Round the corner

IMG_4563When you get caught up in routine it can be so easy to neglect the little beauties around you. I have been biking to work for a month now, and everyday I pass incredible scenery that I don’t take even one second to appreciate. Here I am, in such a beautiful country for only one more month, and I’m letting it all fly by me. So, for the past week I have been leaving early for work so I could ride along slowly and appreciate all of the wonderful nature that surrounds me. Its been very relaxing and calming. I get to work feeling refreshed and lighter inside. There is something really magical about the sun bouncing off of the canals. When it is sunny in Amsterdam, it is truly a miraculous sight. The canals sparkle, the flowers seem brighter, and the cobblestones reflect dark red and brown tones that you can’t see on a cloudy day. With one month left here, I need to soak up every second. Even if you have been living in a city for your whole life, it is still important to take it slowly and appreciate the beauty it has to offer. I promise it will be the perfect way to start your morning. Nothing puts you in a better mood than realizing how lucky you are.

Too much fruit? Crumble time

I went on a mini baking spree the other day. I saw that I had wayyy too many ripe bananas, so I turned those bad boys into some banana muffins. It wasn’t only the bananas that were on the ripe end of things, all of the wild peaches were on their last days. A heaping pile of peaches could only mean one thing, peach crumble! Seriously, crumbles are the easiest dessert on the planet. Also, it is super hard to make one that is not delicious. Its just a pile of fruit covered with butter, sugar, oats and flour. Where can you possibly go wrong with this combination? Easy answer, it is literally impossible. The key to a good crumble is making sure you have the right ratio of fruit to topping. I personally prefer more topping than fruit. Call me a fatty patty, but the mixture on top is clearly the winner in this group. So I always make sure that I have a hearty pile of crumble for the top of my fruit. Peaches are a great option for a crumble because they hold their texture well. I have also used apples, plums, and berries. All are amazing, but I think peach is particularly tasty. One thing I did with this crumble that I don’t usually do was mix the fruit in a bit of maple syrup before lining them in the dish. It brought out some more sweetness in the peaches, and it added a really nice unexpected flavour. Taking pictures of crumbles is a waste of time. They never capture the deliciousness. Regardless, here is a snap of my crumble before it hit the oven.ย IMG_4441

Easy Breezy

Photo on 2014-08-22 at 12.11 PM #3

When it comes to my mornings, hair is a very low priority on the list. I like quick and easy styles. This of course means that the ponytail is a frequent visitor in my my hair routine. I like to find cute ponytails to spice up my usual boring styles, and I have stumbled across one that I am a big fan of! I found a few great ponytail ideas on a website calledย Fashion Diva Design, and I tried out the one called “knot your average pony”. I skipped out on the texturizing step because I was too lazy, and I still think it came out pretty chic! Took a couple minutes to figure out the right way to tie the knots – if you don’t you end up with a big hole in the back. Once I had that down it literally took seconds to put this together. Perfect for busy mornings and greasy hair ๐Ÿ˜‰ย 

Latest Obsession

Sometimes I am so out of touch with music. Then I go on these crazy music finding sessions, and I usually end up coming across some serious gems. I have been listening to Santigold on repeat since I downloaded her 2008 album Santogold, and her 2012 album Master of my Make-Believe. If you haven’t heard her music before, please do yourself a favour and check her out. She’s amazing. Here is one of my current fav’s from her Santogold album.

Good Samaritan

The biking culture is probably one of the best features of the Netherlands. I am absolutely hooked. Like most Dutch people, I bike to work every morning. I have a really bad habit of overpassing people while on my bike. I don’t know why, but I like to have a clear path in front of me. I think karma came to get me this morning because while I was trying to pass a girl my chain fell off. I have only had my chain fall off one other time since I have been here, and I am not particularly skilled in putting it back on. So here I am on the side of the bike path perched like a stupid squirrel trying to figure out how to get my chain back on. Flash forward 15 mins and greased black hands, I am still unable to get my chain on. Then, a gentleman comes riding back on the wrong side of the bike bath and tells me that he saw me struggling and was here to help! Within 2 mins he had my chain back on and I was on my way to work. The whole time that he was putting my chain on I couldn’t help but think what a wonderful gesture this was. He was probably going to be late for where he was going, and his hands would be covered in bike grease, but he still stopped to help me out. It really made me happy to know that good people still exist that are willing to put aside their own time to help out a stranger. I will definitely be paying forward his random act of kindness! Try to remember that the next time you see someone struggling. It may be a little time lost from your own day, but it will make a world of difference to the person you help.ย 

De Parade

10542716_1498537653720247_3787520776622138864_o

De Parade is a travelling theatre that tours through some of the bigger cities across the Netherlands during the summer. Amsterdam is the last stop on the tour. From August 8th until the 24th you can hop over to Martin Luther King Park and check out the shows! There are bands, dancers, actors and of course fantastic food and drinks. Each event costs money, so make sure you look into the performances ahead of time to find out which ones you would like to see. I am a sucker for carnival rides, and the event has this amazing swinging carousel that I knew I just had to go on. Basically, its a rickety old carousel with just a small chain holding you in. As it spins, there are three guys that catch your swing and throw you around to make you spin out of control. It was super dangerous, and tons of fun. I went on with one of my friends and we got an amazing polaroid to take home after. The atmosphere at De Parade is amazing. Since its located inside of a park there are huge trees all around the venue filled with lamps. You grab a cold beer and sit at the tables that are scattered under the lit up trees, and it is truly a perfect evening. This should be on your must-see list if you are visiting Amsterdam during August!

Mandatory Purchase

I like to think of myself as a lipstick professional. By this point, I know the types of colours that suit my skin tone, I understand which textures are best for my lips, and where my brand allegiance lies. MAC is my go-to lipstick brand. It is reasonably priced, has a great selection of colours, and is constantly releasing limited addition lines, which keeps things interesting. My most recent purchase from MAC is probably the best colour I have ever bought. It is the messiah of lipsticks. Seriously, it suits every single skin tone on the planet. I have personally seen it worn on my skin, a Mediterranean skin tone, and one of my Indian friends wore it as well. It was perfect on all of us. The colour is called Hang-up and its part of the cremesheen line. It has a bit of a glossy look to it, but wears similar to a matte. Im actually obsessed. Its a dark raspberry hue, and it really brings out my eye colour. I urge you to purchase this product!! At the very least, make a quick stop by MAC and try it on. I promise you positive results ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_9230

photo

Sicilian memories

Italy is such an infectious place. Between the food, the wine and the assortment of beautiful people to watch, you are constantly bombarded with an overload of the senses. I have to say, I felt extremely lucky to travel through Italy with Italians. I think it is really difficult to get out of the tourist traps if you are not with Italian speakers. I came across very few people who spoke english, and I have heard from other peoples experiences that sometimes you can get really screwed over as a tourist in Italy. Luckily, I had the complete opposite experience. I met wonderful people and felt warm and welcomed as a result of my Italian travel buddies. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Sicily. Just prior to my trip I had been warned that it was dirty, the people were scammers, and the traffic was terrible. Rather than let this get me down, I thought that I would go in with an open mind and hope for the best. Sicily turned out to be unreal, and I couldn’t have been happier ๐Ÿ™‚ We used Syracuse as our base, and then travelled to a few cities that were close by. I would highly recommend using Syracuse as a base for anyone who is thinking about travelling Sicily in the future. It is close to many beautiful towns, and is developed enough to have a city vibe, without the grime and crime of Catania. Also, the Duomo is one of the nicest churches I have seen. It is not done in the Baroque style like many of the churches in the area. Rather, it is mostly stone and wood, and has a very traditional somber feeling. It is breathtaking. I left this trip 5 pounds heavier, and it was totally worth every bite ๐Ÿ˜‰ Local favourites like Arancini, canoli, and pasta alla norma are a must try! Also, eat as much seafood as possible. It is so cheap, and fantastic quality. I think I ate octopus at least once a day. Overall, put Sicily on your travel list if it isn’t already. It is simply amazing.

IMG_2685

IMG_2675IMG_3061