{Getting Real}

After a month in Portland, I’m back in Amsterdam. I arrived yesterday morning to gloomy skies and an empty apartment. Corey was at work and Henry hadn’t been dropped off by the dog walkers yet. I was already in a pretty bad funk, but the jet lag and the fact that I’d been really sick for a week and just flew 10 hours with an ear infection didn’t help. Work has been crazy busy and my trip home was packed full of activity. Lately it’s felt like I haven’t been able to shut my mind off. There are so many thoughts consuming it every minute of every day. That’s not very weird for me, but it’s just that lately all the thoughts are conflicting and being at home really made me think about this experience (living abroad) and how I feel about it. It’s probably no surprise that I’m not really sure how I feel about it – some days I absolutely love it and feel like the luckiest girl in the world, then others I miss Portland so much my heart aches and I have an undeniable longing for “normal” life. This morning, when my jetlag woke me up at 2:30AM and wouldn’t let me go back to sleep, it was like I had been transported to one year ago when we had first arrived in Amsterdam. It felt dark and lonely. Foreign. I hadn’t been home in 9 months and almost forgot what it felt like to be in the U.S. – to live in the U.S. Spending time with family and friends and having everything be so easy made coming back here really hard. Harder than I was expecting. So what did I do? I just started sobbing. Uncontrollably. The weight of this life so far away from everything I know and from so many people I love was feeling too much to handle. No doubt the lack of sleep and stress had everything to do with it, but let’s be honest, I needed a good cry. I’m feeling a little better now, although I’m very aware it’s going to take me a week or two to get back into the groove of things and feel like myself again. I hate to come back from my blogging hiatus on such a sad note, but this is real life for me right now. I’d hate for you all to think it’s always rainbows and butterflies over here – no no, it’s far from it. But when my mind feels clear I know that this experience is worth all the prices we are paying for it. We are blessed beyond measure.
On a happier note, I have truly missed this community so much. I wanted so badly to find the time to blog and read all of your blogs and comment on them, etc, but every day was so jam-packed I simply couldn’t find the time. Hopefully my schedule will allow me to get back on track the next few weeks – I have hundreds of photos from this summer to share! Thanks for sticking with me and sorry for the rambling today 🙂

{Rachael + Christian Engaged}

I still have at least one more Greece post for you, but interrupting for today to show you some engagement photos I took for my friends Rachael and Christian last week!
Rachael, an American expat living in Amsterdam, contacted me months ago after finding my blog. She asked if I would be willing to take engagement photos for her and her fiance! I was so excited. It was the first time anyone had contacted me (that I didn’t know) to take pictures for them! Well, we met for coffee soon after and we totally hit it off. We’ve been friends ever since (and she has since started her own amazing blog – Let’s Be Adventurers – which is packed with gorgeous travel photos!). 
We finally got some good weather and I jumped at the chance to take photos for these two. I think we all went into it a little nervous not knowing what to expect, but it turned out to be a super fun and relaxed evening taking pictures of these two. They are so in love, constantly laughing and constantly smooching 🙂 My kind of couple! 
Anyways, here are a few of my favorites from the session!
 {Photos ©  Liz Denfeld}

{Amsterdam Canal Cruise}

One of our absolute favorite things to do with visitors is take them on a boat ride through the canals of Amsterdam. It truly never gets old. We like to take the smaller boats since they feel much cozier and more personal than the giant covered tour boats (although those have their benefits in the colder months!).
With a total stroke of luck, when my sis was here, we ended up on a cute boat all by ourselves! Private boat ride.. Not bad! If you’re ever in Amsterdam looking for a smaller boat, we love the Canal Hopper.
{Photos ©  Liz Denfeld}

{Amsterdam Date Night: Pomp Station}

Last week when I was sick I was all sorts of high maintenance.  I was whiny and pathetic and probably a bit demanding of my oh-so-sweet husband. Of course Corey, being the saint that he is, waited on me hand and foot without complaining a bit. To say that I was thankful for all of his help and love is an understatement. When I was feeling better, I decided to show my gratitude by taking him out for a delicious steak dinner. So, Saturday night we got fancied up a bit and headed out for a night on the town.

We started with cocktails at Freddy’s – the old-timey bar in the super luxe Hotel De L’Europe. I had a mint julep, he had an old fashioned. Then we made our way to Pomp Station, a fun restaurant in the east part of the city known for their steaks. I don’t eat beef, but Corey has told me it’s really hard to find a good steak in Amsterdam, so I thought I’d give him the opportunity to give this one a try. We shared a bottle of wine, started our meal with some oysters (fancy!) and even topped it all off with dessert. It was a decadent meal accompanied by a live jazz band (isn’t live music the best?!).

Even though we don’t have kids and most nights could be considered “date nights” – when we go out for a fancy meal together it really is a special occasion and feels like those first dates we had way back when. Nothing refreshes a relationship like good conversation over a good meal. If you’re in Amsterdam looking for a great steak and a great atmosphere – I’d give Pomp Station a try!
{Photos ©  Liz Denfeld}

{Weekend Snaps}

Some iPhone snaps from our glorious four-day weekend. Captions below!
We ventured over to Ijburg to check out these floating houses I’m obsessed with. Then we stopped in to Espressofabriek for some muffins, lattes & magazine reading.
We took the train to Hilversum (the same town we work in!) for dinner with family friends. We were a little bored on the train, as you can see 🙂
We spent a day in The Hague with Jeanelle and her boyfriend Steven, who live there. We were very impressed by how quaint and clean it was. Will definitely be doing a full post on the city soon! This is a photo of the Peace Palace.
The sun decided to come out so we grabbed our bikes and cycled to Oud Zuid – a neighborhood we don’t spend much time in – to sit outside and enjoy some snacks & a glass of wine. Afterward we met up with some friends at Barca for dinner & drinks! It was so much fun!
A leisurely brunch at Le Pain Quotidien never disappoints!
Grocery shopping at our favorite store, Marqt. It’s the Whole Foods of the Netherlands – love!
Cycling home our groceries for the week (it’s a short one as we’re off to Italy on Thursday!). 

{all photos taken with my iPhone & edited with VSCO Cam & Camera+}

{Weekend Snaps}

I’m kind of addicted to the latest iPhone photo editing app, VSCO Cam. So I thought, what better way to showcase my love than sharing weekend snaps I took using the aforementioned app. Here’s a bit of what we were up to the last few days (captions below). 

Hope you had a stunning weekend!
Loving every minute of being reunited with our sweet pup, Henry.
2 & 3 
Kentucky Derby party! How handsome does the huz look all dressed up? 🙂
4 & 5 
Enjoying the most delicious cappuccino I’ve ever tasted (and perhaps the prettiest too!) while doing some research for our next trip (Positano in 3 weeks!).
Stopping by the Sunday Market in Westerpark & admiring the awesome outdoor terraces in the area. This is one thing Amsterdam definitely does better than Portland – incredible and huge places to dine & drink al fresco!
7 & 8 
A lushy ladies brunch at G&T’s Very Nice Place. We chatted and sipped bellinis for 3 hours!

{Bye, Mama}

Well, that’s it. My mom’s two-week trip has come to an end. I dropped her off at the airport this morning and it was really, really hard. Harder than I was expecting. I was holding back tears as I took the train into work. Then as soon as I walked into the office I couldn’t hold back anymore and a rush of tears and hopeless sighs came flooding out. It was more than a bit embarrassing, but what can I say? I just can’t believe that her long anticipated trip is over and I won’t see her again for four months. I think tonight I’m going to take a bubble bath and read my new book. Hope that will help cheer me up.
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. It’s kind of ridiculous (and intimidating) how many photos I have to share with you from the last few weeks. I can’t wait to go through them all and get them up on the blog!  

{50 Tulips}

This weekend we spent nearly the entire two days cleaning our apartment top to bottom in preparation for my Mom’s arrival! When we were almost done I looked around and thought something was missing. Some fresh flowers! I decided I couldn’t think of a better way to make my mom feel welcome in our place than with fresh Holland tulips. Luckily we live ridiculously close to the famous floating flower market in Amsterdam, so we hopped on over and picked up 50 tulips for €12.50! The bunch was so huge we now have tulips scattered throughout every room in our apartment. It’s so lovely! I’d say that was money well spent.
{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{A Mexican Dinner Date in Amsterdam}

Do you want to know what makes me reallyyy happy? New shoes + big hair + margaritas + date night, that’s what. Saturday night the huz and I decided we were in the mood for some chips and salsa and lime margaritas. We’d been hearing a lot about Los Pilones, a Mexican restaurant in Amsterdam. Supposedly it was good Mexican, just like home. Now, I can’t say I was blown away by the food (still on the hunt for an incredible Mexican restaurant here!), but the margaritas. Oh, the margaritas!! Seriously rivaled my favorite Portland margarita (which can be found at Casa del Matador on NW 23rd), which is saying a lot. We had such a fun time on Saturday night. It was just one of those dinners where we didn’t run out of things to talk about, or get tempted by the pull of the iPhone (come on, admit it, it happens to you too!). It felt like date nights back in the day, before we were married and lived together and knew everything about each other. After a few margs the laughter just wouldn’t stop – and yes we got stared at (it was a tiny restaurant), and yes we were totally “those Americans”. But I was having way too much fun to care about any of that. It’s nights like Saturday (and Friday) that I never want to forget. 
And a couple iPhone snaps!
{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

P.S. My shoes are from Zara and I used Katie’s tutorial to do my hair!

{A Perfect Little Friday Night}

Well, things haven’t slowed down around here, but I still managed to find some time to enjoy a few amazing moments this weekend. We’ve been having some incredible weather the last couple weeks and one of my favorite things about Amsterdam is how when the sun comes out everyone swarms the city to find and enjoy their sliver of it. It might be a big sunny terrace, it might be sitting at a tiny set of table and chairs on your stoop, or many times it’s just grabbing a beer or a bottle of wine and sitting along the edge of the water and soaking up the rare, blissful rays of sun. It has taken us a little while to get used to this whole consuming-alcohol-anywhere-you-want thing, but we decided to embrace it on Friday. I picked up a special bottle of Dutch IPA and we headed to a bench situated right on the Amstel River. Between Corey studying for finals and me having a busier than usual work schedule we haven’t had a lot of time to just sit and catch up, so that’s exactly what we did. Then we grabbed portobello burgers around the corner at Burger Bar and ended the night seeing The Hunger Games.  Friday night was all kinds of perfect, and I never want to forget it.
{blazer: necessary objects (similar), scarf: nordstrom, skinnies: J. Brand, striped top: lucca couture from urban outfitters, shoes: river island, bag: cole haan, sunglasses: D&G}

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}