Planning for a Sabbatical in Three Months (And Cooking with Ice Wine)

We are wheels up exactly one month from today! But first we’re gearing up for the holidays.

pear and brie ingredients

Two months ago I made my spreadsheets. With an overwhelming list of things to do, it was my way to make the trip preparation manageable. It took a few weeks of modifying my system, but I finally worked it out. By breaking my giant to-do list down week-by-week I was able to keep more focused, but that wasn’t quite enough. So, I then broke the weekly lists down day-by-day. This allowed me to live more in the moment and plan my week more effectively.


Once a day’s tasks were accomplished, I was done. I didn’t look ahead. And if something didn’t get completed, it was moved to another day or another week. And so far so good.

pears and nuts

My breakdown worked like this….Three months out I focused on big picture items:

Collecting information needed for Visas (by visiting the Polish Consulate).
Purchasing plane tickets.
Arranging housing for places we knew we would stay longer than a day or two.
Researching and determining our transportation.
Reviewing various phone and data plans.
Developing a packing system and researching packs and bags.
Contacting the kids’ schools about our travel plans.
Laying out an estimated budget for the trip.
Meeting with my business partner to discuss work arrangements and protocols.
Going room-by-room (typically two-three rooms per week) to clean, purge and make notes about its idiosyncracies to relay to our house-sitter.

roasting nuts

Next, I started focusing on the house. We’re fortunate to have my cousin Mr. R moving into the house – he’ll take care of the cats, the house, the mail, etc. – but we want to make sure we don’t leave him with any outstanding issues. So at two months out I focused on:

Fixing any nagging electrical, mechanical and plumbing issues.
Purchasing overseas health insurance.
Starting to research our destinations.
Obtaining our international drivers’ licenses.
Making the initial appointment for our Visas.
Contacting our home insurance company.
Determining what needed to be done with our cars and insurance.
Making doctor, dentist and vet appointments.
Setting up our new phones/phone plans.
Revising the budget.
Closing any monthly auto-debit accounts (gyms, wine clubs, etc.).
(Also added Thanksgiving prep, Christmas decorating and Christmas shopping to this month.)

puff pastry squares

And that brings us to our final month of preparation. This month I’ll be focusing on the remaining items including:

Finalizing plans for work with my partner.
Making a list of things to pack.
Shopping for and ordering things we’ll need to pack – including electrical adapters, a dual voltage hair dryer, clothes, coats, shoes, electronics, etc. (Much of this is doubling as Christmas shopping this year too.)
Meeting with the teachers/administrators to discuss unenrollment, curriculum and re-enrollment next year.
Developing our home schooling curriculum.
Starting our “tenant guide” for Mr. R complete with important numbers, the house’s idiosyncracies, cat info, etc.
Sending letter of kids’ absence to the County Department of Education.
Taking the cats to the vet and the kids to the doctor
Going to the dentist.
Packing personal effects around the house.
Getting together with friends to say goodbye.
Hosting playdates and sleepovers for the kids to say their goodbyes.
Meeting with our accountant to discuss taxes.
Purchasing gifts to share with our hosts overseas.
Sitting down to weekly family dinners where we share our thoughts on the trip (this is helping with the kids’ anxieties and questions – ours too).
(And of course add to this list planning, baking, shopping and wrapping for Christmas…then undecorating too! Oh and we have Mike’s birthday and New Year’s Eve to plan!)

pears, nuts and brie

Phew. We’re almost there! Once the calendar flips, we’re down to about a week before departure. The kids are still deciding whether or not they’ll go back to school for that one week. I’m leaving that decision to them. They won’t be getting report cards for the trimester, so in terms of their education it doesn’t matter. It’s more about what they need to feel ready to go. Mr. N is leaning towards going to school. Miss A is leaning toward staying home and playing with her toys. As for me, I’ll be taking care of the rest of the list:

Finishing packing personal effects around the house.
Laying out our belongings to pack.
Shopping for last-minute things.
Meeting with Mr. R about the house, the cats and miscellaneous things.
Selling our car.
Cleaning the house (and purging the fridge).
Meeting with my business partner one more time.
Confirming flight and accommodation reservations.
Calling the credit card and banks to alert them of our travel.
Making a list of emergency numbers for each of the countries in which we’ll be traveling.
Copying and packing all necessary documentation.
Hosting a going away party with our family.
Checking back on all my lists.

Making beggars purses

And then, we’re off. I will breathe a huge sigh of relief when we touch down in Spain. I’m ready. We’re ready. The excitement is palpable. As are the nerves, but we’re keeping busy, taking one day at a time and talking to each other. It’s such an unknown for us all.

making a beggars purse

Hopefully, we’ve covered our bases, but if not, I’m sure we will work it out there. We’ve intentionally left a good portion of the trip unplanned. We want to have flexibility and discover things as we go by talking with locals and simply roaming around. It will be an adventure.

Beggars Purse Prep

As for this little appetizer you’ve been seeing throughout the post. This was my recipe for the December issue of Wine Tourist Magazine. The feature this month is Ice Wine and I wanted to do something festive. Festive – yet simple. Afterall, most of us are running around crazy this time of year sabbatical planning or not!

ice wine reduction

I decided on a Nutty Pear & Brie Beggars Purse with a Vidal Blanc Ice Wine Reduction. Not only does it complement a glass of ice wine, it’s also drizzled with an ice wine reduction! Sounds fancy doesn’t it. But I promise it’s easy peasy (as Mr. N would say).

Beggars Purse

You can read all about the recipe in my column, World Platter. We took these to a party in the neighborhood a few weeks back and they were devoured. Even some of the more adventurous kids gave them a shot. They are sweet, nutty, tangy and full of warm brie!

Brie Beggars purse

If you’re unfamiliar with ice wine, I highly recommend giving it a try. It’s a sweet wine, mostly intended for dessert, but it actually pairs well with some main dishes too. You might be cringing at the thought of sweet wine, I usually do, but ice wine is something special. The grapes used in ice wine are harvested after the first frost yielding a very sweet and high acidity wine.

Ice Wine Beggars Purse

I remember Mike and I first tried ice wine in Canada’s Niagara on the Lake region years ago. We were initially turned off by the wine’s sweetness, but on a return trip a few years later, it grew on us. Since then we’ve tried ice wines from Germany, New York and Michigan. We’ve learned to appreciate the wines’ nuances, its varied and subtle aromas and flavors, and we’ve found it’s delicious with desserts and cheeses. Also for some reason, we particular enjoy it in winter. It just screams cozy night in front of the fireplace to me.

Brie and pear beggars purse

But if you’re not into drinking ice wine, you can always cook with it. These beggars purses can be served either for dessert or as an appetizer and they can be a great way to introduce your friends or family to ice wine. (While looking all gourmet!)

ice wine reduction with brie

The neighbors really enjoyed these as did we; although our spoon ratings varied. I gave them 4 spoons, Mr. N came in with 3-1/2 spoons, Mike was at a solid 3 spoons and Miss A was at 1 spoon. She was not a fan (except of the puff pastry).

Nutty Pear & Brie Beggars Purse with a Vidal Blanc Ice Wine Reduction

Now, off to check blog post off today’s list. Guess what that means? I’m done for the day! I also happen to have tonight all to myself for the last time before we leave. I’m thinking big bowl of pasta, a glass of wine and some good tv while cuddled up with my kitties. I’m going to soak up every moment.

We’ll be back mid-week next week with a post from Mike – who still likes to remind me that his posts garner high views. (Don’t tell him – but his posts are some of my favorites.)

For the recipe click here: Nutty Pear & Brie Beggars Purse with a Vidal Blanc Ice Wine Reduction

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18 thoughts on “Planning for a Sabbatical in Three Months (And Cooking with Ice Wine)

  1. ChgoJohn says:

    Gosh, Kristy, you’re organized — not that you have much choice. Great that you’ve a house sitter for the time you’re away. I’ve had friends house sit when I’ve been away for extended periods and it was the best. Knowing your home is well cared for is a big worry off of your shoulders while your away. Your Beggar;s Purse sounds delicious! I made something similar when Zia was here but I really like the combo of pear and brie in yours. I’ll be making these, for sure. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eva Taylor says:

    Wow, so much work in advance, I would not have thought of half of the things on your list. Perhaps one day, JT and I will do something similar I’ll be able to use your lists, thank you. Why sell the car? I would think it could sit in the garage and be used when you get back…unless you’re not planning to come back?
    These purses sound and look absolutely wonderful; I recognize that brand! JT and I will be making our yearly trip to Niagara between Christmas and New Years, perhaps a stop at the Jackson Triggs winery should be on our list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kristy says:

      Oh it is so much work Eva! I’m exhausted. I think the holidays only compound matters too. As for the cars – one was a lease that’s coming due next week (good timing) and the other is a 12-year old Jeep that’s got over 220,000 miles. It’s literally running on fumes. We’re hoping it makes it a few more weeks. πŸ˜‰ Enjoy your trip to Niagara! I love it there as you know. We had a Cab Franc ice wine at Jackson Triggs when we were there last time that I adored. Hidden Bench Winery is another one we really enjoyed. (Actually we enjoyed quite a few!) Have a wonderful time!


  3. hotlyspiced says:

    Kristy…I’m exhausted just reading this. All those lists! You have been super-organised in the way you have got yourself and your family ready for this adventure. Well done! And in amongst it all I don’t know how you found the time to go to the post office and send me a gift. It arrived safely last week – I’m sorry I didn’t thank you immediately – we are going away at 4am on the 20th and I’ve been so busy trying to get everything organsied for a Christmas 13 hours away. And like you, trying to also clean the house and leave it in good order. So thanks very much – it’s a terrific and handy addition to my kitchen. Your beggar’s purses are gorgeous. I haven’t tried ice wine so I’ll look out for it at our bottle shop xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kristy says:

      I’m exhausted too Charlie! I’m so happy your gift arrived. It didn’t take that long either. Wonderful! I hope you enjoy it and have a wonderful holiday season. I have no doubt you are busy baking and preparing. It’s a lot of work to prepare for the holidays – especially when you have such long-distance travel involved! We can completely relate. Happy holidays to you dear friend!!!


  4. Karen says:

    It sounds like you have all the bases covered and it will be smooth sailing once you leave. Your little bites sounds delicious…as for ice wine, it is a great accompaniment to foie gras as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Debra says:

    Your lists intimidate me, Kristy! I can feel overwhelmed with a lot fewer responsibilities than you’ve listed. But your organization is really going to pay off and your sabbatical will be an amazing time for each of you individually, and all of you together as a family. And I love your column, too, Kristy. It was wonderful to read your published article. You have a lot of talent in so many areas, and I’m confident that this time abroad is only going to further develop your writing opportunities. The Beggars Purse recipe is a winner! Can’t wait to try it. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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