I have London on the brain. The Brit and I stayed in Vancouver over Christmas, but a little part of me wishes we had gone to England, because London really showed up for the party – did you see any of this on Instagram??
Winter in Vancouver is down to your bones cold. I’m in the middle of some Sunshine Coast drafts but the windy, rainy weather and the cooking shows I’ve been watching on Netflix have my thoughts straying to the dry heat of Barcelona. As close to a tropical vacation as I’ve had a while, June in this Spanish city was perfect for the girls and me after the unexpected and pelting rain in Paris.
The Brit and I finished out 2017 with a week of unplugging (or at least trying to) in Lund, BC. Lund is a little seaside village just north of Powell River, and depending on where you are, there is no cellular signal. It’s the perfect place for such an endeavour.
Last year, I set my goals in San Diego while visiting my friend Jason. This year, The Brit and I spent the last week of 2017 on the Sunshine Coast and rang in the New Year at Townsite Brewing. The fireplace is keeping our cabin nice and cozy and while The Brit does some research a new IPA recipe, I’m looking ahead for 2018 and narrowing my goals down.
The days after Christmas and before New Year’s Eve are always a time for both reflection and looking ahead, and I am drafting this all cozied up in a beautiful cabin in Lund (BC not Sweden, but perhaps next time??), sitting on a comfy couch with my feet up, listening to the fireplace crackling and the rain pelting down outside. I’ve got a got a cup of tea and Vivaldi playing on my phone. The Brit is currently outside in said pelting rain, sitting in the hot tub – happy as a clam. (No joke. I thought my setting was way more hygge, but I’ve now also experienced hot tubbing in the rain and the snow and it’s pretty great!)
My friend and fellow blogger, Orla (from travelorlabout.com and the blog pod I belong to) and I have been talking about doing some collab stuff and I thought this time of year would be the perfect. She and her guy, Jack, are away from their families this year (as is The Brit), and I wanted to make sure they had some Christmas cheer. So we bundled up earlier in December to brave the drizzle and had a hygge double date at one of my favourite places to visit during the holiday season: VanDusen Gardens’ Festival of Lights (open until Jan 7 if you haven’t been yet!)
Three more sleeps until Christmas! Which means… The last minute Christmas shopping dash! So fun. Not. But it happens to all of us, whether by circumstance or habit. I’m lucky this year because I did most of my shopping online. So my inevitable dashing will involve clicking a couple buttons for something that I can print, an evening of baking, and buying a couple bottles of wine.
But, if you’ve missed the online shipping deadlines (or don’t think you’ll get to clicking on time) or are feeling a bit overwhelmed, here are three failsafe options:
Dating an ex-pat, I am very accustomed and happy to be a #touristinmytown. It’s fun to see familiar things in a new light, and I always enjoy going somewhere I’ve never been or trying out a new activity. When the people at a new travel app called LUQL (http://luql.io) reached out to me last month about taking a tour in Vancouver, I was intrigued. As you may have read, I love a good tour when travelling, but I’ve never taken a tour in my own city. I suppose most people haven’t(?)
Hygge is about getting cozy and creating a warm atmosphere to enjoy the good things in life with good people. That includes getting outside to enjoy nature, whether on your own, or with those good people. Something I don’t do as much of as I would like!
Friendship. Something I am very grateful for in my life. My friends have held me up in very precarious times and cheered me on in the really wonderful ones. I have amazing friends and I hope I am just as lovely of a friend to them. They are my are my tribe and I love them.
I recently joined a local blog pod – basically blogger support group to share ideas and cheerlead on social media – started by my friend, Orla, from travelorlabout.com. When she moved to Vancouver, we went for lunch and she asked me if I’d heard of any blogger groups in the city. I hadn’t, so she asked if I wanted to join one with her. I said sure, and off she went! And through social media and a couple friends of mine, we’ve become a nice little group. Local and ex-pat #westcoastcitygirls, we are all focusing on something different, but have a lot in common including travel, food, and a love of blanket scarves.
I knew I had found my people when we got together for brunch for the first time. As soon as our food arrived, the smartphones came out and everyone captured their meal, an Instagram story, or a Boomerang. It was hilarious, and so very 21st century – and ridiculous. But it’s what we enjoy, and once we got that out of the way, we tucked in and kept talking. We get each other. 😉
“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.”
~ Jim Morrison
When I was putting together the #12DaysofHygge, I thought it would be fun to learn about everyone’s Christmas (my favourite time of year!) traditions and what makes them feel hygge and cozy.
(Blog: The Nova Scoop)
Favourite Christmas tradition: Spending Christmas Eve with my family for dinner and opening presents in the evening! Santa comes on the 24th in Slovakia (we brought the tradition to Canada)!
What do you miss about your hometown at this time of year? I want to visit Slovakia (my hometown) one year during Christmas so that I can really see the magic of Christmas/how it is truly celebrated there.
What is your Christmas wish? My Christmas wish is to be happy and not worry/stress as much as I do. I also wish health and happiness to all my family and friends as well.
Item of clothing or thing that makes you feel the coziest: A warm knit makes me feel the coziest!
Favourite Christmas food: My mom’s halibut and potato salad that we have during Christmas Eve dinner!
When do you put your tree up? We usually put it up the first or second week of December!
Favourite Christmas tradition: Christmas PJ’s on Christmas Eve and baking with my family!
What is your Christmas wish? That everyone gets some time to really enjoy their friends and family!
Item of clothing or thing that makes you feel the coziest: My boyfriend’s clothes!
Favourite Christmas food: Gingerbread!
When do you put your tree up? Mid-December
Favourite Christmas tradition: Decorating the Christmas tree while listening to fun Christmas music! And a new tradition is going to the Vancouver Christmas Market since I moved to Vancouver.
What do you miss about your hometown at this time of year? I miss all the snow from Montreal as well as my family’s home baked goodies.
What is your Christmas wish? That everyone gets some time to really enjoy their friends and family! And to stay healthy. With health, we can do anything!
Item of clothing or thing that makes you feel the coziest: Definitely slippers and a very soft blanket by the fireplace!
Favourite Christmas food: Mashed potatoes and gravy – my cousin and I call it the volcano – Inspired by The Berenstain Bears (you make a volcano shape with a dip in the mashed potatoes and add the gravy to it ) so good! I miss all of my mom and grandpa’s cooking. I also love the desserts everyone makes including these German ball cookies by my step-mom and Americanas by my Auntie Karen.
Favourite Christmas tradition: My favourite Christmas tradition is going to Montreal for a few days to visit family and then spend a few days in Florida until New Years – I get the best of both worlds, the winter wonderland for Christmas in MTL and the warm sun in-between the holidays in Florida.
What is your Christmas wish? Tough one…might have to be cliche and say to have my dreams/goals come true.
Item of clothing or thing that makes you feel the coziest: My throw blanket from Chapters – they have them every year, comfiest blanket ever!
Favourite Christmas food: A popular Italian traditional dessert called Struffoli (Italian Honey Balls) – It’s basically fried dough with honey and some sprinkles.
When do you put your tree up? I usually wait until December but this year I started to put up my tree and decorations Nov 25-26. I remember when living in the States, people would normally transition into Christmas right after American Thanksgiving, and I sort of got used to that.
(Blog: Nina Worldwide Blog)
Favourite Christmas tradition: On Christmas Eve my family used to go to church. Even though we are not religious at all, I always liked that tradition. It served as a reminder why we celebrate Christmas and that those days are not only about gifts, shopping and boxing day.
What do you miss about your hometown at this time of year? Definitely the Christmas market in Zurich. I used to go there so often just to have a mulled wine, some food or to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere. The market is free, really big and beautifully located right in front of the Zurich Opera.
What is your Christmas wish? Honestly, I don’t know, but I guess that is a good thing. If we are honest we probably have already everything we need. But I am always happy about books, you can never have enough books. Besides that, I am just looking forward to my first Christmas with my boyfriend.
Item of clothing or thing that makes you feel the coziest: I have are Christmas pajama pants from American Eagle. They are so cozy, fit perfectly, and have snowflakes on them.
Favourite Christmas food: With my family we always have the most Swiss dish on Christmas Eve: Cheese Fondue. I love it, it’s just the coziest food.
When do you put your tree up? In Switzerland, my family puts up the tree just a few days before Christmas. And we always got the tree from a local farmer that we know.
Favourite Christmas tradition: One of my favourite Christmas traditions is the way my family would all gather on Christmas Eve to open our gifts from each other. Then we would go to my Granny’s house to spend time with all our relations and of course have a few tipples!
What do you miss about your hometown at this time of year? There is a real magic feeling in the air at home in Ireland around Christmas. Anyone who lives abroad usually returns home at Christmas time and you get to catch up with people you may not have seen for a long time. This year as I will be spending Christmas in Vancouver (away from home for the first time). I will miss my family dearly, and my dog, Missey (I still hope my family will dress her up in a ridiculous and festive costume).
What is your Christmas wish? I don’t have a Christmas wish, per say. My boyfriend just treated us both to the DJI Mavic Pro drone, so I think that is all a girl who loves to travel and document her adventures could ask for. I also wouldn’t say no to a trip to Cuba, just sayin’!
Item of clothing or thing that makes you feel the coziest: I do love chilling in a fluffy onesie, with a cup of hot cocoa by the fire watching a classic Christmas movie. It’s the simple things!
Favourite Christmas food: It goes without saying that Irish Christmas dinners are pretty full on. Mountains of food and an endless supply of alcohol to wash it down. My favourite Christmas food is turkey with lots of gravy sauce and potato croquettes. I also am missing my granny’s homemade brown soda bread, big time. Delicious!
When do you put your tree up? This year I am house/dog sitting in Vancouver over Christmas, so if I am putting up a tree, it won’t be my own. Usually, we put the tree up back in Ireland around the second week in December. Decorating the tree is one of my favourite activities.
Favourite Christmas tradition: My favourite part about Christmas is that it presents an occasion for friends and family to get together and celebrate some quality time. As a child, I loved walking around the neighborhood and looking at the houses with elaborate Christmas light displays!
What is your Christmas wish? As I get older, I realize how important it is to make time for our parents. I would love to find a way for my sister and I to spend time with both our mom and dad (separate continents!) in the new year.
Item of clothing or thing that makes you feel the coziest: A warm blanket or scarf or.. blanket scarf!!
Favourite Christmas food: My first job in High School was working at a Dutch Bakery and they had these amazing almond kringles that came out only at Christmas, it was a a flaky croissant-like pastry filled with almond paste. I haven’t had one of these in years so I can’t say it’s my favourite Christmas food, but I’d love to use this opportunity to see if anyone else has tried this or a Copenhagen pastry, and also, see if anyone knows of a bakery that makes this in the Lower Mainland 🙂
Favourite Christmas tradition: My Christmas’ have rarely been the same, so I can’t say I have a tradition. Sometimes I’m at home with my family, sometimes travelling to be with my guy’s family, and other years I;ve been travelling overseas. I would say the only constant has been to spend Christmas with my partner, wherever we are (unless one or the other is working abroad). We don’t separate for Christmas and go to our respective families, we celebrate the holidays together.
What do you miss about your hometown at this time of year? What I missed most when traveling overseas and away from family was the feeling of home. Christmas feels like a time to be with family, and during the holidays on the other side of the world I missed all the traditional food, the company, and the feeling of being cozy and relaxed.
What is your Christmas wish? To spend quality time with friends and family.
Item of clothing or thing that makes you feel the coziest: Toques! I have a bit of a collection going.
Favourite Christmas food: Stuffing and brussel sprouts!
When do you put your tree up? Usually, the last week of November, because I love the soft lighting from the tree lights on dark evenings.
Favourite Christmas tradition: The thing I love most about Christmas is tradition – and my family has TONS. My parents were brought up very differently, so we have the traditional Canadian-Anglophone traditions from his family and the Ukrainian traditions from my mom’s side. Everything from stocking hanging, to certain drinks while we decorate the tree, to the twelve-course meal on Christmas Eve. It all takes me back to being a kid again.
What do you miss about your hometown at this time of year? It’s been a while since I was away from home, and luckily when I was it was London, which is incredibly festive. The thing I miss is family: the company, the same jokes, the familiar smells. Being away at Christmas is a toughie.
What is your Christmas wish? Just one? In all seriousness, this year I’m hoping for some tranquility. I’ve had an incredible year, but a little time to slow down and be truly present is the goal.
Item of clothing or thing that makes you feel the coziest: Christmas Eve pajamas. That’s one of those family traditions, and I keep them on until moments before Christmas dinner.
Favourite Christmas food: Turkey with gravy and cranberries. Hits those sweet and savoury cravings all at once!
When do you put your tree up? Usually the first week of December. It depends when my boyfriend and I can find a cozy few hours alone. We still head out to my parents’ house to help them with theirs. That’s around the same time!
As for me…
(Blog: You’re here! 🙂 )
Favourite Christmas tradition: I have a few! Going to VanDusen Gardens’ Festival of Lights (every year!!) and watching White Christmas with my mum on Christmas Day. Another is the annual fancy restaurant date that I have with two of my best girlfriends. Because of schedules, it’s never the same date or restaurant, but we’ve had our dinner going since longer than I care to admit!
What is your Christmas wish? I had two and they already came true: have a Christmas tree again and to spend the holidays with the Brit. He went back to England for a couple weeks last year and I had missed him terribly. But I also have a few overall goals and wishes that I hope will come true for 2018!
Item of clothing or thing that makes you feel the coziest: Warm socks and a blanket scarf. Or my guy’s Beatles t-shirt.
Favourite Christmas food: Christmas dinner in general!
When do you put your tree up? When I was growing up, it was around the first week of December. As an adult, it has varied, but the last few years have just been plugging in my beautiful ceramic tree with its pretty lights. We just bought a tree and put it up today and it unexpectedly brought a happy tear to my eye. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed having a proper tree.
Do you have Christmas traditions that you love or something that makes you feel especially cozy or hygge at this time of year?
Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.
~ Sir Winston Churchill