Monday, April 23, 2018

4 Travel Tips to Save Your Skin When Flying

Travelling by air is not your skins best friend. I normally only fly for max. two hours to London or Barcelona, but when I flew to New York in January that suddenly changed to a 9 hour flight. Now 9 hours of dry air sucks all the moisture out of your skin, even for a combination/oily gal like me. So I came up with these 4 tips to give your skin a bit of a pick me up before, during and after your flight. 

Use a hydrating face mask
Preferably before, during and after your flight. I love the Kiehl's Calendula & Aloe Soothing Hydration Mask, but the Origins Drink Up masks are also really good. Personally I only use these mask when flying, because as I said before, my skin is not on the dry side. I mostly use a hydrating mask before and after, because I simply not feel comfortable to sit barefaced next to people I don't know with a face mask on. If my skin was not suffering from acne, scarring and redness I would probably not care, so do whatever floats your boat.

Drink A LOT of water.
I know this is kind of a no brainer, but really drink a lot of water. Even when I fly with a more expensive airline and they provide me with food and drinks I always bring a 1 litre bottle of water with me. Just take an empty bottle through security and refill it after. Even though this means you are going to be that annoying person that needs to pee twice an hour. Your skin will thank you for it.

Bring hand cream on board
This is a thing that I forgot, but oh how I wished that I had some hand cream with me. We kind of think about our face, but let's not forget the hands and the rest of the body. I wash my hands quite a lot when I'm flying and although it gets rid of that sweaty feeling it also makes them even drier. Bring a hand cream that is nicely scented -you know to not disturb the neighbours with a weird herbal smell- and your hands will feel so soft and nice.

Artificial tears are your best friend
A bit off topic since technically eyes are not your skin, but if I had known this on my flight to NYC I would have been so much happier. I don't know about you but I'm feeling 22 but my eyes get super dry when I'm flying. Especially when you are not really sleeping and looking at a book or tv screen for 8 hours straight. In New York I popped into CVS and bought some eye drops and they made my return flight to Amsterdam so much more pleasant. Every time my eyes started to feel a bit dry I just popped in some artificial tears and it's honestly the best 10 dollars I have ever spent.

Hope this will help you on your next journey. Your skin and body and eyes will thank you for it!

Do you have more skin tips for travelling?

Friday, April 20, 2018

My Trip to Barcelona April 2018

Oh Barcelona, the city that makes all my holiday dreams come true. I was lucky enough to visit this wonderful place last October and it totally resparked my love for it. The buildings, the palm trees, the beach and the city life; it's no wonder that Ed Sheeran wrote a song about it.
This time around I booked a spontaneous trip to Barcelona all by myself for my birthday. I did it for a couple of reasons that I'm not going to bore you with, but save to say is that I'm happy that I decided to make the day special for me besides all the crazy stuff that is going on in my life at the moment.

Day 1 -  12 April 2018
I was up bright and early for my 8AM flight. This way I make most out of the three days that I’m there. I flew with KLM and they showed once and for all that they are my favourite airline. Halfway through the flight after the sandwiches and drinks, an air hostess came up to me as I was watching Friends to wish me a happy birthday and she gave me a little present with a hand written card, some smoked almonds, stroopwafels and a small bottle of cava. Then all the other flight attendants came up to congratulate me on my birthday and have a chat about what I was going to do in Barcelona. It really gave me those birthday feelings from when I was little. I feel as you grow older your birthday isn't that special anymore. It's just a day, so I was very surprised by their kind gestures during the flight.
When we touched down in Barcelona I immediately put on my summer dress in the tiny toilet cubicle -as you do- and hopped on a bus to the city. I'm just going to forget the fact that the locals were wearing woolly coats and Ugg boots and I was there in my floaty dress and Birkenstocks. After checking in at my hostel -first time sleeping in a shared room by myself. More on that later- I walked to Alsur Café, a cool café that I couldn't visit on my last trip. They have lots of locations around the city and their menu is to die for. Lots of options, both sweet and savoury, and I ended up with an iced tea and some Oreo waffles. Both were delish, a bit too sweet though, but I will definitely come back here on my next trip. My journey then took my all the way down Las Ramblas to the beach. I sat there for a bit soaking up the warm sun on my pale skin before dark clouds came out of nowhere and were covering up the heat. Just before that happened I thought it would be best to gtfo -sorry for the phrase, I have been watching too much Dan & Phil- and walked back to my hostel as I was pretty tired from the lack of sleep I got the night before.
I stayed at Generator Hostel, which I have stayed at before both in Barcelona and Stockholm. Only then it was in a private room with a friend and now I stayed in a girls dormitory with 5 other people. I have to say it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and I will definitely stay at a hostel if I'm travelling by myself. I surprisingly slept the whole night without waking up, even though girls were leaving at 4AM, and everyone is very chill. If you want to be social you can and if you just want to be left alone with your Netflix that's fine too.

Day 2 - 13 April 2018
After waking up I walked to Brunch & Cake. Now you might remember this as the most amazing brunch place as I ate at their location by the sea before and it's still incredible. I got there just in time before all the crowds and as I left there was this huge queue of people waiting to get a table. I went for the Nutella pancakes, a black Paleo peanut butter latte and a carrot ginger juice. The ''pancakes'' were basically two brownies with cookie dough in between -not complaining here- and were super yummy. I ordered the latte because it sounded interesting on the menu and it was honestly one of the worst drinks I have ever had. It was salty oat milk and I do not recommend it. Luckily I had a juice to wash the salty taste away.
Since the weather was crap -not going to make it prettier than it was- I went shopping. Stores like Zara and Bershka are cheaper in Spain and I was all ready to go on a crazy shopping spree. I ended up at Oysho first, a store that is from the same chain as Zara and Bershka but is not available in the Netherlands. They mainly sell lingerie, sleep wear, sport outfits, perfumes with an amazing scent and as the summer season is approaching: swim wear! I immediately found three dresses that I absolutely loved: two maxi dresses and one mini smock dress. Since it was the first store I only allowed myself to buy one dress, so I said goodbye to the other two and hopped on to Zara, Bershka, Stradivarius, Pull & Bear, Mango, H&M and Sephora at which I couldn't find anything. This resulted in me going back to Oysho, spending an hour in their fitting room and ending up buying the other two that I loved so much. I also had a quick juice break in H&M as they have a Flax & Kale pop-up on the top floor. And you all know how much I love Flax & Kale. As it was almost the end of the day I bought some sushi, a spinach pastry and donuts at the supermarket #fitgirl and walked back to my hostel where I ended up stuffing my face with it whilst watching Notting Hill and falling in love with Hugh Grant.

 Day 3 - 14 April 2018
Sadly the last day of my trip. I ate some healthy vegan pancakes at Flax & Kale whilst sipping my chai latte and then walked through El Born to Parc de la Ciutadella. It's a beautiful park with the most amazing statue of all time. It was pissing down with rain, so I bet that on a sunny day it's even more breathe taking, but the weather was just not with me on this trip. You can change a lot of things and sadly the weather is not one of them. My umbrella and I then took some photos at Sagrada Familia. It's one of those things that you need to visit when you are in Barcelona. No matter how many times I have seen it I go back every single trip. At this time the weather was at a low point and I simply didn't know what else to do. Do you have that as well sometimes when you are travelling and you don't know what to do? You have to go to the airport too, so you have limited time and I always end up drinking tea in a café till I have to leave, so my last day in Barcelona was no different. I ate a sandwich at 365 walked to the Flax & Kale pop-up for a chai drink and vegan cookie and then decided to spend my leftover time at the airport. Where after a couple of hours an airplane brought me back to Amsterdam and my bed. Because even though I love travelling: nothing beats your own fluffy pillows and mattress.

Barcelona will always have a special place in my heart. It's one of my happy places since it's always sunny -okay not always-, it's right near the beach, the architecture is amazing and the city vibe just screams holiday to me. I don't think I will visit Barcelona again this year, but never say never!

Check out my Insta Stories 'B C N' for more pics of my trip!

What is your favourite city in the world?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

My Trip to Stockholm

Back with another travel post today! Last week it was time for another trip of mine and its destination was Stockholm! You probably already guessed that by the title, but I just like to say it one more time in case you didn’t! About a year ago I went to Copenhagen and also visited Lund and Malmö in Sweden for two days. I loved my time there a lot, so I decided to go back. I am planning on making a full on Stockholm guide, but before I do that I wanted to share my personal travel story as I do with all my city trips, like New York City, London and Barcelona.

Day 1
I am not a morning person and yet I always book the earliest flight possible. I feel that this way you get the most out of the time you spend at your new destination. So there my friend Denise and I went, boarding at 6:20AM at Amsterdam Airport. The flight was very smooth and I basically watched Friends the whole way through. Once we arrived in Stockholm we took the train to the city centre and from there walked to our new home for the next couple of days: Generator Hostel. I also stayed with them when I was in Barcelona last October and really enjoyed it. Both times I had a private room, but next week I will stay in one of their shared rooms, so I will keep you updated on my experience.
After dropping our luggage and testing the bed -it was sooo GOOD- we went for a proper brekkie at STHLM Brunch Club. We found this spot on Instagram and although it was really nice I don't think it was worth the hype. I had the bacon & maple pancakes and a carrot ginger juice, which were good but not as good as the spot that we visited the next day. When we left there was a huge queue outside too, and although I have queued up for many places I don't think this café is worth it to wait for 30 minutes to grab a bite to eat. 
After the delicious pancakes -not saying that they weren't extremely yummy- we walked our way through Norrmalm and did a bit of damage in the shops. I picked up this amazing rainbow striped jumper at Monki and popped into Lagerhaus for some home goods. We ended the day with a McVegan burger and fries from McDonalds. I normally hate it when you go to a different country and eat at the same old fast food chains that you have back home, but since the McVegan is only available in Finland and Sweden we had to try it out. I love that McDonalds is picking up these trends and the burger was good too -not as good as Vegan Junk Food Bar in Amsterdam, but still for a Mc burger it was good!-.

Day 2
We were up bright and early -kinda- and went for some brunch at my soon to be favourite café in Stockholm: Greasy Spoon. They have two locations but we visited the one in Vasastaden. The café was very spacious and modern and it had some Metropolitain vibes. I ordered a turmeric latte and the berry & pistachio pancakes -not surprising really- and they will definitely be in the top 3 of best pancakes I have ever eaten. We stayed there for a bit, chatted as we ate all the yummy goodness and walked all the way down to Gamla Stan and Södermalm, two different islands. Gamla Stan is the old part of Stockholm and the part that you'll recognize from all the photos. The yellow houses that you spot everywhere give the city so much character and it's definitely my favourite part of the city, despite it being touristy. 

Södermalm is the neighbourhood with all the cool independent shops and hip cafés. I'm going to be honest here and say that I have not seen much. Rain fell down from the sky like there had been a drought for 4 years and I was basically looking at my feet the entire time to see if I didn't step in a big puddle of water. To hide from the storm that was happening outside we popped into Pom & Flora, another Insta famous café. I went for another turmeric latte and order an acai bowl. Should have picked something warmer considering the cold outside, but hey, at least it was healthy and yummy. Luckily the rain slowly went away and we popped into a few independent shops along the way. For dinner we chose to go to Lily's Burger, a cute American diner style café. I had a cheese & bacon burger with fries and a Nutella & banana milkshake. The milkshake was the best thing I have ever tasted in my life. Nutella and banana is just the best combo in the world! We then walked all the way back, had a chai latte/coffee break at Espresso House and chilled back at the hotel.

Day 3
Not much happened to today. For breakfast we went to Kaffeverket, a café that was recommended to us by a colleague and Instagram. We had a chia bowl and some avocado toast -I had another turmeric latte- and it was pretty tasty. We had another walk around the neighbourhood and had a tea and cinnamon bun break at Sophies Canelé. I love cinnamon buns and this one was really good. You could taste that it was not one of those store bought ones you know, and the large amount of butter probably helped too haha.
We then walked back to the hotel to get our swim suits, because we were going to the spa! It's actually a very Swedish thing to do and you can find many of them in the city. We went to Centralbadet, which you can find in Norrmalm. It has been open since 1904 and the entire spa has that old art deco vibe. You also get a student discount, so don't forget your card! We basically hopped from sauna to steam room to swimming pool to sauna to another pool and back to the steam room. We spent about 3,5 hours there before our hands started to get all wrinkly; when that happens you know it's time to go. From Centralbadet we walked to a huge Hemköp a couple of streets away. Foreign supermarkets are the bomb dot com for me. I could spent hours looking at all the different foods and picking up a few of my favourite things. In the end I chose cinnamon buns, some chocolate and salt & vinegar crisps -my fave from the UK-. We went for, yes, another burger, but this time at Max, the Swedish version of McDonalds. They have lots of vegan and veggie options too and I do prefer it to McDonalds. We indulged in that and again chilled back at the hotel.

Day 4
On our last day we walked back to Greasy Spoon for some delicious pancakes. Again I had the berry & pistachio ones; I'm going to miss those fluffy things so much! The weather was dreadful today as well, so we had another wonder around Gamla Stan and quickly walked inside at Chokladkoppen. It's located on the famous Stortorget square and serves amazing hot chocolate and kladdkaka -aka chocolate cake-. When you walk inside there is hardly any lighting and the chairs are made for dwarfs I tell ya, but the drinks and chocolate cake were good, so I was in a chocolaty coma after that. Because the weather was very miserable we didn't know what else to do so we hopped from Joe & the Juice to Espresso House and went on the train back to the airport with my last chai latte from Espresso House, which I'm going to miss so much. Please make you way across the pond Espresso House. I need you!

And that was my trip to Stockholm! The weather could have been better, but as long as you bring an umbrella you should be fine. Although I did like the city I don't know if I'll go back soon. London and New York have that kind of homely vibe to me. The kind of vibe where I see myself living there and Stockholm didn't do that for me. Hopefully I can go back in a couple of years around the summer time, because I think that's when the city lights up and the people will be a lot friendlier too.

Have you ever been to Stockholm?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The White Chelsea Boots

If there is one thing you should know about me it's that I am head over heels in love with shoes. I own too many pairs than I can wear and I keep on purchasing more because when I'm in a shoe store I can't think of any reasons why not to purchase them. 

It wasn't any different when I was in The Hague and popped into Topshop with a friend. I recently bought these bright pink suede boots on sale so we wanted to have a look and see if they still had them there. Well, we didn't find the pink boots, but I did find a couple of other stunning heeled shoes. There was a buy one get one free offer going on as well, so I added two more pairs to my collection, some Beyoncé worthy black buckle boots and these white Chelsea boots which make me feel like I am walking straight out of That '70s Show.

You might think: why would you ever buy white boots. They get dirty so fast and make your feet look enormous, and as those things are all true I just liked the way they looked so much that that outweighed everything else. They were also discounted from €120 to €45 and as I got the buckle boots (also originally €120) for free I was like heck yes. Add a cheeky staff discount and they were even more of a catch. But yeah, here I am posing my ass off in cold, but sunny, Amsterdam. I love the chunky heel and the Chelsea style and they make me transform from plain jane in a funky 70s icon in seconds. Crazy how shoes can make you feel like that. 

Anyways, I will continue rocking these boots throughout the summer with a cute floral dress and a denim jacket. If by that time I have not found a new pair of shoes I am obsessed with and that honestly will be the case haha!

Have you jumped on the white shoes train yet?

Monday, March 19, 2018

The NYC Food Hotspot: The Wild Son

On a cold but sunny Sunday I finally went to the West Village in New York to get the true ‘Friends’ feeling. The buildings there really make you feel like you are in New York –just in case going to the Empire State Building didn’t-. I also saw the building where Monica's apartment was in the show and as a person who has watched all 10 seasons a million times it was a real pinch me moment to be there. 
Now Sunday in NYC is known as a busy day brunch wise. All New Yorkers go out for their pancakes, bacon, eggs and smoothie bowls and I was simply not prepared for how busy it was everywhere. I basically walked from spot to spot to see if there was not a queue somewhere and that's where I entered The Wild Son: a cute and cosy café in the Meatpacking District.

When I went inside I already saw an empty chair at the window which is honestly my favourite spot when eating alone -one word: people watching!- I settled myself and had a look at the menu. Even though they had a lot of yummy things I could only order one thing and in the end I went with pancakes. I kind of have an obsession with ordering anything sweet for breakfast, like waffles, French toast, smoothie bowls and… pancakes. When discovering this café on Instagram the pancakes also looked amazing, so I ordered a tea -again classic me- and the Insta worthy buttermilk pancakes with berries. 

The Wild Son is everything you want in a café. It looks super cosy, the staff was friendly and the food was reasonably priced too. Besides the fact that it was still very busy, the food arrived fast, and I was just thinking about my time here in New York as I demolished those fluffy carbs and saw the people crossing the street outside.
Now I've eaten a lot of pancakes in my life, but these ones have to be in the top 3, because oh my, those were good. The fruit, the syrup and the pancakes obviously were perfect and I ate it all.

The Wild Son is perfect for eating alone, eating with friends or even to catch up with your parents. It has that cool New York City vibe, is packed with locals and really close to the High Line. Perfect for a walk after all those fluffy pancakes!

Have you ever been in NYC? What is your favourite brunch place?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Mont Blanc

It's been a while since I talked about a foundation on the blog, so I thought it was about time to introduce you to the latest addition to my make-up routine. I used the Collection Lasting Perfection Foundation -yup the big sister of my holy grail concealer- for a really long time, and I still love it a lot, but it's so damn orange on my pale winter skin that it was time for a change.

Here comes in the NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Mont Blanc. I was actually going for the NARS Sheer Glow foundation, but the lady at the counter said that this one might be better for my oily skin, and she was 100% right. Sheer Glow is perfect when your skin is on the dry side, but as mine is combination/oily it's better to stay away from those kinds of products.

The NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation is an oil-free, liquid foundation that gives full, natural-looking coverage. The formula is quite thin and lightweight and it feels really nice on the skin. I use about 2-3 pumps on my skin and blend it in with my Real Techniques Expert Face Brush -best brush out there-. It blends in very smooth, looks amazing on and it covers my acne, scarring and redness perfectly. At first it can look a bit cakey, but once I have applied the rest of my makeup, my skin looks flawless and natural. It stays on for a while too. NARS says that it will stay on for 16 hours and I have to take their word for it. I have probably worn it for max. 12 hours and it looks the same as it did in the morning. A bit shinier though, but there is nothing a bit of powder can't fix. I have been using this foundation since the start of December and I'm not even halfway through so that is definitely a plus, a little bit goes a long way with this babe. 

Now on the things that are not so great about the foundation. First of all it's on the pricier side. I picked it up when I was shopping in Duty Free at Gatwick Airport, so that saved me a bit of money. Of course any high end foundation is pricy compared to their drugstore companions, either suck it up and spend the pennies or you just look for a more affordable alternative -aka me spending almost 120 dollar on 3 foundations at Sephora-. Next on to the last and only downside of this beauty. I don't think dry skin gals will love this. It clings to dry patches a bit, and although I don't have dry skin, it kind of sits on the dry skin around the acne that appears on my face from time to time. I don't mind it that much, because every product kind of clings to that area.

If you have combination/oily, acne-prone skin like me you have to try out this NARS foundation! I have not had any break outs either with this product and I think my skin looks really nice with it on. It also photographs beautifully -aka your selfies look lush- and I can't recommend it enough. Dryer skin gals, try the NARS Sheer Glow. I have not personally tried it myself, but it's so hyped that it must be good, right?

Have you tried a NARS foundation? Which one is your favourite?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

My Glossier Showroom Experience in NYC

You must be living under a rock to not have heard of the brand Glossier. It's all over Instagram, YouTube and blogs and as curious as I am I wanted to see what the fuss was about. Luckily for me I went to New York -read about what I did there here- so of course I popped into their showroom in Soho.
Glossier is founded by Emily Weiss from the website Into The Gloss. Also remember Emily the super intern from The Hills? She was interning in New York and helped Lauren and Whitney in LA with a Teen Vogue event. She is the same Emily! I thought that was so funny!

Before going to the store I did some research online on what kind of products are worth it and which ones are not. Glossier is mainly focused on people with pretty good skin that is a bit dry. Hence the name Glossier aka glossy, glowy skin. Since my skin is more on the oily, acne-prone side most products are not targeted for me, but I still was like why not have a cheeky look and pop in for a lip balm? Because you can never have enough lip balms.

The Glossier Showroom is located on 23 Lafayette St. An elevator will take you up where you enter a room for beauty lovers. All products are displayed and you can try them out as much as you like. The concept is that you write down whatever you want on a Glossier sheet and then go up to the cashier or one of the Glossier ladies and order your goodies. A few minutes later someone calls for your name and there you have it: your own cute Glossier bag.

I had a look at the oh so popular Balm Dotcom ($12/15ml), a multipurpose lip balm, and tried them all out. In the end I went with the plain, unscented one, because I felt like I would use that the most. I also ordered Super Pure, one of the three Glossier serums. Super Glow and Super Bounce are more oriented on dry, dull skin and Super Pure has zinc and vitamin B3 and is supposed to calm redness and break-out prone skin. With $28 it's on the pricier side, especially since you only get 15 ml, but I wanted to give it a go to see if it would really cure my skin.

Overall I do like the Glossier shopping experience, it's a bit different than your usual Sephora run, but I liked it. The goodies that you buy are packed in this pink packaging and it gives you this luxury, cool gal feel. The store can be a bit small and is usually packed with other girls who love trying everything out. I went on the weekend too, so maybe try going there on a weekday to avoid crowds. Or order online if you live in the US, Canada or UK. 
I still need to test out the Balm Dotcom and Super Pure serum, but when I do a review of these babies will go up ASAP. Just in time for my next trip to the Glossier showroom in May!

Have you tried anything from Glossier?

Monday, January 22, 2018

My New York Trip

Last week was a real bucket list moment for me. I finally hopped on a plane and went to the city of all cities: New York. Visiting the Big Apple has always been a dream of mine and I still can't believe that I actually went there and saw the city that never sleeps in action.

Since I had never been there before I wanted enough time to see all the sights. I ended up being there for 9 days (including travel) and it was enough for all the things that I wanted to see and do (see my NYC prep post here). I will write a New York City guide soon with all the do's and don'ts and handy tips for when you are planning a trip to NYC, this post will be my personal experience and will have lots -and I mean lots- of pictures, since the city is so photogenic. Ughh please bring me back! -I have actually already looked up flights and stuff. The post NYC blues are real.

Day 1
A day of flying and travelling to the Big Apple. I was very nervous because this was my first long flight plus the fact that I was all by myself making the biggest trip of my life yet. I basically spent all the hours watching 'Friends' and other films and the time went fast. We landed in JFK within no time and although we had a few hours of delay -they found out the breaks didn't work just as we were about to go up in the air- I still felt quite okay. Customs went smoothly and after collecting my suitcase -does anyone else gets paranoid as well that your suitcase won't show up?- I hopped into a shuttle bus to my hotel on the Upper West Side. All I did was check-in, unpack my suitcase, showering and immediately went for a well-deserved nap.

Day 2
Normally I am not the kind of person that wakes up early. I can sleep for hours and hours, but my body decided to wake me up at 4AM and there was no way it was going back to sleep. Gotta love jetlag. I started my day bright and early at Top of the Rock and boy it was quiet at that time of the day. Perfect for those Instagram shots and since the weather was sunny I had the most amazing view of Manhattan. After those views I went to the hotel were Serena and her family lived in Gossip Girl -I was really fangirling there- and took some snaps at Radio City Music Hall and Times Square. I then ate the most amazing blueberry pancakes at IHOP and continued my sightseeing tour with the Flatiron Building, Grand Central Station, NY Public Library, Carnegie Hall and Columbia University.

Day 3
That day I woke up at 5AM -a bit of improvement- and had a lovely breakfast at Citizens of Chelsea before I headed to the Empire State Building. It was a cloudy and grey day but the views from there were still spectacular. I then went on to Brooklyn where I had an oatmeal bowl at Stonefruit Espresso + Kitchen and spent the rest of my afternoon in Target. There is a huge Target near Barclays Centre and oh my god, it's bloody amazing. As a European gal who has always heard of Target it was quite the experience and it's safe to say I spend way too many dollars in there. I dropped of all my stuff at the hotel, had a quick nap -because you know, shopping is hard- and headed to the Empire State Building again to see it at night time. Manhattan looks even more mesmerizing at this time of day. All the lights sparkle and it's very surreal to have a look at the city this way. Definitely one of my favourite moments of the trip. Despite almost losing my phone because of the wind.

Day 4
To start of my day I ate some cookie dough -yes you are reading that right- pancakes and a cotton candy milkshake at Big Daddy's. A heavy breakfast, but I thought when I eat at Big Daddy's I need to pick all the good things. I walked all the way to the other side of Central Park to go and have a look at The Met. Every Gossip Girl fan must know that those steps are sacred and I loved walking up the steps to have a look at some art. I probably spent about 2 hours in there before I walked outside again and it was raining like crazy. After hunting down an umbrella at H&M, I shopped some candy at Dylan's Candy Store and bought my own Sprinkles Cupcake at the pink ATM machine. In the evening I met up with a friend and went to Ellen's Stardust Diner. A cheesy, touristy diner where the staff sings. We had to wait outside for 45 minutes, but I think it was totally worth it. They can all sing so well and it wouldn't surprise me if they ended up in a Broadway show.

Day 5
On Saturday I had a yummy breakfast at Maman before walking to the 9/11 memorial and museum. The museum to me was a sad and emotional experience since you hear all the personal stories from people who have lost someone and from the police and fire department as well. It's one of the things I really recommend seeing if you ever go to New York. After my visit I walked around a bit before hopping on a boat to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. It was a cold day and I was not prepared for that -the day before it was 15°C and now -8°C- I loved seeing everything though. Especially on Ellis Island you have the most amazing view of the city skyline and I actually sat there near the water and took it all in. I ended the day with some Chipotle and Netflix. American Netflix is sooo good. We need those Disney Channel movies here ASAP!

Day 6
Another sunny, cold day in New York City! I had some pancakes at The Wild Son in Meatpacking District and visited the 'Friends' building -again fangirl moment- and Carrie's house from 'Sex & the City'. I also walked a bit on The High Line, which I think will be beautiful in the summer time. This was also my food day as I bought a cupcake at Magnolia Bakery, some cookie dough at Do, a green croissant at Moonhouse Bakery and a rose donut at Doughnut Plant. The statue in Washington Square Park was also a ‘Friends’ moment for me as they show it so many times in the show. I also visited the Glossier store and may have bought a few bits and pieces. I will talk about that experience in another post. But yeah, mainly did a lot of walking in Chinatown, Nolita and East Village and ate a lot. What a perfect day!

Day 7
So this is the day where I met a celebrity. I kind of hoped beforehand that I would bump into someone and on that particular morning I did. I was just casually walking down the street when I see this guy walking towards me. One look at his face and hair and I was like OMG THAT’S COLE SPROUSE! All my 'Riverdale' and 'Sweet Life' dreams came true. No, I didn't talk to him, ask him for a photo or chased him down the street. -although that did pop into my head for a sec- He seemed to be in a rush -he was on Jimmy Fallon that evening, so it must have been him- and I freaked out by myself on the street. 
Enough fangirling and back to my NYC day where I picked up a tea from Happy Bones in Nolita and took the subway to the American Museum of National History. A true film moment for me again since 'Night at the Museum' was filmed here. The museum was nice but more oriented for kids. I walked around, used their restroom -like you do- and went to Brooklyn for a rainbow bagel. This was such a hype years ago, but I felt like I still had to do it. I also walked around Dumbo and went to Manhattan with a walk across Brooklyn Bridge. The views from there are amazing. Another pinch me, I'm in New York moment.

Day 8
My last full day in the city started with an acai bowl at The Butcher's Daughter. I feel this café is a must when visiting New York and I did like the interior and vibe there. To finish it off I ordered a chai matcha latte at Cha Cha Matcha -another NYC classic- and walked around Nolita. Now that bowl that I had earlier was delicious but not very filling so I had a burger at By Chloe. I wanted to go here a couple days earlier but it was so busy that I decided to eat there earlier in the day –to avoid the crowds-. The burger, fries and beet ketchup were good, but not as good as the Vegan Junk Food Bar in Amsterdam. I spent my whole afternoon being lost in Sephora and Target on 34th street and took a Shake Shack takeaway back to my hotel. Eating those cheesy fries while watching Camp Rock, Lemonade Mouth, Princess Protection Program and Starstruck.

Day 9
A sad day for me since I was finally getting used to the New York City life. I wanted to eat at Jack's Wife Freda, but they had a problem with the water so I ended up not eating breakfast because I was worried I wouldn't have enough time for all the other things I wanted to do. I took the subway to 34th street again, because my sister wanted a few more bits from Sephora -am I not the sweetest sister in the world?-. I walked all the way over to Central Park from 34th and had one last look at Times Square. I then finally had my first bite of food (a bagel) that day at Woops! on the Upper East Side. I also had a red velvet macaron -because why the heck not- and an almond chai latte. With my drink I walked through Central Park and as the snow drizzled down it really started to sink in that I absolutely bloody love this city and I don't want to leave. To complete the New York vibes I bought a hot dog and pretzel from a food cart and walked through Central Park towards my hotel. There was a Pressed Juicery near my hotel so I also picked up two healthy juices, since I basically only ate pancakes and Shake Shack takeaways that week. Save to say they tasted pretty good. The shuttle bus was right on time to pick me up and drop me off at JFK. A quick change to some comfier clothes, some Dunkin Donuts and a Jamba Juice later I was all boarded and ready to head back to Amsterdam. 

As I'm writing this post I can't help but smile over all the things that I have done in New York. At first I had to adjust and the surreal feeling just wouldn't go away, but once I felt more at ease I fell in love with everything the city has to offer. I really want to come back around September/October since it will be a bit warmer and the whole pumpkin pie Halloween festivities are going on. New York you have been amazing and I can't wait to return!

Have you ever been to New York? What is your favourite thing about the city?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Amsterdam Food Hotspot: Vegan Junk Food Bar

I love me a burger and fries. Shake Shack is my bae -do we still use that word in 2018? I don't know but it fits in this particular situation- and whenever I go out for dinner I usually end up in a burger place -or sushi, looooove sushi-. I am all about trying new things and when I heard there was a vegan burger place in town I was all for that. I am not vegan but do like to whack out my vegan cooking skills from time to time and trying out vegan burgers and Dutch 'bitterballen' was something I just had to do.

Vegan Junk Food Bar is quite new to Amsterdam and already has two locations: a small burger bar near 'Vondelpark' and a proper restaurant in the neighbourhood 'De Pijp'. Due to a mix up I went to the restaurant and my friend was at the burger bar. So I hopped on a tram to go and meet her. I think I recommend the place in De Pijp, just for the fact it's a bit bigger. The burger bar was very light though so better for photos. It's just whatever you fancy really.

I ordered the normal VJFB burger and my friend had the double burger. The normal burger consists of: plant-based beef, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red, spring & fried onion mix, pickles and VJFB sauce. The double has an extra patty, jalapeños and fried onion rings. With that, we also ordered Parm Á San and Truffle fries and some Amsterdam Bitterballen. The food came fast and I have to say it was so freaking good! The burgers by itself looked totally Instagrammable and tasted even more amazing. The fries were to die for and the bitterballen actually tasted almost the same as the real deal. I have had some vegan burgers before -even tried to make one myself- but I have never tasted something like this. I think even a meat lover will like this place and that is saying something. 

A lot of people still think of vegan food as boring and I love that the Vegan Junk Food Bar is kicking ass to prove the opposite. Safe to say it was one of the best burgers I've ever had in my life. The sauce, lettuce and everything worked so well together. The only downside is that it's a bit pricier than your usual Shake Shack combo, but hey it's all worth it knowing that you are eating all the plant based goodness!

Have you ever tried a vegan burger? What are your thoughts on them?

Friday, January 12, 2018

My New York Prep (+ map with all the NYC hotspots!)

Visiting New York City has always been a huge dream of mine. Ever since I saw the city in 'Friends' and 'Gossip Girl' I just knew I had to go there one day. The sky high buildings, city lights and crazy American foods just call my name and I am very happy to announce that I am hopping on a plane this week to finally cross the adventure of my bucket list.

When you are reading this I will be there already and I am hopefully having the time of my life, eating all the American rainbow pancakes and taking the most amazing photos of the city sky line (follow me on Instagram to have a peek into my NYC life). For now I am still at home typing this post and I want to share my New York preparation with you. I have been browsing Instagram for months trying to find the good food spots and I think I have found all the places that you have to visit when you go to the Big Apple. I actually found way too many places so you will have to narrow it down yourself, but I still think it's good to have a handy map with all the bits and bops that you need to see. Once I have been there I will update the map and tell you what's hot and what's not. Do keep in mind that I've actually never been to these places before. This is just all the Instagram photos and YouTube vlog stalking and what people told me is a must-see.

Bit of info about the map
Knife and Fork: Brunch
Burger: Dinner
Ice cream cone: All the sweets in the world (including cakes and yup, ice cream)
Coffee: Kind of speaks for itself but includes juice bars and freak shakes too
Camera: The things you have to visit once in New York and the prettiest places for photos
Coat hanger: Shop till you drop

Hope this is helpful for when one of you gals and guys go on a trip to 'the city that never sleeps'. New York is so big and it can be quite overwhelming, so I hope the map will be useful!

XOXO Gossip Girl Marjolein I had to do it sorry

Sunday, January 7, 2018

White Chocolate, Orange & Cranberry Cake

Although the month of stuffing your face with chocolate and mince pies is over that doesn't mean I won't share delicious baking recipes on the blog. I made this cake for Christmas at my mums and it's the best one I ever made. It took me quite a while baking all the sponges and layering the final cake with a perfect, neat coat of icing, but I was so happy when I saw the way it turned out.

It's supposed to be a snazzy Christmas cake, but I think it could be a summer cake too. You can mix up the cranberries in the recipe for raspberries to make it even more summery. Everyone at our Christmas dinner loved the cake and I was so proud when I put the last pieces of decoration on top. I got this recipe from BBC Good Food, with a bit of my own adjustments. Hope you will love it as much as I do!

What do you need?
The cake
300g salted butter, chopped + extra for the tins
200g white chocolate, broken into small pieces
500g plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
500g white caster sugar
300ml natural yogurt
4 tsp vanilla extract
1 large orange, zested and juiced
6 large eggs
4 tbsp milk

The compote
200g cranberries
150g white caster sugar

The icing
200g white chocolate, broken into small pieces
500g salted butter, softened
650g icing sugar
280g cream cheese

The decoration
Meringue kisses (check out this recipe here)
Christmas chocolate
Cake decoration (the gold ones are from Dr. Oetker)

Oven: 180C/160C fan/gas 4

How long will this take me: With all the baking, waiting and decorating I would say 4/5 hours. Unless you are a Bake Off queen, then you will do this in no-time!

Line your two 20cm cake tins with baking parchments and grease the sides with butter. Melt 150g butter with 100g of white chocolate au bain-marie and stir until completely melted.

Whilst that is melting, measure 250g flour, 2 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp bicarb soda and 250g sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add 150g yogurt, 2 tsp vanilla extract, half the orange zest and juice, 3 eggs and 2 tbsp milk. Mix everything together with a whisk and stir in the melted butter and chocolate.

When your mixture is smooth, divide it between the two cake tins and bake them in the oven, on the middle shelf, for 20-25 minutes. Push a skewer into the cakes to check if they are done -it should come out clean-. Our oven is really tiny so I baked them one at a time, which is probably why it took me so damn long to make.

Let the cakes cool in their tins for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack. Clean the tins and repeat the steps for the cake batter to make two more sponges. I actually made the cakes two days before Christmas and wrapped them in a good layer of cling foil and it worked perfectly fine.

To make the compote, simmer the cranberries and sugar in a small pan for 4-5 minutes until jammy. Turn of the heat and let it cool down. I also made the compote beforehand and it honestly saved me so much time.

To make the icing, melt the white chocolate, in the microwave or au bain-marie, and set aside to cool a little. Mash the soft butter and icing sugar together and beat smooth and fluffy with a mixer. Add the white chocolate and cream cheese and keep on mixing until smooth. This recipe actually makes A LOT of icing.

To assemble the cake, place one sponge on a cake board and place the other sponges on top with a little icing and the cranberry compote in between each sponge. Use the sponge with the neatest edge, flipped upside down, on top to give the cake a good shape. (never knew this, such a good tip).

Pile about half the remaining icing on top of the cake and use a palette knife to spread it thinly over the top and down the sides of the cake. This will be the crumb coat, it catches any crumbs, making sure the final layer looks clean and professional -which is what you want-. Put the cake in the fridge for about 10-20 minutes to chill. Then add the final layer of icing.

You can decorate the cake however you like. I decide to mimic the photo from the recipe a bit and it turned out pretty good if I say so myself.  It's hands down the prettiest cake I have ever made and I loved making the last layer of icing so perfect and pretty. Can't wait to make more layer cakes soon!

What is your favourite baking recipe?
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