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Friday, March 31, 2017


It's this time of the month again! We're submitting five pictures that reflect a certain theme, and in celebration of the fourth anniversary of A'lil Hoohaa's Photo Blog Challenge, the theme is four.

Now when I signed up for it I thought my first picture was going to be of a four-leaved clover, you know because it's St. Patrick's Day and all? Well, guess what, they're all three-leaved! The rainbow has six colous, and on the dessert plate were five cupcakes. 

What I can show you instead is four toilet paper roll leprechauns. They usually wear a regular green hat. However one of the pranks our real life leprechauns pulled the night leading up to St. P's Day was to put knitted hats on them. 

How did they get their hands on knitted hats, you might ask? Every year in winter those cute little hand-knit hats appear on Innocent Smoothies as an initiative called the big knit. A percentage of the sales goes to senior people whose lives are tough during the cold months.

I am always amazed by the creativity of those people who submit their pieces of art!

Here's a nice little side story: I posted the picture of the four leprechauns wearing knitted hats to Innocent Switzerland's Facebook page, and you know what happened? The person who knitted one of the hats discovered it, came forward and said "hey, one of them is mine!"

The next shot is of my son Colin's happy face when he learned that after four years of hard work at hockey school he's been accepted to the youth team!

Four limbs! Daddy is showing us how a proper snow angel is done! For his birthday we surprised him with a trip to the Igloo Village.

I'm still doing the low carb thing. Instead of good old pizza this is a set of four cauliflower crust mini pies. (Post with recipe and instructions goes live April 4) It's actually pretty yummy as there is a good amount of cheese in and on top of it!

As the month was progressing, I was getting a bit desperate. I haven't come across picture-worthy subjects. Until I ended up at spot #4 at the grocery pick-up. Ha! PS: Did you notice that my car has four wheels?

Bonus picture, it's always 4 o'clock somewhere!

This is the giant (9 meters in diameter and 3 storeys high) clock at Aarau, Switzerland  railway station. It was installed in 2010, after the renovation of the station. For a couple of years we believed it was the largest clock in Europe - until a French guy came forward. 

"Ours in Cergy-Saint-Christophe (just outside of Paris) measures 10 meters" he claimed. Ooohps!

To add insult to injury we also forgot to illuminate our clock hands! It got corrected in the meantime. 

I hope you had fun with my pictures. Now head over to A'lil Hoohaa's blog to check out the other #Photoblogchal contributions!

On my own account let me mention that as of tomorrow I will be posting daily (except Sundays) for the A - Z Blogging Challenge, here's my theme reveal. If you're interested and super brave / optimistic, you may still join!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Top Ten Thursday - Resolutions Review

Welcome to Top Ten Thursday!

Last week we had a deep discussion about our final wishes, today let's move on and look ahead! How have we been doing on our New Year's Resolutions? 

Here's what I had committed to:
  1. Lose weight! 10kg would be great, 15 even better. That's 20 - 30 pounds. I don't worry too much about weight (even though I'm probably where I was when I was pregnant, ouch, but I worry about not fitting into my fat jeans anymore.) 
  2. Eat no chocolate, no cookies, no cake and drink no wine for at least the month of January
  3. Get some exercise, even it it's just walking
  4. Keep up the purging, I need to file my 2016 (and while I'm at it, 2015,...)
  5. Volunteer at our village's activity society. I signed up to do a scavenger hunt for their 15 years' anniversary convention
  6. If something won't have a place to live, I won't purchase it. Did you hear that, IKEA?
  7. Spend less time on social media. Geez the time I'm gonna save!
  8. Speaking of saving. This is the year I need to drastically cut spending money!
  9. Simplify chores in favour of more me-time for writing
  10. Breathe

Now let's take a hard look at the reality:

  1. To my own surprise I'm halfway there, and I am super happy about that!
  2. Actually I found out that dark chocolate is OK. I made avocado brownies and chocolate zucchini bread that I enjoy in tiny portions!
  3. OMG I've been doing so well! Monday: Zumba, Thursday: Personal Training, Saturday: Fat Burning Aerobics
  4. Not much going on in the purging department :-( Piles are still hanging out on my desk. Actually I pushed them right to the edge, they are not safe, somebody should come and rescue them!
  5. Attended the board meeting just this week. I have some general ideas, it's going to be fun. As it isn't taking place until mid-May, I won't have to start right away (busy month of April ahead: A - Z Blogging Challenge, you know!)
  6. Did somebody say IKEA? I got some pillow cases. Red ones for Valentine's (and Christmas), green ones for St. Patrick's Day. They don't take up much space, I promise.
  7. With all the time I spent working out and chopping veggies I definitely missed an hour or two of facebooking. Didn't really miss much though, I guess.
  8. Now those veggies don't come cheap. Also I needed some workout gear. Otherwise I did OK.
  9. I didn't have nearly enough me-time to write which is too bad because I wanted to write ahead every A - Z post. I do have 12, so that's a start.
  10. My new Apple Watch is reminding me to breathe twice a day. No joke!!! Today, just as I was focusing on my breathing, the oven timer went off, and I had to look after our dinner. Later I discovered that the watch said something like "you got interrupted. Want to breathe again?"

That comes up to an average score of 5. Considering there were some tough goals I am happy with that!

How about you? You did you do these first +/- 100 days in 2017? On track? Derailed? Re-evaluating? Let me know in the comments down below or link up your own post using the link-tool.

This was the last post for the next couple of weeks. Some of us are going to be super busy posting every day (except Sundays) for the A - Z Blogging Challenge. 
Even though I have a couple of posts written ahead, I'd still like to take a break from Top Ten Thursday during that time. 

So we will be back on Thursday, May 4, and we'll talk about the top ten things that today's kids should learn at school - besides the usual math, reading and writing. I'd like to go more along the lines of life skills, stuff that will matter. Here's the sign-up.

The week after, on May 11, which is very close to Mother's Day, we'll do something motherly, alright? For those who are Moms I'd like you to reflect on how your role has been shifting as your kid(s) grew older. Top ten obvious or surprising changes. For those who have a Mom, list the top ten things she did for you which you are grateful! If both apply, up to you to choose. Do both?! Sign up here!

Now please check out the other posts that linked up below! 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Top Ten Thursday - Resting in Peace

Welcome to Top Ten Thursday!

I recently lost a schoolmate and encouraged you to list the top ten things you want to happen after you pass away. Organ donation, song requests for the funeral, your partner getting re-married eventually, whatever comes to mind. 

So when my time has come (and I like to think it'll be long after Colin moved out and has his own family) these are the things that are important to me:
  1. I hope to be able to die peacefully. Like falling asleep and just drifting away. Before I do so I'd love to get the chance to say goodbye to those who are important to me. I figure this must be awkward, more so for the ones left behind than for myself. What are they supposed to say? "See you?" "Good luck?" If they're at loss of words they should simply say "it's been a pleasure and an honor knowing you. You made a difference on this earth." That'd actually be really nice. 
  2. If I'm sick with no realistic chance of meaningful recovery, I don't want to be resuscitated or be kept alive by tubes and machines - except if it's required to keep my organs viable.
  3. Anything that may be of help for a sick person may be acquired. Organ Donation is close to my heart, pun intended. At least this way passing away makes some sense.
  4. I want to be cremated because the idea of rotting away in a casket is too scary. My gravestone has got to have some bling-y components! Thomas Sabo should probably design it.
  5. Location: just as we didn't get married in a church (but a castle), I think it'd be nice to gather at the local creek (should I still live around here. If I eventually made it to San Diego, then of course La Jolla Cove is the place to go)
  6. At my funeral people may wear whatever they please (especially if it's a beach funeral). No need to rent some hideous black suit or something that makes them even more uncomfortable than they already are. 
  7. Music: Elton John (don't let the sun go down on me, candle in the wind), Phil Collins (another day in paradise), Whitney Houston (I'll always love you) and Mozart (I wish I knew how it's called. Gotta find out) should be played.
  8. In a slide show I want people to see about my favourite happy places in California, South Africa and Australia and my favourite happy moments.
  9. In Switzerland it is customary to either bring flowers or slip the family some cash to contribute to the costs of this funeral - I'd much rather people donated that amount to a charity of their choice.
  10. Now about the funeral meal. I am conflicted. When I attend a funeral I go there to pay my respects to the deceased person and their family. Usually afterwards you're invited to grab a bite at a nearby restaurant. Some turn out to be real feasts with people getting (near) drunk and seeming to have a fun time. Now in my book that's wrong. I get that life goes on, and mourning people are supposed to move on, blablabla, but please, can we at least wait for 24 hours or so??? On the other hand it's an opportunity for family and friends who usually don't get the opportunity to get together to, well, get together. If they use this time to connect and celebrate their lives and friendships, OK. Still, if I have something to say about that, I say no meal, no drinking! Go home, hug your loved ones, take a nap or a walk!

Phew, that was a tough post to write. I hope its content will not be relevant for a long time. I didn't mention the allocation of my assets. A) I don't think there will be much and B) I trust my husband to do what's appropriate. Yes, I do assume I'll go before he does which is against the statistics - but hey, it's my post!!

Have you thought about what you want or don't want to happen after you're gone? Care to share? Please do so in comments below or link up your own blog post, using the linky-tool.

What's next?

On March 30 we will do a review on how well we've been doing on our New Year's Resolutions? Sign up here. 

It will be the last post for the next four weeks. A couple of us are going to be super busy posting every day (except Sundays) for the A - Z Blogging Challenge. 
Even though I have a couple of posts written ahead, I'd still like to take a break from Top Ten Thursday during that time. 

So we will be back on Thursday, May 4, and we'll talk about the top ten things that today's kids should learn at school - besides the usual math, reading and writing. I'd like to go more along the lines of life skills, stuff that will matter. Here's the sign-up.

Now please check out the other posts that linked up below! 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tribute to a former classmate

For many people 2016 wasn't a good year, and I'm not even sure if 2017 has been better for them so far. 

As for me 2016 was an OK year. One highlight was our college reunion in November. I didn't blog about it, mainly because some classmates explicitly asked not to have their picture posted on social media. 

It was so nice seeing many of them, 17 / 20 people made it, and even though  since we graduated 25 years ago, many of us had never met again, it felt like we haven't changed much.

Graduation Party

A little hair loss, a little weight gain, apart from that, the way they were moving, talking, laughing - exactly the same! Pretty amazing!

It was a Friday night, it had been a long week, and rush hour traffic in the rain and parking space hunting had worn me out. Around 10pm I was ready to leave. 

I had switched seats often during the course of the evening and had a chance to talk to most of them individually. Not to Urs, though, so I thought what's half an hour more, and I sat down and listened to him telling me about his wife, his three kids and his job.

So glad I did that!

Back when we were commuting to college he lived in a neighbour town, so we often rode the train together. Even though we didn't have much in common, I always enjoyed his company. He was an excellent listener, gave good advice and had a great sense of humor. Also he was super smart and helped me many times when I had math or accounting trouble.

Can you imagine my shock when I opened an envelope last week, and it was his death notice? I read it several times and kept thinking "that's got to be a mistake. I only just saw him. He was fine! He can't be gone."

Etiquette or not, I found out his wive's e-mail address (she's a food blogger, I immediately liked her!) I sent her a note expressing my condolences and telling her what I liked about her husband.

She responded and told me he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the beginning of February, and by the time the doctors told him there was nothing they could do for him, he had 24 hours, and he closed his eyes forever.

I couldn't believe it. I think I could have accepted an accident or a heart attack (he certainly had a risk factor or two going against him), but a nasty cancer that progressed that quickly? He deserved so much better.

A couple of days later two college girlfriends and I car-pooled and attended his funeral at a town about an hour away. It was a good thing we left early because that small village got flooded with friends and family of the deceased. 

There weren't enough seats at church, and it was comforting to see how many people could make it. 

"We're not supposed to be here today" his childhood friend said. "And yet here we are." 

He shared a lot of happy memories and had nice things to say about his friend's parents, how he was alway welcome at their house, and how the Mom restocked the surprise drawer (full of chocolate, candy, cookies and chips) in no time after they'd raided it. 

"It doesn't come as a surprise that his own home was the same." He added. 

It turned out that Urs joined a local marching band and volunteered as a board member taking care of the money part. (Of course, see above. Math and accounting. His forte.) The person who was speaking said they were looking for a president for quite a while, and at some point Urs said alright, I'll do it. He was officially elected the night before he checked himself into the hospital. Darn.

They played a piece he requested, and I thought at least he had enough time to make arrangements.

One of his neighbours spoke and described what it was like to live next door to Urs. "You didn't have to tell him you needed something - he knew and was just there to help."

I could go on and on, it was painfully beautiful to hear that he cared for the people around him just like he did as a class member. 

I only saw his wive and two daughters from afar and in the slide show that was being shown, but his 10 year old son had been walking around, welcoming all the familiar faces, and he is his Dad's spitting image! If he was watching from above, his heart must have melted!

Urs, you kindness, warm-heartedness and positive attitude will not be forgotten! May you rest in peace!

Monday, March 20, 2017

A - Z Blogging Challenge - Theme Reveal

Welcome to this year's A-Z Blogging Challenge! Even though the first post isn't due until April 1st, today we're revealing our theme.

Hi, my name is Tamara aka part-time working (hockey) mom. I live in Switzerland and I am going to talk about fitness, health, clean food, weight loss, the whole nine yards! 

(Yes me, the couch potato and cake lover, hard to believe!)

My goal is to keep it light and fluffy, though.

Yes, I won't be able to avoid words like "calories" and "workout" - can't expect miracles here, but as I said, we are here to have fun! Even if I have a weight loss goal, I don't want to lead the life of a grim rabbit whose only intake is veggies.

As a matter of fact I had some sparkling wine and chocolate mint cupcakes this weekend, and it didn't kill me.

Now I am far from being a fitness guru. There is a lot of information out there, and frankly, I don't know how much of it is true. 

I feel like for many people this topic is like a religion: 
  • One person believes in low-carb, one swears weight watchers is the most sustainable  method, and then there is the one who recommends to sleep more and skip the diet!
  • Broccoli bloats vs broccoli has anti-inflammatory benefits plus loads of vitamin K and C!
  • One article says "weight loss is 75% diet and 25% exercise" - the next says exercising (alone) pretty much won't help you lose weight. 
So let's take the information for potential alternative facts and find out for ourselves, using some common sense, shall we.

I hope you'll accompany and support me on my journey, be it as a reader or better yet, a cheerleader and / or kindred spirit!

This is the third time I'm participating in the A - Z Blogging Challenge. 

2015 I was talking about obstacles I'm meeting as a part-time working Mom, especially when my son was younger, and 2016 coincidence had it that I was traveling, so I blogged about the aspects of being on the road. 

How can you follow me?

My blog - leave your e-mail address and get updates delivered to your inbox!
Google +

I appreciate your interest and support. Hope to see you back for the letter A in 10 days! In the meantime don't forget to check out some of the numerous other posts: The great and powerful A - Z Challenge

St. Patrick's Day Weekend 2017

I can't believe my favourite holiday is over! Even if we made it a whole weekend's celebration, time just went by?!

At least I tried to capture it with pictures, so here goes:

Of course in the morning of the 17th we found out that leprechauns had visited. You can read about their shenanigans here.

Colin had to go to school and I left for work, but at least we were dressed our part. Of course very few Swiss people know about and care, much less celebrate St. Patrick's Day, so we're being stared at.

It goes without saying that probably the only "restaurant" celebrating the green holiday is the McArthur's Pub but at least local eateries offer green asparagus ;-)

Saturday Colin joined his friends for Cevi afternoon. Cevi is kind of the pathfinder's opponent. Unfortunately it was the most ugly day weather wise. It was pouring, and even though they were dressed in rain gear when they arrived home they were soaking wet.

That's the reason for them being in their favorite sweat suits after a nice hot shower. I know it looks more like a Halloween party!

Green pasta for the boys, 

Shepherd's pie for the adults!

And of course I was taking a break from counting calories that day. Bring on the sparkling wine! 

 And the cupcakes!!!

I did, however, take care of five a day. Make that six!

My app was still not impressed!

Time to get back on track on Sunday! 

Our friends suggested to check out that new indoor play area two towns over. C was not amused about the fact that we were walking there!!!

Thank God for Pokemon!

It wasn't really a nice walk, we basically crossed the industrial area. All of a sudden Colin approached me and said "Mommy, let's hug!" Of course I was touched. "Are you sorry for being so grumpy with me?" "No, but that's what it says, over there!" Hug is a family name around here, but I do love his grasp of the English language and of course the adaptation!

That kid's place was so knew that it was hard to find! Are we there yet?

Almost there?

We made it!

For the next two hours we barely saw the guys...

They were super happy about the F&B

Back home I made pasta for hubby and son, but I had this green veggie dinner myself.

I did pretty well, don't you agree?

How about you? How did you celebrate St. Patrick's Day? Let me know in comments down below and be sure to check back later for the "A - Z Blogging Challenge There Reveal" later today (it's already Monday over here)!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Use Your Words - Leprechaun's Mischief

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:

Green ~ Blustery ~ Lucky ~ Awake ~ Stirring ~ Gold

They were submitted by Life on the Ranch - thanks, Diane!

Everyone who knows me is perfectly aware of how much I love St. Patrick's Day. I posted the top ten reasons why just yesterday!

Even though we're the only ones celebrating, and it is tough to find supplies around here, I look forward to it every year. Also it usually means the cold and blustery days are over, and spring is upon us!

Earlier this week I contributed to Blog with Friends. The theme was green. Of course, right? There were wonderfully versatile posts, if you have a minute, check them out.

So what are my plans for this year's St. Patrick's Day?

Well, I have to work on Friday, so we decided to have our party on Saturday. Of course I somehow had to manage to be prepared by Friday morning. Let's see:

Our loyal LEGO man got dressed up as a leprechaun once again. He even got a nice new hat and a necklace that says KISS ME, I'm IRISH! Darth Vader got his eyes greened.

Barbies are all dresses up and have stocked up on sweet goodies.

I wrapped cereal boxes with green and golden paper and created labels like "Pot of Gold Frosties". We can't buy Lucky Charms in Switzerland, but at least Froot Loops have been introduced to our market Our food regulations don't allow for super bright food coloring, so ours look kind of dull.

The living room is decorated and ready to go.

Our Leprechaun Hotel is expecting guests - it's also a trap, haha!

Beer is chilling

All of our TP leprechauns got an Innocent hat. 

Ooohhhh, a green car for Colin!

Colin's green stuffed animals ended up in his hockey bag.

There were items switched around: the herbs & spice rack went into the bathroom cabinet and toiletries miraculously ended up in the kitchen cabinet. 

Shower gel, shampoo? Check the fridge!
The shower rack offered refreshing beverages in return.

All right, then!!! Enjoy Coca-Cola, that's what it says, Mom!

Colin and his friends recently attended a birthday party where they were allowed to play bartender. Of course they'll want to be stirring their green St. Patrick's Day cocktails. He asked for pineapple juice, lime and kiwi. 

It goes without saying that there was a special snack box (check out the jokes) full of green goodies (and I'm not talking about veggies),

 Test tubes were filled with with Jelly Beans in every rainbow color. 

Shoes were tied together with green ribbon.

I wasn't sure how to go about the mischief. Thursday was hockey play-off night, so Colin was up late. I tried to prepare and hide as much as I can and stay awake longer than him. 

Well, that didn't go as planned. Good thing I usually can't sleep through the night.

Now please head over and check out the other posts and have a great St. Patrick's Day! 

Baking In A Tornado                        
Spatulas on Parade                   
The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver                      
On the Border           
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy 
The Bergham Chronicles 

Simply Shannon                    
PS: I'm going to take a break from SSS and UYW next month. I'll be posting daily for the A - Z Blogging Challenge throughout April. Hope you'll drop in occasionally!