Monday, January 31, 2011

Carrot muffin recipe

No Swiss gourmet journey would be complete without indulging the sweet tooth. All over Switzerland fruit is featured in many desserts, such as incredibly flavorful fruit tarts and fresh berries with whipped cream. However, vegetables can make delicious sweet dishes as well.
Following is one of my daughters favourite recipes that we enjoy preparing and devouring together: Carrot muffins

50gr butter
120gr sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 eggs
1dl milk
200gr grated carrots
150gr ground almonds
100gr flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

Preheat oven to 180°C
Melt butter
Place into a large mixing bowl along with sugar, salt and beaten eggs
Mix well with a wooden spoon or electric mixer.
Pour milk into mixture
Add grated carrots. Mix well.
Add ground almonds, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda

Place patty cases into muffin pan.
Place heaped tablespoonfuls of mixture into pan.
Bake for 25 minutes until cooked through. Do not overcook.
Let muffins cool down.

Decorate with marzipan carrots and a whole load of fantasy!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My blackberry is not working!

Sit back and enjoy some British humor!

Have a lovely weekend.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dreaming of a pink sonic chair

Here's a chair that is so easy to fall in love with. The Sonic Chair touch was launched two years ago but I came across it today and just had to share this discovery with you.

The Sonic Chair Touch is a gorgeous spherical chair that comes with built-in speakers that make up a large body-focused sound membrane as a backrest. Honestly, I've always dreamt of having a chair just like this one, yeah right.

There are more than just speakers to this beauty. It has outstanding features like a stainless pedestal that conceals cables and an outside chassis covered with top-grade leather and suede microfiber lining on the inside. If that's not enough and you want even more then there's a special version hat comes with a 20″ iMac attached to a pivoted hinge. Of course, this means the already high price hikes up even more. We know good things come for a price though, so it isn't shocking that the Sonic Touch will make your pocket considerably lighter.

But who can resist dreaming of the pink version?!?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

St.Moritz Polo World Cup on snow

Make he most of your weekend and pop across to the canton Graubünden to the world-renowned resort St.Moritz and mingle with the rich and famous. In just 2 1/2 hours you can be on top of the world soaking in those sunrays. Admittedly, it is cold up there and very expensive but it's a once in a life-time experience.

The teams were warming up on the frozen lake in the Engadine Valley on Wednesday, and St. Moritz looks set to be another great spectacle for the hordes of spectators expected to turn out.

Four international teams take to the lake tomorrow for the start of the 27th St.Moritz Polo World Cup on Snow.

The world-famous polo tournament on the frozen Lake St. Moritz is now being staged as a Nations Cup. Unlike previous years, when teams competed for the Cup under the names of their sponsors, this year's tournament will be a Nations Cup in which each team represents its patron's country of origin. France, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland are the countries contending for victory in the tournament in St. Moritz from January 27th to 30th, 2011.

Come to the 27th St. Moritz Polo World Cup on Snow!

Free entry to the polo games and the piazza. Grandstand and hospitality tickets will be available at the ticket desk on the lake from Thursday to Sunday. Opening hours: 10.30 h – 16.00 h.

Further information available at the website

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Il lago dei Cigni (Swan Lake) a Lugano

"God gives talent. Work transforms talent into genius."
Anna Pavlova - Russian ballerina - especially remembered for her portrayal of a swan in Swan Lake.

Ballet in two acts and four scenes with the Moscow ballet 'Le Classique'. Music by Tchaikovsky, choreography by Evgeny Gurenko. 

The ballet of Swan Lake is inspired by the story "Der geraubte Schleier" (The stolen veil), written by JKA Musäus. The story begins in the castle of Prince Siegfried, who having turned twentyone has reached the age for marriage. The young prince who prefers hunting over matters of the heart goes out with his friends and while chasing a flock of swans comes to a lake where he witnesses the metamorphosis of the feathered creatures into girls. 

The most beautiful is Odette, the princess who explains that the spell cast on her and her companions is the work of the evil magician Rothbart and that the curse vanishes only at night and only on the shores of the lake. Impressed by Odette's story and her grace, Siegfried promises to get engaged to her: the oath of allegiance by a man who has never before found true love is the only key to finally break the spell.

Rothbart hears the sweet dialogue, and devises a terrible plan: he escorts his daughter Odile who is Odette's perfect double but who's soul is bad. The "black swan" seduces the unwitting Siegfried, who then betrays his word to his true love. Odette and her companions are desperate because they now feel irrevocably doomed. However, as soon as Siegfried realizes the deceit he rushes to the lake and begs for Odette's forgiveness. Their love conquers all and wins over the evil: Rothbart is defeated and the two lovers can finally come together.

Spectacular handmade costumes designed by Natalia Pavana. 

Where: Palazzo dei Congressi, Lugano
When: Wednesday January 26th, 2011
Time: 20.30
Te: +41 91 923 31 20

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hae a Happy Burns night

Tonight is Burns Night and Scots all over the world will be celebrating the life and works of Scottish poet Robert Burns. In homage to my Scottish ancestors I am dedicating today's post to one of the best loved and most celebrated of the Scottish poets, who blended the serious, the romantic, and the comical in his many works. 

Robert Burns was born on 25 January 1759 in Alloway in Scotland and died on 21 July 1796. In his short life he made a tremendous impression on many people in Scotland, so it was only natural that they should want to mark his life and works with some sort of celebration. 

The first recorded Burns supper was in 1801 in Alloway when a group of his friends gathered, not in January but in July to mark the fifth anniversary of his death. Some of the traditions which have grown up were established on that first occasion - haggis as the main course and whisky with which to mark the many toasts.

Haggis contains the minced heart, liver, and lungs of a sheep, also called the “pluck” or “offal”, chopped onion, oatmeal, salt, spices, and suet, which is beef or mutton fat. This enticing mixture is then packed into a sheep’s stomach which is tied closed. The whole thing is boiled for approximately three hours, requiring that you keep a close eye to make sure it doesn’t blow up and rain haggis down on your kitchen

The haggis was addressed at that first meal, after all the poet himself had provided the perfect words with which to do so in his poem "Address to a Haggis".

Since those early beginnings, the custom of holding a "supper" to the immortal memory of Rabbie Burns has become a world-wide phenomenon - anywhere that lovers of Scotland and its culture are gathered.

For this celebration a Chairman is appointed as "Master of Ceremonies" who will also ensure that the "Selkirk Grace" is said before the meal begins.

Some hae meat and canna eat;
And some wad eat that want it:
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thankit.

Thereafter follows the Bill of Fare (Menu).

The haggis (usually carried on high by the chef) will be piped in by traditional bagpipes (with the guests all standing at this time) and the Chairman or someone designated by him will deliver the Burns' "Address to a Haggis". This person can not only speak the Scots words (it doesn't have to be off by heart but it certainly helps) but he also usually adds a bit of acting to the performance - especially when he gets to the "An, cut you up wi' ready slight; Trenching your gushing entrails bright" - waiving his knife around while giving the address!

The piper and the chef will be offered a dram of whisky at the end. While whisky should really be sipped, most recipients drink it quickly, in part so that the proceedings may continue! Guests can of course join in the toast if they wish!

The formal part of the evening is brought to a close with the singing of "Auld Lang Syne" - a song which is known around the world. Sometimes each main verse is sung by one of the entertainers but it is also an opportunity to get individual guests to take one verse. Everyone joins in the chorus, standing and joining hands at the last verse.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Expat counselling in Ticino

“For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of all victories.”
As expatriates, we have all lived through the emotional rollercoaster of the various expatriation stages. First the excitement then the curiosity followed by worry and panic swiftly passing on to a feeling of hopelessness and frustration and eventually satisfaction and contempt to having conquered the world.
Strong emotions are attached to farewells, welcomes, exploration of new grounds and meeting new people. The intentions will eventually pave the way for getting a new routine and a way of life into the new place. Moving and expatriating is about change and the ability to accept what comes with it. Nothing in life is permanent. When settling in a new location, let it go, allow the place to send its messages and speak its own language and let the purpose of your presence in the location unfold freely. Being an expatriate is like being an explorer and there are few rules to follow and abundance of benefits to create. The more positive the engine, the better the results. Easy to say!
Therefore, should you need help and support with an emotional problem and feel you have no-one to confide in or no-one who understands the difficulties you are experiencing and need guidance to get back on track or to re-focus in a more positive and productive way contact: expat counselling

Caroline Garrod is a highly trained and an experienced adult counsellor, child behaviour therapist, relationship therapist, group therapist and counselling supervisor. She offers a worldwide English Speaking phone and e-mail counselling service and is currently based in Lugano Switzerland.
Whatever difficulty you are facing, she can offer you a therapeutic, supportive, non judgemental and confidential environment to help you explore your problems and cope more effectively. 
FACE TO FACE sessions are available at Caroline’s counselling practice in Lugano, Switzerland. Write to or call at Tel: 0041 91 600 1873.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday morning surprise

The winds have welcomed you with softness,
The sun has greeted you with it's warm hands,
You have flown so high and so well,
That God has joined you in laughter,
And set you back gently into
The loving arms of Mother Earth.
Anon, known as 'The Baloonists Prayer,' believed to have been adapted from an old Irish sailors' prayer

Just look what we found this morning uopn opening our shutters: a hot-air ballon right infront of our balcony. We even had a chat with them, we took pictures of eachother and they promised to pop by for coffee afterwards to exchange the photos. Never a dull moment in our lives!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

iTicino application for iPhone, iPod and iPad

Did you know that iTunes features a Ticino application for iPhone, iPod and iPad?

Download iTicino for free and discover Ticino, one of the most fascinating regions of Switzerland on the go.
iTicino offers you complete and up-to-date tourist information on attractions, accommodations, and restaurants of the region. Furthermore, thanks to the app’s advanced functionalities, it’s easy to create your own travel by adding elements of your interest in a special section MyTicino.

Among the most relevant functionalities of the app:
- 3 days weather information (powered by Meteo Switzerland)
- complete information about accommodations, activities, events, paths, and restaurants
- results filtering according to Ticino regions (Lake Maggiore, Bellinzona, Lugano)

Given the fabulous sunshine we've been blessed with over the last few days, why not plan a little excursion for Sunday? Have fun!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fitness right into the night

"A man's health can be judged by which he takes two at a time - pills or stairs."
Joan Welsh

On Saturday - January 23rd, 2011-  the health club Altantide in Savosa isorganizing a late night opening welcoming members AND non-members to join them for fitness classes from 18:00 until midnight.
Moving your body to hip hop, spinning or striding, joining Body Pump or Pilates classes, there is sample for everyone's taste.

This event was introduced last year with great success. Therefore if you're feeling full of energy and would enjoy a funky night out, telephone now and reserve your place at Tel: 091/ 966'44'30.
The good news is that it is completely free! Consult their web site Atlantide Club for more info.

Of course, the restaurant will be open as well offering you some delicious dishes:

Risotto alla Birra     CHF 18.-
Paella di carne e pesce    CHF 25.-
Insalata di Farro con salmone    CHF 18.-
Pasta Fitness "Energy"    CHF 18.-
Semifreddo all'amaretto    CHF 8.-

So get off your toes and move that body!!!!

Centro Wellness
Via Campo Sportivo
6942 Savosa
Tel: 091/ 966'44'30

Toys for girls

"If Women Didn't Exist, All the Money of the World Would Have No Meaning"

I came across this pink book just before Christmas thinking: "this would be a nice Christmas present to receive" and then forgot all about it. Well, I spotted it in the sales again and just couldn't resist.
Written by Patrice Farameh who also published the coffee table book series "Luxury hotels" it is dedicated to us women! 

This highly imaginative new book shows you hundreds unique products ranging from breathtaking accessories, unique jewelry and top fashion to glamorous domestic appliances and sexy telephones, all exclusively designed for women who like to dream. Toys for Girls is about the ultimate pampering that is only available to the few, but is subject of the dreams and conversations of many. This amazing book will therefore inspire a readership much broader than just those who have sufficient means to seek out and buy these prohibitively expensive toys.

For a mere CHF 30.30 at Exlibris online you can purchase a tiny bit of luxury and keep dreaming for the rest of the day.

Teatro dei Fauni in Locarno

"You see things; and you say, "Why?" But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"
George Bernard Shaw

Should you decide not to go skiing this weekend but are looking for an alternative, take your kids off to see the "Viaggio nelle fiabe e in altri mondi"  in Locarno. It is a 60-minute sensory show for youngsters from 4 to 104 years.

Through stories the children experience different emotions, which lead them to better understand themselves and others. A hands-on spectacle and exhibition of human figures as well as other species by the Teatro dei Fauni.

The magical world of fairy tales allow the children to enrich their own experience while identifying with the characters and reflecting on their way of speech. The goal is to enhance the opportunities for exploration of daily life by offering unusual and positive group experiences, useful for the development of creativity which is the tool that allows them to discover our world.

Exhibition, Saturday: 14.30- 17.30; Sunday 9.30-12.30
Show for 20 people, Saturday 15.00 and 16.30; 
Sunday 10.00 and 11.30

Reservations recommended: Tel.077 427 34 62 or
Cost: CHF 7.- for children up to 14, CHF 10.- for students and AVS, CHF 12.- for adults

Museo Casorella 
Via B. Rusca 5
6600 Locarno

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bizet's Carmen in Lugano

"Love is a rebellious bird that nobody can tame, and it's all in vain to call it if it chooses to refuse."
Georges Bizet

Ballet in two acts directed and choreographed by Luciano Cannito
with Rossella Brescia, Andrea Volpintesta and Company

Music by Georges Bizet and Marco Schiavoni

A new setting for a Carmen more relevant than ever: Carmen, a refugee who lands in Lampedusa and meets Escamillo the smuggler and Don Jose, a stern policeman. The beautiful and talented Rossella Brescia - sensual and full of life - lets herself be transported by the power of Bizet's music and with a corps de ballet of the highest level, gives us an unforgettable sight.

This performance has been honored with the Award Danza & Danza, the Ginestra d’oro Award as well as the Bucchi Award for Best Production Design. The ballet made box-office records in Italy in the 2009-10 season.

Venerdi, 21 gennaio, 2011 – ore 20.30
Palazzo dei Congressi
Piazza Indipendenza 4
6900 Lugano

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

10 iPhone music apps

While writing for my previous post about photo passport application, I came across an array of fun and different iPhone apps for music lovers. 

When you think back to the special moments in your life, it's likely that there's a song attached to each one. Any time you hear that song, you are whisked right back to the emotions you felt at that particular time, and its connection has been imprinted in your memory. That's the power of music. The technology available to us to make music an integral part of our lives is staggering, and luckily, it just keeps getting better. Everyone knows about Pandora, and Spotify, but the following 10 apps, which have mostly flown under the radar, deserve props for making it easier for us to enjoy the music we love.

1.) Soundhound: Have you ever heard a catchy tune on the radio, sang it all day long, but had no idea what it was called or who sang it? This fun app can actually recognize a user humming or singing a tune and will pull up all the relevant matches it finds. And it really works — SoundHound was even able to recognize and identify a hum from my friend, who we'll just say, has less than perfect pitch. A free, lite version is available as well, but it limits the number of songs you can ID to five a month.
Cost: CHF 5.50

2.) Earworm: There's nothing more annoying than getting a bad song stuck in your head. If you're cruel and want to impart that annoyance onto someone else, use Earworms to send an audio clip to someone in the hopes that it'll stick. This fun app features 20 songs; all you have to do is pick which one you want and email it. Cost: CHF1.10

3.) oo Tunes Radio: If you want to mix up your radio station listening experience and you crave a huge variety of genres and styles, including talk radio, ooTunes Radio is a great app for limitless listening pleasure. Compiling audio from more than 30,000 streams in 150 countries, ooTunes Radio lets you create the exact playlist you want and gives you the chance to listen to radio shows from around the world. If you hear a song you like, the app also lets you purchase directly from iTunes for instant download, as well. Cost: CHF 5.50

4.) Sir Sampleton: At first glance, this app appears to be a simple keyboard that you'd let your kid play around with as you wait in line at the grocery store. But on closer inspection, sir Sampleton is actually a sophisticated and feature-rich app that lets you do everything from recording or changing sounds to mixing beats, adding vibrato, and even saving recordings. It's a fun way for both novices and more seasoned beat masters to get their groove on. Cost: CHF 3.30

5.) Concert Vault: Concert Vault is a great app for music lovers who would prefer to listen to live music recordings. It really is a veritable cache of recorded treasures from past decades, including artists like Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Queen and more. The app, and up to 10 hours of streaming, is free for every user. Cost: Free

6.) Adaptunes: If you run with your iPhone, drive with it or listen to any kind of music on the go, you know what a pain it can be to constantly adjust the volume to adapt to your listening environment. Adaptunes takes care of this conundrum by automatically adjusting your volume based on speed and motion-based sensors. There are also different activities you can choose from that provide different modes of sound adaptation, such as driving, mountain biking, jogging, skiing, exercising, etc. Further, you can create playlists within Adaptunes for on-the-spot volume adjustment. Cost: CHF 1.10

7.) Tune Wiki: Have you ever thought you knew the lyrics to a song and realized you were way off base? It happens frequently, but with TuneWiki, you can memorize the lyrics to your favorite songs and ensure that you have it right from the get-go. TuneWiki is both a radio player and lyrics decoder and provides a wide array of music streams to choose from. You can either listen and get lyrics through TuneWiki's radio options or use your own iTunes library. You can even search for songs if you know just a line or two of the lyrics. Cost: Free

8.) Audiogalaxy mobile: Are you one of those music hoarders who have thousands upon thousands of MP3 files on your iPhone, so much so that your library is starting to affect your storage capacity to the point where you can't add new apps? If this sounds familiar and you are constantly picking and choosing which tunes to store and play on your iPhone, then Audiogalaxy may be the answer for you. This app gives you cloud-based access to your entire music library without the need for syncing your phone or worrying about space. After downloading the Audiogalaxy helper program and syncing your music library to your account, you are all set to stream your music to your iPhone. Audiogalaxy also enables you to access your music from any computer and a large number of other handheld devices.

9.) Top 100's by year: Top 100s by Year is a great app that provides a huge database of the 100 most popular songs from each year from 1947 to today. You can search by year, see the full year's listing and listen to the songs (the app automatically has each year's songs in shuffle mode). It also allows you to buy any song on its lists directly from iTunes and/or see its accompanying music video on YouTube. This is a great reference app for pulling together playlists or just waxing nostalgic on songs that were hits when you were in eighth grade. Cost: Free

10.) Fireworks: Just tap the screen and watch the firework show. Tap with two fingers and watch as the iPhone/iPod touch handles two fingers at once and displays fireworks in two different places. iFireworks is an interactive visualization program designed to run in tandem with your iTunes library. Cost CHF1.10

Well this list should keep you rocking for a while...until then...keep on dancing baby!!!

Passport photos at home

Last night I urgently needed passport photos of my children. With all the extracurricular activites we never got round to a photographer or a booth. Never the one to give up, I discovered the coolest application that allows you to create passport photos at home with your computer.

The passport photo studio application is downloadable for Windows and Apple directly from or you can download it via the offical apple download site:

This allows you to use a photo you like from your computer and get a result that you are happy with. Currently both US and UK passports are supported and there is an easy to use interface to accurately scale and position a photo you take with your digital camera. 

There is help for printing directly from the application or you can save an image to print later. 

Doing it yourself allows you to avoid driving, waiting in line and if you need more than one set of photos, it also saves you money. Cost: CHF 8.85.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tiramisu recipe

This recipe was given to me years ago by a Spanish friend who runs her own catering business and is the most creative cook of all my friends. Now you'll be thinking "...but Tiramisu is an Italian dessert?"
I have served this dessert at many dinner parties for my hubby's Italian friends and I can assure you that this Tiramisu has put the Italian conviction of  "nobody cooks better than mia mamma" to the test every time....and passed it with flying colours!
This recipe is fast and easy to prepare. In my opinion the secret is using proper coffee. I brew ground espresso beans in my traditional Italian "caffetiera" and soak the biscuits in it for 2 seconds.
1 packet of sponge finger biscuits (Savoiardi)
4 eggs
500gr Mascarpone cheese
5 table spoons of sugar
real espresso coffee
cacao powder to decorate
Optional: 2 tablespoons of Marsala (fortified sweet Italian wine)

Whisk the egg yolks together with sugar until they increase in volume. Add Marsala wine if you wish.
Add mascarpone cheese and mix well.
In a different bowl whisk egg whites until they are stiff and then slowly incorporate with mascarpone mixture.
In a rectangular baking dish line up the biscuits after you've dipped them in espresso coffee for 2 seconds.
Cover first layer of biscuits with mascarpone mixture. Then lay another layer of coffee-soaked biscuits on top and repeat mascarpone cream layer.
Add the finishing touch by sieving cacao powder over dish.
Refridgerate until served.

Buon appetito!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ticino, buongiorno!

This is what I found upon opening my bedroom shutters this morning.
When the Ticino brings out its best it IS the BEST!!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cardada - Excursion at moonlight

Given that January 19th is full moon I have another moonlight suggestion for you: 
Explore Cardada with snow shoes!
In these modern times, when snow falls, we tend to stay inside by a nice, warm fire. Our ancestors didn't have that option, though. In 4000 B.C., people living in Central Asia needed a way to hunt and migrate even when the snow was as high as their waist. It wasn't a matter of convenience, it was a matter of survival. So, 6,000 years ago, around the same time that the wheel was invented, these people strapped flat materials to the bottoms of their feet, which allowed them to walk around as if they were floating on the snow.
Therefore experience this alternative and very exciting way of exploring the mountain. Everyone can easily take part, a minimal equipment is required and special technical knowledge is not necessary. 
Magical winter landscapes, snow covered forests and mountains will make your snow-shoe tour a very special experience. Enjoy the tranquility of this gentle sport. 
Next excursions will be Monday 17th, Tuesday18th and Wednesday 19th of January. Meeting point is at bottom station of the Orselina-Cardara cable car at 17:30. A well-deserved plate of pasta will be servered at the Rest. Cardada at around 21:00. The cost will be CHF 60.- including the cableway ticket. Number of Participants limited to 25!
More Info: Tel +41 (0)91 735 30 30

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