Iceland: Day 12

Friday, September 30, 2011

The next morning after a quick breakfast of oatmeal and tea, we packed up camp and set off on our second day of adventuring around Iceland. Our first stop of the day was Gullfoss, a huge waterfall that's also part of the Golden Circle. Once I saw that all the tourists were geared up in Gortex and fleece and looked as if they were going skiing, I realized that I had a made a bit of a mistake in my packing. Icelanders seem to be fine in jeans and an Icelandic sweater (everyone wears them there) but I guess non-Viking blood doesn't hold up as well. I wore as many layers as I could with the clothes I had brought and looked like a total dork but at least I wasn't as cold as the day before. Look how silly we look! In any case, the waterfalls were beautiful. It was so lovely to see some more "wild" nature, more like the kind we have in B.C. and not just the little quaint forests and beaches here in Denmark, which are also lovely in their own way. I can just feel myself being able to breathe better when I'm in these big open spaces, if that makes any sense. We had a picnic lunch at the waterfall and met some horses also on their lunch break. I thought that we might see some Icelandic horses running around during our time there but I had no idea how many there are! They are literally all over the country. I loved that for most of our trip we hardly saw any people, just lots of sheep and horses. After lunch we started our drive to the Hekla volcano. We drove through valleys, some covered in volcanic ash and some dotted with little cute farms and rivers. We also stopped at a Saga era farm ruin, which had been covered in lava and so was somewhat preserved and had then been rebuilt. So crazy. At some points the road stopped and driving through these spaces felt like being on another planet. Sometimes there was hardly anything living in sight, which is always a bit strange. We finally got to Hekla around dusk and of course the volcano was covered in clouds. We found a campsite that advertised a "Viking pool" which turned out to be an amazing natural stone pool out in the middle of a field of horses. We got in pretty much immediately and afterwards took a walk around the fields while the sun went down. The sunsets in Iceland were some of the prettiest I've seen, every night the sky was filled with gorgeous colours. 

Bowling & Beef Birthday Bonanza

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Right before we left for our honeymoon, we hosted a belated birthday party for Mark's brothers. We wanted to everyone to have some old fashioned fun, so we started off the day with going bowling. Most of my bowling balls ended up in the gutter but it was still a good time. We came back to our place and had some snacks in our courtyard and then served up some steaks for our meat loving family. Don't worry, it was happy meat! And I had some yummy mushroom ravioli all to myself. I made panna cotta for dessert, put up a bright bird banner (that matched my dress!) and made a fringe curtain from tissue paper that Tiggy used as a crinkly blanket afterwards. It was our first dinner party since our wedding, so were able to set the table with some of our wedding presents (and also reuse one of the ombre tablecloths I made) We also made everyone play party games throughout night through to keep things festive. Hopefully everyone had as much fun as I did!

Iceland: Day 10 & 11

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The 10th day of our honeymoon, Monday the 15th, was a long travel day. We got up early (but in time to squeeze in one more room service breakfast!) and took to bus back to New York to catch our flight to Reykjavik from JFK. I haven't talked about how much I love IcelandAir but I really do. Even though they don't serve any free food. I got so excited about going to Iceland just because of their branding, everything just looked so nice. We settled into our grey leather seats, had a cup of tea with a cute little napkin with a historical Icelandic quip printed in Helvetica and watched Heima, Sigur Rós' film of their dreamy music being played all over the dreamy Icelandic landscape. Perfect. We got in around midnight and went to the airport motel we had booked. It turned out that we were staying in one of these adorable little cabins! It was a good transition to camping but I could hear the wind whistling outside and had to put on an extra pair of wool socks in the cabin so I was a bit nervous for the next week of roughing it in the great outdoors. The next day we went back out to the airport to pick up our car, a little Honda that we named Rusl. We had planned to head straight out to the Golden Circle but we quickly realized how unprepared we were. I was freezing, we had no map besides the one in the Lonely Planet which was not at all detailed enough and we still needed to buy food and fuel for our camping stove and repack all our camping gear so it was in one place. Cue grumpiness on my part. We stopped at a cafe in town to regroup and warm up, put on long underwear and come up with plan. We got a map and some food and went on our way to Þingvellir, a national park where the first parliament was and also where the continental drift between the North American and Eurasian plates can be seen. As soon as we got out of Reykjavik, there was nothing around. Everything was literally the opposite of what we had experienced for the last week in New York. It was so strange, I think I was a bit shocked for the first day. We went for a nice walk around Þingvellir, taking in the amazing nature, and then headed on to Geysir where we would be camping for the night. At this point I had been so cold all day (and maybe complaining just a little bit) that I went into the tourist shop and loaded up on Icelandic knitted goods and had a hot chocolate. Much better. We spent some time looking at the crazy geysers that were super blue and would gurgle and bubble and shot way up into the air every few minutes. Our camping sight was just in a field across from them so we watched them spray up in the sunset while we set up our tent and made some soup. I was still a bit cold and worried about how I would hold up for the week but it also felt like such an adventure and once I was snuggled up in my sleeping bag, I was quite cozy. Even if I had to keep my new knit socks on all night. 

The New York List

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We didn't do nearly all the things we wanted to do in New York, there's just too much. But I spent many rainy afternoons this summer with a mug of tea, pouring over my Lonely Planet and blog guides and compiling my list of things to see and eat in New York. So I thought I would share it with you all, in case you happen to be there one day and need some inspiration and so that I don't forget for the next time we are there. I know have hardly any shops listed, I usually prefer to just wander and go into shops I see along the way. Let me know if you have any suggestions, it's far from complete!

The New York List:

  • Staten Island Ferry
  • Governor’s Island
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Central Park
  • Chinatown & Little Italy
  • Soho, Noho & Nolita
  • East Village
  • Greenwich Village
  • The High Line
  • Chelsea galleries
  • Williamsburg & Greenpoint
  • Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo & Red Hook
  • Coney Island
  • Folk Art Museum
  • The MET
  • MOMA
  • Whitney Museum
  • Guggenheim
  • Museum of Natural History

  • Chelsea Market
  • Vegetarian Dim Sum House
  • Freeman’s
  • Momofuku Noodle Bar
  • Momofuku Milk Bar
  • Peel
  • Spotted Pig
  • Shake Shack
  • Greenmarket Farmer’s Market
  • Nathan’s Famous
  • H & H Bagels
  • Junior’s Cheesecake
  • Blue Hill
  • Babycakes
  • Co.
  • Baked
  • EAT
  • Milk & Honey

  • Purl Soho
  • Strand Books
  • Brook Farm General Store

  • Ace Hotel
  • The Bowery
  • Air B&B

  • Philadelphia

Philadelphia: Day 8 & 9

Monday, September 26, 2011

In between our week in New York and flying on to Iceland, we spent a weekend in Philadelphia. My dad is originally from Philadelphia and we've visited from time to time, so it is a bit of a special place for our family. I wanted to show Mark this part of our family history and to reconnect with some cousins (which didn't end up working out unfortunately but life happens). It ended up being a really relaxing weekend and although we didn't manage to see all that much of the city, it was just what we needed. We took the bus from New York Saturday morning (way cheaper and just as fast as the train) and since we were starving when we got in, the first thing we did was get Mark a Philly cheese steak. My dad would have been proud. My dad was also so generous and booked us a lovely room at the Westin, where we soaked up all the luxuries that we would be without while camping in Iceland. After taking a long bath (we don't have such indulgent amenities in modern Denmark) and then accidently napping through dinner, we went wandering in the city again to find some food. We stopped in some of the shops that were open late and spent some time in the square listening to a trombone player. There's nothing quite like sitting on a bench under leafy trees while listening to Summertime and the sounds of dusk falling on a balmy night. So nice and honeymoony. We stumbled on a super cute pub called The Dandelion full of taxidermy and vintage crockery, so I insisted on having cocktails and desserts there. I'm so into the retro desserts that seem so popular on the East Coast. Peach cobbler in a tiny casserole and chocolate mousse in a vintage goblet? Yes please. Afterwards we lounged around in our hotel room some more and watched Midnight in Paris. Probably the only time I can coerce Mark into watching a semi rom-com. The next morning we ordered room service for brunch (you get your own mini ketchup bottles! I was way excited) and lounged around more in our fluffy hotel robes, while waiting for the heavy rain to let up. It ended up only getting worse and when we tried to brave it, we got completely soaked. It kind of ruined our plans for exploring the city but eventually it stopped around dinner time so we walked through town on our way to Han Dynasty for dinner. I had heard rave reviews of the place and it didn't disappoint. The Chinese restaurants here are often greasy and a bit bland so it was a nice change to have some spicy Szechuan style food. It was also nice to wander through the historic district and old town, recognizing some of the places I had seen on childhood trips. I love the old architecture in Philadelphia, it really gives the city such character. We ended up having an early night on Sunday so that we could get up early for our travels to Iceland feeling all rested and relaxed. Philadelphia was such a lovely interlude, it was actually one of my favourite parts of the trip. Now on to Iceland!

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Friday, September 23, 2011

On Nicola and I's weekly old lady date this Thursday, in between grumbling about the trials and tribulations of being an immigrant Danish housewife, we decided (somewhat unintentionally) to have a lemon themed day. Nicola had some fresh mint that needed to be used so we made mint lemon bars from a Smitten Kitchen recipe which was, as always, spot on. To go with it we had French sparkling lemonade (so tasty!) and then Rune made us all lemon linguine for dinner. We also had some of Nicola's amazing rosemary blue cheese scones and worked on our knitted shorts (we're almost done!). It's so nice to have someone to bake, craft and commiserate with on a regular basis!

New York: Day 7

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Our last day in New York was a bit of a crazy one. We had saved all our chores and last minute shopping to the very end (great move!), so we were literally running all over the city all day. While we were in New York we learnt that everyone there internet shops for everything which makes so much sense when you start to understand how spread out the city is and what a hassle it can be to get around. The bigger apartments, like the one were we lucky enough to be staying in, had their own little post offices where a guy receives all the packages and dry cleaning for the tenants to pick up later. This apartment also had a doorman whose job it was to push the revolving glass doors for you, too funny. We talked a lot about the differences in lifestyle in New York, the work/life balance seems a little out of whack there. Then there all these conveniences and commodities that seemingly make up for it although at the same time not. I don't want to seem like I'm complaining because New York is definitely an amazing city and I loved the novelty of things there but there are also aspects of it that I don't love as much. I'm not sure if I noticed more because I am older now or because we live in a place where the gap between rich or poor is so small but it just seemed strange sometimes to have people push doors for you or to pay someone a dollar to wash your dirty clothes. Anyway, we should have probably taken more advantage of this system while we were there but instead we had a long shopping list of things to pick up around town since everything is so much cheaper there. We also needed a lot of camping gear for our trip to Iceland which was a bit of an ordeal, as I needed pretty much everything and know nothing about it. Long story short, it was a bit of a hectic last day but we got most of what we needed. I rushed back to meet Emma for a manicure/pedicure ($20, people! AND I even got a little massage. We need more of these Korean nail salons here, big time. See the dichotomy?) before we all went out for dinner. As a thank you Rune and Emma for their amazing hospitality while we were there, we took them out for dinner at an Indian restaurant called Dawat, both because they had met in India and because I have a soft spot for naan. It was another buttery three course meal of deliciousness, although the unlimited baskets of naan kind of did me in. It was a really lovely evening, I loved hearing more stories about their time in India and watching Rune make all the servers laugh with his broken Punjabi. At the end, Emma and I were full and tired so we decided to cab home to drink tea and gossip about the boys while they went out for a drink and a walk around Times Square. Rune insisted that Mark couldn't leave New York without being in Times Square at night, which is true. Sorry for the lack of photos, I didn't even bring my camera out!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I've been really wanting more plants for our apartment but since nothing seems to stay alive for that long (I'm choosing to blame the lack of sun) I decided to try an air plant. I got this little guy from the grocery store the other day for just a few kroner and so far so good! He's pretty cute right? You can even hang him up if you want. Air plants are so crazy, they don't need any soil and hardly any watering. So I'm hoping I can keep him alive, otherwise it would be pretty sad. 

New York: Day 6

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our sixth day in New York, a Thursday, was spent at Coney Island. We loved it there. I was worried that it wouldn't live up to the image in my head of an old amusement park in all it's faded glory and that it would be overrun with flashy rides and tacky souvenir shops along the boardwalk Jersey Shore style. There was a tiny bit of that but mostly it looked the same as I imagine it has for a very long time. Vintage signs, wooden roller coasters and Nathan's Famous hot dogs. The boardwalk was filled with little ice cream stands, kids were swimming in the ocean and old men were fishing along the pier. Mark tried a corn dog, I got an ice cream and we happily wondered along the boardwalk for the afternoon. It was so hot and sunny that I had to take out my black umbrella to protect my translucent shade of pale. It was nice to get away from the hectic pace of Manhattan and to just have a day of old fashioned summer fun. Totally worth the hour or so subway ride (not counting the extra half hour we were stuck for some unknown reason, just outside the Coney Island stop). That night we went to dinner at Blue Hill, back in Greenwich Village. I had heard about Blue Hill a few years ago, I think first from an article in Martha Stewart that had pictures of their beautiful upstate farm upstate and their farm to table meals. I had read some so-so reviews before making the reservation but it's often hard to find restaurants that can make both good vegetarian and non-vegetarian food (I'm veggie, Mark's not) and that are also in line with our food philosophy, so we went ahead with it. We ended up being really impressed with the meal, the food and the service were amazing. We could only get an early reservation so the place as nice and quiet and since Mark got the Farmer's Feast tasting menu we were brought lots of little treats throughout the meal so it seemed to go on forever. Definitely one of our favourite restaurant experiences, we were really happy we decided to go there for our "fancy" dinner in New York. Afterwards, we walked around Greenwich Village a bit to help our tummies and sat in Washington Square Park and people watched in the dusky warm night until it was time to take the subway home. 

Fall Baking

Monday, September 19, 2011

Like Kate, I've been trying to do some baking every weekend so that we have lots of staples and treats on hand for these busy back to school times. I've designated Sunday as my baking day and for the last few weeks, I've been making a loaf of Nicola's perfect oat bread along with some muffins or cookies to pack with our lunches. To make all this baking a little bit more healthy, I've been using quinoa and whole wheat flour and honey or agave sirup instead of sugar. It does make things taste a bit "healthy" but most of the time, it still tastes good and plenty sweet. I've made peanut butter banana muffins and peach cobbler muffins (I took those to a brunch, so they didn't last long enough to take a picture of), spicy cornbread from the Rebar Modern Food cookbook and whole wheat shortbread cookies with jam I made from the leftover syrup of the bourbon poached peaches. Nicola and I had one of our old lady dates last week were we made these amazing s'mores cookies and some ginger hot apple cider and started on our knit shorts. Such a perfect fall afternoon. I've also been trying to spend some time on the weekends making food so that our week goes a bit smoother on the days we don't have time to cook. I've been making a big jar of muesli for breakfasts, different kinds of sandwich fillings to make packing lunches easier (I've made egg salad, hummus, bean pate, and balsamic roasted veggies), and then cooking up a big pot of soup or chili to have on hand. It makes our place feel so cozy with soup simmering and bread baking! 

New York: Day 5

Friday, September 16, 2011

Our fifth day in New York was spent exploring Chinatown, Little Italy and SoHo. I'd never really spent much time in these areas before (except for some shopping in SoHo) so we were looking forward to seeing what they had to offer (aka dim sum). We got off at Union Square to visit the Greenmarket there. The offerings were so impressive! Lovely fruit and veg, baked goods and local flowers. There are so many upstate farms doing great things in New York. We stopped and got some apple cinnamon donuts and fresh apple cider from an apple farm stand. So good. It's really nice to see all the life in the public spaces in New York - farmer's markets, chess games and children playing. We loved how well used all the parks and squares were in New York, even just with people sitting on the benches and talking. I'm sure it's different in the winter, but it was refreshing to see such social spaces compared to the more spread out parks here. I guess because there are so many people in New York they don't really have a choice. But it's still nice! After Mark did some filming of all the people in the square, we went along to Strand Books, another place on my must-to list. It was definitely amazing but all those books were a bit overwhelming. I was tempted by all the lovely art books but since we were going to be backpacking around Iceland, I just picked up a copy of A Visit from the Goon Squad to read on the plane (it was good!). We hopped back on the subway to Chinatown and tracked down the Vegetarian Dim Sum House. What up! I was thrilled to have so many choices since I usually can't eat much at dim sum and even though the service was pretty hilariously bad (they brought back our tip because it wasn't enough!), the food was really good and it was fun to try a bunch of strange/different foods. I'm wishing I had one of their fake barbecue pork buns right now, mmm. Even though both Chinatown and Little Italy were somewhat touristy and all sold the same t-shirts and other crap, there were still some old school gems in there to be found. Like this cocktail lounge in Little Italy, with it's awesome 70's design scheme. We continued on to SoHo (such an abrupt change to old industrial buildings and fancy shops!) and couldn't resist popping some of the shops there. After getting a bit shopped out (SoHo at rush hour is maybe not the best idea, unless you like pushy, sweaty crowds), we decided to head back to Rune and Emma's to have dinner and take it easy for the evening. New York is definitely the kind of place that you need a vacation after being there if you aren't careful. Maybe I just get overwhelmed easily but there's just so much going on! 

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