How many days to Christmas?

 

Merry Christmas

No more counting.

No more talking

Just tracing in the snow

Merry Christmas to all

 

1 Day To Go

TIME FOR TRADITION

Photo credit: atelier mile away

It's the holiday, and we all celebrate in the way we prefer. No matter how we call the holiday, it brings up so much memories, but it's also the time to create our own, and why not start new traditions.

Our tradition is to find a new ornament each year, something new and different. For 2015, we found this Moravian Czech egg, delicate and intricate from Czech Eggs. What is your tradition?

 

2 Days To Go

TIME TO CONNECT

The countdown to Christmas is almost over and we are getting closer and closer to reconnecting with family and loved ones. Let's not forget that this connection is all the time, with strangers. Especially while traveling, we interact with so many people, it's time to use our best smile to make things smoother. It's a Wonderful Life tale reminds us how much we impact others, connect to them without even realizing.

So while you are getting almost there, don't forget the importance of connecting to others. Notice the smile of others (even when they don't smile),  take people on their offer to meet with you, the excitement to meet new people, the pleasure of connection.

 

3 Days To Go

TIME FOR GRATITUDE

Photo Credit: atelier mile away

Have you ever taken the time to reflect on your day and see it half full? Good things happen, but taking the time to think about it, and record those moments is priceless; be in awe of everything around you.

Uncover purpose by asking yourself “what surprised, inspired, and moved me today?”

This daily two-minute habit will change your day. Not only was it good, but noticing how good it was takes it to the next level.

Look a the world, your world, our world, with gratitude.

 

4 Days To Go

Time to Get warm

Photo Credit: atelier mile away

It's officially winter, and finally the weather says so. Time to find the right spot to cozy up and get a warm cocoa, coffee or tea (with the alcohol of your choice in it if you so decide). Here is our pick.

  1. Ground Central - New York Midtown East - their location at 155 E 52nd Street (between Lex and 3rd Ave) is perfectly cosy. The front has a busy communal table, but the back is like a living room, with comfy chairs. Today (Dec 21), get a free cup for Kusmi tea to celebrate the first day of winter.
  2. Birch Coffee - New York Upper West Side - we have only tried their UWS location (750 Columbus between 96th and 97th) but we are hung on the details of the place (want to engage a talk with a stranger, they have what you need) and we love their Toasted Almond tea. Check their website, and you can smell the coffee already.
  3. SubAlpine coffee - Adirondacks - Keene, NY - We haven't been there yet, but if Patrick is reusing a 1920 house to offer Counter Culture coffee in the middle of the Adirondacks, he has to be into something.
  4. Ör Gallery & Tavern- Hudson, NY - We are just partial to places with a fireplace in winter, add it some industrial feel, and we are sold on the place. A day in town has to finish at Ör, where you can move from coffee to drinks while keeping warm.
  5. Ella's Bellas - Beacon, NY - Tired of shopping in Beacon? back from a hike? Find any good reason, but stop at this gluten free bakery and warm up with coffee or cocoa. The communal table by the window gets the best view.
  6. Harney tea - Millerton NY - sometime tea is what you need, and those guys have the best selection. Their Millerton location is our favorite, and if you get the private dining room, even better. The good is quite yummy too. Good reason for a day upstate.
  7. Little Collins - New York Upper East Side - It looks very "blah" from the outside, but those Australians know how to make coffee, and the food that goes with it. Those two seaters tables off the wall are perfect for conversation and forget the surrounding noise.
  8. Irving Farm - New York Upper West Side - their beans are used by many, but go to one of their location, the UWS one is great (224 West 79th street).
  9. Home. There is never better place than home for some coffee. We are partial to No Six Depot Roastery from the Berkshires for the beans and Bellocq Tea Atelier for the leaves.
 

5 Days to Go

Time to Wrap

Photo Credit: Almost Makes Perfect

You could not resist just a little gift for your niece and nephew, or your gracious host. We can't blame you for that. But let's wrap it in style (without making it a project too big to tackle).

We are partial to simple wrapping, where you don't see the scotch tape. of course Huffington post has advices on how to do it, and their results are quite impressive. But definitely the best is advices from Mathematician (yep, as in geometry and trigonometry) Katie Steckles. You won't consider wrapping the same way moving forward.

 

6 Days To Go

TIME TO EXPERIENCE

Photo Credit: Eleven Experience

Everything is bigger than us. It's time to take it in, to breath deeper. Time to explore ourselves, time to think what would push our limits. It's not a question of New year resolution, it's a healthy mindset, a way to be better for ourselves.

Experiences are what makes us, what leaves the most permanent impression on us. So why not pick one for yourself and run with it.

We are toying between exploring the Gaspé woods from the Auberge Chic-Choc, cross country skiing between the Maine Huts or hiking from El Bolson, in the Argentinean Patagonia.

Wanting experience starts with inspiration ... Just watch.

What will be your experience?

 

 7 Days To Go

TIME TO ROCK YOUR TRIP

No matter if you are going home for the holidays or to a far far away land, we got you covered with the ultimate tips for a successful trip.

  1. Stay where your energy is Where are you going to stay? Find what gives you energy in the morning (a good fair trade coffee?) and relaxation at night (a speakeasy with great cocktails). Forget everyone else, and really get the edge you are looking for. 
  2. Be a regular Don't hesitate to go twice to the same place. You really liked this place to get lunch? Go back again, and you will feel you live here. Don't feel guilty you did not try another place, there are so many. Take your time to enjoy. You enjoyed Communitea in Long Island City, so go grab breakfast there again before you leave.
  3. Walk and public transportation Given, subways are not available in all cities, but if you can walk, or take a bus, what a great way to discover a city and really feel it (and who wants to get stuck in traffic anyway). Have you ever taken the train up the Hudson Valley? No better way to see the Bannerman Castle before you discover Beacon
  4. Get out of the box No swimming in the lake? Water feels great. Never gone white water rafting? Hmm. We’re not telling you to break the law (but sometimes the law is not clear); we would hate for you to miss on something great. Being away is time to step away of your normal self. Take a shot of tequila, try this moldy cheese, make a fool of yourself on the dance floor, go skinny dipping. No one looks back on their life and and remember the nights they had plenty of sleep. Do what you would do at home ... at home. So may be forget those national brands, unless you have an anxiety attack and need comfort.
  5. Be yourself don't get bullied by anyone. It's your own time, it you want to just linger in a museum do it, if your idea to discover a place is to go shopping, do it. What ever makes you feel good is what matters. Each person lives a place through a different eye.
  6. Go with the flow We are all in favor of planning and knowing why you are going somewhere. But you know what, if you feel like spending time on the lawn, forget the museum for a minute and just do it. Leave some empty time on your schedule for the unexpected, so you still see all you had planned even after more discoveries. 
  7. Bring some "me" cash Before you leave, put some cash in an envelop. You have a budget for your trip, for all the necessities and must do, but this envelop will become handy when you want to treat yourself to this nice restaurant not in budget. And what a story you will have to tell. 
  8. Talk to strangers That may be the most difficult for some, but so rewarding. A talk starts with a smile. Forget about the map, or the phone, and ask directions; done the right way it will still make you a local. In line for coffee, don't hesitate to smile and see what happens.
  9. Forget your habits In Rome do as Romans do, or more importantly do what you feel. Have you ever gone discovering a neighborhood and realized it's past your "official lunch time". So what? Grab a seat on a terrace, do some cruising while you get a sandwich or make it a sweet. No one is checking what time you had your meal or what you ate. 
  10. Plan and forget you got to love those guide books, those discovery apps and other gizmos but the best is to do your home work ... at home. Study, plan, strategize before you go but when you get on this plane, or in the car, it's all going with what you feel. Have some key locations handy, but don't plan to read or listen to the history of the place while you are there (unless it's part of the exhibit, we are suckers for those), just smell the roses.
  11. Indulge I remember a friend, avid rower, who told me how he got to get on the water in Florence and had the best time of this life. Do what you like to do, do even more than you would; you love cooking, find this local place that will teach you their way of cooking.  
  12. Easy on social media Especially if you travel with your closest friends, you don't need to document everything and post right away. Stop seeing the world through your phone. Take pictures wisely, because they mean something, not to prove you were there (we all have seen the Empire state building in pictures). Take your time to post select ones while you are back at your hotel, relaxing by yourself. 
  13. Time flies Book your flight to maximize your experience. Don't ruin a great stay by having to wake up at 3am to get on the first flight. Take a late flight that will allow you to enjoy a last coffee, enjoy some more me time, and linger and not have to rush to the airport.

 

 

 

 

8 Days To Go

TIME TO DECORATE COOKIES

Photo Credit: @ateliermileaway

There is nothing that says it's the holiday than a decorated cookie. It all starts with sugar cookies; they have to be crisp yet tender, keep their shape when baked, and yes, taste great, too. Moki Wypieki got inspired with a macaron recipe though (the translation works very well), and those snow men are to die for.

Once you have the blank canvas, in any shape you want, then go crazy. Bon Appetit has 6 ways to decorate but definitely royal icing is the paint of choice to get works of art. It can really get amazing with Delissshhh.

Sometimes though, simple is better. A few touches will get the recipient to smile with Rudolph or learn yoga.


 

9 Days to Go

Time to think Snow

It's always time to think about snow, even if the snow is a little delayed (not everywhere). We have found 9 new ways to enjoy the slopes this winter. Downhill and crosscountry skiing are so last year.

  1. Telemark - have you ever been impressed by the tele skier making smooth linked turns and wondering what it feels to combine the Alpine and Nordic ski techniques? Wonder no more, and try it at Windham in the Catskills.
  2. Skate skiing - For those who consider that classic country skiing is too stuffy, too twee, too boring — a sport better left to old Norwegians and young honeymooners - but still want this connection to nature. Select places that offer the fast paced version and enjoy a great workout.  
  3. Ski Up - get your ultimate bragging right (and save on lift tickets) at Windham and Magic Mountain. You definitely earn your turn downhill when you snowshoe or ski up.
  4. Ride a Fat bike - why stop biking when it's winter? Lake Placid offers many options to hit the trails.
  5. Shake this bootie - get your gluts in order and become a better mogul skier with those camps in Killington, VT
  6. Hok Skiing - perfect for powder snow, mix snowshoeing and skiing in this new technique at the Auberge de montagne des Chic-chocs
  7. Ice climbing - Now we are talking real cold and cool stuff! Try it in the Shawankung by New Paltz with Alpine Endeavors or EMS.
  8. Dog Sled - Enough with the exercise? Try on dog sledding, either at Vermont’s Peacepups Dogsledding for a full learning experience, or go along for a ride with a dogsled tour with an experienced musher at Husky Works in Stratton, Vermont.
  9. Après Ski - refers to any form of entertainment, nightlife, or social event that occurs specifically at ski resorts but everyone knows, it's the best part. A roaring fire is a must. Some classics are worth keeping.

On those wise words, let's have a hot toddy, whichever way you prefer.

 

10 Days To Go

TIME TO DONATE

Photo Credit: @ateliermileaway

Is it the season's spirit, or is it catch up on this tax break? December is a busy month to make a meaningful donation. We each have our own preferred charity, so let's just tell you why we picked Great Camp Sagamore to inspire you to donate.

Great Camp Sagamore, located in the Adirondacks, is owned and managed by the Sagamore Institute of the Adirondacks. 

Those roofs not only reflect on the local artisanship and vision, but it's the perfect example of interconnection. From the laundry building, to the dining hall and the great house in the background, the camp is about connecting to others in the center of nature. It reflects on their mission to “foster understanding, care and respect for nature, people and their critical interdependence.”  

Sagamore is special that it operates as a museum during the day, a place for retreats and workshop most of the summer and a place to stay overnight with your friends and family. All those options make Great Camp Sagamore so special to us. And did we tell you how nice the people are there?

Donating to Great Camp Sagamore is even more special this year, as they have started a campaign to match the $250,000 awarded by the North Country Regional Economic Development Council to renovate the camp's Chalet building to help plan a new generation of exciting wilderness-based interpretive experiences.

Great Camp Sagamore is located in, you guessed, the Adirondacks, and the only great camp open to the public. The dream retreat of the Alfred Vanderbilt family and the working families in support, it is the Adirondack view of the American  wilderness fantasy. 

 

 

11 Days To Go

Time to Be Ready for the Guests

Photo Credit: @ateliermileaway

Excited about having house guests over the holidays? A few tips to make it easy for you and for them.

  1. Don't try too hard; a few touches are nice, making it look like your place has all the hotel amenities, not as homey. Keep it simple, for your pleasure, and your guest enjoyment.
  2. Pamper them a little; you still want to make a good impression, and make them feel special and welcome. Flowers in the bed room, bottle soap/shower gel in the bath room (who is not squeamish about used bars of soap but avoid the hotel ones you stole on your last trip, looks cheap & tacky no matter the brand and bad for the environment).
  3. Over clean the bathroom; if there is one room people are the most freakish about it's the bathroom (right before the kitchen). Give it a thorough cleaning but also thoughtful organizing (your partner toothbrush ... not that hot for your guests).  In case of doubt, just hide it.
  4. Make it obvious; unless you have something that requires very specific instructions, have things available without your guests asking for it (extra pillow, towels, coffee and cream, cups, ...). Make it obvious by putting the towels on a chair or the bed, rather than in the bathroom or stuck in the closet. 
  5. Let them be; no need to plan their day, just be clear about your plans and offer them to join, specially if you have decided to go on a job at 7am and they want to sleep in.
  6. Be yourself; the local museum is really nice but you have been ten times. Don't need to fake it, and your guests may enjoy a little "me" time.
  7. Think about what would make them asking very awkward; you hate asking for the WiFi password, a toilet plunger (or just matches), so why should they?
  8. Be open and compromise; you feel the kitchen is your domain but your guest wants to help? get them something easy to do, or just make sure they have a good glass of wine and start the conversation.
  9. Enjoy your time, so will they; if they wanted a hotel, they would have paid for you, they are mainly here because they enjoy your company.
 

12 Days To Go

Time FOR SELF CARE

Photo Credit: @ateliermileaway

The season is so busy, December is non stop crazy, so let's take some "me" time. If you make yourself a priority, then you can give other the best "you". Day dream, take your time, be mindful and your day will be so much better, others will enjoy it as well. The season will really be about caring and be with loved ones.

 

13 Days To Go

TIME TO MAKE SOME ORNAMENTS

Photo Credit: @ToriVeysey

You got the tree, you rested yesterday, why not put all this energy to good use and create some ornaments.

We embarked on Voyages of the Creative Variety with Tori Veysey when we found the recipe for those papier-maché baubles. A few easy steps (just enough to make a mess), the pleasure of a real newspaper, and a hint of creativity (Tori is a graphic designer, hers are so cute).

We found also the Popsicle Stick Sled to be very whimsical, without requiring a too much of a creative mind. And the French Macaron would talk to the foodie or francophile in you, don't deny it.

For the more advanced DIY'er, the Twine Ball from Lauren, and the Plaster Cast Leaf from the Beekman boys are very natural and earthy; a perfect touch to round up our decoration.

Which one are you making? Send us pictures!

 

14 days to go

time to PAUSE

Photo Credit: @TheGoodTrade

It's Friday, and only two weeks to go ... In this busy season, @TheGoodTrade has a few wise words, and we could not have said it better.

"We are reminding ourselves to result the pressure to feel busy and rushed, and we're letting go of the expectation to attend every event. Perhaps most importantly, we are refraining from buying things we don't need and that don't match our ethics. Instead we are placing our focus on gratitude, reflection and appreciation of the present moment in an attempt to live simply and with intention."

Thank you to The Good Trade

 

15 Days To Go

Time to Enjoy the Merry

Photo credit: @ShopTerrain

Some stories are just a merry surprise, nice to share.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Emma. She lived in Oregon not far from a tree farm. Guess what happened next ...

Tell us the holiday story that puts a smile on your face.

 

16 Days to Go

TIME TO WRITE SOME CARDS

Photo Credit: @OfNoteStationers

Don't lie, you love to receive mail that is not an invoice or an advertising. How cool and personal it is to receive a holiday card, with a personal note inside. Does not it make you warm and fuzzy?

No need to send to your whole rolodex, that's good for the electronic version, pick a few people who really matter. Slow down, be inspired (lettre press cards from Of Note Stationers make us dream), appreciate the little things in life, and share that appreciation with others. A hand written note keeps people connected and deepens relationships. 

 

17 Days To Go

TIME TO PICK UP YOUR TREE

Photo Credit: @EscapeBklyn

Photo Credit: @EscapeBklyn

Where will you pick yours? The trees come to you in the city @NYTimes will a charming story of the Canadian guy  or you follow the steps of Erin and Denny from Escape Brooklyn to the country side and cut your own.

 

18 Days To Go

Time to bakE some bread

Photo Credit: @AtelierMileAway

Photo Credit: @AtelierMileAway

Nothing taste (and smell) better than a freshly baked bread, right out of the oven, to share with friends, family. Top it off with some butter, cheese or charcuterie, and it's heaven.

Jim Lahey's (from Sullivan Street Bakery) recipe for a no-knead bread is so easy (our tip: use bread flour for best result).

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  •  Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
 

19 Days To Go

Time to Toboggan

Photo Credit: @LakePlacidAdk

Photo Credit: @LakePlacidAdk

We still don't know it's a verb, but it looks like so much fun. Is it the old style wooden toboggan, or the family fun (right, as in "adults are just grown up kids"), no better way to feel that winter is here. You can also do some snow-tubing.

All the fun is in Lake Placid!

Feeling even more adventurous, try the Olympic bobsled ride. Now we are talking.


 

20 days to go

Time to FIND THE ELF

Photo Credit: @StacyMolter

Photo Credit: @StacyMolter

In Quebec, there is a new tradition that started a few years, the "lutin" (French for Elf). The story took a life on its own (and became a book, or is it the opposite) to the delight of kids and parents alike.

The legend is that as soon as there is snow, the elf comes inside the house. They stay put and still during the day ... but at night it's another story. With the help of dad and mum, they will wreak havoc in the house for the pleasure of the little ones in the morning. They will make angels in the flour, put toilet paper over the tree, or use the sink to take a bath in popcorn.

The Elf of the Shelf can be anywhere, with some ideas even for adults only, but above all he is mischievous and fun.

21 days to go

time to bake some cookies

Photo credit: Sweet Paul Magazine

Photo credit: Sweet Paul Magazine

Not just any cookies, those are brown sugar & cardamom shortbread cookies  by Sweet Paul. What makes them even more special, is the look and feel they have using the Nordic Ware Geo Stamps. And you can also use them to make bake the Bavarian springerle. The anis in that case is the spice of choice. The more spices, the better.

 

22 days to go

Time to pick an ornament

Photo Credit: @NobleGoods

Photo Credit: @NobleGoods

Start a tradition with the person that most matters to you, and exchange a new ornament each year. The years go through, and each is remembered by this token of love, no matter where you are. Those are by Noble Goods in Brooklyn and the winter light shines through it, outlining the wooden snow flake shadow.

 

Hello, World!

23 days to go

time to SEE THE ROCKEFELLER CENTER TREE

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Dec 1931 saw the first Rockefeller center tree. It was erected two years before the buildings opened by the workers on site and decorated with the tool of their trade, mainly foil wrappers from blasting caps. The 2015 tree comes from the Hudson Valley is 80 year old, and weight 10 tons. It will finish its life as lumber for Habitat for Humanity. Useful and beautiful till the end!