{Weekend Recap}

This weekend we…

Met friends at a new (to us) bar in our neighborhood that brews their own beer!  Good beer, good company, what more could you ask for?

Made banana pancakes for breakfast Saturday and we lounged around for the greater part of the morning. Bliss.

I went shopping all by myself. I found Voluspa candles and pink skinnies (among other things). I remembered why they call it Retail Therapy as I felt like a new woman after my shopping excursion!

Went out for pizza at our favorite place on Saturday night. It was divine as usual. Then we stopped by McDonald’s for a vanilla ice cream cone. Hey, you can’t beat dessert for 1 EUR (TOTAL.).

Watched The Ides of March on my laptop in bed with my two boys (Henry is such a good cuddler!). I decided that was my favorite place to be. Ever.

Met up with friends at the Beer Temple on Saturday night. They have more than 60 different American bottled beers and over 30 taps! We stayed out until 3AM, which is not a regular occurrence for us. I know, I’m making us sound so cool right now.

Sunday we slept in, I made oatmeal with honey and cinnamon for breakfast and then we met up with family friends for lunch in Oud Zuid.

I made Baked Shoestring Garlic Fries a la Pinterest. I’m making another Pinterest-found recipe tonight! I’m on a roll!

And best of all, we Skyped with our niece, Emma. She turns one today! Happy birthday sweet, little Emma! I know you can’t read this, but someday I’ll show it to you and you’ll see how much your uncle and I missed you while we lived in Europe!


What did you do this weekend?


P.S. I’m also over at Mama and Her Boys today talking about how Corey and I ended up abroad – go take a peek!

{Amsterdam Winter Wonderland: Part I}

Two Fridays ago I was getting a late start for work. I was out raging the night before. Actually, I was catching a cold and needed some extra Zzzs. Anyway. When I finally stepped outside to make my trek to the train station, a beautiful thing happened. It started snowing! Now, I’d heard that the second a snowflake falls from the sky, the trains in the Netherlands all but stop running, so I thought for a moment and decided to turn back home. I couldn’t risk getting stuck out in Hilversum (where I work) with a pup at home. Luckily, I wasn’t crazy, Corey called me just minutes later telling me the snow was really starting to come down and he was going to head home just in case. It’s a good thing he did because it snowed for the next three hours straight. It was magical. Watching it fall so slowly and gently outside our window was incredibly peaceful. 

Later that afternoon, once the snow had pretty much stopped falling, we ventured out into the city to enjoy the winter wonderland. For all we knew it would be gone by nightfall (that’s what happens in Portland) so we thought we should enjoy it while it lasts. If only we’d known the snow would only just now melt away – two and a half weeks later – and a historic winter chill had arrived and we were in for quite the adventure…
{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

Happy Valentines Day

For as girl as in love with love as I am, it’s sort of surprising how not into Valentines Day I am. 
Corey’s in class tonight so we’re not having a romantic dinner or feeding each other truffles or anything. It’s just me and little Henry, my furry Valentine, hanging out in a quiet apartment. I’m working on editing some snowy Amsterdam photos that I hope to post soon, so stay tuned! For now, I leave you with a sneak peek, and one of my favorite quotes that took the thoughts right out of my hopeless romantic head.

{Milestones}

Some people think I’m silly slash ridiculous for counting the milestones I do, but what can I say? For one, I like to celebrate, and for two, I’m a hopeful romantic who will take any chance I can to reminisce, reflect on the good times, and count my blessings.

Yesterday marked a year and a half of marriage with Corey. The last six months in particular have been some of the happiest, most magical, but also most trying times of our relationship. Our move to Europe has brought us so much closer. It’s hard to describe how  your marriage changes when it’s just you and your spouse. No family. No best friends. Just us. It’s been incredible. It’s been hard at times, but most off all it has been so rewarding and it gives me such pride in the man I married and the relationship we share.
And speaking of that big move…Sunday marked six months since we moved to Amsterdam. We made it half a year! Holy crap. Are you proud? Some days it feels like we’ve been here for years, and other days it feels like we blinked and six months flew by. Looking back on all our amazing travels so far (London, Paris, French Riviera, Dublin, Berlin, OH MY!) and everything we’ve learned about living in a foreign country, I am truly in awe of our life. Inspired by this post, I thought I’d share the top 10 things we love about living in Amsterdam and the top 10 things we don’t love so much.
10 Things We Love About Living in Amsterdam
+Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice: A rarity in the States, but in Amsterdam you can be sure if you’re ordering orange juice it will be freshly squeezed. Yum!
+The Canals: The sight of them never gets old.
+Being able to jet off to amazing European cities so easily: Next up, Seville!
+Biking: We’re on a little biking hiatus due to the snow and freezing temps, but it remains my favorite way to get around here!
+Dinners that last hours and hours: In the US you are greeted promptly, sat promptly, and the wait staff expects you to get in and out of their restaurant as quickly as possible so as to shuffle their next guests in ASAP. Totally different story in Amsterdam. You can sit for hours and you practically have to beg for your check so you can pay and leave!
+Fashion: Everyone looks effortlessly chic in Amsterdam. I love looking at all the great style that surrounds me every day. I also feel way more comfortable taking fashion “risks” here (read: I can wear something that isn’t mainstream without getting confused stares. Yes, Portland, I’m talking to you!)
+The number of expats: Amsterdam is known for its expat community. It has made meeting new friends so much easier, and having the opportunity to relate to another American living in Amsterdam makes me feel more at home.
+Dining Al Fresco: It doesn’t matter the weather, there are always tables and chairs outside cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or a good meal. They even set up an outdoor dining area on an icy canal recently!
+The Corner Market: It feels like there’s a tiny grocer /deli on every corner, and we happen to love ours. It serves up fresh croissants in the morning and delicious take-away dinners, amazing cheeses, olives, wine…I just feel so European whenever I pop (which is often).
+Schipol Airport: Okay, yeah, it’s a little weird that one of my favorite things about Amsterdam is the airport, but trust me, Schipol is amazing. When you spend as much time in and out of airports as we have in the last six months you really start to appreciate the good ones. Somehow whenever I walk through Schipol it feels like home.
10 Things We Don’t Love So Much About Living in Amsterdam
+The Service (or lack thereof)
+Washer/dryers, microwave ovens. Don’t Europeans want anything done quickly and efficiently? Why must they combine such vital appliances? (and why must my oven be so.dang.small?!)
+Trains/Trams/Buses: It’s actually a love/hate relationship.
+Cheek kisses. The customary thing to do when greeting someone in Europe is to give those air/cheek kisses. In the Netherlands you give three, in most other parts of Europe you give two. I am just so awkward when I do this (and so is Corey!). I always hesitate – which side do I start with? How many kisses are they going to do? I’m just waiting to mess it up and give someone a smackeroo right on the lips! AH!
+Commuting: I miss hopping in my car and being at work in 15 minutes. And not having to work around train schedules!
+The Metric System: I spend more time converting kilometers to miles, kilos to pounds, centimeters to inches, grams to cups (it goes on and on) than I care to admit.
+Weird (to me) Food Combinations: Like Tuna on pizza and in pasta. Huh? I got on board with the fries dipped in mayo, but this? I just can’t.
+How Expensive Everything Is: Everything is more expensive here, add the conversion on top of that and a dinner bill can bring me close to tears. I miss Portland where the restaurants are incredible and cheap!
+Being Far Away From Family: I’m just now starting to feel really far away from everyone back home. At first it felt a little like we were just on an extended vacation, but now that we know we won’t be going home until August I feel really distant (and if I’m honest, I’m afraid my friends will forget all about me).
+Shopping Hours: Stores, banks, pharmacies, pretty much everything except the grocery store (and thank goodness for that!) close at 5PM here. I’m still at work with an hour commute ahead of me at 5PM, how does anyone get anything done around here?! 

{Weekend Recap}


Is it Monday already? Just like the week, this past weekend flew. Here’s what were were up to:

+Friday I took my cousin to a cute little French restaurant along a canal for dinner. It was so fun catching up and partaking in some good ‘ol girl talk.

+Brunched at Le Pain Quotidien (and enjoyed the most delicious freshly made mint lemonade)

+Experienced the Anne Frank museum. It was incredibly powerful and heart wrenching. If you’re ever in Amsterdam I recommend you not miss it.

+Shopped around the Nine Streets.

+Took my cousin to our favorite Thai restaurant

+Discovered a new (adorable!!!) pastry/sandwich shop called “De Laatste Kruimel” (The Last Crumb) that is dangerously close to our apartment.

+Started Season 3 of Dexter. 

+Met our downstairs neighbor who had us over for drinks. She’s super sweet and she gave us a bunch of restaurant suggestions we can’t wait to try!

+Had dinner with a bunch of coworkers who are in town from the States. You have no idea how comforting it is to have them all here. I miss their familiar faces!

What did you do this weekend? Do you feel like you need another day to recover like me?

{Scenes from a Sunday Stroll}

This past Sunday it was gloriously sunny in Amsterdam. It was also freezing, but that barely phased anyone in the city a bit. When those blue skies come out everyone is happy and the city is bustling (even more so than normal) with people hoping to enjoy the sight of the sun. We had planned on going to a museum on Sunday, but after brunch with a friend I knew I wouldn’t want to spend any more time inside. Corey and I instead spent the afternoon walking around the Jordaan, one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Amsterdam. We happened upon a boat cafe and decided we should sit and enjoy a cup of coffee (me) and a beer (Corey). It was one of those days where we walked around chatting away about how incredibly happy we are that we chose to go on this crazy adventure. There have definitely been dark days (literally and figuratively) but when that sun shines, everything becomes clearer and we know we made the right choice. 

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

P.S. Thanks to Kyna from Great Expectations for these Photoshop Actions! I’m having fun trying something new with my editing <3

{Outfit Post: A Chilly Winter Day}

We had such a great weekend. The perfect mix of fun + relaxation. Saturday we met up with friends for authentic Italian brick oven pizza, beer and games. It was a blast! This is what I wore. 
{Anthropologie Hat, Tulle Pea Coat (old): Similar, H&M Sweater (old): Similar, TopShop Stretch Skinnies (LOVE THESE), H&M Leg Warmers, Paul Warmer Boots: Similar, Cole Haan Bag: Similar}

{New Years Eve in Amsterdam}

Corey and I flew back from the States just in time to celebrate New Years Eve in Amsterdam. We had plans to join friends for a house party, but realized upon arriving that we were way too jet lagged and exhausted to do much, plus we had a terrified pup to attend to. You see, fireworks are illegal in the Netherlands every other day of the year, so people go nuts on NYE. From the time we woke up we started hearing them go off. As the day progressed the cracks and booms got louder and louder, and once we even thought our windows would blow out (seriously). We spent much of our day staying inside consoling Henry, who’s not a fan of fireworks. In the evening we sat around and drank strong Belgian beers (out of champagne flutes) and talked about our wishes for 2012. Around 11:30 we decided we should at least go out for a bit and experience the commotion and smooch under the colorful bursts of fire at midnight. 


We walked about three blocks to Nieuwmarkt (where we also bought our Christmas tree!) and as soon as we stepped outside we were surrounded by thousands of people, crowded streets and terrifyingly close firecrackers being lit all around us. I saw a girl chugging whiskey out of a nearly-empty bottle of Jack Daniels, and the smell of marijuana surrounded us. It was clear that people had come from all over the world to celebrate the beginning of the New Year here – and they wanted to bring it in with a bang. We stood together for a while in awe of all the chaos and couldn’t help but feel like we were in the middle of a war zone. We had to dodge fireworks more than once as people threw them off their balconies down onto the congested streets. The whole scene was like nothing I’d seen before. It was 4th of July on steroids – and with no rules. Drunken people lighting off fireworks wherever and whenever they wanted – regardless of how many people were around.


At midnight things really went crazy. We kissed at midnight, took a few photos, and then realized that by now Henry must be having a mild heart attack and we’d better get back. Plus, I was scared for my life and was more than happy to go back and seek refuge in our apartment. I figured our quiet street would be saved from the madness, but when we finally turned onto it we found some drunken men lighting off huge fireworks right in front of our door. They were so big you could feel their vibrations deep in your chest. We ran up to our apartment to find Henry shaking uncontrollably. We quickly consoled him and turned some music up loud to try (naively) to drown out the noises coming from outside. We were glad we decided to stay home with him that night (save for 30 minutes)! The fireworks didn’t stop until around 4AM, so our jet lag woes continued into the next day. All in all we were happy to be here and experience the craziness that is Amsterdam on NYE, but I have to say that next year you’ll probably find us holed up in a cabin in the country – far, far away from it all. 

{Fun with Photo Booth}
{Heading out into the madness…}
{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}
P.S. I’ve added a poll right under the Followers widget on the right side of my blog. I’d really appreciate your response! You can choose as many options as you like.  THANKS!

Homemade Mulled Wine

Corey has been busy studying for finals for the last week, and I knew he was feeling super stressed, so after he finished his first final on Monday night I wanted to surprise him with a little something. I thought it would be nice to make some mulled wine for him to enjoy after hours of essay writing. When he walked in the door the house smelled amazing, candles were lit and it was the perfect way for him to unwind after his long day of work and final-taking. I used this simple and delicious recipe from fellow Amsterdam expat blogger, Jenn, and I highly recommend it!

Ingredients:
Organic Merlot (or any other red wine you like)

One organic orange

Cinnamon sticks

1/2 cup Organic local honey

1 Vanilla Bean

Instructions (straight from Jenn):

Pour the wine into a large pot (yes, the whoooole thing). 
Peel the orange, and juice it into the pot. Then, cut up the orange peel into slices, and add almost all of the slices to the pot, saving a couple to garnish the drink with at the end. 
Add a few cinnamon sticks, the vanilla bean, and then the honey. 
Turn the stove on to low heat, and cook for 25 minutes.
Then, pour the mulled wine into big mugs. Garnish with an orange peel and a cinnamon stick, and enjoy!
{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}