Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday rituals

Every Saturday is the same... or, at least I'd like them to be. I wake up at a decent hour (10:00-10:30), and spend a leisurely morning slowly moving myself from my bed to my sofa and turn on my laptop in order to check my email for stored breakfast recipes.  After deciding what to make, because weekends call for so much more than oatmeal or cold cereal, I head to the kitchen to start baking.  Breakfast is usually ready around 11:00, and once I've devoured all my stomach can handle, I start thinking about motivating myself enough to get ready for the day. On good days, that means I'm out the door by 12:15... on blissfully lazy days, it's more around the 1 o'clock hour - because if it's any later than that I start to feel guilty. You know, the type of guilt which is produced from your mother's voice in your head exclaiming "you've just wasted half your day!"

But it's where I head to first which sets my day off right.  It doesn't matter if I woke up earlier or later than normal, if breakfast was good or not, or if any fiasco occurred around the house that morning - once I head to the Westermarkt.  Because, even in the winter, it is that great.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Old vs New Amsterdam

My main objective in visiting New York, besides shopping and eating copious amounts of food, was to finally experience New Years on Times Square.  It was a long time coming really. During New Years of 1998, a friend and I made a (un-fulfilled) pact that we would ring in the millennium watching the ball drop - in person. Instead, on December 31, 1999, I partied the night away... somewhere in Kansas City, in the cold, with my family and a random couple, who we would have thought were drunk had they not told us they hadn't had a drop of alcohol.

Finally, twelve years later on December 31 2011, after stuffing our faces with what looked like 10 lbs of pastrami, sandwiched between two slices of bread with a side of the most sour pickles in existence, we exited the Times Square/42nd Street subway station around 5:00pm. Like cattle, we were then herded towards 8th Ave and told to make our way due north until we see the first open street letting us back onto 7th Avenue.

Block after block we pushed our way forward, relishing in the momentary gaps in the crowd. After what felt like an eternity, we reached our entrance point... on 56th Street. Determined to get the best view possible, we made a mad dash to 7th Ave and started our way back down towards 42nd Street. We made it three blocks until we were stopped short by a wall of people - on 53rd Street... eleven blocks away from the action.

Did you know, at eleven blocks away, you can't hear any music?  Not a sound... besides the people around you. We didn't know if we'd make it, standing in the crowd for over six hours, as far away as we were. But, for the first twenty minutes we remained positive... until the 6 o'clock hour when they raised the ball. Because at the 6 o'clock hour, we realized: we had only waited twenty minutes!  As the cheering and the "Happy New Year"-ing was going on at that moment, I couldn't help but think about the celebrations happening at home,  in Amsterdam, since it had just struck midnight there.

I looked around me, then pictured the Dutch way of celebrating.  Again, I looked around me, and then again pictured the Dutch way of celebrating.  It was a little something like this:

And then, after the 9 o'clock countdown, we left... guilt free. Because we were at least able to say we celebrated New Years at Times Square... even if it was for only three hours.

Monday, January 16, 2012

California Love

Pre-Christmas dinner photo 
Come. Take a little trip with me down memory lane. In my High School chemestry class, Ms. McFadden, in satisfying the request of one of my classmates, had us hold two minutes of silence for the death of 2Pac Shakur. Yes, that really happened. Anyway, in his immortal words (may he rest in peace), and those of Dr. Dre, let me just say: "California knows how to party/...Let me serenade the streets of L.A./From Oakland to Sacktown/The Bay Area and back down/Cali is where they put they mack down/...Let's show these fools how we do this on that west side/Cause you and I know it's tha best side/Yeah, That's right/West coast, west coast."

On December 23rd 2011, I stepped out of the San Francisco airport... and took off my coat. Did you read that? I took off my coat! I can't remember the last time I had been able to do that on the eve of Christmas Eve. Wait... wait a minute... yes!  I do remember.  Silly me.  It was December 23rd 2007... in California.

From the 23rd until the 28th, I spent sun-filled days on the veranda of my grandmother's villa, overlooking the vineyards below.  We hiked through parks, shopped at little boutiques, and ate bite after delicious bite of food at every meal.

I spent a day in San Fransisco with my aunts, shopping around Japan town, eating Japanese for lunch and relaxing at a Japanese spa. Thankfully, the day we went to Kabuki Springs & Spa, was co-ed and 'mandatory bathing suit' day. (Hooray for US customs. In Holland co-ed day is the same as female or male only days: not in your swimming suit, but in your birthday suit). And I'm just not down with that.

lunch in San Francisco
My 5 days in California had me wishing for more.  Then again... you never know what the future may bring.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

an American holiday... in snapshots

Kenwood, California
Kenwood vineyards 
breakfast in San Francisco
best french toast ever
view at breakfast
Brooklyn Bridge
5th Avenue - Museum Mile
the MET
Little Dancer of Fourteen Years  
maple bacon scone & hot chocolate with a homemade marshmallow at
the City Bakery.
-Best Breakfast Ever-
the place for HUGE pastrami sandwiches
 home of my family's favorite dessert, boccone dolce
leaving Manhattan