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Friday, December 2, 2016

Gingerbread Salad

You have read correctly. I'm introducing you to an unusual dish, and I hope you'll come to appreciate it!

For some reason in my Salad in a Jar post I committed to come up with a Gingerbread Salad. I really don't know what I was thinking. I'm not a recipe developer, so I'll just go with my gut, pun intended.

What I did is the following:

I made a fall winter salad using 

  • baby spinach
  • mixed greens
  • pear slices
  • dried cranberries
  • walnuts
  • blue cheese
  • balsamic vinaigrette

So far so good, you've had one of those before, right? Some restaurants like to call them Waldorf salads, even though I think they contain celery, too. 

Anyway. How about the gingerbread? I'm supposed to make a gingerbread salad. I made gingerbread muffins. Shall I go ahead and chop it?

No time like the present!

It looks like regular croutons! I think it might work! This is what I'm gonna do: I'll try it. If it's a fail I'll just remove the gingerbread pieces and pretend it never happened. Nobody is expecting this post anyway. Why can't I do simple stuff? Also, it's not like I didn't have other things to do. Geez, it's December! Number of gifts: zero. 

Cookie, our Elf, is my witness!

I ate it, and it was pretty neat! There are a lot of different flavours and textures, what with the blue cheese and the cranberries. I think the pears took some of the edge off the spicy gingerbread. 

So I dare you to try it yourself! Let me know what you think!

Cookie, our Elf on the Shelf 2016, Week 1

Thursday morning, 5am. Colin began to stir, and obviously a thought hit him, because the next thing we noticed was him jumping up and running back and forth in the house, rummaging here and there. Lights on, lights off, doors open, doors close until hubby had enough.

"What's all the commotion in the middle of the ?#@*&%! night?" he yelled.

"It's Thanksgiving, Cookie must be here somewhere!"

"What is he talking about?" the husband moaned.

"Fooooouuund her!" 

If Colin went the bathroom first thing in the morning like any regular person he'd discover her right away... 

Instead of the traditional Holiday PJs (too bad he has grown out of the cute clothes size group!) she brought a festive Minions sweater. 

The next morning Cookie reunited with her Barbie friends. Looks like one is temping as a Barista this season! The can our Elf was sitting on is snow spray - we'll see what trouble we can get ourselves into with that!

On Friday night I attended my college class reunion. I haven't seen most of my former classmates in all of the 25 years - that's how long ago our graduation took place! Needless to say I got home late and forgot to move the Elf. 

"Mom, I have proof now that it's you who moves the Elf" were the first words Colin greeted me with when I finally got up around 8am on Saturday. 

"What are you talking about?"

"She is still in the same spot as yesterday. I am pretty sure it has to do with the fact that you weren't home last night."

I was too tired to say anything (at this point I'd like to mention that I didn't have a drop to drink at the reunion!!!), and he didn't press it.

Later in the afternoon when he was at his friend's house, Cookie and I took a nap. I didn't fit into the tissue box, though.

Monday it's hubby's turn to make breakfast for Colin. What better location for our Elf than to wait in the cereal box? (Breakfast with Daddy is Kellogg's, breakfast with Mommy is Nutella toast, and unfortunately there is no family member called Tiffany!)

As I mentioned we have been doing a lot of purging these days. We mainly sorted out toys in order to donate them to families who can't buy new gifts for their children. It took a bit of convincing because Colin doesn't like to 

a) clean up in general and 
b) part with his stuff ("I still play with that!" I'm gonna use it again!")

The fact that one of his favourite hockey players promoted the PetitSuisse  initiative and my pointing out that he needed to make room if he wanted to wish for new toys did the trick. 

The next morning our Elf Cookie promptly landed on the empty bins. Her note said "nice job purging!"

We had dropped the majority of the gifts prior to hockey practice last week, but there was still more to wrap and collect in a large IKEA bag, so Cookie got her hopes up and asked if the presents were actually for her!

December 1st, time to launch our advent calendar(s)! 24 tiny cardboard houses and a Coca-Cola truck! By the way, Colin never brought up the "I think it's you who moves the Elf" topic again. He even told me that Cookie brought the Coke truck! (It had been hidden in the basement!)

Cookie has been guarding house #1 all night long!

Like in the previous years I am going to link up my Elf posts on ShaRhonda's blog The 4-Crow's - head over there every week for updates!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Top Ten Thursday - Holiday Checklist

Welcome to Top Ten Thursday!

Today we're talking about making a Top Ten Holiday Checklist.

Well, I am not sure how I feel about this. Oftentimes I make plans only to find out I have to change them, adapt and improvise, so why plan in the first place? 

More often than not I find myself running out of time and energy when preparing for a holiday party because I want to do more than I can handle. 

Plus I can't bring myself to do meal planning during the year, why should I start now? 

This whole topic goes to prove that I don't just pick themes for my own writing pleasure ;-) But hey, it's called "challenge" for a reason. So here goes:

Nov 24: Launching the 2016 Elf on the Shelf season! Very excited! It's gonna be Cookie's fifth season at the Gerber's house, so no matter how creative you think I am... I may run out of ideas! Pinterest is full of posts, but they're usually repetitive, and some include the Elf's making a mess and Mommy's cleaning it up - for which I am not game!

Nov 24: Lightning of the village Christmas Tree: It takes place on the third Thursday in November which of course collides with Thanksgiving in the U.S. My coworker will be out of office, and I have to cover for her. All the same I committed to bring baked goods to the potluck buffet.

Nov 25: College reunion. I haven't seen most of my former classmates since graduation! This is going to be interesting!

Nov 26: Lunch at the local (indoor) charity Christmas market. My neighbour is the chairwoman, and we've been attending since I moved back to my home town. 

Nov 30: No hockey practice. Instead I'd like to go to Lucerne which is about an hour's drive each way. The Seeburg Hotel always has the most enchanting Christmas lights. I have no idea what year those pictures were taken because I can't remember having a white Christmas in forever? Was it maybe 2010?

Dec 1 - 24: Advent calendar: I want to transform 24 plain cardboard houses into cute little gingerbread houses that host treats and little gifts for my family. If you're not familiar with advent calendars go here and here

Anytime in December: Baking. As there are so many opportunities to eat treats I usually only bake a handful varieties: Mailänderli (buttery sugar cookies), Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars), soft ginger cookies, chocolate balls. One year we even made Elf Cookies!

Don't forget Grittibänze, little yeast dough guys!

Dec 2nd: Publish this very post!

First weekend of December: Samichlaus - the Swiss Santa Claus is everywhere! You can go meet him in the forest, at the mall or on the road. That's right, there are a bunch of Harley Santas riding in Zurich and Basel, raising funds for the children' hospital.

Dec 7: I committed to bring baked goods to my charity's senior citizen holiday party. 

Dec 7: I promised Colin to go out after hockey practice because he'll be off school the following day. I am eyeing with the newly opened fondue chalet directly next to the ice rink, but he wants a burger at the sports bar.

You know what's really good about putting together all those dates? I just found out on Dec 7 there is no hockey practice either. They probably need the arena for a company's holiday party. So we'll go to the sports bar the other week, and instead I'll take him to the mall for some sushi lunch and Christmas shopping!

On our way home we may stop at a town called Bremgarten. Why? The Coca-Cola Christmas Ttruck will be there!

Dec 8: Publish Top Ten Thursday xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Unveiling of our advent decoration at the office. As part of the "walk-through village advent calendar" 24 families or businesses commit every other year to decorate a window at their house and to present it on their assigned day. Citizens are invited for snacks. So people who have no friends and who like free food, they got themselves a night out every day! I told myself "this year I'm keeping it low-key."

Our 2012 contribution: (polar) bears sledding and playing hockey
Our 2014 window, the desktop fireplace! There's a gondola, too.

Dec 9: publish "Secret Subject Swap" 

Dec 11: watch an afternoon hockey game @ Swiss Arena with Colin's friends

Dec 12: attend Zurich blogger meeting @ SBUX in the morning

Dec 12 - 16: my coworker is taking a well deserved week off, and I have to cover for her. No activities here apart from breathing and surviving! Oh wait...

Dec 14: I said we're going on a Mommy and son date after hockey practice!

Dec 15: Publish Top Ten Thursday

Dec 16: Publish "Use Your Words"
Our town's Christmas market. Colin's daycare sells home made crafts and treats. He'll also have to squeeze in the last rehearsal for his nativity play. See below.

Dec 17: Colin's nativity play. His beloved children and church group works hard at studying and rehearsing for their annual play which takes place at our hill top church. You get some exercise and theatre in one night...

Anytime in December: A night out in Zurich to see the lights, decorations and the singing Christmas tree. 

Kids carolling, it's the cutest thing!

Anytime in December: No promises, but maybe I'll write a couple of Christmas cards.

Anytime in December: Somehow I have to come up with an idea for Colin's gifts. He isn't into crafts (how can this be?) so it needs to be simple, yet fabulous. What we have done the previous years: 

painted jars and filled them with pizza herbs

put together holiday potpourri

put laminated photos into hand soap dispensers

glued cinnamon sticks onto candles

If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear'em!

Anytime in December: declutter living room so there is room for decorating.

Dec 22nd: Publish Top Ten Thursday

Get a Christmas tree. Not sure how to do this with my new car... I do want to go to my "Bethlehem" though.

Dec 23: Hubby didn't mention it yet, but I'm sure he'll come up with a last minute request of an office holiday party. I hope my wonderful coworker who did such a great job last year will volunteer!

Dec 24: Christmas Eve: We always celebrate with my parents. I know that every year I say "let's go to Burger King and have a merry Cheesemas" or "let's go to the airport for Christmas Eve" and still end up spending all day cleaning up and cooking at home. So chances are it won't be any different this year. Let's see.

Dec 25: Visit hubby's relatives. Trip to the cemetery where both his parents are. Eat, drink, sing,...

Dec 26 - 31: Spengler Cup, a prestigious hockey tournament that takes place in the Swiss alps. Traditionally the local team Davos (which we hate) and Team Canada (which we love) as core participants, and another four, mostly Eastern / Northern European teams play every day. My husband who usually works six days a week tries to take those days off to watch (most of) the games with Colin. 

I unintentionally started an intermission snack tradition a couple of years ago which is now part of the fun... 

Dec 29: Publish Top Ten Thursday

Dec 31: New Year's Eve: Spengler Cup finals in the afternoon, hopefully party at our friends' house later! As of now they don't know about it yet ;-)

Last year's result. We're hoping for a sequel!

How about you, do you feel ready for December? What are things you need or want to do? Tell me in the comments below or link up your own post. 

We'd love some company next week (December 8) when we sit down and listen to our top ten Christmas songs! Sign up here.

What are ten things you do to keep - or regain - your sanity during the Holiday season? We'd like to hear about them, go and sign up here! Post goes live Dec 15.