Saturday, December 31, 2011

{Happy New Year!}

Wow. How can 2011 already be over? This past year has truly flown. I love looking back on past years, and feel so grateful that each year in the recent past seems to have been even better than the one before it. This year is no different. I thought 2009 and 2010 couldn't be topped, but here we are living an entirely new and amazing life abroad in Amsterdam and reflecting on 2011, realizing it has treated us unbelievably well. Thanks to this blog I can vividly remember so many amazing memories and adventures. 

When I was home in November my mom said something that stuck with me. She said, "10 years ago, if you would have asked me which one of my daughters would grow up to be the most adventurous, you would've been my last guess. You really surprised me." She's right. I've changed and grown so much in the last 10 years, I wouldn't even recognize myself at 15. I was shy, insecure and I had no idea what I wanted in life. Now, at 25, I can truly say that I've never been happier. I know myself better than ever and am confident in my life, my friends, my family, my beliefs and all the choices I've made that lead me here. Of course there have been rough times, too. Plenty of them. But I run on the belief that everything happens for a reason. And those trials and tribulations have only strengthened me and made me who I am, so I'm thankful for those, too. 

Here's a recap of 2011, a year I will never forget. The year I became the adventurer I never really knew I was. Here's to a 2012 that tops it all! Happy New Year, everyone. Wishing you and yours all the best in the coming year. 

In 2011 we...

Fell in love with our new role as puppy parents and took way too many pictures of our cutie.
I got a new job.
We spent a weekend away with friends at Mt. Hood
Spent more lunch breaks than we could count driving downtown to take our sweet pup out for a walk.
Met my sister's boyfriend for the first time. They're still happily together in LA!
Spent a weekend in a blissful Oregon beach town with our friend's Meghan and Jeff. They just welcomed their baby girl, Evelyn, into the world! They got engaged and had a baby this year. Talk about an amazing, eventful year!
Went to the Tulip Fest.
Had the best birthday ever thanks to my sweet and sneaky husband. 
We found out we were going to move to Amsterdam.
I woke up before the sun had even risen for the Tigard Festival of Ballons.
Went on many date nights with the best date a girl could ask for.
Created and checked almost everything off our Portland To Do List.
Fulfilled a dream and MOVED to Amsterdam!
Flew back to Oregon to watch two of our best friends get married!
Hiked a mountain with my mom and mother-in-law.
Surprised my mom in November and showed up at her front door.
Traveled home to spend Christmas with our entire family. It was an incredible week home and I can't wait to share photos with you!

And now, we're about to welcome 2012 in Amsterdam! They do it big here. And despite the jet lag (and a pup that's deathly afraid of fireworks) we're going to try to live it up! Hope you have a super special New Years Eve. I can't wait to kiss my one and only under the fireworks at midnight :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Homemade Mulled Wine

Corey has been busy studying for finals for the last week, and I knew he was feeling super stressed, so after he finished his first final on Monday night I wanted to surprise him with a little something. I thought it would be nice to make some mulled wine for him to enjoy after hours of essay writing. When he walked in the door the house smelled amazing, candles were lit and it was the perfect way for him to unwind after his long day of work and final-taking. I used this simple and delicious recipe from fellow Amsterdam expat blogger, Jenn, and I highly recommend it!

Organic Merlot (or any other red wine you like)
One organic orange
Cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup Organic local honey
1 Vanilla Bean

Instructions (straight from Jenn):
Pour the wine into a large pot (yes, the whoooole thing). 
Peel the orange, and juice it into the pot. Then, cut up the orange peel into slices, and add almost all of the slices to the pot, saving a couple to garnish the drink with at the end. 
Add a few cinnamon sticks, the vanilla bean, and then the honey. 
Turn the stove on to low heat, and cook for 25 minutes.
Then, pour the mulled wine into big mugs. Garnish with an orange peel and a cinnamon stick, and enjoy!

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

{Dordrecht Christmas Market}

This weekend we hopped a train and traveled an hour and a half south to the town of Dordrecht to peruse  their annual Christmas Market. There was mulled wine (we actually loved this batch!), caroling, ice skating, traditional hot-off-the-coals pastries and best of all... Blue skies! It was such a fun day, couldn't have wished for better weather or company. 

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekend Sneak Peek + Giveaway Winner

We had a really great and relaxing weekend and I'm happy to say we did in fact make it down to Dordrecht for the Christmas Market! Sadly I didn't have time to go through all the photos yet, but thought I'd leave you with just a few. Hopefully I can share more tomorrow - things are pretty crazy around here preparing to go back to the States on Thursday!

Also, I almost forgot to pick a winner for the giveaway! Lucky number 36 is the winner: Holly from Little Miss Holls! A fellow Portlander :) Holly - email me your address and I will get a copy of The Paris Wife to you pronto! Thanks everyone for entering. I'll plan on doing this agin with my next batch of books as people seemed to enjoy it!