Two days in Austria

6
My travel posts are SO behind. I’m still catching up from August! At least it gives me the opportunity to remember what the sun felt like so long ago. *sigh*. My dear friend Melinda* hopped over to Copenhagen to spend her birthday with us and we were so so honored. She decided we also needed to hop countries and knowing that I’ve been dreaming up Austria for a long time now, we decided what better time?! Mostly, it was for the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, but more on that later. For now, it’s Vienna. House Trip was kind enough to sponsor our stay while we were there and we had a terrific experience with them. It’s a site where you can rent out your apartment/house while you are away. We selected an all-white apartment along a canal next to the Kunsthaus Museum. A kind lady met us there to give us our keys and show us around.
I loved the view of the courtyard and looking onto the colorful tiled building in the back. And are you looking at that herringbone flooring? So lovely! Melinda knows Vienna pretty well so she took me around to some of her favorite spots. In particular she was excited to see the Klimt murals at the Kunsthistorisches Museum because for the first time they provided stairs up to the ceiling so you could take a close look. 

Melinda took me to this wonderful confectioners, Demel (careful, music on their site!), where we loaded up on beautiful illustrated chocolate bars and of course a stop at their outside ice cream bar. Adorable right?

We passed by the Vienna Secession building. You know, I find it so odd how a bunch of artists at the turn of the century had so much money that they could build such a lovely building. Anyone know the history of it and how they could do that? That just doesn’t seem to happen these days.

When I travel to destinations that I’ve been dreaming about for ages I seem to forget that once upon a time they were not crawling with tourists. But crawling with tourists they are (see above).

Our stay in Vienna was sponsored by HouseTrip, but all content and opinions are my own. Thanks House Trip!

*Melinda’s dress is a good story. She found it here in Copenhagen at a delightful vintage dress shop, F.N.92. The pattern says “mixed pickles”. I don’t know what that means, but I love it. While she was shopping she thought she recognized Eva Mendes, but dismissed the idea because she was wearing flats and clearly Eva Mendes doesn’t wear practical sight-seeing shoes. Well, turns out she does! It WAS Eva Mendes. 

Reykjavik

So far I’ve covered our Iceland trip without mentioning the capital, Reykjavik, once. For shame! It’s the largest city in Iceland though it feels like a town compared with other cities. I was struck by its mountainous yet Scandinavian feel. A lot of homes are built out of corrugated iron so it feels like temporary housing, but I’ve been told it’s very sturdy–did you know the country lies on a huge fault?! Doesn’t scare me much being from California, but add volcanoes to their list of natural disasters you realize they really must love where they live in order to stay. Yikes. The Hallgrimskirkja, above, is awesome. You must go up the tower to see the view of the city with all the colorful roofs. That’s one thing about Icelanders, they love color. Like this wall, below, and the roofs.
There are several of these waterfall installations throughout the city. I can’t seem to find the name of the artist…anyone?

Iceland Part 1: Glacier Lagoon

Remember learning about glaciers in 4th grade and thinking, “cool” but you never really gave a second thought that you could actually see one because they ACTUALLY EXIST? Glacier Lagoon, or as the Icelanders call it, Jökulsárlón, is such glacier and the lagoon is oh so furreal. Yes, there are seals swimming around. Sometimes the icebergs turn upside down and then you can see the smooth ice patterns like the second pic from the bottom. The patterns Mother Earth creates are really out of this world. Ha. Punny. The boat rental handed us some really sexy onesy jumpsuits to wear, which really made my day because it made me a cozy happy camper.

You liking Iceland so far? Yeah, this is only the first of my batch of pictures so you’ve got to to bear with me.

I’ll be posting more to Facebook so I don’t overwhelm you with 300+ pics of each stop. You’re welcome.

Glacier Lagoon Part Deux

Remember when we went to the Glacier Lagoon? Well, right after we boated through the glaciers we hopped across this bridge
and traversed the black sands
then came across the beach. 
But this is no normal beach. This is an ice block beach where instead of throwing a frisbee around…
…you throw chunks of ice.
…and rest on an ice berg
and find true love written in nature (see it?)

The End. Only a couple more Iceland sessions I promise! 

Golden Circle

Just two more Iceland posts to go. Isn’t this place unreal?! When you come to Iceland, the main tourist route is the Golden Circle, which consists of three main stops in a 300km loop. The first is the national park Þingvellir, which is important for two reasons. 1) it’s the site of the original parliament of Iceland established in 930 and 2) it’s also the site of a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
 
The second is the geothermal geysers consisting of Geysir and Strokkur, which are absolutely phenomenal, erupting every 10 minutes or so. 
The last is the waterfall, Gulfoss, which, too, is pretty phenomenal. 

More Iceland photos here.

Iceland Part 2: Look Pa, I’m outdoorsy!

Sadly, words like “an hour and a half hike to hot springs” aren’t super tempting. Had they never said it would take only 35 minutes I probably wouldn’t have gone. BUT, I’m SO glad we went. Really, this was one of the most terrific things I’ve ever done. Let me tell you how it all started. You’re going to want to read it all, I promise, so click at the bottom for the rest of the story and an overabundance of pictures. I’ll be putting the rest of the pics on Facebook soon. 

Our plan for the day was to go to the Vestmannaeyjar Islands (after seeing this picture, we just HAD to go, you know?) So we drove to the ferry only to find out that we could get there, but we probably couldn’t get a ferry ride back due to the weather. Rats! So, we drove around a bit and then our host thought we might like to visit the hot springs. Hmmm, sure. I’m not an enthused swimwear user in the freezing cold, you see. Well, we drove out only to find that the road was blocked by ice and rocks like this:
Not good. So, the Icelanders explain the infamous 35 min. hike and we get going. We set off with these adorable little one. (Notice the use of Icelandic sweaters–they really do wear them!)
We pass scenes like this, which keeps me a happy camper.
Then I feel like we’re going through that scene in Elf when he explains his magical trip Candy Cane forest. We keep going and going and going when and hour and half later…
…we land on THIS. Wha?!?! Are you kidding me? 
I shed my coat because we’d worked up some heat and it was surprisingly mild outside and reveal that I, too, had become Icelandic and was sporting a newly purchased sweater. Surprise!
We see a whole valley of steaming hot water, much too hot to actually touch so we keep on traveling down the valley to hopefully tamer temperatures when…
…when we spot this…you know, a sheep’s skeleton. Cuz that’s what happens in Iceland.
Oh, hey Paul!
We traverse the waters. Everyone does it with ease, but I’m a little frightened at the thought that this could potentially be boiling water and I could die. But, I do it without a hitch and I feel like I could conquer the world.
We finally find a moderate temperature and take a dip and soak for a bit. It was heavenly.
Afterwards we must document our moment with the waters. We get out the automatic timer because the only thing around here are us the sheep’s skeletons.
Now we must decide to go back up the way we came or head down the valley to the nearby village and call someone they know to take us back up to our car. We opt for the later. But we have a very tired boy on our hands who’s missed his nap time so people take turns carrying him. Minus me, I guess my only duty was taking pictures. Muhahaha.
Heading down the valley 
We finally make it down to the base of the mountain a couple of hours later and have some friends save us. Was it worth it? You better believe it. It was nuts! So surreal. 

Now, if this doesn’t make you want to schedule a trip, I don’t know what else will. 

Bless, bless Iceland

Well, it’s true what they say, Iceland is out of this world. I have so much to show you, but here’s a little teaser for now. Have a LOVELY weekend!


This went on this week:
not one but TWO DIYs, flowers made out of soda cans
and a floral candelabra for Styled Mag
This Girl likes colorblocking
Murder Mystery dinner with friends
the best in baby’s breath for Brooklyn Bride
Stephanie wrote the nicest thing and threw the loveliest shower for a mutual friend of ours (congrats Cristina!)

*”bless, bless” is good-bye in Icelandic. Such an awesome phrase, right?!

How to Celebrate Your 40th Birthday

My 40th Birthday Plans

Leading up to my 40th birthday, I had lots of plans. Specifically, I wanted a big Europe trip to celebrate! But we are in up to our necks in behind-the-scenes projects here at The House that Lars Built, which means a trip to Europe just wasn’t in the cards. At least for now. Maybe in the fall? I’ll keep you all posted. There’s noting wrong with a belated birthday trip, after all!

I’m not the only one turning 40 here, though! Despite my lack of exciting birthday plans for now, all my friends are also soon-to-be or already over the hill, which means I’ve attended some great 40th birthday celebrations in the past year. I couldn’t just not share those ideas with all of you! So today I’m giving you the lowdown on all the things my friends did for their 40th birthdays, plus a few extra ideas.

How to Celebrate Your 40th Birthday

Birthday Trip

Birthday trips are a classic way to celebrate a big milestone birthday like your 40th! (hence, my hopes to make it to Europe this year). But if you can’t make it internationally and still want a weekend getaway, try something closer! It’s amazing what a quick trip to somewhere new can do. And of course it’s always better with friends or family to come along for the fun.

For your enjoyment, here are some photos from our most recent trip to Denmark (and I promise to post more once I make it back to Europe for my birthday trip)!

Karaoke

So I don’t know if you were aware, but there’s something about 40-year-olds and karaoke that is just magical. I’ve been to a handful of karaoke parties to celebrate the big 40 and I have to say that a bunch of moms singing karaoke are a different breed of unparalleled fun. What are you waiting for?! Warm up those vocal chords and get ready to sing yourself into your 40’s!

Spa Day

A birthday classic for a girls day out especially, a spa day can be the perfect, relaxing way to usher in the 40’s with some self care. Pamper yourself; you deserve it! Go for a mani/pedi, massage, the whole nine yards. We promise you won’t regret it!

Here are some spa essentials to get you going:

In-person Parties

Post COVID lockdowns, it feels that much more triumphant to have a party IN PERSON with people you love! So even though parties aren’t unique to a 40th birthday, there’s a reason we have parties for every birthday. It’s a classic way to celebrate that never really gets old!

Speaking of parties, we have some great party decorations for your to peruse in our shop! Check out our birthday suites, and all of our birthday content here!

Lemon-themed bunting swoops across a pink backdrop. In the foreground, straw toppers, invitations, and lemon-slice party hats sit in front of a white-frosted cake with lemon and lemon blossom cake toppers.

Learn a New Skill

Your 40th birthday is such a milestone that it can be great motivation to learn a new skill or take on a new hobby you’ve been wanting to try! It’s never too late, and 40 seems like the perfect time to try. Turn it into a party and invite someone to teach you and your girlfriends how to knit, cook something fun and fancy, or even make a punch needle rug! The options are endless. What do you want to learn how to do?

Movie Night

Movies are a classic way to celebrate anything special, so why not your 40th birthday? Go out to the theater with the gals (maybe even rent it out if you’re feeling ambitious!), or take the party home and have a marathon of your favorite series! Personally, I’ll be watching Bridgerton. What are your favorites? Send the recommendations my way! I’m always game for a fun new show.

Game Night

The options are endless with this one! Just because it’s your 40th birthday doesn’t mean you can’t have a simple game night. So many categories of games. Are you more of a board game or card game person? Or do you prefer a combo of both? If you’re like Paul, you’ll be hanging around those old classic arcade games all night. Whatever gets you most excited is what you should do!

Here are some game night options to get you started:

More Inspiration

We have plenty of ideas to get you started on 40th birthday decor! It starts with our five birthday suites: animal menagerie, garden party, lemon, rainbow, and floral. Click here to see the rest of our birthday shop! Also, don’t forget to check out our past birthday blog content, like our Flower Lane birthday crowns, twisted birthday candles, or DIY birthday felt pennants.

A flat lay of twisted birthday candles and confetti on an orange background.

Hopefully we gave you some good ideas to get you started planning your 40th, if you haven’t had it already. And now we need to know: what did you/are you doing to celebrate your 40th? Let us know in the comments!

Roskilde

Thank you so much for the birthday wishes! You guys are the best. After working yesterday we headed out to Roskilde to attend the Royal Danish Ballet’s summer series. Coincidentally, our first date was this exact event three years ago so it was very apropos. Roskilde is Paul’s favorite town so we spent some time exploring the city including the cathedral, churches, harbor, and charming streets. If you ever get to Denmark, Copenhagen is great, but the smaller towns are more walkable and cozy. 

and we’re off!

Paul and I just decided to take a little road trip around the island of Iceland. We’ll be taking the southern route and ending up at Jökulsálón, the glacier lagoon. We are stoked! Thank you for all your tips on Iceland. It seems like everyone who has been here has loved it and I can see why. This place is phenomenal. I’ll most likely be silent for the next few days as we will be *deep breath* CAMPING.*

*Note: I don’t camp. This should be interesting.

Iceland: off the Golden Circle

The Golden Circle consists of a three major tourist sites: the waterfall Gullfoss, the geothermal geysers including Geysir, and the national park and site of the first parliament, Pingvellir. These are all awesome, but you know what’s even more awesome? Going off the beaten track. Well, most things in Iceland are of the beaten track so that’s not very hard. Paul had remembered a crater he had visited the last time he was there so we went on a crater hunt. First, we ran into this red rock mine, which was located next to a mountain. After climbing the mountain we found out that the it was in fact a crater.
THEN, we drove to another site where Bjork had what I think must be the best music venue of all time. She performed on a raft on the water of this crater: 
Darn that automatic timer.

Are you getting the sense that Iceland is just amazing? (As if I haven’t talked about it enough) I do have to thank a few people for giving me some really awesome travel tips. Jenna was an absolute sweetheart for giving a huge itinerary including a Google map that we used. She wrote about her adventures in several parts starting here. MichelleMarlouLinda, Kurt, Brenda, Gnomie and Anne also gave me some really awesome advice. Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know!