Category Archives: Fall

Fall / Gratefulness / Holidays

Giving Thanks

November 30, 2017

I realize that I’m way behind on posting about Thanksgiving, but we had family visiting us in Amsterdam last week, so I didn’t get around to writing anything around the actual holiday. And honestly, I’ve had all sorts of ideas for blog posts lately and around zero motivation to sit down and get the words out, so… that’s where we are.

December is always a whirlwind, isn’t it? Not to mention that we’re headed to Berlin, Zagreb (Croatia) and Rome this month, and my family is all coming to Amsterdam for Christmas, so our schedule is pretty packed. But I do think it will be a nice, crazy few weeks before we jump into the monotony of January/February and KC’s busy season at work. But hey! We have a February birthday to celebrate this year, so that’s certainly something to look forward to.

Getting back to the point of this post, I always like to reflect on the things I’m really thankful for at the start of the holiday season. This year I’m so thankful for:

  • This amazing little family of mine. Our house is loud, silly, and seems to always have crumbs on the floor (even though I’m ALWAYS sweeping), but I wouldn’t have it any other way. (Well, maybe I would get rid of the crumbs.)
  • This adventure we’re having living in Europe. I filled out a preschool application for Prim recently and had to share a little bit about our family, Prim’s personality, and also explain our situation — not currently living in California, but returning to the Bay Area mid-next year. After counting up all the trips we’ve taken and those that we’ve planned and already bought tickets for, I realized that Prim will have visited at least 12 countries by the time we move back, which is sort of crazy given that she will be newly 3 when we come back to California. (And really it will probably be more than 12, since we’re looking at booking trips to at least two more countries while we’re here.)
  • How sweet these sisters are with each other. Prim and Lark have been completely smitten with each other since day one, and I feel so lucky that they get the chance to have the amazing sister relationship I have with my own sister.
  • Moving back to California next year. While I do have mixed feelings about moving back to the Bay Area (and the US in general), I am really excited to embark on a new chapter which will finally give us some permanence (and hopefully a place to live near my sister!)
  • Our home exchanges. Without having stumbled onto this site and taking the plunge and joining, we wouldn’t be traveling nearly as much as we are. The site has been such a great resource for us and our current situation, and I feel so lucky that we get to take advantage of every inch of Europe while we’re over here. And I’m especially thankful that we get to bring these little ladies with us on these adventures. Even though they won’t remember these trips, the memories KC and I are making during these early years with them are just amazing.

Well I’m off to pack for Berlin. I hope you have some fun weekend plans!


My Fall Bucket List

October 2, 2017

Fall has arrived in Amsterdam, complete with gray, rainy mornings and thunder and lightening in the evenings. It’s one of my most favorite times of year here — the whole city feels quieter and cozier. I’m excited for big knit sweaters and heavy fall boots (and not just because my summer bikini body was mysteriously MIA this year after birthing a child in February…)

Here’s what’s on my fall to-do list this year:

  1. Stock up on candles and try to burn them everyday at home. As the days get shorter and shorter here (and let me tell you — in November/December there is verrrry little daylight) it’s so nice to light some candles and embrace the dimness of the season.
  2. Keep up with my workout routine. After seriously struggling with the last 10 pounds of baby weight and having my back freak out due to my severe lack of core strength (2 babies 21 months apart has been HARD on my body), I got serious about getting back in shape. Not just losing the weight, but actually regaining my pre-baby Bar Method strength; so I signed up for this post-birth core fitness regimen 8 weeks ago and for Bar Method Online a month ago, both of which I have been vigilantly doing 4-5 times a week. I’m not always in the mood and the scale is still being slow to respond (THANKS BREASTFEEDING), but I have noticed a major difference in my overall strength, especially in my core, since I started.
  3. Visit some Christmas markets in December. We’re booked for Berlin and Croatia already — I can’t wait!
  4. Bake more! I took a break from baking after Lark was born and just recently started baking again. I forgot how much I really enjoy it. It’s such a nice departure from just cooking dinner — even when Prim insists on “helping,” which inevitably makes the whole process longer and messier (and usually results in at least one ingredient getting unintentionally omitted… or doubled. Ha.)
  5. Celebrate Thanksgiving with some family that will be in town that week.
  6. Try to go out semi-regularly on date nights with KC. Sometimes the planning of it all and getting out of the house are a pain, but once we’re out it’s so nice to have the break together.
  7. Decorate for Christmas. We’re spending Christmas in Amsterdam this year! I’m so excited.
  8. Perfect a new cocktail recipe. I’ve been off the cocktails for a long time now (pregnant with Prim, breastfeeding, pregnant with Lark, breastfeeding…) and even though my tolerance is still ridiculous (and yes, I’m still breastfeeding), I’d like to master a new drink to serve during the holidays while we have family visiting.
  9. Make an advent calendar for the girls. I have one with pockets from Pottery Barn that I want to fill with fun tasks and treats for each day in December.
  10. Order a stocking for little Larky-Lou!

What’s on your list this year?

Previous fall bucket lists: 20132014, 2015, and 2016.

Fall / Gluten-Free / Personal / Stay Healthy / Sweet / Vegan / Vegetarian

This Was Not the Plan

September 18, 2017

The past few days have been a little trying. I woke up on Friday morning in a bad mood. There wasn’t any real reason for it (well, the perpetual sleep deprivation might have something to do with it), but nevertheless, there it was. Later that morning I managed to lock myself and the girls out of the house after Prim’s dance class; and then naptime, the only time I get to myself during the day, fell apart royally.

Most days during the week I use naptime as my workout hour, so it’s not even like I’m sitting back watching TV and shoving cookies into my face (which is what I would really rather be doing). On Friday though, my 60-80 minute workout turned into a 3-hour ordeal, due to the fact that I was running up the stairs to deal with one or two screaming children every 10-15 minutes. I finally had to pull Lark out of the room and have her sleep in the guest room, which was frustrating since I just transitioned her into sleeping in the girls’ room during naptime. This of course did not deter Prim, who continued to scream and carry on until I finally pulled her out of the room, giving up on her taking a nap altogether. I ended up sticking her in front of Puffin Rock on the iPad so I could finish my workout, but since I really try to limit her screen time (when we’re not traveling) I felt like a complete failure.

On Saturday I got my hair cut for the first time in nine months. I had previously vowed never to have my hair cut in Europe, having been warned by numerous expats (and being a person with eyes who has seen Euro-hair). However, my hair was last cut in mid-December and our next trip back to the US is set for mid-March next year, so that means I would have had to go another six months without a cut. After seeing a friend’s cute cut, I decided to brave it and came to the salon armed with pictures of multiple mid-length hairstyles with long layers. What I got was… not exactly that. In fact, I was so unhappy with it I ended up chopping somewhere between four and six inches off by myself the next day. I now think it looks ok, so whatever. And it’s just hair. I’m actually not really someone who gets hung up on bad haircuts because my hair grows pretty fast, but I have to admit that the whole ordeal was fairly annoying.

This weekend we also had two nights where the girls were up for two hours in the middle of the night. Being up from 3-5am on two occasions in the same week is not my idea of fun. (This is also why I am in pajamas and no makeup in the photos above. No sleep = no effort to look presentable.)

Oh yeah, and my phone fell out of my pocket while I was riding my bike and the screen got smashed. (Like, suuuper smashed.)

So this morning I decided to reset. KC is working late tonight and will be in Dublin the rest of the week, so I am on my own with these two little ladies. This morning I made applesauce from the apples that were about to turn AND I laid down the law at naptime and managed to get two hours to myself as a result. Right now I’ve got applesauce muffins in the oven and the apartment smells amazingly fall-like as a result.

This week is going to be better. Let’s go, Monday. We got this.

Quick No-Sugar Applesauce

makes 3-4 cups

  • apples, peeled and diced (I used 5 Jonagold that were about to turn)
  • 2 thin slices of lemon or juice from half a lemon
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  1. Combine everything in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. If you like a thicker applesauce, remove cover and simmer up to another 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the lemon slices, then mash with a potato masher, fork, or run a hand blender through everything until the desired consistency is reached.
  3. Store in the fridge.

Fall / Sweet

Perfect Pumpkin Bread

October 26, 2016

img_0009If you’re looking for the perfect fall recipe, look no further. Once I spotted this recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s site, I knew I had to make it. Nevermind that canned pumpkin basically doesn’t exist here in Amsterdam, which meant I had to make my own from scratch. And maybe after finally finding a pumpkin and roasting it, draining it, and pureeing it, I discovered that the pumpkin I bought didn’t make quite enough puree for the recipe. Of course. So KC kindly went back to the store and bought another pumpkin, which I then roasted, drained and pureed, yet again.

img_0013The good news is that this mishap means I have enough puree to make two loaves now, which is great since the first loaf is shaping up to be gone by the end of the day…  img_0017Loaf pans are also weirdly tough to track down here. (Well, bakeware in general seems not as readily available as it is in the US, but maybe I also just don’t know where to shop yet.) I finally found a pan at a large department store over the weekend, though it is a bit of a different shape than the loaf pans we have in the US — much longer and skinnier. img_0019Honestly, I can’t recommend this recipe enough. I mean, Smitten Kitchen recipes tend to be Ina-level successful, so I figured Deb wouldn’t steer me wrong here. But really, if you like pumpkin bread — this is the jam. It comes together quickly and makes the whole house smell like fall while it’s baking. What more could you want? img_0029You can find the recipe for the Pumpkin Bread here, and the recipe for homemade pumpkin puree below:

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Cut pumpkin in half and remove the stem. (Put your back into it — it’s tough!) Scoop out the seeds, then place pumpkin cut-side down on a baking sheet wrapped in foil.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes to an hour, until the skin and flesh are easily poked with a fork. (Cooking time will vary based on size and type of pumpkin.)
  4. Let cool, then scoop flesh into a fine mesh strainer and let sit over a bowl to drain some of the liquid.
  5. Once drained, blend the flesh in a food processor or in a bowl with a hand blender.
  6. Store in an airtight container in the fridge up to one week, or in the freezer up to three months.

*If you have a large/tough pumpkin, you can speed up the roasting process by cutting it into pieces prior to roasting. This does make scooping the cooked flesh out a little more tedious, so consider peeling the pumpkin first if you’re going to go this route.

Brunch / Fall / Sweet

Olive Oil Apple Snack Cake

October 18, 2016

img_9979After seeing this cake on another blog, an immediate craving for fall baked goods set in. Baking here in Amsterdam is tricky, as I don’t have a mixer or a lot of bakeware, plus the Dutch seem to lack a lot of common baking items in readily available places like the grocery store. Not to mention that brown sugar doesn’t exist here. Instead they have something called basterdsuiker, which is not the same thing (and I’m just gonna go ahead and hold my thoughts on the name).

This cake, luckily, uses really common ingredients, and even though the recipe calls for a 10″ cake pan, I thought my casserole dish would work fine for the size, which it did.

This cake is as perfect for breakfast as it is for a mid-afternoon snack, so if you have a brunch coming up — this might just be the perfect thing. It keeps well overnight covered in foil as well, so feel free to make it ahead — it’s fairly sturdy. It’s also pretty foolproof, so it’s a great one to get little hands involved in if you have some kiddos who want to join in the baking process.


Olive Oil Apple Snack Cake

from Sunday Suppers via Wit & Delight

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 medium apples
  • juice of one lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease a 10″ cake pan, springform pan, or 12″ x 8″ casserole pan.
  2. Whisk together eggs and sugar, then stir in olive oil, milk and lemon zest until combined.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt, then add dry ingredients to the wet, stirring just to combine (don’t overmix).
  4. Peel apples and slice thinly, then toss in lemon juice to keep them from browning.
  5. Pour batter into your prepared pan and top with sliced apples.
  6. Bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Tent with foil if top is browning too quickly (check it at about 30 minutes — you’ll likely need to add the foil then.) Let cool completely in the pan before serving. Cover with foil or plastic wrap to store.