Corporate Housing

We’ve been in corporate housing for a week and a half. Well, I have. Jaro was lucky enough to settle in when he was out here the few weeks before the holidays.

It’s funny for me to look back on our corporate housing situation a little over a year ago when we moved to Amsterdam. It was exciting and overwhelming at the time, as you can clearly tell from my post. I was so… hyper. So in awe of crazy street names and our mysterious new environment. This time it’s different. The novelty is gone. Perhaps that is because we’re in the U.S. so it doesn’t seem so strange or unfamiliar. Or perhaps it’s because it’s not as fun the second time through. Maybe it’s a little bit of both.

We’re in a high rise on the edge of the Pearl district. It’s a nice enough place, but this time around, I am much more aware of everything that’s missing. Along with any decent kitchen tools (which is torturous), it lacks personality. It feels cold. The constant rain, fog and grey-ness doesn’t help. I have no pictures for you, sorry.

Another cause for this feeling of apathy is that fact that we’ve been in transition since, well I guess July. Yep. Almost half a year. You see, after the tournament, we didn’t know where we would go next. A lot of cities were in the running, and Portland wasn’t even one of them. As you all know, this move was a last minute surprise. So here we are, in the United States, and not able to see or use our stuff. We haven’t had it since October when everything was packed up. That is a long time. I just want my stuff. I want my blankets. I want my bed. I want my… raincoats. And that’s just stuff from the Netherlands. Before moving to Europe, we had left most of our belongings in Chicago, so it will feel great to also be reunited with that stuff after 18 months. Stuff. It’s amazing how much it helps you feel “home”. Jaro and I have become pretty good at making all these temporary accommodations “homey”, but now we’re just anxious. And tired of living out of suitcases.


It’s making us super-charged to find a house. We’re ready to, dare I say it, settle down.


{image of me in our Amsterdam apartment just before the move}

Portland: 8 First Impressions

We moved to Portland just over a week ago. I have some initial takeaways that really aren’t based off much; the majority of my time has been spent on a massive house hunt and I spend most waking hours researching, viewing, discussing and generally worrying being excited about buying a home. It may have only been a week, but it has been a whole week. I’ve been out and about learning about this little city that we now call home. It will be fun to look back at this list someday and think, wow, I didn’t know anything. (I did something similar for Stockholm here… for nothing, but oh well).

Here are my first impressions:

  1. It rains. Like, all the time. And it doesn’t help that everyone insists this is the worst time of the year. I mean, please. I was about to move to Stockholm. This is nothing. It’s just a bit depressing. Amsterdam was similar when we moved there too, and I felt trapped in our corporate housing there. At least here we have a car. But, with our current housing in the Pearl (one of the most trendy, sought-after areas), I want to walk around. And I can’t bring myself to do it. You want to know why? Well, since I was planning on a move to the frozen tundra of Stockholm and expecting to be reunited with my stuff before spring, I did not bring a single rain jacket with me. They are all in our shipping container somewhere. But you know what I do have? Four down coats. That’s right, FOUR. Five if you count my down vest. And not a single rain jacket.
  2. Everyone drives everywhere. I guess this is a west coast city planning thing, but you can’t survive here without a car. Things are spaced out and public transit is limited. It’s a big change from our Euro life; not owning a car in Amsterdam and relying completely on public transportation was so easy. Now I have to rely on myself, which isn’t as fun. And have car payments. And pay for gas.
  3. Speaking of gas, the stations here are full service. It is SO weird. I feel terrible sitting in my car while some poor sap fills my tank. I guess it’s a job, though?
  4. I’m loving the landscape; it’s totally different from the flat Midwest and the lowlands of the Netherlands. From the wide river it sit on, to the mountains and pine forests surrounding it, Portland is beautiful. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Hood in the distance. It is quite majestic!  I’m so looking forward to hiking (in my plaid flannel and snacking on my homemade granola) once the weather warms up.
  5. There is a uniform here. Try to go more than a few blocks without seeing someone in a Patagonia down sweater, a beanie, and boots. Try.
  6. We are trying to cook most of our meals at home, but we did go out over the weekend to see what weekend culture here is all about. Something I think I’m going to love is that the dining and bar scene is so relaxed. If you noticed my twitter feed to the right, we have checked out Brix for beers, Saburo for sushi, Corkscrew for wine, and Vault for martinis. Two thumbs up! Looking forward to more foodie exploration.
  7.  Keep Portland weird is a real thing. No really, there are signs that say it everywhere. And it makes perfect, weird sense as you drive down a street with bright purple, orange and lime green houses.
  8. I really need to start watching Portlandia.


Monday Travel Memory

So, I’m still reeling from the past couple months. Did anyone else feel like this holiday season was more of a whirlwind than usual? In an epic “Monday travel memory” post, I’m going to share what we were up to in November & December. It did involve a fair amount of travel, albeit stateside travel. Here we go…

A quick rewind first: We were about to move to Stockholm and got very unexpected news (on moving day, no less), which changed our route to Portland. Due to the timing with the holidays and our planned visit to Chicago, Jaro began living and working in Portland to get the ball rolling while I stayed in Chicago to stay out of his way, shop til I drop, visit with family & friends. While far from ideal (very, very far, like 2,000 miles far), it made the most practical sense. Besides, we’re used to living apart. Though we prefer not to, let’s be real.

What ended up being an extended vacation was filled with wonderful things. Yet we often forgot to pull out our camera or post on the blog because it mostly felt so… normal. There we were, back with our families, friends; heading to familiar homes, restaurants (Jerry’s! Old Oak Tap!) and stores (J.Crew! Sephora! Nordstrom!). It was the same and it wasn’t. But more on that later.

First, we were in Chicago for a million birthdays (five in four weeks) and holiday celebrations. We had some rather memorable moments…

…like celebrating Jaro’s birthday in Chicago with an oyster and martini dinner at GT Fish & Oyster followed by late night Lou Malnati’s at The James (our wedding hotel!):


…Sharing a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with Jaro’s family and eating so much food and drinking too much vodka. Oy.

…Celebrating my sister’s birthday by freezing our buns off at Lincoln Park Zoo Lights (below) followed by a family dinner tradition at RJ Grunts:


…And my dad’s birthday at the Chicago History Museum and new Italian hotspot, Ripasso, in Wicker Park where we consumed way too many gin & tonics:


…Then celebrating the actual birth day (as in, day of birth) of our darling little nephew, Stephan. If we had stuck to our original move, we would have missed the birth. Everything happens for a reason. Also, I’m convinced, there is no image more precious than that of my husband holding a fresh baby:


…Enjoying, a few days later, my brother’s birthday at Milwaukee’s Public Market for lunch and at Tamales Mexican Cafe in Highland Park for dinner.

…And just hanging around with our friends and enjoying delicious meals. Like this fancy rack of lamb with our city roommates, M&M (recipe here):

Rack of Lamb

Then we headed to Florida to celebrate Christmas with my family.

…We spent a day swamp-buggy-ing through the Everglades National Park:

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

…Spent Christmas morning on the beach (below) and ate my grandma’s Mexican-style Christmas dinner outside:


…Jaro even spent an afternoon with the guys taking a plane ride around the SoFlo coastline piloted by my uncle:


…And we got tons of cuddle time with my baby cousins. This is Harper:

FamilyAnd finally, we road-tripped over to Detroit to celebrate my girl Stacy & her man Tim’s wedding and ring in the new year, which was awesome. Here’s pretty much my only shot of the happy couple:


You know what all these things have in common? Love. Fun. Celebration. Okay, and lots of food. It was wonderful. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world Stockholm, that’s for sure.


First day in Portland

Hello from the Pacific Northwest! We barely made it to Portland last night. I coughed, sneezed and loudly made my way through two packets of tissue on our flight here, which I’m sure my seat-mates just loved. Really was wishing I had a SARS mask to cover my heinousness. Yet we managed to find a Wendy’s (take that, healthy, organic diet), get to our tiny corporate apartment safely and are almost all unpacked.

As much as I’d love to be out exploring, this flu just won’t quit. Oh, and the rain was coming down sideways for the better part of the morning. So here is my view from my prison cell room:

We are staying in the Pearl, a charming little patch of the city filled with shops, coffee houses and streetcars, until we buy our home. Despite my health’s (and the ceaseless rain’s) best efforts to keep me in, I think I’m going to see some houses with our agent tomorrow. Until then, it’s bed, tea and reading. Something I actually don’t mind when I’m healthy, but right now it’s torture. hoping to be 100% tomorrow. Or at least 75%. Can’t wait to get out in our new city!