Why you always invite the crazy aunt to Thanksgiving

thanksgiving_4778Why, you ask? Because she brings a pie, and that’s one less thing you have to make! Evident from the barren wasteland that was this blog this week, I’ve been busy. Yesterday I hosted Thanksgiving for a group of our European friends here in Bermuda, and as it’s not a tradition they grew up with—and not actually a holiday here so they all had to work—(and maybe a little because I really like all my family recipes and couldn’t bear to eat stuffing or pecan pie that doesn’t follow my mom’s recipe) I made nearly every dish. Oh, and an extra pie for Andrew’s office potluck lunch.

pies_4793An acute case of homesickness struck me while I was making a pie from a recipe written in my mom’s handwriting, but the feeling of being on the verge of tears subsided by the time I was finishing up my grandma’s cranberry relish—a family favorite that I’ve inherited responsibility for as she’s aged. I love that my recipe box is filled with dishes that bring back childhood memories or make me think of old friends.

recipes_4835I had grand plans to document the day and did so on Wednesday and for about the first hour of cooking on Thursday… then I got too busy and too sweaty so taking pics fell by the wayside. It was a beautiful mid-70’s day here in Bermuda, but after having my oven cranked up for the better part of two consecutive days, I think I may actually prefer cold Wisconsin weather on days like these!

I may have forgotten to make gravy once the turkey came out of the oven (I blame the bartender who was an expert mixer of sazeracs and old fashioneds!), but dinner went incredibly well—I think I have a few new converts to the church of Thanksgiving-is-the-best-holiday. I am so thankful for good friends who have welcomed me with open arms and made this big huge move much easier. And it was wonderful to spend the day with that man I moved here for, who made a point to thank me for cooking him a real, American Thanksgiving meal, which he hasn’t had in three or four years.

thanksgiving_4795And finally after all this rambling, I’d like to thank you, my dear readers, for taking an interest in my life and work, and all your encouraging comments along the way. I promise next week things will be back to normal with an awesome behind-the-scenes studio tour and your regularly scheduled travel post! Have a great weekend and don’t forget to shop small!

Travel Guide: Dubai

This week’s travel entry marks our first guest post ever! Elise Mooijman is a Dutch journalist and blogger. For more travel reads check out her blog The Beauty Suitcase.


Dubai: the city of oil and gold. A city where no architectural idea is too crazy and where money flows like water. I visited this city in the United Arab Emirates desert for one week back in September.

The first thing you’ll notice once you get out of the airport is (that is if you’re crazy enough to go in the summer like I did) the intense heat. I can best describe it as a hot blow dryer being turned on right in front of your face. At night it only cools down slightly. For someone like me who is from a colder country darkness and heat just don’t mix. Feeling the scorching heat while it’s pitch black (or as black as it can get with all the neon lights of Dubai) is a weird experience.

Burj Khalifa View Skyline
My father was in Dubai for work commitments and the company he works for was nice enough to let me stay in an apartment at one of the most luxurious hotels in the city with him. I hope this does not come across as bragging as I would never be able to afford a hotel room – let alone apartment – there myself, but staying in a place like that gave me a good impression Dubai’s high-life. However, the gap between the poor and the rich in Dubai is very large. Always leave a tip for the hotel staff as they earn little and work long hours.

Many Arab women in Dubai are covered completely from head-to-toe in black clothes, including a veil. But don’t let this fool you: Dubai is quite a women-friendly city for tourists. They for example have special women’s taxis that are driven by women only. Men are only allowed to ride in the company of a woman.

It’s important to dress respectful in Dubai: cover your knees and shoulders (it is mandatory inside the malls, so men: ditch those Bermuda shorts ;) ). You won’t be arrested or anything like that if you don’t, but locals will greatly appreciate your decency. I have heard of women (and men) though that were stopped on the streets or in the mall by strangers and scolded for their raunchy clothes.

Elise at the Dubai Mall
Elise at the Dubai Mall


Where to go: Hands down the Dubai Mall, don’t be ticked off by the word ‘mall’, because the Dubai Mall will be unlike any shopping mall you’ve ever been to. First of all it is the largest mall in the entire world, and with that in mind it might not come as a surprise that the Dubai Mall is home to an ice-rink and an aquarium filled with 2,64 million gallons of water and more than 33,000 living creatures (of which 400 are sharks). Standing in front of this giant while surrounded by stores feel very unreal.

Burj Khalifa
Also in the Dubai Mall is the entrance to the world’s tallest building: the Burj Khalifa. From the observatory deck you’ll have a magnificent view, but I’ll be honest: I personally find the ledge experience at Willis Tower in Chicago more impressive. However, it never hurts to be able to stay that you stood on the tallest building in the world right?

If you want to see the historic and less polished side of Dubai visit the Souks. There is the gold souk, which offers silver and gold jewelry for great prices, and the spice souk where sales men will literally shove the most interesting spices under your nose.

Spice Souq
Where to eat:

The restaurants around the Dubai Fountain (right outside the Dubai Mall and at the foot of the Burj Khalifa) make for a great place to grab a bite. The food isn’t anything spectacular— you’ll find a lot of typical American chains like Red Lobster and Texas Roadhouse there—but eating while watching the fountain ‘dance’ to the most beautiful music is an experience that you’ll never forget. The water jets get as high as 500 ft. and after 6:00 p.m. there is a show every 30 minutes in which the fountain ‘dances’ differently to each song.

Dubai Fountain
If you’re on a budget try Italian-Japanese restaurant Scoozi, but stay away from the sushi. Not that the fish is bad, but what is a California roll with nothing but crab inside? If you have a little more to spend I recommend having breakfast at the InterContinal Festival City hotel. I have never seen a breakfast buffet with so much choice (sushi for breakfast anyone?). It will cost you an arm and a leg, but you’ll leave with the fullest stomach you’ll ever have.


Thanks so much to Elise for sharing her travels with us! Interested in writing a travel guide? Email me at kristink_64@yahoo.com.

New Star

A while back I realized that if I kept creating goods at my current pace (a byproduct of needing to busy my fingers while watching tv), I’d soon become a hoarder, or that friend who only gives gifts she’s made. So I picked up hand embroidery–a craft I hadn’t touched since I was very young. It’s incredibly labor intensive and slow going, so I knew the production line would slow its pace, plus I’ve been really inspired by modern takes on the ancient craft that have been popping up on the Internet in the last few years.

I’m not one for following patterns. Or recipes. Or direction of any kind, aside from my GPS… And even then…

Anyway, one of those cross stitch kits from the craft store was definitely not going to be for me. I knew I wanted to create a starfish entirely from French knots—the texture would be perfect—so I drew 5 lines radiating out from the center and got started!

Project in progress
Project in progress

A French knot is one of those things—like knitting and reformatting a hard drive—for which I always have to rely on YouTube to provide a refresher course. Here’s a great tutorial (skip the first 30 seconds).

I picked my colors at random—I already had a couple skeins of the vibrant poppy in the center of the star and knew I wanted to work my way out to something more muted to tie in to a chair we have in our living room. Not having a pattern meant many trips to the craft store, sometimes just for one skein, but sometimes I need an excuse to get out of the house these days anyway.

Some of the legs are a little crooked, some are a little bulgy, and the overall shape certainly isn’t a geometrically perfect star, but I like her and she adds the perfect touch. These days she’s happily keeping watch over our living room, right next to the window that looks out over the ocean!


Feeling blessed!

One of my business goals while in Bermuda is to up press exposure for 622 press. I have small benchmarks I’d like to reach, but honestly it’s such a big goal I haven’t really started so much as a press release. So, I’m feeling incredibly lucky that an amazing opportunity just fell into my lap.

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 5.27.36 PMBehold: Cool Mom Picks Holiday Gift Guide featuring our very own shadow monogram stationery! You guys, this website gets more than a 800,000 visitors a month! I’m kind of freaking out. I can’t wait to see what this does for the business!