Ushering In A New Year Amsterdam Style

After my very long day in Haarlem on the week spent ushering in a new year Amsterdam style (read about my adventures on the Day Trip To Haarlem post), Mr. Visserplein was my destination and the Portuguese Synagogue which opens for one night a year to the public with a bright and beautiful display of candles.  An hour wait in line was worth it for this spectacular scene.




Beautiful, serene, shiny, magical. Thank you Amsterdam!

Monday was a busy and active day so I decided Tuesday was a good day to take a little break, which I did at CT Coffee and Coconuts in De Pijp. Coffee and Coconuts is a very popular cafe in an old theatre. Three stories of seating at tables, sofas, cushions and a continuous line for a seat.

After I got mine, I relaxed without technology and had some comfort food in the form of hot cocoa and the Dutch version of avocado toast. This avo addict loves her avocado toasts from Ask For Janice in London and London Plane in Seattle._MG_7686




Now I have an avo love in Amsterdam. Perfect! World-wide addiction options.

Wednesday brought nice weather which I took FULL advantage of and did a little camera walk through neighborhoods in the East.




I got a little friendly with this blue and yellow beauty.




I love the diversity of the bridges over the canals!

New Years Eve day was spent quietly reflecting and doing a little shopping at one of favorite Dutch fashion spots, Laundry Industry…sans camera in honor of my SCREAMING shoulder who BEGGED me to give it a break for the day.  Peace be unto my body today!

And before you know it…it’s JANUARY 1st! And, what a January 1st it was! THE most beautiful light I could ever ask for kicked on 2016 as I welcomed the New Year Amsterdam style. I’m taking it as a message for a bright and creative year! Check out these light gifted reflections.










In addition to light and reflections, it was fun and funky to see all the “leftovers” from the party the night before. Amsterdam knows how to ring in the new year…I’m pretty sure my EARS are still ringing from all the fireworks explosions! New Years Amsterdam style!

This is what the streets looked like the next day (and still today)…

Love Letter To Amsterdam





That pretty much sums up every part of Amsterdam on New Year’s Eve: fireworks, streamers, popping corks, toasting the new year Amsterdam style. A party tradition!

Oh, and speaking of tradition, I got to partake in a SWEET one in the afternoon.


Oliebollen and Appelfrappen, the traditional Dutch New Year’s snack. Where I’m from we eat black-eyed peas. THIS is a better tradition! YUM!! New Year Amsterdam style!

And, to finish out the first day of 2016 on a musical, adorable, and colorful note, I happened upon this entertainer navigating canals and serenading all.


Watch a full serenade on my YouTube channel! It’s worth the click over! LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE!

Before I hang up my….shoes…


 for the day. My LAST indulgence of the week was Dutch apple pie at Winkel in the Noordermarkt.


I don’t even know how to describe this pie.  Part pie…part cake…all parts YUM! Stop by Winkel for pie!

Thanks for a great week 3, Amsterdam! I love you!!




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Love Letter To Amsterdam – Moutarde

Love Letter to Amsterdam – Moutarde

January 3, 2016

Mustard…gasp, grimace, NO THANK YOU!

My sister will support me on this. We aren’t fans of this condiment. It’s up there with our dislike of pickles.

Today I went to the Amsterdam Sunday Market West held every first Sunday in Westergasfabriek. The square if full of food vendors and the stalls continue indoors with more food and local artists.

I was smitten by the looks of the bread and scent of the grilled sausage at the French vendor, so I decided to stop for a snack.


“Sausage on sourdough or a stick?”

“Sourdough, please?”

“What kind of mustard?”

Uhm…my insides grimaced. I froze. I had a feeling not liking mustard and saying none would be highly inappropriate here. I asked about the three options available: Sweet, Spicy, or Original.  They all looked different. The original had a little of the yellow coloring I associate with mustard in the US. I wasn’t sure which way to go but I decided traditional, original was the way to go.

“Original please.”

The “sandwich dance ensued as he began to toast slices of bread.


Spread mustard on the bread while it was still on the grill. Oh, and mustard from a jar not a squeeze bottle so already we were headed in a better direction than the “mustard memories” of my youth.


Add a sliced sausage to the bread and mustard and it’s served up hot, crispy and ready to bite into!


It smelled divine! I took a bite. Slightly anxious by my Mustard Memories…

OH!  Mustard, who? French moutarde is where it’s at!

More please!

Love always,





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Love Letter To Amsterdam – 3 Steps To Win My Heart

Love Letter To Amsterdam – 3 Steps To Love

December 29, 2015

My Dearest Amsterdam,

Today’s Love Letter To Amsterdam is about the 3 steps to winning my heart, again.  Ready?

Step 1


Hot. Chili. ORANGE. Dark. Chocolate.  Really, you had me here, stoking the fire at first sight. But, this love affair runs deep and is a bit racy…so there is more.

Step 2

Love Letter To Amsterdam

The barista…or chocolista?…who’s shirt read “How can I choc you?” served that hot chili orange lump of love in a mug of steaming hot, frothy milk. The hotness factor of our love is rising!

I fell in love with this whole “mix your hot cocoa with dark chocolate pieces” in Brugge earlier this year. But orange and chili too? This is the stuff PDA is made of!

Step 3


Stir. Melt. THIS is why we are in love, my dear Amsterdam. THIS! Sure I have to put in a little effort to complete our beautiful cup of love, but you are SO worth it. My love cup runneth over for you, my dear! The perfect combination of sweet, fruity, and spicy.

Thank you Chocolate Company for the ever deepening love affair!

Love Always,





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Week 1 and Amsterdam Kerstmarkt Fun

I’ve officially concluded Week 1! Amsterdam Kerstmarkt can definitely be the theme for the week as I set out to search and discover Christmas Markets throughout the city! Not exactly the holiday markets I envisioned when I think Europe holidays but there were some fun finds and inspiration (read glûhwein, pancakes, waffels, and other not so healthy treats).

Here’s a rundown of the week. Oh, and you might want to settle in with a warm cup of your favorite thee, hete chocolademelk, koffie or Glûhwein, I covered a LOT of ground this week!

Tuesday early morning arrival at Schiphol Airport decorated with a holiday glow! Welkom!!


The rest of the day was a blur…jetlag..Commence with a long winter’s nap! Snurken…

WEDNESDAY…I woke up in AMSTERDAM!…It wasn’t a dream! Exploring over to the De Pijp neighborhood for a favorite broodbakkerij snack and the market for fresh veggies to stock the refrigerator.


More jetlag…more blur…more Winter’s napping.  I think it doesn’t help that it is dark at 4:30 PM. Test my genetics…I’m SURE I’m part bear. Should I add “Hibernation” as a skill set on LinkedIn?

THURSDAY! Amsterdam Kerstmarkt fun begins! First stop, Rembrandtplein…as you might remember from my #LoveLettersToAmsterdam post.


A little exploring and THIS…


You know “THIS”, right? If not, you should follow my social media more! ABSTRACT COLOR!

As for Amsterdam Kerstmarkt options…well, Rembrandtplein had a lot of really SWEET treats and a warm and cozy Glûhwein chalet that was pleasing. Not the market for holiday gift buying.

FRIDAY was an explore and connect day.





COLOR! and BOATS (boten!!)! before off to lunch at De Plantage, a lovely restaurant next to the zoo. I must head back and take a photo inside to show you the design. BEAUTIFUL! For now, my lemon chicken, tzatziki and pepper tartine.


It. Was. Delicious! And, LARGE so it was breakfast on Saturday with a soft boiled egg.  YUM re-do!

Speaking of SATURDAY…

More exploring and Amsterdam Kerstmarkt fun, starting with Museumplein Ice Amsterdam.






Yes, yes I do!


I also drink Glûhwein much too early at Kerstmarkts. That’s all I took away from this market. VERY small and mostly food. The longest line was at the pulled pork BBQ stand. Uhm….I’m from Texas. I didn’t come to Europe for BBQ! More Glûhwein, please? My holiday shopping isn’t quite working out as planned.  Anyone want a photo for Christmas?

Moving on to a quick detour through Vondelpark where I saw my feathered spirit friends again.



So much love here I can’t even put it into words!

Heron magic…Before another kind of “magic”.

Just on the other side of Vondelpark in a beautiful residential neighborhood is a little secret.


See those white flags and the arch?  Well, if you go in (and can find the right door to enter…especially if you don’t read Dutch!) THIS is what you see!


WAIT! WHAT?!?! De Hollandsche Manege is an equestrian center and I arrived just in time to see the junior riders all lined up to finish their lesson. A beautifully ornate riding arena hidden right here in the city.


Whatever BBQ at the Holiday Markt…THIS is where magic happens.


Getting ready to ride…and dressing to match your horse.  I can get into this equestrian “matchy” chic!

Feet a bit tired after many days of exploring I headed upstairs to the cafe for a sit and a refreshment (don’t worry…I didn’t order more Glûhwein).


NOW I’m feeling some holiday spirit! Gorgeous! Warm! Glowing!  THAT’s my kind of Christmas scene. I popped out to the terrace and enjoyed the traditional Fresh Mint Thee (oh how I LOVE this stuff) while watching the informal equestrian show.






FUN!! Dear Santa…can I have a horse…

Still on an Amsterdam Kerstmarkt mission, I headed to De Hallen Local Goods Market.



This Markt was full of holiday hustle and bustle! Shoppers on the move and Christmas magic from some local musicians (and waffle vendor…keep walking, Melissa!).


My favorite Markt so far! Ask my credit card bill! I can’t tell you what I got yet because my sister is getting a GREAT gift from a local artist. SO excited!! Maybe the guy in the brown coat was as tired as me? Or was thinking about his credit card bill…

We should talk about the food hall at De Hallen…UHM….LOVE!


It was beyond crowded and noisy on this busy day so I didn’t last long, but I’ll be back and I’ll share some goodies with you soon! What do they call foodies in Dutch? According to Google Translate, a Bourgondiër. Well, doesn’t that sound much more sophisticated???

OK…I’m still going…I think Saturday was the longest day ever! Now I’m getting why I was a bit tired on Sunday!

Depart De Hallen for WesterGasfabriek and De NeighborFood Markt..where I didn’t buy or eat anything! Clearly I was tired…


I did pop into Amsterdam Flavours, a new store and food venue event space.  I has a lovely conversation with one of the partners in the space who is a furniture designer.  His mom is one of the chef’s. Beautiful! Inspiring! I want to move here so I can go to pop up dinners here, take food styling classes, food photography classes…ANYTHING!! You’ll have to visit the website for pics.  I was too busy chatting to shoot any. #FoodiesUnite #PassionateDreamers #FlavorFlirt

Still going, I had a 7:30p dinner reservation over near Amsterdam Centraal at &samhoud Places. The Holiday Lights around the station were a beautiful start to my first dinner out.





I’d read about &samhoud Places restaurant and wanted to try it. There are two concepts Places, a pricey Michelin star restaurant and Street Food the less expensive bar area. Given my current sabbatical, I went for Street Food.  *sigh*




Of course I chose the Lamb Stew.  DUH! Again, if you didn’t expect this…you clearly don’t follow me on social media! And, you SHOULD!


And, here’s the stew!  WHAT?  This is unlike any stew I ever had.  And it’s NOT in a bowl.  Let me break it down for you…

Lamb, hardboiled eggs thinly sliced, radishes, tomatoes, hummus, and tahini resting on a flaky crust and topped with mint. OK, so this might not have been the stew I was expecting but it had a nice mix of textures. I enjoyed it, but it needed a little something more. I needed and wanted more flavor after a long day on my feet. I loved the space and the restaurant staff were fantastic and ever so friendly! Thanks for an enjoyable evening Street Food!


I was barely upright on Sunday and spent my day in my sneakers with one last Amsterdam Kerstmarkt trip out to Noord. This required a ferry boat fit for people and bikes, which is always fun. It also required a €7 entry fee and special coins for food purchases.

I paid the entry fee, thankful all the other Markts were free, and came out with a lovely Christmas gift for someone I love, thank you Lemon Poppy!

Love Letter To Amsterdam

On the walk over to the Markt venue I took a few pictures of a cool old car that happened to be dressed in Holiday red and has a “Christmas Tree” on its front grill…




And, that is it!  Week 1 roundup of events and sights. In case you wondered, here’s a map of my path and destinations, most of it walking. Oh my feet!  Maybe Santa should bring me some new feet…or more comfortable shoes!  Santa…

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 10.05.27 AM

It’s Monday morning and I’ve been up since 4 AM thanks to very heavy rains and wind. I think today might call for a day of rest and my art journal and oil pastels. I think I deserve it, don’t you?

Stay tuned for more #LoveLetterToAmsterdam posts and Weekly Roundups. This week, if the weather cooperates, I have plans for Amsterdam Centrum holiday lights, the Light Festival on the canals and Christmas Eve services in a wonderful little church in a “hidden” park that I visit every time I’m in Amsterdam. I was delighted to learn they have an English Christmas Eve service!




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