new years resolutions

I love New Years Eve. Sure, there is too much pressure for the party to be perfect and people tend to overdo it with the glitter, but I love it. We all made it hopefully unscathed from 2015 and who knows what 2016 holds for all of us. I like to think great things. I always like to focus on at least one new years resolution, and the resolution doesn’t necessarily last past January, but I’d say its still worth trying. So here is a list of things I am hoping to maintain/start doing in 2016:

  1. Have no expectations: This having no expectations thing is I think one of the most important mindsets I’ve developed since I’ve arrived in Amsterdam. From the start, I would say yes to any event or get together as the only way to meet more people and see more of the city. I’ve ended up in a lot of random situations that are maybe not the most fun but we always leave thinking it was a good night, because we didn’t expect anything in particular from it. I hope I’ll keep it up for the next semester in Amsterdam and when I’m back in Calgary.
  2. Make every day count: I’ve managed to spend entire days here doing absolutely nothing, which I really don’t like. I only have a limited number of days in Amsterdam, and above that, none of us know how many days we have left on this precious little earth. And anything can happen in one day. So I’ve been trying, and will continue to try, to be productive or do something noteworthy everyday. Days full of nothing are good too, as long as you can find something to be grateful for what happened that day.
  3. Stop wasting your life away on the internet: Yeah so this is a hard one. I really want to unplug. It scares me how many hours can go by staring into the screen of my laptop. Sure, a lot of the time I’m doing pretty productive and useful things, but we weren’t put on this earth to stare into screens and lose our lives in the vortex of the internet. One of the little ways I plan to unplug is by:
  4. Reading more books: It’s pretty pathetic how few books I read. But I want to change that so I plan on going out and buying some books for me to read today! If you have any suggestions of good reads, let me know.
  5. Eat more vegetables: This was my resolution last year, and I figure might as well keep it on the list for 2016. We could all use a little more broccoli and carrots in our lives.
  6. Keep stepping outside your comfort zone: I think I’ve developed a comfort zone here in Amsterdam, but I hope that I can keep expanding past what’s comfortable. I hope in 2016 I’ll continue meeting new people, going to new events, and asking new questions.
  7. Don’t say negative shit: I think it’s good for all of us to check in once in awhile to see if we are spreading negativity. And if we are, we might as well stop and switch it up for something more positive. I know it’s not always that easy, but it’s worth a shot.

A few additional things I should probably work on are drinking less cappuccinos (and beer), eating less stroopwaffles, and being more careful with my money. But, I’m on exchange and don’t fancy stopping any of those things, so those personal improvements can wait until 2017.

Happy new year kids! May there be champagne and friends and glitter for you all!

xx j

holiday eats

A couple of weeks ago, over twenty of us crammed ourselves into a (very) small kitchen in a student building to have an early potluck Christmas dinner. There were people from all corners of the world, so the homemade holiday dishes were of a great variety. We had the British mince pies, the Australian mulled wine, the Canadian Kraft Dinner (because, why not??) and the Turkish potato salad, to name only a few.

I brought Lee’s eggnog, a boozy delight that is always on the table over the holidays. I messed up the recipe a bit, as I always do here because of the whole Dutch language thing. Who knew slagroom was the same thing as whipping cream? (Not me).

I also brought Mary’s maple-bacon brussel sprouts, one of her ten plus side dishes to her extravagant Christmas dinners. She out does herself every year, and maybe next year can make two dinners to make up for my lack of presence this year?? Hey Mary? Let me know what you think.

Last but not least, I brought my mom’s sweet-potato carrot casserole that she makes every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She thinks that the dish is beyond average and that Lee and Mary just ask her to bring it to keep her busy. But we all know that’s a lie and I don’t know if it’d be a true Christmas without her orange mashed dish.


My friend Dilara and I got to The Hague today to housesit a family friend’s place for a few days. There’s an oven and a couch and the hallways don’t smell like garbage, all of which are major pluses compared to our student rooms. Dilara doesn’t do Christmas much back home so I am channelling my inner Santa and will try to show her the ropes. We’ll watch Jesus Christ Superstar (the movie that taught me most things I know about Christianity), make croissants and hard boiled eggs for breakfast (couldn’t find imperial cheese – major bummer), and, to shake it up a bit, go to the beach. We are going to make some frozen pizza and Dutch pancakes tonight, which might have to be added to the list of traditional food necessary for the holidays.

We might be making Cath’s hot milk cake, a recipe I’ve always loved.  About five years ago, I was having dinner at Cath’s place when she made the cake just like her mom used to. It was to die for and I don’t think I stopped talking about how much I loved that cake until I went back home to Calgary. After that point on, Cath, being one of the most thoughtful women I know, started to send me recipe cards every birthday and Christmas with different desserts and dinners that have been in our family for quite some time.

This Christmas, I am not with any of my family, but their recipes are still around, and I’m finding that pretty comforting. They might say Christmas is about trees and decorations and Jesus and big family gatherings, but I think I’ve decided food (and people to share it with) might be the most important part.

Wherever you guys are all this Christmas, I hope you have some comforting food and friends or family to enjoy it with!

xx. ho ho ho jroe