Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Favorites

There are SO so so so so so SOOOOOO many things about the holiday season that I love. Love love and love. It's probably the best month of the year. Despite the fact that it's cold. And really, it hasn't been all that cold here yet. Everyone has their own traditions and favorites: holiday cookies, movies, decorations, songs, etc. And as I said before, there are SO many things I love and would consider favorites, that it's hard (so hard) to narrow them down. But I'm going to try.

Favorite holiday movies
1) Home Alone
2) National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
3) Elf
4) How the Grinch Stole Christmas
5) The Family Man

Favorite holiday music
1) I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
2) Baby it's cold outside
3) Anything by Vince Guaraldi Trio
4) O Come O Come Emmanuel by Barlowgirl
5) All the old favorites: Perry Como, Dean Martin, Johnny Mathis, Burl Ives, the list goes on and on....
6) Josh Groban - Oh Holy Night
7) Dan Fogelberg - Same old lang syne
I'd better stop here, I could go on forever, my iTunes Christmas playlist is a mile long

Favorite holiday baking
1) Gingerbread (Andreas' recipe)
2) Fudge
3) Rosettes - except I don't bake these, I buy them. My parents used to make them though. Mmmm.
4) Nutmeg meltaways
5) Almond crescents

Favorite holiday decorations
1) Garland with white lights, pine cones and berries
2) Red and gold seems to be our theme. Although I love silver and white also.
3) The beautiful candelabra we got in Denmark (Swedish design though) that I can't plug in here :(
4) Scandinavian tomte - so cute
5) Old tattered mistletoe from my parents' holiday decorations. So old, so cherished.

Andreas' favorite - sadly, I am not a fan

"Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things"

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Memories of Denmark

I've been spending a lot of time lately going back to the beginning stages of this blog and reading old posts. Some of them are actually quite funny, as I have laughed out loud several times. And some might bring a tear to my eye, as I remember our adventures in Denmark. Funny how sentimental I get over that place because as I was living there, I did nothing but complain about it. I do miss it though. What an experience that was! Sometimes I wish we could go back. Sometimes....

At least I had a lot of funny stories to share. Because we didn't really know anyone there or have a car, we were forced to spend a lot of time together, making things interesting. It wasn't easy to get to a movie theater, for instance, so that would be a rare treat. Instead, we did a lot of biking and hiking through the forest trails. Or even biking to the beach on occasion. Having picnics and visiting castles. I don't think I fully appreciated how amazing it was to be there until I moved back home.

Now that we are living in the U.S. again, (and it almost feels as though we never left) things are much easier. But we don't have as many adventures as we did then. There isn't really anywhere we can go for exciting day trips. We don't really go exploring much. All we really do is hang out at home. We are pretty boring people.

My kids have grown up so much and have lost pretty much all the Danish they knew. Eden was practically fluent at just 6 years old. I used to love listening to her and Andreas speak Danish to each other. I often wonder what life would be like if we would have stayed for 3 years. How much Danish we would retain. How many more adventures we would have had. If I could just have managed to get over the culture shock....

It was SO hard on me. I remember just sobbing on many occasions because I missed my family and everything that was familiar and comforting. I just couldn't get used to such differences. And with Andreas gone at work every day, I was terribly lonely and depressed. I felt so bad for him too because I was burdening him with my sadness and he tried so hard to do things that might cheer me up. I wanted to just leave. I was so heartbroken over having to leave our first home and the area that I had lived in my entire life, that if he would have told me I could go home, I would have in a heartbeat.

So it seems funny that I go through these periods of almost grief over the life I left behind in Denmark. Something I didn't really give a fair chance. I find myself longing to go back to that life, that town, that house and relive those memories. You never know what a move like that is going to do to you until you go through it. It was like jumping in with both feet, eyes closed. I had no idea what it would be like. But I did it. I went through with it. And now I know. At least I'm not sitting here wondering what it would be like. It was a big decision, a big move, but we went for it. And I'm glad.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

pumpkin pie puff pastries

We didn't have the traditional pumpkin pie this year for Thanksgiving and I kind of missed it. So I whipped these up for after dinner tonight. And they did taste like pumpkin pie!

We had such a wonderful Thanksgiving once again. My brother and his wife were gracious hosts and he is a master in the kitchen (just like my dad was). Prime rib, turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, cranberry salad, mashed potatoes so creamy it makes you want to was a feast among feasts. Great food, great wine, great people, I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend a good old American holiday.

I told you we had great wine!

I have had my Christmas shopping pretty much done for many weeks now so I didn't brave the crazy people that come out of the woodwork for black Friday sales. I feel sorry for people who work in retail. What a nightmare that must be! I don't really understand the need to shop at crazy hours of the night, fighting off hundreds of deal hungry shoppers to save a few bucks. That's just me.

Maybe if car dealerships were in on the madness, I'd think about it. Shopping for a car at 4 am to save thousands of dollars is justifiable. But for everything else, I'll shop at 10am on a Monday, when I'm the least likely to get a black eye from the experience ;)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Things I am thankful for lately

1) Kashi honey almond flax cereal
2) my mom
3) Courts Plus
4) the game "flush" on my Windows phone
5) maletonin
6) candles
7) coffee
8) iPod
9) Lightroom
10) chapstick

Not to make light of the obvious things to be thankful for: home, loving family, everything I need and more, etc.

We had parent/teacher conferences for Emma and Eden today. And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my AWESOME children!

Academically, Emma is doing very well in kindergarten. But she has little break downs......often. Usually, it's over something really small. She is like that at home too. It is just her perfectionist personality. If she screws up on a drawing, for instance, she'll freak out and cry about it for 20 minutes. Her teacher wasn't sure if it was anxiety, missing me because being in school all day is a big change, or what. But other than that, she is sweet, respectful, listens well, has friends and really seems to enjoy school for the most part. I am really proud of my little 5 year old girl. Growing up too fast.

Eden...oh where do I begin to talk about Eden? She is a phenomenal girl. Always has been. She happens to have the same teacher she had in 1st grade and she was SO excited when she found out she would have her again. Eden loves her teacher and her teacher seems to share that same adoration for Eden. Mrs. S says it has been wonderful seeing Eden excelling in everything she does. She's a super student and is such a joy to have in the classroom. All the kids love her, boys and girls. Whenever they have to pair up for tasks, everyone always wants to be with Eden. When it's share time, they all laugh at her stories. She is very much a loved girl. And it's no surprise, she has such a great sense of humor and fun personality. I was beaming with pride when I left that classroom today. And as we left, we said thank you to Mrs. S and she replied, "Thank YOU....for Eden". It was very sweet.

I am lucky. I couldn't have asked for better children. Now I have to remember that when they are arguing AGAIN or not doing what I asked them to do for the 50th time ;)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Things I might wish for any given day....

...that I had more children
...that I had no children
...that I lived alone
...that I didn't like french fries or potato chips
...that I could afford to put braces on my two oldest children
...that I had tons of friends
...that I could cook like an Iron Chef
...that my father was alive
...that I didn't have anxiety issues
...that I had known my grandparents
...that I could sing
...that I was smarter
...that I was beautiful
...that I could be happy with myself
...that calories didn't matter
...that I had another dog
...that I had a cat
...that I had no pets
...that I had an important and successful career
...that I was wildly and obnoxiously rich
...that I could write a novel
...that I had a smaller forehead
...that I could take my kids to Disneyland or Disneyworld
...that I had more courage
...that child abuse and animal cruelty didn't exsist
...that I wasn't selfish
...that I had more patience
...that I could take a vacation, wherever I wanted to go
...that I had more muscle
...that I had a sparkling personality
...that I had a maid
...that I was a stand up comedian
...that my mom was only 20 years older than me
...that my husband liked to exercise with me
...that I was more religious
...that I was really good at yoga
...that I lived by the ocean
...that I had a pair of Louboutin shoes

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I turned 37 yesterday. I had a great birthday. Hanna went to the gym with me in the morning and while we were gone, my husband was in the kitchen baking me the most marvelous birthday cake.

Tiramisu cake

Look at all the lovely layers!

There was no way I was going to adhere to my clean diet after he went through all that trouble for me. And it looked far too good to pass up. I mean, tiramisu is one of my all time favorite deserts!

And it was every bit as delicious as it looks. It was a picture perfect layer cake and the taste was phenomenal! What ticks me off is that my husband is a man who cooks like twice a year and he is still able to pull a flawless culinary masterpiece out of his ass. Now if I would have attempted this cake, I'm positive there would have been failure and lots of swearing.

I appreciate him so so much! Thank you for another wonderful birthday, honey. You know how to make me feel so special.

We went out for dinner at Texas Roadhouse because I was feeling like a steak (gotta have my protein). And since I was going to have cake, I thought I might as well go all out and order FRENCH FRIES AND DEEP FRIED PICKLES!!!! Deep fried pickles are probably the best fried creation known to man. It was heaven, heaven, heaven. Until my stomach realized it was being poisoned with unhealthy crap and went "WTF did you just feed me???!!!!" and geeked out. I was in misery ALL night long. This is what happens when you are used to eating healthy food and all of a sudden you feed it french fries, fried pickles and cake. Not fun.

I got a brand new Windows phone. Didn't think it was going to be anything special but oh my gosh, I am addicted to it! I LOVE it! My girls each picked out some sensational holiday scented candles from Bath & Body Works. And I got two of my favorite movies: How to Train Your Dragon and Christmas Vacation.

I love birthdays!

Monday, November 7, 2011

New car caviar 4 star daydream think I'll buy me a football team

Hanna is Rainbow Bright.

Andreas has these crystal awards from work on top of our desk and when the sun shines in the morning, the light casts beautiful rainbows on the walls and floor. I happened to step in the way of the reflected light and Hanna said, "Oh mom! Your hair looks coooooool!" So I made her stand in the way so I could get a picture of it. Kind of neat.

One day, there was a perfect orb reflected on the wall. It was the coolest thing. But it was fading fast. I ran to get my camera and by the time I actually got a photo of it, there was just a tiny blip of color. It didn't make for a very interesting photo.

Stuff like this always makes me think of that Pink Floyd album....Dark Side of the Moon.

Have I ever mentioned my love for Pink Floyd? I have 5 of the albums.
1) The Wall
2) Dark Side of the Moon
3) Wish You Were Here
4) A Momentary Lapse of Reason
5) The Division Bell

I was at the HoDo with my husband about 2 months back and before we left I stopped in the restroom. As I walked in to the empty room, the beginning of the song Wish You Were Here was playing (one of my very favorites) so I started singing along with the music. Right there in the stall of a public bathroom, without a care in the world who heard me or how bad I sounded. When music touches the soul the way that song does for me, I just can't help myself.

So, so you think you can tell
heaven from hell
blue skies from pain
And can you tell a green field
from a cold steel rail
a smile from a veil
Do you think you can tell
and did they get you to trade
your heros for ghosts
hot ashes for trees
hot air for a cool breeze
cold comfort for change
and did you exchange
a walk on part in the war
for a lead role in a cage

How I wish, how I wish you were here
we're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl
year after year
Running over the same old ground
what have we found?
The same old fears
Wish you were here

Sunday, November 6, 2011

blue haired 5 year old spells c-u-t-e

Halloween may be over, but when there are children in the house, dressing up is daily fun.

I don't know what she is, with her blue bob and black petticoat, but I call it cute.

Sometimes we like to put on wigs and tutus, go down to the basement and dance around in the dark with the disco ball on. It's super fun. Andreas doesn't join us, of course. He thinks we are crazy.

They had so many colors of those cute bobs at Walmart. I should have bought them all. They were only $5 a piece. It's a steal, really. Blue, pink, green, purple, black, red....we would be set for disco dancin' wigs.

Actually, if I was smart, I would take the kids to pick out Halloween costumes for next year, right now. After any holiday, prices are drastically reduced. I always have good intentions to stock up and save, but it never happens.
I don't know about you, but I am super excited for the holiday season. I love this time of year. Halloween through the new year is such a wonderful time. Then comes the let down of the frigid and dreary months ahead until the spring thaw. That's the worst time of year for me.

What is your favorite and least favorite time of year?

Friday, November 4, 2011

home improvement

Every now and then (ok, a lot), I find myself walking from room to room, taking note of things I want to change. There is a lot in this house which could use some sprucing up. It was built in the early nineties, and while it's a very nice house, it lacks that modern feel. From the ugly borders, to wallpaper and paint, to the outdated wood, tile and carpet. But, with a house this large, revamping everything would cost as much as buying a new house. So we have to start small, pick one area, and go from there.

Of course, we've been in this house over two years and the only real project we've tackled is to paint Eden's room. Something we had promised her we'd do as a consolation because they both wanted the room Hanna has. But that's it. All the other money we've put into the house has been for repairs. Not nearly as sexy as adding lovely new furniture and fixtures. Believe me, I would much rather have spent all the money we've spent on repairing both the fence and the fireplace THREE TIMES EACH, on beautification.

We talk about all the things we would like to do, one room at a time, but it never happens. So, I took matters into my own hands yesterday. I started with the foyer.

 Despite the looming holiday season and the fact that the engine light is on in my van, signaling to me that it's time to pour money into repairs, and the fact that I just went on a holiday shopping spree last weekend (which, incidentally, proved to be very successful seeing as how I bought almost all the kid's Christmas gifts already), I spent money on my foyer.

I started here because it's the smallest area that needed fixing up and it's the first thing people see when they enter the home. I have wanted a table & mirror or a bench seat for a LONG time now and I finally just bought one. It looks so much better than the crooked coat tree that once stood there. Even though Andreas loved that thing, it was time to go. Also, when Lizzy was a puppy, she chewed 3 of the 4 corners of my [new at the time] entry rug and every time I look at the frayed edges held together by duct tape, I think to myself that I should just go buy another one. Because it really does look dreadful.

So I did that too. Except the one I bought was a bit too small so I will take it back and get a bigger size. Also, I splurged on some new lamps for our bedside tables. Except they weren't really a splurge because they were really cheap. Walmart has cute lamps. I'm not ashamed to say it.

FYI - I got the table at Hobby Lobby, one of my very favorite stores. It's dangerous for me to set foot in this store without Andreas to rein me in.

Considering I stewed and fretted at 3 different stores trying to find the perfect combination of things that fulfilled the idea I had in my mind, I think it turned out well and I am very happy with my choices. Now, if I can just convince my husband that we really need to get rid of our front room sofa and replace it with two sophisticated leather sitting chairs.....

..but then we'd need a sophisticated desk to match.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fright Night

I was a mummy last night for Halloween. Little kids were very unsure of me. I was wrapped up in about 10 or so bandages with 8 packages of cheesecloth over the top. It took forever. Luckily I didn't have to use the bathroom at all.
The cashier at the store had asked me what I was using all the cheesecloth for and when I told her she commended me on my creative choice.

I have to note that these pictures were taken by my husband and I thought his night photography turned out super spooky.

Once again, we had our little set up on the front porch. Severed fingers, an ear, some bones and know, typical gross Halloween stuff. Not over the top though. Andreas isn't as big of a fan of Halloween gore as I am. I'll go for anything. Except zombie babies. Even that is a bit much for me.

I had my bubbling cauldron going, my fog machine (until it crapped out for no apparent reason), spooky music coming from an open window. It was sort of slap dash because I've been feeling less than 100% lately and wasn't really in the mood to get too crazy with the decor.

We didn't have a shortage of comments though. That's always the best part, hearing people say how cool it is. Even the bigger kids would walk by and say "oh, we have to stop at that house". Speaking of older kids, we had a LOT of teenagers last night. I'm talking high school age.

I was inside handing out candy until I got too hot and had to sit outside. As the kids came to the door you could tell they were freaked out because they couldn't tell if I was real or not. So I went with it and sat really still. Hanna was sitting outside in my zombie bride costume for a little while and kids were pretty freaked out by her too.

I love Halloween. It's one night where you can be anything you want to be. Everything goes. Heck, even one guy was running around the streets in nothing but skimpy underwear. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.