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