j.crew baby

Duh. Finally! What have they been waiting for?

When I have a baby this is all I will want to dress it in, sigh.


"my friends as paintings"

Our dear friend Luke selected paintings that represented some of his friends and then wrote a few lines of corresponding verse to expound on and sketch each person. I thought they were beautifully done and wanted to share the ones he created for Brandon and I.

Woman in Blue 2, (Jean-) Edouard Vuillard

I know a person of talent
Whose skill is not of detachment.
She sees the room through her own lens
And vision else cannot dispense.
Recalling the moment’s value—
Think of Vuillard’s woman in blue—
Mind and body interior
Calm and strong, and generous, sure.
My friend’s bright, light, generous frame
Pronounces her unhurried name. 

Le Bon Bock, Edouard Manet

What solemn aspect all suspect
Would cheer at catching kindred eye?
I fancied myself in the gaze
Of Manet’s man drinking good beer.
But now see someone different
(Shown from the shoulders up at least),
One who needs not a company
For thought, tobacco, and true rest,
But knows their value and increase
To count himself as truly blessed
In longer silence at the desk
Or louder table resonance. 

By Luke Mitchell



Before our trip I warned Brandon that I wanted to do the classic "european tour photo booth photos" if we had the chance. When I saw this in Florence I just pointed and smiled. Brandon consented, mostly begrudgingly and ditched out in the last frame (but that was a joke, supposedly). Even though we barely fit in there it was really fun. Especially since I have memories of the photobooth photos my Mom and Dad took in Europe when they were our age-ish (younger I guess, sheesh).


:type travel tuesday: {this is london}

Love those books, but we didn't pay to go up and see the exhibition.

Tower Bridge, London, UK.


reflections on amsterdam

When we first arrived in Amsterdam we were enthralled. The architecture, the vibe, the layout of the city built around a series of canals, the water and bicycles and boats everywhere, were all uniquely Dutch and very charming. It was fun to visit the homeland of so many of Brandon's family (many of whom are 100% Dutch), and see the model for his Dutch hometown of Pella. I have to say they did a really good job recreating the Dutch aesthetic in Iowa.

They've even "cleaned up" the red light district so when we went there for dinner with our friends the first night (I was a bit freaked out to hear that was where they were taking us) we felt safe and wouldn't have had any idea that that's where we were if we hadn't been told (except for the strong scent of weed on the breeze, but that was everywhere in the city).

I am ashamed to say that some very small part of me had kind of wanted to see the old Amsterdam in the same way you can't help but look when passing a car accident.

But a few days on, while innocently shopping and strolling through the city I saw out of the corner of my eye that someone was looking at me. At first, I thought the woman was sitting in a cafe window but when I looked over I realized that she was in a booth. Staring at me. In lingerie. Then Brandon noticed, and in an attempt to avert our eyes we looked the other way and saw that we were surrounded by them, women in windows with creepy "come hither" stares. It was DISTURBING. Shudder. In the same instant I felt them, and myself, being objectified. I felt dirty. I regretted my previous thoughts. We just put our heads down and got the heck out of there. It was so sad and so off-putting. Afterwards we walked along in silence wishing that we had never seen that.

After that, the smell of pot really started getting to us too. I hate the way that stuff smells. Now we were noticing it and the "coffee shops" everywhere (they don't sell coffee if you know what I mean, um you're looking for a "cafĂ©," sir). Then one woman told us passively that people didn't go to church anymore, so they were mostly made into museums now. The beautiful facade couldn't carry it anymore, couldn't hide what was really underneath. We were disillusioned, disenchanted, disappointed. The depravity hung in the air. Dear Lord, may this not be where our country is headed, except that it is. Kyrie, eleison!

We went on a mission to have one last positive experience before flying to Italy. We wanted to eat real Dutch poffertjes (traditional mini puffed pancakes). We searched and searched and couldn't find them anywhere. We found about 15 places to buy weed, but no where to buy the traditional tasty Dutch treat. Finally, after looking it up on B's phone we found the perfect little pancake shop, but we had to walk really far to get to it. They were delicious and the shop was warm, dark and cozy. Right as we stepped inside it started to rain. We sat for a long time, ordered coffees, pancakes and poffertjes for dessert. It was delightful, and they were delicious.

Don't mean to be overly negative, we really liked the Netherlands in general and feel hopeful that the smaller villages (getting outside the big city) are more moral than Amsterdam, and we didn't have time to explore as much of the country as we'd have liked. But, Amsterdam was an unfortunate place and we were so ready to go to Rome.

Most of you have probably seen this video floating around Facebook in the last couple of weeks but I wanted to share it because I thought it was really powerful, and especially after our experience it hit close to home.


:type travel tuesday: {de swarte walvis, zaanse schans}

Restaurant de hoop op de Swarte Walvis. It's a whale of a good time just to say it!

Zaanse Schans, The Netherlands.


dutch gin

When we were in the Netherlands we met up with some Dutch friends who we were friends with while living in Cambridge, Harry and Jeanine (notice how they are BOTH taller than me!). While talking and asking them about Dutch food in general (of which there are basically no well-known main dishes, and no Dutch restaurants) it came up that there is a long tradition of Dutch Gin in the Netherlands. We were very surprised, as none of Brandon's Dutch relatives brought this tradition over to the United States with them.

Thusly, after dinner they took us to a tiny unknown (but popular with locals) hole-in-the-wall pub that is also a tasting room for a Dutch gin maker, for a sampling.

The best, oldest and most expensive variety is called "Oude" ("old"). It's almost a marrying of gin and whiskey, the flavor being somewhere in between. It was very good, and very smooth. Another variety was sharper and you could really taste the juniper. (I don't remember what the third one was, Brandon should be writing this). We were very impressed (Brandon is a gin fan to begin with), so we bought a bottle to bring back to the states and share with our families (specifically our Dutch family). Unfortunately, the bottle leaked in our suitcase so we had to drink it with our friends in Rome!


hill country girl's weekend

I went on a girl's weekend in the hill country of Texas a couple weekends ago. It was a fun time and we basically just talked and ate constantly, which is a completely successful trip in my opinion. We also explored the tiny town of Greune and the river near Wimberly. The hill country was beautiful complete with tropically-light-turquoise water reminiscent of Italian rivers (in Rome and Venice). How could it be that color in some random woods in Texas? I loved the swampy feel. It was a nice short weekend away from kids (for them) and husbands (for me), but long enough that we could miss them.

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