31 December 2014

into the future

be optimistic
2014 was hard and a lot of shit happened. 2013 was harder though. Since things are looking up, tonight its cocktails and champagne and good friends because that is what I want 2015 to be filled with.

Here's what I'm looking forward to:

Tomorrow is my 4 year anniversary with Rich and we're going to get married.
Long runs and bike rides with the wind at my back.
Reading and writing as often as I can.
Making moves in my career.
Getting better at math...seriously.

Be safe. Happy New Year.
Image from here.

28 December 2014

diamond snowflake

engagement ring
Rich really outdid himself with my engagement ring. Not only is it a one of a kind Edwardian antique, but its a part of his family's history. Its thought that it belonged to his grandfather's grandmother or mother but the details are fuzzy on this point. I found out that he'd gotten his grandmother's blessing to propose to me with this particular ring almost a year ago. After his grandmother passed away this past fall he told his aunt who was holding on to it that it was time. He did a lot of research on its history, how it was made and where and got it cleaned up and learned about its history. It was made before 1900 in Ireland and is made of white gold and diamonds. There is some beautiful filigree in need of repair, which I plan to have done and needs a slight resizing. The center diamond is an old transition cut with ten small old mine cut diamonds surrounding it in a bezel setting and they came from the British Isles.
At first I wasn't really sure how I felt about it, but I think it was just the shock and the anxiety surrounding what a huge step this is in our lives. It reminds me of the first snowflake of the first snow. Sparkling and perfect and filled with hope and anticipation. Can you tell how happy I am?

25 December 2014

by the christmas tree

We're engaged
Rich and I are getting married!
Last Friday night I came home after a happy hour with my work friends and was totally exhausted. The next day was our annual holiday party. Rich was cleaning and I was insisting we do it in the morning. He was behind the tree getting something out of the closet when I heard a crash. He told me an ornament fell and broke, and needed me to get the dustpan and broom. I went to the kitchen closet to get it and when I turned the corner there he was right by our Christmas tree, down on one knee.
I'm pretty sure after he asked I said, "Um, I guess."
I was stunned into complete silence and so nervous I couldn't stop shaking. A few days later it still doesn't even feel real yet. We talked until late into the night about how we wanted our married life together to be, and even if we're not always this perfectly happy it makes for a pretty good start. We're going to be a team for the rest of our lives and its the best Christmas gift I've ever received.

Note: Rich did really good by asking me while it was just us at home, the picture is from our party on Saturday night.

24 December 2014

surprise party

Tomorrow is LK's 30th birthday, and having your birthday on such a major holiday as Christmas can be hard. To celebrate the occasion properly her boyfriend and cousin threw her a surprise party a few weeks ago. The plan was for her and Dave to celebrate his birthday the day before and meet up with her cousin for brunch the next morning. Little did she know that all of her favorite people would be waiting for her with balloons and champagne ready to celebrate.
Lindsay's 30th
Ali and Rebecca
Lindsay's 30th
Lindsay's 30th
French toast, berries and champagne
Lindsay's 30th
The birthday girl...still totally surprised
Lindsay's 30th
Hey there handsome
Lindsay's 30th
Those balloons you could blow up with a straw we all had at parties as kids
Lindsay's 30th
Lindsay's 30th
Stepping back outside, I had almost forgotten it was the middle of the day
Lindsay's 30th

05 December 2014

by train

Quick flights from city to city are convenient, but trains let you watch the land roll by and your thoughts unwind. Sure it takes longer, but whats the fun in traveling if you're only going to get to see the city streets?
When we were planning our trip we meant to spend the whole week in Brussels but it worked out that flights to Amsterdam were less expensive. The plan was to fly in to the Netherlands for the weekend and take a train south after a day or two. Good thing we didn't book flights from city to city because Amsterdam is magical and we ended up staying almost the whole week. The beauty of the train was that we didn't have to book anything in advance, we just showed up to the station and hopped on.
Changed trains in Rotterdam Rotterdam Centraal Got a quick peek at the city's bike lockers Rotterdam Had a midday picnic picnic lunch Treats! kinder surprise And arrived in a golden skied Brussels in the early evening Brussels

07 November 2014

amsterdam: tourist day

After an evening and a day spent wandering around Amsterdam, we geared ourselves up to spend and entire day doing "tourist things." Visiting the major sites and of course the Red Light District and the oldest parts of the city. Our canal tour the previous afternoon was an excellent choice since it helped give us a sense of direction when we'd recognize something as we bounced around from place to place.
Starting from the very moment I woke up, I caught Rich sitting by the window looking at all the bikes and cars going by on Ferdinand Bolstraat during the morning rush.
amsterdam/de pijp
After sandwiches and coffee we made our way to the Albert Cuyp market and picked up some berries as a snack and checked out all the stalls. I found the bunny lamp of my dreams at Kwinkel voor Kinderen, bought a huge hunk of aged Gouda cheese and
We walked along the canals and met this little creature. Any idea what he is?
Walked past Heineken but opted not to go in. We had to draw the "touristy stuff" line somewhere.
I asked some strangers to snap a picture of us: hence the editing.
Bugged Rich into letting me check out this fantastic vintage store chock full of pristine vintage gems and repurposed peices.
Wandered down little streets and past a comic book store with an orange cat standing guard.
We kept walking up into Dam Square and had overpriced coffee by Nieuwe Kerk, and went on into the famous Red Light District. Not really my thing, but interesting to see. The culture might be generally less uptight there, but I felt uncomfortable with half naked girls sitting in windows texting and fixing their lipstick. I chalked it up to my Puritanical American upbringing and led the way back into the Nine Streets neighborhood.
red light district
Stopping for sandwiches and Cokes.
Coke break
Off to Katten Kabinet, dedicated to art depicting cats.
katten kabinet
cool cats

21 October 2014

amsterdam day 1

On our second day in Amsterdam we started off our day with a late breakfast at Kofi-T. Huge "Americano" coffees and cheese sandwiches accompanied by bike watching.
good morning amsterdam
cheese sandwich
Bike watching on Ferdinand Bolstraat
ferdinand bolstraat
I haven't been able to wear anything but sneakers and loose fitting clothes since my bike accident, which sucks but I liked this slouchy look. Toast UK skirt, Everlane tee, Vans, my denim jacket from 2001 and Fjallraven backpack.
hi hi!
My #1 reason for the trip, the Rijksmuseum!
It was wonderful inside, we saw The Night Watch by Rembrandt and my two favorite paintings by Vermeer: The Milkmaid and The Love Letter. I love paintings of bright morning light filtering through windows.
the night watch
After the museum we were wandering around in a haze past the the Museumplein when Rich started waving. I thought he was saying hi to the pigeons (he does that) but it turned out to be Brianna and Chris picnicking on a hill. It was their last day in town so we tagged along on a canal tour with them.
We cruised around the canals of Amsterdam people watching.
canal cruise
indoor outdoor
Hi Brianna!
Captain Dog
boat pup
Watching the sunset and moms on bikes with their babies
the canals
Passed a really fun looking bar...
And tilting buildings.
tilting buildings
Afterwards we went for pancakes and coffee and made our way back to De Pijp for beers at Troost.

13 October 2014

amsterdam, hello!

Aaaand we're back from our trip to Amsterdam and Brussels! It goes without saying, it was fantastic. We flew out after work Friday night and after a quick change of planes in Dublin arrived in Amsterdam ready to party.
Outside Ruis
After getting to the hotel we wandered around De Pijp until we stumbled on a pretty square shaded by huge tulip trees and outdoor seating for cafes and stopped for beers and a snack.
Mystery meatballs
Bitterballen and beer at Cafe Ruis.
De Pijp
By coincidence Chris and Brianna were in Amsterdam at the same time as us, we met up and wandered off to dinner at De Duvel. I ate beef carpaccio for the first time but didn't snap a picture! I'm so much more adventurous about food when I'm travelling, "raw beef! sure, why not!"
We went for cheap beers at this weird little bar we stumbled on, and after that ended up at Gollem. The bartender at Cafe Ruis recommended it and it was exactly the kind of place I'd been hoping to find when I was planning the trip.
These guys
Gollem was fantastic with a huge selection of hard to find beers. Rich was pretty excited about a Westvleteren 12 that he'd been talking about forever. A pretty great start to our time in Amsterdam.
happy, honey & lark. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.