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Friday, August 29, 2014

Funny Friday - Cherry Snake

Today’s post is another episode of a monthly feature. It’s called Funny Friday, and is a collaborative project that I’ll post on the last Friday of every month. 

Each month one of the participants submits a picture, then we all write 5 captions or thoughts inspired by that month’s picture. Links to the other bloggers’ posts are below, click on them and see what they’ve come up with. I hope we bring a smile to your face as you start your weekend.

Here’s today picture. It was submitted by Sanity waiting to happen

1. Forget cherry cake - today we're going to make some cherry snake!

2. You had one job to do… freeze the mice = snake food!! Where are they, btw?

3. Oh, there you are! Come on out, you sneaky guy, I've been looking all over for you!

4. Remember the last time you needed a cold pack, and it was kind of inconvenient,
    because it was a rectangle? Ta-daaa, problem solved! Here's the new and improved
    warp around your neck cold pack!

5. Opening the freezer always holds the most bizarre surprises!

Click on the links below and let some other bloggers make you smile: 

Confessions of a part-time working mom

Friday, August 22, 2014

Go ask Mommy - Shark Week!

I always love to read the latest edition of Go Ask Daddy over at Coach Daddy's Blog.  Every Friday he'll answer five questions his kids asked him. They typically include semi-scary sea creatures, sports, entertainment and other subjects. I like the life questions best. Example: when you're pregnant, does the baby eat? Is Elvis dead?

Once I forwarded a question that my son Colin asked, to Eli. It was why he hates the RED WINGS so much. He then suggested to answer them myself - on his blog. 

So that's what I'm doing today:

"In the entire world how many languages are there?"
"Way more than there are countries, I’d say."

You will find the answer to this question plus to many more, including some sharky ones over here at Coach Daddy's GO ASK desk!

Please honor Eli and myself and head over there - see you!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sleepover Weekend 2014

As I told you in the Summer Bucket List post, Colin was anxious for Planes, Fire & Rescue to come to Swiss movie theaters. 

After last year's sleepover he was under the impression that the two events were connected. Who was I to disagree? Here we went again...

They know the drill. First the tickets - then the popcorn!
As soon as they were handed the 3D glasses they didn't
 remove them anymore. Commercials are so much cooler that way!

A. A. Dowd of the A. V. Club gave the film a C, saying "it's nice to look at, easy to watch, and impossible to remember for the length of a car-ride home."

Haha, exactly right!! They were talking about the movie for about two minutes, then Eric asked why Dusty was looking all different at the end of the movie, and I said "he was repainted". "How?" "With an airbrush I guess." 

From then on they were mentally airbrushing the whole world: the streets, the forests, the mountains, the houses, the people,...

I'm sure though that C is going to brush up on his characters in the weeks to come - after all they may end up on his birthday wish list!

For today, the boys were ready for some bedtime reading amazingly early. As it turned out they were saving their energy for the late night chatting and giggling. I love that they are such good friends, and I hope they were making some long-term memories!

The next morning they were up after 5am - didn't want to miss picking up their jersey number which was happening at 8 ;-)

Our village was buzzing with activities on this early Sunday morning… It was time for the yearly Staufberglauf, the race around our local hill. 

For grown-ups it's 4 rounds, 1.5 miles and 500 yards each. The kids in C's young age do a little more than a half mile around the block.

Our office is one of the regular sponsors
Grandma says "go, get them!"
After the speaker was done counting down, off they raced!

Did you see how Colin bumped into a paparazzo?

Almost there!

They weren't fast enough to make it to the top three - but when nobody was looking, they snuck on top of the podest - cause the bottom line is that every participant is a winner, and they all got a medal!

Eric's parents invited us for brunch. It was so yummy! There were pancakes, fresh fruit, freshly baked Zopf - oh, and when Doris and I are present, a bottle of prosecco can't be far! Just one this time. We were still eating, when the boys informed us that there was going to be a concert!

What a full weekend! No wonder he passed out around 3:30pm ;-) 

When he woke up he was disoriented and grumpy - nothing that dinner and a shower couldn't fix, and this is why now - after 10pm - he is still humming and chuckling in his room...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Use your Words - Smelling Trouble at the Barber's

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once, and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: 

rhyming ~ bashful ~ tale of woe ~ rhetoric ~ security

They were submitted by The Bergham Chronicles  - thank you, Jules!

You know how they say you can smell trouble?

The other day I literally could. 

I went to my hair appointment. Until last spring the chief, who is also a hairdresser, used to do my hair. I stopped going there because frankly I didn't want to have a three hour charity meeting with no witness and no chance of escaping - unless I wanted to do so with aluminum foil in my hair and a cape on, and there was nothing superwomanly about that cape. 

So I started making appointments with M, a former classmate from primary school. We reconnected at the reunion, and she told me that she and her two grown-up daughters run a hair, nail & make-up salon. Brilliant!

One time Colin accompanied me, and she had fun giving him blue and red Highlights!

When I walked in about a month ago, I smelled trouble. They were burning incense sticks, clearly to scent the salon that was reeking of cigarette smoke and sweat. What was going on here?

D, her 20 year old daughter greeted me, friendly as always, but I could tell she was slightly annoyed. She took my jacket and said something in Italian to the guy who was bashfully standing in the background of the room, awkwardly fiddling around with the shower hose of the backwash shampoo station. I think she was asking him to put my jacket in the wardrobe because he asked "dove?" (Where?)

Who was he, and what was he doing here? (And what is so hard about finding that rack with the hangers..? It's right there!) He looked too young to be her boyfriend. I mean, I get that some women like younger men, but last time she told me about her boyfriend, she mentioned having dented the bumper of his car. And if that guy here was allowed to drive (the minimum age in Switzerland is 18), then I should consider taking the train in the future! Maybe a relative who was visiting form Italy? But why would he volunteer to hang out in a hair salon when clearly he wanted to be anywhere else than here? He sent off a huge vibe of "I don't belong here!"

D started mixing the dye for my highlights, and it didn't take long and she comment about him to her mother. In Swiss German. I know that they usually speak Italian, so I took a wild guess and - well - guessed that the guy didn't understand any German. A cousin then. But they said things like "he shows no interest whatsoever, he didn't ask one question", and "what should we do with him?"

I got it! He was a "Schnupper-Stift"! That's what the young people are called who spend time in businesses to find out if they should apply for an apprenticeship within that line of work! Usually they are given some easy assignments so they can get a feel of what the job is like. So at a beauty place you would probably ask them to take the  clients' jackets and make coffee for them, maybe wash their hair (please don't let him touch my hair - or anything else for that matter!!!), and you would explain to them how things work, like making a perm, or dyeing hair.

I was curious, so I asked, and she confirmed that in fact he was here to find out if he was destined to be a Barbiere. 

"So I take it it's a no?" I joked. 

"That's kind of rhetoric question now, isn't it?" 

She rolled her eyes at me and told me his entire tale of woe: 

The other day, his Dad (not the guy) came to the salon to ask for this favor. The family lives in an apartment building that belongs to my hairdresser's family. They have been living in Switzerland for over two years, and the only person who speaks decent Swiss German is the Dad. The son - let's call him Giovanni - attends integration school. I didn't know that this exists. It's usually a six-months' course for immigrants' kids. They get crash courses in our language and culture so they should be able to join their regular grade's classes soon. Our Giovanni here was still hanging out in the security of integration school without any efforts to graduate. "Let's take my friend's cousins who came from Italy last year - they attended the crash course for three months and are doing really well in school today!" she said. "And he is smelly, too!" She was clearly annoyed. 

In the meantime a 8 or 9 old boy entered the store and asked for a Cristiano Ronaldo hairdo. "Sure" she said, "you know these past weeks I have learned what all the soccer stars' hair Looks like, I can do Neymar, Behrami, even Palacio if you really, really want me to!"

"Don't you do this sort of work, like hiring and firing? How should we go about this?" she asked when she came back to my seat. I suggested that she asked Giovanni why he was here, what he was passionate about, and if he benefitted at all from observing from afar. 

She did, and I didn't get a word. It turned out later that they were actually speaking Sicilian!! 
I knew they were Italian, but Sicilian? Wow, my old friend, a mafiosa? 

They guy didn't say much apart from "I'm here cause I have to", walked out with his tail between his legs - only to show back up a couple of minutes later… with his mama! Oh, Boy, trouble… 

The mothers were talking loudly in the third person about Giovanni as if he wasn't here. Turned out he should have done this field work gig during the school year. He didn't manage to find a place to get this experience, so he had to do it during summer vacation, and he would need to present a completed evaluation form to his teacher..! 

A ?#@*&%! form was their main concern…? Geez, I can smell more trouble!

Before I ask you to go and visit the other blogs... I give you… rhyming words in Italian!!

Enjoy and sing along!

Figaro from Il Barbiere die Siviglia - Gioachino Rossini

Largo al factotum della città.
Presto a bottega che l'alba è già.
Ah, che bel vivere, che bel piacere
per un barbiere di qualità! di qualità!
Make way for the factotum of the city,
Hurrying to his shop since dawn is already here.
Ah, what a fine life, what fine pleasure
For a barber of quality!
Ah, bravo Figaro!
Bravo, bravissimo!
Fortunatissimo per verità!
Ah, bravo Figaro!
Bravo, bravissimo!
A most fortunate man indeed!
Pronto a far tutto,
la notte e il giorno
sempre d'intorno in giro sta.
Miglior cuccagna per un barbiere,
vita più nobile, no, non si da.
Ready to do everything
Night and day,
Always on the move.
A cushier fate for a barber,
A more noble life, is not to be had.
Rasori e pettini
lancette e forbici,
al mio comando
tutto qui sta.
V'è la risorsa,
poi, del mestiere
colla donnetta... col cavaliere...
Razors and combs,
Lancets and scissors,
At my command
Everything's there.
Here are the tools
Of my trade
With the ladies...with the gentlemen...
Tutti mi chiedono, tutti mi vogliono,
donne, ragazzi, vecchi, fanciulle:
Qua la parrucca... Presto la barba...
Qua la sanguigna...
Presto il biglietto...
Qua la parrucca, presto la barba,
Presto il biglietto, ehi!
Everyone asks for me, everyone wants me,
Ladies, young lads, old men, young girls:
Here is the wig...the beard is ready...
Here are the leeches...
The note is ready...
Here is the wig, the beard is ready,
The note is ready, hey!
Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!, ecc.
Ahimè, che furia!
Ahimè, che folla!
Uno alla volta, per carità!
Ehi, Figaro! Son qua.
Figaro qua, Figaro là,
Figaro su, Figaro giù.
Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!, etc.
Ah, what frenzy!
Ah, what a crowd!
One at a time, please!
Hey, Figaro! I'm here.
Figaro here, Figaro there,
Figaro up, Figaro down,
Pronto prontissimo son come il fulmine:
sono il factotum della città.
Ah, bravo Figaro! Bravo, bravissimo;
a te fortuna non mancherà.
Swifter and swifter, I'm like a thunderbolt:
I'm the factotum of the city.
Ah, bravo Figaro! Bravo, bravissimo,
You'll never lack for luck!

Before / After - Didn't she do a nice job?

PS: Maybe Giovanni has a nice voice, so he will be a barber after all?

Now please go check out what words the other bloggers got and what they did with them:

Baking In A Tornado 

Spatulas on Parade 
The Momisodes 
Confessions of a part time working mom 
Juicebox Confession
Evil Joy Speaks
Follow Me Home…
Someone else's Genius   
Crumpets and bollocks
The Bergham Chronicles
The Sadder but Wiser Girl

Please take a minute to send strength and peace to my blogger friend at Stacy sews and Schools who lost her Dad a couple of days ago. My thoughts have been with her ever since I've heard.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Chocolate Prunes Cake

As if my new recipe binder didn't contain enough yummy things starting with a C, I made a Chocolate Prunes Cake today. See, it's my husband's fault. I really shouldn't let him work from home while I go to the office. He answers the door to anybody and anyone! So he got lucky for once, and the neighbor from across the street brought some prunes they grew in their garden. Everybody (not me, I am just the occasional recipient) who grows anything knows how it is… everything is ready at the same time, your freezer is full, and you just can't see, let alone eat, any more zucchini, cherries, or in their case, prunes. 

Here I was on my afternoon off, sitting next to a bag of prunes, googling recipes. Some ask for dried prunes that you soak in rum. Sounds yummy, but I have fresh prunes. There's some that require making shortbread dough. I like to eat it, but not to make it. Then there was one using jars of baby fruit sauce. Genius! I would make my own fruit sauce and add chocolate. Everything is better with chocolate. In return I reduced the amount of sugar. And switched vegetable oil for butter. So I guess I can call it my recipe now ;-) 

I've got to warn you, though. It was ridiculously labor-intensive!

Let's get started with the ingredients:

0.5 cup    white sugar (100g)
0.5 cup    brown sugar (100g)
3              eggs
0.75 cup  dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
0.75 cup  butter, melted
0.5 cup    prune sauce (125g)
0.25 cup  apple sauce (60g)
2 cups     all-purpose flour
2 tsp        baking powder
1 tsp        ground cinnamon
pinch       ground cloves
pinch       ground vanilla 
pinch       salt


Wash and pit prunes, peel, core and chop apples. 

I started with over 30 prunes and 3 small apples and ended up with some yummy leftover fruit sauce. The prunes lost lots of water during the steaming process. That's right. Cut them into pieces and cook or steam them like you would do for regular apple sauce. 

There are actually videos out there on how to make apple sauce from scratch (hold the cinnamon as we will add it to the cake batter later.)

I put it in the steamer oven for half an hour and then strained everything (2 parts prunes and 1 part apples) which caused kind of a mess, but I wanted to get rid of the prunes' skin pieces. Weigh 0.75 cups or 185g fruit puree and set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 350°F (180°C)

In a medium bowl (or your kitchen machine) beat eggs until fluffy, add sugar

In a small pot on low heat melt the butter and the chocolate. 

Add to the egg / sugar mix, combine.

What's in the Coke bottle? I saved the prunes juice. 
Maybe it can be added to a glass of sparkling wine? I bet that's yummy?

Add prunes / apple sauce to the batter, mix well.

Gradually add flour, baking powder and spices, until combined.

Pour into one large or two smallish prepped loaf pans.

Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, test with a toothpick.

Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto  a wire rack to let cool completely.

Was it worth it? Well, it does taste delicious! Kind of like a gingerbread with a twist. If you don't know you'll never find out that it's made from prunes sauce, though. 

I had three slices. Don't tell anyone. 

Would I do it again? Maybe! 

If I had a little helper, and I would probably find out how to assemble my kitchen machine to use it as a food processor. And I would make two or three batches and keep one in the freezer for Thanksgiving as an alternative (or addition) to pumpkin pie. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

ABC Block Squares

I originally published this two years ago - can't believe how fast time went by since Colin's first day as a first grader! 

I'm reposting it today as part of #MiniChefMondays -thank you, Rachel, for inviting me!

Yes, I'm a day late. Apologies, I had an important National Day to celebrate, over here in Switzerland ;-)

I love ABC blocks and wanted to bake something for Colin's first day of school. 

Why not using the same technique I had tried for the NHL Playoff Puck Brownies? This is clearly for kids who hav had some experience tracing shapes and using piping bags.

Recipe for the first batch of batter:

1 egg
0.5 cup granulated sugar (112g)
0.25 cup butter, room temperature (60g)
0.5 cup all purpose flour (62g)
1 pinch of salt
food coloring gel

Recipe for the second batch of batter:

2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar (225g)
1 lemon, zest and juice
0.5 cup butter, room temperature (120g)
1 cup all purpose flour (125g)
1 tsp of baking powder
1 pinch of salt


Print out your letters and numbers. One square is about 3.5 * 3.5 inches. Trace with food coloring pencils onto parchment paper.

Fix mirror inverted onto a board, I used a chopping board.

Divide your first batch of batter into three ziploc bags. 
Squeeze some food coloring into each bag and squish with your hand until well mixed.

Cut a little hole open and start "writing".
This may actually be easier if you used store-bought piping bags with tips.

Put in the freezer for at least an hour. I left it in there for two hours, it was nicely firm.
Prepare the second batch, transfer frozen letters onto baking tray, 
pour and distribute batter as evenly as possible over the letters.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes at 350°F
Let cool for about 10 minutes

Carefully flip over and let cool for another 5 minutes

Gently peel off the parchment paper. Ta-daaaa!

Cut, serve, enjoy! No, wait: cut, take pictures, serve and enjoy! There you go ;-)