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Thank you Tuesday

Any day of the week is perfect for realising what you're thankful for.

- I handed in my thesis yesterday! I started the project around 5 months ago, thought up and did the research all on my own, and wrote a report about it, plus advice. Heart and soul have gone into that pile of paper. Hours and hours of work. It feels very strange to be done with working on it. Only a few more steps to go now, then I'm done with my studies!

- After handing it in, I didn't know what to do with myself, so I called some friends and we had drinks at Van Mechelen on the Sloterkade. The atmosphere is amazing, I love the interior styling. The staff is friendly, but forgetful. The food is mostly overpriced and then disappointingly portioned. But none of it really mattered, because I have friends who will come pick me up after having been AWOL for months.Thank you guys for hugs and talk and laughs.

-Levi's sister is coming for dinner. I've made onion soup for the first time in my life and it is amazing. Thank you Jamie Oliver for the recipe!

Summer in Rembrandtpark, Amsterdam- Last year's Summer was more of a prolonged Spring turning over into a very wet Autumn. But this year we had a prolonged Winter, that did finally turn into a lovely, sunny, warm Summer. So thank the weathergods for that. Lots of barbeques and picnics in the park, ice creams and long, relaxed evenings. I could do with a couple of more months like that, but I'm thankful for the Summer we've had.

- To say hello to Autumn, my yoga studio organised an event. On 21 September around 40 people did 108 sun salutations at Yagoy. Together with no one knows how many other people around the world (!) I worked up a sweat and struggled to keep up. Beforehand I had no idea how many 108 was, I only knew it sounded like a lot. In the end I got to 106, which is definitely more that I thought I would manage. Thank you Narges and crew for organising the event. It was great!

There really shouldn't be a downside to things you say thanks for, but I just have to say one more thing about the 108. It was great to do them, and I'm proud of my body and what it can do. But oh gods my muscles never hurt so much as the days after! But then I figure you appreciate things more if they come at a price. Next time I'll try and do the full 108!


Thank you Saturday

Things to be thankful for:

- That Spring seems to have finally arrived in Amsterdam. Gods, it's been a long, long winter. But the sun is finally out and I am planning to take a break from studying this afternoon with a cup of homemade cappuccino on the balcony.

- Talking about studying: I'm also thankful that I've made it through this week. My research project for my thesis has started (two days a week), but I'm also still doing a minor (Crossmedia) in the evenings and working thee days. Eventhough those three days sort of turned into two and a half, due to a tummy bug.

- But just the fact that I got to start my research project this week was a minor miracle in itself. My original plan fell through, right before the deadline for handing in my application form at school. I had to scramble to get another company to do the research at. But after a ton of work and effort and extension after extension on the deadline, I did manage to pull it off. I'm so grateful for the company I'm doing my thesis research at, that they were able to help me out, and so quickly too. I'm also grateful for my mentor, that he helped me out when things took a turn for the worse.

- You know what? I'm really enjoying the thesis project until now. Ok, so it was stressful when my first plan fell through, but this project is the first time I have to figure things out for myself, using all the things I've learned over the past three years. I kind of like that challenge, and really feel like I'm up for it. I'm just realising now: I've learned so much.

- Meanwhile, back at the homefront, I'm thankful that my lovely man is taking up the slack where housekeeping is concerned. And that he cooks for me! Two good reasons already why I said yes to marrying him. Is doesn't hurt that he's quite handsome too ;)

    "Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die, so, let us all be thankful." - Buddha

Vleminckx’ fries and other happy things

Oprah first put me up to making Friday lists, years and years ago. She wasn't literally talking about Friday lists, but she said it helped her focus on the positive when she made a list each day, of things that she was thankful for.

Bri Emery calls them happy lists on her gorgeous blog Designlovefest. And Ellen calls them Friday lists (or used to, when she was still posting them!) on her personal blog Company of Clever.

I love this idea of focusing on the positive. It's so easy to get stuck complaining about the things that don't go your way. It makes a huge difference if you stop to consider the things that do go your way, once in a while.

Today it's a happy list, in honour of Bri's post, which I think is lovely!

Little things that make me happy:
- Sorry to start this with something as mundane as a sitcom, but The Big Bang Theory really makes me laugh.
- Belgian fries from Vleminckx in the Voetboogstraat in the very centre of Amsterdam: the genius, brilliant, very bestest fries in the world. With Belgian mayonaise of course, the way they were meant to be eaten. Golden, crunchy, juicy, glorious.
- My very very pink Puma sneakers. A birthday present from Levi, and a joy to walk around in.
- I found the cutest short, tan leather jacket by Tommy Hilfiger at the last sample sale. For fifty euros. Hidden between loads and loads of ugly leather jackets. Too cold for winter, too warm for summer, too short, but I had to have it. Marvellous find.
- That after months of hard work I am finishing a major project at work this week! Sort of on schedule (amended schedule, haha) and sort of on budget. My very first project that I've managed and I don't feel too bad about it.
- And after a hard day's work I come home and Levi has made dinner for me. I love a man who cooks.
- Also: that I'm going on holiday Monday! Very strange to think that it's suddenly so soon that we're leaving. And I will be taking some homework with me to sunny Spain (can't be helped), but still! Spain! Sunshine! Warmth!

Tell me: what makes you guys happy?


Hugging cows, dinner at As and school

Time for a Friday list! What were the things I most enjoyed, what am I thankful for? My highpoint of the week was hugging a cow! Let me tell you how that went...

Sailing on teamweekend in Elahuizen, Friesland- We went on the very first company weekend last week. We could not have wished for better weather, it was amazingly warm and sunny. The destination was top secret until the very last day and turned out to be the tiny village Elahuizen in the province of Friesland. Day one included sailing, with a perfect picnic basket and perfect weather. It was followed by a barbeque with lots of booze and dress-up fun (the theme of the weekend was "Farmer wants a wife", after the popular Dutch tv show "Boer zoekt vrouw") and a party that was to last into the wee hours of the night.

Day two was my favourite though. Some of us very hung over and most of very tired, we got to choose between fierljeppen (jumping across creeks with a pole) and hugging cows. I opted for the latter and I found it surprisingly fun. They're big beasts, to be sure (a mature bull weighed in at 700 kilos!), but the cow I bonded with was a young one and she was so pretty and soft. Afterwards I felt completely zen. The whole experience has completely changed my outlook on cows. If you ever get the chance: I highly recommend hugging a cow!

- I had the chance to have dinner at Restaurant As a little while ago. The interior is quite unusual, as it's a round building and the design of the space is centered on the bar in the middle (the axis, so to speak, which is what "As" means). Nearly separate spaces have been created around the outer perimeter, with spokewise placed walls. The staff is extremely friendly. The food was quite good. A little unusual maybe, but very hearty. And the great thing is, the kitchen works with seasonal and regional and mostly organic ingredients. (As is located near Amsterdam Station Zuid, on the Prinses Irenelaan 19)

- But having dinner in with friends is also very nice, especially if my girlfriend Di brings me presents! Back from holiday, she presented me with a lovely set of bracelets. She could not have known that my silver bracelet had broken during our holiday in Italy, but it was a happy coincidence that she gave me these.

- The schoolyear has started. I'm up for what is hopefully my last year of studies. I didn't relish the thought of losing the freedom and all the free time I was so enjoying, but hey, it's started. The minor "magazine making" is great so far and I love the team that I'm in. Go team!


A ring, theatre roulette and Voltt

Oh my, how fast August has sped by! And there were so many highlights in between the relaxing, what to share first?

- Let's start with love. On a sunny Friday afternoon a few weeks ago, Levi invited me to the Vondelpark for a picnic. He'd picked an odd place to sit though, because we usually sit somewhere else. I said to him when he explained where he was on the phone: "That's where you and I met, nearly six years ago!" And he replied with an ever so innocent: "Oh really?"

Turns out this was no coincidence. While enjoying luxurious bites from Opera Prima (Kinkerstraat, Amsterdam) in the sunshine, he suddenly produced a tiny box and proposed. Complete the picture with our song, champagne, dinner reservations and tears and you're there. I am now wearing a lovely silver ring with two lovebirds that he went to great trouble to find and just thinking about that perfect afternoon (well, the entire weekend, actually) makes me happy all over again.

Yes, I'll happily spend the rest of my life with you!

A glorious day at De Parade in Amsterdam- The Parade in the Martin Luther King Park is one of our favourite things each year. It seems to get busier each year, but we love the romantic atmosphere, the merry-go-round, the lights, the food and the joyous creativity.

We always try our luck with the shows and this year opted for Keet! (a hilarious trip down memory lane) and 3: The Garden. The latter was at times brilliant: a caleidoscope of movement, a well-oiled machine of six human bodies, and at times it was completely  incomprehensible (the spoken words? The body paint?). Intriguing to say the least!

A rare sliver of sunshine during Voltt Loves Summer festival at NDSM wharf in Amsterdam Noord
- And then last weekend there was the Voltt Loves Summer festival at the NDSM wharf in Amsterdam Noord. Gods, the weather was terrible. Slivers of sunshine wedged in between bouts of pouring rain. I made good use of my wellies and  rainponcho (Halfords, E2,50). We enjoyed Robag Wruhme in the tent and thought Gaiser Live at the main stage was the absolute shit!

- Of course something as abominable as the weather cannot ruin a festival if you have friends who make the day worthwhile. We had a great time!

- Just yesterday I had dinner and went to a movie with my friend Robbie, who I hadn't seen in a while. I had such a lovely time, I'm immensely thankful that once in a while I get to connect with people I care about. Thank you.



Italy, palmtrees and time: post-holiday Friday list

Levi and I were on holiday in Italy for two weeks and came back last Monday. It's been raining and raining since we came back, but today the sun is shining, so here's a sunny Friday list:

    Palmtrees at B&B Lu Casale in San Cesareo di Lecce in Italy
  • I am thankful for holidays. It's lovely to just spend time together, focusing on nothing other than "What shall we do today?" And: "Where shall we have dinner?"

  • I'm also thankful for our lovely B&B in Puglia, Lu Casale, located in the very tip of Italy's heel. Our host Massimo and his wife Marinella were hospitable and kind. Eventhough they spoke little English and we little Italian, we had loads of fun! I wish I were still sitting by the pool in their tropical garden with its fullgrown palmtrees.

  • The lovely town of Gallipoli in Puglia, ItalyWhile I'm at it, let's also mention the region itself. I loved the little towns of Alberobello, Locorotondo, Otranto and Gallipoli. I thoroughly enjoyed the heartwarming friendliness of the people in San Cesareo di Lecce, trying to learn a little English and teaching us Italian along the way. I loved the gorgeous sea and the soft, sandy beaches. Truth be told, I'm a little in love with Puglia.

  • And back at work I realise: everything's easier when you feel well rested and sane. I wish I could always feel like this. I'm afraid it won't last, as I have a monster of a year ahead of me. But I'm enjoying this sanity while I can!

  • Another thing I am thankful for: time. The school year has not yet started. So for another few weeks I have loads of free time. Time to see friends, read books, fix things in our flat. I love it!

May the summer never end!


The groove, pasta and rain in Amsterdam

It's Friday! Time for a list!

Things I am thankful for:

view from top floor on Keizersgracht Amsterdam- finally finding a rhythm at work. The first two months were gruelling, with a BIG deadline looming all the time, but now I feel like I am getting into the groove. I love it!

- What I also love is the place I work. On the Keizersgracht, near the 9 Little Streets. If I forget to do groceries and have no breakfast, I simply stop by the baker on my way to work. If I feel like starting the day with a latte, I simply stop by the Coffee Company around the corner. And just look at the view from our window on the top floor!

- pasta with roasted veggies (drizzle with a few spoons of balsamic and good olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, roast in the oven. Cook pasta, ladle on veggies, followed by a good dollop of crème fraîche and some crumbled feta cheese. Finish off with a spoon of good olive oil and serve)

- finishing examweek at school. Ok, so we still have to finish projects, presentations and a few other loose ends, but the exams are over and done with this year!

- that I was NOT outside when the heavens burst just now, raining cats and dogs. And for raingear, because it keeps me dry.

- Levi, because he makes me laugh



A Summery Friday list

Taking a moment every once in a while to think about what you're thankful for can make a big difference in your outlook on life. So here's this week's edition:

* How can I not start with the weather? May's moods have been mercurial to say the least. A week and a half ago I was still wearing my winter jacket, it was only 11 degrees! The last week it's been a steady 25 degrees however. Time for sunglasses, short shorts and skimpy tops. Everything's just better when the sun shines.

Picnic at Rembrandtpark, Amsterdam* Talking about sunshine: yesterday we had a picnic at Rembrandtpark. I hadn't realised just how close it is to our home. Just look how glorious it was.

* We looked after our neighbours' cat while they were away for a weekend a few weeks ago. Yesterday, after we came home from work, we found a cute plant with lovely little purple flowers on our doorstep: "Thank you for looking after Bobo!" How thoughtful. That just makes me smile!

* That little plant brings me to another little thing that I am thankful for: our balcony, where we can enjoy the sunshine from around 2 in the afternoon until around 9 in the evening. I've never had my own 'outside' before. I'm hugely enjoying decorating the place with all the attentive green gifts we got for our housewarming and now from our neighbours. With a homemade cappuccino, or a plate of seafood pasta, life just doesn't get much better than this.

* I got a coupon for a place called Fior di Gelato for my birthday. Levi and I headed over to their tiny place on the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat to see what they had to offer. They are really nice, really Italian people, who make real Italian ice cream. And no skimping on filling up the cups, I got a good cup full of amarena and strawberry flavour!

The amarena was nice:creamy with tart, tangy bits of cherry in it. The strawberry was even better though. With strawberry icecream, you always need a little tang of lemon to pick up the flavour. And this ice cream had the balance between sweet, fruity and tart exactly right.

Great ice cream at Fior di Gelato in the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat in AmsterdamLevi really liked his chocolate milkshake, but found his stracciatella ice cream scoop a little too sweet for his taste. All in all, a very nice experience. If we are ever in the neighbourhood and craving an ice cream again, we'll definitely remember Fior di Gelato!

* While looking for a guide to start us off on our holiday in Italy in a few weeks, we ran into this place called A La Carte, on the Utrechtsestraat. Nice staff, good selection and hey presto! We found exactly what we were looking for!

Also, I saw that they sell something I am a great fan of: the Mighty Wallet. They're made by a company called Dynomighty and I think they're just absolutely brilliant. I have the one that looks like an airmail envelope. They sell that exact same one at A La Carte, plus assorted other travel-related designs (13,50 Euro I think they were, might have been 13,95 Euro).

And on that brilliant note I leave you. Have a great Pentecost weekend, enjoy the sunshine!



A Thursday Friday list in Amsterdam

Random November Thursday morning in Oud ZuidOn this, a capricious Thursday afternoon with sprinklings of clouds and sunshine, I find myself a little down in the dumps. The combination new job/exam period at school is wearing me down.

So! Time to make myself feel better. Eventhough it's not Friday yet, I think it's time for my blog's first Friday list. Here's a list of things that make me thankful:

1. sunshine. Everything's just better when the sun shines (or 'less bad', depends on what kind of glass you have ;))
2. friends. They offer help when it's needed and even if they can't help, the fact that they want to warms my heart.
3. our flat. I love the light and the space. We have doors that can be closed, an actual bathroom, an actual kitchen. Ok, so after two months of living here it's all still not finished yet (in part due to the fact that new things keep breaking down), but hey, we'll get there.
4. Amsterdam. Look at the photo I picked for this post. Isn't it just gorgeous?
5. Leafde! I love this new find on the Prinsengracht. Will post about it soon. I bought a pair of amazing Amsterdam earrings from a lovely woman called Harumi.
6. and last but not least, let's end this list with liefde. Levi is always there for me. He warms my feet when they are cold at night, he cooks for me when I am stressed out, cramming for exams or trying to finish a project. He makes me take time off to sit in the sun with homemade cappuccino.

Thank you.