Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

      Today I watched the movie Chocolat. As I sat their staring at scene after scene filled with delightful chocolate (along with Johnny Depp) I knew for sure the story had to have been written by a woman. Joanne Harris to be exact. I don't think a man could have come up with a story where chocolate is central to the plot.  However, despite being caught up in the chocolate, there is a quote in the movie that stood out to me as worth remembering:

"I think we can't go around measuring our goodness by what we don't do, by what we deny ourselves, by what we resist or who we exclude. We have to measure our goodness by what we embrace, what we create and who we include" 
— Chocolat
What do you embrace?
What do you create?
Who do you include?

Don't  forget to just enjoy spending time with the people you love and don't forget the whole reason we celebrate Christmas. I wish you all a merry merry Christmas!!

We all remember when "Hey there Delilah" was on every single radio station 100 times a day... For awhile that was great until it was too much. Here's another Plain White T's song worth listening to:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Reflection One



Life has a way of stealing our dreams.

         When I was little I used to believe anything was possible. The only reason I didn't get an A in class would have everything to do with not trying hard enough. And then came the day where I really did try as hard as I could and I didn't make that A.  Depending on your childhood you find out that life isn't easy early on. One of the most honest portrayals of discovering life and it's hardships is listening to Taylor Swift's new cd, Speak Now. She's incredibly honest in her lyrics and it's heartbreaking! But we all go through the process of discovering life is painful in some way or another at some point. And sometimes we can pick ourselves up and move on easily but other times it takes longer.

It's easy to let life dictate how you live and what you do. Sometimes we can let our past experiences stop us from believing in what we perceive to be the impossible- or, we can step up and do something about it. One of my favorite quotes is:

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you will land among the stars.
We have to take chances and sometimes our destination isn't what we originally expected. And it's ok to make mistakes- we all do. It doesn't matter where you've been, the only thing that really matters is what you do today and tomorrow.

You can do or be anything you want- just depends only on how hard you're willing to work for your dreams. And no one else can decide what's important to you. So next time someone tells you that you can't do something- don't forget to believe in yourself.

    Adjusting to life in a different country has been difficult-- and I go through my ups and downs. It's strange to think of how fast my first month's gone by though! And my host family is fantastic; they've definitely made me feel incredibly spoiled this Christmas season.  I am starting to go back to being myself and that is nice. So to kick start the new season I've decided to start posting my "Winter Reflections"-- similar to my Fall Confessions.      

Winter weather in Europe is causing a bit of a problem for a lot of people with travel plans! So if you're thinking of flying or taking the train you might be facing a few delays. It hasn't snowed for the last couple of days in Denmark but we still have quite the pile up from the last big snow storm.

I am thankful that my neighbors don't have a singing santa though- I love Christmas music but that would be over the top. So we can all tip our hats in sympathy for the N.J. residents who have to live with Christmas carols 13 hours a day. There really is only two things to do in a situation where someone won't turn off their Santa.

One: Steal it or destroy it in the middle of the night
Pro: No more music
Con: Not a very nice or Christmasy. There is a possibility Santa's owner might have camera's watching and then you're in trouble

Two: Get your own singing Santa and let the duets begin
Pro: Maybe the neighbor will turn their Santa off
Con: Can you imagine having to live with two Santa's that won't shut up?

One the positive side- it is almost Christmas and Santa's days are limited ;)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What to do with the money....

          The month of December can be crazy for the average family; parties to attend, people to see, gifts to buy, houses to decorate, cookies to make, and traditions to keep. It is supposed to be "the happiest time of the year" but a lot of people are relieved when January rolls around and life settle back to normal.

And we spend a lot of money on Christmas too! In the states Christmas shows up earlier and earlier every year. Right after the end of October stores pull out their Christmas decore, the trees go up, and the great season of commercialism begins.  For a different perspective on what we could be doing the Christmas season check this video out:

A friend posted that on her blog and it made me sad! It's terrible when you really see the numbers.

In NYC they are enacting a new tax called the Crash Tax. How the crash tax works depends on whether or not an emergency vehicle is called to the scene of your accident. If it is called to the scene and you are injured or your car catches fire in the accident you will owe the city almost $500 USD. If it is only a car fire and you are not injured, it will run you up $415 USD. If you get into a car accident but you aren't injured, you will have to pay $365.

Let's first think about how much we pay our firefighters. A lot, check. And now let's think of how much we pay them in retirement fees. A lot, check.  And now let's get more complicated and think of the difference between being fiscally responsible and fiscally irresponsible.  Ouch, check. Our national debt is in the trillions, which in my book, points towards fiscal irresponsibility. Perhaps an alternative to the crash tax would be to try being fiscally responsible and stop "punishing" people for getting into accidents.  It's a funny world  when our government spends our money liberally and then turns around and charges us for getting into car accidents.

So moral of the whole story, it's important to be fiscally responsible. Note to self, stop buying clothes. Oh and, just so you know, you will get your suitcase confiscated at the airport if you decide to bring elephant tails, dried hedgehogs and chicken blood into the states. Just saying.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hot Chocoolate

          Stop.Listen has now entered the 21st century!! This is good news! If you have facebook it is completely free to take a couple seconds and click “Like.” So please share the love! Thanks!

It’s still been snowing and snowing here lately and since I have not had to go anywhere, I love it! I've included a pic of the latest dumping. Right now it looks absolutely beautiful outside because the sun finally came up.

One of my favorite winter traditions back at home is hot cocoa. I have memories of sledding and playing outside for a couple hours and then coming inside for a cup of cocoa with marshmallows on top- more the better. I’ve tried different kinds of cocoa from the store but nothing beats my mom’s recipe. It’s easy to make and you can cut down or double the size depending on how many people you are entertaining. It's delicious!

Quick and Easy Hot Chocolate
4 c powdered milk
¼ c +1 T cocoa powder
1 ¼ c cane juice crystals
pinch of salt
10 cups water
2 cups milk, half n half, or cream

In a large stock pot combine everything except the milk. Stir with a wire whisk and heat on medium until all is very hot and dissolved being careful not to boil. Remove from heat and add the milk. Serve in mugs with a few mini-marshmallows on the side
Christmas in Denmark    
In the United States usually the gift and stocking tradition is based on Santa coming down your chimney and bringing you your gifts, ho ho ho. It’s different in Denmark though. Starting the 1st of December the Christmas stockings are put up and every morning the kids awake to see what “the Elves” have brought them. Kinda cute.

My previous TSA post was only talking about airports and such. It sounds like Big Sis wants scanners and TSA checkpoints at bus stations and other various public places. I think we have a bit of a problem... how is treating US citizens like criminals really helping? Obama did promise more jobs and such, so maybe this is his way of helping that one out.

And that's Emily reporting to you from Denmark

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


    So it’s time I shared more about Denmark. December is crazy busy for the typical family because this is the Jule season! So it’s now time I started talking about Denmark’s uniqueness!

First, let’s go over the pate. During my first weekend in Denmark I asked what the dish was and everyone told me pate. It’s sometimes sold in a pan that looks bit like meatloaf, but a lot smaller. One usually puts it cold on toast- I did that a few times over the week. The taste wasn’t too bad yet I couldn’t quite place it. The actual Danish name of the dish is liverpostej, which is pronounced something like Loobastah. I never saw the spelling, just heard it spoken. At one point, I finally had a chance to ask my host mom what it was. Come to find out it is a pig liver dish. Next time it was served I tried it again but somehow I wasn’t able to eat it… I’ve never liked liver and now that I know what pate is, I will be eating a lot less of it. 

    One of my favorite songs by The Killers is Spaceman. As I was listening to their album this afternoon, I started paying attention to the lyrics. At one point the song goes like:
The song maker says, "It ain't so bad"
The dream maker's gonna make you mad
The spaceman says, "Everybody look down"
It's all in your head
Sometimes it makes no difference what is going in your life, often how you feel has everything to do with perspective. Adjusting to some of the Danish culture has been a bit challenging and having one of my favorite Holidays spent away from my family, while hearing about all the fun they had was difficult. As I was sitting there amongst strangers I felt a bit lost. But in a way, that was my choice. I think it’s easier to feel sorry for oneself than to step outside one’s comfort zone. We really are victims of our own perspective. 

Rice Pudding

 Is delicious! The pudding itself is not that sweet but it’s served with a cherry sauce on top- which is delicious. It’s usually a Jule Tradition to place a whole almond into the dish and stir it around. Then, the person who finds the whole almond in his/her bowl gets a present that is normally at the table. I participated in that last weekend and it was fun. I’ll share the recipe next post. It’s yummy! Usually it's made for the evening before Christmas. Interestingly enough, Christmas is celebrated on the 24th of December instead of the 25. 

And that’s Emily writing to you from Denmark. 

Gas is around $8 USD per gallon. Ouch.

One last note- it's been freeezing cold here these last few days and we have quite a bit of snow to show for it. Will be interesting to find out how much we do get before it stops!