Urban Jungle Bloggers: Cozy & Green Bedroom

Even a self-confessed plant killer such as myself can’t help but be swept up in the Urban Jungle Bloggers‘ love for all things green and living. For my first UJB post, I invite you to step inside our cozy green bedroom and see how we’ve gearing up for the winter—with a fresh green twist.

Chilly, gray and gloomy, November is the time of year when we start bringing our balcony plants indoors in preparation for our yearly escape to the sunny shores of the Philippines. Our cozy green bedroom becomes not only a sanctuary for us, but for our plants as well.

We don’t have a bedside table, only an Ikea Brimnes headboard that we revamped with scrapwood wallpaper. So everything—from wire clamp lamp to Indian miniature paintings to plants—goes on top of the headboard or into one of the hidden built-in shelves.

Urban Jungle Bloggers November 2014 Cozy Winter Bedroom

It’s also this time of year when we bring out what my husband and I call “the fabuloush“—the beautiful cashmere throws we bought while on honeymoon in Rajasthan. As gullible newlyweds, we spent hours in a tiny shop in the Jaipur market stacked floor to ceiling with every kind of blanket you can imagine, mesmerized by the sales pitch of a birdlike Indian man who sssshhh’d his s’s.

“We ssshhell our productsshh to Etro and Hermesshh,” he announced, winding a cashmere blanket with a stunning black and silver paisley pattern around my shoulders. “Feel it. Feel it. Feel it. If you leave without thissshhh, you will regret it for yearssshhh!”

“Ssssho ssshhoft. Sshho fabuloussshh,” he kept on repeating, like some kind of hypnotic spell. In the end we went into considerable credit card debt to buy not one, but three of them, including the deep purple one you see here.

He said fabuloush so often, that it became our nickname for these blankets—yes, we actually say things like, “I’m taking the purple fabuloush to the cleaners. Can you put the turquoise fabuloush on the bed?”

Urban Jungle Bloggers November 2014 Cozy Winter Bedroom Windowsill

You know what? He was right—we did regret the one fabuloush we didn’t buy (the one with the paisley print). And we still talk about it, seven years later. But the ones we do have are pretty, and keep us warm in the winter.

Since this is my first Urban Jungle Bloggers post, I wanted to spotlight the plants that started it all for me—the ones that actually survived my black thumb and made me believe I could actually care for plants without killing them. One of them is the kalanchoe, a flowering succulent known as “mother of thousands.”

My Dutch kraamzorgster (maternity nurse) gave me a kalanchoe when Tala was born. Almost two years later, I still have the original plant—and have even started propagating a few of my own. This yellow kalanchoe is a welcome pop of sunshine during gray November days.

Urban Jungle Bloggers Winter Bedroom Baby Succulent and Yellow Kalanchoe

 

UJB co-founder Judith gave me a few leaves from her own succulents when we met in Milan earlier this year. Not all survived, but this one did—and has since turned into a lovely little plant. There’s hope for me yet.

 

Urban Jungle Bloggers Winter Bedroom Baby Succulent

That puts the ‘green into our ‘cozy green bedroom’. But what makes it cozy?

Urban Jungle Bloggers Winter Bedroom Pepernoten and Books

My recipe for winter coziness: the warmth of the fabuloush, the company of a good book, and the smell of anise, cinnamon and clove wafting from a bowl of pepernoten. With the Dutch feast of Sinterklaas just around the corner, I’m never too far from a bowl of these traditional Dutch cookies.

What special details make your bedroom cozy and green?

Urban Jungle Bloggers is a monthly blog series hosted by Igor (Happy Interior Blog) and Judith (JOELIX.com) that shares ideas to create an urban jungle through styling, DIYs, and green tips & tricks. Find inspiration on the Urban Jungle Bloggers Pinterest board and Facebook page. To join, visit the UJB website and use #urbanjunglebloggers on Twitter and Instagram. Let’s bring some green into our homes and blogs!

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Date night: Hotel de Goudfazant Amsterdam Noord

On my birthday, Marlon took me out for dinner at a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try: Hotel de Goudfazant in Amsterdam Noord.

Date night Hotel de Goudfazant Amsterdam Noord

Don’t be misled by the name: it’s not a hotel. Hotel de Goudfazant is a casual French restaurant with a cool, industrial-chic vibe. This former garage still shows its industrial bones, despite the awe-inspiring glass bottle chandelier that hangs in its huge dining room…

Hotel de Goudfazant Amsterdam Noord

and the large open kitchen, where you can watch the cooks hustle to get your dinner on the table. I love this touch of drama: the kitchen becomes a theater where the cooks are the rock stars.

Open kitchen at Hotel de Goudfazant Amsterdam Noord

I say “cooks” and not “chefs,” because I actually know one of them personally. One of them is a classmate of mine in Dutch class. “So you’re a chef,” I said.

“No, I’m not a chef, I’m a cook,” he replied emphatically. Seeing my puzzled look, he added: “They are very, very particular about the distinction between a chef and a cook here in the Netherlands. Only the boss is the chef. His assistant is the sous-chef. Everyone else is a cook.”

Makes sense, right? After all, chef literally means head, chief or boss in French.

Oysters and champagne Hotel de Goudfazant Amsterdam Noord

As the birthday girl, I got a glass champagne and oysters on the house, care of my chef—er, cook friend. Now that’s a way to start a date night!

Hotel de Goudfazant has a classic French menu with staples such as terrine, venison, steak and lobster, although there are seasonal variations as well. Here, French doesn’t mean fussy and hip doesn’t mean hoity-toity—the atmosphere is casual and unpretentious, and service is friendly and attentive.

Because of the low ambient lighting, I didn’t get any decent food photos (you’ll find lots on their Yelp page). But I did get to wander around the rest of their amazing industrial space, as well as hang out with the staff after closing time. Check out more of Hotel de Goudfazant, after the jump.

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& Other Stories Amsterdam store opening

Have you heard of & Other Stories? Ever since I stepped into their Berlin store two years ago, I’ve been a big fan of this brand, which is part of the H&M Group. I longed for the day they would open a store in Amsterdam… and they finally did! So you can imagine how thrilled I was to be invited to the store opening of & Other Stories Amsterdam.

& Other Stories Amsterdam opening night

One of my favorite things about blogging is the opportunity to meet wonderful people who become your friends online as well as off. The invitation was the sweetest birthday surprise from my blog reader Angel, a fellow Pinay and travel magazine editor living in Arnhem. We’d been emailing each other about meeting up for a while, and it finally happened. Meeting an online friend in person is a bit like going on a blind date, but Angel and I hit it off right away.

Me and Angel at & Other Stories Amsterdam opening

I had been craving for a girly night out and the & Other Stories store opening provided just that. I thought I’d only stay an hour or two, but I couldn’t tear myself away. How could I? For starters, there were hunky men walking around wearing trays of jewelry…

& Other Stories Amsterdam treat tray

and scribbling cute little notes on bottle after bottle of champagne.

& Other Stories Amsterdam champagne with notes

Funny thing: after posting this picture on Instagram, I bumped into this exact same waiter on the tram the very next day! Sometimes I feel like Amsterdam really is a village. I showed him his picture and all the likes he had gotten, and we had a nice laugh about it.

See more from the & Other Stories Amsterdam store opening after the jump.

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Westerpark Amsterdam: Fall colors in the city

Fall leaves Westergasfabriek Amsterdam

One thing I’ve realized about fall in Amsterdam: it goes from ‘picturesque’ to ‘miserable’ quicker than you think. Looking out my window as I write, the trees lining our canal are almost bare. I stop and ask myself: have I made the most of this beautiful yet fleeting time?

I’d like to think I have. I’ve got pictures to prove it, and a certain pigtailed little girl to thank.

Mirakelbrug Westerpark Amsterdam

With an increasingly mobile toddler who gets restless being cooped up at home, long walks in Westerpark Amsterdam have become a staple in our routine. I hardly ever use a stroller; I take Tala on my bike, or strap her into a tricycle I bought secondhand (her feet can’t reach the pedals yet). Our walks have been great for our bonding, and on some days, essential to my sanity.

Autumn turns to winter swiftly here. Now I can’t go out coatless and just in sneakers anymore. In a matter of days, the grass in Westerpark went from littered with fallen leaves…

Fall leaves on green grass Westerpark Amsterdam

to thickly carpeted with them.

Gorgeous fall leaves at Westerpark Amsterdam

As a Manila-born and bred Filipina living in the Netherlands, fall is still fresh and magical to me. Forget my daughter… I wanted to roll and play in the autumn leaves myself!

Tala doesn’t quite share my enthusiasm for the magic of autumn. That’s okay; I think I have enough for both of us.

Fall don't care Westerpark Amsterdam

We’ve tried setting her on the ground among the leaves to see if she would go wild and just roll around in the leaves or something. Nope. Mostly she just wants to cling to Daddy.

Playing with fall leaves Westerpark Amsterdam

What she does love about Westerpark, regardless of the season: feeding the pigeons, seagulls and ducks. Fall simply brings us this dreamy light, and creates the atmosphere of sunset even if it’s early in the afternoon.

Feeding the ducks Westerpark Amsterdam

The first time Marlon gave Tala a few crumbs of stale bread for the birds, she immediately popped it into her own mouth. Oops! Now she knows a little better, although the crumbs don’t always make it into the water. But she loves it when the birds swarm around her to peck at the crumbs by her feet.

Feeding ducks at Westerpark Amsterdam

She also loves the little playground by the pond. It has three sand pits, but they’re usually too damp and cold to play in. She loves the bouncy horse…

Westerpark Amsterdam playground bouncy horse

and she’s crazy about the slide, especially since she’s learned how to slide down by herself. Yes, she goes down the slide by herself, at 1.5 years old. No, we are not irresponsible parents. Besides, she still needs our help to go up!

Westerpark Amsterdam playground

This is just daily life in Amsterdam for us. But this is also one of those myriad little ways that having a child can change your life. If it was totally up to me, I’d spend all those chilly autumn mornings curled in a blanket on the couch, reading a book.

Without Tala dragging me out into the world, this lazy mom would have missed the transformation of fall as it happened bit by bit, day by day, right in my own back yard. And now that it’s almost all done, I’m so glad I got to watch it unfold.

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7 Reasons to read Dutched Up! Rocking the Clogs Expat Style

So, something pretty cool has happened. I’ve become a published author!

Dutched Up! Rocking the Clogs Expat Style is an anthology of stories written by women expat bloggers living in the Netherlands, which I wrote an essay for and helped edit.

After months of work by publishers Olga Mecking and Lynn Morrison, as well as the community of bloggers who helped put the book together, I’m proud to announce that Dutched Up! is now available as a Kindle e-book on Amazon and on iTunes.

Dutched Up Rocking the Clogs Expat Style

The fact that I’m in this book is reason enough for my mom and husband to buy it, but I realize you guys might need a little more convincing. So I’ve thought of 7 reasons you should go and get Dutched Up!

You’ve got a Dutch connection. If you currently live or have ever lived in the Netherlands, this is the book for you. You’ll discover you’re not the only one who’s been mistaken for a lady of the night, peered into your neighbor’s wide-open windows, or left dumbstruck by Dutch directness. Or perhaps you have a Dutchie in your life—spouse, boyfriend, or in-laws. You’ll recognize bits and pieces of them here, and perhaps learn a few new tips and tricks for living with their, ehem, unique way of being.

You’re living the expat life—or are contemplating it. From your first confrontation with a foreign supermarket shelf to being the eternal Other at your workplace, these are experiences you can relate to all too well. Contemplating a move overseas? You’ll benefit from an insider’s look at all the little nooks and crannies where culture shock resides, waiting to leap out and ambush you. Call it an early warning system.

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