My Apartment: The Renovation

I started this post with the intention of giving you a home tour. I was going to take you through the kitchen, and then in the next post chat about my living room. But as I got writing, I realized that there were so many other things that happened before I got into the design phase of creating my apartment. So first, the prelude to my home design, is the purchase and renovation of my apartment, which was perhaps the biggest undertaking of my life! So, here’s the background on my apartment’s design – the struggles of buying a house in Amsterdam, the logistics of moving in Holland, scraping out an entire run down apartment, and starting anew. And spoiler alert :) it ends like this:On March 1st, 2017, I got the keys to my new apartment. Well, my old-new apartment I should say, as by the time I got the keys, the space had already been well-lived in for more than 70 years. The apartment was a ‘new build’ (which in Amsterdam basically means anything built in the past century) with huge windows in every room, high ceilings, a small front balcony, and lots of potential . . . which is a nice way of saying . . . . it was bad! 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

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

Beach Days

When I go home, I return to the sea. My mom taught me to love the ocean, and as a kid we spent our summers on the beach, splashing in the waves and slowly turning golden.IMG_0849When I’m at the sea, I feel free. I don’t feel alone. I feel like I’m connected to something, even though I don’t exactly know what it is. Continue reading

Fresh Sheets

It’s been a long, long work week. And I have a little secret. I am escaping to Portugal in less than 24 hours. But SHH, don’t tell my job, because I’m not quite sure what they are going to do without me ;)

Although I am excited for sunshine and seafood, I am equally looking forward to crawling into the covers tonight. I am exhausted, and am counting down the hours until I can slip between my cool sheets. So in honor of my white linen fantasy, here are a few of my favorite bed-scapes, fresh sheets and all.

* These images are lovely, but are not mine. They are from my ‘home’ board on Pinterest. Check it out for sources :)

Dream Pup

B and I have been gushing over dogs for the past two years. We can’t have pets in our apartment, so for our next move a dog-friendly place is a must. Almost every night we walk to the park and watch the dogs play. It’s actually kind of creepy. B really wants a Staffordshire Bull Terrier while I’m a fan of bulldogs. I blame this guy:

23N1 Yes, it’s the Poky Little Puppy. He was one of my favorite childhood storybook characters. And I’m pretty sure he might actually be a beagle, but in my child’s mind he was always a wrinkly little bulldog. I’ve always wanted my very own little Poky Puppy, and my animals Pinterest board accurately reflects this dream. I just can’t help pinning all of the super cute bulldog pups I see! Here’s a little teaser of my dream dog, who will just have to live on my Pinterest boards until I can welcome him into my home.

Aren’t these guys just the cutest!?

To be honest, I would probably settle for a Dalmatian, a Collie, a Setter, or even a cute little mutt. But as we’re dreaming, I might as well be honest and tell you that a wrinkly little bulldog is top of the list.

Tomato Gardening Indoors

If you’re familiar with Amsterdam, you’ll know we’re a bit crunched on space. Towards the center, the roads are narrow. It’s hard to come by a spare parking space. And all of the houses are tightly packed side-by-side, sprawling up vertically. I am lucky enough to live in such an apartment. It’s filled with charm and old Dutch character, but my stairs are steep, my living space is narrow, and by American standards, we are undoubtedly cramped for space.

While I would kill for a little vegetable garden out back,  I’ve come to accept my urban balcony instead. It’s perfect for brunch or lounging outside at night, but the downside is, it’s south-eastern facing and doesn’t get much sunlight. The solution? I’ve taken to gardening in the living room.

This is my third Dutch summer, and it is the third time I have dabbled in some indoor gardening. Tomatos are always my best crop! After a few years of practice, I have picked up some tips and tricks of the trade that I would love to share with you!5indoortomato1* Choose the right window. Tomatoes love sunlight. Place them next to a big window that faces south or north (north if you’re in the southern hemisphere, south for the northern hemisphere). That way your little tommies will get sunlight all day long. Also, make sure your window location is not too cold. If you have to wear a sweater or a long sleeve shirt in the room, chances are your tomato plants will be a bit chilled as well.

IMG_80162* Pick a pear or cherry tomato plant. Some plants are better suited for growing indoors. Although big heirloom tomatoes are super delicious, they’re not very well suited to grow in an indoor environment. Go for little pear or cherry tomatos to yield the best fruit.IMG_80173* Let the breeze in. When grown outside, tomato plants have the help of bees and the wind to pollinate. If your tomato plants are growing indoors, they may need a little help with pollination. Open the window and let some fresh air blow through, or if you prefer, set up a fan near your plants. This will get the air circulating and will help your plants pollinate.  IMG_80374* Plant, wait. Plant, wait. Repeat. This is one trick I wish I had known sooner. You get home from the buying your tomato seeds and you’re excited. You dig out your pots, lay down your soil, and very gently drop a tomato seed into each tiny pot. You followed all of the directions and did everything right. But you’ve made one mistake, and you don’t even know it. If you want a constant flow of fresh tomatoes all summer, you have to stagger the growth of your plants. Don’t get over excited and plant all of your tomatoes at once. Plant your first seed and wait a week or two. Then, plant your second seed. This way you will have fresh tomatoes ripening all summer long – as opposed to one big rush that yields too many tomatoes at once.

IMG_80195* Rotate your tomato friends. To ensure all of your tomatoes thrive evenly, rotate their placement. If one spot is getting a particularly large amount of sunlight, pop a different tomato plant there the next day. Rotate your pots so all of your tomatoes get the same amount of sunlight.

IMG_8035B and I water the tomatoes fairly regularly, whenever the soil looks dry. They’re in smaller pots at the moment, but soon we will have to find some bigger pots! 
IMG_8042They also make a great spring gift for friends and neighbors. I’ve already promised one to Shawn, who has a fabulous rooftop balcony – her tommy will love it up there!IMG_8015Happy urban gardening ;)

Amsterdam IKEA Adventure

I have lived in three countries – the Netherlands, the UK, and of course my home country, the good old US of A. Geographically and culturally speaking, these countries are miles apart. But after careful observation, I have found one universal truth present in all three. IKEA. No matter what country you are in, no matter what language the cashier is speaking, the hotdogs will always taste the same. The showroom will always be an over-furnished, windowless maze. And you will always come out of IKEA with at least three items you did not intend to buy.

B and I needed a spring spruce up around the house, and as you know I have been lusting after this duvet for ages. So on Saturday we set off for IKEA, ready to stock up on couch covers and sheets and Swedish meatballs.

IKEA is a bit of a hike outside the city, so we took the metro.

IMG_7949The metro in Amsterdam is super funky. Each train is decorated with cool graphics and happy colors.
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[gickr.com]_9c23076c-2170-9134-b128-ce717a3217ec“Smile for a photo!” “But this is our stop!”

After a colorful train ride, we emerged into a glossy concrete jungle. Welcome to the other side of Amsterdam! No canals, bridges, or cobble stone streets here.
IMG_7972Tucked away behind a slew of office buildings and urban shrubbery lives IKEA . . . an equally industrial looking shop.

Fun fact: Did you know IKEA is a Dutch company? It has Swedish origins but is actually operated by the Dutch! IMG_7973We ventured inside and up the escalator, and immediately found lots of fun new toys to play with. 
IMG_7979IMG_7984IMG_7983IMG_7987We lounged in chairs, bounced on beds, and compared one thread count to another. You know, typical IKEA things. 
Untitled-1IMG_7986Side note – the lighting in IKEA is terrible!!

Thanks to B we were able to find everything we were looking for in under an hour. This handy-dandy IKEA app helped us keep track of and locate everything on our wish list. I love dating a tech geek :)IMG_7993IMG_7988These little rosebud sheets were my absolute favorite. But of course they were immedietly vetoed by B. Something about them being too feminine. Whattt?? B will regret this one day, because I’ve found a loophole to quench my girly bedding appetite. Two words, one awesome solution: guest bedroom.

IMG_7990IMG_7982After an impromptu match of hide and seek, it was time to check out and snack up. As new IKEA Family Members, we were entitled to free coffee and discounted IKEA snacks. Ohh the wonders of being an adult. IMG_7994As tempted as I was by Krabba Pastej, I decided to go for fruit and a coffee. 
IMG_7996IMG_8002B went for the cheese plate and drank cola out of a wine glass. Quite posh for IKEA!
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After filling our bellies with gourmet snacks, we ventured back to the metro.
IMG_8009And made it home just in time to see the sun set. . . . and decorate with all of our new loot!IMG_7933While our house was invaded by IKEA this weekend, the neighbors had an even more special guest at theirs . . . the stork! I think I’m all set with my new duvet cover for now, Mr. Stork.

If you’re in Amsterdam and want to visit IKEA, hop in your car or on the 54 metro line. The stop is Bullewijk and IKEA is a quick 5 minute stroll around the corner from the station.

Bar Carts

You know you’re a big kid when you lust after home decor. Fresh linnens, delicate chinaware, statement artwork – things I never would have pined over five years ago now have a prominent ranking on my lust-list. I blame Pintrest for fueling my nesting addiction. Most recently, I’m obsessing over bar carts.

Am I too young to have a bar cart? Possibly.

Do I drink enough alcohol to have a bar cart? Probably not.

But I love the idea of having a little hostess cart on wheels – something to roll around and offer your guests colorful straws and exotic liquors from. I’ve been collecting inspiration for my own bar cart, which I am intent on creating this summer. Here’s a snapshot of my inspiration:

Honey Bee

I’m a bit of a Pinterest geek. Pinterest is home to my imaginary closet, wedding inspiration treasury, and digital cook-book-bible. I admittedly spend way too much time on the site, collecting ideas and looking at pretty pictures.

I go through phases of Pinterest coveting. Last month it was ombre tights, burgundy hats and little fox prints. This month, I’m hooked on something way cooler.

Bumble bees.

I know what you’re thinking. Bumble bees rock! They’re classic and edgy, honey sweet and painfully sharp. Pretty bad ass, right?

Here are a few of my honey bee favorites from Pinterest.

These honey bee studs are adorable. They’re from here, but unfortunately the link doesn’t seem to be working at the moment.

This interior shot is from Design Sponge. I fell in love with this crafty bee wallpaper, only to discover these cute patterns are actually stamps! Very clever!

These little honey bee soaps are adorable, and I bet they smell delicious as well. The holidays are approaching and they would make a great stocking stuffer. Thanks for the inspiration, Savvy Souther Style.

Random fact: I’ve never been stung by a bee!

This last one is my favorite, and as usual, I have the most expensive taste! The product is featured on the Bona Drag site and the beautiful design is by Anna Sheffield. Although it’s not a bee per say, it has that timeless black and yellow edge, and will only set you back by $4,500. Yikes. My taste is a bit too fleeting to invest in this one, which is why Pinterest is ideal! It’s a great personal look book that lets you “ooh” and “ahh” over designs and trends, but doesn’t set you back a cent!

If you’re also into Pinterest, you can follow all of my super-girly boards here. If not, I highly recommend it – it’s a great place to collect all of your favorite things!