Arby’s with two friends, and I had my 15628903_1314648875243002_462252621_ofirst ever roast beef sandwich. And then… at 11:26 pm… when I was driving home… I slid my car off the road. It was the most terrifying moment of my life, probably. Everyone had always told me how ridiculous the 711 was in the winter. The cones by the pole in the picture were there because they had just finished fixing it that morning. I was a doors length away. I was pretty sure I was going to slam into it and die… the pole was right by my door. I called 911… I had to get towed. Something was leaking and I was stuck. Alex came and picked me up… and I got home to Michelle’s at around 3 am. I couldn’t stop shaking. I didn’t know what would happen. I was scared…

December 20th. I woke up early and filed a claim about the accident. I called my insurance. I made sure the mechanics knew my car was there and what had happened. I was still incredibly shaken up. But, it was okay. I went to Walmart with Lauren, got McDonald’s that I was craving, and I got to spend time with another family friend. It was very nice.

December 21st. Alex and his girlfriend picked me up to drive me to Columbus, since I 20161222_001946couldn’t drive myself. I’m so thankful for them. They dropped me off at L’s, and I spent time with her and her son. I repacked all of my luggage. We had dinner at TGI Friday’s. I did some incredibly last minute shopping. But, it was nice. I got everything done. I spent time with her, and I still got to sleep. After making Christmas cookies, that is.

December 22nd. I woke up and took a bath. It was nice. I listened to the Moana soundtrack while using some fancy bubble bath from Bath and Body Works. Then L took me to the airport. There was a delay, so we had a fancy lunch at an airport bar & grill. It was really good. After that, I said goodbye. Or well… not goodbye. See you later.

I took my time going through security, and sat down at the gate. I talked to a 20161222_174736few people going to Fort Worth, Texas. They were pretty cool. When I boarded the plane to Philadelphia, I had an entire row to myself and I slept almost the whole time. I had a really cool flight attendant. Also, Philly is beautiful at night.

When we landed in Philly, I had about three hours to kill at the airport. I spent $40 on books and snacks. Oops. I went to my gate and sat down to play on my computer for the rest of the time.

Then, it was time to board my final plane, from Philly to Amsterdam. I was in a bad mood, and in boarding group 4. I was ticked because someone with a frequent flyer number 20161222_165746shouldn’t be in group 4, but whatever. I got over that really quickly. I got to my seat in row 32, and I was still grumpy. That again though, didn’t last long. Once I started talking to the people by me, I quickly discovered that this would be the best flight ever. To my right there was an 18 year old named Alexander. To my left, was a woman named Susan.

Susan slept the whole time, but Alexander and I talked for about 5 consecutive hours. Then we both napped. And talked more. It was by far my favorite airplane experience. Shout-out to Alexander for making that plane ride bearable.

So… yeah. That was the past month of my life in a word count of under 3,000.

Oh! I almost forgot! I was in charge of moving Michelle’s resident Elf on a Shelf, Snowflake. Here are my favorite few:

Lastly, good luck and thank you to Alex for once again taking bamboomy bamboo in and bamboo-sitting. You’re a great person.

Thank you to everyone who made my trip possible and enjoyable. All of my friends and adoptive family members… I love you. ♥

I’ll leave you with a quote from Moana- I took my post title from it, as well.

“There comes a day
When you’re gonna look around
And realize happiness is
Where you are”

Consider the coconut.

~E.♥

The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect is a scientific theory that states that a single occurrence, no matter how small, can change the course of the universe forever. This isn’t about something changing the universe, but this is about something changing me.

butterfly-6This past weekend from Thursday night to Sunday morning, I had a friend stay here with me. It was honestly the most amazing thing that could’ve happened when it happened. We’ll call the guest “F” for internet and privacy purposes. Before F arrived, I hadn’t had any human interaction with anyone my age in over a month. I met F through Civil Air Patrol; he was in my squadron during my basic encampment. We stayed in contact, and I knew he was studying in Berlin. I asked if he wanted to come visit, and he agreed.

F arrived Thursday night around 1800 by train. The minute I got to speak English to a friend, I knew this would be good for me. We drove around town a bit, showing him around. It was dark of course, but in my opinion still nice. After driving around, we went to a restaurant in town to eat. He tried fries with mayonnaise for the first time. Those darn uncultured Americans :p

After eating dinner, we went to my grandparents’ house and settled in for the weekend.butterfly-7

The next day, we woke up and went to get breakfast at a local bakery. He had a puddingbroodje (a.k.a.”roombroodje”) and I had a Deense krakeling. We went to the park to eat them, and afterwards rode bikes for about 12 miles. I showed him around in the daylight and we saw where they build the big cargo ships,  the street I lived on when I was younger, the house we are going to be living in, my brother’s school, the business district, and a few other things. We also went to a store by a local windmill.

After our bike trip, we ate a typical Dutch lunch. We had soup to start, and multiple types of bread were set up on the table with young and old cheese, Nutella, hageltjes (a Dutch bread topping, it’s very sweet and looks like sprinkles), butter, sausages, and some other toppings. Once we finished lunch, we went to go see the Fraeylemaborg.butterfly-4

The Fraeylemaborg is a small castle, if you will, that used to house the lords of the land in the 18th century. It’s a very cute building with lots of history- and some ridiculously steep stairs… For a house, of course. The main thing we got out of it was the fact that the tower isn’t centered *twitches *and my brother discovered a really awkward pole placement on the back of one of the statues. And of course it was very nicebutterfly-5 to see. There was SILVERWARE. Pardon the blurry picture and the fact that you don’t get the joke. But it was authentic silverware.

butterfly-3After the Fraeylemaborg, we went to a different windmill- one you could actually go inside. F got to move the blades and help the miller with doing windmill stuff, and we went all the way up to the top and saw the big gears and how the mill works, piece by piece. We also saw a bunch of little bugs that still haunt me. After that, we drove around and drove to Zuidlaren to show F where the Zuidlaardermarkt is. the Zuidlaardermarkt is a famous horse market that has existed since 1701 and happens on the third Tuesday every October. After that, we went to an Oliebollenkraam and ate oliebollen, a Dutch New Year’s snack that is essentially fried dough. When we came home, my butterfly-8grandma had made Nasi for dinner; an Indonesian rice dish. After eating, we played a few rounds of sjoelen, a Dutch game with wooden bricks and point values much like a miniature shuffleboard.

Saturday, the last full day F was here, my brother had a soccer game at 0900. They lost, but it was F’s first live soccer game, which was cool! I was honestly surprised that they played on the turf field, since this country is in the middle of a huge turf protest. It’s been though that the rubber pellets used on turf might cause lymphoma or leukemia, since they are essentially ground up tires. But, it hasn’t been scientifically proven.

After my brother’s soccer game, we went to the Markt (open air market) in our town. Here we got Vietnamese food; loempias and bapao, and ate them for lunch. F also got a piece of Dutch cheese for his family.

butterfly-2The days started to really feel productive; we were so active before noon! In the afternoon, we took the rest of the day to tour Groningen. We started by walking around the Markt there, known as the Grote Markt- which translates literally to “big market”. After the Markt, we made our way to the Martini Toren. The tower has a really cool history. Here’s a little snippet from Wikipedia:

The lighting of celebratory fires on the third gallery, after the departure of Spanish and Walloon troops in 1577, caused the tower to partially collapse. However, the remaining portion kept a height of 69 meters. In the 17th century the tower was repaired up to the current 97 metre height. Later the tower was damaged several times by natural violence and several wars. There is a bullet hole in one of the bells, a result of heavy fighting when the Canadian Forces liberated Groningen at the end of World War II.

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The tower was fun to climb and the views were amazing. F and I got to ring the bell, and the rope will literally pull you off the ground at least five feet. I was hesitant to do it at first, but I’m really glad I did. For me, the worst part about the tower was going back down; there was so much traffic. I guess it’s a good way to meet new people, as my mom put it. I’ve had enough steep stairs for this lifetime. Y’all can keep your spiral staircases, too.

After the tower, we walked around the busy streets of downtown Groningen. There were shops, bars, pubs, food places, hair salons, you name it. After a bit of walking, it was time for the boat tour! We rode a boat all around the canals of Groningen, and got to see many nice sights you wouldn’t really get to see anywhere else. The recording of the tour guide speaking in Dutch, German, and English quickly became very repetitive and annoying, and I was happy when it was quiet for a bit. It was really hard not to fall asleep on the boat, though. It was so calming and you were so close to the water. F and I started dozing off a bit.

After that, we went to Kattencafe Poeslief, which is a cat cafe. They serve coffee and let you play with cats. We arrived pretty close to their closing time, 1700, but they still let us in to play with the cats. It was so awesome. We still had to eat dinner somewhere, so to conclude our unbeleafably* fun day in Groningen, we ate at ‘t Pannekoekschip; the pancake ship. butterfly-9

Upon returning home, we played two games of Mens Erger Je Niet, and F won his first game. My brother won the second.

Some time later, we went out to a bar and afterwards went for a long walk through town. We walked around six miles, probably. One of the places we walked through was the park, where we came across a cat who really needed some attention. It meowed and followed us, so I picked it up and carried it through the park. It was adorable.

This weekend was incredible. I could not have asked for anything better, or anyone better to spend time with. It gave me so much appreciation for what is around me and in town here. It gave me such a will to travel and see the world. There really are no limits.

Go, live, and be happy.

-E. ♥

*Spelling is done on purpose to commemorate a leaf.

Oh right! I almost forgot to mention. The bar we went to was called “De Vlinder”, which translates to “The Butterfly”…