Woodland Wreath

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

This wreath and the string lights were the first decorations to go up this year. They both make things look instantly festive and the wreath gives the room that nice pine/Christmas-y smell. It only took about five minutes to set up, threading the lights through shelf brackets and hanging the wreath on a picture hook. I just bought the wreath readymade and used decorations I had around the house. The little deer is from a date to the zoo, I bought the mushrooms at a craft shop last Christmas (they are on little spikes so they are perfect for wreaths or other arrangements), and the bow is just one of my hair bows. I like that it has a bit of a diorama look to it. It's pretty much the same as the advent wreath I made last year but this year I decided I would rather a more traditional wreath on the wall and to skip the advent candles. It kind of bothered me that the candles on the wreath would always be uneven and the advent candle that you burn down each day is even worse because you are always having to watch that it doesn't burn too fast. Too much hassle! So I just went with this instead. I have some other decorations to show you, I've been slowly crafting and adding things each day which I've been finding is a nice way to do it as opposed to a crazy evening of putting everything together. Although that can be fun too! 

Danish Jul Traditions: Christmas Markets

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Danes love their Christmas markets! Last weekend I went to the School of Design & Architecture's Christmas Market. There are a ton of cute outdoor Christmas markets going on in Copenhagen around this time of year but they often have similar things for sale so it was nice to see some handmade designs. My friend Natalie bought this knitted braided headband (I just bought a similar one today too, so good for cold ears!) and a couple of nice prints. I love that pink ink one! I also loved the decorations inside the school, especially that black cloud/bubbly sculpture. The prices were all really reasonable too, I guess because all the sellers are students. And of course a Christmas market wouldn't be complete without burnt sugar almonds, which smell just like Christmas in a little striped bag. 


Monday, November 28, 2011

Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving with our group of international buddies. It's a great deal celebrating Thanksgiving twice. We ate a ton of great food, of course, and had three different kinds of pies for dessert. My kind of party! I made pumpkin pie, my second year of making it from scratch, and added a moose just to make sure things didn't get too American. I only got this blurry photo of it, but it was pretty tasty. I used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen (minus the canned candied yams just because they are impossible to find here), which is always good. Brittany kindly lent me her cute Pilgrim and Indian hats to bring to the party but it was crazy stormy outside, so I unfortunately had to leave them at home. I might make Mark pose with me for a family portrait before we give them back. Yesterday was also the first Advent Sunday, which marks the official beginning of the Christmas season here. I'll be posting more about Christmas-y things soon but I've come down with a cold (I had been taking care of a sick Mark this weekend, so it was only a matter of time) and I'm going back to bed with some lemon tea and the second season of Downton Abbey to keep me company. 

Lousiana: LIVING

Friday, November 25, 2011

Before I left for Canada in October, Mark and I went on a date to Lousiana, a contemporary art gallery north of Copenhagen. It's one of my favourite places to go here, not only because it has amazing views across the ocean to Sweden and is situated in a pretty Modernist building, but because the exhibitions there are always executed so well. The LIVING Frontiers of Architecture exhibition was no exception. An exploration of contemporary architecture - through multimedia art works, case studies, models and installations - offered many thought provoking concepts on how we make a home. I'm dealing with some similar themes in an exhibition I have planned for February, so I found it especially interesting. We spent an entire Friday evening taking in the huge exhibition, pausing at sunset to have a picnic and watch the sea blend with the sky. It was so nice to go out there on a Friday night, the crowds are much more subdued and with the long opening hours we felt like we had the luxury of stopping to watch a film or read more in depth about an installation. The cafe there is also a really lovely place to go for a glass of wine! I'm really looking forward to seeing their upcoming Ai WeiWei and Andreas Gursky exhibitions in 2012.

Holiday Gift Guide, Pt. III

Thursday, November 24, 2011

For Your Fur Baby

No gift guide would be complete without something for your fur babies or the crazy cat ladies in your life. I just *might* be one of them. I'm a little obsessed with my guy (see: grey cat as my banner). I'm planning on making Tiggy his own little stocking and some homemdae cat treats. He also gets a can of this for Christmas dinner, which is hilarious but he loves it! There's lots of cute things for dogs but they always seem to get more attention when it comes to well designed pet products. Luckily, there are more and more places coming up with cat centric goods. My friend has a lovely "bespoke kitten boutique" and Martha has some good ideas (as always!) for handmade cat gifts. Here are some other favourites:

Zoe Karseen - I Heart Cats shirt, $92
Oh Boy Cat Toy - Log catnip toy, $12
Loyal Luxe - Canadian cat cabin (I love this), $33.99
Heads & Tails - Dried sardine treats, $6.99
Mungo & Maud - Wooden bowl, £93.00
Loyal Luxe - Faux bearskin, $30
Catbird - Cat ring, $150
Fieldguided - Dreamcats 2012 calendar, $30

Brownie Peanut Butter Cups

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

'Tis the season to eat lots of baked goods and chocolate! I've been trying to decide what I'll be making this year for Christmas and was reminded of these. I made these guys a while ago and have been craving them since. They turned out to be a good blend of peanut buttery goodness in the middle with that slightly caramel crunch on the outside that brownies can get. They were really rich but so good and disappeared very fast. I also made homemade peanut butter cups back in March, which were even easier (no baking involved!) and just as tasty. 

Recipe adapted slightly from Bake or Break:

  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 raw sugar
In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine sugar, butter, and a little splash of water. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until butter is melted. Stir in 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips until melted. Stir in egg and vanilla extract. Add flour and baking soda, stirring until blended. Spoon batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into muffin cups, about halfway. Place peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl with butter. Microwave on high for 45 seconds, then stir. in sugar  Spoon about a tablespoon of peanut butter into the center of each brownie. Top another spoonful of brownie batter. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until top is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out slightly wet. Place pan on wire rack. 

Christmas in Copenhagen

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I went into town yesterday to meet a friend for tea and saw that all the Christmas lights and decorations were up! I love the boughs and hearts along all the streets and a lot of the shops have little trees and candles out as well. Stilleben (Still Life) is one of my favourite shops here, featuring local designers and handmade things. Copenhagen is a bit of a fairy tale city as it is but in the grey, all the lights make everything look much more cheery and pretty. This year I'm really noticing what a difference light makes during a Scandinavian winter! Definitely something to consider with urban planning and architecture. This week I'm planning on decorating our little place with lots of string lights and candles. It's better than just having the regular lights on all the time, right? 

Holiday Gift Guides, Pt. II

Monday, November 21, 2011

For the Lady Lumberjack

Have I gotten too theme-y with this whole lumberjack thing? Probably. But too bad, it's happening. Here are some things I wouldn't mind finding in my stocking this year or giving to friends. And yes, some of them are just dreams (Virginia Johnson, why are your scarves so nice?) but it's really just for fun anyway. And a few of these things could probably be inspiration for some DIY projects too. 

Old Faithful - Boiled Apple Cider Syrup, $21
Good Night, Day - Simcoe braided headband, $55
Powell's Books - Wildwood book, $12.50 
Bellocq - Noble Savage tea, $17
Ladies & Gentlemen - Homestead candlesticks, $58
Sort of Coal - Kuro soap, €20
Rust - Vintage acorn necklace£245.00
Virginia Johnson - Snowshoe shawl, $195
Old Faithful - Cedar Incense, $8.95 (Alexandra gave me some for my birthday and I love it! It smells like a bonfire)

I also curated an Etsy treasury for November with some more things on my holiday wish list, you can check it out here. A lot of the goodies there came to my attention via internet buddies Darcy and Angela. Thanks for having such great taste, ladies!

Porcelain Painting Workshop

Friday, November 18, 2011

I'm finally getting around to posting these photos from the porcelain painting workshop Nicola and I gave last month at Cafe Retro. It was the first in a series of Sunday Crafternoons that we'll be hosting (the next one will be Christmas related!) and I think it was a success. The cafe is so cozy and it's so nice to sit around with a group of girls and craft, chat and drink tea. Perfect for a grey Sunday afternoon. I was so impressed by everyone's finished projects too! These ones are by Nicola (top) and me. Mine may or may not be a sneak peek of some of my Christmas gifts, so I hope I don't spoil any surprises. If my family is reading this, then pretend you didn't see it! If you are interested in doing some porcelain painting yourself, it's super easy and there are lots of tutorials online. Here is the handout I made and there are also some good instructions for projects on Martha and doe-c-doe (which is the one I used). We were also inspired by Aesthetic Outburst, which was the starting point for Nicola's designs. We bought some other stencils too but found that just painting with toothpicks worked really well. There's more here on Nicola's lovely blog if you're interested. 

Holiday Gift Guides, Pt. 1

Thursday, November 17, 2011

For Your Lumberjack

This was supposed to go up yesterday but in my post exam haze (I passed! So happy!) I was really only fit for curling up on the couch with a glass of wine and some cheesy, romantic movies. But I'm excited to have some more time to get more into the holiday spirit and that includes making lists of gifts to make and buy. This year, as well as the last few, I've tried to support handmade - either through Etsy, local craft fairs, or making things myself. There's nothing worse than racing around last minute in all the crowds trying to find presents and if you do order handmade things online or make them yourself, you often need a few weeks lead time. Not everything here is handmade but I've also tried to look for things that are made in North America, often by smaller companies. Mark and I have decided to start giving each other stockings (I have to make some!), and I like the idea of coming up with some sort of theme when putting together some little stocking stuffers. Using my inspiration of A Lumberjack Yule, I've put together some ideas for what to give to a dude. Some of it is on the pricier side but you could easily make your own versions or find similar vintage things. 

Rooney - Soft Socks, $28
Old Faithful - Ceramic Camp Mug, $12
Old Faithful - Walnut Wenger Utility Pocket-Knife, $80
Best Made  - "Big Jug" of Pure Organic Maple Syrup, $68
Old Faithful  - Logger's Delight soap, $7.95
Field Notes — Original 3 pack, $9.95
Forage - Lumberjack bow tie, $68
Scandinavian Grace - Beard Cap, $135
Brook Farm General Store - Stanley Classic Thermos, $30

Iceland - Day 16

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

We spent our last day in Iceland (so sad!) in Reykavík. We got up early and packed up camp in the rain and wind and headed into town. I think I had pretty high expectations of Reykavík and I have to say I was a little disappointed in the end. It's a very cute town and I'm not quite sure what I was expecting but everything else in Iceland had been so amazing that I felt like it just didn't live up. There were some nice buildings and shops and cafes but mostly the town felt strange and had a lot of 90's American style architecture, tourist shops and multi-ethnic restaurants. It just was a bit incohesive, maybe. It's also super small which meant we could walk around and see most everything in a day. We started by doing some shopping at Farmers Market (amazing shop of Icelandic heritage brands), the Handknitting Association of Iceland, and Kraum (Icelandic design). We also popped into some thrift stores and outdoor shops. Then we walked up to the Hallgrimskirkja, the famous church in Reykavík. The architecture, both in and out, was amazing looking and it was funny how it could be seen almost anywhere in town since it's mostly only small buildings in Reykavík. They also had a really interesting contemporary art exhibition dealing with religious themes in the entrance to the church, which I think is the only time I've seen something like that. It had been drizzling rain all day but it started to pick up so we headed to Mokka Kaffi, which looks the same as when it opened in 1958, for some hot cocoa. Which also explains the lack of photos from this day, I'm not a huge fan of standing around in the rain to take pictures. I was also having some issues, since I had managed to burn my face pretty good while we were at the hot springs the day before, so I was constantly overheating in my thick wool sweater. Seriously, who gets burned in Iceland? I didn't know it was possible, even for someone as pale as me. So I was a bit grumpy, but I felt better after our stop at the cafe. We wandered around some more, looked quickly at the Art Museum and Harpa, the new concert hall  (designed by a Danish architect, of course) and Mark ate a hot dog from Bæjarins Batzu which are apparently the best hot dogs in the world, according to Bill Clinton. We needed to give our poor, dusty rental car a good clean before we turned him in and we also needed to pack up all our camping gear and stuff everything into our suitcases so that nothing exceeded the strict weight limits for our flight. After those exciting tasks were done, we had a lovely dinner at Fiskmarkaðurinn (Fish Market) which buys all its food locally and directly from farms and fishermen. They also had surprisingly good vegetarian food, for a place that specializes in seafood. Then came the time to say goodbye to Reykavík and to Iceland and to get on our red eye flight back home to Copenhagen. I don´t really have the words to describe how amazing and beautiful Iceland is, we talked a lot about the sense of the sublime and magic there but that doesn´t fully cover it. We felt really lucky to have this honeymoon, thanks again to our lovely friends and family that helped make it  happen and to you for making it through all these posts! 

A Lumberjack Yule

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'm going to be getting all festive up in here, starting this week. Haters gonna hate. I always save my Christmas preparations for later and then run out of time for making and doing things. And it's a good way to brighten up the dark days around these parts. I still have my Danish exam looming over my head and taking up most of my time but I'll be done on Wednesday so I thought I would make a list of all the things I want to do this Christmas season so I can be sure to at least get a bit of a head start. This will be Mark and I's first Christmas together in our own place which is a bit exciting since we can start to make our own traditions. Aaand, I get to decorate all over the apartment. I think I love Christmas because it's the one time of year when it's totally legit to spend a ton of time baking and crafting. The Danes are pretty huge on Christmas and have a ton of traditions but I want it to feel very Canadian too so I figured I'd try to blend the two together a bit. I like my Christmases nice and nostalgic so there will be lots of old fashioned things but I also love the simple, modern Scandinavian style of holiday decorating. We'll see what I come up with! I have lots of Christmasy posts planned - gifts guides, Danish traditions and craft projects. Because I get a little over excited about all this kind of stuff. 

Christmas List:
  • Get a little tree
  • Make a wreath for the door
  • Make an advent candle wreath
  • Make advent calendar
  • Make stockings for Mark and I
  • Make cookies and candies for gifts
  • Sew a Christmas dress
  • Make and send cards
  • Christmas beer tasting
  • Make tree ornaments and decorations
  • Go for walk in the forest
  • Watch Christmas movies
  • Listen to Christmas records
  • Make eggnog and gingerbread
  • Make mulled wine and æbleskiver
  • Play board games
  • Make paper snowflakes for the windows
  • Light lots of candles
  • Give to charity
  • Have a Christmas tea

{Some inspiration - Pinecone wreath and yule log from Martha, moose from Cardboard SafariA Very She and Him Christmas, stockings from Modern Fair, animal ornaments from Pilosale, snow globes also from Martha, plaid flannel Tova dress from Wiksten}

Iceland: Day 15

Friday, November 11, 2011

The next day we woke up with a beautiful view of Myvatn lake. This was by far the nicest camp site we were at, with big outdoor kitchens facing the lake and lots of free hot showers. It's the little things that are most exciting when you have been camping for almost a week. I was amazed at how much I appreciated small things like showers, a hot meal or a mug of hot chocolate. They actually felt like such luxuries. Anyway, in the morning we went to the Myvatn Nature Baths, the northern version of the The Blue Lagoon. I wanted the real deal after our slightly scary secret cave adventure the previous night. We had opted out of going to The Blue Lagoon since we had heard it was overpriced and a bit gross (one friend told us she had dug up some mud to put on her face and there was tons of hair in it, which I think was the story that did it for me). It's also in a geothermal plant which I guess could be a draw for some people but I wanted something a bit smaller and more natural. We definitely didn't want to miss out on the experience entirely so the Nature Baths seemed like a good choice. It was pretty heavenly, swimming in the hot, bright blue water overlooking at that lovely landscape. There weren't too many people around either, we often had most of the pool, the sauna and the smaller hot pots to ourselves. I feel like a hot spring swim is something you can't miss when you go to Iceland, and it was especially nice to feel so warm and do something "honeymoony". I had read that a lot of the hot pots in Iceland enforced a communal strip down and shower before getting into the pool which I was really nervous about, being a proper Canadian prude, but this one had a small private stall for people like us so it was fine. After having all my requirements met and floating around for a few hours, we got back into the car and drove on, since we were trying to make it as close to Rekjavík as we could by nightfall. We stopped for tea in Húsavík, which is a cute little fishing town in very Northern Iceland. It is also big for whale watching, has lots of little harbour side cafes and also features the Icleand Phallological Museum, which we declined to visit for some reason. It kind of reminded me of Victoria, with the harbour and the mountains. We kept driving on, not passing much else besides little fishing towns and lots and lots of sheep. We made it to a campsite just outside of Rekjavík by late evening, which was perfect, and we pitched our tent for the last time. We had bought cans of soup for dinner and as it was getting dark we realized that we didn´t have a can opener so we spent some time playing cavemen and trying to break them open with rocks before Mark tracked down some French campers who then cut them open with a knife. Oh, the joys of camping. 

Also happy 11/11/11 and/or Remembrance Day! If you can even say happy Remembrance Day. I'm so glad I brought back a poppy from Canada to wear. Nicola wrote a lovely post about today and Jayne also wrote an interesting post about the fashion aspect of poppies, both of which you should go read. 

Let There Be Light

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I took these pictures the other day during a walk around our neighbourhood at dusk, which is around 3:30pm now. There's a little abandoned alley between our building and the next that has been quite neglected and is usually just overgrown with branches (which came in really handy as decorations for our wedding!). While I was back in Canada, these light sculptures appeared and the concrete dividers were painted neon pink which makes the whole area much brighter and happier. Not to mention it makes walking through the passage way less sketchy. I love that Copenhagen has the foresight (and resources) to make these kinds of projects happen. It really makes such a difference to areas like this. And speaking of light, I might as well say that there isn't much of it here right now. The days are getting even shorter and for the most part the sky is covered in a grey blanket of fog. But for some reason, it hasn't gotten to me as much this year as it did last year. I've stocked up on candles and have been lighting them in the mornings and evenings. The Danes are crazy about candles and have them everywhere during the winter (even at my school and the bank) and it really does make things cozier. My mom also got me a light lamp, which both Mark and I have been using over breakfast and I think it's really helping. And I've been doing pretty much everything else on this list I made last year of how to cure the winter blues, so far it's working!

Iceland: Day 14

On the 14th day in Iceland, our legs still sore for our big hike the day before, we started off by driving to nearby Jökulsárlón, the glacier lagoon. It was unbelievably beautiful, these huge blocks of ice floating in the water with their blue and black stripes. I was surprised at what a bright blue they were, I always thought that it was some sort of trick when I saw them in photographs. I loved the glaciers with volcanic ash in them, I think the contrast is so pretty. We stood for a long time admiring the glaciers and watching the seals swimming and playing among them until we were too cold. We went into the little cafe next to the lagoon to warm up with some seafood soup for Mark and a waffle with jam and cream for me. It was one of our favourite meals in Iceland! Maybe because we were so cold or that for most of the trip we were eating peanut butter and jam sandwiches and freeze dried camping food. Anyway, after we had warmed up we started driving again. We had to decide at this point whether to turn back to Reykjavík and go back the way we had come or keep driving along the Ring Road which goes all around the country. It would be a long drive but we decided to keep going so we could make it to Mývatn, a lake region with lots of natural hot springs. So we spent the day driving along the coast, stopping at small cafes along the way for tea and getting out to wander around at pretty spots, which there were many of. We listened to a lot of Sigur Rós and that along with watching the landscape and taking little naps (me, not Mark. Another perk of not having a driver's license), made for a rather dreamy day. We got into Mývatn right before sun set, just in time to see the moon like geysers and bubbling hot springs before getting to our campsite. After a long day of driving and being cold, we were eager to get into a hot spring. Some people at our campsite told us about a secret hot spring cave, a few miles down a nearby dirt road. So we went looking for it, somehow found the entrance through a pile of rocks, crawled down into it and went skinny dipping in the dark, hot water. It was pretty amazing but it all of sudden felt a little too 127 Hours to me, so we packed it in for the night. 

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