{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 🙂
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! 🙂

{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+}

{Barcelona: La Boqueria & Lunch al Fresco}

One of the first things we did upon arriving in Barcelona was walk La Rambla up to La Boqueria. It’s another very famous site in the city, and if you don’t already know, it’s a huge market. You can pretty much find anything you would ever need there, from fruits, veggies and meat to fish, cheese, wine, delicious tapas and the most incredible freshly squeezed juices. This place is a giant maze of deliciousness.
It’s not surprising that as we walked around we worked up a huge appetite. We slurped up some fresh juice and snacked on fresh pineapple we bought for €1, but we were ready for some real food after that! Jeanelle (one of my best expat friends here in Holland) used to live in Barcelona and she suggested we go to Les Quinze Nits for lunch. It’s located in a gorgeous plaza (conveniently close to La Boqueria), which made for a perfectly picturesque al fresco lunch. We thoroughly enjoyed our food and our sangria – it was my mom’s first time drinking sangria and she really loved it! There’s always a line out the door for this restaurant, but the line moves quick and it’s worth the wait! If you’re ever in Barcelona and you’re near La Boqueria – I’d definitely recommend it!
{Photos ©  Liz Denfeld}

{Nice, France}

We’re back from our long weekend in the south of France. I took sooo many photos and I am planning on sharing them with you throughout the whole week! 

First up, Nice, which actually ended up being our favorite of the three cities we visited. So, the evening we arrived we ran into quite a few hiccups. Do you remember Nicole’s travel tips from her guest post? One of them really came in handy – Be Flexible. She was so right. Things go wrong… Very, very wrong. I could go on and on and tell you our long, drawn out sob-story, but I’ll spare you and give you the gist: airline left our luggage behind in Paris (we packed in one bag – everything was in there) and the rental car company “lost” our reservation. So we were left without bags and a car. The car wouldn’t have been so bad if we weren’t staying out in the French countryside – about 40 minutes from Nice. But these kind of adventures are what traveling is all about, and why I’m so thankful to get to experience them with Corey. Sure, they can be extremely stressful and sometimes tempers flare (I’m not perfect), but they teach you so much about communication and problem solving with your significant other. And the good news is, we came out of five days of taking buses and trains around the south of France stronger and closer than when we arrived in Nice. And we still love each other 🙂 

So, Nice… Oh, Nice. It really stole my heart. The water is clear, the architecture is what you dream up when you think of France, and they have beach clubs along their stoney shores (yes, you heard right, there’s no sand in Nice, just rocks!) where you can pay a day fee and you get a lounger and an umbrella – oh, and a nice ‘lil view of the Mediterranean. No big deal. It was my idea of heaven. Cocktails and delicious fresh crab right at my fingertips. Didn’t even have to step away from my lounge chair or take my eyes off the turquoise waters in front of me. Take me back, please!

After a long day by the sea, we decided to wander aimlessly and see what the town of Nice had to offer. We stumbled upon hundreds of steps that lead you high above the city, where we watched the sun set. It was breathtakingly beautiful. 

We then headed into the “old town” for dinner. We sat outside and shared a bottle of the most delicious white wine and chatted about how much fun we were having – and how badly we needed this vacation. It’s been a crazy few months, and it was so great to be able to truly relax, feel the sun and salty seawater on our skin – and most importantly really connect (and even though I missed Henry – it was nice to have it just be us two).

Hope you’re not sick of Nice because we headed back there on our last day – so I’ve got more photos to show you in a couple days! Tomorrow – Antibes!

{Photos © Liz Denfeld}

The 4th!

This was Henry’s first Fourth of July. We didn’t know how he would take it, so we didn’t want to leave him alone in the apartment. We enjoyed the toasty (85+ degree!) weather and barbecued with family during the day. Later, Corey, Henry and I walked down to north waterfront and watched a beautiful sunset, a few fireworks and even enjoyed a sweet little glass of wine. Poor Henry was a bit scared and spent most of the time hiding between Corey’s legs, so we called it a pretty early night, but enjoyed quite a few fireworks on our walk home. I have to say, it was the perfect way to spend our last Independence Day in the U.S. for a couple years! Hope yours was just as lovely!

{Photos © Liz Denfeld}

Weekend Recap

This weekend…
We made two yummy breakfasts… Banana pancakes Saturday morning and Isabel-inspired eggs, black beans, potatoes and tortillas Sunday morning.
We snuggled in bed with our little Henry.
We watched Pretty Woman.
We enjoyed some Pinot Noir from David Hill Winery (where we got married!).
We ate our wedding cake (my MIL had to clean out her freezer and the cake was surprisingly delicious and moist)!
I went to Oba for a birthday dinner… The Ahi Tuna was to.die.for.
We took Henry to the vet. He officially has all his shots, hurrah! Oh, and we scheduled his “castration” (hey, their words not mine).. March 20th… Dun dun dun…
We ate homemade pizza and watched the Superbowl at my in-laws.
We had some lovely bonding time with my sissy.
We rearranged furniture and organized a giant pile of paper/mail (feels so good to get that stuff done!).
What did you do this weekend?