back to the wilderness

When making the decision to move back to the States, one of influencing factors was the beautiful nature of Oregon. I have traveled to many countries, but am still astounded by the beauty of my homestate. There is an amazing variety here: mountains, forests, beaches, deserts, peaceful lakes, roaring rivers, and waterfalls. Marcus and I have been taking full advantage of our proximity to nature since our arrival three weeks ago.

Little North Santiam In our first week here, we went on a hike with my sister Alyssa and our dog Tauri to the Little North Fork, along the winding Santiam River and through the thick forest. It's an easy hike with clear pools and waterfalls.

Shellburg Falls On the first weekend, we hiked with my parents and Tauri around Shellburg Falls. It's an easy 2.8 mile hike past two impressive waterfalls.

Maxwell Butte Snow Park in the Willamette National Forest On the second weekend, Marcus and I drove to the Cascade Mountain Range to go snowshoeing at Maxwell Butte in the Willamette National Forest. It was our first time snowshoeing and it took some time to get used to walking a bit off kilter. Next time I will definitely start with fewer layers - you get warm fast! - and go on a day with a denser snowpack.

Hoyt Arboretum After brunch with friends last Sunday, we met Alyssa and went to Hoyt Arboretum, a forested area in Portland's Washington Park. I have always loved the Wildwood Trail, but this time we also explored the Magnolia Trail, lined with the namesake trees, which were about ready to bloom. Definitely a reason to return in the coming weeks.

Oregon Coast: Pacific City and Neskowin On Monday, Marcus and I went to the Oregon Coast with Tauri. Our destination was Haystack Rock at Pacific City. We were greeted with blue skies and warm winds. We hiked down the beach, Tauri and Marcus running through the waves, and had a picnic in a remote dune area. We returned and treated ourselves to a pint on the terrace of the Pelican Pub & Brewery. Then we headed to Neskowin, a quiet beach area with a view on Proposal Rock.

winter reading

Spring is officially here and it's time to review the books I've read over the last few months. Not surprisingly, moving across the world limited the number of hours I could dedicate to reading, but I still managed to enjoy a few great books:

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. This is a story about two boys, best friends who grow up with their lives intertwined. As they are forced to confront the joys and sorrows of life, their friendship matures and so do their thoughts on how fate influences the direction of life. Borrowed from my friend Manja.

Wildwood by Colin Meloy and illustrated by Carson Ellis. A fantastical story that immerses you in Wildwood, a secret world in the forest above Portland, Oregon. The wilderness holds an army of wolves, kidnapping crows, and peaceful mystics. When young Prue crosses into this world, she finds herself amidst a scene ready for an adventure to unfold.

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami. Another beautiful tale from Murakami. The story of Hajime, now a successful businessman in Tokyo with a wife, children, and a settled life. His former classmate Shimamoto suddenly returns to his life, mysterious and beautiful, turning it upside down.

My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss. A must-read for anyone that finds themselves identifying with more than one culture. Born in Berlin, Germany to an American father and an Italian mother, Luisa Weiss struggles to find her place in the world and ends up finding that home is created in the kitchen. Wherever in the world that kitchen may be. An honest story with a dose of romance and recipes.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. Helen Graham takes up residence at Wildfell Hall, in a small English town. Living a simple life with her son, but no husband, the townspeople imagine her past as ripe with scandal. The truth is a tale of a marriage ruined by alcohol and infidelity, and a woman who refuses to compromise her moral standards of life.

Tess of the D'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy. Tess Durbeyfield is the eldest daughter of a poor family in a small English village. When her father finds out that they are descendents from the noble d'Ubervilles family, her life takes a turn in a sad and darker direction.

Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach. A story of a love affair between the wife of a rich ship merchant and an artist during the height of the Golden Age in Amsterdam at the height of tulipomania. A farewell gift from sweet Mandy.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I am still in the middle of this book (to be followed up by this article), but it had to make the list. The true story of the brutal murder of four members of the Clutter family, killed in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959. A gift from my younger sister.

With the big move over, I'm excited to get back in a steady reading rhythm. Any book suggestions that go well with a dose of Pacific Northwest sun?

Image by artist Marisa Swangha.

weekend links

St. Johns mural by Carson Ellis Finally, a new post on small sight! Marcus and I arrived safely in Portland and have spent the last weeks adjusting to life in the States. I am working to find a new rhythm, for blogging as well. No better way to start than with a collection of interesting things to do, see, watch, etc. Happy weekend to all!

1. Carson Ellis, one of my favorite illustrators, designed a new mural for the St. Johns neighborhood in Portland, to be unveiled in May (pictured above) 2. The New York Times looks at the rising stature of photography at museums 3. The Oregon Museum of Science & Industry is holding a spring star party on Saturday at Rooster Rock State Park 4. A look at the lives of the people living in the Siberian Taiga in the latest documentary from Werner Herzog 5. Images of a Siberian Winter by photogapher Maxim Shemetov 6. The cons of a packaged food culture, or a great reminder to eat fresh and local 7. Photographs of models and their mothers in The New York Times Magazine 8. The Welcome to Portland campaign by W+K for Travel Oregon, if my friends in Amsterdam needed any more reasons to visit

welcome to portland


farewell Amsterdam

The last post from Amsterdam! It has been an amazing week of meeting with friends, saying farewell to the city, and packing up our lives here in the Netherlands. Seven years. I can't really begin to describe how it feels.

A few days ago, I sent some belated images of a summer s'mores making party to a group of dear friends and then started looking through my Amsterdam photo archive. Here, is a quick collection of some sweet moments over the last years.

We just had an impromptu breakfast of poffertjes with Stefanie & Fiede this morning. The sun is shining and Marcus is calling the taxi to airport. Thank you to all our friends who made the last weeks so special. Until we meet again!

photographer: Anna Ådén

Anna Aden 1 I'm taking a break from everything Amsterdam and moving related to share the photography of Anna Ådén. She is a Swedish art and portrait photographer with an amazing ability to capture scenes of nostalgia and nature. When I first discovered her work, I thought they could be images from a film set for a British period piece - especially the first and last images in this post.

Her photography caught my attention not just for the strong sense of composition, but also for the soft lighting and muted tones she creates. So I wasn't surprised to learn in this interview that she is also a painter. Check out more of her work on her website or blog.

Lily of the valley

Anna Aden 3

Anna Aden 2


Autumn fields

All images by Anna Ådén.

Universiteit van Amsterdam

Before I leave Amsterdam, I had to visit the university area one last time. The whole reason I came to the Netherlands in the first place was because I received a full scholarship for a two-year M.A. program at the University of Amsterdam. The university is spread throughout the entire city, but I spent most of my time in the center where the Media and Culture faculty is housed. Even with grey skies, it's a beautiful area, with classrooms next to residential buildings and where students, locals, and tourists alike wander among the canals.

While packing, I found the scholarship certificate that I received from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. At the end of the certificate, it read:

Wij hopen dat u naast uw studie in staat zult zijn nader kennis te maken met ons land, zijn mensen en zijn cultuur en dat u na terugkeer het contact met Nederland in stand zult houden.

Which translates to something like, "We hope that, in addition to your study, you will get to know our country, its people, and the culture, and that after you return, you will keep in contact with the Netherlands." It still amazes me that this scholarship was the starting point for a whole host of events that unraveled over the last seven years. As I prepare to return, there is no doubt that the country, the people, and the culture will occupy a permanent place in my memory.



2013 World Press Photo Contest

2013 World Press Photo For the past three weeks, my life has been all about visual journalism: photography, multimedia productions, and producing content around the judging of the two World Press Photo contests. This was the fourth contest I experienced, and it was the last I will see up close as the move to Portland and the time to say goodbye to an amazing organization draws near.

After working intensely with an amazing team to create the context around the images and judging, the winners were announced yesterday morning. Paul Hansen, a photojournalist from Sweden, was awarded the main prize. In all, the jury awarded 367 images from 54 photographers of 32 nationalities. Some of the single images that most impressed me were from Micah Albert (USA), Wei Seng Cheng (Malaysia), Yongzhi Chu (China), Daniel Rodrigues (Portugal), and Nemanja Pancic (Serbia).

And below, some of the photo stories:

MournfulMournful by Ebrahim Noroozi (Iran)

The Cage The Cage by Xiaoqun Zheng (China)

Japan After the Wave Japan After the Wave by Daniel Berehulak (Australia)

Mirella Mirella by Fausto Podavini (Italy)

The Pink Choice The Pink Choice from Maika Elan (Vietnam)

Emperor Penguins Emperor Penguins by Paul Nicklen (Canada)

All winners can be seen in the 2013 Photo Contest gallery.

leaving Amsterdam

Amsterdam to Portland It's official. After nearly seven years in Amsterdam, I am heading home. The move has been in the works for a while now, but the tangible reality of it is really emotional. It hasn't always been easy, but this little country has been good to me.

In July 2006, I arrived in the Netherlands with two suitcases in hand. It was my first time stepping foot in the country, enticed by a full scholarship for a two-year Master's of Arts program. The first year was a rollercoaster as I adjusted to living in Europe, a mix of awe at the beauty of the city and confusion as I wondered where my place was in the world. I had lived in Seoul the year before and, although I loved my family, I didn't want to live in America. A year into my studies, I wondered if Amsterdam was the place for me. At the height of wanderlust, I imagined moving next to Berlin or Paris. And then...

In September 2007, I met Marcus. A sweet German who had lived in Amsterdam for two years, played music, worked with technology, and is the epitome of stability and love. When I received my diploma in June 2008, I couldn't imagine leaving him and decided to stay. I entered the Dutch workforce in August 2008, building my career and an amazing network.

Moving to a new apartment. German lessons. A job offer from World Press Photo. Traveling the world. An engagement. A wedding. And then it was 2013.

The two suitcases I arrived with in 2006 have evolved into five cubic meters to be packed in a transatlantic shipping container. I now have my MA degree, a solid professional career, friends from all parts of the world, and an amazing husband. And somehow, despite the distance, I am closer to my family than ever. I don't mean to make it sound easy. There were moments of tears and frustration, times of loneliness and wondering if I would make it along the way. But I did.

A new life awaits in Portland and there are so many details to arrange before the end of February. But for now, I am going to enjoy these last days with the city that has brought so much to my life.

weekend links

stacking wood olive us Enjoy the weekend and these links!

1. How to properly stack wood (pictured above) 2. A sleek, simple alarm clock app 3. Ten recipes that use lentils, one of my favorite sources of protein 4. A blind person's instagram 5. Dreams of a high-speed train network across the States 6. A sobering view of the gun deaths in the US since the Newtown shooting 7. Photographs for Geolocation, a project by Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman that 'situates virtual communication in the physical realm' through the images taken at the location of a Tweet (pictured below)

geolocations1  geolocations3geolocations2

a week of multimedia

in the judging room Over the past week, I had the opportunity to watch some amazing examples of visual storytelling today and listen to conversations from its leading practitioners, thanks to the World Press Photo multimedia judging. Now in its third year, I have seen the contest grow from the inaugural year to a refined look at what's going on in the world of multimedia. In the last days, I watched about 50 of the 287 submitted productions, observing the process as the jury narrowed it down to the final selection and interviewing judges about the winners.

Here is the list of the winners, with two of my favorites embedded below. I can also highly recommend 'Dreams on Freewheels' coming out of China. And all the interactive productions are worth the time to explore.


Online Shorts 1st Into the Shadows 2nd Living with a Secret 3rd Aleppo Battleground

Online Features 1st Too Young to Wed 2nd Dying for Relief: Bitter Pills 3rd Dreams on Freewheels

Interactive Documentary 1st Alma: A Tale of Violence 2nd Bear 71 3rd Lost and Found Honorable Mention UnknownSpring

[vimeo w=500&h=400]

And below, interviewing Samuel Bollendorff with my favorite cameraman.

interview with Samuel Bollendorff

winter in the kitchen

cabbage recipes Earlier this week, I was delighted to discover a delicious, simple recipe for roasted cabbage. I enjoy cooking and experimenting with the produce that appears in the weekly box of CSA, but sometimes I'm at a loss for what to do with certain vegetables. Especially in the wintertime, it can be a bit difficult to muster up the creativity to cook with yet another head of cabbage.

In my pursuit for healthy, vegetarian recipes that are also packed with flavor, I have come across food blogs that constantly inspire me in the kitchen. It also doesn't hurt to have a husband that loves cooking and is a master with spices. Below are a number of recipes that showcase the vegetables and fruits that are at their best in winter. For a (northern hemisphere) calendar of what's in season, visit Eat Seasonably. Do you have any favorite winter recipes?

Cabbage recipes 1. Roasted cabbage wedge with rice from Casa Yellow (above left) 2. Cabbage salad from (above middle) 3. Rustic cabbage and white bean soup from 101 Cookbooks (above right) 4. Braised red cabbage from The Wednesday Chef 5. Sauerkraut and reasons to love it

cauliflower recipes

Cauliflower recipes 1. Roasted cauliflower with cumin & coriander butter from Seven Spoons (above left) 2. Roasted cauliflower and cheddar soup from Two Peas (above middle) 3. Spicy cauliflower with sesame from 101 Cookbooks (above right)

brussels sprouts recipes

Brussels Sprouts recipes 1. Brussels sprouts with vinegar-glazed onions from Martha Stewart (above left) 2. Braised chestnuts and Brussels sprouts from Roost (above middle) 3. Roasted Brussels sprouts and cranberries with barley from Cookie + Kate (above right)

carrot recipes

Carrot recipes 1. Charred carrots with griddled goat cheese from Casa Yellow (above left) 2. Ginger-roasted carrots with miso dressing from My New Roots (above middle) 3. Roasted carrot soup from Food52 (above right)

celery root recipes

Celery root recipes 1. Winter salad from Local Milk (above left) 2. Potato and celery root gratin from Delish (above middle) 2. Creamy curried celery root soup from The Minimalist (above right)

pear recipes

Pear recipes 1. Poached pears from The Daily Serge (above left) 2. Pear soup from Sweet Paul (above middle) 3. Pear, ricotta, and honey tart from Bella Eats (above right) 4. Spiced pear muffins from The Kitchn

2012 travels

It's no secret that I love to travel. I can't imagine a life that didn't involve packing a suitcase every few months at least. Marcus and I even have promised ourselves to visit at least one new country each year. In 2012, I traveled to ten countries outside the Netherlands. Some of these trips took me back to familiar territory, others took me to unexplored areas of countries I'd visited before. The two new countries this year were Wales and Morocco. Wales was my favorite. The sheep dotting the rolling hills, the climb up Mount Snowdon, the shepherd's hut we stayed in, and eating one of my favorite meals of the year. Morocco, visited on a work trip, was the most novel and much too short. And our trip to Italy, for our honeymoon, was undoubtedly the most memorable.


Read more about: Florida, Belgium (Ghent, Brugge), Italy (Rome and the Amalfi Coast), Germany (Stuttgart and the East for summer and Christmas), France (Paris, Versailles, and Lille), Spain, Canada, Oregon (summer and fall), England (Bath, The Cotswolds, The Lake District, Gloucestershire), Wales, and Morocco.

weekend links

merino throw Weekend Links is a collection of the interesting bits and pieces that I’ve come across on the streets and online. I hope you enjoy them as well!

1. Reading Snow Fall, a interactive feature story by The New York Times about an avalanche at Stevens Pass, Washington. Amazing writing and multimedia components make this one of the most engaging stories I've seen in a while 2. Loving the hand knit merino throw from Loopy Mango (pictured above) 3. Viewing the amazing images from David Attenborough's new BBC series (via) 4. Discovering a new collection of yoga videos, perfect for the new year 5. Reading an article on the evolving style of Michelle Obama 6. Wishing I were across the ocean on 19 January when Noma comes to Portland 7. Dreaming of Madeira (pictured below 1, 2)

Madeira coastline

Madeira mountains

a quiet December

December It has been a while since I blogged, but I felt like taking a moment to be quiet for a time. December is typically a busy time for most people. I love December and know that too many commitments and tasks in the name of celebration can easily blot out the joy the month brings.

True, I was sick with a severe cough for a surprising number of days, but I enjoyed my fair share of holiday parties, Christmas films, and boozy eggnog. I finished up a huge project at work and had time enough to send a special box of Christmas presents to my family in Oregon, as well as several packages to friends overseas. There was an epic date night one weekend, brunch with friends on another. All leading up to our trip to Germany where we spent Christmas with Marcus' family. More to come on that later.

In the midst of the blog silence, I have also had time to think more about what I want to do here in this small space, how it reflects who I am and who I am becoming. Changes are afoot and, as we slip into the New Year (as the Germans say), I am excited to share the new with you. Thanks for reading!

A few images from my instagram: decorating for Christmas and a momentary snowfall in early December.

happy 2013

2013 calendar It's 2013! A rainy morning in Amsterdam, the streets lined with the evidence of last night's firecracker extravaganza. Marcus and I are usually in Portland or Berlin for New Year's Eve and it was our first time celebrating in Amsterdam. In lieu of a party, we had a quiet celebration with cheese fondue, champagne, and an intense game of Scrabble. As the clock struck midnight, we stood together at the window, watching the fireworks bursting above and sang along with Sufjan Stevens' Auld Lang Syne.

And now, on to the New Year. If you're still looking for a calendar, I would recommend this one from aprons and birds, available in English and Spanish for the northern and southern hemispheres.

weekend links

yokiyo amsterdam Weekend Links is a collection of the interesting bits and pieces that I’ve come across on the streets and online. I hope you enjoy them as well!

1. Visiting Yokiyo, a new Korean restaurant in Amsterdam (pictured above, photo by Yokiyo) 2. Seeing Time's best portraits of 2012 3. Watching The Hobbit 4. Baking cranberry orange holiday cookies (pictured below) 5. Making homemade eggnog 6. Reading about the importance of gratitude

cranberry orange slices

holiday plans

Weihnachtsmarkt Dresden In one week, Marcus and I will fly to Berlin to spend Christmas with his family in the East. The last time we had a German Christmas was in 2009, a visit that also took us to the Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte) in Dresden. It's a magical city, but even more so with a mug of Glühwein in hand and sparkling lights all around. Besides visiting Dresden, we're looking forward to visiting family, walking through the snowy woods, and eating at our favorite restaurants in Berlin. I can't wait to step on the plane and head East for Christmas!

What are your plans for the holiday?

weekend links

Tree by Akos Major Weekend Links is a collection of the interesting bits and pieces that I’ve come across on the streets and online. I hope you enjoy them as well!

1. Listening to Hey, It's Christmas, looking forward to the Funky Christmas Market at Westergasfabriek, and counting down the days until the Christmas trees arrive in our neighborhood (above photo by Akos Major) 2. Trying out a new wine & Roman-style pasta restaurant in Amsterdam West 3. Discovering two new-to-me cocktails bars: Tales & Spirits and Bar Oldenhof 4. Making pumpkin gnocchi with sage brown butter and feta 5. More inspiration to Eat Seasonably 6. Appreciating the photo stories in the just-released Next#02, especially the work by Japanese photographer Hajime Kimura. Below, a video I made with Imaazje about the photographers' inspiration for their stories.

[vimeo w=500&h=281]

Hajime edit board