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Saturday, December 31, 2016

‘Tis the Season

December's theme is ‘Tis the Season", a great opportunity to review the Holidays. 

The catch? We're only supposed to use five pictures. FIVE!! I'll try...
Let me start with a three in one combo. This pictures represent

  1. Our Elf on the Shelf - her name is Cookie - she has been visiting us for the fifth time this season, and we always enjoy the surprising places she spends her days watching us.
  2. The countdown till Christmas, aka Advent Calendar. This year we decorated little cardboard houses and set them up as a winter wonderland village. As the houses were tiny they could only fit in a toy car or a chocolate candy, I put in a note with a clue on where to find larger surprises like new PJs or a book.
  3. Our village life-sized "walk through" Advent Calendar.

Samichlaus weekend is being celebrated on the first weekend of December around here. Samichlaus is like a cousin of Santa's. Read more about him and our tradition here. We usually meet Samichlaus, Schmutzli and their donkeys in the forest, and the next day we say hello to the Harley Santa's in the city.

Technically this is not my own picture of course. My Mom took it. 💖

It's easy to get lost in busyness in December. That's why it's important to stop and smell the coffee. I got to enjoy an hour of ultimate freedom blogging at this wonderfully decorated Starbucks while Colin was having a fun playdate at his hockey buddy's house.

No December without some extra shopping. This is the grocery department at Globus, comparable to Nordstrom or Macy's. I always admire their display of fresh produce, bread and cheese, even their seafood looks pretty! On the other side of the wine department there is a wine bar, and usually it's pretty empty. The other day we were there "after hours" and boy, was it crowded!

Another year we were hoping for a White Christmas in vain. That's where the cotton "snow" balls came in! On Christmas Eve we had a nice dinner with our parents, all the gifts got unwrapped. All but one. I produced this crate full of snowballs. We blew out the candles, secured delicate decoration items and the wine glasses and had a wild snowball fight in our living room!

As every year I am feeling a bit depleted. I put so much care and energy intp preparing for a wonderful Christmas, and after a couple of hours, boom, it's over! 

Well, I left everything up for today's New Year's Eve party. Which is starting in less than two hours here.

Thank you for being part of my blogging journey in 2016 - hope to see you again next year! 

If you'd like to do me a favour head over to my Facebook page and give me a like - much appreciated, thank you!

Happy New Year!

Please check out the other posts here! 

Cookie, our Elf on the Shelf 2016, Week 5

Cookie, our Elf, had Coke with Santa, spent a day in a hockey skate and ate a lot of sweets last week. 

The night leading up to Christmas Eve she thought it was about time to open some gifts. A Rubik's Cube!

One of the gifts I got for our entire family (because realistically there would be no White Christmas) was a bunch of cotton snow balls. We had a good indoor snowball fight, and days after we still discover snowballs under a chair or behind an item.

It was only a matter of time till Cookie made herself comfortable in the snowball pit, right?

As we hadn't cleaned up yet she kept hanging out on our Christmas ski cabin themed table.

I got ourselves an 80s Tetris lamp. You can stack the pieces individually as long as the make contact, the light is on. Cookie thought it was super cool!

An apple a day keeps the doctor away - must be true for elves as well!

Now here's a subtle hint! Get those last grocery run done already, here's your wallet, a shopping basket, some vouchers, let's go, I'm ready!

All right, we got everything we need for NYE and beyond. Now let's play! When we were sorting through old toys, Colin was not quite ready to part with his LEGO Duplo. Cookie agrees they're still fun to play with.

Now for our family 2016 was a pretty good year even though I lost my aunt who was only 68. Overall though Cookie thinks it's time to say goodbye to this year.

Do you have an Elf on the Shelf at your house? What has (s)he been up to? Leave me a comment below. Also check out my Pinterest board if you're looking for more Elf inspiration!

Goodbye 2016, Goodbye Cookie!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Top Ten Thursday - Blog Review

Welcome to Top Ten Thursday!

Before the beginning of this new chapter called 2017, we are using the last Top Ten Thursday of this year to talk about our blog in 2016: what were the highlights, be it specific posts, goals reached, achievements made,..? 

Well, apart from my usual Friday challenges Secret Subject Swap and Use Your Words and the recent Elf on the Shelf posts this is what I have been up to this year: 

  1. The year started with my trying something new:  "10 minutes writing prompts": Dressed inappropriately, part 1 and 2
  2. In February a couple of friends and I made a special birthday cake for IKEA 

  3. I got an opportunity to do a sponsored post in March: A major Swiss supermarket chain sent me some tickets to cover a special day over at the Europa Park in Rust, Germany. Thanks to their sharing it became my most popular post ever.
  4. My SBUX friend sent me a short-term invitation to her wedding in Seattle, WA - it collided with the start of the A-Z Blogging Challenge, and I had a lot of organising and coordinating to do (flights, childcare, laundry,...9, but I decided to turn the timing into an opportunity to actually blog about my trip! It was such a nice time traveling on my own, meeting friends and blogging on the go.
  5. I became a member of the Bloggers in Switzerland group. We share posts, support each other and try to meet for coffee once a month (never mind if I only made it once so far). It has been increasing traffic on my blog in general, and it caused me to use Instagram and Pinterest more.
  6. One of the friends within this group, Louise, runs THIS LIFE; an online magazine for Expats ins Switzerland for which I submitted two posts: 25 Things to do around Zurich on a rainy day  and Happy Halloween - a bunch of food and craft ideas for the occasion. 
  7. Through Rachel, another Swiss blogging friend and founder of the group, I found A 'lil HohHaa's Photo Blog ChallengeMy first post was Outside the Box, but my favourite so far has been Baseball because it was pretty much about everything BUT Baseball.
  8. In June I launched Top Ten Thursday, a weekly top ten list of random topics and contributors like With Love, Pamela & Ken's Days of Fun, The Bergham Chronicles and Last Rain Girl
  9. I celebrated my 4 year blogversary! Who would have thought I was gonna make it this far!
  10. By the end of 2016 I will have published 139 posts (almost 430 in total). It's been a good blogging year!

How about you? Are you a reader? Discovered any cool new blogs? Are you blogging yourself? What are your highlights? Please share them in the comments below and / or link up!

The first Top Ten Thursday of 2017 will be on January 5, and you knew this was coming, right? Top Ten New Year's Resolutions! If you don't make those, Top Ten Wishes or Plans for 2017. Anything to reflect this brand new year!

After this we are taking a break from Top Ten Thursday in favour of 20 Days of Chill, the writing challenge I am participating in this January.

The next Top Ten Thursday will take place on February 2nd, and I'd like to put together the Top Ten Things (not) to do if friends of yours are breaking up.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Village Walk-Through Advent Calendar

My blogger friend Mandy over at With Love asked for a post about our Village Walk-Through Advent Calendar I announced as one of many of our Holiday activities. 


This is how it works at our town:

Every other year, December 1st - 24, a family or a business decorates their window and reveals it on their assigned day. Actually night. Well, 6pm definitely feels like nighttime in winter. Most offer some snacks, and it's a nice, yet cold, get together. 

I think (this is just my own guess) this tradition started because all of the old-ish houses that were built in the last millennium. They had wooden shutters which of course remind you of the little windows you get to open on your cardboard calendar each day:

I love what the bakeries do with their shutters during the Holiday season:

And then there's what our neighbours down the street did this year:

This is what their house looks like at night. We don't get many buildings that are decorated this nicely! It makes me smile every time I drive by!

Back to our town's advent calendar. When I started at hubby's company in 2012, I signed us up. This is what our "Winter Olympics" office window looked like:

Two years later we had ourselves a fabulous desktop fireplace to keep us warm!

If you try and look closely you can see a funicular going up and down on your right hand side.

This year I discovered those lovely "Tree Lamps" and went for a simple winter wonderland. A couple of deer decided to join us.

What else was out there?

Colin's Elementary School sang "Santa Claus is coming to town" while this window was being lit.

Picture by my Mom

Nativity scene at another family's house. 

A friendly family put together this awesome snowman! The unveiling was on a night I couldn't attend. Remember: Monday: swim class, Tuesday: youth gym, Wednesday: hockey practice,...

Picture by my Mom

Another friendly family once made a number 17 out of empty jars they filled with lamps. Now, come what may, every other year on Dec 17 they book their turn!

We got to meet their new fancy fireplace oven

Number 20 was the last one we were able to attend. We got to know a "new" family at this neighbourhood. They moved here two years ago, so it was about time!

This is what the gathering usually looks like. High quality phone picture, you're welcome ;-)

Even though it requires time, money and personal effort, I like this tradition, and I guess we'll be back in 2018!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Cookie, our Elf on the Shelf 2016, Week 4

Cookie, our Elf had a busy week, she went Christmas shopping, attended a hockey game, helped Colin celebrating his swim class badge,..

Let's see what this week brought!

Like for anybody else, December is a busy time for us. Our social calendar was fully booked even before the month began, and looking back today I am happy to say we got to do almost all of the things we wanted to! 

One was visiting the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck. After Colin's playdate with his hockey buddy (and my ultimate hour of freedom) we went to a town I am not familiar with. 

It was dark, it was cold, it was foggy, and I was very grateful to have a navigation system. We eventually made it! 

The next day Cookie and Coca-Cola Santa were sharing a Coke and looking at Colin's and my picture:

After a two weeks' break - due to large companies renting the whole arena for their holiday party - we were finally back to practice. My former coworker, the hockey team's junior leagues manager, was there to hand out treats.

He also told me that Colin had 2/3 votes to make the cut for the team. The one missing was due to his skating skills. Even though he has been making visible progress it is still not up to their expectations. 

"Here's what you need to do" my friend told me. "You invest in some good quality skates, the ones you keep renting are rubbish, plus you urge him to practice to skate. No stick, no puck, just skating."

All right then... Off to the Bauer store we went... Our little guy is now officially the family member wearing the most expensive "shoes"!!! 

His smile makes it all worth it, though, right?

He even met a girl!

OF COURSE Cookie spent the night in one of the skates ;-)

Gerber scooooores! (insert Charge Stadium Organ Theme

And Cookie and her skate drop to the floor, pardon, ice...

Hockey practice makes an Elf hungry, so she raided our candy stash

Industrial candy didn't quite satisfy her sweet tooth, though. She found a list that Colin made. A list with international food items. "What's a typical snack in Italy? What's an Austrian dessert?" he kept asking. 

That's how he learned about churros. 

As Cookie coincidentally learned there was a churros stand at the Zurich Christmas Market.

We ended up not making it to the market. Traffic, hair appointment, homework and sushi dinner were to blame. 

So we'll be looking for a Latino restaurant that serves churros all year round. If you're local, your suggestions are welcome!

Cookie definitely got her name because she likes sweets. Look at her, having a party with her M&M friends!

After a lot of shopping, laundring, cleaning up and generally working hard, our living room is almost ready for Christmas Eve!

Cookie made friends with musical monkey (he's got a USB cable you connect to your computer, and he dances to the music you play!) They seem to be listening to Christmas songs. Which are your top ten, by the way? Here's some inspiration.

Thank you for being part of this year's Elf fun! Cookie may or may not prolong her stay - depending on Colin's enthusiasm. He's been so busy he barely seemed to notice her some days.Like always on Friday I'm linking up my Elf post on ShaRhonda's blog The 4-Crow's - head over there for updates!

Do you have an Elf on the Shelf at your house? What has (s)he been up to? Leave me a comment below. Also check out my Pinterest board if you're looking for more Elf inspiration!