New York (4) – Creating a new life …

So then here we are…
I didn’t have a plan but to make sure I could accomplish all the crazy things I had in mind, I had to create some kind of structure.

I had to design a routine for myself.
You’re more productive in the morning so waking up early was the perfect start of an active day ahead.
I downloaded the 7 minute work out app on my phone and made it a habit of doing my daily work out before breakfast.

Granola parfait with fresh fruit, blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs with tomato and mushrooms. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
Nowadays, I usually pick up a coffee and croissant on my way to work, however, it’s such a nice thing to do for yourself, taking the time to really start the day.

I started to read a lot as well. Mainly about the city. After a while, I changed to mindfulness and how to create a productive and happy life for yourself.
Investing in myself, away from everything else, was the best decision I made so far in my life.

I left the house around 10 am to go check out a new neighborhood, museum or park.
Always with a couple books in my bag, a cup of fresh fruit salad and a bottle of water.
Around 4pm I would either start looking for a place for dinner or heading back for a home cooked meal and some Gossip Girl. Depending on the day, I would check out a nice cocktailbar or do some more reading.

Doing things by yourself makes you more aware of your surroundings and the energy around you. It can be scary at first but once you break through that feeling, life becomes so much more exciting.
New York is a city build on ambition and opportunities.
But you’ll have to go get them for yourself…

Xo – Ann

The People :: Pieter & Charlotte

I call them my New York Parents.
They’re from Belgium and are living in New York.
Since I met them during my first week here, we’ve created plenty of memories together.

What I admire the most about them is how they build a whole life here in New York, including 2 adorable kids, Jerome and Billie.
Every once in while I would babysit these 2 kiddo’s.
I saw them grow up into those little New Yorker kids.

They taught me a lot about New York, about what it’s like to build a social network here, how to take the subway, how to raise 2 kids in a 2 bedroom apartment in Brooklyn.

Charlotte is this amazingly ambitious power woman.
She came to New York for a PhD in neuro science.
Now, she’s listed as one to follow CEO’s of her own company MouSensor, a biotech company that develops a novel and potentially transformative platform to digitize the sense of smell.

Pieter is a creative mastermind with a lot of fun projects behind his name.
He turned his passion for the iconic show ‘Welcome to Twin Peaks’ into a very active online community. Last year, he turned this passion into funding 200K to make a documentary about Catherine, the Log Lady.

Living in New York is their life.
This is where they made everything happen.

Pieter and Charlotte, I’m sure we will meet again soon!
You guys are amazing!
With love – your adopted daughter

Xo – Ann

Photo credit – LifeAdvancer

New York (3) – Moving day

After 1 week together with Marjorie, I moved to an apartment in Brooklyn.
Well, a room in an apartment, in one of those very pretty brownstones.
We were living on the top floor and my room was about the size of my room in boarding school. This was New York City living in it’s purest form.

2 days after I moved in, I got sick. I had a fever.
That’s when it hit me, that I really moved abroad, by myself.
I stayed in, watched Gossip Girl, made 20 cups of tea and a large bowl of fruit salad.
After 2 days, I started to feel better again and decided to go out and explore.
Staying in wasn’t going to help me chasing my dreams.

The first days, I stayed mainly in the close area.
Where was the supermarket, laundromat, pharmacy, coffee shop and bar.
I also had to get familiar with the public transportation.
Real New Yorkers take the train. Not the subway.

Before I came to New York, my mother made an introduction with a Belgian couple that lived in Brooklyn. They had 2 kids and invited me over for dinner later that week.
Pieter and Charlotte showed me the difference between the coins, asked me if I could babysit the kiddo’s every once in a while and kind of adopted me for the time being.

It was great to speak Dutch again for a second. It made me feel less of a stranger.

XO – Ann

Photo credit – Pinterest

New York (2) – The Tourist

Februari 22 2015
The day I turned 25. I had dinner with my best friends in Antwerp.
Everything was packed, I was ready to go on this new adventure.
Februari 25 – all passengers proceed to gate 35 to JFK International Airport.

Marjorie, one of my friends joined me.
New York was listed high on her list and decided to tag along the first week.

It was February, cold and the city just got hit by a snowstorm.
We checked in into our hotel in Brooklyn and decided to discover the area a little bit.
The Brooklyn Bridge was a 10 minute walk away.
We were all dressed up and headed towards Manhattan.
That view of the skyline was the confirmation of the exciting time I had in front of me.

I didn’t had a plan, I only knew this was where I wanted to be.
I had 90 days in this urban jungle and wanted to make the most out of it.

My former colleagues had bought me this city guide, Be NY by Patrick van Roosendaal.
Not your usual city guide but 10 people that were telling their story about the city.
We decided to follow in their foot steps and made our way into the city.

Xo – Ann

Photo credit – Pinterest

New York – The dream …

In 2010, I came to New York together with my sister and my uncle for a city trip.
It was a trip listed very high on our to-do list and we were all super excited about it!

One night, we were walking around in West Village, we saw a town house for sale.
It was one of those brownstones.
My sister and I looked at each other and joked:
‘Let’s buy it, so we can always come back to New York!’

We didn’t end up buying it, but right there I made myself a promise.
To come to New York for 1 year, just to live here, to experience what living in New York does to you as a person.

We went back home and got back into our routines of work and life.
I had an amazing boyfriend at that time. We lived and worked together in The Netherlands and our lives were pretty stable.
My nomad soul started to rumble again after 2 years, the rest of the world was calling me. We looked into working on private yachts for the wintertime but a great opportunity for my boyfriend came up and we decided to stay in The Netherlands.

2 years later, my head started spinning around again. I was getting anxious about the future, felt like the time was going too fast and nothing was happening.
Traveling and moving to New York was still my biggest dream.
So when my boyfriend came home one night, he told me:

‘Ann, I know that we both will be very happy, but it won’t be together.
I know you have this dream of going to New York or to move abroad. 
I think it’s time for you to start chasing your dreams and don’t let anybody stop you.’ 

When he said that, I could honestly punch him really hard in the face.
Now, I’m just glad he encouraged me to do so.

Xo – Ann

Oud Sluis (4) – Work hard, play harder …

Sergio always called it: ‘We play the finals in the FIFA world cup, twice a day!’
So after 5 days of hard work, we could enjoy our weekends.
And every 10 weeks, we would get 2 weeks vacation.
We were treated very well by our boss!

Working together creates strong teams.
So somedays we would even hang out together during the weekends.
Our weekend started on Monday 2am and just like everybody else, we would have after-work drinks.

I remember the nights at table 10.
It was the round table in front of the fire place.
Nick, the sous chef was really good at creating bonds and making time for the team after a rough service. We could have an argument about the food during the service, in the evening, we would still have an ice cold beer at table 10.

I cannot even remember the amount of times we stayed on Sundays until Monday morning the cleaning lady would come in. Laughing, joking, making plans or just chatting. ‘Good morning Lilian!’
That’s where we decided to drive to Paris the next week.
Just because Paris was only a 4 hour drive away.
Or when we organized a field trip to go hunting ducks during fall season.
One of our regular guests had a hunting club and invited us to join the team one day in December. Nick made an amazing platter with rillettes and stew of the game we caught for snack night that Friday after!

Or when we all gathered to go out dancing in La Rocca on Sunday.
Joris Voorn, Pan Pot, Laurent Garnier, Sfin, …
I got to know a lot of great DJ’s and night clubs because of them!

Most of our vacations, we made trips in Europe.
To Madeira, to learn about Madeira, a fortified wine made on the Portuguese Island off the coast of Africa. Or Santorini to visit wine makers and enjoy the beautiful sunset!
Weekends in Amsterdam, Paris or London.
And working in fine dining restaurants has it’s perks too.
All the good places for breakfast, lunch and dinner are being shared amongst each other!

So when me and my sister went to New York for a city trip, we had a whole list of must-visit places in our pocket. That’s when I fell in love with the city and made myself the promise to live for 1 year in New York. To discover all it’s hidden gems and to experience what living in a metropolitan city does to you as a person…

Xo – Ann

Start close by …

After being away for 5 years of my home town, I wanted to go back to my roots.
The restaurant I was working at during the weekends was looking for an experienced full time front of house person. I knew the chef and his wife already, the menu was seasonal and most of the guests were regulars.
It was an easy transition into the work life.

My boyfriend at the time was in the same situation like me.
We met at school – how cute! High school sweethearts!
We were both trying to figure things out.

By the end of the year, he was ready for something else.
He lived in The Netherlands, close by the Belgian boarder so we still had the chance to see each other during the weekends. One of the best Dutch restaurants wasn’t too far away from his city so I encouraged him to apply there.
He started in the beginning of January!

After 2 months, a new concept of the chef would open and couple front of house people would move there to help setting up the new restaurant.
My boyfriend asked if I wasn’t interested in joining the team?
That was Oud Sluis, a 3 Michelin star restaurant by chef Sergio Herman.

Working again in high end fine dining?
I decided to give it a shot and started working there in May 2010.

Working and living together with my boyfriend would be a whole new personal experience but we both agreed that it would be a great opportunity!
I introduced myself as Ann, not as Leon’s girlfriend to keep our personal and professional lives separated…

Xo – Ann

Start with the beginning …

Today, I made the decision to start my own business.
I feel like I’m ready for it.
It scares the hell out of me, because are we ever just ready?
I’m starting my own Hospitality Costumer Service Consultancy.

How did I get to this? That has been quite a ride.
A ride that I will be sharing with you, here online.

Start with the beginning …
Because the Hosted By Ann blog will be the beginning of something new and exciting!

So hop on board, join the movement,
Start the change, be the change!

And let’s start creating possibilities together!

Xo – Ann