live: Winter vacation in Amsterdam

Last week I jetted off to Amsterdam with my best friend from high school and her mother, who grew up in Delph.  The mother daughter duo visit the Netherlands every December and I was thrilled to be part of the trip this year.

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We stayed at a fabulous boutique hotel called The Dylan. Definitely recommend it if it fits within your budget. The staff were wonderful and the hotel itself was quiet, cozy and beautiful.

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In regards to food, I made it my mission to eat fries at every meal (excluding breakfast). Needless to say, we walked all over the city, so I didn’t feel guilty with the daily indulgence. My favorite sampling of fries was at George W.P.A., paired with a glass of champagne. Cheers to lunch on vacation! Other restaurant favorites included Cafe Luden – perfect spot for tomato soup in the afternoon. As for dinner, we ended up visiting BHIP twice as it was conveniently located across the canal from our hotel. The owner was friendly, fun, and gave us plenty of suggestions of where to go next. If you’re a history buff who enjoys beer, be sure to grab a drink at Cafe Hoppe – technically the oldest bar in Amsterdam. We had a great time visiting with the locals while playing a few round of cards.

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As for shopping, our hotel was located on the edge of  The Nine Streets. We had a great time perusing the boutiques and if you’re in the market for a new pair of boots, be sure to visit Fred la Bretoniere. Your check book may be sorry, but the store does not disappoint at all.  Cheers! xo Kristi

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make: holiday painted spoons

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Tutorials for painted and dipped spoons have been floating around the interwebs for the better part of this year. I have always loved them and intended to make my own but had never found the time. Last week as I was getting ready to head to a friends for a holiday party, inspiration struck and I decided to do these but with a holiday twist. These could not be easier and a matching pair work as serving spoons or as salad servers. Here’s what you’ll need:

+ wooden spoons (i bought two three packs of michael graves wooden spoons at target – not available online)
+ craft paint (red: haberno and white: wedding cake satin acrylic paint by martha stewart crafts at michaels)
+ 1 inch thick painters tape (my fave is frog)
+ paint brush
+ food safe shellac (zimmers bullseye)
+ scissors and/or pinking sheers

You want to make sure that you buy spoons that do not have shellac on them already but if you make the mistake and do purchase them, don’t panic, just take some sand paper to them and roughen up the surface so that you can paint it. Then, you want to prep and tape the spoons for the first layer of paint. I choose varying lengths for the painted portion of the spoons, it was about the 1/3 of the spoon and I tried to make them as even as possible by measuring and marking with a pencil before adding the tape.

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Once the spoon was taped, I painted the first layer of paint one red and one white for each of the pair of spoons. Paint two coats and allow to dry for an hour or so. Then using your tape and scissors apply the tape for the lines on the paint keeping in mind that the areas under the tape will remain the color of the first layer of paint. Make sure that you press the tape down firmly so that you get as clean as line as possible. Once the tape is in place, paint two coats of the opposite color and set aside to dry. Since I painted both the front and back of the spoons, I found that the best way to allow them to dry was to place the spoons on my counter top with the painted handle hanging over the edge. Allow to dry for an hour and remove the tape.

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Do touchups as necessary and when you are happy with the final product, spray with two coats of the shellac and tie the pair in together with a bow

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I did a set where I created a zig zag stripe by cutting the tape with my pinking sheers. These were by far the most “homemade” looking of them all but I fell in love and kept them for myself. The others have been set aside to hand out as I head to holiday parties this year. Make sure you let the hostess know that these are not dishwasher safe (but you really shouldn’t wash wooden spoons in the dishwasher anyway).

Katie