Winter at Bloemendaal Beach

I have a confession to make: having grown up surrounded by Florida’s scenic, tropical shores, I hardly frequent Dutch beaches… not even during the summer. As a true sun-lover, it's sometimes hard to grasp how I've even managed to survive the cold Dutch climate for eight years and counting.  That said, I’d probably be crazy to visit the beach in the dead of winter. The way I see it, a beach trip without a bikini is blasphemy. Nonetheless, the beach is exactly where I ended up. Knowing that I’m never one to pass up a little adventure, my friends invited me for a walk along the shore and lured me with the promise of gezelligheid and a boozy, hot chocolate to warm up. With my scarf, mittens and my camera in tow, off we went on the train from Amsterdam to Zandvoort aan Zee. From there, we walked about four kilometers along the shore over to Bloemendaal.

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The beach was full of visitors walking their dogs and wind surfers in wet suits flying high before crashing into the waves. On dry land, the wind was cold enough to bring tears to my eyes and my fingers went numb more as soon as I could warm them. Even now, thinking of how cold that water must have been still makes me shudder!  

The moody overcast light, sea foam and misty horizon kept me entertained as I lagged behind our group, snapping photos and trying to adjust my camera settings with thick leather gloves on. Eventually, we arrived to the cafe for a well-deserved round of warm drinks and you can bet that I had my cocoa with an extra shot of bourbon and whipped cream. 

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With the company of good friends and enough thick layers (and whiskey) to keep me warm, this skeptic survived a winter visit to the beach. However, when I popped back outside to capture the sunset a burst of frozen wind blew and I swear, the tear froze to my face. That’s the moment when our beach visit had me begging for the warmer breezes of home.

Instead, I settled for a bubble bath back at my flat and made a resolution to visit the Dutch coast again some day. That is, if summer ever arrives—there's talk about the canals freezing over this year!

Autumn Apple Picking

As the seasons shift, we're heading into a cozier time of year here in Amsterdam. The cooler temperatures (and drizzly rain) make it a real challenge to get necessary sunshine and fresh air that I crave. Although we're constantly chasing the sunshine here in Amsterdam, autumn definitely feels like a frantic, last-minute dash to get outside and enjoy a bit of nature before the heavy winter settles in. Looking back at the golden rays and plush leaves in these photos, I don't even want to think about winter coming, yikes! 

You don't need to head far out of the city center before you're out in the Dutch countryside, an area filled with quaint little towns and endless farming land growing everything from tulips to onions, strawberries, pumpkins and more. It had been about five years since I last visited the Olmenhorst Orchard and it was time to go back for another round of apple and pear picking. So, my friend Oceane and I headed out to the countryside and lucky for us, autumn sunshine was just right...

As a freelance creative, I often spend a lot of time creating content for other people and while I'm fortunate to be busy, it's easy for me to get lost in the hustle and flow of work, work work. So, I've been attempting to make little adventures for myself to try different activities like, apple picking. In this case, our apple picking afternoon inspired us to invite a few friends to cook up a big autumn dinner! It was a delicious meal that perfectly fit the coziness of this new season. You can read more about creative challenges here in my article for the Creative Women Collective.

Curious for more? Visit this post on Instagram.

An interview with Amsterdam Cycle Chic

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Wow, time flies! It's hard to believe my trusty yellow omafiets is already six years old. It's even harder to believe that I first moved to Amsterdam over six years ago! I've recently joined the Amsterdam Cycle Chic as a photographer. They featured me as Cyclist of the Month, a fun opportunity to be on the other side of the camera. Head to their blog for my interview about life on two wheels in Amsterdam.

For more cycling fun, follow along with us onTwitter and Instagram. Happy cycling!

Around Amsterdam: Sunday in the Nine Streets

Showing friends around Amsterdam is one of my favorite things to do. It's so special to give them a little peek into my life here along the canals. I recently spent a warm Sunday afternoon wandering around Amsterdam's charming Nine Streets area with my friend Jen, her husband and their cheerful, chubby baby. They previously lived here last year and luckily, the trio snuck in a few days in Amsterdam during their recent trip to Germany and France, we got to enjoy a bit of Dutch summer together. We were first introduced though our blogs a few years ago when Jen and Justin were on an expat adventure living in Amsterdam (and Italy). Funny enough, we all share similar roots from Florida!

Clustered within a scenic strip of Amsterdam's canal district, the Nine Streets are filled with posh shops, quaint cafes and unique boutiques. We strolled along with baby Ezra, peeking into shop windows and taking lots of pictures along the way. Luckily, sunshine followed us all afternoon and we stopped for a break one of my favorite terraces for a round of biertjes, kaastengels and watching the world go by.

They're currently living in Brooklyn but we missed a chance to hang out during my quick trip to NYC last month, so this was a fantastic alternative. Actually, the timing couldn't have been more perfect, since I've recently returned to Amsterdam myself and am enjoying a few relaxing weeks to settle in before my masters program starts this autumn.

As the four of us made our way back along the Prinsengrahct, we added a stop at Ijscupje (my favorite ice cream in Amsterdam!) to our agenda. Ice cream is always a good idea, especially on a warm, summer day! I chose a scoop of bokkenpootjes. Ever heard of it?

They're a Dutch chocolate-almond cookie with a scoop of tangy blood orange on top. We enjoyed our cones canal side while baby Ezra giggled happily while his chubby cheeks were completely covered in ice cream.

Sunny Sundays are the best. I going to keep my fingers crossed that we get a few more before the seasons switch. Here are a few other photos from our day...

P.S. You can browse more of Jen & Justin's travels on her blog and check out Freshly Picked, Jen's lovely flower styling company, full of dreamy bouquets.