Merry Christmas

Year after year I look forward to Christmas for months. Sometimes I get teary eyed thinking about it when I’m alone in my car… in September. I’m not kidding – I don’t even know why Christmas has become such an emotional holiday for me in the past couple of years.

Anyways, this december has been quite stressful for me. Filled with university work, my new job, discovering and learning new things about myself and trying to become the kind of person I want to be. It’s been a struggle but also rewarding and beautiful.

For everyone else who’s having a hard time this holiday season, know that you are not alone. I hope you find peace and quiet moments with the people you love and if you ever need to get something off your chest then feel free to write me a message me wherever, whenever.

Christmas is celebrated on the eve of the 24th in Austria and while I wait for my family to come over to stuff ourselves with Raclette and chocolate fondue, let me quickly share the recipe for the aperitif I’m going to serve in a little while.

 

Cranberry-Pomegranate Sparkler

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Ingredients:

1 cup of pomegranate juice
1 cup of cranberry juice (unsweetened if you can)
juice of one big mandarin (or orange)
about 5 tablespoons of mandarin simple sirup

For the mandarin simple sirup:
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of water
the zest of 1 big mandarin (without the bitter white stuff, so really only super thin layers of the peel!)

How to make the simple sirup:
In a sauce pan put together the sugar, water and mandarin zest. Heat up until it’s boiling and the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool completely.

How to assemble the drink:
Combine the juices and 5 (or more, depending on how sweet you want the mix to be!) tablespoons of the sirup.
Pour into champagne flutes and top of with champagne.

You can chill the juice mix for hours until you’re ready to serve the drink. For the champagne to not mix with the juice I’d recommend pouring the champagne over the back of a teaspoon that’s pressed to the inside of the champagne flute.
As decoration I’ve used rosemary sticks with fresh cranberries.

Recipe adapted from here.

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Christmas Tunes

I’m excited. Excited and super busy but that’s not the point.
I just love Christmas so much, I can hardly find the right words to tell you.

But to get you in the spirit, here are some tunes. Enjoy :)

Have a gorgeous Advent and don’t let the christmas-crazy get to you. Enjoy it and take some time for yourself. It really is the most magical time of the year.

Two hours later and I still haven’t calmed down about that new Band Aid 30 single.

I don’t even have words for it.

Safe to say that even 30 years later the story of Africa as a continent of hunger, death, senseless wars, famine, and despair, is still being perpetuated around the world.
This Ebola themed song is portraying Africa as a helpless little child that needs to be fed, needs to be helped, needs to be healed.
You are feeding into people’s beliefs that Africa needs the great white people come to them and help them out of a crisis again (as it’s mentioned in the song).
Do they know it’s Christmas time in Africa? Well gee, I don’t know? How about you ask the 6.000 million Christians in Africa?

Ebola is real, and the affected countries, (who by the way, don’t include every country in West Africa – just look at Ghana, Benin, Togo etc.) do need support, they do not need, however, your patronizing and uneducated pity.

You think your time qualifies as tax, Bob Geldof? Well how about you record a new fucking song that’s free of all these stereotypes?

I can kind of understand how this song came to be in the 80s. The view on development aid has since shifted. And then shifted again. And again.
Theories and practices have changed, through the media the entire world has come closer together – and yet, this song is still out there. And not just that, it gets newly recorded, and re-written with lyrics that are even worse than the ones in the 80s. And for what? Celebrity publicity?

The original song has always been played at my house. It is catchy and, to me, belongs on my Christmas playlist. But since I understood English well enough to understand what the lyrics mean, and since I acquired enough knowledge on developing countries and development aid, I’ve taken it with a grain of salt. I’ve seen it as a piece of history.
So let it stay there. Let it be played a couple of times a year during Christmas, but please don’t continue to shove it down our throats every 10 years.

It’s time we move on. Move on from this song. Move on from the stereotypes. Move on from senseless pity.

And for those of you who will say “but look at all the money it raised!”: I don’t stand against charity. I stand against those lyrics. I stand against those questionable motives. I stand against people who hear this song and don’t instantly cringe.
Go and donate – it shouldn’t have needed this song for you to do this anyways.

The worst part is that I like how parts of this song is sung. I wish it was horribly done. I wish I wouldn’t have just lost respect for some of my favourite singers.

Sources and Links:
Global Post
Lyrics
The Telegraph
Bob Geldof dismissing criticism
The Guardian

Lately.

The lack of recent blog posts is probably easily explained: Christmas. University. Work. Christmas.

So, if you’re not following me on Instagram, here’s a short recap of what I’ve been up to the past few weeks.

Snow has yet to really make an appearance in Vienna, though we’ve had a little. Still, the forests surrounding my hometown make more than up for it as they’re currently covered in thick frost. It’s truly magical to look at. I took Sargon for a ride in the forest and we even met some deer along the way. It’s like a fairytale. Still, here’s to hoping we do get a little snow until the 24th.

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As mentioned in the last blog post, Vienna during Christmas time is a great place to be. I really cannot say this often enough and I kind of feel bad about not blogging about it more often. In any case, here are some impressions of how the city looked like the past few weeks.

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The weather here wasn’t the best all the time, but let’s be honest, there’s something soothing about rainy days as well.
I tried fighting back with festive nails (Essie’s Shearling Darling and a top coat of golden glitter nail polish) while sipping copious amounts of tea and coffee. It works.

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At home we tried hard to make the house look a bit more Christmasy. We don’t have a tree as we celebrate Christmas at my grandparent’s house, but there are some little things that can be done to get into a festive mood.
I also hosted my annual Christmas party again which was a relaxing evening spent drinking punch and stuffing ourselves with melted cheese and homemade cookies. As it should be, I guess.

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I also started sewing to make my mum’s Christmas presents, using some of the fabrics I brought home from Tanzania and Togo. I’m actually super happy and proud with how it turned out, seeing as I haven’t sat in front of a sewing machine since elementary school. This might be a new hobby.
Kat, of That Kind of Woman posted a recipe idea for brunch on Instagram a while ago and I finally had time to give it a try. It’s safe to say that this will be made more often from now on.
(Bacon then vegetables and basically whatever you fancy on top, before cracking some eggs over it and putting it in the oven)

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Oh, and I also cut off a good bit of my hair.
I don’t regret it at all, this change has been waiting to happen for a while now and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out :)

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I hope your last days before Christmas aren’t too stressful and that you get to enjoy one of the most beautiful times of the year in peace with your loved ones.
I hope I can get one or two more posts up in the next few days, but as mentioned in the beginning… there’s uni. And work. And…. Christmas.

Christmas in Vienna

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Have I mentioned that I think there’s no place more magical during Christmas time than Vienna? It’s the smell and the lights, the cold, crisp air. It’s the frozen fingers, red noses and scarves tied snuggly around your neck. It’s the myriad of Christmas markets on every major street and square. It’s little stands selling roasted chestnuts and roast potatoes. It’s meeting your friends over a mug of hot punch, warming your fingers, and then strolling past the stands giggling over all of the kitschy Christmas ornaments.

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So far I’ve been to two Christmas markets and loved them both. If you’re in Vienna during Christmas time I can recommend the “Weihnachtsdörfer“. There are four of them: one is located on the uni campus (Altes AKH) and another one is stunningly situated between the big museums (Museum of Art History and Museum of Natural History). Then there’s one in front of Belvedere Palace and the last one is in Schloss Hof (this is a palace outside of Vienna. Said to be gorgeous, though I have never been to that Christmas market yet.).
If you’re looking for the ultimate Christmas experience there’s the obvious choice of the famous “Christkindlmarkt” in front of the City Hall. This is one of the biggest (if not the biggest one in Vienna) and offers a lot of different things to do, eat, drink and see. The City Hall serves as a gorgeous backdrop, but the park surrounding it is not to be dismissed, either. Stunning lights all around.
Another one of my favourites is situated in front of the Karlskirche. I went there last year (and cannot wait to go back there this year!) they have cute little stands selling handmade jewelry, and a live Christmas crèche.
Last but not least there’s the Christmas market in front of Schönbrunn Castle. Another quite obvious choice as the location is utterly enchanting. No matter if you want to drink mulled wine or taste your way through the multitude of different punch varieties. If you want some jacket potatoes or roasted almonds. There’s something for everyone.

These are some of the bigger markets but always look out for the smaller ones as well (Spittelberg,  for example, is quite cute!).

The food and drinks are mostly the same everywhere; it’s the location that makes it to a unique experience. I’ve mentioned before that there are a lot of Christmas markets – luckily, there’s more than enough time to visit at least some of them :)
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