Wonderful Christmas!

I love Christmas! Or Yuletide, rather. Influenced by Northern European folklore, Dickens, and Hollywood movies, it is to me a magical time of the year. Possible because it is the time where we in the Northern hemisphere bring in lights and color into the darkest and coldest part of the year. Everything is glowing and pretty, we eat good food and dress up to match the beautiful decorations around us. Angels and wights surround us, bringing us as closer than ever to fairytale (maybe with the exception of Halloween). Perhaps also because Christmas is a time that we spend with our close ones, it reminds us of what really matters. It is also a time of giving, inviting, and sharing, which I think makes everyone feel good. It’s the ending of the year and a time to recuperate, summarize the past and reevaluate what is important. And then, when the New Year comes a few days after, we can bring all this with us into the next year.

This year, I actually worked most of the holiday. In Sweden we celebrate Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day, but my work had a half day on December 24, and so I worked then. But the rest of e holiday was filled with nice gatherings: dinner and brunches with lovely food, and I invited friends over one evening for Swedish glögg (mulled wine) and ginger bread cookies. For some reason, I didn’t want Christmas to end this year. Maybe because it was so cozy? Here is my favorite Christmas decoration this year, at the New York City Library.

I actually met Mayor Vincent Gray of Washington DC when buying my last gifts at Macy’s the day before Christmas Eve. I let him pass me in line! 

Pre-Holiday Weekend in New York

So it seems like the more I worked on setting up my new blog and other social media, the less time I had to actually write posts. Sorry for that, will try to better (though I can add that when my personal social media advisor, i.e. my friend Anna, reduced the target I set for post per week from four to three. So although it is probably more realistic, there is apparently little hope for me improving!)

Admittedly, not much has happened anyway in this period. At least not that much that is worth blogging about. I have worked a lot and prepared for the holidays. To really get into the spirit, Anna and I decided to take the bus up to New York last weekend, to see the Christmas decorations, buy Christmas gifts, and go ice-skating in Central Park. It was a wonderful weekend! Unfortunately, it was a little too warm for us to be in ice-skating mood (it hit 17 °C, i.e. over 70 °F our last day) but we did see the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center and all the Christmas decorations on 5th Avenue (my favorite were definitely inside Saks and at Bryant Park and the New York City Library), we went to no less than three Christmas markets (at Columbus Circle, Bryant Park, and Union Square), took a walk in Central Park, and had long lunches and dinners. Perfect New York weekend in other words! Since my favorite Brooklynite wasn’t in town this time, we stayed on Manhattan this time, which meant that I got to try a bunch of new restaurants and bars. Worth mentioning were:

The Bar Room (Upper East Side) – low-key, bistro style with comfy environment and good food, and with gorgeous art deco interiors. We went there for lunch, which was perfect!

Perla (Greenwich Village) – Italian inspired restaurant with good food and nice atmosphere! I had amazing fettuccine with black trumpet mushrooms.

Acme (East Village) – New American food with Nordic influences and also with kind of a bistro-style interior but less art deco and more functionalistic from what I remember. We ordered a bunch of small, tapas-like dishes to share and they were all delicious!

Little Branch (West Village) – Speak Easy with an almost hidden entrance and with a very small bar. Only a few people are let in at the time and the bartenders really take the time to provide you with the perfect cocktail.

Café Kava (Hells Kitchen) – a coffee shop close to our hotel that turned out to have the best muffins I’ve had so far in the U.S. They actually tasted like they had been in a real oven for a while. My favorite? Pear and pecan! And the people who worked there were very nice!

Actually, in all these places, the people who worked there were really nice and friendly, which makes such a difference. We stayed at the Yotel in Hells Kitchen, and although nice for the price, I think it targeted a younger audience. Perhaps most interesting was their bathroom set-up which didn’t include a proper door. A little odd! But other than that, the room was quite nice and at least we had a good view of the city from the 15th floor. And as always, I wish I could have stayed longer than the three days we were there.








// The view from our hotel room // Central Park in snow // The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center // Tiffany & Co. // The Christmas market at Columbus Circle // Christmas decorations outside a private townhouse on the Upper East Side //  Acme //

Ready for Christmas

I’m finally getting ready for Christmas! Monika and I baked Christmas buns and cookies for six hours yesterday, and with my apartment decorated and filled with Christmas treats, everything is in order for tomorrow. (We celebrate Christmas Eve in Sweden and not so much Christmas Day.) Tomorrow, I’m going to a Nordics Christmas concert and then I’m having dinner with Monika’s and Willie’s family. Here are some pics from our baking session yesterday and from my very cozy and very Christmasy apartment:



Traditional Swedish saffron buns




Christmas chocolates from Vienna20121223-223509.jpg



When I flew back to DC with Lufthansa earlier this month, we all got a Christmas stocking as a present.

In Anticipation of Christmas

I’m slowly but surely starting to get into Christmas mood. It’s a little more difficult here in Washington than in many of the places where I’ve lived because of the climate and the not so dark winter months. Many of the traditions that we have in Sweden around Christmas try to lit up the darkness that defines this season. It’s all about candles! But with temperatures being around 10 degrees and the sun not setting before 5 pm, I do not long for light in the same way and thus tend to forget some traditions that otherwise prepare for Christmas. Also, as I wrote earlier, this has been a hectic fall and it seems like it was just September, so I think I’m having trouble realizing that it’s Christmas.

But I’m getting there! Earlier this week, I went to the Alexandria Harmonizers’ Christmas Concert at the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria (my colleague’s husband sings in the choir and the concert was great!!), today I got all the Christmas food (I even found herring at Whole Foods), tomorrow I’m Christmas baking with Monika, and Sunday I’m going caroling up in Maryland with my colleague’s family and their friends. So I should hopefully be in Christmas mood by Monday!