Monday, August 12, 2019

A full day in Amsterdam Itinerary | Van Gogh Museum | Heineken Experience | Canal Tour

First Stop: Van Gogh Museum 
Tour: 10 am
Our first stop of the day was the Van Gogh Museum. Van Gogh has always been one of my most favorite artists, so I was very excited to be able to fit this into our itinerary. Go early! Our tour started at 10, and it was quite crowded, especially around the more popular pieces. The line was very long as we were leaving, so I definitely recommend getting there early. 

You cannot take photos of the art, and they even have 'bouncers' near the more famous pieces who were yelling at anyone making the move to take a picture. 

During our visit there was a special exhibit for Sunflowers, and it was very interesting! The piece itself is beautiful. Van Gogh painted 5 of these Sunflower paintings, so they have a large wall dedicated to comparing them. I also enjoyed seeing the X-Ray of the painting, as well as color studies that show what the painting would have looked like when he finished it. The colors were much more vibrant! 

My new favorite Van Gogh painting is called Thunderclouds over Wheatfield! It's so beautiful in person, and I picked up a print to take home. His self portrait was also stellar in person! 

Lunch Spot: The Seafood Bar
12 pm
We spent a week in the Netherlands, and this was hands down our favorite meal! The restaurant itself was very cool, but the food was off the charts.

Most of our table got the Fish and Chips, but my dad got a giant sampler-which he devoured! He is a avid seafood connoisseur, and he said it was by far the best oysters he had ever had. (Which is saying a lot! Our family buys bushels of oysters every summer!)

Next Up: The Heineken Experience, the VIP Tour
2 pm
Heineken has never been on my radar here in the States. We had a 'when in Rome' mentality on our trip and we decided to tour the old Heineken brewery. The VIP tour is pricier than the regular tour but we 10/10 recommend it. The lines were quite long (and this was a Monday) and crowded. Our tour guide Tom swept us aside and we got to bypass the crowds completely. 

He gave us a quick history of the brand, and explain their brewing process as we toured the old brewery. (All of this is on the regular tour) Afterward he brought us upstairs into the offices and private museum where we heard a lot about their advertising strategies and we got to see quite a bit of memorabilia. Next, he escorted us up onto the roof! This was an amazing way to see Amsterdam! 

We were brought to a private bar (really cool!) and we were able to sample about 5 beers. Heineken, obviously, and then a few others that are also owned by the brand. We were huge fans of the Affligem beer and we are on a mission to find it here in the States! 

Tom showed us how to properly pour and drink a Heineken. It tasted quite different than here at home. He suggested if we want the same taste we need to get it from a can and pour it into a glass. We will give it a try now that we are home!

The website said that this tour was 2.5 hours, but ours lasted well over 3.

Gorgeous views on our walk over:

Next: Canal Boat Tour
6 pm
This has got to be one of the best ways to see the most in Amsterdam! We loved looking at all of the different kinds of architecture and homes. Lots of very old buildings, but also a lot of modern ones too! Our tour guide had a lot of interesting facts about the city. 

We took an open boat, which made for beautiful pictures. However, I recommend the bigger, traditional boats because they have a bathroom on board. Being stuck on a boat after all that beer was a challenge!

Finally: Dinner at The Burger Room
7:45 pm 
Our taxi was scheduled to meet us at 8:30 back at the Van Gogh museum so we wandered back over there for some dinner. The Burger Room was right across the street from the museum and they got our food out to us very fast! It was delicious as well. I'm sorry I didn't snap a photo of the restaurant, but you can check it out on their website

That's a wrap! This was a very full day of activities, but we all felt it was spaced out enough that we did not feel rushed. (Although our canal tour was scheduled a little earlier, but since the Heineken tour took longer than expected we were able to move it back an hour.)  There is SO much to do in Amsterdam, but I'm happy we were able to do this much in one day! 

Let's Chat! Leave a comment below if you have or will be visiting Amsterdam! Do you like to have a day planned from start to finish, or do you like to be more spontaneous? 

Monday, August 5, 2019

Cricut Tutorial | How To Make A Reverse Canvas

Reverse canvases are by far my favorite Cricut project to do! They are fairly simple, quick, and inexpensive. All while being highly customizable and looking far more complex than they actually are. 
Cricut Tutorial | How To Make A Reverse Canvas

I thought I'd share the simple steps to take if you want to make some of your own! 
You will need:
A die cutting machine
Heat transfer vinyl
Measuring tape
Staple remover or flat head screwdriver
A Canvas
Paint or stain
Paint brush
Iron or heat press
Staple gun
Optional:   Saw tooth hanger
Hot glue gun

Before you can start, you need a design! I am sharing a project I made as a gift for my friend. I saw she had pinned a quote on Pinterest, and I used that as my springboard. 

The size of the canvas you purchase will help you determine how wide your design should be. Cut your design on HTV (heat transfer vinyl). Remember to check your settings and cut shiny side down. 

Step One
Carefully remove the canvas material from the wooden frame. We usually use a flat head screwdriver, but you can also use a heavy duty staple remover. I usually buy a two pack of canvases from Walmart for about $8. The larger canvases will most likely have a center support piece of wood that you can remove with a little pulling. 

Step Two
Paint or stain your wooden frame. I've done both! Chalk paint works like a charm, but staining gives such a beautiful look. Allow to dry, and apply a second coat. Let dry completely!

Step Three
While your paint dries is the perfect time to iron on your design. Center as best as possible, but you do have a little wiggle room. Press your design according to HTV instructions. I always place a thin cloth between my iron and my design while pressing. Generally, when the texture of the canvas is visible through your HTV, you have pressed well enough. 

Step Four
Reattach the canas to the back of the painted or stained frame with a staple gun. Trim the edges of the stapled canvas, so you can't see it from the front. For a more finished look, you can hot glue a ribbon over the staples. I also like to attach a sawtooth picture hanger for ease of display.

Here are two other reverse canvases I've done recently. The welcome sign is an example of a stained frame (my favorite look so far!) and the second sign is a similar color scheme to the one above. 

I noticed that the canvases I get from Walmart are white on one side, and more natural on the back. You can use either side and it will change the look of your sign! One the welcome sign I used the white side, and on the black frames I used the natural side. 

Talk to me! Tell me what you think in the comments below!

Monday, July 29, 2019

What I Ate In A Day | 1 Month on WW (formerly Weight Watchers)

How I Got Here
It's only been a couple of weeks, but I've been following the WW (formerly Weight Watchers) plan and lost a few pounds! I have never been on a diet in my life. In the past, when I wanted to lose weight, I worked out. I worked out every day and tried to burn at least 500 calories during each session. That let me eat whatever I wanted, which was pretty great. 

As hard as I tried in the last year or two though, I could not get exercise to be a habitual part of my day. (I did pretty good in December though!) Mornings are my preferred time to exercise, but I have so many other things I need/want to accomplish in the mornings that trump working out. I would seriously have to wake up at 4:30 am to get it all done. 

So, I realized that if I'm going to get to the weight I prefer, I was going to have to make a food change. My relationship with food is an interesting one. As I said, I have purposefully never done a diet. Because I have quite the obsessive personality, I have been very wary of creating a problem. Prior to this past month I hadn't weighed myself in years. I don't like restrictions, because I am afraid that I will become restrictive. (I hope that makes sense.) 

All that to say, I've been very hesitant to do any diet or follow any food rules. There are so many opinions out there, and I've seen a lot of people close to me jump on the Keto train, or Whole30 or Paleo...and have success! But, I just did not like the idea of having so many rules. Do you know how hard it is to invite people over for dinner when you know they won't eat what you like to cook? I did not want to be one of those people. 

My mom did Weight Watchers after my little brother was born 20+ years ago, so I remember her doing it and counting all her points. She started it again last year and looks better than ever. She would talk about it, but at that point I wasn't really interested in doing a diet. 

Something clicked this summer though, and I realized if I am not going to be able to exercise like I had in the past, I needed to change up the way I was eating. I'm not sure what it was, but I decided to sign up for WW one evening. I just did it. 

I can't even tell you how much I'm enjoying the program! There are no 'bad' foods. I can drink wine, go out with friends, eat my favorite things and still lose weight. I seriously see myself doing this for the long haul. 

How it Works
In short: I get 23 daily points to use. There are TONS of foods that are 0 points. (Chicken breast,  eggs, greek yogurt, most fruits, most vegetables...etc) Other foods have point values based on overall nutrition. Then you get additional weekly points that you can spend however you want. I find that it's nice to save these for the weekend. You can also earn extra points for physical activity. 

There are meetings, but I am just doing the mobile membership. The app is very easy to use and helps you track your day. I really love using the barcode scanner. You can even earn wellness points that you can spend on merch, just for logging your meals and weight. 

I have to admit, in the last month, I haven't gotten more than 5000 steps a day, and haven't worked out once. But, because I'm eating this way, I've lost at least one pound per week anyway. 

If you want to give it a go, use my link to sign up for WW and get your first month free.

Here's What I Eat In a Day
Breakfast - Scrambled Egg Tacos
4 SmartPoints Ingredients: La Tortilla Factory Tortillas, Free Range Eggs, Cilantro, Crystal Hot Sauce

This breakfast couldn't be easier! I eat it every. single. day. I'm one of those people who could eat the same things every day and never get sick of it. 

Of course, I always have a cup of earl grey in the mornings too! I'm really loving my current morning routine of eating breakfast, drinking my tea, and doing my daily Bible reading at the table. 

Lunch - Watermelon and Feta Salad with Homemade dressing
4 Smartpoints Ingredients: For the salad: Romaine and butter leaf lettuce, tomato, red onion, watermelon, cucumber and 2 tablespoons of crumbled feta. For the dressing: 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar, italian seasoning, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and minced garlic. 

Don't let this picture fool you, this bowl is deep! I could barely finish this salad. The perfect bite is a piece of watermelon, feta and red onion! So delicious. I really love adding fruit to salads, especially watermelon. 

I have found some zero point salad dressings, but I really love making my own. This dressing is 2 points, and is the perfect amount for a personal salad. Measuring is the key here! Olive oil is 4 points per 1 tablespoon, so I went with 1/2 a tablespoon and loaded up on the other 0 point ingredients. 

Snack - Peanut Butter Banana Roll Up
3 Smartpoints Ingredients: Tumaros Low Carb Wrap, Banana, 1 Tablespoon whipped peanut butter

Not the most beautiful snack, but gosh is it delicious! And filling. This is so great for keeping me full until dinner. 

Dinner - Greek Chicken Wraps
3 Smartpoints Ingredients: Shredded baked chicken breast, Tumaro low carb wraps, tomato, chickpeas, cucumber, red onion, lettuce, 1 tablespoon feta, and Tzatziki sauce. Tzatziki sauce: 0% Fage Greek yogurt, diced cucumber, lemon juice, garlic, dill, salt and pepper. (Mix the cucumber, red onion, chickpeas, and tomato with italian seasoning, red wine vinegar, and 2 tsps olive oil) 

Such a delicious and easy going summer meal. And so filling! I definitely overstuffed my wrap, and could barely finish the second half. 

Total points for the day: 14! I still have 9 left over, which can be used for something like wine or some can roll over into my weekly points. (They want you to eat all of your points!) This is what's cool to me about this plan, I can eat three full meals and a snack and still have plenty of points for dessert. It does take some forethought and planning, but it's really doable. 

Talk to me! Leave a comment below and tell me how you feel about diets! I would love to hear what you've been successful with, and how long you stuck to it. 
This post does contain affiliate links!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

What We Bought On Prime Day

King Mattress and New Bedding
We've been needing to replace our mattress for some time now. That started the conversation of whether or not we wanted to go from Queen to King. After a lot of back and forth we did decide to go with a a King. But, we did compromise on keeping the rest of our bedroom furniture. Blake suggested we wait until prime day to see if any of the things we had picked were on sale. 

The actual bed frame came from Wayfair, and it was on sale on Prime Day-likely to compete with Amazon's prices. 

The mattress we picked out was originally about $530, but Prime Day had it at $350. Definitely worth the wait! 

The bedding we chose was not on sale, but still a great everyday price. A quilt set is perfect for Florida. As much as I love the look of down comforters and tons of pillows, it's just not practical. 

We are definately getting used to a king size bed! We opted out of using a boxspring, so this bed is much lower than our previous bed as well. There are still a few things I'd like to change in our bedroom to tie the whole look together, but I'm really loving it so far! 

Revlon All In One Hair Tool
This is something that I didn't know I needed, until I got it! It is such a game changer. Basically it's a hair brush and hair dryer combo. It will give you a flawless blow-out really quickly. I have a terrible habit of going places with wet hair. It just takes forever to dry and I get so hot blow drying it! This has totally changed my routine and I got compliments the first day I used it. It was about $15 cheaper on Prime Day. 

My sister snapped this picture of me and my nephew. But look at that hair! haha.

We actually purchased this as a gift! But, we really should have bought one for ourselves too! It got great reviews and the price is fantastic. At the time I am writing this it is still on sale for less than $100. 
I am obsessed with my new phone case! It was about $10 cheaper for Prime Day. (There is a $5 coupon right now though!) Additionally, I got a new PopSocket and slapped a monogram on it. It's adorable and very summery. 

I used my tablet to take this picture and it's so bad I can't stop laughing at it. 

Your Turn! Leave a comment below and tell me what you picked up on Prime Day!