{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}

{Corey’s 30th Birthday in Italy}

A little disclaimer on this post. This blog is just as much for me as it is for all of my lovely readers, so on special occasions such as my husband’s 30th birthday, there are memories I want recorded. I’m aware this post is wayyy too long for most of you, so feel free to just skim over to the photos – no hard feelings. The writing is mostly for me to remember this special day 🙂
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Corey and I met when he was 25. At the time, I was 21 and still in college, so 25 to me seemed really mature and old. Well, not old, but definitely older than me. For some reason, shortly after we started dating, and I was sure Corey was the one, I started obsessing over his 30th birthday. I love celebrations and I love any excuse to go big for them. So in the years since meeting, I’ve had many ideas for his 30th ranging anywhere from a trip to Mexico to a big surprise bash.
When we decided we’d be moving to Europe last summer, I realized all my plans for Corey’s 30th would have to change. The thing that made me the saddest was knowing that his family and friends wouldn’t be able to share in this milestone birthday with him. So, I did two things: One, I planned an awesome trip to Italy for him (who can be sad & homesick when they’re in Italy?!), and two, I got his family and friends involved, from an ocean and continent away. Here’s how it all went down…
The morning of Corey’s birthday we woke up bright and early (4:30AM) to catch a luxurious cab ride (we normally bike to the train station and take the train to the airport) to catch our 7AM flight to Naples, Italy. From Naples we took a series of buses and trains to get to our final destination: Positano, Italy. I’d be lying if I said the journey wasn’t quite a long and tedious one. We touched down in Naples around 9AM and didn’t get to our B&B until 2PM. There were times I started feeling like maybe this was a bad idea – all this traveling on his actual birthday, that’s no way to spend your 30th! …
…Fortunately, the second we stepped into our room at the B&B and saw our gorgeous terrace overlooking the sea I knew this was going to be a very special birthday and it was worth the journey there. There was cake (traditional Italian cake of chocolate & almonds – so yummy!) and wine waiting for us in the room (I called ahead :), so we quickly uncorked the wine, poured two glasses, got into our bathing suits and plopped down on the two sun loungers on our deck. Not two minutes later I sprung out of my chair and announced to Corey that he will now be receiving his gift…
…I disappeared into our room and came back out with a single letter. From me to him. It was more like a novella of sorts, filled with lots of loving words, birthday wishes, and other fun mushy stuff! Also in my letter I informed him that I wanted to get his friends and family to help him celebrate this special birthday, so they all wrote cards and letters for him*. I once again disappeared into our room and this time came out with a big stack of letters. We spent the rest of the afternoon drinking wine, eating cake, staring out at the gorgeous view and reading touching and hilarious letters from his wonderful friends and family. Corey is an incredible son, brother, friend, husband and so much more, and it was so clear in these letters how loved he is by so many people in his life. He makes us all better people and he is always there for us, through thick and thin. And best of all, the guys knows how to make you laugh 🙂 The best quality in a man, I must say!
Before we knew it, we’d gone through all the letters, our skin was rosy from the delicious rays of sun and it was nearing time for dinner. We took a quick scenic walk around our B&B and then came back, got ready and headed out for one of the best meals of our lives at La Tagliata.
La Tagliata is a traditional Italian eatery run by an incredibly sweet family. It’s located in the hills above Positano, so it has a breathtaking view of the city below. The second you arrive you are given a bottle of amazing house wine, a bottle of water, and for us, two glasses of champagne to celebrate the occasion. Shortly after, you start getting plates and plates of food. We never saw a menu – and realized about 20 minutes in there wasn’t a menu! They serve what Mama made that day and let me tell you, Mama knows how to cook! We were stuffed silly by the time dinner was over. The meal ended with glasses of limoncello and the entire restaurant singing “Happy Birthday” loudly to Corey. He was mortified, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
I knew the years of planning had all paid off when Corey smiled that adorable smile of his and told me “This was the best birthday I’ve ever had”. It’s a day I don’t think we’ll ever forget. One of the best days ever.

{Photos ©  Liz Denfeld}
*I got this amazing idea from Sarah Tucker, of course! 🙂

{Was It Just a Dream?}

We got back from Italy on Wednesday morning… 
I am not exaggerating when I say it was one of the absolute best vacations we’ve ever taken together.
We truly felt like we escaped our everyday lives & stresses.
We got to soak up sunshine and just love on each other for six days straight.
That’s my idea of heaven.
And now we’re back…
And I’m feeling like it was all just a dream… A very, very good dream. 
I finally uploaded the 700+ photos I took and I can’t wait to share them with you.
For now… One of my favorites of the trip. Hope you have a fabulous weekend!
{Photo ©  Liz Denfeld}

{Paris: Pont des Arts}

Paris is one of the romantic cities in the world. It’s hard to explain why, really. Every city we’ve been to has been romantic and enchanting in its own way, but Paris is special. Maybe it’s the Eiffel Tower, or the French architecture, or the fact that I had always dreamed of going to Paris, strolling the cobblestone streets, stopping for cappuccinos and eating baguettes with the one I love. No matter the reason, it truly is an incredibly dreamy city. 
And it’s made all the more romantic by the Pont des Arts – the place people from all over the world go to forever lock their love to the bridge and throw away the key in the Seine River. I could’ve stayed on the bridge studying all the locks for hours. Being the hopeless romantic that I am I loved reading all the locks – intentions of love, unrequited love, and even marriage proposals! I found myself daydreaming about all the people who had been on the bridge before me – all of their stories, unique and mysterious. Who were they? Did they keep their promises?
Corey and I decided to lock our love and make a wish. We promised that we’d come back to Paris for our 25th wedding anniversary. Then we gave the key a smooch for good luck and tossed it into the Seine. As we walked away I couldn’t get the smile off my face imagining where we’d be in 23.5 years – 49 (me) & 53 (Corey) years old, still madly in love, our kids probably in college… And we’d go back to Paris to celebrate our love and reminisce on the time when we were young and carefree living in Europe, gallivanting across the continent to our heart’s content. Life will be different when we return, but it will be even more amazing than it is now. I’m sure of it.

{Photos of Corey and me by Tricia Seabold, all others ©  Liz Denfeld}

{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!

{On Love}

I know everyone and their mother reads A Cup of Jo, but this letter she posted today moved me so deeply that I just had to post it myself. The letter was written by well-known author John Steinbeck to his son after he received a letter from him in which he confessed he had fallen hopelessly in love with a girl named Susan. Here was his response (I’ve highlighted some of my most favorite lines):

New York

November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:
We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love.
But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.
If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.
It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

Love,
Fa

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Wouldn’t it be beautiful to include parts of this letter in a wedding ceremony? I just love it.

Happy, happy Friday, everyone!


Thoughts on Home

Being home without Corey has been interesting. Home, in general, has become an interesting concept since moving across the world. I am constantly saying things like “There’s no place like home,” which I truly believe. But more and more I am questioning what “home” even means? It’s a familiar face. Familiar places. It’s chock full of memories, down every street, every pot hole, every coffee shop and restaurant. But all these things without the one you love… They just don’t feel complete. 


When I’m away from Portland I miss my mom and my sisters dearly. I miss our old neighborhoods and favorite restaurants. Sometimes I long for those familiar faces and places. But here I am in Portland missing my husband, and it’s a different kind of longing. It’s more like an ache. It actually hurts to be away from him. While this really stinks right now, in the last few days I’ve realized how thankful I am to have a love like this. That even after more than four years together I still cry when I’m away from him, my heart still hurts when we’re not together. I really hope we love each other this deeply and miss each other this much forever and ever. Because as much as it hurts to be away from him, I think it would be much more tragic if I didn’t miss him at all. 

{Dublin, Ireland} Part II

Happy Tuesday, Everyone! I am so tired this evening (remember it’s already nighttime here! 10PM!) I almost didn’t write this post. But then I felt compelled to show you the rest of our Dublin pictures. So here you have them! 

One reason Dublin felt extra fun was because we had some celebrating to do. I know my Mom will read this and laugh because she thinks I’m ridiculous with all my “celebrations”, but that’s just me! Well, while in Dublin, Corey and I celebrated our four year dating anniversary! Four years before, Corey had taken me on our first date. Clearly it was a good one considering he’s now my husband! Anyhow, I’m a huge hopeless romantic and I’ll take any chance to reminisce, which we did 🙂 We’ll definitely never forget our anniversary walking the streets of Dublin, throwing back a couple pints and watching a beautiful sunset from the top of the Guinness Storehouse.


1-3. Christ Church
4. Alleyway behind the Guinness Storehouse
5. View from lunch at the Guinness Storehouse
6. Enjoyed a half-pint at lunch!
7-8. Guinness Taste Experience (just another excuse to drink more beer…)
9-10. Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse
11. Sunset from Gravity Bar
12. We took a horse drawn carriage back into town. Corey, being the gentleman that he is, wanted to do something sweet for me on our anniversary. Is he a keeper or what?!
13. River View
14. Entrance to St. Stephen’s Green
15-17. St. Stephen’s Green (such a charming city park!)
18-20. Phoenix Park (the largest city park in Europe!)
{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

Six Months of Wedded Bliss!

Six months ago today, Corey and I became husband and wife! I cannot believe how fast time flies. I honestly still get so giddy calling him my husband and look at wedding photos more often than is probably healthy, and feel so proud to be a Denfeld. I love our little family and couldn’t be happier in life right now. I feel so ridiculously blessed and don’t take any day for granted. Here’s how we plan on celebrating tonight… 


{wedding photo by Jill Thomas}

*Update! You all seem to love the red dress! You can purchase it here 🙂