Sunday, December 16, 2007

Arts and Crafts Time with Heather

Say? Have you ever looked at all the items laying around your bathroom and wondered if there was a way you could use them to create a lovely holiday centerpiece? No? Well, lucky for you, I did just that.

Here's what you will need: empty loo rolls, one loo roll with several sheets still on it, u-pins or bobby pins, hair elastics, cotton balls and eye and lip pencils in assorted colors. (Also some scissors - not shown.)

Also, a few accessories for three of your characters...

Simply place one square of loo paper to the top of one of your empty rolls and secure with a hair elastic. Then draw a face. Poke a couple of bobby pins through each side of the roll and add one of your three accessories. In this case, gold.

Repeat. This time with a sample vial of perfume. This will signify "frankinsence" because no one knows where to get ahold of frankinsence these days and, from what I hear, it was pretty much just perfume. Though, why you'd want to give a baby perfume, I don't know. That, however, is not for me to decide. I don't make the stories up, I just use common houehold items to recreate them...

Repeat once more. With myrrh. Don't even get me started on myrrh.

Next, use the same basic technique for two more rolls, one man and one woman. Perhaps you'll want to use your make-up pencils to give the woman a little extra pizzaz. Also maybe add an extra square of loo roll to her bottom half to make a little dress. Use half of another roll to make a "manger" of sorts and cut up the other half in the shape of a baby. Perhaps he will appear to be in "swaddling clothes". Your call.

Take three cotton balls and arrange onto bobby pins, as shown. This is your sheep. Baaaa.

Voila! Your very own eco-friendly and eco-nomical nativity scene!

You're welcome.

So Jason and I are off to the big NC tomorrow for the holly-days. I'll try my bestest to do a bit of updating here and there but you all know how it is... Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fröhliche Weihnachten!

What's this?!? Photos from the Berlin Christmas Markets?? (Otherwise known simply as "Fried Food Fest 2007" or "How to Eat Your Way Through Berlin" or "Achieving Highest Levels of Christmas Cheer Using Only Tasty Bavarian Treats".) I bet most of you were starting to think we didn't even go. Well here's proof:

First market - Gendarmenmarkt. Though skies were gray, we were still full of Christmas cheer. Well, full of Christmas cheer and Starbucks Peppermint Mochas.

Market number two at Potsdamer Platz.

And the third and final market of the day somewhere on Friedrichstrasse I think. Jason had mulled wine running through his veins by the end of this trip.

Nothing like a fresh salted pretzel to warm up your hands.

We had a most excellent welcome back treat from the Ritz - a Berliner. I fell in love with these babies last time we were here and was oh so pleased to sink my teeth into another one. Nothing like mealing out on sweeet treats in your jammies.

Day two begins at the market by Kaiser Wilhelm Church - and with a very messy stick of candied fruit.

And continued with yet more food in the form of delicious potato pancakes. Heaven.

And continues that evening with another Berliner, this time from a market stall.

We don't know what these are called but what better way to follow a Berliner than with sugary little balls of dough?

And back to Gendarmenmarkt to appreciate its beauty under starry skies. And to possibly eat more stuff.

Day three meant a trip outside the city to Potsdam. And also sauerkraut with mustard. YUM.

Aside from all the eating, we did quite a lot of shopping as well. And my favorite market by far was the one in Potsdam called Romantikmarkt. We were a little concerned that people kept saying "Oooh and it's called Romantic Market... wink, wink" because well, what exactly makes it so romantic? And do we, as Americans, have a very different definition of the word "romantic" than Germans do? Like, is this some kind of weird fetish market where people are going to be leading each other around on leashes and using whips?? Turns out, no.

It was really lovely and I bought my favourite souvenir here. It was a culmination of my favorite things: vintage and Christmas decorations. We got a set of handpainted glass ornaments and matching treetopper from the 60's for 20.00 euros. I was so excited, I could barely breathe. Mind you, if one of them ever gets broken, I'll die a little on the inside. And god help my kids if they ever break one. I'll totally be that mother that screams "These ornaments managed to make it thorough more than half a century unscathed...!!! Now get out of here. Mommy needs a martini."

A cute medieval style market in Babelsberg, on the way back into Berlin.

These contraptions were all over the place...

You'll be shocked to know that we consumed more mulled wine...

...and a salzgherkin. Basically, a totally awesome pickle.

The last day - we started by checking out the insane Lego display in the Sony Center. Every single bit of these displays is made of Legos. Imagine it was your job to build the huge Lego contraptions? Hello? Best. Job. Ever.

Ok. The following material may not be suitable for impressionable youngsters. We had a very serious discussion about this and made a decision which we definitely do not regret. We decided that we simply could not live with ourselves if for the rest of our lives, we knew we had been to Germany twice in the space of half a year and never ate a bratwurst. It's just not right. So we each had one. And holy crap it was good. Judge not! Lest ye be judged!

Post-wurst regroup at Starbucks.

Clearly, this has absolutely nothing to do with the markets. I just like to think I'm funny. But seriously? This little mini-mobile-cash mashine was just asking for it with those huge bags with euro signs on them.

And for our last trick: afternoon tea at the Ritz!

Jason is a very, very good sport, no?

And did I mention that we did a little shopping? Thank the lord for the Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM. Although, I must say, it looks pretty freaking full to me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pret-a-Portea Take 2

Beth and I had both done "The Fashionista's Tea" at The Berkeley before but as they change the confections with every runway collection, it was worth another go to see the new sweets. And oh boy did we eat. We ate till we felt the need to make like a model and send it all back up the way it went down.

But with a menu like this, I don't know whether to eat it or wear it.

Comme des Garcons cassis mousse with blackcurrant marmalade
Missoni striped madelaine with banana and vanilla bavaroise
Yves Saint Laurent sharp smoking jacket chocolate sable
Hermès vibrant orange and ginger Kelly bag
Christian Dior redcurrant mousse and grenadine jelly with pink spun sugar and Dior shoe
Giles Deacon Valrhona chocolate fan of Black Forest parfait
Zac Posen dark purple macaroon with chocolate and passion fruit ganache
Alexander McQueen silver spice boot biscuit
Nina Ricci lime cremeux with lemon mousse, coconut jelly and pear tuile

Here's a hint: WE ATE IT.

The only Hermes bag I'll ever own and I went and scarfed it down like it was an Oreo.

Not a bad reproduction, eh?

A pretty literal interpretation...

of this Commes des Garcons dress. (Which I personally think is hideous.)

A lovely purple macaroon filled with a very rich ganache...

which was inspired by this very expensive Zac Posen ensemble.

The delicious banana-y cake...

as an homage to Missoni's legendary wavy striped knits.

A lovely little chocolate jacket...

taken from this lovely Yves St Laurent piece.

The Alexander McQueen ginger spiced silver boot biscuit, which was the only item I wasn't able to find the real-life picture of.

The cute-as-can-be redcurrant mousse which was generally inspired by...

John Galliano's liberal use of that color in the F/W 2007 collection.

Beth and I tried to get a photo of us before we ate ourselves out of our current wardrobes but our waitress was not skilled in the art of photography. Come to think of it, she wasn't skilled in the art of waitressing either. Anyway, thanks to the ladies sitting next to us, we did get this photo with our little takeaway boxes...

Then they rolled us out the front door and onto the tube headed for home. (Where I couldn't even eat any dinner...)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

People falling down on ice is funny

I'm so full of Christmas cheer I think perhaps I could just burst. Maybe that's an overstatement but I have done more Christmas-y things this season than ever before. Last night we went ice skating at Somerset House (the rink they always show in the movies when they want to depict "Christmas in London" - the one they show near the beginning of Love Actually, actually).

It's sponsored by Tiffany & Co. so they have the famous robin's egg blue boxes under the tree. Think anyone would notice if I walked off with one?

After we finished skating, we stayed for a while to make fun of the people falling down and then we headed to Trafalgar Square to check out the tree there. Every year since 1947, the tree has been a gift from Norway to show their gratitude for Britain's support during WWII.

And this is just a picture I love that we managed to get last night. That's Big Ben with a bus whizzing by in the foreground...

Then we headed over to Covent Garden and there was no tree, which was a huge disappointment... But there were giant balls! Amy and Jenny, I was going to try to bring a couple of these home for your trees but I don't think they'll fit in my carry-on.

And this is what I love about living in the city. We were at an early dinner and we just up and decided to see a show. We walked into the theatre and asked if there were any tickets available and, lo and behold, we got front row center seats in the circle. (Which is the best place to be in my opinion.) Avenue Q was crude, crass and absolutely hysterical. I especially loved the songs "What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?", "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" and "The Internet is for Porn". If you get a chance to see it, definitely do!

Now I'm off to get ready for a day at the museum and tea with Beth...