Onze eerste jaar (Our first year!) in Amsterdam

What a year it has been! After a bumpy ride preparing for our move abroad, we finally landed in Amsterdam one year ago, on a sunny but bitingly cold February morning. At the time, Tom and I were both scared and excited — and we still are. We wondered: What would the next few years hold for us? What would our new home be like? How would we adjust?

Moving can be difficult (physically and emotionally) whether the destination is just across town, across the country, or across an ocean. Our first year living in Amsterdam has been incredibly challenging, and our day-to-day life has been draining and lonely.

BUT. The past year has also been full of so many adventures and so much love. We’re so fortunate to have this experience together. We’ve traveled much more than we have in the past to see more of Europe; we’ve booked most weekends full with plans to explore our city and country; and, we got married over the summer and also met our new baby niece last month. It truly has been quite the year.

Here are some of the highlights of our first year abroad, if you’d like to see.

We set up a new home.

We explored the city of Amsterdam.

We tasted new favorite foods.

We discovered beautiful areas in the Netherlands.

We celebrated love.

And, we traveled to many cities and countries in Europe.

Barcelona in February:

Vienna, Austria, for a quick work trip for me in March:

Dinant, a tiny town in Belgium, for Easter weekend:

Stockholm, Sweden, in May:

Sicily in August:

Stuttgart, Germany, in September for the Canstatter Volksfest:

Paris in October:

Tom visited Portugal in November for work:

England, in November:

And finally, three cities for three Christmas markets: Metz, France; Luxembourg City; Trier, Germany:

Wow, what a year it has been!

On to the next!

Hallo uit Amsterdam!

We’re finally here! Though we’re far from settled yet, it’s so exciting to finally be off on an adventure that had been in the works for more than a year.

One way flights with ALL the bags

I’m hoping to chronicle some of our life here, including the highs and lows. Moving abroad may sound glamorous — and maybe it will be later on, but it’s also difficult.

The last two weeks have been draining, including apartment searching in a super competitive market and losing out on two favorite places; living out of suitcases and hauling them up and down Dutch staircases to various Airbnbs; missing our little pupface; and not sleeping well. For Tom, there is adjusting to a very long commute, a new office, and working across multiple time zones. For me, there is the challenge of being completely alone for the majority of the weekdays.

But, it is beautiful here, and we’ve been lucky to have mostly sunny days over the past two weeks.

Daffodils blooming everywhere in early February

The one touristy place we’ve walked through

We’ve checked off a few crucial items:

  • Opening a Dutch bank account and getting new debit cards.
  • Acquiring our “burgerservicenummers” or BSNs, which are our residence numbers and ID cards. That means we’re official residents here.
  • Drinking Heineken (which we realized is actually much better on tap than in a bottle) in a neighborhood brown bar and in Vondelpark on a sunny day.
  • Visiting two breweries.
  • Getting take-out Indonesian food, which is a big thing in Amsterdam, and it was delicious.
  • Drinking way more lattes than ever before. (Regular coffee is SO strong.)
  • Walking miles and miles exploring the city’s neighborhoods and parks.

Exploring parks

We’ve yet to rent or buy bikes, so I guess you could say we’re not quite official Amsterdammers.

We’ve had a few mishaps, too.

  • Breaking a washing machine at an Airbnb. (Thank goodness for Tom finding YouTube instructions that allowed him to open the door, take out our clothes, and also order a new plastic door handle. The tiny, tiny piece of plastic that broke just happened to be crucial to latching the door!)
  • Making hot chocolate with “karnemilk”… instead of buying what I thought was whole milk, I got buttermilk. Whoops. That didn’t turn out right and went straight down the drain.

Furry roommates at one Airbnb

Uh oh. It won’t open. (At least the controls on this one were in English, unlike many others.)

I’ll try to write more here in the coming weeks and months about what it’s actually like to move abroad and get settled… including more about: apartment hunting; all the bikes everywhere; and what may be one of my biggest challenges, what it’ll be like to cook with a teeny tiny oven/microwave combo and a dorm size fridge!

For now, “goed nacht”!

We’ve hauled these bags to three different Airbnb’s so far…

Trends in California CSAs



Farmers in San Diego say they feel pressure to offer additional benefits in their CSAs – to sell different sized produce boxes, to provide various sign-up periods and to allow add-ons and weekly cancellations – all of which require additional time to manage.

During a panel on CSAs at the recent California Small Farm Conference, a question came up: Why are CSAs on the East and West coasts set up so differently from each other – and is it worth it? I was wondering the same thing, after researching the choices in San Diego, and noticing how unlike my experience with and knowledge of Virginia CSAs – where I received bags of turnips when other crops were suffering, and other CSAs doled out bushels of corn during the summer. In San Diego, I receive the same amount of produce in each box, and the contents thus far have be fairly standard.

It seems to boil down to the problem of retention and a difference in the underlying understanding of what a CSA even is.

“The trend in California is people want to choose what they want, and they don’t want what they don’t want,” said Robin Taylor, owner of Suzie’s Farm in Imperial Beach.

Farmers are desperate to attract and retain members to their CSA programs. Continue reading “Trends in California CSAs”

First Week of a San Diego CSA


In the days leading up to our first CSA pick up in San Diego, I cleared out much of the lingering produce in the fridge, and did my diligent research: How to best store greens. Which produce to use up first. What the heck to do with cabbage.

I had resolved this time around to better use all the produce, and hopefully I’m off to a good start, inspired by the variety and quality of the organic fruits and vegetables. Since our box contained a little of every season – eggplant! berries! citrus! cauliflower! – it was far different from my first experience last summer. So many of those boxes contained turnips. More than a few, unfortunately, went to waste. Sharing meals also helps use up more of the yield; a CSA isn’t really ideal for one person.

Continue reading “First Week of a San Diego CSA”

BCM: Palets de Dames | Fall in San Diego

I’m jealous of all your stunning landscapes with changing leaves, your picturesque apple orchards, your warming scarves and coats.

We’re still wearing shorts here in mid-November while biking to the beach, spotting tables full of colorful heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market, and sleeping with the windows open. San Diegans love their year-round mild weather, and sure, there are some great things about it, especially when walking the pup, but, I really do miss the familiar fall back East.


A Saturday afternoon hike up Black Mountain; and beautiful views of sunsets from our neighborhood.

Continue reading “BCM: Palets de Dames | Fall in San Diego”

Six Months in San Diego in Photos

Six months ago, on a snowy February 14, my dad and I packed up the Camry and started a 2,800 mile journey to a far-away city that was to become my new home.

On the 19th, we arrived. (Though, from my blog posts, you’d think we were still stuck in New Mexico! I’ll share that last day soon!)

Now, it’s August 19. It’s been an up-and-down six months, with a trip home, two visits from my family, one from Tom’s, a vacation in Colorado, lots of furniture shopping and apartment decorating, several expensive vet visits, lots of great food, and, the primary reason I moved here, fun and adventures with Tom.

Here are some of my favorite memories from the past six months:

We made it! 


Lots of dog walks in our new neighborhood, Bankers Hill.


All the fish tacos. 


And all the produce. Avocados every day! Blood orange margaritas!


Continue reading “Six Months in San Diego in Photos”

How to Make Jamaica (Hibiscus Iced Tea)

Even in San Diego, it gets hot.

I’m not complaining, really, at least not too much. We don’t have A/C, but at least it’s not like that horrible summer of 2011, when I would, for some reason, straighten my hair every single morning, only to have it curl up from sweat by the time I arrived at the newsroom. No, fortunately San Diego doesn’t have that humidity and the weeks of never-ending heat like Virginia.

But when my mom and sister visited recently, the sun’s rays were relentless, giving us days  in the upper-80s and 90s, while they were practically turning on the heat back home. Of course, we had to keep hydrated, with water, margaritas, sangria, beer, more margaritas, and jamaica.

How to Make Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea)

Jamaica–not that Caribbean country, pronounce it Hah-My-Kah–is hibiscus iced tea. You’ll find it at virtually every taqueria and Mexican spot, near the soda dispenser. The tea is almost a punch, cool and refreshing, a brilliant shade of pink, a little tart and a little sweet, like cranberry juice. Jamaica seems to be the drink of San Diego.

Continue reading “How to Make Jamaica (Hibiscus Iced Tea)”

How to Pack Jewelry For Moving (or Traveling)


On vacations, my packed earrings and necklaces always seemed to get twisted and knotted so many times that I’d have to pull out tweezers to work them loose.

What would happen, I wondered, during a cross-country move, when all these chains, beads and hooks were bunched together? I didn’t want to find out. Fortunately I found a great tip online for necklaces–and discovered another solution for earrings while cleaning.

Continue reading “How to Pack Jewelry For Moving (or Traveling)”