amsterdam, books, expat life, snow, winter

{Winter Weather}

Yesterday I finished reading Luisa Weiss’s “My BerlinKitchen”. I loved the book for so many reasons – for inspiring me to cook more, for making me long for a trip to Paris, New York, Berlin and Italy, but most of all for how much I could relate to her writing. One passage in the entire book really stuck with me, as I happen to be in the middle of one of these merciless winters she writes of – just not in Berlin, but in Amsterdam instead.
It’s not that it’s particularly cold here – although for me it is! – but it’s more that the sun rarely shines. The darkness feels never-ending, waking up in pitch black, leaving the office in pitch-black. And don’t even get me started on how one single snowflake sends the Dutch train system into a tizzy. There will barely be a dusting on the ground and trains get canceled left and right, leaving us stranded in the cold. Winters in Amsterdam are bleak and I feel like I’m on the verge of a meltdown – I need some sun, stat!
Truth be told – Holland is stunning in the snow. And even though I am already tired of it and hoping it doesn’t make any more appearances this winter, I am trying to focus on that beauty instead of the annoyance it causes. Here are a few iPhone photos from this winter in Amsterdam so far. Hopefully I won’t have anymore snow photos to share with you anytime soon 😉

books, christmas, holidays, travel, weekend

Weekend Sneak Peek + Giveaway Winner

We had a really great and relaxing weekend and I’m happy to say we did in fact make it down to Dordrecht for the Christmas Market! Sadly I didn’t have time to go through all the photos yet, but thought I’d leave you with just a few. Hopefully I can share more tomorrow – things are pretty crazy around here preparing to go back to the States on Thursday!

Also, I almost forgot to pick a winner for the giveaway! Lucky number 36 is the winner: Holly from Little Miss Holls! A fellow Portlander 🙂 Holly – email me your address and I will get a copy of The Paris Wife to you pronto! Thanks everyone for entering. I’ll plan on doing this agin with my next batch of books as people seemed to enjoy it!

Recent Reads + A Giveaway!

Since moving to Amsterdam I’ve been reading a lot more. I feel totally guilty sitting on the train on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, so instead, I read. And I’ve come across some amazing books that I just had to share with you! Here’s a brief synopsis of each of my most recent reads – all so amazing!! I highly, highly recommend each one!

The Happiness Project: This New York Times best seller is the memoir of the year author Gretchen Rubin spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. An inspiring read for even the happiest person.

The Paris Wife: This unforgettable (dare I say haunting) novel tells the story of Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley: How they met and fell in love, and then about their remarkable time spent in Paris among literary greats like Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. This is an amazing, heart wrenching love story. Weeks after I’ve finished it I can’t stop thinking about it!

What Alice Forgot: Straight from Amazon: Alice Love is twenty-nine years old, madly in love with her husband, and pregnant with their first child. So imagine her surprise when, after a fall, she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! she HATES the gym!) and discovers that she’s actually thirty-nine, has three children, and is in the midst of an acrimonious divorce. A knock on the head has misplaced ten years of her life, and Alice isn’t sure she likes who she’s become. It turns out, though, that forgetting might be the most memorable thing that has ever happened to Alice.

Bossy Pants: Tina Fey’s hilarious tell-all about how she got to Weekend Update and 30 Rock, motherhood, marriage and so much more. If you like Tina Fey, you’ll love her book!

And since it’s the season of giving, and I loved these books so much, I decided that I’d host a little giveaway! Whoever wins can pick whichever one of these books sounds the best and I’ll ship it to them – my little Christmas gift to you! If you’d like to win you just have to:

+Follow Explore.Dream.Discover.
+Leave a comment and tell me which book you’d like to win & make sure to include your email!
+You can tweet about the giveaway for an extra entry (separate comment with a link to the tweet, please!)

I’ll close the giveaway and choose a winner at random (using this Friday, December 16, 2011!

Good luck!
amsterdam, books, fall, love, travel

Lately… + Welcome!

We’ve been daydreaming about a trip to Greece we’re planning for the spring.
I’ve been enjoying the cold + dry weather we’ve been having in Amsterdam.
I’ve been making the conscious effort to live in the moment. It’s so easy to always dream about and want what’s next and forget to soak up the now.
We’ve been feeling really settled in Amsterdam. It is really starting to feel like home. And we love it.
I’ve found myself absolutely giddy when I ride my bike everywhere. We live in such a beautiful city; I am reminded of that daily.
I’ve picked up reading again. The train really helps with that. Most recently I read The Happiness Project and Bossypants. I loved them both! I would love any book recommendations you have!
I have been craving a movie (theater) night.
I’ve been going to bed way too late. I used to always get 8 hours of sleep in Portland, but these days I’m lucky to get 7. I get home from work much later and feel myself rebelling and wanting to stay up to get some me time in. This makes for a grumpy Liz in the morning!

I am feeling the urge to bake. What are your favorite Fall baking recipes?

Also, welcome to anyone stopping over from The Story of My Life! So glad to have you here 🙂 If you want to know a little bit more about me and my husband you can check out my About Me page and our archives to the right! 

Have a great weekend everyone!

{photo by Ashlee Gadd, post inspired by Stacey}

books, weekend

Happy Weekend!

Oh my. For a moment there I wasn’t sure I’d make it to the weekend! It was another crazy week at work, and I am overdue for some R&R. Tonight we’ll be bidding farewell to our good friends who are sadly moving back to Argentina (their home country), and tomorrow night we’ll be out celebrating a friend’s birthday. Between the celebrations I plan on relaxing and getting through a good chunk of The Help, which I started yesterday.  Have any of you ready it?

What do you all have planned this weekend? I’d love to hear!

{photos by Angela Hardison}