Jul i Den Gamle By

Parents lounge at school

Thursday, I started my morning taking the kids to school as usual. This time however, I decided to try out the new Parents’ Lounge while waiting to meet up with a friend, Thefloridane. Our little school is growing by leaps and bounds and this little loungy spot near the office is fabulous! I had a cup of coffee and chats with other moms. Great start to the day.

After coffee and chats we headed up to Århus to explore Den Gamle By  with Christmas trimmings.

widdows house kitchen

Den Gamle By is full of historic homes and structures from around Denmark. The houses and buildings have been relocated to this historical park where you can see people living and speaking the way they would in each era you visit. The first home we went into was once a widow’s’ home in Odense. It was originally located across the street from the Childhood home of Hans Christian Anderson. Here, the 1790’s woman told Thefloridane and I about the home for widowed women.  We stood in the small smoky kitchen as she told us about the early form of socialism. Women who lost their husband and had no family would normally have no place to go. In Denmark, they collected from the wealthy to help house these women.

From there we walked along the cobbled street. The park was full of children on field trips and adults on holiday parties. Slipping down a less busy street we walked along the back of a garden. The same one that was bursting with blooms this summer is now barren and trimmed back. I did enjoy seeing the stacks of flower pots though.

 

After wandering around a bit our tummies were growling like crazy since we missed having breakfast. We popped into a 1920’s general store where the owner filled us in on all sorts of 1920’s information… though he was unable to tell us where to get lunch. We ate here, at Cafeen (the cafe). We should have taken photos of our beautiful lunches and white glogg! (mulled wine)

cafeen entrance

After a long lunch break we walked around a bit more.  Walking into the 60’s and 70’s Disco era we laughed that between the glogg and the disco in the basement we sort of had a MNO (mom’s night out) on a Thursday morning! haha- wooo! Living on the edge…

Despite being a dreary day, we had a nice day exploring old Denmark decked out for Christmas. If you’re visiting Central Denmark, Århus is a great way to spend a good part of a day exploring Danish history from the 1700’s to recent decades.

jule vindu

 

Until next time-

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Border Run

IMG_8297Denmark/German Border

A Brit, Aussie, American, and Korean walk into a mall… haha! No, not a bad joke, just time for another Billund to border run for turkey, booze, and over the counter meds.

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We hit up Citti-Park in hopes of finding just the right snow boots, turkey for American Thanksgiving, cut-rate alcohol, possibly stocking stuffers, and more. We did well. Thankfully, the turkey we came for was purchased. Sadly we didn’t find the cute snowboots half of us were after.

I do recall several flats of Christmas Beer and an obscene amount of nutella.

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Here we are, headed down the escalator with our goods. Had to check the top floor and try out more boots.

Oh geeze! Look at the time! We have to leave Germany and get back to school to pick up the kids!

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I had a fun day with the gals. Racing and riding carts through the parking garage may or may not have happened with cheers and squeals. Looking forward to another girls day shopping no matter which country we’re in.

xo

 

London Visits and the LEGO Hub

LEGO opened a new hub office in central London last year, and I’ve been out twice this summer for meetings and to conduct some focus testing on one of our games. It’s an amazing space with incredible views, and it’s as clean, well-designed, and playful as you’d expect. I’ll let the pics speak for themselves…

LEGO is also experimenting with a new office culture out of the London hub. There are 4 floors, and each one has a different purpose. The main floor has the lobby, a cafe (w/ free coffee and full-time barista!), and general meeting areas and tables. One floor features more meeting rooms and private conference spaces. The other 2 floors are for work – one is for quiet work and one is more relaxed/social.

However, no one has their own desks as we do back in Billund. There are so many different people from across the organization coming and going that you just pick a desk in the morning and work from there. The folks who work out of the office full-time likely sit at the same places each day, but you don’t have the same departmental divisions as we do on the main campus. On the positive side, you potentially get to meet and chat with lots of different folks from across the org, but on the downside you don’t get to display your own models and builds on your desk and personalize your workspace. First world problems!

Here’s one last cool display in the office – a huge lenticular sign on one of the boardroom walls, which changes as you view it from one side or the other. One side features the LEGO company motto, which translates to “Only the best is good enough,” while the other features our company mission, to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. The entire display is built from colored 1×1 ‘cheese’ bricks. An incredible creation for an incredible workplace!

Okay, out of the office and out into the city. I’ve always loved visiting London. There’s a constant juxtaposition of history and modernity. Every building has possibly centuries of history and stories, and if not, it’s ultra-sleek and you have to wonder what once stood there 100, 200, or 1000 years ago. Even the oldest cities in the US are 400 years old or so – most are far more recent.

It’s also the little stuff – everything feels like it does back home, and it’s easy to get around because there’s no language barrier (aside from the superfluous u’s), but it still feels like you’ve stepped into a bizarro version of the US (and they would say the same about us). Different TV shows and music, different flavors of chips (sorry, I mean crisps), different beers, different candies and chocolates in the shops. Obvious stuff like needing to look right instead of left when you cross the street (the crosswalks handily point this out so you don’t get squashed). Also, you can always get killer Indian food in London – something we don’t have a lot of back in Denmark! Here are some of the random shots I snapped around the city in May and July.

Random Food Stuff

It’s been ages since I’ve posted regularly on this blog (it was almost daily when we first got here a year ago!), so let’s get back into the swing of things with one of my favorite topics: food!

Here are some random food events from the past six months that are worth sharing.

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In March, we hosted a Mexican night for some of our good friends – a family from Iceland and another family from South Korea. Not sure how much Mexican food they have had over here, but I think we did it justice (B is from Texas, and we’ve lived in Arizona, Colorado, and California together, so we’ve picked up a few things!).

We made fresh guacamole, fajita-style chicken and beef with onions and peppers, Texas caviar (basically homemade pico de gallo w/ tomatoes, onions, red and yellow peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and black beans – or black-eyed peas since you can actually get them here!). The tortillas and shells were from the shop, but did the trick. We’ll have to try making our own again one day! I even bought some Sol to make some micheladas (spicy beer). Everyone ate until they felt muy gordo, and B and I enjoyed the chance to share some comfort food from home with our international friends.

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I can’t drink wine (wine allergies yay), but I can have mead. (Guess the same histamines aren’t produced during the honey fermentation process.) The bryggeri (brewery) in town (a pretty little shop that carries premium wine, beer, and chocolates) has some, so I treated myself one day. It’s lovely stuff – goes down warm and smooth and tangy-sweet. Not the sort of thing you would think the Vikings would swill out of their horns…

Our Icelandic friends invited us over for an amazing dinner one night of Icelandic lamb in a creamy dijon sauce (so delicious that even B ate it, and she normally doesn’t like lamb). We also got to try an Icelandic delicacy: whale.

Yes, I know that is a touchy subject for some, but I’ve always been curious to try new things. Tried dog in Seoul once too. It’s not easy to simply draw a distinction based on an animal’s intelligence, since pigs are supposed to be even smarter. And I feel bad now about eating octopus.

Anyway, the meat is very dark and rich, like beef. Our hosts marinated some of it in soy sauce and left some plain. It’s given a light sear on the grill, and eaten very rare. It tasted a lot like steak, but with a vaguely fishy flavor. And not gonna lie… it was delicious.

We tend not to eat out a lot, but we’ve been back to the pandakagehuset, or pancake house, at Kvie Sø a number of times because of the rustic atmosphere and fresh air on the patio, not to mention the delicious food and well-curated Belgian beer list. It’s not actually Danish food – they serve sweet or savory Dutch galettes topped with meats, cheeses, and veggies – or just powdered sugar and chocolate for the kids. You can see one above with apple, bacon, and raisins, paired with a Belgian farmhouse ale. It’s also fun to go on a clear day to see which of the property’s feathered guests might be wandering about! The peacock was bussing the tables and clearing off eftover bits of food, while the turkey was just hanging out and trying to look inconspicuous. Hard when you’re a giant bird made of turkey.

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My grandmother used to put pickled herring out with the lox and bagels on Sunday mornings, so I developed a taste for it early on. It’s in every supermarket here, so of course I have to treat myself to it sometimes even though B cannot stand the smell. Goes great with a tart apple and a cold beer! The Danes also like it on rugbrød (rye bread) with karrysauce (curry, mayo, bits of pickle and carrot), but I like it just like this.

IMG_3558The TimeOut hot dog stand in town is one of my favorite comfort treats, but I decided to change it up one day and try a “pulsemix,” which is just a cut up hot dog on top of fries, with a ton of spicy powder and salt dumped on top. Plus ketchup and remoulade. Seems to me like something you would feed to a 6 year old, but it’s very popular here. Anyway, once was enough – it was incredibly salty, and besides, I like the typical Danish hot dog toppings – onions, french fried onion, red cabbage, pickles – too much to go for this option again. Chocolate milk makes everything better though.

I’m a straight-up popcorn and Coke guy at the movies. (All you weirdos noshing on chicken strips and personal pizzas from the concession stand, cut it out!) Danes don’t mess around with their movie snacks though – this is a typical lobby area at a movie theater. Lots of gummy and licorice-based treats we don’t get at home – the salty and non-salty kind too.

IMG_4073Our Korean friends invited us for dinner one night. The kids got kimbap, which are like sushi rolls, but with hot dog and fresh veggies inside. The adults enjoyed bibimbap with homemade bulgogi. I love love love Korean food, and there’s none to be had anywhere near here, so to have our Korean friends make us a homemade meal was a real treat! Afterwards we made some jars of kimchi, which I was so grateful to have in the fridge for the short time until I devoured it all!

I’m really grateful for the lunch buffet at work – every day brings new surprises, and sometimes unintentional hilarity. Kudos to the chefs since English is not their first language (and I am still slowly progressing with my Danish), but you have to laugh at stuff like ‘egg condition’ and whatever the hell an ‘Animal Doctor Midnight Snack’ is. Would love to know the story behind that one. Do all veterinarians get up the wee hours to snack on leverpostej and corned beef on rugbrod with onions? Brush your teeth before you go back to bed!

Odense Zoo

tiger boys 2

Yesterday, the boys and I headed to Odense to check out the zoo. They had gotten free tickets in a kids meal one day while shopping, and I figured that it was a good way to knock out a summer day. I planned to get there between rain storms. It sort of worked.

We arrived a pretty soggy bit, but fared ok during the day. Thankfully, I wore galoshes and managed to convince the kids (well, forced them) to wear waterproof jackets. They REFUSE to wear “rain trousers”…  I think rain trousers would make playing FUN… I get it though, the word trousers freaks me out… but saying pants around English folk is confusing. “Put on your rain pants” translates to “put on your rain undies”! But I digress… Back to the zoo.

First we saw tigers. One tiger by himself, and then as we circled around, we saw cubs! Naturally, when I went to take a picture, momma tiger had to go potty… But I managed another without her. Seriously though, poor tiger. When ya gotta go, ya gotta go, and because of her cute kids, there are always people standing around.

mom tiger poops

tiger cubs playingSo here are the cute kids. A third was sweetly peering over a felled tree at a safe distance.

Next, we came to the giraffe house. We were about to pass through because it was empty, but this wall of pacifiers caught my attention. What IS this?!?! I read one of the postcards attached to one of the germ garlands ,and my suspicions were correct. Danish tots donated their binkies to the baby giraffes for when they are feeling brave enough to be a big boy/girl.

binkies for giraffe baby

Later in the day, the sky-water stopped long enough for my two less-furry apes to climb on what looked like something designed for the chimp house. Every zoo should incorporate playground structures throughout. It really helps kids to stay interested and not complain about being tired. (So does food… E munched lots of carrots along the way)

boys outside manatee houseThis gorgeous mural was at the entry to where the tapirs lived. Beyond that, a structure that contained a tropical house with manatees, tiny monkeys, a sloth and more, as well as an arctic penguin house! We had to do this one twice. Perfect because the first time was super-crowded, and the second time we were nearly the only ones there. Cool!

max and tapir

Manatee Menagerie

 Monkey, Monkey, Sloth, Monkey

During our first trip to the manatee tank, we saw a lot of bubbles. Our suspicions when we went back! I missed the photo proof, but here’s a shot of the residual bubbles. Take our word for it when we say we *know* that those bubbles are in fact manatee farts. Have you SEEN how much cauliflower they can eat? M felt that this was important to share here, by the way. Note the bubbles raising from the underside of the manatee. I think it noticed our talking and stares and giggles because it turned and swam away. Sorry manatee.

manatee 8 last of the fart bubbles

The kids really loved the penguin exhibit. The walk from the warm tropic environment toward the penguins was dark, and the temperatures plummeted. We wound our way up the dark ramp where we found a wall of ice. The kids thought that was pretty awesome. How is it here? WHY is it here? It was apparently great fun to touch the ice as long as you could then slap your cold wet hand onto your brother’s face or neck to see if they would let out a shrill cry. Yep, worked every time.

Inside the penguin house, there were boulders for the kids to climb on and slide down. Penguin life seems pretty cool to kids. Clamber up, lay on your belly and slide down the cold bumpy rocks. I noted some funny behavior between two penguins. One was sitting on a “nest” and seemed uncomfortable. The other penguin, a bit smaller (male?) seemed to be a nervous wreck. You could tell that they wanted to do SOMETHING, but weren’t sure what to do. Maybe they wanted to be on the egg?

Then the penguin on the next nest moved to reveal a teeny baby penguin! It seemed unsure of what to do with this thing that was no longer in an egg. It wasn’t still. She/he waddled a foot over a bit and stretched its beak down to push an egg toward their feet and the chick. It was the empty egg shell! It seemed in shock. (I can totally relate.) Now what?!

The kids stopped rock surfing a moment to see the baby penguin. They seemed less impressed than I was. LOOK! Look at it! It’s a baby penguin! In real life! Just a few feet away behind that glass! Isn’t it cool?! Amazing!?! …. All I got was ” mom, watch this!” and “Watch ME mom, watch ME!”….”Yeah mom, its cute… WATCH THIS” (slides down faux boulders complete with painted on penguin poop)

monkey house aka butt house

Lastly, we hit up the monkey house. M was more interested in the climbing wall and curious as to why there were butts on the wall. Butts? Half of this monkey house was in fact dedicated to hineys! Looks like I missed the 3D butts in jeans and Odense zoo t-shirts. There were adult, child and tot sizes… I’m not sure if you were meant to compare those to the little monkeys in the glass house? Oh well, no time like the monkey house to expose your kids to a pimpled hairy man-butt in a thong.

So during this rainy afternoon at the zoo, we learned a lot of answers. Let us take a moment to recap…

  • Does a tiger cover their potty like a house cat? Yes. Yes they do. With 20 onlookers and pouncing cubs. Even tiger moms can’t go to the bathroom without kids interrupting.
  • If a manatee farts in water, will anyone know? Yes. Yes they will. Particularly if they are 8, 5, or 38 years old.
  • If a fussy tot drops her binky in the waterfall that leads to the manatee pool, will she been seen with the same binky again later that afternoon? Yes. Yes she will. IN. HER. MOUTH. Someone didn’t have a successful trip to the giraffe house! ;D
  • Butts are funny until they are in your face unexpectedly.

Connect Billund

Connect Billund kickoff meeting rachel

This spring, I began to wonder… what will be doing in Denmark? J is enjoying work, the kids were settled into school. I had us moved in. Now what? I couldn’t just shuttle the family about. I need a job.

My former neighbor and I had been chatting via Facebook Messenger, and she told me about WeWork.com and said maybe I could do something similar. Fantastic idea! I spoke to my friend and neighbor about it. She too was looking for some work, but was applying to summer season jobs to start bringing in some additional income. A couple of weeks later, she spoke to me about an idea a mutual friend had about applying for government funding in our area to assist those settling into the area.

The next thing I know, the three of us are putting together an application for funding to be awarded to a group or organization that helps newcomers integrate and find work. That’s exactly the focus of our group. There are so many supporting partners in our community that desire to feel more connected with the community, and of course to find gainful employment.

We were fortunate (and super stoked!) to receive a good portion of the funding, and that has allowed us to move forward with our desire to connect our lovely community further. There are so many resources here. Danes are big on joining clubs, and you can find a club for just about any interest. It’s fantastic! However, finding those clubs isn’t always so easy when you’re new and do not speak the language.

Connect Billund has been well received in the community as we have been planning and organizing. Local community staffers have been helpful in connecting us with the right people, providing information and help whenever possible, and showing up to events to help out. We are so thankful. Things have been falling into place. There has been a need to connect newcomers to the community, and the community is quite open to it. Connect Billund serves to bring everyone together.

We currently have 110 members on our facebook page and generally have about 20 people show up to our starter meetings. July is pretty quiet here with people on holiday so we have planned our first events in August.

We have an excellent autumn and early winter schedule planned, with events from a society fair (come see what all those clubs are and join up!), an HR talk covering CVs and help updating them, how to buy a house, how to pay your taxes, how to use the electronic mail box you’re assigned, a cultural talk, and more. Each month will also have some drop-in sessions that may follow up on the earlier topic that month or just provide a place for folks to come together to work on projects, socialize, work on CVs, applications, or any other work.

Our long term goal includes having a place like WeWork here in Billund. Something easy for locals to join, and available for the working travelers who may need a space to work or to have meetings other than their hotel or the offices they are visiting.

We have kept quite busy in the last couple of months with meetings in the kommune, LEGO, and working with other resources to line up guest speakers, help with our set up, etc. It’s a great time to be new in Billund. There is a lot of growth and improvement in the works from so many angles, and it’s great to see communication happening.

So, while I’m still on my quest to find out what it is I will do in Denmark, I have plenty to keep me busy, active, and involved. I love the gals I get to work with, and together we get to meet all sorts of interesting people from around the globe.

If you happen across this and you are living in the Billund area, search for Connect Billund on Facebook and join our group.

6 Months in Denmark!

Wow, how has it been 6+ months already? After more than a year of wondering, hoping, planning, packing, and then finally moving over in October, we have settled into our new life here in the small Danish town of Billund, and we are happy we made the leap. There were challenges at first, of course, but you expect that whenever you move somewhere new.

It also helps that we are now into the best time of year here in Denmark – green grass, buds on the trees, daffodils and tulips popping up everywhere, and blue skies on most days. (Well, sometimes). The sun doesn’t go down until around 10pm, and in midsummer it will be even later! Quite the change from when we arrived in late fall and all through the winter, when it quickly turned gray and gloomy, with lots of rain and wind and hail – and unfortunately not as much snow (which helps to brighten things up for the short time it remains on the ground.)

I’ll be honest, it’s not pretty around here in the dark season – everything is drab and mucky and it’s just cold and meh. The Danish tradition of hygge certainly helps – we really got into the feeling of “coziness” that the Danes use to ward off the winter blues: warm drinks, rich foods (roast pork, herring w/ curry sauce, caramel potatoes, æbleskiver w/ powdered sugar and jam), time spent with friends, and lots of candlelight glowing off of white walls. Still, all of that is months away, so we are going to enjoy the summer for as long as it’s here. It never gets hot, at least not compared to Pennsylvania, Texas, or certainly not Arizona. Right now it’s in the mid 60s and breezy, which is perfect.

We’re finally settled into our house, which we’ve also fixed up to be nice and hygge (though the boys’ rooms need serious organization). We purged most of our furniture and belongings when we left California, but we’re still getting rid of stuff. No closets and limited storage, but to be honest, we are finally happy to have less stuff weighing us down. (We still have more to get rid of!)

The house is also a short bike ride from the kids’ school and my office. I haven’t even driven a car since we left California, since we have a manual and somehow I’ve made it to manhood without ever learning how to drive one. No matter, as I really enjoy going to and fro on the bike – much more enjoyable than being stuck and crowded on the BART from San Francisco to the East Bay. Plus it takes all of 10 minutes to get home from work – which promptly ends at 4. (Work/life balance is a big deal here.)

I can’t say too much about my job at LEGO, but I will say that I am loving it and it is everything I hoped it would be. Working on a few very exciting game projects, one of which will hopefully be announced soon. Love my team – lots of bright, funny, passionate and experienced professionals from all areas of the videogame industry and from within LEGO. We’re all super busy juggling the LEGO games portfolio and are rarely all in the office together. I’ve traveled more in the past 6 months for work than I ever did at any of my previous jobs: trips to New York, LA, Munich, Manchester (5 times so far), and Helsinki, with more trips planned for London, Oslo, and New York (again). However, we all still make time to hang out, do the occasional group building project, and play games online (current fave: Helldivers), or our Friday lunch at the pizzeria down the street, which is affectionately called “going dirty.”

B, the boys and I have also done some travel and exploring together, mostly within driving distance so far: Hamburg, Aarhus, Ribe, Copenhagen, plus our trip to Spain over Christmas. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve already seen all of that.

I’m also really happy to see how quickly B and the boys have settled in as well. We’ve moved a lot in the past 10 years (3 houses in Phoenix, then to Boulder, then to San Francisco), but this was the easiest transition so far – despite being by far the largest move. This is not only because we’re in the “Expat Bubble” here, but also in the “LEGO Expat Billund Bubble.” Life is smoother in the bubble than it would be had we moved to a small town without many internationals around. It’s been very easy to make friends here, since most people here are also from elsewhere. We regularly hang out with friends from Iceland, Australia, South Korea, the UK, a few Americans, and some Danes of course, and the boys have made lots of pals as well.

They also really enjoy school – sometimes it is difficult to get them out of there at the end of the day! They are always deep into some kind of art or design project, getting completely filthy out on the playground, or inside building LEGO (the company sponsors the school and there’s a heavy LEGO/Mindstorms presence in the classrooms).

It took B and I a bit to adjust to the curriculum and education philosophy at the school, since it’s not only a Danish school, but also an International Baccalaureate program as well (which I did during my jr/sr years in high school, so at least I was a bit familiar). It’s similar to the Montessori school of thought where kids are encouraged to pursue interests and do hands-on projects, within an overall structure that the entire school follows.

The kids have done units of inquiry (as they are called) on signs and symbols, housing through the ages, and are now focusing on lifecycles and biology. Each UoI presents opportunity for discussions, lessons, and projects in a variety of disciplines, so that the kids get a more holistic experience rather than switching between individual subjects. Hardest thing for us to get used to is the lack of homework – we appreciated the organized structure and weekly homework folders at the boys’ school in California (which was in an advanced and competitive school district). It let us stay informed on what M was doing each week, and gave us opportunities to track his progress and help him out. Here, the academic pace is more relaxed, and there’s no homework at all – it’s all handled at the end of the school day. We do receive emails about the weekly class lessons and projects though, so that helps us stay involved at home with discussions and supplementary reading or videos.

As for B, I’ll let her cover her days in her own post, but she has good friends she hangs out with often. She frequently gets out and about, popping over to nearby cities like Vejle, Kolding, or sometimes Odense. (IKEA!) Although she has only just started to look for work, she has recently started a networking group in town with two friends, and it’s already getting a big response. Go B!

Finally, we are both taking Danish classes twice a week. It is correctly considered one of the world’s most difficult languages – omg why don’t they pronounce half of their consonants? We are doing well, though. We have the same teacher, who we love, but B goes in the mornings twice a week and I go in the evenings. Usually only 6 to 8 people in class, and we are all from different countries: Iran, India, Greece, Portugal, Australia, S Korea, the UK, and two of us from the States (and we both grew up 30 min away from each other!) I don’t know that B and I will ever be fully conversant – plus we never get the chance, as the Danes like to switch to English as soon as they hear you mangling their words. Maybe within a year I will at least be able to translate most of the mail I get from the kommune (local government) and the bank without painstakingly typing it into Google Translate.

There are of course things we miss from life back home – convenience stores, take-out Chinese, closet space, a garbage disposal, being able to shop on a Saturday past 3pm, a tax rate below 50% – but those are small prices to pay for adventure, travel, a quiet, clean, and safe place to live, and the experiencing of being part of an international community. (Oh, and 50% off LEGO at the employee shop.) We miss our family and friends of course (and our dog!), but Facebook and FaceTime have made that very easy to stay in touch and talk often. And hey look, we’ve even kept up this blog for 6 months! (Though I am overdue on a few other entries).

After work today, I rode my bike over to LEGOLAND to meet up with B and the boys and some of our friends. On the way home (they drove), I stopped and took some pics of our town, so here’s a little tour:

Belated post on our First Thanksgiving in Denmark

(originally written around Nov 28th) Oops! Time flies when you’re having fun!

Last weekend, I went to do some shopping on the German border with two other American gals. We had a wonderful day and found TURKEY for our Thanksgiving feast. It is common for Danes to go shopping in Germany for soda, beer, and candy. You could compare these trips to an American “Costco run,” except that we drive 1 1/2 hours and cross into another country. I now understand why SO MANY Danes have hitches on their cars and pull little trailers behind them.

2 Turkeys, a turkey breast, wine… and more wine…

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were purchased in Germany as well as cranberries, Advent calendars, St. Nicholas goodies. I honestly can’t remember what all we got now, but the car was completely full and weighted down in the back.

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Flash forward to this week. Thanksgiving is obviously not celebrated in Denmark… So it’s business as usual. While our family and friends were posting their travels, shopping, and decorating, we were still working, schooling and such. Which is fine, that’s the case for many Americans too – business as usual, but it was a bit harder to realize it is Thanksgiving. So thanks to those that work on holidays! Wednesday, I made pumpkin cookies and lots of fluffy kugel topped with fresh Indonesian cinnamon that friends sent from their local shop in Seattle. YUM! Incredible.

Thursday, I took the family to school and work as usual, and then headed back home to get ready & load the car. I picked up the key to the “Big House” at the LEGO apartments in town, and unloaded my gear and got to work setting up with Leah. We got tables arranged & decorated and commenced with the cooking -some there, and some cooking done back at our houses.

Lars and Leah arrived with the grill and turkeys, and then things really started to get busy with preparing the birds. We also had the challenge of figuring out that the only way the cook top would work was with the magic pots that go to the cook top. Interesting. Then there was the usual sorting out of what to heat and when, and all of the details that go into preparing a feast for 24 people and hoping it was all choreographed well.

We had a lovely evening with many of our new friends, as well as a Danish nanny for one of the families, and also Julie and Michelle, who were here on business over Thanksgiving from the US.

We are thankful for such an open, welcoming and active expat community, and the cooking talents they share. Thanks guys!

Love to our families and friends in the US celebrating Thanksgiving and starting the Holiday season.
x

Ribe Excursion

Last weekend we made a quick day trip to Ribe – the oldest town in Denmark! It’s on the western coast of Jutland (the part of Denmark where we live) and was only an hour’s drive from Billund.

We started by exploring the streets of Ribe a bit and checking out some of the Christmas Market stalls. A kind woman in the most adorable Christmas elf hat chatted with us awhile, and explained that she represented the museum store. She thought we might enjoy the Viking Museum with the kids on this (very!) cold day. After exploring a bit, we headed off toward the museum, with fussing child in tow.

Here are a few shots of our arrival in town.

Once we were good and cold, we found our way to the Viking Museum. Good place to warm up on a cold day!

J may have more to share about this trip – I know we all look forward to going back with visiting family in warmer months. There is much to do and see in the summer months and there is so much more for us to see.