Our happily ever after

When you watch enough Sex and the City and spend your fair share of time in the New York dating spin cycle, you come to a point when you question the possibility of having absolute certainty when it comes to deciding to spend the rest of your life with another. I never took it for granted that a romantic engagement was in the cards for me. After all, I have never been the girl who daydreamed about her dream proposal or knew her exact cut and carat requirements for the perfect engagement ring. The one time I recall seriously thinking about engagements was back when I was single and free, and it was only to ponder whether it was possible that there was someone out there who could inspire such clarity in that fateful moment for me.

I am happy to have found out that it is possible.

A month ago, the man I love asked me if I would like to marry him, and without a doubt in my mind, I answered yes.  


I thought that I would have a clue when the time came. It's not that Johan and I hadn't talked about our future. We spoke about it freely and we were both sure that we would spend our lives together. But as you may have noticed by now, I like thinking that I've got life figured out, and I was convinced that we had to go through a series of logical steps before we got to the fun part (you know, stuff like living in the same continent, for one). But Johan decided to flip the script, and he well and truly swept me off my feet!

On what seemed like the most ordinary of evenings in Amsterdam, Johan led me to a quiet canal where a beautiful saloon boat was docked. I was certain we were highjacking someone's special evening in Amsterdam—not because we never do special things or because Johan can't be romantic, but I was sure our plan was to hop on a run-of-the-mill tourist boat to see the Amsterdam Light Festival. "I don't think this is our boat," I said worriedly as the captain took our coats and poured us glasses of champagne. Johan enjoyed my absolute confusion for a moment before finally assuring me that we were not hijacking a boat because he had booked it especially for us. As the relief and happiness at such a lovely surprise washed over me, I somehow missed the clue that there might be something more to this evening. We sailed on, enjoying our champagne and the fact that we were not standing in line in the cold, waiting to board a tour boat. When the boat sailed on to the Ij, Johan suddenly said, "I actually have another little surprise." At that point, I finally realized that something else was afoot ... but then, another twist! Instead of pulling a ring box out of his coat, he handed me a flat leather pouch. Ever the easily distracted little bird, I immediately forgot about the possibility of being presented with a ring and thought, "Oooh, he got me earrings! I love earrings!" I eagerly opened the pouch, expecting to find a pair of sparklers, but to my surprise, there was just one beautiful ring. "No way," I said in disbelief and when I looked up, Johan got down on one knee and popped the question. I could not have said yes more quickly. I cannot express how happy I have been since then.

I started this blog with the conviction that one's happily ever after should not be contingent on Prince Charming's arrival and that we should always be responsible for ensuring our own happiness. I still firmly believe that happiness ultimately comes from within—but there's incredible joy that comes with finding the person with whom I would love to spend the rest of my life and knowing that we have made the first step to building our life together. I am so excited to see how our happily ever will continue to unfold.

Happy Holidays from Amsterdam!

Spending the holidays with J and his family in the Netherlands has been a lovely and fascinating experience. We all have our particular ways of celebrating Christmas but it's nice to experience other customs, too. There was no decadent Noche Buena and silly White Elephant gift exchange for me this year, but I got to enjoy freshly baked Weihnacht Stolle on Christmas morning, an extended second day of Christmas, a lovely walk in De Hei to work off all the holiday treats, and a visit to the charming Christmas market in Amsterdam.

Ice skating at Museumplein in Amsterdam
Food stands at the Christmas market in Amsterdam's Museumplein
Food stands at the Christmas market in Amsterdam's Museumplein

Amsterdam has also created a new holiday tradition with the Amsterdam Light Festival, which lights up the canals with different installations. The best way to see everything is to hop on a canal boat tour, but you're likely to see many of them simply by walking and biking through this beautiful city.

Chandeliers over canals for Amsterdam Light Festival 2015
Parkour lights at sunset for Amsterdam Light Festival 2015
Sunken Statues of Liberty at Amsterdam Light Festival

Wherever and however you are celebrating this wonderful season, I wish you the merriest and brightest of days!

The Bright Lights of Dyker Heights

The last week before Christmas always tend to be crazy for everyone and I'm no exception. I always travel at this time of the year so that I can spend the holidays with my loved ones, so that comes with lots of rushing between year-end get-togethers with friends, last-minute hustling at work, and getting piles of errands out of the way. The past few days have been nothing short of hectic. But last night at least, I got to take a breather from the madness and take in the spectacular holiday sights at Dyker Heights.

My friends and I trekked to this Brooklyn nabe, drawn by stories of mansions magnificently lit up for the holidays. Dyker Heights certainly lived up to our expections. As we walked from block to block, we saw one house after another crowded with our favorite Christmas characters, festooned with Santas and reindeer, graced with nativity scenes, and draped with tons of twinkling lights.

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

It was the perfect way to cap off another sparkling year in New York. Tomorrow, I'll leave the city once known as New Amsterdam for the original version so that I can enjoy the holidays with my favorite Dutch guy. When I return, there'll be a whole new year to enjoy in this spectacular city. Thanks for a brilliant holiday send-off, New York, and see you in 2016!

Let's Have a Brilliant Holiday Season, Shall We?

We all have our favorite Christmas traditions. Some people absolutely must see the lighting of the tree in Rockefeller Center, others simply have to skate in Central Park, and still more insist on dressing up as Santa for a pub crawl. My personal favorite is to soak up the exquisite holiday windows at Bergdorf Goodman (for windows of Christmases past, click here and here). This year's windows are the most brilliant that I've seen to date—figuratively and literally. Bergdorf Goodman partnered with Swarovski for their sparkling displays, embedding a total of 7,024,615 crystals in their holiday tableaus. It's quite a sight to behold. Their visual design team's attention to detail is staggering; I could've spent an hour looking at every bedazzled piece.

Bergdorf Goodman's Brilliant 2015 holiday windows with over 7 million Swarovski crystals
Detail shot of Bergdorf Goodman's Glitterati 2015 holiday window
Bergdorf Goodman's Brilliant 2015 holiday windows with over 7 million Swarovski crystals
Detail shot of Bergdorf Goodman's Crown Jewels 2015 holiday window
Bergdorf Goodman's Brilliant 2015 holiday windows with over 7 million Swarovski crystals
Detail shot of Bergdorf Goodman's Brilliant 2015 holiday windows with over 7 million Swarovski crystals
Bergdorf Goodman's Brilliant 2015 holiday windows with over 7 million Swarovski crystals
Bergdorf Goodman's Brilliant 2015 holiday windows with over 7 million Swarovski crystals
Detail shot of Bergdorf Goodman's Brilliant 2015 holiday windows with over 7 million Swarovski crystals

With just a little more than 2 weeks left before Christmas, time will surely breeze by in a frenzy of holiday parties, shopping, travel and rushing to tie up loose ends at school and/or work. For myself, personally, I hope that I can keep myself from getting completely swept up and try enjoy all the little things that make this season so happy and bright. I hope you, too, will all get to enjoy your own special traditions and I wish you the happiest of holidays!

Autumn in New York

We have had a glorious fall season in New York, with plenty of days with golden foliage, blue skies and crisp temperatures. But these days, we are begrudgingly adding on more layers as the leaves and temperature continue to come down. I usually try to resist adding layers for as long as I possibly can because every single one added feels like accepting defeat. But this stubbornness of mine has a very predictable result: There is always that one day every year when I am forced to concede to the coming of winter and I slink into a store sadly to buy a thicker coat, a scarf or a hat just so I can make it home comfortably. That day came last week, so I am coming to terms with the fact that our gorgeous New York autumn is coming to an end.


On top of that, the onset of cold weather is wreaking havoc on my figure! All I seem to be in the mood for these days are heartwarming, waistline-expanding treats. It doesn't help that New York has so many tempting seasonal goodies out there combining two potent drugs: carbs and #fomo. I'm in danger of falling victim to Dough's pumpkin spice doughnuts every morning, and I spend far too much time thinking about how to squeeze a stop at Dominique Ansel Kitchen into my daily commute (flaky hundred-layer cinnamon buns layering brioche, cinnamon butter and applejack brandy glaze cause that kind of food madness). And then there's Momofuku Milk Bar's Thanksgiving croissant, which is made with stuffing-flavored dough filled with roasted turkey, cranberry sauce and homemade gravy. Hello — that's my idea of a Thanksgiving pre-game!


Thanksgiving may mark the end of fall but there's plenty of good times and delicious food to be had until then. Wishing you all a lovely and well-stuffed Thanksgiving with all those you love!