A Swedish Holiday

Hello Friends,

My mother's family is from Sweden. My brother and I are half Swedish.  An important fact for this post, which is half story and half Swedish tradition/folklore.

Open my freezer and you are likely to find Vetebrod.  My family refers to it simply as 'bulla', a sweet bread. 

A story...
Last year I became friends with a gal who was born and raised in southern Sweden. In addition to being runners and career women, we are both Swedish.  We spend a lot of time together.  Predawn running, discussing daily life highs/lows, books, etc.

Over the last year, I have realized I wasn't raised with Swedish traditions, and often wonder HOW is this possible?! CAN it be possible? Our friendship has created curiosity, often leading to researching a story, folklore, or tradition. My childhood memories include Limpa, cheese, lingonberries, caviar, knackebrod, lutefisk, pletta, raggmunk, meatballs... plenty of Swedish food but sadly it did not include long-standing Swedish tradition.

This brings me to yesterday.   I joined my friend, and her children, to attend a Swedish Christmas Market and St Lucia celebration.  I was hoping to find Dala Horses and straw ornaments.  I didn't know what to expect but was surprised to see gnomes everywhere.

a crashing success!

Hello friends,

My last blog post was late July.  My first thought is 'I'm sorry for not posting for so long' followed by 'has it really been three months?!

In July,  I mentioned being in the midst of planning an island holiday.  I thought I would post a few times, but planning a holiday celebration for 26 people was a lot of work.

What were we planning?
A celebration of friendship (and Bill's 50th birthday). You may be asking yourself, 'how do they choose just twelve people'....  it started with a list of men playing a significant role in Bill's daily life.  Brothers, friendships spanning 25+ years, the men we rely on to help us, guide us, challenge us.  And their wives!

After researching to find the perfect destination fitting our needs, we reserved Fowl Cay A YEAR AGO. 

European Adventure Part 3: Vienna

Hello Friends,

This is the third, and final stop of our 16 day holiday.  While this is business travel for the World Traveler, I join him a few times a year and we find time for mini holidays.

Part I: Montreaux, Switzerland
Part II: Budapest, Hungary

We drove from Budapest to Vienna, via the autobahn.  A quick trip, just a few hour drive.

Vienna, Budapest, and Montreux in one holiday - these are three different places!  Vienna is pristine.  I immediately noticed that you only find grass in parks. We discussed that in ye old days the rain must have bathed the city.  Today this can happen with power spray.

With about three days to explore, we selected a hotel in a walking distance of many sights. This is a city I would like to visit again. Planned similar to Paris, Vienna has 23 districts. Mozart, Beethoven, Freud, and Marie Antoinette are just a few people that call Vienna home. 

Highlights and Observations
- We arrived Saturday afternoon. After settling in, I ran to a castle... again! Purely by accident... I found one of the most famous places in Vienna. The Belvedere Palace.

- On Sunday we were too close not to visit Marie Antoinette's childhood home.  Getting there requires a few transfers on the train and a mile walk.

The grounds are like visiting a state fair.  What I mean by this is that Schonbrunn Palace offers SO much to do an see.  Days are needed, not hours.

- We traveled back to Inner Stadt for coffee, to find Gustav Klimt's 'The Kiss', and walk through Hundertwasser House and Village.  Take a few minutes to research The Kiss and Hundertwasser online.  You won't regret it.

This wraps up this European adventure.  Thanks for traveling with us!
With love and gratitude, Mari
The Belvedere Palace

Schonbrunn Palace: Marie Antoinette's childhood home
Train Station, Pretzels at the Easter Markt, our first glance at the Palace

Easter Merkt - Hundertwasser - St Stephen's Cathedral
Doesn't it remind you of Alice in Wonderland?
The perfect ending to our adventure - a stroll, coffee, a date.

Books I can't wait to read!

Hello friends,

After a long snowy winter, it's time to dream of summer: gardens growing, crisp morning runs, warm days, cool nights, barbeques, and  relaxing on the deck with a good book.  It's so close!

I have added several books to my TBR list over the last few weeks. Most are titles I'm eager to read but do not publish until summer, forcing me to practice patience.

While I wait to be outside more, I will work on a new design project - my new two room office/workspace.  An office and three season porch.   I can't wait to curl up with a book and enjoy the porch on a summer day.  More on this later... and a wrap up of our basement renovation.

Cheers, Mari

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The Status of All Things: pub date, June 2
Kate is a thirty-five-year-old woman who is obsessed with social media. So when her fiancĂ©, Max, breaks things off at their rehearsal dinner—to be with Kate’s close friend and coworker, no less—she goes straight to Facebook to share it with the world. But something’s changed. Suddenly, Kate’s real life starts to mirror whatever she writes in her Facebook status. With all the power at her fingertips, and heartbroken and confused over why Max left her, Kate goes back in time to rewrite their history.

Kate's two best friends, Jules and Liam, are the only ones who know the truth. In order to convince them she’s really time traveled, Kate offers to use her Facebook status to help improve their lives. But her attempts to help them don’t go exactly as planned, and every effort to get Max back seems to only backfire, causing Kate to wonder if it’s really possible to change her fate.

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The Knockoff: pub date, May 19
An outrageously stylish, wickedly funny novel of fashion in the digital age, The Knockoff is the story of Imogen Tate, editor in chief of Glossy magazine, who finds her twentysomething former assistant Eve Morton plotting to knock Imogen off her pedestal, take over her job, and reduce the magazine, famous for its lavish 768-page September issue, into an app.

A glittering, uproarious, sharply drawn story filled with thinly veiled fashion personalities, The Knockoff is an insider’s look at the ever-changing world of fashion and a fabulous romp for our Internet-addicted age.

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The Rumor: pub date, June 16 
Nantucket writer Madeline King couldn't have picked a worse time to have writer's block. Her deadline is looming, her bills are piling up, and inspiration is in short supply. Madeline's best friend Grace, is hard at work transforming her garden into the envy of the island with the help of a ruggedly handsome landscape architect. Before she realizes it, Grace is on the verge of a decision that will irrevocably change her life. Could Grace's crisis be Madeline's salvation? As the gossip escalates, and the summer's explosive events come to a head, Grace and Madeline try desperately to set the record straight--but the truth might be even worse than rumor has it.

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Summer Secrets: pub date, June 23  
A story of one woman struggling to right the wrongs of her past, with even more complications in the present.

June, 1998: At twenty seven, Catherine Coombs, also known as Cat, is struggling. She lives in London, works as a journalist, and parties hard. Her lunchtimes consist of several glasses of wine at the bar downstairs in the office, her evenings much the same, swigging the free booze and eating the free food at a different launch or party every night. When she discovers the identity of the father she never knew she had, it sends her into a spiral. She makes mistakes that cost her the budding friendship of the only women who have ever welcomed her. And nothing is ever the same after that.

June, 2014: Cat has finally come to the end of herself. She no longer drinks. She wants to make amends to those she has hurt. Her quest takes her to Nantucket, to the gorgeous summer community where the women she once called family still live. Despite her sins, will they welcome her again? What Cat doesn’t realize is that these women, her real father’s daughters, have secrets of their own. As the past collides with the present, Cat must confront the darkest things in her own life and uncover the depths of someone’s need for revenge.

European Adventure Part 2: Budapest

Hello Friends,

Add Budapest to your must travel / bucket list today!  I may not find the right words to express the feeling of this beautiful city but know it's historically somber with fantastic energy and style.

This is my first time visiting an eastern European country; this old town has been beautifully cared for, and I'm happy to report... it's a walking city.

Blessed with a week to explore while the World Traveler and his colleagues were hosting a conference, I had time to learn and walked miles every day.  I had to be out, on the streets, absorbing.

On day one we settled into our room, met a group for dinner, and found ourselves at a concert in the basement of a hot spot. The locals were dancing and singing to a Jackson Five cover band. This was going to be a great adventure!

Click here to read Part I: Montreux, Switzerland
Click here to view our travel journal

Highlights and Observations
- I have a Pinterest board for Budapest listing must sees and lesser known places.  I tend to go out of my way to find places tourists don't know to see.

- We both have motorcycle licenses which lets us rent scooters while traveling.  Budapest is a perfect city to explore on a scooter since Budapest is expansive.  The Turkish Bathe Houses are a few miles out of the tourist district.  During this trip, we had the scooters for two days.  We saw so much, it's a forced technology break, and we made a date out of our time together.  Lunch and exploring, stopping to walk through parks, take in the monuments/sights, etc.. Did you know Buda is hilly, and Pest is flat?

- You must find the Shoes Memorial which honors the Jews killed in Budapest: ordered to take off their shoes, and shot, so their bodies fell into the river and were carried away.

- Walk across the River Danube via the Yellow Bridge, and cross back to Pest on the Chain Bridge. You will walk by Parliament and a lovely boardwalk.

- In Buda, you must see the Freedom Monument ( a tribute to the end of Nazi occupation) and the Castle.  Back in Pest, find the Thousand Notes Pub, shop The Great Market (it's one of the best markets I have visited),

- All of the communist statues have been removed from the streets, gathered up and placed in one central location.

- Enjoy a Transylvanian Chimney Cake... Delish!

Budapest is on my top five list of places I have been lucky enough to see.  I could go on and on talking about this city, but now it's time to pack up and depart for our last destination.

Enjoy the photos below; now we are off to Vienna!
Thousand Notes Pub
Gellert hill overlooks Budapest. The climb takes about 15 minutes and is well worth it to see all the statues of men being manly (plus some nice views).

Szimpla Kertmozi - If you are lucky enough to find this car free... you have sit for a drink/lunch!
Ruins Pub

I did not care for the fish pedicure!

European Adventure Part 1: Montreux

Hello Friends!

How did a trip to Bangkok land us in Budapest? The World Traveler had an speaking engagement/hosting responsibilities at an industry conference that was relocated for political unrest (safety of the guests and their travel companions).

So... with just a few weeks notice, I started researching Budapest.  This is three country trip is a business trip for the World Traveler and a working vacation for me (working lightly to keep up with projects since I'm traveling for three weeks). Before Budapest comes a week in Switzerland. While I adore Vevey, we stayed in Montreux this visit. I was determined to explore Montreux... the markets, shoppes, and winding roads. 

Did you know the locals live up the hillside and travel by foot via Escalier's?  These are hidden stairs, woven through neighborhoods (see photo below) and must their secret to staying healthy.

Travel: Part IV Hangzhou & Ningbo China

Hello Friends,

This is Part IV of our Asian Extravaganza!

Hangzhou is 800 miles south of Beijing, a five hour trip via the Bullet Train.We arrived after the sunset, settling in for just one night.  The photo above was my first view of this city.  I remember looking out our hotel window and thinking the fog rolling over a winter morning was lovely.... then quickly realized pollution was following me. 

Travel: Part III 36 hours in Beijing

Dear Friends,

When I travel with Bill for work we tend to plan a weekend getaway.  This time our getaway had us spending over ten hours in a train, but it was worth every minute!
Click here to read Part I & II of our Asian Tour.

This is likely my one and only time coming to eastern China (the pollution freaked me out) - so close to the Great Wall that we set our sights on Beijing.

Traveling 217 MPH via Bullet Train

Travel: Part II, Shanghai

(This is part two of a five-city trip. This is a long post but filled with noteworthy experiences.)

Lovely Friends,
You might think China is at the top of my must see list but... the pollution scares me enough for it to remain lower on my travel list.  The World Traveler spends a lot of time in Asia and when he asked me to join him for a three-week visit I jumped at the opportunity!

We have many stories behind our Shanghai photos, most not captured on film.  Bill did get to morph into Jason Bourne in a thrilling Shanghai hour; it was quite an experience!

Travel: Three days in Singapore

Hello friends,

Today I'm excited to tell you about a recent trip to Singapore, part one of a 16-day adventure in China.  We traveled from NYC to Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, and Ningbo.

Let the adventure begin!

Our flight path to Singapore brought us over the north pole, over Russia, China, and landing in Hong Kong, where we missed our connecting flight by a few minutes.  A few hours later we flew on a local airline to Singapore...

Singapore is a young country, turning 50 this year.  It reminded me a bit of George Jetson's world.

It's a cultural melting pot which makes for an exciting visit.
{Photo from Google Images}

While the World Traveler was on business, in air conditioning, and I was outside exploring.   It was very hot while we were there, nearly 100 degrees and humid!

Buddha Tooth Relic: This was my first time seeing/entering a Buddhist Temple.  Stepping into the Temple brings an immediate calmness.  I didn't want to leave.

Travel: Switzerland & France

Lac Leman (Geneva)
Bonjour les amis,

Last fall my husband, and I traveled to Hamburg, Germany before heading to Switzerland for a few weeks.  Why Hamburg? A good friend of our calls Hamburg home and wanted a big celebration for her birthday.  We were close and excited to be part of her big day.

Click here to read about our visit to northern Germany. 

Our next stop: Vevey, Switzerland

After settling in our hotel, the World Traveler was off to work.  When I join him on these long trips I work remotely, and being five hours ahead provides time to explore before sitting in front of my laptop.

I love everything about Switzerland, even Sunday's (everything is closed).

Life & Books: an update

Hello friends,

We have a blizzard in the forecast, a blizzard.  I will snowshoe, which has me a bit giddy today.

The storm will also provide plenty of time to finish the book I'm reading, and the afghan I'm making.  I have about twenty rows left.

Did I tell you I'm excited for the snowstorm?! 

Basement: We will fall behind schedule this week, but only by a few days.  The snow will keep the contractors from driving, safety first!  The fun starts next week, when the design comes together (stone, tile, paint, etc).

The fireplace will be installed today.

Here's a photo of how the basement has progressed, in the last ten days. What you can't see, the plumbing and electric are done.

Five to six weeks to go.

Book Talk: Have you tried Oyster Books, netflix for readers.  I'm planning to sign up for the 30 day trial, hoping it meets my expectations. 

2014 Reading: I read 45 books last year, ten fewer than usual.  I tend to read several books while traveling, but that wasn't the case last year. I didn't read one book during my six weeks of travel.  Why? The World  Traveler didn't have evening dinners, and I was busy knitting on trains.

I have fond memories of Ireland, having so much time that I would read in the park.

Back to 2014.  Here are my favorite books, in the order I read them. I devoured Cold Antler Farm last January, on a snowy day, snuggled by a fire after snowshoeing.  I admire the author tremendously.

I'm happy to close the books on 2014, it was a difficult year.

2015: So many of my must read authors are publishing this year - and I'm finding my way back to the books I love.  Last week I finished The Longest Ride (Sparks). Good, not great.  I did like the ending, how the two stories came together. 

Here's what I'm currently reading:

Lies You Wanted to Hear: I'm starting the year with a page turner! 

Synopsis: When Lucy meets Matt on a blind date, Matt is instantly hooked; he sees Lucy as the fun, sexy, and wickedly smart girl of his dreams. Although she’s still getting over an old lover, Lucy is won over by Matt’s sweet, thoughtful nature. But 20 years later, alone in an empty house trying to imagine the lives of her two young children, Lucy comes to realize that the little lies you tell can create more damage than the truth you’re hiding.

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Sweet Salt Air:  I see this book all the time, I think the cover grabs my attention.  I'm listening to this book.

Synopsis: Charlotte and Nicole were once the best of friends, spending summers together in Nicole's coastal island house off of Maine. But many years, and many secrets, have kept the women apart. A successful travel writer, single Charlotte lives on the road, while Nicole, a food blogger, keeps house in Philadelphia with her surgeon-husband, Julian. When Nicole is commissioned to write a book about island food, she invites her old friend Charlotte back to Quinnipeague, for a final summer, to help. Outgoing and passionate, Charlotte has a gift for talking to people and making friends, and Nicole could use her expertise for interviews with locals. Missing a genuine connection, Charlotte agrees.

To those in the northeast, stay warm, enjoy the snow falling, and be safe.

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