Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Year's Day Brunch Inspiration...




As we settle into our new temporary place in Vienna for the next couple of months, I've been starting to think about the holidays...on one hand, it will be low key since, well, I'm not partying much at 35 weeks pregnant, and we're in a bit of a temporary status.  But that being said, when you're in the heart of Vienna for holidays, you don't have to do all that much to feel festive.  I mean, there are chandeliers hanging in the street right outside our windows...

The two New Year's Eve celebrations we had here are some of the ones I most fondly remember, and New Year's Day here is a day to take it all in and start the new year off right.  To that end, Minted sent over a few paper goodies to help us prepare and here are a few inspirations for getting our family brunch set up in style:

1.  RabLabs Platters: I absolutely love these - we gifted them to family last year and I immediately sincerely regretted I didn't bite the bullet and order one for us as well.  We'll have to correct that this year!

2.  Confetti for the table: Because it's New Year's and New Year's is for confetti!

3.  Glucksschweins: In Vienna, "good luck pigs" are the symbols of the New Year (remember these?) so they'll feature prominently on the table in some form or other, preferably as chocolate truffles from Meinl's (still the world's most beautiful grocery store if you ask me - I love being around the corner from it once again!)

4.  Happy Coupes: I don't have my collection of coupes here but Vienna outdoor markets always have reasonable ones in original sets, and Lobmeyr has less reasonable (but more glam) ones  - maybe something a little more festive this year for the collection inspired by these? After all, champagne tastes better in a coupe.

5. Gold Flatware: need I say more?

6.  Holiday Bling Party Decor: Like the New Year's Banner - these banners have become one of my favorite ways to instantly signal a party in a room...

7.  Roses & Gold: Floral inspiration for the center of the table that will last well into the first days of the start of the new year...

8.  Joy Stickers:  A little reminder to put on a makeshift napkin ring of craft paper about the sentiment we should all have when the year crosses over.

9.  Candles: While we will always have Vienna as first in our hearts as a post, Copenhagen is definitely growing with us and the fact that there really should be no winter meal or party without candles is one of the things that will come with us wherever we go.

10.  The Vienna Philharmonic New Year's Day Concert: One day, we'll get tickets...one day...but in the meantime, the TV broadcast will have to do and there simply is no new year's in Vienna without it.  The Philharmonic is just probably the best accompaniment to brunch that there is!

11. Menu Cards: I don't know what will go on them yet - something simple, something good, and something topped with Champagne for sure!


Monday, December 15, 2014

Back to Vienna...

vienna, sound of music

After all these years of missing Vienna, we finally made it back! Well, temporarily anyway...After much hemming and hawing about where to deliver, Vienna - where our first was born - is where diplo-tot #2 will make an appearance.  Last week was a bit of a blur as we came in and I promptly got a cold and infection of some kind, but it's not preventing me from loving being back.  Everything, minus a few improvements, seems to be just the way we left it. And that is, after all, one of the best parts about Vienna...Christmas and the holidays are in full swing and while the gluwein will have to wait until after delivery, that hasn't been preventing us from the rest of the sundries and goodies.

It's good to be back - at least for a little while!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Reindeer Games Birthday Party...


With all that's going on right now, this past weekend we had a bit of an early birthday celebration for the diplo-tot, so that she got to celebrate with her friends here in Copenhagen.  Four years is just around the corner, and hard to believe that the time has come and gone so quickly.  When someone is 4, are they still even a tot? Her growth has always amazed us - that makes us parents, right? - but especially given where we were last year….She had just started the forest school, seemed completely lost in the system and language and we didn't know much of anyone here yet.  For her birthday we invited the one family we really knew at the time.



Turned out to be a good family to know since they were back again this year, becoming some of our closest friends.  But the circle has widened too, and that was something to celebrate.  In the forest school now she's thriving…speaks Danish fluently and this year sang all the birthday songs with aplomb…

Last year as well I was just really getting going with the traveling and found myself in tears because I didn't manage to make the cupcakes for her school party (they ended up being grocery store muffins with some icing tossed on them) nor did I make a cake for her birthday.  I'm not a mom that usually hung up on doing everything "myself", and I don't normally take it personally that I need to find help or faster ways to do things but for some reason, maybe because we were still new and out of place, I took it a bit to heart that I couldn't get organized to just make a batch of cupcakes, even though I had to frost those muffins at one o'clock in the morning when my flight got back in.




So this year, with the new baby coming and more change on the horizon, and our tot finally reaching an age where she just might possibly remember this kind of thing, I wanted to be a little more organized - or at least try to.  This pregnancy has been a little bit tougher than my first one, so actually I found myself more limited.  To keep things easy, we went with a bit of a cobbled together theme: "reindeer games" which allowed us to make use of a ton of holiday stuff already around the house, and pick up the details from easy places around our house.


There's a great store here in Copenhagen called "Sostrene Greene" which always cracks me up.  My husband calls it the "Let's see what we found in an unclaimed Chinese shipping container" store because it really does feel like that sometimes…it seems to specialize in doodads of all kinds, and  you never know what you'll find in there but you can always find something festive for a party.  We rounded out the decorations from there, found the antlers, and picked up a few simple things for the goodie bags.  Everything else was pizza for the kids, a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting per the birthday girl's request, and a few fun things like candy canes and Danish "pfeffernodders" (the holiday staple around here - I buy mine since they're all over the place here, but if you're not in Denmark, give this recipe from Traveling Mama a whirl).


We started out with some "reindeer games" in the yard, which really is a fancy way of saying "toddlers running around in a big circle while yelling", did the lunch, and then ended with watching the old school claymation Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".  For the adults, a big pot of gluwein was on hand (try this recipe and you're house will smell like an Austrian Christmas market in no time).  In the end, it wasn't too taxing but it was special for her, and a good way to celebrate all her achievements of this this year while looking forward to what's to come for our family in the next.



Monday, December 1, 2014

Starting the Holidays...



I know it's been a little quiet on the blog lately...but sadly, our computer had a complete meltdown - first it was the photoshop...then this...then that...until I could barely get the internet to work altogether without the computer crashing.  But Santa came a little early with a solution, and we're getting things back up and running here slowly.

In the meantime, I actually took some of my own advice and got a head start on the holidays...and not just on the holiday cards.  For once, with the exception of a couple of items I have to pick up in person in another place, I actually have all my holiday and birthday shopping done BEFORE thanksgiving....(this is a big deal at our house since just about everyone in our immediate and closely extended family has their birthdays within a few weeks of Christmas)...This was actually a huge relief.  Which means now that Advent is here, I can enjoy the holidays for the holidays sake.  Less pressure, more fun.

I usually stay away from Pinterest on the holidays since it mostly reminds me of all the things I haven't done or won't be doing, but even enjoyed browsing around since most of the important "to-do's" are done...this year I seem to be gravitating to a lot of pine and touches of red if we want to be literal.  But more than that, a lot of these images seem to be simpler but still intentional - special but comfortable.  Maybe it's because we'll be excited to welcome one more into the family just after the holidays, which is pretty much the best gift there is.  Or maybe it's because nearly a year and a half in Scandinavia, the cleaner, simpler, cozier approach to the holidays have finally rubbed off on me.  Or maybe this is the year I finally just got it...  Either way, this December will be full of the holiday spirit and we can't wait.



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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Old Town Warsaw...

A few snaps from a rainy day in Old Town Warsaw from last weekend's trip.  Along with my last work flights also came my last personal flights, and this trip was to celebrate a bit of a family reunion.  My cousin who was not too much older than my own daughter when I first met her, was doing her PhD defense…public audience.  I'm pleased to report she passed with flying colors, and that I've gotten a little wiser on the preservative qualities of natural extract on fruits such as apples and bell peppers.  

I'm not from Warsaw but over the years, it's become a bit of neutral ground for meeting up with family and events and I've grown to love the city.  They say Warsaw will do that to you…Seven and a half years ago we got married here and it's amazing how much the city has grown and rejuvenated itself in that time, making this trip such a nice blend of family, memory lane and also, discovery...





Because it was family that was mostly on tap, this wasn't a tourist trip, and the touristy things we tried to do seemed to get thwarted by rain or schedule or just still the classic adventure of doing things in Poland.  And to some degree, it's refreshing to see that westernization hasn't stamped out all of the character - want to visit the Royal Palace? Sure - except that it was closed because the cloakroom was full and it was unclear when it ticket sales would re-open.  He he - yeah, try telling that to three toddlers.  Want to take a trolley ride through Old Town? Sure again - except the trolley wouldn't start and the driver offered a refund or we could all get out and push the trolley through old town cobblestones to try to give it a running start.  Being the good Poles that we are, we opted for the running start.  It worked...

Though rainy, it was still mild - which has been the case this year in Europe more broadly though something tells me the cold is coming soon.  When talking about fall, just about any Pole you meet will sigh wistfully and mumble something about "Zlota Jesien", or "golden fall"… it's just a Polish thing.  Everyone does it.  It's because of all the birch trees that really do turn gold and lucky us, we still caught the last pieces of that gold on the trees before the winds took it all down…

And just as we were leaving they were dressing the city in layers of white and red, in preparation for the Independence Day celebrations that take place on November 11th - this year all the more poignant for the 25th anniversary of the elections and fall.  We like Independence in Poland so much we did it not once but twice…and that's something worth celebrating...