One Year!

Has it really been a year already? It seems like just yesterday B brought a DSLR camera home for a weekend project, and we decided to take it with us to high tea. Afterwards, I thought, ‘hey, it would be really cool if I could share these photos with my family back home’ . . . and Pressed Words was born. I’ll be honest, I spend the majority of my time cooped up in an office, writing e-mails, communicating ideas, being strategic, presenting to clients, and thinking with my advertising hat on. But on Pressed Words, I can share my own ideas. I don’t have to think twice about what I say. My voice can be light and fluffy and sweet and there’s no one on the other end trying to pick an argument or criticize my words. And there are friends. Kind, caring people, who also enjoy blogging and make the experience incredibly delightful. I love taking photos, telling simple stories, recapping moments of happiness, and sometimes, even venting frustrations. Pressed Words is my happy place, where I can be a creative, an editor, a photographer, and a social media specialist. And I love every second of it. So thank you for reading along over this first year, while I figured out what blogging was and why it was important to me. I promise to make 2014 even better, but before I get to that, I wanted to share some favorites and highlights from this past blogging-year.

img_00981Pressed Words started with a High Tea adventure in late October. halloween6At the end of October, we went to the End is Near Halloween party, bloody and ready to rock.703522_10151364352194809_56416924_oB and I were invited to go to Belgium with a big group of friends, and we stayed in this stunning chateau for the weekend.192447_10151364361644809_1481733033_oWe lived like kings, had proper sit-down dinners in a formal dining room, and danced all night by a roaring fire place. We met new people, and made some friendships that will surly last a lifetime.img_0532In addition to travel and Amsterdam, I decided to share another passion of mine on the blog – food! Banoffee bites were my first delicious creation, followed by stuffed french toast. Both are easy, delicious recipes that were unfortunately photographed before I knew anything about lighting!!!img_04161img_0692We celebrated Thanksgiving in Amsterdam American-style, with heaps of turkey, gravy, and pie!

We kicked off December with, surprise, more food! B and I made our first trip to the German Christmas Markets, and they were spectacular!!

img_12101We ate heaps of food and got our first taste of the Christmas festivitiesimg_09081Keep an eye out for 2013 Christmas market adventures to come ;)img_10851Before going home for the holidays, my office threw their annual 180 Christmas party. photo-on-12-12-12-at-4-31-pmThe folks in my room dressed up as the cast of Rocky Horror picture show, and I was Magenta. We had a professional makeup artist come in and glam up our lips and locks. He was fantastic and I’ve never felt so in-character!
img_1162Finally, Christmas came and B and I hopped on a plane to America to celebrate with my family in Maine. Being in the woods, surrounded by trees and fields and turkeys was very refreshing, the polar opposite of Amsterdam city life!img_0781My Dad flew us down to DC for a few days – we saw Carbon Leaf in Maryland and then drove through our nation’s capital. What beautiful sights, and some great memories with my Dad.img_1512While in the US, we went to Foxwoods – my Mom played the slots and we explored the casino. I’ve never been to a casino before, and while the gambling scene is definitely not for me, there were flashy shows, unique restaurants, and numerous photo opportunities to be had!img_2146Five Guys was a US highlight – a step up from McDonalds and best enjoyed drunk, Five Guys have arguably the best burger in Portland, Maine.img_1696We went on a family road trip down to Connecticut and stopped at the Mystic Aquarium, followed by a super amazing pizza dinner at the famous Mystic Pizza. B and I are planning a New England road trip this Christmas, and I’m trying to figure out how to work in a stop at Mystic Pizza again this year!!img_1908After lots of food, festivities, and family time, B and I headed back to Amsterdam. img_2253Of course we both ended up sick over the holiday, and getting back into the swing of work life again was hard. We made January a healthy month, with lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and long crisp bike rides around the city.img_2623 The health stint didn’t last too-too long, as seen in one of my next and favorite food blog posts about stroopwafelsimg_3085Amsterdam soon became covered by a white blanket of snow, and B and I braved the elements for winter walks and pancakes.img_2971We also had our fair share of warm nights at inside venues, playing pool or eating out.img_5019But sometimes it was too cold to even leave the house at all, and we were forced to hibernate.img_5195We spent cold, lazy nights in, playing card games, doodling, and even dog sitting!img_5155At the end of March, we took a long weekend and popped over to London to visit some of B’s family and friends.story-deli-shoreditch-london12We spent time in Shoreditch, and went to the amazingly delicious Story Deli.
shoreditch-london-art-6We also roamed through Camden, stopping at Lucky Chip for some excellent burgers.img_5620We headed north to spend the holiday with B’s grandparents, but they ended up getting sick at the last minute, so we made the best of a sad situation and booked into a spa for Easter. img_5912After a few days in the north of England, we headed back down to London to say goodbye. I had an awesome night out with my friend Ro, and B and I did some hungover strolling through Kensington Gardens before hopping on a plane back to Amsterdam.img_57162To even out the cat vs. dog blog love, I spent an afternoon with these adorable fluff balls. . . img_5441They make my heart melt and are SO big now.img_4657We spent dark nights wandering around Amsterdam, falling in love with this little city again and again. flowersBut when spring finally came to Amsterdam, man, was that sunshine a great feeling!!
img_0300-copySoaking up the sun was a refreshing April activity. img_7906B and I went on lots of evening strolls, finally able to leave the house without a jacket!
img_7377 The weather wasn’t all peachy, and we braved the elements in May for the Rolling Kitchen food truck festival.flower3And sometimes spring showers forced us to stay indoors, but we were happy to bring some of nature’s beauty inside.img_7765We had dinner at the delicious Cous Cous Club, which reminds me, why haven’t I gone back here yet?!

June was probably one of the best months all year. I had just finished a super-busy spell at work, a large group of friends rented a villa in Belgium, and at the end of the month, B and I left on vacation to the south of France. But first, B’s Mom came out for a long visit, and we all made a trek into Dutch suburbia for some home goods.

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And then, unknowingly at the time, I wrote my most popular blog post.hardy_farm_0016_small_1200_800I shared with you my beautiful Maine barn wedding venue, in addition to some other stunning Maine Barns . I have met so many fantastic brides from this post, and am so happy I was able to help out lots of other lucky couples!
img_81871In June we had Belgium-weekend round two, with the same awesome group of friends (that you saw in the winter) but in a stunning summer Belgium villa. This time the sun was out and the Pimm’s were aplenty.

And then came the best 10 days of 2013 so far – an amazing holiday that I will remember for a lifetime. The first romantic holiday I’ve ever had with a guy, the first time I’ve gone away for a week-long vacation without my parents. I’m just going to spam you with photo memories now, but you can find the tales of Cannes here, here, here, and here, the Lavender Fields here, Exploring the Île Sainte-Marguerite here, scooting around Nice and Villefranche Sur Mer here, and our road trip to Grasse & Saint-Paul-de-Vence here. I’ve vowed to make a photo book of this trip, hopefully something I will get around to over the Christmas break. But in the meantime, here’s a brief photo recap of the best holiday of my life.

img_8733img_8532img_8678img_0055cannes-trip-271img_0045img_9048img_9206img_9374img_9390img_9154img_9200img_9901 img_0104 img_0786img_0419 img_0225img_0234img_0611img_0083We ate so much food, spent days on the beach, rented a scooter to explore the coast, rented a car to explore the Alps. We saw the lavender fields of France, the perfume capitol of the world, ancient villages carved into the sides of mountains, and just enough of our little private flat to feel relaxed and content. Which was great, as we had to come back to reality eventually! Less then a week later I was off to france again, this time for work.img_0971I’ve been to Paris twice for work now, both times too short. July, which truly feels like just yesterday, flew by! There were color parties and boating adventures, and then July was gone.img_1515August was crafty. I made homemade sea glass jewelry. . . . img_1236Hand-stamped save the dates . . . img_2957And some awesome crispy apple chips!img_3302B and I had dinner at the delicious Caffe Milo.img_1936Another dinner spot on my to-visit-again bucket list! What great food :)img_1890We rounded off the summer in Amsterdam with lots of cultural outings.img_2072We spent an afternoon watching the gay pride parade.img_2658We experienced our first ever Pluk de Nacht, an open air film festivalimg_3354And we caught an accidental orchestra, after stumbling across the Uit Markt.

And then came amazing sunshine holiday number two, a long weekend in Portugal with my beautiful girlfriend Amie. Read the tales here, here, and here. I took a lot of photos in Lisbon, but here are a few highlights. . . img_3621img_3982img_4171img_3515img_3494img_4115 img_4109 img_4076When I returned to Amsterdam, summer had left. The nights were getting colder, and the days were getting darker.img_4219B and I enjoyed an evening on the Herengracht listening to some beautiful piano music.img_4289We paid homage to fall and went apple picking.img_4694And indulged in a decadent birthday dinner at Ron Gastrobarimg_4709In Dutch tradition, I made my own Oreo birthday cake. img_4565And then last, but not least, B and I had a lazy coffee morning at de Waseerette in de Pijp.img_4786Looking back through this post, I’m reminded of what a fantastic year it has been. Sometimes I forget I’m having a great adventure. I get caught up in life, living in the moment, and don’t stop to think about the big picture and how truly lucky I am. This post puts things into perspective. This year I’ve been to London, Portugal, Paris, the South of France, Belgium, DC, Maine. There have been indulgent party weekends, romantic holidays, special family times, and so much delicious food!! I want Pressed Words to continue to be my young adult diary, somewhere to document thoughts and photos as I discover the world and what young happiness truly means. Blogging is my hobby, a great, healthy outlet in my life. I mentioned this earlier, but I do have a few changes I am going to try to implement over the next year.

>> I want my blog to become more focused, specifically on food, travel, and Amsterdam. I tend to throw in the random craft post, or look-book post, and I really want to spend this next year focusing on my three main passion points.

>> I want to write more. I’ve said this before, but I tend to keep the blog light and fluffy. This year, I’m going to hone in on my writing and produce content that’s enjoyable to read as well as to look at.

>> I’m going to try and change the format slightly, with a story up front followed by photos. I think this will help fine-tune my writing, and it will also allow me to be more selective in my photographs. Right now I tend to share a photo, and narrate, share a photo, and narrate, and I want the photos to do their own talking!

>> I’m going to curate my pictures better. Instead of 30 good photos, expect to get 5 excellent photos.

>> I’m going to buy a compact system camera, so I can document the moment more and think about blogging less. I want to be more laid back in photographing, and I think having a smaller camera will help me achieve this.

>> I’m going to give back. I promise to do a give away soon!! I’m thinking perhaps I will give away a bucket of my favorite goodies from this past blogging year. From Amsterdam loot to Marc Jacobs perfume. I need to think on this one a bit more, but promise, it’s coming soon!

If you have anything you want to add, feel free to chime in. I 85% write for myself, but that 15% is for you. I want this blog to be enjoyable for my readers, so if there are things you’ve thought ‘hey, why does she do that??’ or ‘ohh, I’ve always thought X would be a good idea!’, then do tell!!

Otherwise I’m very excited for this year to come – I already know there will be great things!! :)Prssed Words Year One_Cropped

 

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34 thoughts on “One Year!

  1. I stumbled on your blog when I was a new expat in Amsterdam* and fell in love, I’m now back at home in the UK but still regularly check back, your blog captures the magic of the city like no other I’ve found.

    Congratulations on a year :)

    * I lived the street down from Cafe Milo in Oosterpark, small world!

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    • :) It really is such a small world! That area around Oosterpark is beautiful, when I first moved to Amsterdam I used to bike through there every day on my commute. Did you ever get a chance to go to Caffe Milo? I’m glad I can still share a little taste of Amsterdam with you! X

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      • When we first moved there we went in for lunch and couldn’t get a table and foolishly never tried again! But in the same area I would so highly recommend Pata Negra, it’s the best tapas I’ve ever had x

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  2. Congratulations on your first year on WP. It’s hard to believe, considering how good your content is. Even when I first started following you earlier this year, it seemed to me as though you had been blogging for years.

    I like your goals for your blog. I’ve found if there’s no goal for a blog, or you’re not sure what direction you want your goal to blog in then the enthusiasm to blog fades away; but as you have found what kind of content you want, and how much content you want to produce, you seem to be like going down the right track and I can’t wait to see more of your future posts, Ali :)

    I want to thank you as well. Your blog has been an inspiration to me – the more I see you post of Holland, the more I want to visit! You’re a wonderful, easy going person to get along with and you have always been helpful. May your blog success continue! :)

    xx

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    • Thank you so much Jane! Your right, having goals is one of the best ways to stay inspired and engaged as a blogger. I don’t really know where Pressed Words is going, but I have some great ideas and am really excited to see them come to life ;) I’m happy to be able to share my Dutch adventures, and it’s so nice to hear they’re appreciated! Your kind words mean a lot and I hope you continue to enjoy to read along. Here’s to another great year! Xx

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      • No problem! Yeah, I think that’s the thing with blogging – it’s fun but you have no idea which direction it’ll eventually lead you.

        And don’t worry, I will always read your posts! ;) xx

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