Two weeks in the electric city of Amsterdam filled with culture, tourist attractions and food markets.Read More
I had every intention of beginning this year by relaunching my blog into a new and dazzling format featuring oodles of beautiful lifestyle goodness.Then I turned around and it's the end of March.
I'm excited to be able to write that I have officially finished the third and what I hope to be the final draft of my novel "Lush at Sea" and am now actively seeking an agent with the dreams of it finding a publishing home in the very near future.
The other excited news is that I have decided to go back to school. I stumbled upon the New School in NY and fell in love with its programs and flexibilities. So yesterday, I hit the "submit application" button and am crossing my fingers that I get accepted. In another big leap, I have also entered their Scholarship Contest to win a full scholarship. You can check it out here and I would be greatful if you *liked* it.
I am going to be relaunching my site in April to truly focus on Lifestyle content from fabulous food and recipes to party planning tips to culinary travel. So I hope you will stop back in the next few weeks to check it out!
Once again Coach Jennie sent out a mission to her League of Ambitious Badasses of which I am a part of. Blog about your 12 favorite things. I have a lot of favorite things but when I found myself writing “my shoe collection”, “Jason Statham movies”, “American Muscle Cars” and things of this sort I just halted, not really able to go on. Though I have been studying metaphysics and spirituality for eons, I do have a penchant towards the superficial. But, I realized that this post could be more. It could be a way to close out this year, 2014 which has been by far one of the most surprisingly trying years of my 40-something life. So instead, I’ve decided to take some time and reflect and try to find the good in the madness. A way to remember this year for its delights instead of its devastations.
1. January: My Money Girls.
Late 2013 I started reading the book Money a Love Story by Kate Northrup in an effort to better understand my relationship with money. Through a series of synchronistic events, I came across a Facebook posting from a woman in France who was looking to start a book club based on the book. A few weeks later, our Money group was formed and I got to meet via skype Madeleine who lives in a small village in France and Lisa who lives in Arkansas. Together we started studying our money and dove into the world of finances. But more importantly, unexpectedly I got to forge inspiring friendships with like-minded souls. And as an added bonus, out of nowhere in January I received a check for the exact amount that I needed to cover the cost of my Dutch classes.
2. February: Unexpected Travel.
I started 2014 with Travel in mind. I got bit by the travel bug in 2008 and have come to adore to finding myself in new places. Out of nowhere, I got an opportunity to travel to Brussels, Belgium by way of house sitting. I joined this fabulous site Trustedhousesitters.com and spent 2 weeks in fabulous Brussels with a new dog friend. Valentine’s Day, I found myself enjoying pizza with the dog’s father at a charming and packed little pizzeria the night before his departure. Brussels turned out to be a magnificent city and the mussels in Brussels were by far, the best I ever had!
3. March : Meeting unexpected people in unexpected places.
In the last days of February, I was still exploring Brussels when I stopped into one of the oldest pubs on the Grote Maarkt a few paces away from where Victor Hugo once lived. As I was sitting there enjoying a Belgium beer, I overheard a woman speaking with her father at the next table. Hearing a distinctive American accent, I started talking to her and come to found out that she lived in LA, like me, once upon a time. But now divides her time between Norway and Belgium. We made a date to meet up in a few days as it was going to be March 1st, my anniversary of moving to Europe. We met at a fabulous old restaurant, Chez Leon, that is famed for the aforementioned mussels. After a bottle of wine, we came upon a fabulous Art Deco club that in the middle of the afternoon was hosting a jazz concert. That day will seriously go down as one of the most fabulous days of my life.
4. April: Family.
Moving from Seattle and my father was one of the hardest things that I ever did. But the words “If not now, then when?” kept ringing through my ears and I knew that if I didn’t take the leap, as hard as it was, then I never would do it. But In April, after more than a year of being away, I went back to Seattle to visit my family. Little things like having coffee with my father or sharing a bottle of wine, were some of the things that I missed most about leaving. It was incredibly joyous to do these things again. My brother and his partner also whisked me away to the Oregon coast where I had never been before. So between hanging out with my dad and experiencing another place, this was by far one of the best trips I ever took. As an added bonus, I met up with an old friend from my ship days who took me to a gun range. After years away from shooting (I did grow up in Miami after all) it was fabulous to face my new found fear of guns and empowering to hit the target.
5. May: Going Dutch and more unexpected friends.
When I came back to the Netherlands, I started school again to continue learning Dutch. This has been a process trying to grasp this very difficult language. But one day as I was sitting outside in the parking lot waiting for school to begin, a girl came up and once again, I detected that unmistakable American accent. We started talking and that meeting turned into my closest friendship here with my fabulous American soul sister Jessi. I'm grateful to meet someone in this land of tulips and different customs that gets my Seinfeld references. My ability to start a conversation with just about anyone has proven to be one of my favorite talents. I’m grateful that as a result, I’ve met so many fantastic people around the world that I might have otherwise not met.
6. June: Writing.
I spent most of the early Summer working furiously on my novel. In June I reached a huge milestone in my writing as it was my one year anniversary as a paid writer. Yes!
7. July: Jazz in France.
In July, I got to finally meet one of my Money girls in person. I traveled to the south of France to meet Madeleine. She lives in a beautiful house in a small charming village. We cooked beautiful dishes, drank fabulous wine and went to a charming little café that featured a performance by this awesome jazz musician. Sitting outside listening to this glorious music, drinking a delicious rose with a new, dear friend, I found myself happier than I had been in ages.
8. August: Finishing my novel. In August I finally got to write the two sweetest words in a writer’s life “the end.” I finished my first novel about the three years I spent traveling the world working on board a cruise ship. I had been working on this for two years so finally finishing it was a huge accomplishment for me. Here’s hoping that 2015 is the year it is picked up by a publisher!
9. September: Finding beauty in the destruction.
I started September once again in France. The day before I left, my father went into the hospital. By all accounts, he was fine. As I found myself in France, caring for my friend’s two little girl’s I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was just not right. I booked a ticket to head to Seattle to see my Dad and to be there to help my brother with his care. The morning after I bought the ticket, I was coming home from dropping the girl’s at school. It was 9:00 A.M. I went outside to my friend’s back yard and as I sat there in the sun, the entire yard started filling up with these tiny birds. Dozens and dozens of birds flew around me and made their presence known by flying about wildly and dipping themselves into her pool. My first thought was “Oh God, please don’t let this symbolize death.” A few hours later I was awoken while I was trying to nap. My brother was on the phone. My worst fears were realized. My father had passed on. As it turned out, at the exact moment that the birds were doing their wild dance more than 6,000 miles away from him in a tiny village in France.
10. October: Coming back stronger.
When I came back from Seattle in late September I was emotionally and physically exhausted. But I carried with me the kindness of friends and strangers alike. So many people stepped up when my father passed and the support I received was incredible. I had also survived my biggest fear. Never in a million years did I think that I could ever muster up the strength that it took to deal with my Dad’s passing. But I realized in the wake of the aftermath that I am way more stronger and far more capable than I ever thought possible. My father’s passing made me more determined than ever to get to it, to create the life of my dreams. To know that I can handle just about anything. And for those lessons, I am grateful.
11. November: A month of coaching a la carte.
In November, I sought out coaching. I had sessions with a variety of coaches around the world in an effort to put together a plan to make my dream life possible. My biggest take away from all these sessions were that I have the talents, and I have to tools to create my delicious life. I just need to focus on my dreams consistently. Consistency, being my sore spot. But this made me more determined than ever to finish the editing on my book, revamp my website, find new writing opportunities and to be grateful.
12. December: Following Through. Consistency and follow through have always been my weaknesses. I have been known to get super jazzed about something, bust on it for awhile and then right before it comes to fruition, I back down, walk away, then give up. But realizing a pattern is the first step to overcoming it. As part of my living in the Netherlands, I have to take this big exam to show my grasp of the Dutch language. After my Dad passed on, I signed up to take the test in December. And true to form about three weeks before the exam, I started to give up. But then I caught myself and pummeled on. I studied like mad and December 17th and 18th, I headed to Zwolle, in the middle of the Country and took the exam. I have to wait weeks for the results. I have no idea how I did as it was incredibly tough, but I did it. I followed through.
These moments are some of my favorites from 2014. Although this has not been my favorite year and will most likely go down as the one in which my father finally passed on, writing this post has made me realize that through it all, I have accomplished and obtained so much. I suffered a huge loss but I also gained a huge understanding of myself. And I am very much looking forward to closing out this year and welcoming in the new.
Thank you so much for reading and I truly wish that 2015 is an absolutely and fabulously prosperous year for all of us!
I'm a very visual person and years ago I heard about creating a "vision board", a sort of visual road map of your goals and dreams in life. Since 2008, I've created a board each and every year, starting with that very first one I created while I was in Paris for the very first time. I had brought along a glue stick and a little envelope of images that conveyed what it was that I wanted in life. One morning as snow drifted outside and my brother, whom I was traveling with slept, I sat at the little desk of the rented apartment and pasted my dreams into a collage. I have to note that 2008 turned out to be a pretty epic year for me. I had finally realized my dream if going to Paris, I created the pilot of the TV show that I had written and to top it off, I got the job working on a cruise ship that would ultimately change my life.
In the FB group that I belong to; the LAB that I mentioned in my first post, one of the members Autumn posed the question of vision boards a few weeks ago. At the time I was staring at my own vision board that honestly had grown dusty and stale and had become not much of an inspiration anymore. I decided that now was the time to revamp my vision and give myself a new road map ripe with my new and juicy goals. On it I posted my favorite photo of myself. I made a mock-up of the book that I have finished writing and am now editing. I have a photo of Amsterdam, a city that I find so inspiring and so beautiful and that each time I visit, I just can not believe that people get to live there! I have also posted words that as a writer, can be so incredibly powerful to me.
During a particularly inspiring session with Megan Allen Tsui who is a life and business coach, we talked about my vision board and she proposed that instead of it just hanging on my wall for just me to see, that I should sent it out into the Stratosphere to give it some momentum. The idea completely scared me at first. I was used to keeping my dream collages as my own, for only me to see. But then it hit me. If the ideas of sharing my goals with others, even if they are in a visual code, scares me then its all the more reason to put them out there. Ah, so here it goes, I am sharing with you my new vision for my dreamier life.
Hi, I'm Candi and I am a recipe addict. I spend a large chunk of my time online scouring the internet for things to make. I grew up in Miami and am a huge lover of light, fresh fare. Fish and a salad is my idea of a good dinner time. Tofu? Yes! Please. But enter the Netherlands, the land of meat and potatoes (or more specifically stamppot, of which I am now starting to get the hang of) My partner is very Dutch and grew up on fare that couldn't be further from my dining upbringing. So alas, cooking for the two of us has been a bit of a culinary journey. And I will admit that a lot of times, I end up making 2 completely different meals for dinner time. So enter my obsession of the recipe treasure hunt. I decided that as part of this new blog re-launch of mine, once a month I will post some of my delish findings.
First up is This corn soup posted on David Lebovitz's divine blog about living the sweet life in Europe. I made it, loved it but ah, wasn't a hit with the rest of the household. But perhaps you wanna give it a try. It works just as well with both fresh and frozen corn.
I adore cauliflower, especially tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and then roasted in a 400F oven for a half hour until golden and just delicious. Self magazine (another addiction of mine though a LOT harder to get my fix in Holland) did an article on 8 creative ways to cook with cauliflower. Although many of the recipes did look fabulous, the one I tried and fell in love with was the cauliflower and sweet potato tacos (pictured). Great combination if you like sweet potatoes. Which my man doesn't so I made this while I was house-sitting in Amsterdam solo a few weeks back.
Another site that I love is Leite's Culinaria. The recipe section is a virtual goldmine of food inspiration.
And lastly, my absolute favorite site of late is Culy. A Dutch site all things culinary created by Dutch culinary superstar Monica Van Loon. It is entirely in Dutch but check it out, if nothing else it is truly food porn for the soul. Dream scenario is that one day soon my writing in Dutch gets to be good enough that I can contribute. A girl can dream... My favorite is the section Recept van de Dag (Recipe of the Day) where they feature something that looks positively scrumptious. This was one that I came across: The perfect Mac and Cheese. It comes from a Martha Stewart recipe and looks positively delicious!
If you have a favorite recipe site, I would love to know about!
Candy, despite being my name is positively one of my favorite foods. Gummy Bears, Skittles, any sort of fruit-flavored hard candy, yum. The fabulous folks at Fooddiggity have ingeniously came up with a wine and Halloween candy pairing chart (and thanks to Jessi for passing it on!) LOVE the Nerds / Champagne pairing idea. And candy corn with a buttery Chardonnay- double yum. For Skittles, I would also try Vihno Verde, the gorgeous green wine from Portugal, a personal wine favorite of mine. It's dry with a bit of citrus and a slight metallic finish. For added bonus, it has a touch of sparkling wine-like effervescence. Ah, wishing I was in the States right now with a big ol' bag of contraband candy. Cheers!
I have been toying with the idea of re-launching my blog for sometime to focus more on Lifestyle, Food, Entertaining and this European life that I am now living after dreaming for years about.
In September of this year I experienced a devastating loss and my biggest fear in life came to fruition. My father who has always been my favorite person in the world passed on. I am used to the $hit going down around my birthday (it is after all September 11th) but never in a gazillion years would I have thought that I would actually be spending this Birthday mourning the loss of the most amazing person I have ever known. But the shining light in all of this is that I have survived the one thing I thought that I could never have. And, I can breathe again.
So with that, inspired by Coach Jennie and her League of Ambitious Badasses, onwards to the 10 Most Amazing Things Happening…
1. That I have been blessed to have the most amazing father and that with his passing, I have experienced a rejuvenation in my own life. I have finally begun to live richer, deeper and take action to create my super star, big ol’ juicy dream life. His passing has become the ultimate game-changer for me. I know he would want me to rock my life and create a life beyond my wildest dreams!
2. I am an American living in the Netherlands. As part of the agreement for me getting to live here, I have to take the Dutch integration exam so that I can be a full-blown actual permanent resident. I have registered to take the exam in December. This is a HUGE lofty goal as Dutch aint no easy language. But I am going to pass this exam. With flying colours!
3. That I have gotten to meet some amazing new friends and have my very own little expat community. I’m most grateful that I met Jessi, my kindred American soul sister who like me has a Dutch partner and like me is navigating this crazy tulip-filled land with humor and grace.
4. I started mediating a month ago which is something that I have wanted to do for eons. I find that I’m a bit more-centered, calmer and a little less apt to sweat the small stuff. And as an added bonus, I am also drinking less.
5. That I can actually carry on a conversation in Dutch, is Amazing! As I am writing this I saw a neighbor outside and ran out to chat which I did entirely in het Nederlands. Pretty impressed!
6. I’m grateful for my partner who showed that he will be there for me in the good times and the bad. His support during my father’s passing was invaluable beyond words. I seriously do not think I could have handled everything as I did, without him.
7. My relationship with my brother is simply, amazing. And this year, out of nowhere, he got married to his partner whom I adore and my Dad was alive to see it! Grateful!
8. Amazing is that I am actually being paid to write. I have been a writer since I could first hold a pen. And I know that my career as a writer is growing every day. I know it is truly possible that one day soon, I will be writing about food and lifestyle for some fabulous publications! It’s inevitable! In the meantime, check out one of my newest party planning articles.
9. Last week I was fortunate to have a session with the fabulous Nan Akasha. It was invigorating, enlightening and a huge awakening. I rediscovered my dream of launching Candiland as a lifestyle brand. A European life focused on making everyday a bit more dazzling and delicious.
10. Lastly, I am most grateful for finalllly finishing my first novel this year! On August 1st, I finally got to write two of the most precious words in a writer’s life “The End.”
Thank you for reading and I hope you will tune in as mama has some big plans for this blog baby. And thank you to Coach Jennie for once again giving me that cathartic shove that I so desperately needed!