Friday, December 18, 2015

Glögg / Glühwein Recipe: A Swedish & German Christmas Tradition

Mulled Wine Recipe
Christmas markets in Berlin, Germany last year
Three years ago, Nick and I hosted our first Christmas party in Minneapolis, and at this Christmas party he introduced me to a marvelous Christmas drink by the name of Glögg (Swedish) or Glühwein (German). Ever since then, and especially after the last two years at Christmas markets in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and Paris, this has become a Christmas tradition of ours! In any case, now that we are back home in the U.S. and have made this for a Christmas party here, I figure it is about time to share our recipe!


  • 2 bottles red wine (Barefoot Cabernet works excellent, but it is up to you! Cheap is just fine, as long as you enjoy the wine normally it will be great!)
  • 1 bottle sweet white wine (Barefoot Moscato is what we use!)
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 cup sugar (more or less depending on taste)
  • optional: 1-2 cups vanilla flavored vodka (more or less, depending on taste & desired strength)
Step 1: Combine wines in large saucepan.
Step 2: Halve orange and lemon, squeeze juice into wine mixture. Be careful not to get lemon seeds in mixture!
Step 3: Add cinnamon sticks, raisins, almonds, and sugar. 
Step 4: Bring to a rolling boil. Once boiling, turn heat down and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste glögg, adding sugar as necessary to sweeten.
Step 5: Remove from heat. Add vodka just prior to serving. 

So there you have it with a delicious, authentic Swedish Glögg recipe! As you can see, glögg is relatively easy to prepare and only takes 20 minutes or so to whip up. It is the perfect holiday drink, and will make any room truly smell like Christmas! 

Now, for those of you who are confused, or have experienced glögg or glühwein yourself, you may be wondering if they are actually the same drink? In short, no, they are not. Both are a hot, spiced, mulled wine drink. Both glögg and glühwein have a wine base and spices added, but after this point the similarities end. Key differences between glögg and glühwein: glögg will typically have vodka added, while glühwein will typically have brandy added. Glögg will be heavier and have more sugar added, while glühwein is lighter, has more spices, and has less sugar added. 

It is important to note that depending where you are in Europe, and which recipe is followed, there can be other differences! I've experienced glühwein that does not have the added raisins and almonds. Personally, this is my preference, and I always strain these out of my holiday drink. This is most certainly a recipe that you can experiment with and change up based on your personal preferences. For those of you who have tried glögg or glühwein before, what is your preference? To anybody who hasn't tried glögg before, what are you waiting for? Whip up a batch today!

**If you liked this post, please pin it!**

Gluhwein Recipe

Saturday, December 12, 2015

My Top Travels of 2015

December is always a great month to do some reflection on the last year. Personally, this last year was a big one- personally, professionally, and certainly in terms of travel! I only visited two new countries, but was able to explore a lot more around my home turf right here in the U.S. Without further ado, here are my top travel moments in 2015!
Our spectacular view in Riga, Latvia
The other evening at wine club, a question was posed to Nick and I of which our favorite travel destination within the past year. I think I surprised not only him, but myself as well, when I instantly responded Riga. I don't know exactly what it was that prompted me to instantly respond with Riga. Perhaps it is the fact that Riga was such a unique destination for us, unlike anywhere else we had been. Perhaps it is that Riga is not thought of as a tourist-y destination. Perhaps it is the fact that we had a terrific long (truthfully, short) weekend traveling to, exploring, and traveling from Riga. Whatever it is, I absolutely I adored my time there. For anybody that ever has the opportunity to take a similar trip that Nick and I did, I highly recommend it! We traveled on a 12-hour ferry to Riga, had a full day there, and then headed back to our original destination. What a great way to explore new places!

Cobblestone streets of Stockholm, Sweden
Some people might argue that traveling to Stockholm doesn't really count as travel, as I was living just an hour outside of the city. Truthfully, I don't care what others say- because Stockholm is one of my favorite cities in the world, and I traveled there frequently, it counts as one of my top travels of 2015. February was my last visit to the city, when I traveled and met one of my family members whom I hadn't seen in years there. I was able to show him the city from an insider's perspective, giving him little facts and tidbits about the city that only somebody with intimate knowledge of it might know. I will always treasure the time I spent with him (and previous family members in 2014!), showing him around one of my new home cities.

After the hockey season, Nick and I were able to spend two weeks relaxing in the Dominican Republic. From scuba diving to zip lining, we did it all! I think scuba diving was both of our favorite activity. When we weren't on the go, absolutely nothing could beat lounging on the beach, fruity cocktail in hand, and watching the ocean waves roll.

The High Trestle Trail Bridge in Madrid
This post absolutely wouldn't be complete without a brief mention of Iowa. Certainly, I had never anticipated moving to Iowa - and certainly not this year! Nonetheless, we have ended up in this state. While Iowa may not be at the peak of your travel list, there are certainly some worthwhile things to do. Check out my posts on Des Moines and Jasper Winery for some more of my travels while living here in Iowa!

Hiking in LA
The month of July brought me to California for my very first time! I spent several days visiting a friend in LA, touring the area and going on gorgeous hikes. Oh, what a trip it was! While LA was not my favorite place in the world, it was so terrific to visit old friends. After LA came several days in Napa Valley, which for any wine-lover like myself is an absolute must! I can't wait to continue exploring new wine regions and vineyards around the world.

Lake Coeur D'Alene in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho
September took me to the beautiful city of Coeur D'Alene in Idaho. I've mentioned this before on here, but years ago I had heard that Coeur D'Alene was supposed to be stunning. When the opportunity came for Nick to take a work trip here, I tried to convince him to take me with. He didn't believe me on the gorgeousness of this city originally. Luckily for me, he did some research, discovered I was right (as always!), and just a few days before our anniversary that he revealed he was surprising me with a trip there. The rest, truthfully, is history as I quickly fell in love with this stunning city!

This year will wrap up with trips to Minneapolis and Northern Minnesota - Bemidji and Duluth, specifically. How was your year in travels, and what was your favorite destination?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Currently // December Edition

Well, December is officially here and in full swing! It has been awhile since I've done one of these posts, so lets catch up on life lately around here!

Relishing: The fact that last weekend, Nick and I were able to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with both of our families. We hosted dinner at our condo, and had such a great time spending the holiday with family after the last several years abroad!

Anticipating: An extremely busy next 10 weeks! I have decided to double up on my MBA course load, so am taking two classes now- in addition to working full-time and running this blog! It will be an interesting, and busy, 10 weeks while I work on my courses. Fortunately, they are both marketing courses- in my field of choice- so I should at least enjoy them!

Experimenting: With new dinner recipes! Neither of us have a ton of time to prepare meals, but we are trying to find healthy, quick dinner options. If you've got any recommendations, send them my way!

Laughing: About this funny picture from tailgating for the Gopher football game last weekend! What started as a cute family picture with my brother, Goldy (school mascot) and myself, quickly turned into one of my favorite pictures as of recently!

Watching: Quantico and Blindspot. Both of these are great new TV shows, and I've become absolutely hooked! Of course, this is in addition to my typical TV shows of Scandal, The Blacklist, and Homeland. Good thing a couple of these (and Suits!) are on winter break right now or I wouldn't have time for anything but TV!

Collecting: Everyone's Christmas & holiday cards! Holiday cards are always one of my favorite things to receive and catch up with friends and family. Then again, I love any type of mail that isn't a bill!

Last year's pic, but skating with Nick is always a blast!
Enjoying: coaching hockey! Nick and I joined a hockey league down here on Wednesday evenings. Usually right before our hockey, the squirts (8-10 year olds) are out skating, and I've seen several girls out there. I talked with a couple of the other coaches and I'm going to start skating with them whenever I am able, just as a way to be present for the female hockey community. Yesterday was a blast and I'm looking forward to doing it more often!

Exploring: Different destinations for a quick getaway in the beginning of March for Nick and I. With both of us being busy at work and now my additional class load, our next trip might have to wait until my semester break! The countdown to March is certainly on!

Buying: Christmas presents. I'm late to the game (in my opinion!) this year and haven't yet completed my shopping. Hopefully I'll be able to do this by the end of next week!

And that is about it for me! I'm not going to lie, it's been quiet around here for awhile - all for good reason! Now, if you can stay patient with me, I promise one of these days I'll get around to telling a few stories. In the meanwhile, entertain me- what is going on in your life? Is everyone ready for the upcoming holidays?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks

This year, I have the pleasure of hosting Thanksgiving at home, with both my family and Nick's in attendance. This will be the first Thanksgiving in three years that either of us have had at home, and the first Thanksgiving (or really, any holiday) in three years that we have gotten to spend with our families. So today, I am spending this precious time enjoying family moments and celebrations. However, I wanted to also take some time to reflect on these past six months!

A few days ago, I posted about various things that I miss about living in Europe. While there are certainly aspects of living in Europe that I miss, there are many parts about being back home that I love! In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am going to take some time to reflect on all of the things I am thankful to have been able to be a part of over these last 6 months back in the U.S.!

Historic Grainbelt sign in Minneapolis, Minnesota
This year, I am thankful to have been able to spend many weekends in my hometown of Minneapolis. Most of my family and friends still live in Minneapolis, and it is so great to be able to have a homeless in this beautiful city!

Family at the Color Run Minneapolis!
I'm thankful for all of the time that I have been spending with family this summer and fall. We've done tons of fun events, such as the Color Run, in addition to our usual family dinners and nights out!

Anniversary Celebrations with my love in Coeur D'Alene
I'm thankful for my husband and the amazing 2+ years we have had as a married couple. Thank you for being my partner in everything that this life has to offer, and for always going the extra mile with me! I'm thankful for his patience, his support, and the love he gives me.

Wedding celebrations with my best friend!
I'm thankful that being home this year means I have been physically here for my friends. I was able to attend several weddings this fall that I would not have been able to if I was in Sweden. I'm also very excited that my best friend just got engaged and I will be able to celebrate her engagement with her in just a few days over this holiday weekend!

Stillwater Harvest Fest - or Pumpkin Fest - with my family!
Each year for the last 6 or 7 years, my Dad has grown giant pumpkins and entered them in a contest in October in Minnesota. This year, I was able to attend the contest and enjoy some great family time with my family!

Lily bulldog!
I'm thankful that this year I have had plenty of time to snuggle with Lily, our adorable English bulldog. Prior to this summer, I knew that she liked any food, beer, and whiskey- it was only recently that I learned how much she wanted to try champagne! Check out the tongue on that girl!

My Mom visiting me in Des Moines!
Just a couple of weeks ago, my Mom had some extra vacation time and used it to come visit me in Des Moines. I know it wasn't quite as exciting as the last few years when she has visited in Sweden and we have traveled throughout Europe, but it is always great to see her. Mom, your unwavering support and love means more than you know, and I'm so thankful for your friendship!

Hiking while in Hermosa Beach, California
Another thing that I am thankful for this year is all of the new and different travel experiences I have had. Perhaps I may no longer be traveling and exploring Europe, but there are still plenty of terrific places to explore right here in the U.S. I visited a friend in Los Angeles this summer, toured and tasted my way through Napa Valley, and relaxed while in Coeur D'Alene, in addition to spending time in Minnesota and Wisconsin. And this is all just in the last six months, not to mention two amazing weeks in the Dominican Republic!

All in all, I certainly have a lot to be thankful for this year. It might not be where I had expected I would be, but often the unexpected parts of life turn out to be the best! Here is to wishing each and every one of you a happy and memorable Thanksgiving, wherever you will be celebrating!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

What I Miss About Living in Europe

It's been almost six months to the day since Nick and I decided we were officially not going back to Europe to live (and work!) for another year. Now that I have some distance from it, I figure it is a great time to examine all of the things I miss about living in Europe!

1. Cheap travel. Oh, was travel ever cheap. Routinely I was able to find flights to anywhere in Europe for less than $100, and on my time schedule!

2. The history and culture. It seems like everywhere you turn in Europe, you are learning a new and interesting piece of history. Living in Europe was like being transported back in time and learning from my history books all over again... and the culture!

3. Friends that became family. Because I was so far from family, the friends I made while in Europe truly became family. We celebrated holidays and birthdays together, and made it through tough times together. All said and done, when you are living in another country your relationships deepen and you really learn who your friends are.

4. Visiting new and exciting destinations, constantly. Germany, Norway, Sweden, Czech Republic, Latvia...when you combine a laid-back pace of life with the amazingly cheap travel, I was constantly on the go and exploring a new cultural destination. Each one was different, and each one was amazing.

5. Learning a new language. I'm not fluent in Swedish, and chances are I never will be. However, I loved the daily interactions I would have in Swedish, and trying to deepen my understanding of the language. Back in the U.S., it just isn't as easy to continue learning- although, I am trying!

6. Kebabs. I have a love for kebabs, specifically the kycklingtallrik from Michel's in Karlskrona. This is by far one of my favorite foods in the world, and I cannot wait to get back one day and have it again!

7. Christmas markets. One of the best parts about the holidays in Europe are most certainly the Christmas markets. Personally, my favorite Christmas markets were in Germany...but from my experiences and living vicariously through other's experiences, the Christmas markets everywhere are awesome and have so much to offer!

8. Beautiful architecture. Each and every city that I explored had so many beautiful buildings and architectural details. CONTINUE WITH THIS

9. Basement pubs. I've said it before and I'll say it again, one of my favorite aspects of living in Sweden close to Stockholm was visiting the hole-in-the-wall basement pubs that have existed for hundreds and hundreds of years. To me, there was just something so cool about embracing the atmosphere and feeling the history of these pubs. It just can't be replicated here!

10. The laid-back atmosphere. In Europe, the pace of life just seemed a little bit slower and more relaxed. There was no pressure to move at a million miles an hour, and it was nice to take things a bit slower.

11. Cafes & fika. To go with the laid-back atmosphere, Europe (and Sweden specifically!) has amazing little cafes. In Sweden, we went for "fika" almost daily, and just relaxed over a nice cup of coffee or tea and chatted about life. Fika was such a great mid-day break and way to get out of the house, and I truly miss it!

Being back home in the U.S. has certainly been so wonderful, and I am loving the proximity to friends and family. It is different from my last two years though, and I'll be honest- quite an adjustment. It's part of the reason that things around here have been fairly quiet lately, and it's hard to put into words. But, now that I'm fully adjusted to life back here in the good old U.S., I promise to be around here more! For anyone else that has made the move over to Europe and then back again, what do you miss the most about your European lifestyle?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hiking & An Afternoon Picnic in CDA

A piece of my heart is in CDA!
I never thought that visiting Idaho would be at the top of my bucket list, but I am so glad it was a trip I made and I know I'll be returning! By now, it has been a few months since Nick and I visited Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. The trip overall was so great, but my absolute favorite activity while staying in CDA was hiking Tubb's Hill. Of course, there are so many other great things to do- think kayaking, canoeing, and strolling the beautiful streets of the town. No matter the activity, hiking was my absolute favorite, and I've been so excited to share some beautiful pictures with you!

view from Tubb's Hill in Coeur D'Alene
I was able to go on several different hikes while visiting, and hiking Tubb's Hill was absolutely the best hike in Idaho! I hiked it at least once a day, each time with different routes...and each time determining that the current visit was better than the last! My first hike was just a quick solo hike for about 45 minutes while Nick got some work done- so I was just strolling looking for future opportunities. Tuesday, Nick and I went on a beautiful hike and had a picnic in the middle of the woods. Wednesday, I had around two hours by myself and barely made it halfway through the hike, there were so many great photo opportunities! Let's take a look at all of the beautiful sights hiking in CDA has...

checking out the scenery while on a solo hike
Saw some turkeys while hiking up the hill!

Nick and I had decided that the perfect afternoon for our anniversary would be hiking up Tubb's hill and stopping for a picnic along the way. Once we got tired of hiking, we paused to take a break and have some snacks! Of course, I had packed some champagne...

Because really, what anniversary is really an anniversary without some celebratory champagne? After our picnic, it was time to keep moving along the trail.

"The Kick" inspired by Fredrik Eklund
At the top of Tubb's Hill, I wanted to take a break from hiking and attempt "The Kick". For those of you who haven't seen Fredrik Eklund on Million Dollar Listing, you might not know what I'm talking about. Long story short, Fredrik Eklund is a Swedish entrepreneur who moved to the U.S., began a real estate business, and since then is one of the most successful real estate salesmen in the world. He wrote an incredible book, "The Sell", that I highly recommend to everybody and anybody! Eklund is also famous for his high kick, which I had to try duplicate.

After about a million high kick attempts and fails, I was quite warm so stripped off my sweater and was shaking my hair out when Nick snapped the above picture... #HairGoals!

playing while hiking in CDA!
Looking out over Lake Coeur D'Alene

As with many travel opportunities in life, the pictures here really don't do Coeur D'Alene justice. My best advice would be to book a trip for yourself so you can see the beauty live in person!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Multidimensional Milwaukee

After a few weeks off, I'm back and (hopefully!) better than ever! Fortunately for me, being sick waited until just after my amazing trip to Milwaukee the last weekend of September. I'd been to Milwaukee before, but only briefly to attend a Brewer's Game and Summerfest. As such, I didn't really have the opportunity to explore Milwaukee until this past trip, and gosh was I surprised! I had no idea how multidimensional Milwaukee was, and all of the terrific things to do. Let's take a quick look!

Prior to visiting Milwaukee, I was fortunate to come in contact with the Visit Milwaukee tourism board. On top of giving me tons of great ideas for different things to do, they actually helped me to plan a personalized trip and weekend in Milwaukee based off my interests!  Activities for the weekend ranged from brewery tours and wine and painting classes to visiting the Harley Davidson Museum and the Milwaukee Public Market! Without further ado, let's start from the beginning...

First stop after checking into our hotel for the weekend (full reviews coming later!) was Lakefront Brewery. Now, I'd been to brewery tours before so I thought I knew what I was getting in to. However, I definitely hadn't been anywhere like Lakefront before!

Our tour was directed by one of the owners of Lakefront himself, Russ Klisch. He was able to give us a tour of the brewing facilities and really incorporate a lot of his personal experiences in a way that just made you smile and laugh with joy. A few of my favorite quotes? "This year, Lakefront will make about 56,000 barrels of beer. That is about the same amount that Miller will spill in production." "You should use six senses to drink beer. Sound, sight, smell, touch, taste, and common sense. And hey, if you only use five of the six that ain't bad either." "At least 11 couples have met while on the Lakefront Brewery Tour, so Lakefront is really a romantic place. We don't keep track of the divorce rate though..."

After Lakefront, we hopped in an Uber downtown to visit Splash Studios for a wine and painting class. Nick and I showed up early, which was terrific because we were able to talk with several of the employees- and Nick was able to get a little help with his painting!

our completed works of art!
One of the things I quickly learned was that Splash is different from any other wine and painting class. First, there is a strict no-tipping policy: all of the employees truly care about the customer experience, so once you've registered for the class you are good to go! Second, Splash is a place where both women and men can enjoy the time. Beyond the painting, they serve food, wine, beer, cocktails- and even old-school Mario Kart!

With the real purpose of this Milwaukee visit being a friend's wedding, after Splash it was time to get some sleep before a busy day and wedding time Saturday! Saturday morning we woke up and started our day off with a quick stroll to Collectivo Coffee and an espresso. It was much needed to give us fuel for the rest of the day...

...and literally, fuel was needed! Nick and I found ourselves exploring the Harley-Davidson Museum. Now, I'm not a biker (nor is Nick), but the Harley-Davidson Museum was interesting nonetheless. We spent some time wandering around and seeing how bikes have evolved over the years. Personally, it was most interesting for me to learn about how bikes looked and were used during the WWII years.

After the Harley-Davidson Museum, we had some time to explore the Milwaukee Public Market. Farmer's Markets and Public Markets have always been one of my favorite places to visit while traveling, as I feel you really get an idea of the local culture. We were fortunate to be visiting on a Saturday, when the Milwaukee Public Market actually spills over onto the sidewalk!

It was definitely a bustling place, and we were able to really unwind and spend some time checking out local stores and boutiques. I picked up some cheese, wine, and fresh fruit, and everything was amazing once I returned home and had it! We also stopped at a local bar within the public market and had some delicious Thai food for lunch. All in all, the Milwaukee Public Market definitely exceeded my expectations and I'd say it is a must for anyone visiting Milwaukee!

After the market, it was time for us to get ready and head to the wedding! The wedding was at the Milwaukee Athletic Club, an absolutely stunning venue for any reception. We greatly enjoyed our evening connecting with old friends and dancing the night away!

Unfortunately, come Sunday morning Nick and I had to dash back to Des Moines for work obligations. We had tons of great activities planned, between lunch at Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro, The Milwaukee Art Museum, and a "Sweets and Treats" food tour. While I was quite disappointed not to be able to participate in each of these activities, all of my friends in Milwaukee have stated that each of these are fabulous things to do! In a way, I suppose it is OK I wasn't able to fit everything in in one short weekend...because now it means a return trip to Milwaukee is absolutely a must!
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