{High Tea}

\\ high tea \\
n. Chiefly British
A fairly substantial meal that includes tea and is served in the late afternoon or early evening.
High tea happens to be one of my favorite things about Europe. It’s a concept I know exists in the U.S., but nobody really practices. But in England it’s, like, a totally real thing. People really do drink that much tea and eat cute little sandwiches and a good helping of cake. Can you imagine a more wonderful way to spend an afternoon than by sipping tea out of perfect vintage china teacups, nibbling on tasty puff pastries and sandwiches, and devouring five pieces of cake? Well, that’s exactly what my good friend Jeanelle and I did on New Years Eve day. It was wonderfully girly and the perfect way to catch up after both of our Swiss Christmases. Ah, we live a charmed life (when we’re not getting stuck on Dutch trains and commuting 2-3 hours a day… but we’ll forget about that for a second!). My goal is to make it to the Orangery in London next time we’re there (who knows when that will be – but it’s only a 50 minute flight, so I’d say sooner than later! Plus, I need to meet these girls when they get here!). It looks right up my alley.

Have any of you experienced high tea? Do you love it? Clearly I do 😉

P.S. Jeanelle and I had high tea at this most adorable place in The Hague – Bloem. We highly recommend it!

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{Champery, Switzerland}

Champery is a small village that was located a 10-minute tram ride from the town we were staying in. It’s the quintessential Swiss ski resort town I had always imagined in my head. All the stores and restaurants with views of the Alps, everything made of wood with Swiss flags swaying every way you turned. On Christmas Eve we were feeling antsy to get out of the house so we decided to make the short trip over to walk around, ride the gondola up the mountain, have some hot chocolate, and ultimately have dinner at a cozy restaurant back in the town center. It was incredible to climb up the mountain in the gondola and come face-to-face with the peaks we had been staring up at for days from the window of our chalet. It was windy when we were up there, but it was so breathtaking we didn’t even care! We missed our families so much that day, but experiencing this awe-inspiring sunset together on top of the world definitely made us feel a little better!
 {Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{Our Swiss Chalet}

Staying in a Swiss chalet was very much like my dream of staying in a Tuscan villa. So clichĂ©, yet so necessary. When Corey and I realized we wouldn’t be making it home for Christmas we knew we had to go somewhere super awesome to help temper the sting. And we couldn’t have picked a better place to spend a week relaxing. We were in the most beautiful, tiny Swiss Alp town of Val d’illiez. There’s not much to do there except stare at the gorgeous mountains and cuddle up by the fire. Exactly what we had in mind! I started every day with a bubble bath (pure heaven!) and ended each one with a glass of wine, a cozy fire and a Christmas movie. The only thing missing was our little Henry. There will be many more posts about our trip to Switzerland to come… For now, here are a few photos from our dream Swiss chalet. 
 {Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{Holiday Plans}

Hi There! Sorry for the absence this week. My work schedule has been a little weird
and last night I met up with some friends in honor of halloween.
Also, apparently the hard drive on my computer is full, so I haven’t been able to
upload photos from my trip home or this past weekend. So, that leaves me with less posting material.
But then I thought, it’s actually been an exciting week!
Apparently I’m ready for Christmas because this week I’ve ordered our Christmas cards, ordered a custom stamp to make addressing those puppies easier (and cuter!), andddd the most exciting of all…
We booked a gorgeous Swiss chalet for the week of Christmas!
Since I was just home in August and October, it seemed silly to go back again for the holidays. 
(We were going to go on this trip, but it turned out to be a logistical nightmare)
We are going to miss our family like crazy, so to make ourselves feel better we decided we would stay here to celebrate our very first Christmas all on our own:
 Now all I can think about is being in this gorgeous chalet with Corey. 
Sitting by the fire reading books, listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, drinking hot chocolate, cooking comfort food, and staring out at the gorgeous view we have of the Swiss Alps. Pinch me!

And of course, I’ll need some cute and cozy new things to fit in with our pretty chalet, right? I’m ready to press purchase on these pieces from ASOS (if only I hadn’t spent all my money on the rental…)!
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{Christmas Snaps Part II}

As I mentioned Monday, we spend Christmas Eve with my side of the family. We decided not to do any gifts this Christmas as a lot of us flew in from different parts of the country (or the world!), and we figured time together would be the best gift we could get each other, anyway. We haven’t had a complete holiday, with everyone in one place, in a few years, so it made me ridiculously happy to fly back to Portland and get to experience that this year. The night was pretty low key. We ate a delicious meal, enjoyed wine and cocktails, and loved on Oscar, my sister Cristina’s new pup who she rescued few months ago. Then, we ended the night with a friendly game of poker (I actually didn’t participate, I was recovering from my food coma on the couch!)!

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

Christmas Snaps Part I: Emma’s First Christmas

Every year we spend Christmas Eve with my side of the family and Christmas Day with Corey’s side of the family, and this year was no exception. Christmas morning we woke up bright and early and headed (5 minutes) up the rode to Corey’s parent’s house. It was a very exciting Christmas because our niece Emma was in town from Chicago – and it was her first! She’s 10 months old, and as you’ll see from the photos, she really stole the show. I mean how could she not? She is beyond adorable. I would just sit and stare at her, smiling so much from every move and sound she made, my cheeks started to hurt! It was so special to be able to experience her first Christmas with her. Later that same day we went back to my Mom’s house to open our gifts to each other. Corey did really, really well (he stalked my Pinterst board like a good husband!) and got me some amazing gifts, including these gorgeous earrings, this beautiful J.Crew sequin sweater and noise-canceling headphones! It was a very merry Christmas for us! Hope it was for you as well!

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

Homemade Mulled Wine

Corey has been busy studying for finals for the last week, and I knew he was feeling super stressed, so after he finished his first final on Monday night I wanted to surprise him with a little something. I thought it would be nice to make some mulled wine for him to enjoy after hours of essay writing. When he walked in the door the house smelled amazing, candles were lit and it was the perfect way for him to unwind after his long day of work and final-taking. I used this simple and delicious recipe from fellow Amsterdam expat blogger, Jenn, and I highly recommend it!

Organic Merlot (or any other red wine you like)

One organic orange

Cinnamon sticks

1/2 cup Organic local honey

1 Vanilla Bean

Instructions (straight from Jenn):

Pour the wine into a large pot (yes, the whoooole thing). 
Peel the orange, and juice it into the pot. Then, cut up the orange peel into slices, and add almost all of the slices to the pot, saving a couple to garnish the drink with at the end. 
Add a few cinnamon sticks, the vanilla bean, and then the honey. 
Turn the stove on to low heat, and cook for 25 minutes.
Then, pour the mulled wine into big mugs. Garnish with an orange peel and a cinnamon stick, and enjoy!
{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{Dordrecht Christmas Market}

This weekend we hopped a train and traveled an hour and a half south to the town of Dordrecht to peruse  their annual Christmas Market. There was mulled wine (we actually loved this batch!), caroling, ice skating, traditional hot-off-the-coals pastries and best of all… Blue skies! It was such a fun day, couldn’t have wished for better weather or company. 

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

Weekend Sneak Peek + Giveaway Winner

We had a really great and relaxing weekend and I’m happy to say we did in fact make it down to Dordrecht for the Christmas Market! Sadly I didn’t have time to go through all the photos yet, but thought I’d leave you with just a few. Hopefully I can share more tomorrow – things are pretty crazy around here preparing to go back to the States on Thursday!

Also, I almost forgot to pick a winner for the giveaway! Lucky number 36 is the winner: Holly from Little Miss Holls! A fellow Portlander 🙂 Holly – email me your address and I will get a copy of The Paris Wife to you pronto! Thanks everyone for entering. I’ll plan on doing this agin with my next batch of books as people seemed to enjoy it!

Happy Weekend!

TGIF! Something about this week was just exhausting. I haven’t been feeling totally myself these last couple of days and I am looking forward to a weekend to catch up on sleep and just relax. Tomorrow we’re hoping to take a train ride to the town of Dordrecht for their Christmas Market. It’s the biggest one in the Netherlands! Other than that I think we’ll just be cleaning and packing and generally getting ready to head back to the States for Christmas next week! Can you believe it’s next week? It totally snuck up on me this year! While thinking about having to deal with jet lag again kind of makes me want to cry, the thought of seeing my sisters and my niece and being with both our families more than makes up for that. Anyhow, hope you all have a lovely weekend and I’ll catch you back here on Monday.

P.S. Corey doesn’t really believe in (or like?) sending out Christmas cards, while I on the other hand always dream of sending them out. So instead of actually getting them I like to go on sites and design pretend ones. I really liked the one above other than the fact that it’s missing Henry, a very important part of our little family 🙂