Posts Tagged ‘New Years’

Resolution: Think Globally (Post Locally)

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

With every New Year come resolutions and a chance to take on personal challenges to make the next year better than the last. Over the next few posts, we are going to declare our resolutions to the world, knowing that there’s something a little scary and nerve wracking about actually stating these things to the public. In general, it’s a bit scary if I say I will do something, and then I don’t follow through and make it happen. Then I’m on the hook with the whole world knowing that I fell short. So, it is with a collective gulp and iron wills that the Hartmanns declare their Resolutions for 2011. Here we go…

Resolution #1: We will post to the blog more often and not miss reporting on major holidays and happenings.

Resolution #2: We will travel more. Preferably internationally. (We don’t know exactly where the time, money and energy for this will come from, but we are determined.)

And so, today, we took it upon ourselves to tackle our first two Resolutions squarely, and without trepidation.

We decided to travel to Sweden. Via Ikea.

You see, Dan has been mildly obsessed with Sweden since finishing the Steig Larsson Millenium Trilogy. From there, he launched into a recent BBC series of detective stories about the famed Swedish crime fighter Kurt Wallander and then into one of the Wallander books in the crazy famous (to everyone but us) series by Henning Mankell. So, today we decided to honor the spirit – if not the reality – of Resolution #2.

So we bundled up on a gray and dreary Bay Area day to Ikea in Emeryville. A fabulous approximation of Sweden if there ever was one… Here are a few things we learned on our travels!

They make interesting furniture in Sweden. (Note the orange space egg contraption chair in the background.)

Swedish beach chairs are particularly exciting to sit in.

There are a lot of tall people in Sweden.

They read books in Swedish.

Even their cookbooks are in Swedish. (So it doesn't matter how we orient the pages, because we still can't read them.)

They like to party in Sweden. Check out the crazy disco tunnel:

They have really tall, glowy flowers in Sweden. Very soothing.

It's so dark and cold outside that they drink lots of coffee.

Swedish meatballs are the best! And kids eat for free!

They drink lingonberry drinks. Yummy.

Large packs of faux-fur arctic animals roam wild there. Sometimes, they end up as really fuzzy rugs.

You can see the Northern Lights in Sweden. Pretty.

Little known fact: Sweden has huge forests of tropical plants! Go figure.

We learned a few Swedish words on our travels. Cool, eh?

Our girl digs foreign travel. We'll have to make plans for more adventures soon!

Thanks for hanging in there with us on our “what we did on our crazy foreign vacation travels” slideshow. More Resolutions are on the way in coming posts.

How are yours coming along?



Swinging into the New Year

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Hello 2011! We here at the Hartmann household are ready to take on another year. 2010 was particularly difficult, and we are delighted to see it end. We are looking forward to a clean slate and some new adventures (not to mention an end to the recession *fingers crossed*). While we have resolutions* and goals for the year, I thought it’d be appropriate to post about how we greeted the first morning of the New Year.

We woke up this morning, threw on our clothes and headed to Lake Merritt to take advantage of a break between rain showers. The weather was chilly and gray, but we bundled up and made the best of it. Our adventure started with a stop at Coffee with a Beat, a neighborhood cafe that was hopping at 9am. While I ordered coffee, I couldn’t help noticing how quintessentially “Oakland” the place was. As I waited for my coffee, I heard an East African dude with dreads speaking Amharic animatedly to his friends.  I chatted to the Scottish guy (clad in a Scottish national football jersey) about the milk and sugar station set up. I swapped New Year’s Eve tales with the barista who was sporting a Mad Hatter hat and greeting everyone who came in. The cafe was packed with all sorts of folks just reading the paper and enjoying the neighborhood. It was awesome. What I love most about Oakland is that this vignette is not a rare occurrence or something generally worth noting – it’s just how it is here. It’s not the perfect city by any stretch of the imagination, but it has so much life and character that it gets under your skin and you end up a devotee.

Fortified with coffee, we strolled down to the playground where we had the place pretty much to ourselves. It was great. A bit wet from the overnight rains, but otherwise fun all around. We grabbed a swing, climbed the climber and played in the sand. Outstanding.

Just swinging and watching the world go by…

Then, we headed over to the Lake to watch the ducks, geese, gulls and other birds relaxing and taking in the morning. (A little known fact is that Oakland’s Lake Merritt was the first wildlife refuge in the U.S. back in 1870. Cool, huh?) There isn’t much more relaxing these days than watching the ducks swim around. It’s becoming one of our favorite pursuits.

Chilling and watching the ducks do their thing.

After watching the ducks swim for a while, we headed over to an area where they do birding programs. Ryan particularly liked watching the ducks scramble for lettuce leaves and preen themselves. There are a lot of very cool ducks with beaks, feet and feathers of all colors. It’s fun to count all the different types, the males and females and their different markings. Every now and again we see a pelican, an egret or a heron, but this morning was all about the ducks.

Mystery duck. Any birders out there know what the heck this thing is? Seriously, I’ve never seen a duck like this. Ever. Maybe it’s a goose?

We call him Jim.

And so we greeted 2011 in Oakland! We headed home for a nap before the rains started up and settled into a fabulous Saturday. I hope that you rang in the New Year with excitement and joy! We wish you all the best for a safe, happy, healthy and joyous year ahead.


* Resolution details forthcoming.