Wednesday, November 30, 2011

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. 

Monday, November 28, 2011


Sorry for the blog silence last week. Apparently I decided I was going to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and take Thursday and Friday off from blogging. But in all seriousness, life got in the way and blogging fell off the to-do list. If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that on Friday I flew in to Portland and surprised my mom! I'm here for work for a couple weeks. It was such a last-minute trip that I decided I would just surprise my family. It's been super fun to just show up at the door at my in-laws house, my mom's house and my aunt's house. The reactions have been across the board (from tears to screaming to no speech at all) and so fun to watch. So forgive me if blogging is a little slow while I'm here. Just trying to soak it all in and enjoy it! Hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving! 
Caught this view of Mt. St. Helens from the plane on Friday. Absolutely stunning!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sponsor Spotlight: The Gem State

I’m so excited to be doing my first Sponsor Spotlight on my blog! As new sponsors come along I’ll take some time to introduce you all to them. I’m always looking for new blogs to read – and I’m sure you are too – so I figured it’s best to share the love :)

First up we have Alison from The Gem State. I’m guessing if you read my blog, you enjoy pretty pictures (considering I take wayyyy too many pictures of everything and proceed to post them here!). Well, if that’s you, then you’ll fall in love with Alison’s blog. She’s a talented photographer just ramping up her new photography business and shares photos of everything from her life in Boise with her husbad to how she decorates (she has such a cute space) and her fun photography sessions. Pop on over to her blog and take a look – you won’t regret it!

{photo of alison and her hubby by Matt Clayton}

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What's For Dinner?

I've had a couple people on my Formspring ask what types of things we cook for dinner, especially now that we're here in Amsterdam and grocery stores are different, ingredients are harder to find, etc. I thought I'd do a quick post on some of our go-to recipes. When we cook at home (which is about 4-5 times a week now) we definitely try to keep things healthy and somewhat simple. It's tougher to find odd ingredients here simply because we're not sure where to go yet. So we stick to basic ingredients. Martha is our main source of recipes, but sometimes we just wing it, too. Here are some of my favorite dinners we've made in the last couple weeks:

Top to bottom, left to right:
{1} Soy-glazed salmon with sauteed asparagus and quinoa. We use this recipe for the salmon. For the asparagus, we just sautee them in a little olive oil with garlic and salt and pepper. Quinoa is one of my favorite grains. If you're not sure how to cook it, this is a helpful article. We use a mixture of water and chicken broth, which makes it a little tastier. 

{2} Shrimp and Zucchini Tostadas. We use this recipe and add avocado to it.

{3} Blue Cheese-Pear-Pecan Salad. I don't even like salad (really.) and I am obsessed with this one. The dressing is so good!

{4} Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa. We used this recipe, just replaced the red onion with scallions. I just don't do raw onion like that! But I'm sure it would be good if you're into that sort of thing :)

{6} We also made this Pasta with Rosemary Shrimp Scampi recently and were surprised how much we loved it. There's not a lot to the recipe, but somehow it is still very satisfying. I'd never cooked with rosemary before and now I'm a believer and want to do it again! Only thing we did different was actually sautee the shrimp with the oil, red pepper flake, garlic and rosemary. I don't like my shrimp just sort of steamed like they suggest, but other than that we stuck to the recipe. We made a side of brussels sprouts to go with it and it was perfect. I was so hungry I forgot to snap a picture before digging in!

{5} And I have to put in an honorable mention for this suuuper easy lentil soup. It's dang good if you just add a little cayenne pepper to spice things up, and it's super fast and perfect for these colder months. It just looks really gross in pictures (mine anyway), so I thought I'd spare you. But it tastes really good!

Okay, so there you have it. Some of our go-to dinners. Do you have any recipes you're dying to share with me? I'm always looking for new ones :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Ride Through Vondel Park

We've had quite a stroke of luck with a few weekends in a row of dry weather here in Amsterdam. We know it won't last, so last Sunday, despite wanting to stay in and be lazy, we motivated ourselves to take advantage of the weather and go for a bike ride through Vondel Park instead. The park was buzzing with people even though it was freezing out. Beggers can't be choosers and I think we were all just happy it wasn't raining! To warm up a bit we stopped for fresh mint tea in the park and watched the sun set. I wouldn't mind ending every weekend this way.

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday

Last November I took some time each Thursday to record some things (big or small) that I was feeling especially thankful for. Thought I’d pick it up again this year. If you feel like joining, leave a link in the comments to your Thankful Thursday list!

Today I’m feeling extra thankful for…

…hats, scarves and gloves. I never really needed them before like I do now. It literally hurts to ride my bike without these essentials!

…our Nespresso machine. It makes a perfectly frothy cappuccino for me each morning (and sometimes evening).

…those hugs that end with an extra tight squeeze (thank you, husband). Mama. Not a day goes by that I don't think about how lucky I am to have her. She has braved so much raising me and my sisters and has taught me how to be a strong, independent woman.

…a pup who acts like his entire life has been made just by me walking in the door.

…some awesome plans to keep us distracted next week during our first Thanksgiving away from home :(

…blog friends. I’m so looking forward to a fun girls dinner with these lovely ladies.

…an unexpected “I love you” text. Nothing makes me smile bigger.

...Skype. I couldn't survive living in Amsterdam without it. 

…nights Corey’s not in class. It’s too quiet around the apartment when he’s gone.  

a great book. I’m 75 pages in and completely entranced.

…genuine laughter. 

{card by Rifle Paper Co.}

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

{Weekend Snaps}

I interrupt this regularly scheduled post to bring to your attention that I have a new blog URL!

If you have a link to my blog on your blog or site would you mind updating the link? I'd love you forever and ever! Thank you!

Now on to the post...

The entire weekend wasn't spent celebrating Dutch holidays... 

We cooked breakfast Saturday morning. Fried eggs. Hashbrowns. Toast. Avocado. Orange Juice. It was good. And then we took a nap.

I met up with this little lady for tea in Vondelpark. Can I tell you how incredibly comforting it is to meet other American bloggers in Amsterdam? Who are really, really nice and cool? Oh, it's amazing!

Have a I told you lately how happy our new Nespresso machine makes me? When I feel like a decaf cappuccino - poof! - I get one!

Gorgeous sunset from our juliette balcony

Oh hi, I'm Henry. I'm the cutest ever, hence why my mom is obsessed with me! 

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sinterklaas Came to Town

This weekend, something special happened. Sinterklaas came to town. While he looks a lot like our white-bearded friend, Santa Claus, Sinterklaas made notably better arrangements for himself. Instead of living in the chilly North Pole, Sinterklaas lives in the South of Spain.  While Santa flies in from the North Pole through the freezing skies on his sleigh, Sinterklaas takes a relaxing cruise in from the South of Spain. And while Santa Clause has to squeeze his chubby buns down all those chimneys by himself, Sinterklaas has a crew of (controversial) helpers named "Zwarte Pieten", or "Black Petes", to do that for him.  

Sunday morning we walked down to Dam Square where thousands of people gathered to welcome Sinterklaas to town. There was a big parade (he rode in on his white horse Amerigo), dancing, singing, candy and cookies being thrown out into the crowd. It was an absolutely crazy experience that can only be somewhat explained through photographic evidence, which, of course, I have for all of you. Oh, and most importantly, I think this means I can officially start listening to the Christmas tunes! Wahoo!

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

Monday, November 14, 2011

{Friday} Snaps

This past Friday was St. Martin's Day in Holland. On this day, kids go door to door carrying beautiful lanterns and singing songs, hoping to get some treats in return. The treats could be anything from tangerines to cookies to candy. It sounds a little like Halloween, but the kids don't dress up, it's just a friendly neighborhood event. 

After watching the sun set over the canals and a quick pizza dinner in the Jordaan area, we headed over to the beautiful neighborhood of Oud Zuid (Old South) to see this holiday in action. There were kids running around everywhere with lanterns in hand. We even got to hear them singing songs! It was so fun to see another country's tradition being celebrated. After walking around and soaking it up for a bit, we decided to stop into a restaurant for a hot chocolate and some mint tea with our friend Dita and her cute son, Alex (who you might remember from this post). It was a great way to spend a Friday night in Amsterdam!

{let's pause for a moment. the above photo makes my heart go pitter patter!}

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}