Monday, December 31, 2018

Expat with Kids in 2018

Thanking my followers for being part of my adventure in Lugano, Paris, Madrid and beyond...

Best of nine in 2018!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Family Christmas time in London

It is time to head back... leaving Expat boy behind for him to finish his six-month internship at one of London’s swankiest hotels, the rest of the family hopped in the black cab taking us to St.Pancras station where we heavy-heartedly caught the Eurostar across the channel to Paris.

Five days... and it seems like we know the city. We went from Christmas Carol services at St.Martin in the Fields to watching a football match at Fulham stadium. We had lunch at Quaglino’s, tea at the National Portrait Gallery and dinner at the Aquashard. We loved the Lion King musical and enjoyed skating at Somerset House.

We strolled along the London Southbank and took lots of photos on the Millenium Bridge. We opted not to pay 18.- GBP entrance per person to visit St.Paul’s Cathedral! Seriously?!? I have an objection, a mix of meanness and principle, to paying an entrance fee to see a place of worship.
We attended a Catholic Sunday mass St.Paul’s Church instead and celebrated a sung eucharist on Christmas Day in an Anglican Church.

We hit Harrods on Boxing Day and couldn’t miss checking out Harvey Nichols’ Christmas Wonderland window displays. Fortnum&Mason’s, Liberty’s, Hamleys, Maison Assouline, Waterstones and Lillywhites were duly visited as was Bond Street and Covent Garden.

A teenage tour led us through Abercrombie&Fitch, Hollister and Thomas Hilfiger until we found what we were looking for at TopShop... where else?!? And how could I resist Victoria’s Secret?!?

Peggy Porschen and Spectrum were a must see if only for Expat with Kids Instagram account.

Carnaby Street and Kingsley’s Court were much to Expat Girl’s liking while a pub dinner at Shepherd market was a true British treat for the whole family.

A quick walk in Green Park for some fresh air while bumping into the squadron of the Queen’s Life Guards in front of Buckingham Palace and trying to avoid the horrendous crowds heading towards Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland.

By which time we were ready for some real Neapolitan food at Da Maria in Notting Hill just in time to watch the Napoli vs Inter match on Italian SkyTV!
A well deserved rest at the Savoy lounge covered in Christmas galore topped off our London holiday experience.

And although Expat boy could not join us for all the fun, it was great being together again these past days for we’ll have many happy memories to look back on when Expat Mummy finally got her British Christmas festivities after two decades of Natale alla Napoletana.

Annabel’s night club will have to wait for next time...

Carol Service at St. Martin in the Fields

Lion King at the Lyceum theatre

Christmas vibes at Quaglino's

View from the Aquashard

St.Paul's Cathedral admired from the outside

Panoramic view on the Millenium Bridge

Skating at Somerset House

Harvey Nichols' window champagne display

Burlington passage 

Pimp my car

Dinner at a local pub

When you go over the top with Christmas decorations

Peggy Porschen's Christmas wreath

Hotel Claridges' tree of love

Changing of a guard?

Liberty at Christmas

Paddington Bear at Hamley's

Maison Assouline's inspiring world of beyond!

Covent Garden

Hitting the sales at Harrods

Christmas galore at the Savoy Hotel

Dinner Menu at Da Maria's 

Spectrum's Instagram set-up 

Annabel's at Mayfair

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Advent time of an Expat in Paris

Christmas officially starts with the Primary School Holiday Bazaar when the premises get decked out with glitter and gold and you can feel the tiny tots' excitement growing. All proceeds go towards the "Children without Cancer Foundation" which sets the theme for the season: "Better Together!"

December 6th the Swiss Samichlaus knocks on the door and Expat Girl and I bake Grittibänz (sweet bread men) for the family to devour over the weekend.

Two weeks ago the Christmas tree went up in our living room and all the little Swedish handmade wooden Father Christmases found their place on our dining room table - much to my unenthralled hubby's opinion.

My Christmas cards have been dispatched, the Christmas gifts have been purchased - despite the gilets jaunes' protests - wrapped and shipped. We have hosted two Christmas dinners this weekend and tickets to the Nutcracker ballet are booked for tomorrow night's performance at the legendary Palais Garnier .... all of this when we still have a week to go before it’s Christmas.

I have never been so on top of things... feeling chuffed I took myself off to some hot yoga this morning for some meditation and sailed though the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit this afternoon for some inspiration!!!

Let the festivities begin...

Homemade arts and crafts on sale for a good cause.

Grittibänz: it definitely tastes better than it looks! ;)

Homemade Christmas cards with a Parisian touch for friends who have moved abroad!

 Gotta love those Pink flamingo gift tags my friend sent me!

Christmas tree delivered for free... what a treat!

This year's addition: una cafeteria italiana!

Swedish Tomte figurines

The things you can learn in youtube!?!

Pinterest inspiration!!!

Good old family turkey recipe

Yves Saint Laurent's office in Paris.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The grooviest Christmas music

Christmas just wouldn't be the same without them: I am talking about Christmas Carols. We do sing the classic versions at home but I have always had a penchant for the more groovy sounds of Christmas. Here is my top 10 list of Christmas albums.

Beach Boys, Christmas with the Beach Boys
Sleigh bells are the background instrument of choice in most of the fun-in-the-sun Beach Boys hits—so really, we should have known they'd create a memorable Christmas album, clearly longing for some winter in their world. The most famously broadcast hits from this CD each Christmas are the 1967 single "Little Saint Nick" and "Merry Christmas, Baby."

Elvis' Christmas Album
Here, the original Elvis' Christmas Album. Part rock, part blues and part distinctively Elvis, some say this is the only album from which fans can still get a glimpse into his early artistic inspiration. Fan favorites: "Blue Christmas", "Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)," and "Santa Claus is Back in Town."

The Carpenters, Christmas Collection
Although some say the double-disc is exactly what's to be expected from Karen's sweet voice and Richard's "famously light, inoffensive arrangements," it's also noted that these recordings caught the singer's vocals in their prime. Best known hit: "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve."

The Christmas Collection: The Best of Jackson 5
When we think J5, we think joy and novelty, a tornado of energy and little-boy brilliance. The boy-band quintet (young MJ and brothers Jermaine, Jackie, Tito and Marlon) lives up to standards on their Christmas album, too. Get up and groove (with '70s-style moves) to "Up on the Housetop."

Ray Charles, The Spirit of Christmas
Mmmm—soulful and gravelly, just the sound we expect. Ray's only recorded Christmas album, released in 1985, gives you the holiday fuzzies. You can hear him smiling during "Winter Wonderland," a fan favorite, but you'll be smiling during his famous, 1961 duet with Betty Carter, "Baby, It's Cold Outside."

The Christmas Collection: The Best of Stevie Wonder
Stevie's voice bellows young and sweet from these lullaby-like carols originally recorded in 1967. The new collection adds two tracks, but the fan favorites are the same: Swoon over "Someday at Christmas" and "Ave Maria."

Nat King Cole, The Christmas song
To this Christmas album Nat brings a fun and bubbly side best known from non-holiday hit, "It's only a Paper Moon" but also casts a captivating spell, such as he did in "Mona Lisa". Holiday Classic: "The Christmas Song" written by Mel Tormé.

Bing Crosby, White Christmas
Bing's voice is rich and unforgettable. The recordings, most originally completed in the '40s, some in the '30s, are crackly—the arrangements, outdated. But the scratchy changes in pitch are specifically what carries the charm and appeal for Christmas-music lovers now. Best known recording: "White Christmas."

Frank Sinatra, A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra
Frank, unlike other artists, leaves untouched the classic Christmas carols he chose for this 1957 release, but does add his characteristically sly touch to two songs: "The Christmas Waltz" and "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear."

The Temptations, Give Love at Christmas
Recognized mostly for soulful R&B hits "My Girl" and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," The Temptations similarly shine in Christmas hits "Everything for Christmas," "The Christmas Song" and "Silent Night." Let one of the most inspired bands from the 60s, 70 and 80s ignite happy holiday memories.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Best Christmas movies ever...

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is watching Christmas movies! There's nothing quite like cozying up on the couch to watch a classic holiday film, whether a Christmas movie for kids or a family-friendly flick. Here is a list of Christmas movies from the old classics to contemporary fairy tales. My personal favourites? "White Christmas" and "Planes, Train and Automobiles"

Remember the Night (1940)
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Holiday Inn (1942)
Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)
Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947)
The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
A Holiday Affair (1949)
A Christmas Carol (1951)
White Christmas (1954)
The Apartment (1960)
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Frosty the Snowman (1969)
Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (1970)
A Christmas Story (1983)
Trading Places (1983)
A Christmas Carol (1984)
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
Scrooged (1988)
Home Alone 1 (1990)
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Santa Clause (1994)
While You Were Sleeping (1995)
Jingle All the Way (1996)
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Love Actually (2003)
Elf (2003)
Christmas with the Kranks (2004)
The Polar Express (2004)
Joyeux Noel (2005)
The Holiday (2006)
A Christmas Prince (2017)

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Rudolph and the other reindeers

Eight little reindeer beside Santa's sleigh, 

Getting hitched up - to be on their way.
The first one said, "We can't be late,"

The second one said, "Christmas won't wait."

The third one said, 'The sleigh's full of toys....."

The fourth one said, "For all the girls and boys."

The fifth one said, '"I'm ready to fly...."
The sixth one said, "Across the evening sky."
The seventh one said, "Look, it's starting to snow."
The eighth one said, "I think it's time to go."
Ready?" asked Santa. "It's almost Christmas Day."
And off they all flew - - up, up, and away!

One of my most popular posts around Christmas is: How many reeindeer does Santa have?
I therefore decided to come up with some more fun facts on reindeer.

1.) The names of Santa's reindeer are from the poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas", more commonly known as "The Night Before Christmas," written by Clement Clarke Moore in 1823.

2.) Most of Santa’s reindeer have male-sounding names, such as Blitzer, Comet, and Cupid. However, male reindeers shed their antlers around Christmas, so the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh are likely not male, but female or castrati.

3.) Rudolph's story was originally written in verse by Robert L. May for the Montgomery Ward chain of department stores in 1939, and published as a book to be given to children in the store at Christmas time. According to this story, Rudolph's glowing red nose made him a social outcast among the other reindeer. However, one Christmas Eve Santa Claus was having a lot of difficulty making his flight around the world because it was too foggy. When Santa went to Rudolph's house to deliver his presents he noticed the glowing red nose in the darkened bedroom and decided it could be a makeshift lamp to guide his sleigh. He asked Rudolph to lead the sleigh for the rest of the night, Rudolph accepted and returned home a hero for having helped Santa Claus.

4.) Norwegian scientists have hypothesized that Rudolph’s red nose is probably the result of a parasitic infection of his respiratory system.

5.) Reindeer have large hooves that spread apart as they walk on the snow. They act like snowshoes and prevent the reindeer from sinking in the snow! Have you ever tried walking with snowshoes?  These special hooves also help them look for food beneath the snow.  The tendons in their hooves create a clicking sound when they walk.

6.) Reindeer have an excellent sense of smell. Because food is scarce in the Arctic, reindeer use their great sense of smell to detect food buried deep beneath the snow.

7.) Reindeer are excellent swimmers.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A Swiss holiday home like no other

Searching for some holiday inspiration, I came across a most amazing site. How about taking a trip through Switzerland's cultural heritage with magnificasa? Don't get discouraged by the website's language barrier... this is so worth exploring!

The foundation "Ferien im Baudenkmal" was founded in 2005 with the aim to take over endangered monuments by renovating and turning them into holiday homes.

In Switzerland, the most varied architectural monuments can be found in the smallest of spaces: from traditional farmhouses to town houses. Many buildings are witnesses of industrialization or a record of the beginnings of tourism, renovated they are outstanding examples of modern Swiss architecture.

These monuments - witnesses of a moving past and important components of our townscapes and landscapes - are often demolished because they no longer meet today's usage requirements. The foundation "Ferien im Baudenkmal" commits itself to the preservation of valuable historic buildings throughout Switzerland.

The best part is that the carefully restored objects are made available to the public by renting the houses for vacations at reasonable prices. Many of the monuments are in remote regions. In addition to the idea of ​​saving cultural heritage, holidays in these historic monuments create a basis for sustainable tourism and, in the long term, add value to these regions, which are often at risk of emigration.

Clicking through the history of their portfolio is like undertaking a voyage through Switzerland's diverse cultural history: My personal favourite is this little jewel in Bondo deep in the Grison valley:

Go ahead, give it a try.

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