January 1st, 2009



Turns out staying up until 3:30 a.m., after eating a huge feast and standing outside in the cold for an hour with your neck craned will decimate you nearly as much as if you were drunk while doing it. At least if you are 29, like me. Even though I've been in training all of vacation for the staying up until 3 a.m. part of New Year's Eve, today was pretty much a complete wash.

The teenager blew us off last night, so we were only 15, but man, the 5 kids (2 of whom were ours) made it feel as if there were double that many in the house and I don't mean twice five. Anders completely outdid himself, spending literally 2 full days in the kitchen preparing the meal. We started with Southern European appetizers to welcome our guests: dried ham (somewhat like prosciutto) and spicy sausages, small squares of parmesan with balsamic vinegar, and a veggie & dip tray. A few hours later we sat down to the actual dinner. The first course was a tapas menu which included marinated artichoke hearts, shrimp in a spicy sauce, mini-quiches with corn & red pepper, chorizo-in-a-blankets, roasted peppers, and marinated mushrooms.

The 2nd course was pork roast filet in a Chinese marinade, served over roasted red onion and zucchini, couscous with a spicy yogurt sauce, and dessert was two homemade "ice cream bombs": Anders made 2 3-layer parfaits with a core of almond ice cream, a middle layer of raspberry ice cream and a cover of apple ice cream. These were then decorated with sliced star fruit and carried to the table with "cake fireworks" blazing away in both glassbombs. The firecrackers were like sparklers on steroids, I've never seen anything like it and everyone was very impressed! It wasn't lost on the male guests that the ice cream colors matched those of the Ducati logo. :D

The best part of the evening was, as always, trooping outside into the frosty air, armed with firecracker bombs and rockets, carrying champagne bottles and plastic cups and everyone excited as small children. This year we walked up to the front of our neighborhood and climbed the hill there, where we had a fantastic view of the entire village, plus the next village over. Fireworks were already exploding all around us 10 minutes to midnight and we cheered every time a big one boomed overhead. The kids had packets of sparklers and for awhile they kept me so busy lighting them in rapid succession and handing them round that I didn't have time to watch the show going on in the sky.

The coolest thing was a new kind of "silent fireworks" that Mikael & Lene had brought. They heard about them in Thailand, where they're called khom loy or sky lanterns and they're used in many festival of lights all year round. None of us had ever seen them before and they were mesmerizing. The kids each helped to release one, in turn, and we all stood and watched them floating up, high into the midnight sky, over the fields and away, their tiny flames visible from many kilometers overhead. It's considered good luck to release a sky lantern and a way to send your problems and worries floating away. We sent 2008 up with ours and gazed silently, heads tilted back, as it soared higher and higher, and finally vanished from view.

Cakery Bakery, Cookery Bookery Biscuity Cookie Birthday Wishes to ozswede!
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