Rome, Italy con la mia Famiglia

Ciao friends and happy new year!! I hope you’re all starting 2018 off right, with great family, friends, food and perhaps even a dose of travel?? I am nearing the end of my Italy saga, which is exciting because I have a few fun posts to share from the fall and winter. I would really love to get caught up on blogging in the coming weeks – I had such a blast in Austria over New Year’s, and I would love to get back into sharing content with you while it’s fresh in my memory and heart :) That said, I also have a hugely busy January kicking off, with travel to NYC and the Dominican Republic, followed by my annual company conference and party here in Amsterdam, so by the end of January I know I’ll be beat and so ready for some hibernation! I am looking forward to hanging at home on dark nights, drinking red wine and doing puzzles – maybe even binging on some Netflix. I also can’t wait to make a big winter fruit salad with fresh produce from the Albert Cuyp Market, and maybe even some hearty slow cooker meals, but those dreams will have to wait a few weeks until I have some down time in Amsterdam.

I am starting to compile a few New Years resolutions, and I will definitely share them here with you once I’ve given it some thought, but overall I would love this year to be about me. Ha – that sounds very self centered, and truly I don’t mean it that way ;) I make a living producing travel content, and I spend a lot of my personal time on social media and blogging. And while I LOVE being a creator vs a consumer, I also want to take violin lessons, and make it to yoga more often, and just do things that wont really have an impact on my professional or social media life, but will make me a better, happier me. I downloaded Moment on my phone, and it was really an eye opener to see how often I was spending staring at my iPhone screen. Granted, 75% of that time is typically for work related purposes, but I hate that I browse social media while I’m standing in line for my coffee, or as a ‘too lazy to get out of bed’ activity in the morning. There are a lot of things I love about social media (and to be honest, I could never quit completely because of my job) but I am often torn between sharing moments I love and that mean something to me vs wanting my feed to look professional and uniform and creatively cohesive. Right now my blog and social media ‘career’ has really taken a back seat to my job (which is really a fusion of travel and advertising, so I am totally okay with this!) so I am happy to keep my content ‘for me’ for now – but there is this niggling voice that’s poking me to get back into marketing myself and my blog, making posts that are less personal but are of more value for readers, but then there’s also a part of me that wants to delete everything and be much more private, and just keep my special moments personal and to myself . . . anyways, I am totally rambling here. But I really want to put some thought into what I’d like to achieve in 2018 :) because as you know I am a type-A personality and can’t do it if I don’t have a list!

Anyways, what was the purpose of this post? Ohh yes, Rome! Rome was one of the few major cities in Europe I hadn’t managed to visit after almost eight years of living in The Netherlands. From Holland, it’s inexpensive and easy to hop on a plane and explore elsewhere in Europe, even if it’s just for the weekend. And while there are some major European cities I’ve been to numerous times, I’ve never managed to catch a weekend in Rome. 

And so when my family agreed to visit Italy, it was unanimous that we had to make a stop in Italy’s sunny capital :) Continue reading

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Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii really blew my mind. I’ve been a lot of places, and I’ve seen a lot of things, but this was the first time I’ve ever walked along a path that was built so long ago – the area was first settled around 800 BC by wealthy Greeks attracted to the sunshine and scenery in the Bay of Naples. The city of Pompeii was first mentioned in written history in 300 BC, about 400 years before its destruction and 300 years before Christ would even walk the earth. If you’re not familiar with the very true tale, at the time of its demise, Pompeii was a thriving community in the Roman Colony. Continue reading

Amalfi, Italy

I hope you’re not getting sick of beautiful Italian seaside photos yet, because I have one final Amalfi installment for you! Having spent some time exploring Positano and Capri, my cousin, mom, godmother and I decided it was time to visit the coast’s namesake town and cruise over to Amalfi for an afternoon.We woke up bright and early in Positano, and slowly made our way down to the harbor for breakfast and to catch the ferry. Continue reading

Capri, Italy

On day two of our Italian adventure, we went to Capri. Some people love Capri. In fact, many of my friends who have visited the Amalfi Coast recommended that we make the island of Capri our basecamp for the trip. While I found Capri incredibly beautiful, I also found it slightly more stressful than Positano, as the island was swarming with tourists. Massive cruise ships sailed in and out of the port, docking so thousands of visitors could climb ashore. To be fair, we were also four of the thousands :) but as Capri was an island, it felt slightly more cramped than in Positano, without a lot of free space to escape the rush. In Positano, our little square was quiet, but in Capri, it was hard to take a photo without hundreds of other people walking through the backdrop. That said, Capri had an extra dose of harbor-side magic that we did not find in Positano. While Positano is flanked by tall cliffs and colorful houses, Capri is more flat, even boasting of a small sand beach at the waterfront. The colors of Capri match that of Positano, with pasted rainbow houses and boats lining the shorefront and climbing up the hills.To get to Capri, we took the ferry from the harbor in Positano. There are many different ferry and tour options, and all run pretty regularly. If you know in advance that you would like to travel by boat to Capri or Amalfi, book your ticket ahead so you are sure to get a spot. For our day trips to Capri and Amalfi, we booked our tickets the night before, so securing a seat on the boat was not a problem. However, a lot of the smaller luxury boats and sails were already booked up, so if you’re looking for something a bit more intimate, I’d suggest reserving a few days in advance. Continue reading

Summer in Maine, USA

As I’ve blogged about visiting Maine many, many times before (see here, here, here, and here – just to name a few!) I was less vigilant about whipping out my camera for the sole purpose of blogging this time around. I snapped a few photos here and there, but mainly to remember the moment or capture a smile – as most photographers would :) And so while I don’t have specific reviews or recommendations to post, I do have a great collection of Maine memories to share from this summer. IMG_8126From a photographic perspective, the highlight of the trip was getting to spend lots of time in Portland, Maine, which is a quick 15 minute drive from my parent’s country house. Portland is the biggest city in Maine, and (although I’m totally biased) it’s also one of the most beautiful. The small, harbor city is set on a hill and boasts of cobblestone streets, long wharfs, red brick buildings, and deep-blue ocean views. 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

Twenty-Eight at Spaghetteria

I have officially been alive for 28 years. I wanted to share something profound here – droplets of wisdom or wise old words. But today, I don’t feel like looking back. I don’t want to dwell on twenty-seven or twenty-six, twenty-one or the past. I am sitting here in a clean, ironed shirt, wearing red lipstick with pearls in my ears, and I just want to be. I want to experience the happiness that is pouring from my chest. I want to glow and grow, and hold the present moment in my heart. Birthdays are great because they give us pause to reflect – to establish our own personal resolutions. This year, I will live in the moment. I will not fear the future or hold on to the past. I will appreciate my surroundings, my friends, and the small moments that are often overlooked. IMG_3564Yesterday, my 28th birthday, was a day filled with countless honey-sweet moments. All summer, I’ve been inviting different girlfriends over for dinner on Wednesday night. I’ve coined the evening ‘Woman’s Wednesday’, and I’ve been lucky enough to share my dinner table with some brilliant ladies. As my birthday fell on a Wednesday this year, I decided it was fitting to invite a bunch of my favorite girls out for a big family-style Woman’s Wednesday dinner. Another favorite Wednesday tradition of mine is eating pasta. Growing up, my big Italian family would gorge on spaghetti and meatballs every Wednesday night, so for my birthday this year I asked the girls to meet me at Spaghetteria for massive plates of handmade pasta, crisp Italian wine, and deadly sgroppinos. Continue reading

A Taste of Home

I’m so behind on blogging. Like, embarrassingly behind. I have two more Maine posts, three London posts, a delicious Amsterdam restaurant recommendation, and a trip to the zoo to share. I am strongly determined to catch up. But at the same time, I appreciate the lag. Going through Maine summer photos in late September makes me smile. These memories are precious and I am glad to have cause to visit them again. I mean, just look at this dreamy lobster roll . . . . IMG_2258If that doesn’t make you lament summertime, I don’t know what will. Double drool. I’m going to try and wrap up the Maine posts in the next two days, so without further ado, here’s a very big and delicious taste of New England.  Continue reading