Monday, November 9, 2015

Around (Another) Town: Amsterdam

One of the initial reasons I started this blog was to chronicle my family's simple living journey. Simple living can encompass many things, but for me it's largely about minimizing expenses and consumption, in order to provide more time and resources for the things that matter most. About a year ago we hit a major milestone in our journey and paid off all our debts (except our mortgage). It took years of saving, working multiple jobs, eating out less, and saying no to many purchases, but we did it! Goodbye to student loans, credit card debt, and car payments FOREVER. To celebrate we treated ourselves to our first full fledged family vacation, a trip to Amsterdam.

We all had a great time as Amsterdam is an absolutely wonderful city with much to see. There's beautiful architecture.

Along with breathtaking canals that run throughout the city.

If you decide to visit make sure to take at least one BOAT RIDE, as they provide the best view of the city and a closeup of all the lovely houseboats.

Another feature that makes Amsterdam distinctive are all of the bicycles. The Dutch ride everywhere. I have never seen so many bikes in all my life. There are 1.5 times more bikes than people in the city. It was cool to see entire families, babies and all, riding together.

While visiting we learned that Amsterdam is a city of immigrants. Half of the population is not native born. It's multiculturalism makes for some delicious food options. You can get Belgian chocolate at CANDELA.

Or phenomenal (seriously.....phenomenal!!!) Turkish food at SHOARMA MESUT.

By the way, they have the best fries and Turkish coffee in town.

For those of you who are into fashion history, I'd highly recommend visiting the MUSEUM OF BAGS AND PURSES. It's the largest purse museum in the world and housing some truly amazing bags.

The museum also has a fabulous gift shop and tea room worth taking a look at

My absolute favorite thing about our trip was a visit to the countryside. It was so magical. I've seen impressive pictures of it in the past, but to see it in person was truly a blessing. Unfortunately, when we went it was very foggy so my pictures are not the greatest :-(

I'm sure it's even more beautiful in the spring, when the flowers are in bloom.

A part of our countryside tour included stopping by a cheese factory and clog workshop. It was very interesting to see the local craftsmen at work.

Well, that's all for Amsterdam, a lovely city indeed.

If  you are planning a visit I highly recommend staying at HOTEL DE HOLLEN. The accommodations are wonderful and the staff if very friendly. Plus as an added bonus they have the most amazing French toast during breakfast.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Around Town: The Peabody Library (FREE)

When caught up in life's day-to-day obligations, it can be easy to overlook wonderful amenities right under your nose. I am unfortunately guilty of this, and have been making an effort to consciously explore Baltimore and the myriad of sights it has to offer. During my quest I came across Johns Hopkins University's PEABODY LIBRARY.

The library was created in 1878, via funding from Baltimore philanthropist George Peabody. Peabody wanted to provide the citizens of Baltimore with access to a world-class cathedral of books. The Neo-Grec interior was designed by architect Edmond G. Lind, and is absolutely astonishing! I assure you your jaw will drop if you ever see it in person. 

Here are a few photos I snapped while on my visit. I hope you enjoy!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Won't You Be My Neighbor: 512 Hollen Rd., Baltimore, MD 21212

A newly renovated bungalow is now on the market in Lake Walker for $379,900. The 4 bedroom 3.5 bathroom house has been fully gutted, and reconfigured to maximize living space. It has a two car garage, large deck, family room, and finished basement. Sounds nice, right? So without further ado, here's a sneak peek at the home.

 The family is open concept and leads to a very spacious deck and nice yard.

The kitchen is the true highlight of the home. It has a good amount of counter space, beautiful light fixtures, and ample space for counter seating.

There are two nice full baths on the upper level, and one full bath in the basement.

The master bedroom is well appointed with its own bathroom, a decent sized closet, and easy access to an adjoining bedroom that would make a nice nursery.

And here's that kitchen again. I just had to include a second picture, because it's so beautiful. You can see more pictures and learn more about the listing HERE.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Around Town: Pure Chocolate by Jinji

Hello everyone, long time no post. I am making my absence up to you by telling you about the greatest chocolate on Earth. Yes, seriously, pictured above is the GREATEST chocolate on Earth! It can be purchased at BELVEDERE SQUARE at PURE CHOCOLATE BY JINJI. The small store offers an array of healthy chocolate treats made from nutrient dense raw ingredients. The flavors of the items are bold, intricate, and very distinctive. I've tried many of their offerings and liked them all, but I'm particularly fond of the pots de creme. You must try it! For those of you in the DMV, visit Jinji's website to see where you can purchase her products in your area.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Around (Another) Town: Frugal in New York City

The other weekend the bungalow clan packed up and headed for a weekend trip to New York City. It's about a 3 hour ride from Baltimore, making it an ideal distance for a short stay. I've found in the past, even for a short trip though,  NYC can be very pricey. So I challenged myself to come up with ways to have frugal fun while there. We all had a great I'm passing along a few budget friendly recommendations to you.

1) Eat at VIETNAAM. The hubs is an ardent lover of pho, so I suggested we give the Upper East Side restaurant VIETNAAM a try. The food and drinks (they have fantastic mocktails!) were absolutely delicious and extremely affordable. We will be back in the future for sure.

2) Visit Central Park. If you are looking for something romantic or family friendly to do, visit Central Park. The park is gorgeous and if you haven't seen it before you'll be thoroughly impressed. Try to catch some jazz in the park while you are there and grab some street food. If you have little ones, there's a nice play area just for toddlers.

3) Go thrifting. New York is a fabulous city filled with artsy, fashion forward, all around well-styled people. This makes for excellent thrifting. My personal favorite favorite place to thrift is HOUSING WORKS. They have multiple stores scattered throughout NYC, and offer a well curated selection of clothing, accessories, and housewares.

I like to visit multiple locations when possible. On this trip I went to four stores. Here are a few of the items I picked up:

There's lots more to do while on a budget in New York, but unfortunately we only had two days to explore, and spent much of our time visiting with friends. I can't wait to come back soon and visit the museums and see what other fun I can drum up. Do you have any recommendations for affordable things to do while in the Big Apple?