February 27, 2013

One LONG commute to work today...

I'm not the type to give up a precious day off work to recover from a holiday (I mean what if I want to use that day for a long weekend?!). So if my flight arrives before noon (which 99% of them arrive before 9AM), then I'm going straight to work. Yes even if it means coming straight from a Costa Rican beach, through the jungle by bus to San Jose, to a layover in New Jersey, then across the Atlantic to Amsterdam, then to border control, a train, a metro and a ferry. Even if it does mean that my flight lands at 7AM and I'll have to put up with a full 8-hour work day after 16 hours of traveling (seriously). 

I can sleep later.

After one long-ass commute, my work day starts right now. 

Home Sweet Holland.
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February 20, 2013

"Let's Go On an Adventure"

It’s amazing what those few words can do. Back in early October, I said those words to my best friend Julia. She replied with the words “let’s do it” (and one of the many reasons why she’s been one of my very best friends for 12 years). Then I let our two other best friends—Traci and Smitty—in on this adventure plan too. One thing led to another and within a few days we all had tickets to paradise.

So we’re off to Costa Rica!

This trip is going to be amazing. My friends also have an itch for travel—having been to Mexico, Amsterdam and NYC with Julia, Amsterdam and Belgium with Traci and to NYC and all over Europe with Smitty, it’s a fact that these are my favorite friends to travel with. Growing up we always had the most fun just sitting in my room in California and laughing about nonsense—these are the best kind of friends. So when a new destination is thrown in the mix, it's just ridiculously fun.

The four of us are taking a redeye to San Jose, Costa Rica, and will hop on a bus headed straight to the Caribbean coast. We’ve got no plans except to enjoy spending one whole week together—just the 4 of us—without the distractions of work, responsibilities, time differences and to give Julia a little vacay minus doctors and chemotherapy.

Christian is sitting this trip out but don’t feel too bad for him yet. He’s off to Poland with HIS closest friends for a few days. While we are each other's ultimate travel buddies, we’ve always encouraged each other to do solo trips with friends since friendship needs nurturing too...and ah hell who are we kidding, good times with friends just downright soothes the soul! 

So…adios for now…next stop: Costa Rica...

{via 1, 2}

February 15, 2013

California Calling

Yay! I’m headed back to sunny California! Although Christian and I hadn’t intended on visiting again until this summer, I just couldn’t wait…I had to plan a trip. I’ll be doing a bit of belated birthday celebrating for my best friend, basking in the sunshine, eating mom’s home cookin’, grabbing breakfast at the beach with my parents and nailing down some wedding details with my twin sis. 

My twinnie is also throwing me a bridal shower! Julie is quite the crafty one and she’s kept ALL details under wraps.

After a few days catching up with friends and family, my girlfriends and I will be going away for a week by the beach.

I can't wait to bury my toes in the sand and catch one of those colorful sunsets--undoubtedly one of my favorite things to do with my friends. The next 11 days are going to be glorious

I'll be instagramming and tweeting from So Cal...follow along!

{Some of my favorite Cali pics from my trip last March and on the night Christian proposed}

February 11, 2013


Every time it snows, I think 'it's the last time....ok NOW it's the last time...ok no really this is really the last time' which is basically how this weekend went. Each morning we woke up to a snow-covered Amsterdam. Only this time, my Aussie friend, bridesmaid and fellow Italy-enthusiast was in town to enjoy it with me! She's no stranger to this city since she once called it home for a couple of years too, but this weekend we enjoyed being reunited after 18 months apart! We spelunkled around town like the good ol' times, watched Australian movies, got Thai takeout and caught up on gossip. After this week, she won't be too far away since she moves to London in a few days. 

And I swear these are the last snowy Amsterdam pics because I'm going away at the end of the week too: oh sweet California is just around the corner :).
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February 4, 2013

Photobooks & Traditions

It was just over 6 years ago that Christian and I and 40 other foreign students landed in Finland for our semester abroad. On day one of international student orientation, Christian and I first laid eyes on eachother and spent the next 6 months completely inseparable. Then the time came for each of us to return back to our home countries. We were bummed out...really bummed out but we knew we wanted to be together. So we did! We visited each other every 2-3 months for a year until the day I graduated from college in California, then moved with him to Amsterdam

But during that year dating long distance, Christian gave me the best gift ever...


I opened the package from him several months after we had left Finland and there it was: a beautifully crafted masterpiece of photos from our 6 months in Finland as well as pics from me visiting his hometown (Maastricht) for the first time and him visiting me in California for the first time. It is definitely one of my absolute favorite gifts I've ever received.

The book captured all of our favorite moments including his comments here and there (in his not-yet-perfect English, which was and still is so cute and funny to hear...and I hope his English is never perfect!). I still look at this photobook often. It embodies such a special year that brought our two worlds together and I knew he put alot of work into creating it. 

Little did I know that these photobooks would turn in to our very own tradition--we have created one every year since. 

I take tons of pictures, but how often did we go back and look at them? Now we have all of our favorite pictures compiled into annual photobooks. This year was no different! We give ourselves January of every year to create these small works of art and our 2012 book should be delivered any day.

Once we receive our new photobook, we take each book off the shelf and look each of them together (and also do so several times throughout the year!). It's an amazing way to laugh and smile about how great life has been to us and to see precious memories we've been lucky to create together.

I love making these photobooks so much, that we made one for Christian's dad after our road trip in the Great American West (Christian's dad's first trip overseas AND he's a sucker for Cowboy and Indian stories). I also made a book for my parents after our roadtrip to Normandy and Tuscany last year. I even asked my bridesmaids to be in our wedding by making mini photobooks for each of them with funny pictures of us throughout the years (then the last page had my favorite pic and the words "Will you be my bridesmaid?").

I've become a big fan of Blurb for making photobooks (I used My Publisher for our 2008 and 2009 books but prefer Blurb ever since I gave it a try with our 2010 book). Blurb is so easy to use, has tons of customizable photo layouts and themes and the quality is top-notch. I won't lie though...it is so time-consuming just with choosing what pictures to include...but the finished product is SO worth it.

Sometimes I just cannot wait to end each year so we can add yet another photobook to our shelf ;). 

{Books from 2008-2010 and the book Christian made me...I love that he put a pic of himself on the front..haha.}
{Our 2010 book flipped open to pics from our Morocco trip}
{Our 2011 book and NYC}
{Our 2012 book--the newest addition! Well the digital version until the book is delivered...}
{The Blurb software is ridiculously easy to use--drag and drop, baby! The pics are a bit grainy because of my computer screen}

{And once the book is uploaded and being printed, you can log-in to your Blurb account and view the digital version, email to friends and family or share on Facebook or Twitter. You can even sync your blog so you can make a photobook of your blogposts...pretty neat!}