Why did you buy me that?

While making long days behind my desk, studying for my exams and writing papers, there’s always this certain moment (mostly in the afternoon) when suddenly all my motivation is gone. Out of nowhere, just totally gone. It turns out I’m not the only one, according to the Cup-a-soup and the Aquarius commercials, but still. 
            I found out, that when that moment arrives, I just need to take a small break, relax a little bit and mainly: have a good laugh. After doing so, I’m back on track and the motivation roars trough my body again (well.. sort of..). Anyway, the thing that kept me up and running past two weeks, was this hilarious website I was told about, called: Why Did You Buy Me That? A compilation of the worst gifts ever received, illustrated with hilariously dry comments. Don’t worry, it’s not a site filled with spoiled, dissatisfied people. Actually their motto is: “It’s not that I’m ungrateful. It’s just that this gift was really, really bad!” Please take a look at it yourself, I bet it will brighten up your day too!

“The worst part? It smelled.” – “A birthday gift from one of my best friends… a purse in the shape of a chicken?!!” – “A stapler shaped like an EAGLE’S BEAK. What in the name of holy hell is a grown ass man supposed to do with this? I’m going to throw it off the roof and see if it flies!” -  “For the record, I’m 100% sure neither my husband nor I ever mentioned any love of dolphins…or pink shells…or toothpick holders…”’ – “Uh…it was the thought that counted, I guess” – “Wow, um… thanks… thanks for this… um WTF IS THIS THING?” – “Grandma always gives the best gifts…..Who doesn’t want a bright yellow sweatshirt with grizzly bears on it?!?”

Why Did You Buy Me That is just one of the websites hosted by The Pop Hangover Network, their others sites are quite entertaining as well. A few of my favorites:

Damn you, Autocorrect
I guess everybody with an Iphone, or any other (smart)phone, found out the hard way how annoying and embarrassing the Auto Correct feature can be. On this website, you can find all the painful and hilarious moments when someone's words got autocorrected and changed into something really weird or inappropriate.

A bit of the same genre but really funny as well is Wrong Number Texts (same painful situations ha-ha!)

Really Ghetto… Where “cheap” is an understatement
This is totally my kind of fun, I mean just read what they have to tell about it:
“GHETTO isn’t about a race, gender, or income level. Anyone can be ghetto. It’s a mindset. It’s walking around in public in hair rollers and slippers. It’s heating your kitchen using flames from your gas stove. It’s selling hubcaps in the middle of a convenience store, putting Fruit Loops in your car’s heat vents and calling it an “air freshener”, or defrosting your lunch on the hood of your car because your microwave broke. Yes, people do this stuff - and more”
Need I say more? You will totally laugh your ass off!

And last but not least: The worst thing I ever ate: stories and photos about your most horrifying culinary experiences.
Again a really recognizable one, I think everyone once had something to eat which was seriously disgusting or super weird. Airplane food? Takeaways? Nasty old candy?. They ask you to take a photo of it, to make us laugh!
“It was supposed to be ‘blueberry oatmeal’… it tasted like “blueberry vomit!”

Alright, my break is over, back to work again!


Cupcakes in Amsterdam #2

Beter & Leuk, Eerste Oosterparkstraat 91

The greatest thing about my search for the tastiest cupcakes in Amsterdam is visiting  places where I usually wouldn’t go that easily. For instance my latest finding, the breakfast-/lunchroom and shop Beter & Leuk at the Oosterparkstraat. It’s completely on the other side of the city from where I live, but I read on the internet that they sell Cupies cupcakes, so I really had to go there and try one of their cupcakes.

At Cupies they believe that everyone should enjoy the good stuff in live, so that’s exactly what I did last friday. I settled down in their super cute and cozy boutique and had a delicious vanilla cupcake and a great latte. Definitely a keeper! Loved the sweet taste of the spongy little cake and the vanilla creme was just finger licking good. I really couldn’t choose which one to pick, since they have all these delicious flavors like: chocolate heaven, strawberry fields, toffee break, honey, champagne deluxe (a sparkling champagne buttercream topping) and banana moon. Oh, I have to go back there as soon as possible to try out the other ones!
            Back to Beter & Leuk, because this place deserves some attention on its own. Too bad I just had breakfast and it was a little bit too early for lunch, because their menu looked great. They serve homemade granola with fresh fruit and yogurt, warm sandwiches with goat cheese, tomato and honey or with smoked chicken, avocado, tomato and mayonnaise. Hmm! While I sat there, they were baking carrot cake en chocolate chip cookies, all coming from their own small kitchen, smelling so good!  But  above all, their slogan is: STOP EATING SHIT, EAT GOOD FOOD! So everything you order at Beter & Leuk comes from good suppliers,
serving only honest products (from organic 
coffee to free range chicken). A real asset for me! 
Like I said, their lunchroom is also a shop. They sell great t-shirts, nice jewelry, books and beauty products. All selected on whether they’re nice, but also good for the people, the animals and the environment. I really liked the bags from the Bag Rescue Plan that they sell, great concept!
        For me, Beter & Leuk and their delicious Cupies Cupcakes are definitely worth the detour.

P.s. Do you have a broken heart? Got a bad grade? Feeling down? A.k.a. do you need some serious good food? They also do high tea’s, where you can taste all of their delicious cupcakes, sandwiches and cakes. That múst make you feel better :)


The 7 Flushing Express

People say that walking in New York makes you feel like walking in a movie(set), I definitely felt the same. Almost every street corner, building, hotdog stand or park reminded me of movies I’ve once saw. It’s weird walking around in a complete strange city, but still feel like you’ve been there before. Though I loved it, I loved every minute we spent in the big apple. From shopping at Victoria’s Secrets to a boat trip to the statue of liberty, from walking to Central Park, to watching the models at Abercrombie&Fitch and drinking Starbucks’ hot chocolate after a tour to the top of the Empire State Building.
            But, besides the feeling that you’ve been there before, there was also the feeling that we were doing absolute the same as everyone else did visiting New York. Now, that’s not really a strange thing, when you’re visiting a city for the first time you have to see all the highlights, right? I mean in Paris you must visit the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Lafayette and Ladurée and when you’re in Londen you go to the Tower Brigde, The Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus and Harrods. 

            But still, I really wanted to see something not so ordinary, a place where most first-time-new-yorkers don’t go. I wanted to take the number 7 train to Queens.
There’s a book called Gastropolis: Food and New York City were Martin Manalansan wrote about this train: “the number 7 train is sometimes called…the ‘International Express”, describing how “different aromas filled the train, every time it stopped at a train stop”.
            My dad and I decided to catch an early train from Grand Central station. Quite fast after crossing the water and leaving Manhattan behind us, the metro slowly filled with all different kind of people. No wonder, since this train runs through so many different communities (there are for instance a Chinatown, a Koreatown, a large Indian- and a Jewish society). We randomly picked a few stops where we got off the train and walked through neighborhoods where people were just starting their day. What a wonderful sight, a city that’s waking up. The smell of food already drifted through the street, while shop owners started to set out their wares on the sidewalk.
            While New York does have its very own charm, especially Manhattan has a lot in common with other big cities in the world. Walking through Queens shows you a totally different side of town, where there’s not only prosperity and mercy. It’s  important to see how in such an enormous city as New York, wealth is still so unevenly distributed through all the parts of it. Those things are good to realize sometimes, right?

I loved all different cultures coming together, the diverse merchandises in the shops and all the special fragrances everywhere. And I thought it was really cool to walk around the neighborhood were 50 cent, LL Cool J, Run DMC and Nas grew up ;)!
Or to use Ja Rule’s words: big shout to all my Queens niggaz in Staten Island
. Niggaz in Uptown, niggaz in Brooklyn!!
      Around 10 o’clock we got back in Manhattan. With my head still filled with all these great new impressions we had a delicious breakfast at Cipriani’s, the perfect way to start a new day.

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A trip to Little Italy

La Perla, Tweede Tuindwarsstraat 14, Amsterdam

Walking through the Jordaan last week, I found out that there’s a street in Amsterdam known as Little Italy. There are no white-green-red flags hanging in the streets and you can’t find a mafioso like I
gnazio "The Wolf" Lupo, but you do can find a lot of high quality Italian restaurants in this neighborhood. No doubt I had to check out one (or two, three or four..) of the restaurants over there. 

            Restaurant La Perla immediately caught my eye, because of their huge wood oven standing in the middle of the room. And we all know that’s the place where the best pizzas come from! You see, my dad built us a pizza oven in our own garden. Once you’ve tried a pizza coming from that oven, you’ll be a little bit screwed up for the rest of your life: pizza will never be the same again. Maybe it’s just being busy the whole day with making dough, heating up the oven and preparing the sauce and other ingredients, that make the pizza taste so good when you’re eventually able to try a slice, but still, they’re de-li-ci-ous! As you can see on the pictures*, we had a fabulous opening of the pizza season last Sunday, with sun, bubbles and perfect pizzas.
Though the down side of having such great pizzas at home, is that I became a real critical client with high expectations. So when I tell you something is a good pizza, you’ll know for sure it ís a good pizza ;).
          Luckily, La Perla easily passed my test. Their pizzas are great. Perfect sauce, delicious mozzarella (the use buffalo mozarella which is brought to Amsterdam twice a week from the Naples area) and fresh basil leaves. When I ate my pizza, I closed my eyes and imagined myself somewhere in Tuscany, eating that exact same pizza underneath an olive tree, hearing crickets chirp and feeling the heat of the sun on my skin. TYes, they really do serve close-to-Italian-perfection-pizzas.
            Due to fatigue we took dinner home with us, but while waiting I enjoyed reading the Italian Vogue and watching the pizza chef doing a little show for me putting the pizzas in the oven. Next time I’ll be sure to eat my pizza over there, since they also have a nice sort of ‘living room’ with a big shared table. Oh, and I’ll try their tiramisu, it looked temptingly tasty.

* My dad's pizza (oven)

Oh and another thing I really like, is that you can order products, like pastas, cheeses and wine, on their website on demand. 


Cupcakes in Amsterdam #1

Photo from Tumblr
There are several companies in Amsterdam (all named very originally like Cupcake Heaven, Nina Lucia’s Cupcakes, Shirleys Cupcakes or Super Cupcakes ha-ha) that make cupcakes for companies. Though when I like to order some of their cupcakes, I can only buy a big amount of them (most of the time at least 12). I know, that doesn’t sound like a real problem to me, but you get the point. 

            So I started looking for places like restaurants and cafés where it's possible to just sit down with girlfriends and have a cup of tea and a cupcake or shops where I can buy just a few of them to take home with me. I already mentioned one a while ago here, but there are still more (to discover). So this a start of a set of blog posts about those cupcake places in Amsterdam. I’ll start with one of my favorite ones, the American Bakery. There are still more to come, but if you do happen to know a fine place for cupcakes, I’d really like to know!

Alright, about the American Bakery. This tiny bakery is located at the Eggertstraat 1, next to lunchroom De Drie Graeffjes (a good spot for lunch where you can also order treats from the bakery to eat inside). When you walk in to the bakery, you immediately smell the delicious scent of freshly baked cookies and cakes. Whenever you’re there, they’re always baking. Putting pies in the oven and pulling batches filled with cookies out of it. The owner, or as they call him Dan the Cookieman, comes from Minnesota and he sure did a good job bringing America to Amsterdam. He has a delicious range of cheesecake, carrotcake, red velvet cake, chocolate chipcookies, brownies with dark of white chocolate glazing, muffins with pieces of chocolate, fruits or nuts and of course cupcakes. And not just one flavor, there’s always way too much to choose from. Last time I was there I had a vanilla cupcake with soft and sweet butter cream, topped off with colored sparkles. The texture of the cake was very good, nice and spongy and the cream.. hmm!
            As you can see, my photos are taken from the outside. Not without a reason, I was just sure that I couldn’t go in without buying a cupcake (and I already had one today …)!



A matter of taste

Smaak, Prinsenstraat 16, Amsterdam

How come I've never seen this store before? It has got my name written all over it! A beautiful store filled with perfectly designed bags made of soft lambskin in deliciously pretty colors. One bag even more prettier than the other! 
            The owner of the store started a boutique (Leliegracht 16) a few years ago, creating this sort of candy store for woman filled with clothes, bags and other accessories. Eventually, he decided to begin his own brand, working together with Vince Blanchard (who collaborated previously with Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana). The bags are made off high quality material, so I think you still get real value for your money (prices are between 160 to 200 Euros). The simple brand name, Smaak (the Dutch translation of taste) is printed on pretty silver labels hanging on each bag. They gave it an original twist by putting the K in reverse.
            I really couldn't choose which one I liked the best (I actually wanted to take all of them with me), but I know for sure than soon I’ll be proudly wearing a handbag by this Dutch designer.
Marc Jacobs, eat your heart out!

Ps. And you know what the best part is? They even got a webshop!


Book love

Taschen, Rue de Buci 2, Paris

Photos from

The main reason why I’m writing this post is to let you know how super excited I am about the opening of a Taschen store in Amsterdam this summer. I’m a huge fan of their book collection and can’t wait to visit their shop (P.C. Hooftstraat 44).
            Ever since we’ve ran into the Taschen store in Paris a few years ago, I always want to go there whenever I’m in Paris. It’s located in the heart of St. Germain des Pres, at Rue de Buci (a really cozy street filled with a lively open-air market everyday).
            Even though I tried, I never walk out Taschen empty handed. There's always something in that store that I really really really want to buy. I love their design and architecture books, but most of all their great selection of photography books. I already got a few of their books about one of my favorite photographers Robert Doisneau. I just adore everything about his work, so if you don’t know he is, please google him and get enchanted by his romantic, funny and beautiful photographs.

            Still definitely on my wish list are Taschen Paris or/and Taschen New York, an amazing collection of great shopping, restaurant and hotels tips collected in a book filled with pretty drawings and images.

P.s. Got exhausted after shopping at Taschen (or at any other nice boutique at Rue Buci)? Go to the cocktailbar right in front of the store (forgot the name, sorry!) and order yourself a delicious strawberry mojito! 


Cupcake bastards

If you know me by person or perhaps just by this blog, my love for cupcakes shouldn't be a surprise for you. Not only do I really love to eat cupcakes, I also love to make, look at, take pictures, fantasize and talk about these delicious treats. Too bad they aren't really healthy (well okay, not at all), so sometimes I have to look for other solutions to fulfill my needs.
      Let's start by saying what I really don't like, or even hate: these fake cupcakes you can buy to put on a plate or an étagère to make your house look nice. I get it, cupcakes and other treats do look very cozy and homely, but I'm always so disappointed whenever I realize I’m trying to eat one of those stony cupcake bastards.
But there's a great solution! The Beauty Bakery.This online store is filled with soap, looking (and seriously smelling) like jummy cupcakes, muffins and pies. I must admit, it was a little hard to resist a tiny bite out of my verry berry cupcake soap the first time I used it underneath the shower ;)
               They also sell super bath bombs and skin creamers. I'm a fan, but be careful, they are really addictive since they're so cute and nicely smelling! (hmm, talking about nicely smelling, ever tried the Banana Shampoo from The Body Shop? Next to the sentimental value it has for me, it's just awesome to use a yellow colored shampoo smelling just like banana!)
               There's also another webshop where they combine two of my favorite things: cupcakes and couture. Bella Cupcake Couture "Where cupcakes meet fashion".The owner of this shop designed these real nice cupcake wrappers, for birthdays, weddings, baby showers or any other occasion you like (is 'It's wednesday' a good occasion? Yes? Then I'm gonna get 'em).
I especially love the small wrappers, which you can use to make tiny cupcakes.
Okay I know, its a bit a pointless purchase since you can only use them once. But you know what; sometimes these purchases are the best.


Caprese Caprese!

Photo: tumblr

One of my favorite antipasti is the Insalate Caprese, or as some call it the Insalata Tricolore, because this dish has the same colors as the Italian flag. But what I love even more is a Caprese Sandwich. It’s super easy to make and it’s sooo tasty!
            Last week I tried a caprese at Homemade (a very nice and healthy lunchroom at the Singel 447), made of mozzarella di buffalo, fresh pomodori tomatos and homemade basil pesto. It was a great sandwich, but to be honest, I prefer the ones I make myself. So, to share my love, I’ll share my recipe with you
            I have one quick and easy recipe, where I just toast my bread and brush some olive oil on it. Then I put a few slices of tomato and a few slices of mozzarella cheese on top of it and add a few basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle just a little bit of balsamic vinegar over it.
            As a variation, I sometimes put my sandwich back in the oven and wait for the cheese to melt (which takes about 1 or 2 minutes).
            Another variant is making some garlic bread first. Slice, for instance, a ciabatta in two halves and rub both top sides with olive oil and pressed garlic. Put them under the grill. (warning: keep your eye on it, because they can get burned very quickly). After making the garlic bread, but the rest of the ingredients on top of it.
            When I have a little bit more time to spent on preparing myself a fine lunch, I also fry a few slices of eggplant and zucchini. Just make thin slices and rub both sided with olive oil, salt, pepper and some dried basil or rosemary and bake both sides a few minutes) and put these inside my sandwich.
            Some other ingredients that make your sandwich taste even better are: (homemade) pesto, sliced parmigiano, olives, fried pepper, a few slices of pancetta or salami or some rocket. Hmm 
(Yes, that's mine! Couldn't help it, while writing this post I was almost drooling over my laptop ha-ha)


An oasis of rest

Zara Home, Kalverstraat 66, Amsterdam

Last week my grandmother told me about how the Kalverstraat used to be one of the most expensive (shopping) streets in Amsterdam, just like the PC Hooftstraat is right now. For those of you who know the street, this might be hard to believe. There’s actually only one expensive shop left and that’s Maison de Bonneterie (where they sell real nice jeans!). You do have a few relatively pricy jewelers, but apart from that you only find the regular shops (H&M, River Island, We, Etos etc.) and some real cheap ass (with almost always a sign ‘closing down sale’) stores.
            So whenever I feel like taking a break from this street filled with fake LV bags, fur collars, white boots and too much make-up, I enter the Zara store and take the escalator to the 3th floor, where I hit upon an oasis of rest. You’ll find (*drumrolls*)… Zara Home.
            Inside this light, spacious store you can buy all the stuff you need (or just want) for your home. Glassware, photo frames, towels, scented candles, all nicely arranged on big tables and inside cabinets. Just like their clothing sections on the ground-, first- and second floor, their Home collection also changes every season. While Spring is almost here, the assortment right now exists mainly of cheery colored tableware, linen covered with flowers and bright colored home accessories.
            Too bad, I wasn’t strong enough to resist their deliciously new stuff and treated myself to a new water jug, some glasses and two cute spoons. Aren’t they nice?


Let's list 'em!

I love lists. It started when I was younger, when we used to make lists of our top 5 best friends (“hey, you’re second on my lists, why am I third on yours?!”), each others worst habits (“you always steal the last cookie and you always want all the pretty furniture in your dollhouse”) or stuff we could do (“nahh.. we already made a movie/baked cookies/play dress up etc. yesterday!)”
            Growing older, my lists became much more serious. I mean, ‘what to bring from the grocery store’ or ‘make a list of the strangest baby names’. Just saying.
 I use a shopping list when I want to be sure I won’t forget anything (something that happens to me a lot: going to the store to get a specific item and bring back a bag filled with groceries, but just not the one I truly needed). And there is also the ‘goals I want to reach before I’m 30’-list and of course the never ending ‘to do’-list, but I also love lists like ‘movies I still have to see’, ‘book I want to read’, ‘restaurants I want to have dinner’ etc. They just clear my head and just writing about it already makes me feel a bit closer to reaching my goals.
            While my ‘to do’-list is (supposed to be) shrinking, the others lists are still growing every day. And that’s because others are creating lists as well! I mean, I really appreciate The World Heritage List, but it also made me want to visit all 911(!) properties on that list! Starting with say, the Sun Temple in India, The Central Amazon Conservation Complex in Brazil, Tsodilo in Botswana, The Golden Temple of Dambulla in Sri Lanka and the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picu in Peru.
And how ab
out the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards? The Ten Ancient Greek Writers You Should Know? Or the Top Ten Movies Everyone Should See ? Or Oprah’s Top-10-Closet-Must-Haves? The 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read by The Guardian? And the Top 240 Spas in North America, Hawaii, Central America and the Caribbean! Or The 20 Things Everyone Should Do In Italy!? Aahhh!
            Reason for writing this article is this hilarious book I’ve found called Listography, your life in lists. You can create your own lists, but also fill in the one they made for you like ‘list bad things you did as a kid’ or ‘list who reminds you of certain animals’. Their page filling cartoons are hilarious too.
            I’m curious. Who loves to make lists (and read others) as much as I do?

15. Making a blog post about my love for making lists


Death by chocolate

Awfully Chocolate, 18 Hanoi Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Attention to all chocolate lovers around the world. This is the place you must visit once in your life. When I was in Hong Kong last year, I coincidently bumped into Awfully Chocolate. They sold cakes (which looked absolutely delicious) and they only served ice cream in one flavor: premium dark chocolate ice cream (made of Belgian dark chocolate, consisting of 70% pure cocoa). Of course I decided to try a scoop.
      I had my fair share of reference material around the world (I mean, Italy, hello!), but I’ve never tasted anything like this before. With each bite my mouth filled with the intense flavors of chocolate and cream. This wasn’t just chocolate ice cream, this was awfully, abso-fucking-lutely, delicious chocolate ice cream! I mean, seriously, I'd fly back to HK just for another scoop of Awfully Chocolate's ice cream.
     Enough said, you know what to do. You’ll find their shop at the square in front of K11 Shopping Center. Just make a mental picture of the map below and never, ever, forget ;)!

Ps. Writing about my chocolate devotion made me think of this song by Weeble and Bob ha-ha!
Who loves the chocolate. Everyone loves the chocolate. Nobody hates the chocolate. ‘Cause everyone loves the chocolate

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