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Friday, September 12, 2014

Use your words - 7 reasons I hate to purge

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: 

messy ~ disagreement ~ help ~ play ~ books

They were submitted by The Sadder But Wiser Girl   - thank you, Sarah!

Now THAT sounds just like a regular day at our house! Navigating through messy rooms to find stuff we need, having a disagreement with Mr C on gadget privileges, helping forcing him do his homework so there is still time to play or read books.

As hard as I try to keep things neat and organized around here - it always feels and looks messy. And you know what they say… if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck - your house probably IS messy.

After completing the #100HAPPYDAYS challenge I joined 365 items in 365 days - and I have been posting twice since. Yes, I work in monthly chunks. 

baking drawer BEFORE

baking drawer AFTER

wardrobe drawer BEFORE

wardrobe drawer AFTER

I admit, it feels good to post the AFTER pictures. 

What is holding me back to tackle the rest of the house then? 

Well, first of all, 

I simply hate the work that is involved. 

Doing the work is more annoying than enjoying the result. I'd rather write on my blog, play a game, watch a movie or read a book.

Secondly, the rest of my family and I are in disagreement on how to handle "stuff", which is not helpful. They insist that it is important to keep magazines that go back to the year 1990 - because when I am retired I want to read them again! Those magazines, along with cassette tapes and vinyl records - for which we don't have any equipment to actually play them anymore - take up a whole cabinet in a prime location like Colin's room! Plus one in the basement. And let me tell you: those are smelly! 

Gotta hand it to the guy, though: after much nagging from my part, he unsubscribed the daily newspaper because it kept going directly from the mailbox to the waste paper stack - unread. Because, iPad!
What's with the broken guitar, you ask? Weeeell, one day I'm gonna have it fixed, so I can play again! There are also two or three remote controlled choppers that one day might get fixed. Maybe our grandkids get to play with them?

Have you ever read about the day our water pipe leaked and soaked all of our belongings in the basement, because our storage system basically consisted of a bunch of paper bags? 

I rented a steel container and spent a whole entire afternoon dumping everything that had become soggy - lots of picture postcards, magazines and books - or had to go because it was broken, dusty or otherwise annoying. I was feeling so accomplished!

Can you believe the husband spent the whole entire evening taking everything out again and sorting through stuff that might still be useful? Major disagreement! Not one of our marriage's finest hours...

Third: I lack space and storage solutions, and I really think the retail offerings around here are not helping my purpose. I was searching high and low for a shoe rack where boots fit in. Couldn't find an affordable one. It took an old boyfriend with a good memory to solve the shoe issue. And I'm not even a shoe girl!!

The number four reason: Once I get myself to start, I not only get carried away but also distracted. I'll show you. These are my purging boxes: 

They come on wheels for easy traveling between rooms. I bought them last Christmas, I thought they would be a motivator. So the other day I wanted to tackle the bathroom cabinets. In order to be ready I first had to empty the boxes. This alone is annoying, right?

The last time I filled the keep box must have been in February cause I found Valentines candy and a picture frame with hearts. I can't quite remember what happened on Feb 14, but something tells me it wasn't huge this year. The love hearts will only expire in 2015, so it's all good. The box also contained some unopened mail, thus invoices. Also dating back to February. Ooohps. Oh, and the Planes DVD that C had been looking for. 

Then I needed to empty the trash basket. What I saw reminded me that I wanted to take a picture that I wanted to included in one of these posts because I thought it was hilarious.
This is why: the other day C asked me "Mommy, you don't have to tell me which ones, but yes or no are you going to give me planes for my birthday?" I wanted to act noncommittal, but he gave me this mischievous smile and said "I kind of know you are - I saw the receipt!"  
What is this, conviction, based on evidence? I didn't even remember having thrown away the receipt after hiding the toys in the furthest flung corner of my closet. I needed to find a new hiding spot after the youngster had raided my former secret stash. 

He ran to the waste bin and showed me. Indeed! Then I put on a mischievous smile myself and said "well, well, what do we have here… a candy wrapper? How come? Has someone stolen my Lindor balls again?"

What your trash tells about you...
To cut the long story short: I took the picture and went ahead and inserted the arrows with Pic Collage and the comments with photo2text.

A couple of days later it got worse! He was helping me making pretzels, and I asked him to take a picture of my dipping the pretzel into the baking soda water, and he did. (He took about 50 pics and videos, but that's not the point.) He kept the phone and started scrolling through the pictures, pleased about the ones where he makes faces. All of a sudden he beams and goes: Now I know what planes you bought:

Pssssst, don't tell him,
he is going to get the circled ones
from his Godmother!
Talking about getting distracted…. And it has a name, too! It's called ADCD, Comic Strip Mama suffers from it as well!

Five: Cleaning out usually involves cleaning, dusting and other unpleasant activities. No like. I do enough of it just to maintain the status quo.

The sixth reason: I am too short, too weak and my arms aren't long enough which makes it hard to reach for those far flung places and carry those stuffed boxes.

And finally, no. 7: As if cleaning up wasn't bad enough, but cleaning up alone is no fun. I have to talk to myself and I've got to repeat myself quite a bit:

"When is the last time you've used this? You can't remember? OK, it has to go!"
"What are you saying? You will wear / use / read it again? Who are you kidding? Donate!"

Which leads me back to reasons number one and two… So if anyone out there loves to purge and is willing to help, please be my guest! I'll bake for you, I'll make dinner, hey, I'll even do your laundry! 

Takers? Anyone? 

Now 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
Evil Joy Speaks
Someone else's Genius  
Confessions of a part time working mom 
Follow Me Home…
The Bergham Chronicles
The Sadder but Wiser Girl
Battered Hope

Monday, September 8, 2014

Oktoberfest Pretzels - o'zapft is!

Over this summer I may have expressed my disdain for the land of soccer world champions, and the feelings actually run deeper than sports. 

German immigrants - we like to call them tax fugitives - have been invading Switzerland these past few years, and while the average German is just as nice as the next person, there are individuals who tend to come across as ignorant and arrogant which I have a hard time dealing with, especially if they happen to be my boss, and I have had several in my career. 

Also the language doesn't sound all too inviting:

That being said, us Swiss folks like to think that Bavaria isn't actually a part of Germany, but rather a North-Eastern canton (state) of Switzerland, cause those guys are rural, down to earth and fun. Clichés, clichés, agreed. 

What is this all about?

Soon Oktoberfest 2014 is going to begin. Oktoberfest means (in no particular order) drinking lots wheat beer, dancing, singing, going on fair rides and eating veal sausage, roast chicken - and pretzels!

There are heated discussions going on about the difference between Bavarian Pretzels, "Bayrische Brezn" and Swabian "schwäbischen Brezel", some even claim there are typical Frankonian ones - which are all Bavarian administrative districts, so what's with the competitiveness?

There are dozens of different recipes. I am confused. Nevertheless I am determined to introduce you to one that I made and like!

Start by making a yeast dough with the following ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour (500g)
1 cup warm water (250ml)
1 tbsp liquid yeast (15g)
3 tbsp butter (45g)
2 tsp salt

Knead dough in the kitchen machine for 5 minutes or by hand for about 15-20 minutes, let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, for about an hour.

Divide your dough into 8 equal pieces and roll them out with your hands to about 24'' (60cm) strings.

Shape into pretzels

If you're feeling frisky you can also do as the pros do:

Let them rise for another 30 minutes

Then put the pretzels in the freezer for 30 - 40 minutes, 
so that they will keep their shape after they went dipping.

In a large pot, dissolve

1 tbsp of salt and 0.5 cup (100g) of baking soda in 50 ounces (1.5 liters) of water

bring to a boil,  

turn off the heat 

and dip each pretzel in for 10 seconds on each side.

Put them on cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper, 

brush with egg wash (1 egg yolk and 1 tbsp water) 

and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

In a preheated oven (400°F / 200°C) 

bake for 12 - 17 minutes, depending on your oven. 

Place on wire rack and let cool. Eat fresh!

Enjoy :-)

PS: in professional bakeries they dip the pretzels in a 3% lye solution to give them the dark brown color. I don't want to do that in my kitchen. You have to get the lye at a drug store explaining why you need something that is corrosive and sign some "we told you it's dangerous" waiver. Then you have to wear chemical-resistant googles and gloves during the dipping procedure, and when you're done you have to pour your lye into a container and bring it back for safe disposal. A no-no for me. Plus I was quite happy with the color of my pretzels without doing any chemistry experiments, thank you very much!

A couple of words about the video below. This is a piece of Oktoberfest tradition you should know about. It's called "o'zapft is". It means as much as the beer barrel has been tapped. 

This year it is going to happen on Saturday, September 20, at 12 noon sharp. There's an actual countdown for the mayor to do this procedure. Thousands of locals and tourists - and of course media - are present in the beer tent for this!

Over the course of the two weeks'  festivities there are going to be seven million people visiting and roughly the same amount of 1 liter beer mugs sold, that's enough to fill three Olympic swimming pools!

Now if you're asking yourself why the Oktoberfest is called Oktoberfest but actually takes place to a larger part in September, you've come to the right place. I googled it for you because I have been wondering about this as well. 

The first Oktoberfest was held Oct 12, 1810 in honor of a royal wedding. It lasted for five days and ended with a horse race.

Over time they moved the festival to an earlier start date mainly for better weather conditions. 

Enough talk. Let's take the hammer and tap that barrel!

Friday, September 5, 2014

September Secrect Subject Swap - 24

Welcome to September’s Secret Subject Swap. Again 11 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  
Sit back, grab a cup - today we'll need all the energy we can get - and check them all out:

My subject is 

Today the sun is up for 24 hours. Just today. 

What do you do with the extra hours in the day today? 

Tomorrow things go back to normal. 

Do you miss the long day? 

It was submitted by Evil Joys Speaks - thanks, Joy!

Draw the curtains and sleep. Let the sun shine for those who care… Can you tell I'm feeling exhausted? I'd love 24 hours of Halloween, but - let's wait for 24 hours' night!

Assuming that special day comes with unlimited amounts of energy, patience and a cheerful mood, then why not take it on September 20? That's the date we've envisaged for holding Colin's birthday party. It has been on his mind all summer long, and I've been holding him off saying he'd start first grade and would meet new friends, so he'd better wait before writing that guest list. The other day he brought up the topic again and asked how many people he could invite.

I sent him to the living room and kitchen and had him count the chairs. He came back and reported to have found ten chairs. That's right. One is for you, makes nine. Dad and I want some cake, so you're down to seven. Grandma is gonna wanna come, we're at six, and that's how old you're turning, so you've got your amount of guests. Wait a minute, does that mean we'll have to buy another chair next year?

He wasn't impressed but proceeded by announcing he wanted to do a video invitation again cause it was so much fun two years ago!


2014 What a difference two years make at that young age!

I haven't told him yet, but thanks to Joy's topic, we will be able to celebrate in shifts!

22,000-square foot custom-built manse in the Brentwood neighborhood of L.A.
That's right, think of it as building skyscrapers! If you don't have the premises of a Giselle Bundchen and Tom Brady you've got to reach for the stars! The ones up in the sky that is!

Willis Tower, formerly known as Sears Tower,
108 stories, 1,452 foot tall
Technically it'd take multiple towers, but you get the picture. So instead of throwing one party from, let's say 1:30 to 5pm we could take a short break, restock toilet paper rolls and iced tea bottles, and then go on to the next batch of guests. Come to think of it, we could actually redecorate in-between! Colin has been thinking about a Brazilian rainforest theme, but he also likes his Disney Cars and Planes. Let's not forget a sports party, think hockey pucks and blue and red lines!

Ha, I'm getting the hang of this! More party, more cake! Different ones, and the day is long, I can squeeze in a whole lot of baking in the morning. 

Limiting oneself, making compromises, setting priorities are all good things to learn for life - but hey, children's birthdays are not the time for it, right? 

Let's talk about the sports party for a minute. He is thinking of having each guest take a couple of rounds of penalty kicks. Those who miss, are eliminated. I argued that some kids might not like to play soccer and feel excluded or embarrassed. They would probably enjoy the Rio party much better! And he would be able to invite kids from the school yard who are not close friends but who would love to show up to the ESPN Party in their favorite club's jersey!

It would allow us to consider other activities his little buddies have typically planned on a Saturday afternoon. Boy scouts meeting, soccer practice, ballet recital, helping their dad washing his car - and they could still make it to the second or third shift of the party. Those of you who are parents of young kids know that I am not exaggerating. They may only be six or seven years old, but their social calendar is busier than ours! And ours is only busy because we have to take the little ones to their appointments and dates.

Let's take a look at the schedule - assuming the house is clean (haha, remember, this whole post is fiction..), and the fridge is full:

8am: get up, make breakfast, take shower, get dressed
9am - 12pm: bake
12:15pm: fix a couple of sandwiches = lunch
12:30pm: decorate for Rio party: plants, parrots, fruit - Colin wants mangoes, pineapples,…

These people on Pinterest… isn't it incredible?
1:30pm: Rio party guests arrive
3pm: Rainforest cake
4:30pm: parents watch their kids dancing to Samba music and then pick up and leave

4:45 - 5:15pm: discarding of jungle stuff, break out the cars and planes

Is this even a real cake?
I could coat a regular round cookie box with fondant
and put a die-cast plance on top. I could  totally pull this off!
5:30pm: Disney guests arrive
7pm: Dusty Crophopper cake
8:30pm: Last gas station filling before sending-off little driving and flying people

8:45 - 9:15pm: drive and fly out Disney props, bring on the leg warmers 

This one is my favorite. Look at the cute little Zamboni!!
And all the retired jerseys! Love, love, love!
9:30pm: Hello, young Cristiano Ronaldo and Sydney Crosby!
11pm: Ice rink cake
12:30am: Victory ceremony and medal awards, fireworks, putting the kids into stretch limos

12:45am: cleaning up, still feeling fresh and cheerful, enjoying a glass of wine, eating more cake, playing with the new toys for a couple of hours…

What time exactly is sunset today? 

After all the partying I guess once tomorrow is here, no, we won't miss the long day and actually be quite grateful for some regular hours. There's only so much kids' birthday party one can take - even me!

PS: there are a few tiny, little flaws in the plan: 

  1. The baking time won't be enough. Well, maybe for baking but not decorating those cakes. But I could totally make them in advance, right? Just need an additional fridge!
  2. Fireworks? In broad daylight? Not sure about that. It does sound nice, though, right?
  3. Oh, and still feeling fresh and cheerful? Wishful thinking. But hey, on 24 hours daylight? Anything's possible...

PPS: Has anyone of you talked to him about the shift partying? Cause the other morning I discovered THIS in our living room:

He hinted how cool it'd be if all his friends could stay over night after the party, and look, there's a place to sleep for everyone (that's where the blankets and beach towels in the background come in…)


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...