A Progressive Dinner of Awesomeness

It’s been a while since my last post, and I miss you guys! Funny enough, despite the lack of new content on here, my site traffic continues to climb. It’s like you don’t even care that I’m not here anymore! Amsterdam & Beyond is thriving without me, which is both flattering and alarming. When did my baby go and get so grown up?!

On a more serious note, it really has been a while. I don’t want to make excuses, but real life has been pretty freakin’ awesome lately, and so that’s what I’ve been doing. Living. And my neglect isn’t focused solely on Amsterdam & Beyond – it’s all social media. I used to be a Pinterest queen and an Instagram junkie, with the occasional Facebook post just for giggles. Now, I rarely spend down time on my computer. I prefer to laugh, dance, kiss, talk, drink wine, eat sweets, run, and explore. I have a backlog of photos from the past few months, but have barely made a dent in editing them. My *goal* is to blog once a week. If I can keep up that pace, I will be happy :) So let’s see if I can get any better in April!IMG_4036These photos are a few snaps from a dinner the girls and I concocted last weekend. Have you ever heard of a progressive dinner? It’s a food tour through several houses, where one course is enjoyed at each stop! We thought it would be a fun idea for a Saturday night, as a prequel to some dancing :) And so we rallied eight ladies, four bringing beverages and four offering up their homes to host and cook! Read through to the end for some tips if you’re looking to throw your own progressive dinner party :) Continue reading

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Hello Happy 2016

I wasn’t going to write a ‘Happy New Year!’ blog post. In fact, I finally have the promised Berlin series all lined up and ready to publish :) But I spent some time this evening talking to my mom about resolutions, and now, here I am at midnight, clicking away in the dark, inspired to share some big dreams and stupid regrets. Home

So let’s kick this post off by saying, holy guacamole, 2015 was awesome. And not for any of the reasons I expected it to be. This year has been perception-shifting. Let’s reflect on my New Year’s post from this time last year . . .

I’m so bad at dreams. To have dreams is to put your faith and heart into something that you know might not come true. I’ve absolutely given up on dreams – on trusting what I want to future to be. – Jan 4th, 2015

Reading this quote makes me choke with sadness. It’s true, 2014 was a hard year for me. Many of my dreams turned out to be illusions. And so I went into 2015 mildly content, but without expectations, hardened, and void of hope. Continue reading

Cats, Murder, and Taylor Swift aka my 29th Birthday Party

It’s typical to make a wish on your birthday. Prosperity. Happiness. Ponies. While I didn’t quite know what I wanted for twenty-nine, I knew I wanted it to be memorable. And so, after a bit of deliberation, I decided to kill off my friends, one by one. I wanted excitement, intrigue, and above all, murder. I also wanted to be Taylor Swift for the evening. Happy somewhat-irrational birthday to me!IMG_0523The wish wasn’t entirely preposterous. My good friend Michael and I had been toying with the idea of throwing a murder mystery dinner party for quite some time. Michael is a fantastic host and owns a massive dinner table (bigger than the table I celebrated at Spaghetteria last year) and as of late, I’ve had a bit of free time on my hands and have been *dying* to pen a murder mystery. And so Michael and I joined forces to throw a deadly-awesome somewhat-bloody twenty-ninth birthday party extravaganza for moi!  Continue reading

Twenty-Eight Tidbits of Wisdom

When I was twenty-seven, everything fell apart. I’d had a lot of the future gingerly mapped out, and my life took a drastic detour. I spent the remainder of the year trying to pull myself together, breathing but not really living. I turned 28 at a table surrounded by girlfriends and glowing sparklers, and wished for the year to be one of the best. It went by in a whirl. There were dreamy trips to Istanbul and Munster, Norway and St. Tropez. There were unplanned midnight trips to the emergency room, accompanied by great friends and an onslaught of bubbles until the sun returned. There were ups and downs at work, goodbyes and new beginnings.

Twenty-eight was a coming of age year. I learned how to live on my own. Shop for one (aka thrive on predominantly hummus). Talk to strangers. Set a mouse trap. Fix my bike chain. I gained confidence and friends, new beliefs and dreams. To celebrate a new year of life (holy-cow-twenty-nine-balls approached fast!) I’ve spent some time (while sprawled out, sipping wine on a balcony in Italy) compiling twenty-eight tidbits of wisdom. Some lessons were served hard, while others were lingering and long. Here are a select few from this past year of life.

1. Not all relationships are fairytales. Enjoy them for what they are. Some are for two weeks, some are for two years, and some will feel like two eternities. Time does not define quality. Find meaning in what you do and who you’re with, and simply enjoy the ride.

Continue reading

While Mom Sleeps

Right now my mom is sleeping on the couch beside me. It’s the first time she’s come to visit me in Amsterdam (and holy cow it’s been FIVE years) so I’ve pretty much been over the moon these past few days. Prior to Mom’s visit, I had two of my closest girlfriends in town, also visiting from Maine. So I’ve taken quite a bit of time off of work lately, for a stay-cation, which I’ve never done in Amsterdam before. Every day has felt like a Saturday, with shops open, cafes buzzing, and warm weather slowly creeping into the city. As I haven’t done a personal ‘how are you feeling’ post lately, I thought I would catch up with you now, mid-spring adventure time and before the summer really kicks off. 3bdc13c07d14676f612bc6cdc1827232

So, how is Ali? Continue reading

February Hibernation Tips

I’ve spent the past few weeks being very boring. Over the summer and into the fall I was feeling super social. I wanted to be out every night, making new friends, going on dates, and enjoying the unknown in Amsterdam. But lately I’ve had this strange, deep rooted confidence. I want to be alone. I want to bask in my independence. I want to spend Wednesday night in, listening to music, surrounded by candles, browsing Pinterest and drinking hot chocolate all by my merry lonesome. I’ve been eating a lot more (yay) organizing a lot more (yay) and reading a lot more (yay). I’m definitely going through a homebody phase, and I think it stems from being content with myself. Over the summer, I could never just come home from work. I HAD to have plans, something to do, someone to see. And if I did have a night in alone (which happened very rarely) I would spend a lot of time on social media, looking for conversation or someone to connect with. I don’t know what’s come over me lately, but I’ve done a complete 180° and am totally enjoying just being an old recluse. I don’t feel hungry for a glamorous social life or attention. I just want to be at home and bake peach cobbler from scratch. And eat peach cobbler that’s made from scratch. Mmmm :)

As I’ve been spending an increased amount of time in my flat, I’ve been focusing on making my home extra atmospheric. Sometimes this simply means coming home and scrubbing the bathroom floor for 45 minutes (after I did this last week my brain kept tripping up, not recognizing where I was . . who knew my bathroom tiles weren’t supposed to have a pink tint!) and sometimes this means embarking on a rather complex home improvement project. As I’ve been perfecting the art of hibernation, I wanted to share some of my favorite tips with you – ways to make your home cozy and warm in the depths of winter.

1) Celebrate new wall art.

My walls are white, and often in the winter, the world is white outside as well. One way to create an eternal summer inside your home is to plaster your walls with bright colors and beautiful summer shots.  Continue reading

About Blogging

Happy Wednesday beautiful people. I’ve spent the past few days thinking about Pressed Words, and where I want to take this blog. Every day I get more and more visitors to the site, which on a crappy day, still averages out to more than 1,000 people stopping by. That means there are at least 1,000 people, every day, reading about my life, scribbling down my recipes, and looking through my photos. While previously this number felt big, it did not feel tangible until last night. I went to a gig and the venue held about 1,000 fans. I watched the musician on stage, and in between screaming lyrics and dancing like a mad woman, I wondered what it felt like to be the lead singer of a band, entertaining a thousand people. And then I looked around and thought, holy shit, this room is an accurate representation of my daily blog traffic! So while I’m not wildly talented, incredibly musical, or a sexy indie-hipster, I do get a lot of eyes, which is flattering, daunting, and stressful all at the same time.img_9155

^ ^ So this post isn’t totally devoid of photos, here’s one I took at the beach last year :)

Admittedly, I’ve been slacking in the blog department lately. Continue reading

Christmas in Maine

How is it already January 15th? Time is soaring by and life in Amsterdam is slowly ramping up again after a long and leisurely winter hibernation in the USA. Last night was actually my first night alone in the apartment (so much catching up to do after two weeks away!) so I spent some time sorting through holiday photos, in addition to making a big pot of stew for dinner, unpacking my suitcase, and cooking heaps of bacon (I had an 8am meeting this morning and bribed the whole team with bacon – I know, I’m the most ethical and awesome Account Director ever). Bacon, suitcases, and stew aside, it was a nostalgic evening, as the holidays are over and everyone I love so much lives so far away. This especially sucks in the winter when the nights are long and dark and I accidentally cook too much soup. One girl can only eat so much soup!

Instead of sharing my holiday photos in posts like last year, one by one by one, I’ve just included a bunch of my favorite Christmas images here, all in one place. So let’s take a little journey through winter in the countryside of Maine :) First and foremost, check out Sox, my trusty 6am jet-lag buddy . .IMG_4907He’s the only one in the house who is up before 6am, and year after year he’s willing to hang with me in the living room until all the normal people wake up to start the day. Also awake at the crack of dawn is my best friend Casey, who has a newborn and therefore doesn’t really observe night or day.  Continue reading

Unseen 2014

Happy New Year friends! Gosh, I can’t believe 2014 is over. And what a year it was. I remember updating my Facebook status on January 1st, 2014 to simply say, “It’s going to be a good one.” And man, how right I was, but for all of the wrong reasons. I thought I was going to get married this year, have my honeymoon this year, and settle into married life. I had planned a wedding, and had a dream of how life would unfold over the next few years. Now, I’m so bad at dreams. To have dreams is to put your faith and heart into something that you know might not come true. I’ve absolutely given up on dreams – on trusting what I want to future to be. Although you’ll find me smiling 95% of the time, a thin veil of pessimism has crept into my life, and instead of focusing on the future, or what I want six months from now, I’ve gained the courage to say ‘fuck it’ and just live in the moment. This has been somewhat detrimental to my health (because short term decisions often lead to horrible hangovers the next day) but at the same time, I’ve grown more in the past seven months than I have in the past five years. I’m living in the now. I’m not dwelling on the past or trying to solve riddles. I’m not worrying about the future or where I should be a year from now. I’m simply being me in the moment, trying to find meaning in everything I do, and letting go of the fear that’s associated with the unknown. I used to have a timeline of how I thought life was supposed to unfold. I used to keep track of how much money I was spending, what I was eating, how much gym time I was managing to squeeze in. I have genuinely let go of all of these things, and I can honestly say, I don’t think I have ever been more healthy, happy, prosperous, or confident in my entire life. It’s like something has suddenly clicked, and instead of trying to be what I thought I should be, I’m just being me, and turns out that’s even better. So my goal for 2015 is to keep this momentum up.

Earlier this year, Sid Lee gave everyone at the agency a Japanese wishing doll (called a Daruma). Upon receiving the Daruma, we were asked to make a wish or goal and then color in one eye to symbolize our commitment to achieving the goal. My goal was to live without fear. I did not want to fear the future, speaking my mind, or living life, even though it all suddenly seemed so uncertain. When you feel you’ve achieved you’re goal, you’re meant to color in the other eye of the Daruma. I’m still working on letting go of fear. Maybe my inability to dream or envision the future stems from fear itself. And I can tell you, trusting (as I’ve mentioned before) is a HUGE fear I’m really working to overcome. On the other hand, maybe letting go of expectations is letting go of fear. And embracing the moment is an authentic coping mechanism to banish worrisome thoughts that stem from the past or the future. Regardless, (as you can see) I’m still working on it, and that’s ok. I know 2015 is going to be a brilliant year.

That said, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the past 7 months (the first 5 months of the year don’t count as they were pretty much a wash).  Continue reading

Cookie Party

Note: Wrote this yesterday, forgot to hit publish! So . . . .

Merry (belated) Christmas blog friends!! I hope you’re all celebrating, eating, and enjoying the company of loved ones today. I’m currently sitting at the kitchen table in my parent’s house, drinking a Blue Moon and savoring the taste of home. Guests will be here any minute, and I’m surrounded by platters of Italian appetizers. But before I run away to change out of my slippers and put on my green suede heels, I wanted to share a few photos of an early Christmas celebration in Amsterdam. Last week I had a handful of awesome ladies over to decorate Christmas cookies.

IMG_4869Typically, I decorate Christmas cookies with my good friend Bex. But as Bex moved to San Fran at the end of the summer, I was shy a cookie partner in crime. So I invited friends from work and beyond over for an evening of mulled wine, sprinkles, frosting, and cookie fun-times.  Continue reading