Saturday, August 29, 2015

Like a Dream

After five years in Scandinavia and living abroad, I am officially homesick. Not necessarily for Vancouver, although I do miss being around my family and friends over there, but just being homesick for North America and aspects of living on that side of the world. Being back at work, colleagues have been like "Oh I get you, I wish I was still on vacation" and I'm like "No, you don't get it. It's not that I miss being on vacation, I miss being in that culture".

So, being in New York (and a little stop to D.C.) this August was seriously, everything. I've always said that I would love to live in New York at some point and well, I'm ready to pack my bags. I'm ready to go! The city is crowded and busy, all the time. I know that making a good living and having a nice place to live isn't easy to come by over there, but at the same time, there's this air of opportunity and hope. There is this feeling that you can make things happen.

Then there is the familiarity. I have relatives in New York, so in a way, the city is quite familiar to me already as I have been there many times. But it's not just the actual city. It's things the tiny things that you think don't mean a lot to you when you first move abroad, but then you crave while you're gone. The husband and I spent like hours wandering through Whole Foods, we bought kombucha whenever we could, we had the best classic chocolate cupcake topped with vanilla frosting, and after not having it for years, the taste of a passion iced tea lemonade from Starbucks was amazing. Shopping was easier because they actually have petite lines for shorter people like me and there was so much choice. Choices are things I miss. That and diversity. Different people, different ethnicities and cultures, different foods, differences that somehow mesh in a big city.

I have a lot of thoughts on life in Copenhagen and Denmark. Let's just say, I can't live here forever. New York was like a dream. I mean, this whole year with traveling to Vancouver, London and New York has been super dangerous for the husband and I. It's harder to leave family, it's harder to leave cities that aren't even home for me behind, and now all I want to do is look for apartments/jobs and book holidays to these places.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Pleasantly Surprised in Riga

I was in Riga two weekends ago for a work trip. The company I work for has offices in the two other Scandinavian countries, as well as in Finland and Latvia and every year, all the offices go on a trip together and this year it was Riga! 

I wasn't sure what to expect in Riga. I pictured it being a bit gray and plain and full of apartment blocks that all looked the same. But I was pleasantly surprised! The old town is colorful, there is a variety of architectural styles seen throughout the city, and they have some lovely parks and green spaces. 

Have you visited the Baltic states before? I was fascinated by the little bit of Latvian history I learnt while I was there. If it wasn't for this work trip, I probably would have never gone to Riga (well, maybe not never but it definitely is not on my list of priorities) and now that I've been there, I think it could be worth a second trip! 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Our Wedding: the Cake(s)

I had big dreams for my wedding cake. It was going to be tiered, we would have different flavors, and obviously I would get it at Strangas, my favorite cake place in the city. Right! Wrong. Reality kicked in and I wrote a bit about it here. As much as I love sweet treats, I just couldn't see us spending so much money on a wedding cake, as delicious as it would have been.

I thought of different options, other wedding cake companies, little cupcake businesses,  making out own cupcakes, but ultimately, we went with buying six different cakes from Andersen Bakery.

I think most people know that when you mention that something is for a wedding, things go up in price. So for us, we went to Andersen Bakery a week before the wedding and ordered one of every flavor of cake they had without mentioning our wedding. We bought a few slices of a few of the cakes to sample before ordering them and they all tasted lovely. We ordered some mousse cakes, some cheesecakes, and a gluten free Gateau Marcel. Andersen's cakes change with the season so it was nice that they used ingredients that were available at that time. We had an elderflower mousse cake which I loved, we also had a cherry cheesecake as well as a mango licorice cake. We cut our cake(s) during the cocktail hour/reception and Olsen +3 took care of setting out all the cakes and cutting and serving it to our guests.

Our cake table was quite simple. We asked my father-in-law to cut some round plates out of some logs that they had up at their summer house to use as cake plates. Like our seating chart, I hand stamped the name of each cake onto a small manila tag and wrote a little description of what the cake was. I also made a very simple cake topper to use on our cutting cake. I bought some pink fimo clay and rolled it out. I cut out three heart shapes with a cookie cutter and baked them. After baking and cooling the little hearts, I hand wrote the first letter or our names onto them with a gold paint pen and glued them onto some white lollipop sticks. And that was it!

We were really happy with the cakes we got for our wedding. People could try different flavors and there was more than enough cake for everyone. The cakes were affordable, they looked pretty, and they tasted great! Maybe if we do a vow renewal 5 or 10 years from now I can get a tiered cake, but for our actual wedding day, the cake table was perfect!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

All my Favorites in Brussels

Seriously, the food in Brussels features everything that I love. Potatoes in different forms, check, seafood, check, and chocolate and pastries, check! Here are some of the things we ate in Brussels and places we would recommend if you ever find yourself there!

1. A little afternoon seafood snack at La Mer du Nord.

2. Belgian fries at Frit Flagey.

3. A Belgian staple, stoemp and sausage, with a modern twist at Madame Chapeau.

4. Of course we had to enjoy some pastries and Pierre Marcolini masters that as well!

5. A trip to Brussels wouldn't be complete with Moules Frites (or bouillabaisse for the husband)! We had dinner at La Boussole and it was the best. Great service, the seafood was fresh and cooked to perfection, and the prices were very reasonable. I loved our dinner there so much I wanted to go back to the same place the next day!

6. A quick coffee and light lunch at Jat. A modern, yet funky and a little retro cafe that was packed when we were there!

7. We had the richest hot chocolates ever at Salon du Chocolat inside Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Perfect for those who love dark chocolate!

I hope this mini guide will help you the next time you are in Brussels! Happy weekend!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Mini Getaway to Brussels

I was in Brussels for work Thursday and Friday last week and although I was there last November for work, I didn't really get to see any of the city. So when my work event coincided with the weekend, the husband and I took the opportunity to make a little trip out of it! I think people have a love/hate relationship with Brussels. A lot of the people I know come to Brussels for work and literally fly in and then fly out again so the city isn't necessarily associated with fun for them. But then there are those who love Brussels and all it offers...

The husband flew to Brussels on Friday afternoon and we flew home late last night. It was nice to do something different than what we "normally" do on the weekend in Copenhagen. It felt like a mini vacation getting to stay in a hotel, eat out every night, and just wander around with no real schedule or plan.

Brussels is an interesting city not only because of its mix in culture and languages, but also because it is sort of the capital of the European Union. A large part of the city is dominated by the European Parliament and the European Commission, and then another part of the city is very Parisian feeling with beautiful old buildings and grand parks. Brussels also has a very playful side, being the home of many different cartoons and comics for example. And then there is their awesome food! From amazing chocolate to mastering a staple like fries, the food there is simple but they totally master it.

Brussels is a charming city full of great food and an interesting mix of cultures. I don't know if I would go there for an actual holiday, but it is a quirky little city and it was a great place for a mini weekend getaway!