Holiday shopping for boys and girls

Part 2 of 2 in this year’s helpful tips to help survive the holiday season.

While you’re finishing up your shopping, here’s how to make sure you’re not getting the “wrong” gifts for all the kids in your life.

Because really – anyone should be able to appreciate an awesome doll, or firetruck, or set of blocks.  Even this 29-year-old loves some ungendered Legos (hint hint).

Wintery blessings

Thanksgiving in New Hampshire started with a flicker – the dimming of the lights as we were making cranberry sauce Wednesday night.  Over the next few days, we made do just like our pilgrim ancestors (or someone’s pilgrim ancestors, considering all my relatives came to the US in the last 100 or so years).  I got back to my roots, shoveling the driveway, using the snow as our natural refrigerator, and playing board games by candlelight.

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Having the power lines down for the biggest meal of the year wasn’t without its challenges, but things turned out great.  We cooked the turkey at Grandma BooBoo’s house in the next town over.  We made stuffing in the crockpot in the living room, since the generator didn’t power the kitchen. We cooked the rest of the food on the gas stove, and ate by candlelight.  We invited another family over to share with us so they wouldn’t be alone in the dark, and huddled even closer around the table.

IMG_7303Even after the power came back, this dark start to the holiday season reminded me of the lesson that every Who should learn – it really doesn’t matter how warm your food is or if you can watch the Thanksgiving Day parade.  At the end of the day, all that matters is being able to enjoy time with people you love.

 

 

 

Oh, and pie.  Pie matters too.

Back in business!

Better late than never, right?

Our return from Europe was uneventful (but I will say: a 10.5 hour flight home is enough to make you really glad you spent a while on the continent instead of going both ways in a week).  But when I got home, I found that my laptop had decided to retire in my absence.  I don’t blame it – I bought it before I moved to Boston more than five years ago.  Luckily I backed up everything before I left.  Unluckily, my new computer had to see more of the world even than I did before it finally made it to my hands this afternoon.  (And no, mom, it unfortunately did not arrive with stickers all over it like some ancient suitcase.)

But now I’m back!  Look for some post-travel reflections, more specifics on what I saw/ate/learned, and how I’m going to make 2015 the best year ever – all coming up soon in this space.

Best layover ever?

The sun is shining over the Bosphorus River, reflecting right into our sweet little room at the hostel in Istanbul.  When we signed up for this 22 hour layover on our way home to Boston, it sounded like a great idea – but then the plane was late and it took us almost two hours to leave the airport and get into the city.  As we zipped past wholesale clothing stores on the train, we worried that we were wasting our time.

But then we got off the train to the sound of the evening prayer, and started looking around.

This place is amazing.  I’ve still only seen it in the dark but I absolutely love it.  In the few hours before bed, we shopped at the Arasta Bazaar just down the street, buying scarves and pottery and looking at the colorful tea options.

We sat in front of the Blue Mosque eating freshly roasted chestnuts and watching the colorful fountain.

Then we ate dinner at an open-air hookah bar, where we sat on velvet-covered benches, eating kebabs and meat and vegetable pancakes cooked by women sitting directly behind us and watching a Turkish dancer twirl to the sound of live music.  By the end of the evening, we drank every tea on the menu – and were rewarded with a free cup by our friendly waiter, who delivered us a mix of every type of tea plus ample amounts of sugar.  It was sweet perfection, new and welcoming and just lovely in every way.

Now we’re off to the spice market before leaving for the airport around noon.  See you on the other side of the Atlantic!

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Dessert and tea in Istanbul

Goodbye Barcelona!

We’re at the airport, about to wish Spain goodbye.  We’ve already bid adieu to Sara and Kate.  It’s been a warm, wild, and wonderful weekend in this seaside city – we ate, saw, and drank everything.  From visiting the Sagrada Familia to collecting rocks on the beach to eating tapas at midnight and drinking at bars with the city lights belong, we’ve had a grand time.

Now, onward for one night in Istanbul and then home in time for midterm election results.  We were even able to check our bags straight through so now we only have our backpacks for the next 24 hours of adventure.  Huzzah!  Happy Monday!