new year's resolution #2 : connect

Spending quality time together, visiting with friends, and taking time out to invite guests over is something we tended to neglect in 2009 - and we have been doing our best to get 2010 off to a better start. My husband and I snuck out last week for a coffee at a charming little cafe while the kids were in pre-school...

and over the weekend, we invited several couples over for a very casual "open house" on Sunday afternoon.

I did my best to spoil us all with some homemade treats, including this traditional Bavarian cheese dip called "Obatzda" served with fresh, soft pretzels.

I also made a spicy avacado goat cheese dip with herbal cheese twists,

a sun-dried tomato and chickpea dip with Italian grissini,

red pesto and cheese filled puff pastry rolls,

and citrusy lemon bars dusted with powdered sugar for those with a sweet tooth. And yes, there was also a Greek salad, two quiches, veggie sticks, cheesecake bars, and a fudge brownie cake... I had fun with all the baking and trying out some new recipes, and I hope my guests enjoyed everything too. If I could send you samples online, I would!

So this Monday morning, I took some time off from the hustle and bustle of cleaning, decorating, and cooking at home, and went out to a cafe myself. I found a quiet spot, ordered a cafe au lait and a croissant, and worked on writing some long overdue cards to friends and family.

I hope your year is getting off to a good start, and that you are taking time to connect with your loved ones too :)


I must take a moment to add that we know how lucky and blessed we are to have all of these little luxuries in our everyday life! After reading in the newspaper about the ongoing tragedy in Haiti, I made donations to the German Ärzte ohne Grenzen (doctors without borders) and to the German Red Cross. Perhaps you have some further suggestions as to good organizations where donations have been requested - please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.

A positive aspect of our global society is that we can at least try to reach out and send a little help all over the world these days - every bit helps, and it is heartwarming to see how countries internationally have sent in volunteers and aid workers. Connecting and building up networks in our daily personal lives as well as globally - this is the key, don't you agree?