Spontaneity on a Sunday

My day started around 10 o’clock on this Lazy Sunday.

I crawled into my little sister’s bed because we always take turns doing that when we’re home. Waking up generally sucks, but doing it with another person helps take the edge off. This is how I feel about most “adult things” – yeah, I did just say that waking up before 10 am is an adult thing, because it is. Thank god there were donuts to make it even easier.

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Shoutout Brooklyn Bakery Co

Another thing my sister Britt & I like to do is leave the house as much as we can. In fact, I think that’s how we got into hiking in the first place. Where else can you go for free when you have nothing planned ahead of time? Today we decided to go to the Riverbound Farm Sanctuary located in one of the corners of Cheshire, CT. It rained for the past few days, so we figured the water would be more wild than usual. And it’s one of the least intensive walks in town – we’re a little tired, okay?

Here are some pictures of the place that I’ve posted over the years:

 

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As you can see, I’ve been here many times. You see that white house in the back of the outdoor classroom? Unbeknownst to me, it’s been a Quinnipiac Valley Audubon Society building all along. When we pulled up to the sanctuary today, there was a giant white sign saying “OPEN”. Apparently, today is Open Day.

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Sitting at a table were two members, maybe even leads, of the Society. They welcomed us, encouraged us to sign the guest book, and asked if we came here often. I explained how it’s one of our regular spots but the Audubon had always been a mystery. I proceeded to comment on the bridge that fell last year, the remodeled butterfly garden and the purple wildflowers that came and went. I felt like I had to prove how much I really like this place to these folks – they are the ones who take care of it, after all. We especially bonded over the mystery person who leaves walking sticks for others to enjoy.

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I learned that the man is the person who rotates the signs in the trailhead that tell you the wildlife you should look out for depending on which month it is. The woman was well-versed in the speaker events that happen each month, as well as the bird-watching groups that operate in the spring. I was intrigued over everything they were saying, but in the back of my mind I knew I wouldn’t be around to enjoy what they will soon be offering. I’m about to move in like, a week…I think. Maybe Monday, maybe Tuesday, definitely soon.

After a little more talking, Britt and I began to explore the displays.

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Which one’s your favorite?

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There’s so much more that I didn’t capture, and I hope all of you who are local to the area take a chance to visit the trails or headquarters so you can soak in the information, nature, or participate in the events to come. This place being open was a pleasant surprise, and it ended up making for a lovely experience before a peaceful stroll in the woods.

I hope you all have a happy and pleasant Father’s Day! I’m about to go stuff my face with my family.

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Additional note: PLEASE pick up after yourselves, people. At my favorite bench I found a t-shirt, a giant Arby’s cup, wrappers, and multiple types of broken cups (glass, ceramic, etc.). Quit the shit, and don’t litter.

A 360 Look at La Grand Place

Want a closer look at La Grand Place? Here are two 360 videos filmed in the center of the square. The difference between day and night is quite astonishing, and both are beautiful in a different way.

La Grand Place During the Day

La Grand Place at Night

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We Arrived in Brussels

Here’s what we checked off the Brussels tourist list thus far:

Manneken Pis

Why is this the main attraction of Brussels? What makes this special?

The answer is we don’t effing know. We walked up to this bad boy with no expectations and found a tiny statue of a boy peeing with barely a description as to why.

Here’s what we learned from the info provided: The little statue was erected at the end of the Middle Ages when the city of Brussels was in the process of developing a public water supply network up until the mid-19th century, this fountain played a vital role in the city’s drinking water supply system. The original stone statue was replaced in the 17th century. Then a bronze model was commissioned by the municipal authorities from the sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy the Elder…interesting…

La Grand Place

The Grand Place

Of course, we went to the Grand Place of Brussels. It’s a cornerstone of culture, history, and food (on paper). Does it surprise you that we immediately bought chocolate, a beer tasting, and a waffle right afterwards? HELL NAH!

Sadly, we walked the streets of Brussels like it was Amsterdam and expected a bar and a tattoo parlor on every block, but instead we found normal buildings…like corporate buildings and stores with clothing we can’t afford. It was then and there we decided to make this mostly about the food

We haven’t ventured far beyond our boundaries yet. But until we do, I’ll be petting the weird black cat that’s in our AirBnB that’s more like a hostel than a hotel.

Thanks!

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Stroop, There It Is!

Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around.

National Tulip Day

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NTD is a celebration that kicks off tulip season in the Netherlands, and it happens in Dam Square on the third January of every year. For those of you familiar with the beauty that is Keukenhof, you understand that tulips are something that deserve a big splash of attention. The Square is filled with about 200,000 tulips that are up for grabs for whoever gets there in time to snag a spot in line before they’re all gone.

We were told about this event from a new friend met here in A’dam (shoutout to you Sonny!) and were so excited to check it out – SO excited that we didn’t think about the thousands of others who had the same plans for their Saturday morning. We thought we could stroll in, pick a tulip, maybe get a cute Insta while pulling the flower up from the crate, and go on our merry way into the day. Boy were we wrong.

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This picture doesn’t even do the crowd justice. This was only half the square and it was cut off from the line of hundreds of people waiting to get in. Shan and I only got to peek in because they offered a platform to watch the smart ones who arrived early posing for pics while picking their tulips. This platform was also uncomfortably crowded and someone was coughing on me while I took this picture #doitfortheblog.

Albert Cuyp Market

Our next stop was one of the places I’ve been the most curious about visiting – Albert Cuypmarkt (Cuyp is pronounced like “cowp” – I messed that up in our video). This market happens to be conveniently located near the Heineken Factory in the neighborhood known as De Pijp.

It’s been one of Amsterdam’s most popular markets since it began in 1904, and has been featured on many travel shows…so yeah, that’s where I got the idea to go. BUT, it was the fresh stroopwafels I saw with the drool-worthy caramel pull (1:21 in the video) that motivated me to get off my butt and venture off to this new place.

Boy am I happy I did…try to keep it in your pants because the following content is straight up food porn:

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Mini mother-effing pancakes with Nutella
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STROOP there it is!

Sweets aren’t the only things Albert Cuyp has to offer – vendors sell everything from fruit, vegetables, cheese, fish and spices to clothes, cosmetics and bedding – all of which I resisted because ya girl’s still unemployed.

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The Heineken Experience

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Next stop was the first Heineken brewery (est. 1864). We’ve received many recommendations from friends and family to go on the tour and learn the perfect pour, so that’s exactly what we did. It began with the history of the creator of Heineken, Gerard Adriaan Heineken, and continued with more about his grandson, Freddy, and other key people who made Heineken as refined and famous as it is today.

2 things that blew my mind about Heineken:

  1. It was one of the first brands to boil beer down to a science. Scientists relied on chemistry to experiment and master the perfect brew, which was revolutionary for its time.
  2. Many of the Heineken men who drove the brand received multiple medals and awards from different countries – not for their beer, but for their service to the world.

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The tour turns from history to good-ole-fashioned fun with interactive toys, games, and samples, of course. It ends with the two beers you get included with your entrance ticket (€16 per person) in a club-style atmosphere and another great view of the city.

Check out some of the other souvenirs we walked away with:

The following video is a bit odd:

What did we do after the Heineken factory? Grabbed a six pack of Heineken, of course. It was just the beginning to our night out in the Red Light District, which I’ll share more about once I can wrap my head around what I witnessed there.

Hope you’re all having a fantastic day and enjoyed reading!

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Fun fact: I once wrote a business plan for an ice cream shoppe named Scoop, There It Is! in my Intro to Management class. It was the coolest theoretical hangout ever out ever & you best believe I got an A.


Have a favorite flower? Ever been to a famous market? What’s the best brewery tour you’ve been on? We’re interested! Comment below to share them with us 🙂

Cue Phil Collins on the Drums

Yeeeaah you know which breakdown I’m talkin’ ’bout.

OK – I think this is when the little kid inside of me acknowledged that I’m on a kick-ass vacation. I realized that I’m now used to the ringing of bicycle bells…the convenience of culture at my fingertips. Every European accent catches my eye and ignites me with inspiration. Every day ends with a violet sunset over the canals, just like the famous Dutch artists painted. I’m beginning to feel what they felt.

We Went to the Zoo

My excitement went through the roof the day we went to the zoo. The Artis Zoo has a giraffe, baby monkeys, and Shan’s favorite – a sloth! We were grinning with glee all day long.

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This next one goes out to the McCormick ladies, Shaun O’Connor, and everyone else who knows how important this video is.

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Though I did get some decent shots of these magnificent animals, I couldn’t help but kick myself for realizing I left the magnified lens at home. Regardless of how close-up these shots are, I hope you enjoy a scenic route through the animal kingdom with us:

The Artis Zoo is Amsterdam’s oldest city park, the oldest zoo in the Netherlands, and one of the oldest zoos of mainland Europe. It also contains an aquarium and planetarium! What a lovely place to be present in the moment.

Weirdly enough, the memory that sticks out the most in my mind from this entire day is one I have of a grandmother playing hide-and-go-seek with her two grandkids. She was hiding behind a tree, and they were pretending not to know where she was. I shook my head with disbelief at the sight because it was organic and it belonged in a movie scene.

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“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha 🙏🏼🌺

Classic A’dam Pic

Like every single perfect day here in Amsterdam, we found a canal to watch the sun set over the water among the boats and city lights.

Our Eat Pray Love-esque day wouldn’t be complete without pizza and wine, so we got pizza and wine. The pizza was aight and the wine was eh. It sparked an idea to visit Italy for a bit…maybe…

It also “inspired” us to grab a €6 bottle of wine from Albert Heijn (the grocery store) because we’re Cla$$y! I fell asleep the earliest I have since we’ve been here – 11:30 pm (23:30) on a weekend night because that’s how you really do it here in Amsterdam.

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Shove This Into Your Vocabulary

Defenestrate: to throw someone/something out of a window.

Example of use: Boy you betta get out the fuck out ma house before you’re defenestrated.

If you’re wondering, this was submitted to the 16 Thoughts Down podcast I participate in at work with my mentor, Frank (not the example, that one was all me). We used to do vocab words. This one lady let us know she binge-listened to 16TD on this random Thursday and had this wonderful word to share with us. There’s something amazing about someone contacting you out of the blue wanting to share things with you. Defenestrate – it’s almost a sentence in one word – roughly what our 16TD listener said.

What’s your favorite vocab word? Teach us something new.

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(Wait so I searched “out window” on giphy.com and this came up:

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While you’re at it, listen to this song while watching ↑ this:

Friend Fave: Kreayshaun aka Cersei Lannister

I know Halloween is already over, but this link is definitely one worth sharing no matter the time of year.

Check out these GoT character costumes in this Mashable write-up.

My wicked cool friend Shaun is late to the GoT madness and binge-watched every episode within a solid two months. When you’re 23, that’s what real accomplishment looks like.

Shaun works on the customer relations team at Go Ahead Tours. They conducted a company-wide Halloween costume contest which required each person to bring their A-game. Check out Cersei Lannister to see her costume, along with the other ones that put my geisha costume to shame. She nailed the eyebrow raise, didn’t she?

Let us know what you think about this collaborative office geniusness. It makes me wonder why every company doesn’t do this…

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8 Steps To Writing the Facebook Invite Your Friends Will Go Nuts Over

Whether it’s your first or your hundredth FB-official gala, you’re here because you want to write the ultimate Facebook event invite. Anticipation is key, so when the big night comes you can kick back, relax, and soak it all in.

1. Start with the picture. 

Facebook has plenty of generic party backgrounds that are totally lame and will not suffice to draw your guests in. The go-to move is usually a pic of an adorable animal wearing some sort of festive outfit. If you can’t find one to fit your theme, a plain ole cute animal works just fine.

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Who doesn’t love this?

2. Make it as funny as you can.

Nothing sets the tone for a big night like words that resemble the hilarious ones that slip out when you’re tipsy. Talk to your friends the way you would if they were showing up at the party…let them know you’ll be happy to see them! Start off with something you would greet people with if you were showing up to a room full of these people.

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3. Tell them what’s really up.

Are you supplying alcohol or is it BYOB? Where should people park? Is there a theme?

Also, can people sleep over? If so, should they bring blankets and pillow? Getting the heads up so allows your guests plan on getting a car or designating a DD. Have at least some room for people to pass out if they really want to experience the party. If not, your friends might find a place where they can.

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Most importantly, don’t let anyone be a moron and drink and drive!

5. Send it out at least one month in advance.

Once you’ve got your date, time, and amusing message, hit send on that baby. Commitments are a real thing, and they can suck when you want your friends to come through. Otherwise their other friends will snatch up their weekend before you had the chance to let them know about your party.

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6.  Delegate.

After you’ve given your guests time to decide if they’re coming, figure out who’s bringing what. 10 times out of 10, your true friends are going to offer to make something. If not, try to seed out that one person to be voluntold they’re making an app.

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Try using that volunteer as an example by posting in the FB event saying: “Julie’s bringing fried mac & cheese balls…if you want to bring something, you totally can.” Try to take inventory because people get hungry when they’re drunk, and with that being the case, human portions are no longer relevant. Knowing this is key to feeding the other people who only showed up with booze.

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7. Check in before the party.

A few nights before the par-tay, send another quick note saying how excited you are for your friends to come over, and to remind people to give you the heads up on the things you asked of them.

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Make sure to have fun at your party!

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8. When it’s all over, thank everyone for coming.

A sure way to get people to come to the next shindig is to let them know how much it meant to you that they chose to spend their night at your place.

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Hey, we’re drunk in our PJs on a Friday

We’re sitting on the couch – I’m drinking a mimosa and Shan’s drinking Captain and Coke. We’re both listening to these songs because we feel like it:

  1. Lilo & Stitch – “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride”
  2. Arthur Theme Song – Ziggy Marley – “Believe in Yourself” (who knew it was Ziggy??)
  3. Lil B – “Caillou Freestyle”
  4. Three Loco – “NEATO”
  5. G-Eazy – “I Be in the Lab”
  6. 311 – “From Chaos Comes Clarity”
  7. Shawty Putt ft. Lil Jon “That Baby Don’t Look Like Me” (Shan O’s jam in high school)
  8. Bloodhound Gang – “The Bad Touch”

And that’s all we can manage to type as we keep singing songs while drinking various types of alcohol. If you ever want to weird your friends out with your Fri-Night wastedness, turn them onto this post.

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