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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Time Machine

Stickymom woke up one morning and started thinking about how much better off she would be, had "someone" told her a thing or two when she was younger. That's how today's subject came up:

10 things I would definitely tell my younger self
if I got hold of a time machine

As for me, I claim to have no regrets about my life choices. At least not to make any changes if I could re-write my story.

But this is simply about sharing my wisdom, so let's do this:

Hello, younger self, you're looking good! How are you doing? This is your future talking, which is actually a great thing, I tried to meet my older self one day, and it was quite enlightning, so listen carefully:

  1. No matter what you'd like to think, friends are not always forever. Actually they rarely are. Enjoy it while it lasts and don't feel bad to move on. If you're always the one calling, listening, giving your time, and there's never anything in return any more, it's not worth it. You're not being petty, you're being realistic.
  2. I agree, you might never need math in real life. Or other school stuff for that matter. It's still important to get the basics, though. Even if it's just to make sure you can graduate. It's no fun to be the subject of a "grading conference" where teachers debate whether you're lazy or  just limited in your capacitities.
  3. Speaking of teachers. Yes, there will always be the ones who just don't get you. That's their problem, not yours. However, they're the ones who grade you. Learn to get along. 
  4. As you'll have your first job you will notice that there are a****** bosses, just like teachers. There's no point in getting annoyed every day. Use your energy do to a good job and focus on where you can make a difference. Changing idiots into nice and smart people won't work, but you can change your attitude.
  5. When you're young you may have to accept jobs to make a living. Don't lose your dreams out of sight, though. Try to find something to do that you love. You spend a lot of time at work, better make it a good time. Oh, and know when to take a break, too. Blood sucking bosses won't visit you at the hospital after you've had a heart attack. Fortunately I didn't have to learn this the hard way. I listened to my husband for a change.
  6. You can't please everyone. If in doubt, please yourself! Simple as that. It's not selfish, it's healthy. And if you don't look out for yourself, who will? It's nice to be helpful and trustful, just try and be more skeptical sometimes. Saves you quite a bit of trouble.
  7. Boys? Tough to find the needle in the haystack, but there are a few nice ones out there. Take your time and remember, it's better to be alone than in a bad relationship! Heartache is a bitch, but just like math you can't avoid it, and you'll have to deal with your share of it. You'll come out a stronger person. 
  8. Marriage and kids - just because everybody is doing it at a certain age doesn't mean if you don't, you'll  miss out. Everyone goes at their own speed. If it's in your cards, you'll get there.
  9. Speak up! Even if you're pretty good at mind reading yourself, other people aren't. You have to tell them what you want, and how and when you want it. This goes for business and private life and has nothing to do with bossing people around, but merely about communicating your expectations and giving people a fair chance to meet them.
  10. Have faith in yourself. Listen to your intuition, if something feels wrong, be brave and don't do it. If you feel storngly about something but think it's unattainable, do your homework. Find a way! Ask for help! I know you can!

That was a lot of preaching. If you can only do one thing, please pick #10 - everything else will follow. Now go out there and kick a**! Love ya!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Carrot Risotto

Can you believe it's Monday? Again?? 

We had an unplanned playdate and a spontaneous dinner at a restaurant on Saturday and lived off leftovers on Sunday, so I didn't feel I had the time or pressure to go groceries shopping. 

So in about an hour hubs would be coming home for lunch, and I had - nothing?



"Not again…"

I could make fish sticks! I always have fish sticks in the freezer. And fish calls for rice. It was an unusual foggy morning considering we are supposed to be in the middle of our summer vacation. Fog = fall = risotto! right? 

This is what I whipped up:


1 cup risotto rice (200 - 225g)
2.5 cups diced carrots (300g) - works with other veggies, too (peas, broccoli, asparagus)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp parsley
salt, pepper to taste
4.25 cups vegetable broth (1liter)

grated parmigiano cheese


Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add carrots and parsley. 

Sauté and stir until the moisture evaporates. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour in rice and stir until rice is coated with olive oil.

Reduce heat to medium-high.

Set kitchen timer to 20 minutes

Carefully pour in about a cup of veggie stock. Be prepared for a lot of steam!

Stir until liquid is completely absorbed by the rice.

Pour in the second cup of broth and stir until mixture comes to a simmer. Again, stir until liquid is absorbed, add the next cup of stock. By the time your alarm is going off, all the broth should be absorbed, and the rice is smooth and "creamy".

You are ready to serve!

Carrot risotto with fish sticks - beats frozen pizza on the health scale, right? Tastes yummy, too! I hope you'll give this a try and let me know how you liked it! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Recycling Paradise

In my #100HAPPYDAYS post I was talking about the next challenge I am eyeing with: 

De-cluttering 365 Items in 365 Days 

Now I can't clean up every day. Well, I can, and I do. I have to, but that's just to maintain  the status quo. Our house is in need of more radical treatment!

This Sunday we did about a month's worth, probably more! 

The rule is that the items have to leave the house, so we set aside bags with baby toys to take to C's daycare and a bag with gifts I don't appreciate to re-gift, and come Monday we packed up our car with throw away items, and to the newly opened recycling paradise we went!

One of my problems with clutter is that I don't know how to get rid of it when it doesn't fit in a trash bag. Yes, around here we can't just stuff it into a huge garbage container.

We fill 30 liter (7 gallons) bags and leave them on the sidewalk once a week. Each bag requires a CHF 3 sticker. CHF 3 = USD 3.32
Go figure.  

A paradise it was, indeed! Only 3km (2 miles) away, too!

Mon - Sat from 9 - 12 and 1 - 6pm, not too bad! 

Our basement was full of waste paper, cardboard, plastic / glass bottles and tin cans. 

What we usually would do:

Bundle up, leave on sidewalk 4 times a year

Using the tin can press, squash and insert

Toss in one glass jar after the other,
making sure to know your colors: white, green, brown
Those containers are located in the village center.

Plastic bottles go here (supermarkets)
Individually pressed, one after the other
Not anymore!

Just dump your un-bundled paper!!!

Dump hundreds of plastic bottles at once!
There's also a counter for special / bulky items. You have to pay for those. I don't know how much it is - the things I put on the conveyer belt didn't trigger the weight minimum, so the lady wished me a nice day, and I was free to go!

Well, not without checking out the kids' area! Early practice makes the master, right?

With an empty trunk (well, almost empty, we wanna keep our hockey stick! The new season is just around the corner, they've already prepped the blue lines at our stadium!) and in high spirits we went home! 

Are you an avocado head?

Every psychology / leadership book will tell you how motivation works. Forget about salary increases or company cars! Give people appreciation and recognition, and they'll do anything!

Today's post is to prove that I work exactly like this. Now as a part-time employee of course I wouldn't mind a pay raise, but frankly I don't deserve it. I am on FB, and I google recipes during working time. Not acceptable? Taking advantage of working for the husband? Maybe. 

Ever since my peach cake has been featured in the current edition of Southern Special I'm totally motivated to do more food posts! Although I still think it's a pain to wash my hands and photograph every step, I do like the results!

Plus I bought this bag of "Kati Kati" a special coffee bean blend from Kenya and Ethiopia, that I wanted to taste - and I needed a food pairing to go with! 

So, in addition to lemonies lemon brownies I made Avocado Muffins today! 
I used the Betty Bossi recipe and converted the ingredients for you. Don't ask me how to measure 0.85 cups of milk, though! Wait, I know! Buy yourself a metric measuring cup!!

This is what you'll need:

150g white sugar (0.75 cups)
0.25 tsp salt
1 egg
200 ml milk (0.85 cups)
150g almonds, ground (1.5 cups)
150g all purpose flour (1.2 cups)
2 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp baking soda
1 avocado
2 tbsp lemon juice

This is what you'll do:

  • Line a 12 muffin tray
  • Preheat oven at 180°C (350°F)
  • In a bowl mix together the sugar, salt, egg and milk.
  • In another bowl mix together the dry ingredients: almonds, flour, baking powder and baking soda
  • In a shallow dish mesh the avocado with a fork and sprinkle it with the lemon juice, so it won't turn brown.

  • Now mix everything well together and fill in muffin tray.

  • Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, depending on your oven. Check with a toothpick. 

  • Remove from the oven and the tray and let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

Holy Guacamole, this is goooood!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - 10 things I hate about summer vacation

Stickymom sent her kids back to school yesterday. Yes, winter holidays are over in South Africa. So we decided to come up with this:

The top ten things you hate most about school vacation

I'll admit, my first thought was to say "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday …"

But then I realized I would still have to find five more!! Also I don't hate every day of the week just because the little guy is in my face all the time. No - I still get to go to work three days, hahaha!


I don't hate school vacation.

Maybe I'm too new to it? After the first realization that I won't have any me-time for a couple of weeks, I'm pretty excited about the opportunity to reconnect with Colin and to do stuff together. So much that on our first day off we held a workshop to list "things to do" for our summer bucket list. 

He took care of the beverage service,
and he did a great job!

Back to the topic at hand. There are a few minor things that are a bit annoying:

  1. I can't kiss Colin goodbye and send him off to school on Monday mornings only to linger in my jammies and waste some time online before tackling those nasty chores.
  2. I have to share my iPad!
  3. All of our neighbors and friends with kids are away - so I have to be the goalie, the defense wall and the forward!
  4. Sunblock. There are no such things as ultra sheer, dry-touch, sweat-proof, oil-free, long-lasting, damage-reversing, budget-friendly sunblock lotions, gels or sprays. There just aren't.
  5. Mosquitos - I hate the sound they make! I hate that when I finally decide to turn on the lights - the mosquito is gone! Well, not gone, of course. Sitting somewhere, laughing at me, patiently waiting for me to turn the lights back off and try to fall asleep. Because that's when buzzing starts again.
    Last summer I read about smells that mosquitos hate. I kid you not! I spiked some lemon halfs with cloves, burnt sage leaves and put them, along with some leaves of a tomato plant on my nightstand. The mosquito left me with a couple of itching bites and a note "next time bring basil".
    And they don't just attack me. They're after Colin as well. Look at the poor guy's eyelid!
  6. A staycation in Switzerland is almost as expensive as going away. That's what you get for playing bucket list!
  7. Other families out and about. The kind that leave their kids run wild and spoil them rotten until they finally stop whining. Rides, ice cream, toys with no end. They're making it hard for me to set and observe limits. And it's not that C isn't well taken care of!! 
  8. Vacation opening hours. It's not that our opening hours are anything spectacular during "regular time", but don't count on every so called service to be available during a summer vacation day. Post office hours below.
  9. Speaking of available. Please, please don't let Colin catch chicken pox or have yet another tooth knocked out. Because if that happened, of course our pediatrician and / or dentist would be where? At the beach? In the mountains? I don't know - but I can tell you where they will not be: at their office. 
  10. No rest for the weary housewife. Cooking, cleaning, laundering, repeat.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Use your words - Have Faith in Humanity

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: 

conversation ~ pretty ~ informed ~ news ~ aggravation ~ mirror

They were submitted by Baking In A Tornado  - thank you, Karen!

In December 1938, Nicky Winton, a British guy in his late 20s, was about to leave for a skiing vacation in Switzerland, when his friend Martin Blake called. During that conversation it turned out that Martin was volunteering at a Jewish refugee camp in Czechoslovakia. Conditions were not pretty. It was cold, they were scared, and they didn't have enough food. Nicholas felt compelled to do something. He especially wanted to help getting the kids out of the country. 

He was informed that kids from Czechoslovakia were not covered by the Kindertransport organization, so he set up his own rescue mission - operating from his hotel room.

Hundreds of desperate families soon heard about the news and lined up. Winton signed the kids up and worked on meeting the requirements of the British government, so they would admit those kids:
  • A GBP 50 guaranty to pay for the child's care, education and eventually their return trip. Considering inflation this is about the equivalent of USD 4,000 today
  • Find foster families willing to temporarily take in a child or two - nobody wanted to believe that this situation would turn into aggravation and become long-term, if not indefinite
  • Arrange for paperwork and transportation. Nicholas admitted that forgery was a factor when it came to the kid's documents. In an interview the journalist implied that Nicky had managed to do what he did through a little deception, a little smoke and mirrors..?!" - "Yes, to a certain extent" he smirked.

Back to England, Winton had to do his day job as a stock broker, but he mobilized his mother and a couple of friends to continue his work, and at night he was wrestling with bureaucracy. He managed to get out 669 kids before borders were closed when WW II began on Sept 1st, 1939.

Almost 50 years later his wife found the scrapbook in which he had kept records, letters and the list of the kids he rescued. She contacted the media, and his story went viral. They found many of the people who got out of Czechoslovakia thanks to Nicky Winton:

Hanna Slome talking about coming to England as a 14 yo

Dave Lux, another child survivor

If you have some time, watch those videos. Goosebumps guaranteed. Tears most probably, too. 

Now, even though I came across this story by accident, I do have a personal connection to the Holocaust topic. 
Grandma and me, earlier this year
My grandma's family got out of Germany early enough, and granddad even escaped twice. I am sure there are many people who helped them in one way or another, but I have no chance of finding out who they were and if they are still alive.

So today 105 year old Nicky Winton is my poster boy for all those courageous, altruistic and simply great people out there! Thank you for not looking the other way, for taking charge and for being compassionate!

“If something is not impossible, 
then there must be a way of doing it”
Sir Nicholas George Winton

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

Baking In A Tornado 

Spatulas on Parade 
Stacy Sews and Schools
Sparkly Poetic Weirdo 
Confessions of a part time working mom 
Dates 2 Diapers 2
The Bergham Chronicles
The Sadder but Wiser Girl
The Momisodes
Someone else's Genius   
Follow me home
Crumpets and bollocks