Sharing Thanksgiving

Yesterday Tom and I celebrated our first Thanksgiving together, so we decided to invite 30 of our friends over to share it. Brilliant! It was a decidedly international affair, with only 6 Americans in the group, it was the first American Thanksgiving for the vast majority of guests. We tried to create an authentic celebration with all the trimmings and did quite well -- turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce (of course!), carrots, green beans, brussel sprouts, pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie and lots of wine. There were some European additions to the meal that just made it better (and will be my contribution to Thanksgivings in the future). I loved watching people go back for seconds and thirds of everything and then groan about how full they were. If it wasn't for the lack of corn syrup and condensed milk, and the fact that, until Melanie translated for me last night, I didn't understand what my oven was saying, it would have been just like a Thanksgiving back in the U.S. Our friends are lovely and everyone seemed to have a great time. This holiday in particular is so easy to share. I am amazingly happy that we had the opportunity to open up the new place and bring people together on a random Thursday in Amsterdam.

Judging by the pride in my smile, you'd think I actually cooked the turkey instead of having it delivered by the wonderful Small World Catering.

Truly this is the sign of a successful dinner party.

Nothing says "Happy Thanksgiving" more than aryan pilgrim candles made in China!

A helpful hint to diplomats trying to woo their European counterparts: serve stuffing.

Maureen and half wall


And God's quarterback was there too...


Vienna has so much BIG

We were in Vienna at the height of Autumn color.
With so many parks and trees, it was the perfect time to be there.

The butterfly house was super cool.
The inside of the wings of this one have stripes of bright blue.

We ate a sausage snack and had a beer and hot rum punch
at a weiner stand on the center square.
Our bed was the most comfortable I have ever slept in,
and the headboard lit up with giant tea cups.

Owls on the outside of the Successionist building for Grandma Miller.
I bet she saw them too.

Such a lovely weekend in Vienna with Tom. A city that has fascinated me since I saw the charms on Grandma's bracelet, did not disappoint. Bel epoque, neo-classical, baroque , art nouveau over abundance of grandeur. We saw brilliant art, beautiful churches, big ass buildings and more statues than you can shake a stick at. Where else can you pose on a giant bronze Goethe?

Our hotel was fabulous -- modern and really cool, but not smug. The location was perfect, close to everything, and it had a new claw foot tub and a body shower with three heads in a big glass shower closet. We must have spent a good hour geeking out over the coolness of the room -- which is one of the things that makes Tom such a great travel partner.

There was hazelnut torte and sparkling wine at Aida Konditorei on Saturday afternoon, a brilliant show at MUMOK that featured contemporary Chinese art that blew my mind and lots and lots of meat and sauerkraut. And there was accordion music (though they never played "Adelweise," which seemed like a low-hanging fruit that was missed).
I am reading a book about the history of Amsterdam and, coincidentally, was on the chapter about the 19th century while on this trip. While so many cities, Vienna included, were tearing down old sections of town to build massive monuments to excess, Amsterdam was loathe to spend so much money on outward expressions of wealth (and there wasn't much wealth to speak of in the city for the better part of the century). So I went from the austerity of Amsterdam to a city that reminds me of dessert - fluffy icing on a big slice of cake. For the next trip I want to go somewhere that is actually old -- where classical isn't preceded by neo and I don't feel Howard Roark's contempt when looking at anything involving statues of men in wigs, togas or mutton chops.


These figures were installed on the outside of the modern art museum to promote the contemporary Chinese art exhibit going on inside. The show lived up to this coolness.

Close up of figures.

Everything that could have a statue on it, did.

Shiny happy people.

I woke up early so I could see the Venus of Willendorf at the
Natural History Museum without subjecting Tom to my awe.

I have now started calling Tom "Napoleon"

Baroque magic at the Karlskirche and Karlsplatz church.

Tom climbed all the way to the top of the dome for a view of the city and a close up view of the ceiling.
I got about a third of the way up the scaffolding and had to crawl down because my fear of heights (or is it creaky scaffolding?).

They started putting up all the Christmas lights!