(Some of) My Shmamsterdam Truths

This has been one crazy week so far. My life's busy factor has been off the charts and I've hardly found time to cook dinner let alone write a blog post. Tonight, however, the husband has a haircut appointment and I'm doing everything in my power to stay awake until he gets home. So, here is the fruit of my efforts: a post on some Shmamsterdam Truths. I've decided to call them Shmamsterdam Truths instead of Amsterdam Truths because, well, even though I've found them to be true, they might not be true for everyone.

This fall, I bought a pair of jeans from H&M. Now I know you're probably thinking that H&M jeans wear out faster than any other brand, and that very well might be the case, but I buy H&M jeans all the time so I am well aware of their shelf-life. This pair of jeans, however, black jeans with the small zippers on the bottoms of the legs, started pilling in the bum area quite quickly. Was it from sitting on the floor with my nanny kids? Was it from spending to much time sitting on the couch looking for jobs (ok, and maybe watching some TV too)? I just couldn't figure what had caused my jeans to deteriorate so quickly, so I let it go. That is, I let it go until I bought another pair of jeans and the same thing happened. I then realized that this strange phenomenon is likely due to the fact that I bike everywhere.

So there you have it, wear and tear from the bike seat is causing my jeans to fall apart. Maybe it's time to invest in higher quality jeans after all.

This statement is actually a bold-faced lie because the other day, someone did. I had plans to get together with an American girl who was a friend of my friend's friend who I had met once in New York (you can draw a diagram if that helps your comprehension) when I received a message from her asking if we could reschedule due to forecasted rain. Seems normal enough, I suppose, but rain is just not something you can plan around in Amsterdam. In Amsterdam, rain is part of everyday life and you just have to deal with it. I even remember telling the husband, who was getting ready for work at the time, "I don't have plans anymore, we rescheduled because of the rain." He looked at me, baffled, and let out a chuckle.

So there you have it, no one will ask you for a rain check in Amsterdam (unless they are a new expatriate).

I can still vividly remember one special morning this fall. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, and I was finally finally feeling really good about myself on the bicycle. Cycling in Amsterdam has been a bit of a challenge for me. It seems that every time I had started to get really comfortable navigating the roads, traffic, and other bikers, my trip would come to an end and I would have to go back to Minnesota. But by the time this autumn rolled around, I had had months of practice, my confidence had reached new levels, and there was no looming plane ticket to interrupt my success. At this point I was an Amsterdam resident, and biking was now, officially, part of my life. This particular morning, I was biking to a nannying job along one of those roads that had left me with white knuckled hands gripping the handlebars in the past. But today, I was at ease ... until a kid who looked about six years old (and his dad) came up from behind and passed me right by.

So there you have it, there's nothing like a young kid cruising by on his bike to trample all over your accomplishments. Though, he's probably been biking since he was four which means he has at least one more year of experience than I.

The reason my week has been so hectic is because I accepted a substitute teaching position at an international school. Every day this week, I am in the classroom teaching second graders. It has pretty much quadrupled my normal week's workload and at least quintupled my normal week's excitement factor. On my first day, one of the students celebrated his birthday with a fruit tray and homemade cupcakes brought in by his mother. Did you catch that? Homemade cupcakes! Can you remember the last time any type of homemade food was allowed in a school? I'm probably only talking to Americans when I ask this, but seriously, I think it was more than twenty years ago that they stopped allowing us to bring in homemade treats. At first, I thought it was poisoned, naturally, but I'm still alive to talk about it, so it was just a delicious cupcake after all.

So there you have it, I'm living in a land where students can bring homemade treats to school ... and I'm teaching in a school so I get to eat them. No complaints here!


Now It's My Turn: More Communication Breakdowns

After sharing some of my husband's silly language mishaps in my last post, I thought it was only fair to share some Dutch language experiences of my own. 

One of my first interactions with the Dutch language was filling out the seemingly endless pile of paperwork needed to acquire our marriage license and my residence permit. Most of this paperwork was filled out, sent or hand delivered to a specific government office, and then returned to me in a more official manner. It was at this point that I realized what I am to the Dutch:

In each box that I had written American, I now saw Amerikaans burger typed in its place. It was as if all of these official documents had magically turned into a menu, offering me a chance to order the one and only food my home country does better than any other. As it turns out, burger means citizen in Dutch, so I guess it makes sense why this phrase is plastered all over my papers. Though I just can't help but laugh every time I look at my residence permit and see Amerikaans burger written in big, bold letters. That is, I can't help but laugh ... and get a little hungry.

Two other words that have made me chuckle throughout my time in Amsterdam were discovered during the quest to furnish our home. In Dutch, kamer (pronounced kah-mer) means room and, as in English, it is added to the end of a word. 

Slaap (rhymes with mop) means sleep — slaapkamer means bedroom.
Bad (rhymes with sod) means bath — badkamer means bathroom.

It all makes perfect sense and loses humor when you know how to say it correctly. When I first saw these words, however, and said them with my Minnesotan accent, well, let's just say that neither room seemed particularly fun to enter.

In the few weeks before I moved to Amsterdam, my life was a frenzy of packing and organizing. I was not only trying to fit my life into suitcases, I was also tending to last minute wedding details that had to be done in Minnesota. One item on my list was to print out thank you cards. I had dabbled in sketching and creating my own greeting cards in the past, and thought it would be a nice touch to do the same for my wedding. So I did, and the result is pictured above.

I was quite happy with the way they turned out. I felt proud that I had incorporated the oh-so-Dutch bicycle sketch and a little Dutch language into the design, and pro-active knowing I had satisfied my thank you card need months in advance. I promptly packed them in a nice little box, popped it in my suitcase, and then found a nice little place for the box in our apartment once I arrived.

It wasn't until months later, as I sat down to start writing the first thank you notes, that I realized I had made a glaring language mistake. Or, more accurately, the husband realized my mistake and brought it to my attention.

"Ummm, babe?"
"Dank je wel is spelled with a 'w,' not a 'v.'"

I looked at him. I looked at the cards. And then I put my head down on the table.

Now, to an American (and I'm sure to some other foreigners as well), the Dutch "w" sounds a lot like a "v." The Dutch (or at least some of my Dutch friends ... you know who you are) will disagree, claiming that the American "v" and the Dutch "w" sound different and are made different ways, but I just can't hear it. I just can't! So there I was, feeling a bit foolish, a bit defeated, and not sure what to do with the nearly 60 thank you notes that screamed the fact that I don't know Dutch.

In the end, we decided to use some anyway. We sent them to our ex-pat friends and his cousins with a small note about how it's time for me to start taking Dutch lessons. We also sent them to many of my American friends and family without a note, assuming they wouldn't notice the difference.

Did you?

Let me begin this last story with a little bit of background. In the Netherlands, swiping a credit or debit card is a thing of the past. Instead, all bank cards have little chips on the front. When paying for your purchase, you insert the chip into a reader and it prompts you to enter your PIN. The card itself is referred to as a PIN card, and it is used in most transactions outside of bars or cafés. That said, many people don't carry too much cash on them, so it's quite a hassle when you are waiting in line at the supermarket and notice, too late, that there is a sign near the register like the one above and you have no cash.

It gets even worse when you hear the frustrated cashier, red in the face, repeating, "Nee, u kunt! Nee, u kunt!" and find yourself completely caught off guard by such fowl language only to realize that she's really saying, "No, you can't."


Photo credits:
Cheeseburger by TheCulinaryGeek (CC-BY-2.0) remixed by Shmamsterdam
Bathroom Complete by juhansonin remixed by Shmamsterdam


"It Smells Cheese" and the Occasional Communication Breakdown

I've said it before and I'll say it again. In fact, I'll even write it down.

Once you date a non-native English speaker, you'll never go back.

The things my husband says are amusing, endearing and sometimes downright hilarious. I just can't get enough. Now, this is not to say that my husband isn't incredibly well-versed in the English language. Quite the contrary, actually. His vocabulary is one I could only dream of having in a second language (or third language in his case), and I often catch myself wondering how he learned some of the words he uses.

That is, until he turns around and exclaims,
"Wow, that shower totally washed out my brain!"
Cue my giggles.
"I mean, that shower completely brainwashed me!"
More giggles and an explanation of what brainwashing really is.

Or that time he asked,
"What are we going to make with this butterscotch?"
as he picked up the butternut squash I bought at the market.

Or every time he walks into the apartment while I'm cooking and exclaims:

He doesn't like cheese.
Yes, he's half French and half Dutch, has easy access to the world's best cheeses, and won't eat them.
Oh well, more for me.

Or, "It smells fajitas!" and I don't know whether to laugh at the omission of the word like or shudder because I'm reminded of that creepy scene in "Silence of the Lambs" when the psychopath threatens to use the hose on his victim unless "it rubs the lotion on its skin."

I could go on for days.

Unfortunately, not all of our little communication breakdowns are endearing or hilarious. There are bigger cultural differences expressed in language that have occasionally left either my husband or me feeling misunderstood or frustrated. The one that shows its ugly head most often is my tendency to express approval and his tendency to provide criticism.

I'm currently reading the book Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, in which one of the main characters moves from Nigeria to the U.S. for school. "When you visit the home of an American with some money, they will offer to show you their house," she is warned. "Please smile and follow the American and see the house and make sure you say you like everything." Sounds pretty accurate, doesn't it? I'm finding more and more that Americans have a special way of sugar-coating and approving of most things. We choose not to point out negative aspects, or worse, admit that we don't like something.

I will always remember the first time the husband came to Minnesota and ate dinner with my family. My mom made chicken and remarked that it was a little dry. "Yeah, it is a bit dry," he agreed. I was shocked. Surprised. Appalled, even. I mean, you don't tell someone that the meal they prepared was lacking, do you? Especially not the first time you're meeting them. Nope, not in the States. But apparently in many other places that is fair game.

Let's say someone presents you with something new. Chances are that this new thing (be it a recipe, a movie suggestion or an activity to try) falls on of the following spectrum, with most things falling in the middle (or being good).

In the States, we have the tendency to completely ignore the left side of the spectrum in our comments. (I'm talking about in-person comments towards people we care about. From what I've seen, our comments in online forums are the exact opposite.) Because I started with the food example earlier, I'm going to keep that going to illustrate what I mean. In America, if our friend or relative treats us to a meal that isn't very good or just ok, we'll probably say, "Mmmm, this is good," so we don't hurt their feelings. If the meal happens to be good or really good, chances are that we'll say something along the lines of, "This is great!" And if something is, indeed, great, we'll promptly exclaim, "Wow! This is awesome!"

My husband, on the other hand, is from a culture that doesn't feel the necessity to inflate reactions to such an extreme. To him, the bad is bad, the ok is ok, and the good is, well, the good isn't even necessarily just good. When I try a new recipe, I can expect to hear a comment along the lines of, "This is good, but could improved by this, that or the other thing." And awesome? Well, that word is reserved for nothing short of a miracle.

You can probably imagine our mutual frustration. My poor man makes a meal and is subsequently showered in nothing but compliments (sounds terrible, doesn't it?). What he really wants and even expects, however, is some honesty and advice about how to improve things for next time. So, I've been doing my best to work on this. I've been trying to be more critical and voice opinions other than just the positive. I mean, they do say that honesty is the best policy, and it definitely makes for more interesting conversation.

I also find myself wishing that I wasn't so used to receiving positive reactions when they're not necessarily deserved. If I had come from a culture where honesty was expressed more frequently, I wouldn't find myself needing to develop a thick skin in order to take constructive criticism, and I might take that extra step to improve things that I view as adequate.

At the same time, however, chances are pretty good that I am already aware that my cheesecake crust is a bit soggy or that the soup could use more salt ... so I wouldn't mind being spared the critique and just receiving a enthusiastic compliment instead.


A Seven-Month Reflection

I totally meant to write this post at the six month mark, but the month of December completely got away from me as far as blogging goes. So, without further ado, here it is:

The view from our apartment in summer.
This Saturday, I will have officially spent seven months living in Amsterdam. I will have spent seven months living without a clothes dryer or a microwave. Seven months in an apartment with one (one!) tiny, built-in closet. Seven months without measuring cups or spoons. And seven months in a country that doesn't sell ingredients I had never thought twice about before, like corn syrup, baking soda, and monterey jack cheese, yet has a whole section devoted to black licorice.

No thank you.

For seven months I've dearly missed my family, my friends, and the countless delicious flavors of single serving yogurt cups. Oh yea, and I've spent an outrageous amount of money at the foreign food store to by some must-haves from home (would you believe that a box of graham crackers is €9 and Kraft macaroni & cheese nearly €4?).

I've also spent seven months turning a new apartment into a home, finding creative solutions to the lack of storage space and learning how to practice a more minimalistic lifestyle. I've spent seven months trying new recipes, new ingredients and new ways of cooking. I've spent seven months relying on my legs and my bicycle to get me just about everywhere I need to go. Seven months searching for a job and overcoming frustration to develop my patience. Seven months discovering a new city, experiencing a new culture, and making new friends. And did I mention that I've spent the last seven months living with a boy?

Our cozy home decorated for Christmas.
These first seven months have been quite the ride, not to mention quite the adjustment period. It's been difficult to be so far away from my family and friends, but thanks to strong relationships and modern technology, I am able to stay connected. And yes, it may be easy to rattle off the things that I miss about home in Minnesota, but I can just as easily rattle off the things I miss about the other homes I've made in Chicago and South Korea. Plus, I know that if I were to move back right now, I would have a whole new list of the things I miss about Amsterdam.

So, as I close this chapter of my first months in Amsterdam, I keep myself open to new experiences and will continue to adapt the best I can. I have a good feeling for my future here and am excited to see what it has in store. (Hopefully it includes a teaching position).


Oh to be Dutch!

The first time I came to Amsterdam for an extended period of time was in January 2012. I spent this month not only getting to know the husband better, but looking at the city with a critical eye. Could I live here? Could I fit in here? Do I want to live and fit in here? While mulling over these questions and exploring my surroundings, I made a few observations about Dutch people, and about Dutch women in general.

The first thing I noticed was that Dutch women are tall. In fact, Dutch people are tallest in the world. With my five foot two inch (or 157 centimeter) frame, it was blatantly obvious that no, I would not be fitting in this way. But, let's be realistic, my height has never helped me fit in anywhere but South Korea. So, while this didn't have much impact on my decision to move here, it has impacted my life a bit. I now find myself looking at a lot of shoulders. I find myself avoiding concerts that are standing room only because, well, staying at home and listening to a live album is better than listening to live music while getting pushed around and staring at someone's back. I also ask for a lot of help reaching things off the highest shelf at the supermarket. Things could definitely be worse.

Another thing I noticed was that most Dutch women seemed very relaxed in their style. While my winter wardrobe at the time consisted mainly of dresses and big sweater cardigans with knee high boots, the common uniform of Dutch women seemed to be jeans and sweaters with ankle boots or sneakers. Their style gave the appearance of ease. They looked comfortable and casual, as if they dressed without effort. As for hair and make-up, well, there seemed to be little fuss made over either. Even while out on a weekend night, the majority of women were wearing casual clothes and minimal make-up, their hair tied up in a no-fuss bun.

I realize that describing the style of Dutch women in one paragraph is risky, a sweeping generalization, but my observations gave me the overall feeling that Dutch women are much less maintenance than women in the States. I found it refreshing. And then I found out why.

After trying very hard and to no avail, I realized that it's the long legs of Dutch women that make jeans with sneakers or ankle high boots look stylish. My legs, on the other hand, legs that require each and every pair of pants I buy to be hemmed by at least two inches, don't. They just don't. So, though I may be one of the only, I'll be that girl in the café wearing tall boots with heels.

Secondly, in a city that experiences frequent rainy weather and relies on bicycles as a main mode of transportation, doing your hair and make-up is just not worth it. Take today, for example. I started out having a great hair day. My locks were blown sleek and smooth, and my bangs were obeying my wishes. Then I went on a bike ride. And even with my scarf wrapped carefully around my head, I ended up looking like this:

Not impressed.
Bangs wet and plastered to the face, hair weirdly waved and stringy, and new jeans soaked through, dying my legs blue. But as far as biking-in-the-rain days go, today was a pretty good day. There have been other days when I've reached my destination looking like this:

Even less impressed ... and a little sad.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll spare a lengthy analysis and sum it up: Dutch women don't spend too much time fussing with their hair and make-up because they're smart. They know chances are good that the seemingly ever-present clouds will just ruin whatever effort they put forth, so they choose to avoid the hassle and the disappointment.

As for me? Well, I'm proving that I can live here, but I'm not sure that I can fit in completely (and not just because I'm short). As nice as it would be to embrace the Dutch female mentality, I'm probably going to keep doing my hair and wearing mascara because gosh darn it, I like to. And I'm also going to keep wearing my dresses and tights ... because they dry faster.


The Importance of Family Dinners

"What did you learn today?"
"Nothing? I find it hard to believe that you learned nothing during eight hours of school. Think about it for a bit and I'll ask you again later."

Sound familiar? This conversation was a common one in our household. It was a conversation my father would initiate; one that opened a discussion about the goings-on in his daughters' lives. It was also a conversation that likely might not have happened without regularly scheduled family dinners.

This is not my family.
Growing up, my family always ate dinner together. My dad would get home from work at about 6:00 in the evening, and ten minutes later we were all sitting around the table eating a delicious meal prepared by my mom. This daily tradition was consistent throughout my life, and I strongly believe that it contributed to my family's closeness. I mean, think back to all the television shows you've ever watched about families (because television is, of course, a direct reflection of real life). What do the Cleavers, the Waltons, the Bradys, the Tanners and the Cosbys (I could go on for days) have in common? Why they all ate dinner together, of course!

Silliness aside, many studies can attest to the importance of family dinners. For example, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reports that teenagers who eat family dinners less than three times a week are twice as likely to use alcohol and tobacco, and one and a half times as likely to smoke marijuana as their peers who gather for a family meal between five and seven times a week. What's more, frequent family dinners increase the chances that children will eat healthier foods and perform better at school, and can also reduce the chance that children will suffer from depression or eating disorders. But family dinners don't just benefit children; they can even reduce the stress felt by working mothers (read more here).

Plus, they create some pretty wonderful memories.

Take, for example, the little traditions born around the table. Of course there was the aforementioned "What did you learn today?" question posed by my dad, but there was also the habit of saying grace. We had a book (cleverly titled Graces), that we kept near the dinner table and took turns reading from.

Graces by June Cotner

Sometimes we would substitute a written grace for a chance to come up with our own, go around and share something good that happened that day, or sometimes my dad would read something interesting he found in the newspaper. Though I may have occasionally rolled my eyes at this practice in the past, I now see the value in taking a moment to ground and center yourself before a meal, the moment that saying grace inevitably provides.

We also had some silly traditions that I remember fondly. At one point, I was given the ever-important title of light monitor which placed me in charge of dimming the lights to create the perfect ambiance. I took this task very seriously. My dad assumed the role of crust manager and would put out his hands to collect the uneaten crusts from my bread. Not so silly, but still memorable, was the task of setting the table (choosing the right placemat to complement that night's dinner was not always an easy task), and the ever-present reminder to "bus our dishes" when we were finished eating. Yes, our family dinners could be goofy, but they also taught my sister and I the importance of family communication, not to mention responsibility.

When I first visited the husband in Amsterdam after almost six months apart, we spent an entire month together. My fondest memories of this time are the evenings we spent cooking and eating. There were many. I think we cooked dinner just about every day that month with the exception of a few dinners out. We exchanged recipes, I did a lot of converting from cups and tablespoons to grams and milliliters (who am I kidding, I'm still converting measurements every time I try a new recipe), and we bonded as we ate a bunch of really delicious food together.

It was comforting to learn that his family worked in much the same way as mine. When he was growing up in France, his schools were excused for lunch. Yes, he had family lunches and family dinners. And, as I've experienced during my time at his childhood home, French family dinners can last quite a long time. From the aperitif to the meal itself,  plus the occasional cheese tray, dessert and digestive, I've spent a good three hours consuming one meal and enjoying the conversation that goes along with it.

It only seems natural to continue this tradition. In fact, the husband and I even worked in a line about sharing good food into our wedding vows. Each night, you can find us in the kitchen, sharing a homemade meal (with the exception of ordering the occasional pizza). It just might be my favorite part of the day as I catch up with my handsome husband over a delicious meal. I know it won't always be easy to keep this practice in action as we add to our family, but I'm confident that the benefits and memories will be worth the challenge.


One Pot Chicken & Chorizo

I've finally found it! That go-to recipe that takes nearly no time or skill to prepare, yet provides all the comfort and deliciousness of your mother's or grandmother's homemade fill-in-the-blank.

Seriously, all you need to make this dish are the knife skills necessary to slice chorizo and tomatoes. And the prep? Well, I've turned it into a bit of a race, but I can usually finish prepping this meal in the time it takes the oven to heat up. It's magical, I'm telling you.

So, without further ado, here it is. (You can thank me later ... and then I'll pass the thanks on to my good friend Jess who introduced me to this heaven on a plate).


Olive oil
1 sprig of rosemary
4 cloves of garlic (the original recipe says unpeeled, but I like to peel mine)
4 large chicken legs with skin on
150g (5oz) chorizo, cut into 5mm (1/4in) slices
Juice of 1/2 lemon
250g (8oz) cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (I now realize I've somehow never seen or used this ingredient)
Baguette or bread with a crispy crust

Please bear with me, this is my first attempt at food photography.


  • Heat the oven to 200º C or 390º F.
  • Drizzle the base of a casserole (that will hold all the chicken pieces in a single layer) with a little olive oil and scatter with the rosemary leaves and garlic cloves.
  • Add the chicken and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Tuck the chorizo around the chicken.
  • Squeeze the lemon juice over the chicken and drizzle with a little extra olive oil.
  • Roast in the oven for 45 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and mix well to coat the chicken and tomatoes with the oil.
  • Cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is golden and the tomatoes have softened.
  • Scatter the basil leaves before serving (or don't, I don't feel this is necessary).
  • Serve the chicken with tomatoes and use the bread to sop up the pan juice.

The last part of the directions is incredibly important! Dipping the bread in the pan juices just might be the best part of this dish (that or the chorizo. Or the chicken. Oh I give up, I just love it all). And because we can't get enough, we usually eat this dish with steamed broccoli and dip that in the sauce too.

Another thing I love about this recipe is how easily it can be modified to serve the number of people you're cooking for. As written, this recipe serves four people, but it can easily be cut in half for two. Though I must admit I've never ever ever done that because using four chicken legs means that both the husband and I get a delicious lunch the next day.

Let me know if you try this and what you think!

The recipe was originally found here, on www.easyliving.co.uk/recipes.


Marriage Musings: "What my baby wants, my baby gets."

I will always remember the first time that I looked at the husband and said "What my baby wants, my baby gets." I will always remember this because it was quite possibly the first time that I consciously, actively, deliberately pushed what I wanted to the side in order to make him happy. (Side note: I realize this makes me sound completely spoiled and self-centered -- which I really hope is not the case -- but this is truly the first time I remember thinking "Ugh, I do not want to do this at all but FINE, I'll do it anyways" and then making up my mind to not only go along with it, but also to enjoy it.) It wasn't some huge, life-shattering event, but in the end, it made a big difference.

Let's back up a bit. In March 2012, we were spending a week in Florida for a spring vacation. It was our first time together since he had proposed, and I was on cloud nine as we enjoyed our time together as an engaged couple.

This is what cloud nine looks like.

Yet all I wanted to do was lay on the beach. Lay on the beach, dip my toes in the ocean, soak up the sun, and repeat. Yes, that is pretty much all I had planned. It was my only break from school and student teaching that semester, and I felt that I deserved to be a lazy pile of bones if I wanted to. The husband, quite contrarily, had had enough of laying around. He was ready to get off the lounge chairs, take a shower, walk along the beach and into town, and find a place for dinner ... a plan that was much more active than what I had in mind. But, I could see that he needed to move, so as I stood up to head into the condo, I looked at him and said:

"What my baby wants, my baby gets."

I felt a bit cranky at first, but quickly realized that a cranky partner for the evening was not what he wanted, and not what I had agreed to with my previous comment. So, I sucked it up and let him call the shots. As we left the condo and started walking, I could see the husband getting excited for the evening and my spirits were also lifted. We had a long, romantic walk into town along the shore and an even more romantic evening together. An evening that has proved to be one of the most memorable nights of our trip, and an evening that never would have happened had I been stubborn and selfish.

This saying has now become quite commonplace in our marriage, and I believe it has made a big difference. Marriage is, obviously, about compromise, but I think you can even take that one step further. Marriage is about noticing when your partner wants or needs something more than you may want or need something else ... and then making it happen.

Ever since that day in March, the husband and I have taken care to notice when the other has an idea that they feel strongly about. We then we recite our little mantra and put it into action. I urge you to try it in your own life. I bet you'll find that not only is the happiness it brings to your partner (or friend or parent or sibling) infectious, but making it a point to push your wants aside for the benefit of another feels great as well. It's a win-win situation, I'm telling you!


It's the year to be grateful.

I ended my last post with a hope to be positive in the new year, and I think I've found just the project to help me with that goal.

A few months ago, I saw this video on the good old internet:

I found it interesting that gratitude contributes to how much happiness you have in your life, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. 

When I was little and had trouble falling asleep, my dad would tell me to count my blessings. "You'll fall asleep before you've counted them all," he'd say. And he was right. Lately, I've been focusing on the things that are difficult in my life instead of the things that are good. And you know what? It's getting me nowhere. Fast. So I'm going to change that. Starting right here, starting right now.

Today, a friend posted this video, and it seemed like the perfect way to incorporate gratitude into my daily life. Just as Hailey Bartholomew did, I will take and post one picture every day of something I'm thankful for as a reminder of all the good things in my life. I've made a new page for it on this blog which you can find by clicking on the tab "365 Grateful" located at the top of my blog, or you can click right here.

The first two...

January 1, 2014
I am grateful for the delicious omelets my husband makes for weekend brunch.

January 2, 2014
For the sun that breaks through the clouds,
turning a rainy morning into a pleasant afternoon.
And with that I wish you a wonderful new year. Bring on the gratitude and happiness will follow!