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Things to do in Copenhagen

I am back after a busy Summer of moving to a new state and a new house. In the middle of everything I did get the chance to make a short trip to Copenhagen and even stay in the city for a few days. My, how things have changed since I lived there ten years ago – but a lot is still the same as well. Enough to make me feel right at home again and back to the past. In the following weeks I will post a series with tips on what you can do in Copenhagen in the Summer or Fall.

First off, rent a bicycle! You can find a Rent a Bike store on almost every street corner in inner city, or just rent a city bike via a mobile phone app. However you choose, a bike it is the best way to see the city. Walking a whole day makes everyone tired whereas on a bicycle you move fast and experience everything so much more vividly than behind a car or a bus window. After one day of walking I was done! And the day I rented a bike was the highlight of the trip.

I rented a bicycle at my hotel but got the helmet from the “Rent a Bike” store in Nyhavn (Rent a Bike) and they were so nice and helpful that I can definitely recommend going there.

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Old-fashioned, new 40s style bicycles are all over Copenhagen now. They will give you comfort, exercise and hygge on your city trips.

Old-fashinoned “hygge” bicycles (also called “grandma bicycles”) line the streets all over Copenhagen. In my opinion you see everything better when you sit upright on an old-fashioned bicycle than you do on a more sporty bicycle. Plus, they give you that comfortable “hygge” feeling on your trip. But even though there are bicycle lanes everywhere I recommend wearing a helmet since, like in any city, there is a lot going on in the streets.

You will definitely need a bicycle to get to the new Reffen dining area, which is a fifteen or twenty minute bike ride from inner city. Or you can take the harbor bus there but then you depend on a schedule. On the tip of Reffen you can buy exciting food and enjoy it with the sea breeze in your hair. I will give you a little taste of it in my next blog post. You can also look forward to read about a cafe with free access to a lot of magazines, refill coffee and the best croissants. I will tell you about a healthy juice and sandwich cafe safely tucked away in the inner city. You can look forward to read about the many new outdoor bars and restaurants that have popped up on the other side of the harbor after the new bicycle bridge has been built. Among these is a fun and experimental new Nordic restaurant and bar with an impressive selection of tap beer. I cannot wait to share all these and more exciting places in Copenhagen with you in the upcoming posts!

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This is how much the Danes use their bicycles: This little girl even has a doll seat on her bicycle!

 

 

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Being There for Children During Stressful Times

My family and I are currently going through a big move out of state. This has made good parenting feel at least double as hard as usual and my “Danish Way of Parenting” methods seem to go right out the window in one stressful situation after another. Unfortunately, I can see that this has its effects on my children. Understandably so, their safety net is being pulled away under them and my husband and I are trying to keep the ground from breaking below them. But this is so much easier said than done while we are navigating transfer of school and medical records, buying and selling a house, saying goodbye to our town and friends etc. This has turned me into a different kind of mom, a stressed out mom, a mom who is constantly watching the mess they make because some potential buyer could show up and look at the house in less than one hour.

What is interesting though is that this stressful situation shows how much our usually pretty calm, engaging and patient parenting means. Children thrive in a calm, safe and happy home with parents who have time for them, who are there for them. A stressed out parent who is constantly looking for perfection – who for example constantly fights little fingerprints and mess so that the house can sell – is not what they need.

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My son in total zen making a messy picture with finger paint. Kids need mess it seems!

It is almost impossible though to not get stressed during a move with children so all you can do is to be good to yourself – which I believe would be the case in most stressful situations. Try to get the stress levels down. Have breaks to restore your energy physically and mentally because only by being good to yourself can you find the patience and energy needed to be there for kids. I think this self-care is such an important part of “The Danish Way of Parenting” – instead of blaming yourself for not being a perfect parent and failing yet another time, embrace yourself and your unmet needs from the past. There is a reason why we sometimes scream at our children. If you empathize with yourself and take good care of yourself, you can get the emotional space to empathize with your children – and others. On August 28, Iben Sandahl and Sarah Zobel have a new book coming out on this topic called “Det goer Ondt i Maven, Mor!” or “My Stomach Hurts, Mom!”. It is about embracing your own past and pain so you can feel better and thereby be a better parent every day.

So here is my call out to other parents who are stressed for whatever reasons (aren’t most of us?): It is more or less impossible to meet your children’s need for love and attention if you do not take care of your own needs! So go ahead and be good to yourself. When you make yourself happy and relaxed – by replacing some of the “shoulds” with some of your own needs wishes – you will be able to be there for someone else and live up to their wishes.

Oh, and plus your mood rubs right off on them! -What a great excuse to give yourself some happiness 🙂 After this realization I know I am going to enjoy that cupcake with wine, meditate and try to chill out – at least a little more 😉

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“Royal Wedding” cupcake from “Holly’s Homemade” at The Mount Airy Farmers’ Market, MD. Such a treat! This elderberry and lemon cupcake was the perfect match for a glass of white wine.

 

 

 

 

Happy “National Hygge Day” Today!

I just want to send some Danish hygge atmosphere out there on this National Day of Hygge with these photos from Denmark!

Walking with a looming storm behind you and arriving at a summerhouse just in time for the storm to break out and some Danish pastry awaiting you… That would be a great hygge experience to think of on this National Day of Hygge. Have some great hygge today – and don’t forget it is all about relaxing and enjoying!

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Hygge and Mindfulness

In America people are often on the go. Americans are so busy and work so hard it never ceases to impress me. In Denmark people are also super busy and work hard but it is generally accepted to take a “coffee break” during the day where you actually sit down with your coffee/tea/cake, instead of walking around with it and only getting to drink it once it is cold. I think these little breaks help keep the Danes grounded and happier. It is really amazing how much new energy flows through you and from you after a relaxing break. You are ready to meet the world again.

Hygge is as a form of mindfulness. A very pleasant one since it usually involves doing or eating something you like. Doing something nice or hyggeligt also makes it much more easy to be mindful – because who doesn’t want to fully enjoy every single bite of that delicious piece of pastry, every sip of that steamy brew of coffee or every moment in the company of a good friend?

 

I know it is so hard to find the time for this. No one really has the time. So our only option is to make  time for it. In fact it is probably when we are the most stressed out that we need hygge the most to refresh and energize. After a hygge break energy will come to you and you will suddenly gain a whole new perspective where things might not look as crazy as they did before. A lot of the things we tell ourselves are super important can actually wait or maybe we don’t even have to do them at all! Is that thing on your to-do-list really important enough to take away all that mental and emotional energy? Even when there is a million things we should do – let it go for a while. Everything will be fine.

Sometimes the weather is just too beautiful not to go out for a walk, or enjoy your coffee out on the porch in the sun. The amount of pleasure such a break can give you is well worth it. You will be amazed to see how much easier everything becomes if you have had that much needed break. Suddenly you will be able to take control over things that were trying to take you over. You will most likely be ready to handle challenging situations with a calm attitude, clear mind and be ready to meet the world with a happier face. So you are not only doing yourself a favor but also your surroundings.

February 28 is “International Day of Hygge” (International Day of Hygge 2018) and March 1st is “Day of Hygge” in Denmark so why not try out some hygge on those days? And remember that a piece of cake or a cup of coffee is no guarantee for hygge – it is all about the way you do it. It will not be hygge if you are not mindful that hygge is about relaxing and enjoying something.

 

 

Danish Children’s Carnival/Shrovetide Buns

Today is “Fastelavn”/Shrovetide in Denmark. It is a children’s carnival based on pre-lent carnival traditions of the Roman-Catholic church from before Denmark became a Protestant nation. Children dress up, beat a hanging barrel filled with candy (similar to a pinata), eat sweet buns (“fastelavnsboller”) and also get a so-called “fastelavnsris” (twigs decorated with candy, feathers, paper flowers and home crafted masks, see images here Fastelavnsris photos). A lot of this tradition has to do with getting rid of evil powers since the Danes say that “we beat the cat out of the barrel” and originally there was a poor black cat inside. Now there is just an image of a black cat on it. The children stand in line with a short wooden bat and take turns beating the hanging barrel. The child who beats the bottom out of the barrel becomes Cat Queen and the child who get the whole barrel down is the Cat King.

Anyway, for adults the main thing is the sweet pastry buns which you can buy in bakeries all over Denmark around the season of “Fastelavn”, or make yourself. Since I am not in Denmark, I found a great recipe at Valdemarsro.com (Fastelavnsbolle opskrift fra Valdemarsro.com) and the children had so much fun decorating and eating them. I think most adults will enjoy the sweet pastry-filling with marzipan called “remonce” which is in most Danish bakery pastry and the homemade vanilla cream – also a classic in Danish pastry/”wienerbroed”. My 3 year old son literally spat the marzipan out on the floor (!!) when I gave him a little taste of this almond paste so for him I made a special variation with strawberry jam and the vanilla cream and he ate that in no time and asked for another.

 

My favorite thing is that I found some pretty pink and red M&Ms for decorating. So I am planning on using the rest of these buns for Valentines Day with a white or pink icing, topped with pink and red M&Ms.

They are best the same day as they are baked so I stored half of them in the freezer without baking them and then I will defrost, bake and decorate them on Valentines Day.