Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013

Happy New Year 2013 ...

... greetings from the beach!

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year's Eve Celebration in Lugano

Don't stay home, come celebrate at Piazza Riforma! The actual celebration starts at 23.00 with Radio Channel 3's best DJs re-proposing the most famous music pieces of the last 30 years, accompanied by lights and images. Towards midnight the exciting countdown will begin.

On New Year’s Eve in Lugano, thousands of people gather on the Piazza Manzoni, turning it into a giant open-air dance floor. From 11 pm a beautifully staged show of lights and colours commences, reaching their exuberant climax at midnight. Soon after, free dishes of lentils – traditionally said to bring luck in the New Year – are distributed to revelers.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry PinK Christmas

Thursday, December 20, 2012

More fun facts about Christmas

With all the stress and expense of Christmas it's easy to forget that its supposed to be fun. I've put together some fun facts to get you in the mood for merriment.

Kissing under the mistletoe, our favourite sprig of green leaves and white berries, dates back to a 17th century English custom. At that time, a berry was removed every time a kiss was made, which meant there were no kisses when there no berries. We seem to have since forgotten about the berry removal - allowing us to fully concentrate on the kissing!

Long before it was used as a "kiss encourager" during the Christmas season, mistletoe had long been considered to have magic powers by Celtic and Teutonic peoples. It was said to have the ability to heal wounds and increase fertility. Celts hung mistletoe in their homes in order to bring themselves good luck and ward off evil spirits.

Holly, Ivy and Greenery
In Northern Europe Christmas occurred during the middle of winter, when ghosts and demons could be heard howling in the winter winds. Boughs of holly, believed to have magical powers since they remained green through the harsh winter, were often placed over the doors of homes to drive evil away. Greenery was also brought indoors to freshen the air and brighten the mood during the long, dreary winter.

Legend also has it that holly sprang from the footsteps of Christ as he walked the earth. The pointed leaves were said to represent the crown of thorns Christ wore while on the cross and the red berries symbolized the blood he shed.

A native Mexican plant, poinsettias were named after Joel R. Poinsett, U.S. ambassador to Mexico who brought the plant to America in 1828. Poinsettias were likely used by Mexican Franciscans in their 17th century Christmas celebrations. One legend has it that a young Mexican boy, on his way to visit the village Nativity scene, realized he had no gift for the Christ child. He gathered pretty green branches from along the road and brought them to the church. Though the other children mocked him, when the leaves were laid at the manger, a beautiful star-shaped flower appeared on each branch. The bright red petals, often mistaken for flowers, are actually the upper leaves of the plant.

Christmas Card
The Christmas card, probably the most popular way to express holiday sentiments, was started in England in 1843. The first Christmas card was printed in the United States in 1875 by Louis Prang, a Massachusetts printer. By running nationwide contests for the best Christmas designs, Prang helped launch Christmas cards into a multibillion dollar industry.

Christmas tree
The decorated Christmas tree can be traced back to the ancient Romans who decorated trees with small pieces of metal during Saturnalia, a winter festival in honour of Saturnus, the god of agriculture.

Did you know that Christmas trees are edible. Many parts of pines, spruces, and firs can be eaten. The needles are a good source of vitamin C. Pine nuts, or pine cones, are also a good source of nutrition.

Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas of Myra, the original Santa Claus was the patron saint of children, thieves and pawnbrokers.

If you received all of the gifts in the song 'The Twelve Days of Christmas', you would receive 364 presents.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

7 Facts about Christmas

“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind. ”
Mary Ellen Chase

Take a peek at a list of fun facts about how the most important holiday of the year is a celebrated around the world! Did you know that...?

In Greek, X means Christ; that is where the word “Xmas” comes from!

Christmas World Records
The world’s largest Christmas present was the Statue of Liberty. The French gave it to the US in 1886. It is 46.5 meters high and weights 225 tons!

“Green” Christmas
It can take up to 15 years to grow an average-sized tree of 6-7 feet or as little as 4 years, but the average growing time is 7!

Christmas Songs
Bing Crosby ‘s ‘White Christmas’ was released in 1942 and is considered to be the best-selling Christmas song of all time!

Christmas Statistics
1 in 10 – The number of the presents received that will be broken by the New Year
7 in 10 – The number of dogs that get Christmas gifts from their owners
33 – The average amount spent per person on last-minute purchases
25 – The percentage time spent in queues when Christmas shopping
832 – The number of homes Santa visits every second to deliver all his presents
5340 – Average number of times Visa Cards are used every minute during Christmas time

2010 Average Budget for Christmas Presents
SWITZERAND: 547 € - USA: 520 € – UK: 474 € – GERMANY: 270 € – ITALY: 325 € – FRANCE: 366 € – SPAIN: 383 € –  NETHERLANDS: 206 €

Traditional Christmas Sweets
SWITZERLAND: Tirgel (Honey biscuits), Brunsli (Chocolate biscuits), Zimtsternli (Cinnamon Stars)
FRANCE: Buche de Noel (a Génoise or other sponge cake, baked in a large Swiss roll pan)
USA: Pumpkin Cake (with cinnamon and ginger, frosted with cream cheese frosting)
SPAIN: Nougat (made with sugar or honey, roasted nuts)
HUNGARY: Beigli (roll of sweet yeast bread with a dense, rich, bittersweet filling)
ITALY: Panettone (is a type of sweet bread loaf originally from Milan)
SWEDEN: Pepparkakor (heart-star and goat-shaped gingerbread biscuit)
UK: Christmas Pudding (steamed pudding, with dried fruit and nuts, usually made with suet)
PORTUGAL: Pain Perdu (French toast made with bread and eggs, milk, sugar and cinnamon)
GERMANY: Lebkuchen (large cookies made of honey)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Best explanation ever ...

Every year when the holiday season starts I wait for the question: "Mummy, does Father Christmas really exsist?".  I, myself, still want to believe in him therefore will go through quite a stretch in the hope that my kids will believe just one more year!

My answer so far was: "Do YOU believe in Father Christmas?" or "If you believe in him I'm sure he'll bring you lots of presents?

This year (and to be perfectly honest, my two kids are both way out of Santa-believing-age) I have come across a wonderful explanation. A letter from a boy's parents that has gone viral on facebook.

It was just to beautiful not to share.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Candle making for Christmas

When I was a little girl, I used to look forward to December every year when I could finally go down to the Bürkliplatz to make candles out of bees wax. The whole place smelt of it and until today the scent of bee's wax transports me back into that tent in Zürich.

This weekend you have the chance of accompanying your kids to make candles at Piazza Manzoni. A  small workshop for children has been set up for children. Guided by good teachers, they can create  a very special Christmas gift with their own hands. In my days the candles can be colored and shaped to your liking.

Venue: Christmas Candle making for children
Where: Piazza Manzoni
When: Saturday, 15.12 and Sunday 16.12
Time: from 11:00 to 19:00

While you are down town, why not take a stroll through the Christmas market in the main streets of the city? For the next 10 days before Christmas, a market extending to the pedestrian area of ​​the city center will feature stalls selling delicacies, handicrafts, fine fabrics, oriental fragrances and charity projects.

Venue: Christmas market
Where: Downtown Lugano
When: Saturday, 15.12. 2012 to Sunday, 23.12.2012
Time: from 11:00 to 19:00
On Monday, 24.12, 2012 from 11:00 to 17:00

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas decoration stores

"Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall. " Larry Wilde, The Merry Book of Christmas

Running a little late with your Christmas decorations? Looking for a new outfit for your Christmas tree? Or just feel like a stroll through a deco/furniture shop?

The two interior decoration stores Interio and Pfister have kitted themselves out for Christmas. And guess what? It's pink! Not all of it, of course, but if you enjoy the boudoir style it's definately worth a trip to Contone.

Via Cantonale 10
6594 Contone
Tel: 058 576 71 00

Opening hours:
Mo-We   09:00 – 18.30 
Th        09:00 – 21.00 
Fr         09:00 – 18.30
Sa        09:00 – 17.00

Special openings:
16.12. 10:00 – 18:00 Sunday opening
23.12. 10:00 – 18:00 Sunday opening
24.12. 09:00 – 17:00

Via Cantonale
6594 Contone
Tel: 091 851 71 11

Opening hours:
Mo-We   09:00 - 18:30
Th        09:00 - 21:00
Fr           09:00 - 18:30
Sa          09:00 - 17:00

Special openings:
16.12. 10:00 – 18:00 Sunday opening
23.12. 10:00 – 18:00 Sunday opening
24.12. 09:00 – 17:00

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Movie Afternoon in Lugano

“Everything I learned I learned from the movies.”
Audrey Hepburn

It is with great pleasure that the IWCL (International Women's Club of Lugano) and AWOT (American Women of Ticino) invite you to a Christmas Movie Afternoon.

Come and watch the Disney film “Brave” ( Everybody is welcome. You don't need to have children, just that Christmas movie spirit.

Single ticket: CHF 10.-
Family of 4 (Club member plus 3 family members): CHF 40.-
For all family members booking in advance: CHF 10.- per person

Single ticket: CHF 13.-
Family of 4 (if you book in advance): CHF 45.-
Other family packages for non-members are also available so please contact us for more details.

After the movie (at about 15.30) Viva la Comida will be offering us some Mexican snacks and the IWCL/AWOT some delicious cookies and refreshments.
There will also be other suprises in store so please let us know if you are coming by e-mailing:

Venue: Brave- Christmas Movie afternoon
WHere: Arthouse Cinema Lux, Via Motta, 6900 Massagno
When: Sunday, 16 December, 2012
Time: 14.00

Friday, December 7, 2012

10 fun ways to clean

Fun and clean in the same title?  You bet!  With most kids life is all fun and games anyway, so why not use that energy to have them help you around the house?  Kids want to do the things that they perceive as fun, and if you make it look like fun they are going to be much more interested in helping than if you make it look like work. Try these simple ideas to make cleaning fun.

Sing a clean-up song.
There are actual clean-up songs that you can find on the Internet that come complete with music, but you can also make up your own song.  Here’s an easy one to sing: “Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere.  Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share.”  Kids typically love repetition, so feel free to keep singing the same song over and over until the task is done.

Make it a game.
The game will change depending on what it is that you are cleaning, but an example could be seeing how many blocks can you put into the box.  Tell her that you both can count them as the blocks are being picked up.  Another one is to see how fast she can pick up her dollies and put them away.  Give her a basket and have her run around the house and pick up all of her stuff and bring it back to her room while you time her.

Set a timer.
Almost everything is more fun when a timer is set, and a timer means that there’s an end to the task.  Tell everyone that you are turning the timer on for 15 minutes and they need to see if they can get everything picked up in that amount of time.  Make sure that everyone knows what your expectations are so that they know what to do and aren’t wasting valuable time running to you to find out what they should be doing.

Give a reward.
If you have more than one kid you can offer a reward to the kid that did the best job or finished the most cleaning related tasks.  Or better yet, you can give a reward to all the kids if they got everything accomplished without complaining and did a good job.  It doesn’t have to be a competition, unless that is what works well in your family.  Some people thrive on competition, whereas others are completely turned off by it.

Award stickers.
Create a chore chart and let the kids put a sticker in the box when they have completed it.  This will give them a sense of accomplishment and most kids love stickers.

Keep cleaning time short.
To keep cleaning fun it has to be completed in a short amount of time.  The fun will wear off if you keep them cleaning too long.  Teaching them to clean up as they go will make sure that they don’t create such a huge mess that it will take a long time to clean it up.

Crank up the tunes.
Most kids love to dance around and sing, so if you crank up the tunes everyone can sing while they work.  Play the Disney song, A Happy Working Song while you are working to encourage the kids to get into it.

Money hunt.
Hide a few quarters or dollar bills in certain places that the kids typically miss cleaning.  Let the kids know that they might find some money if they do a thorough job cleaning.  This may or may not work for the little ones because they may not really care about money yet.

Use pint sized tools.
Often, cleaning tools like brooms or mops are not really comfortable for kids to use because they’re too big.  Get the kids their own pint-sized cleaning tools, or try to customize your own.  On some Swiffers you can pull out the middle section and make the handle shorter.  Kids will probably be swiffering so much you will run out of swiffers, but at least your floor should be clean!

Pretend to be a maid.
Have everyone pretend to be part of a cleaning crew that has come in to clean this house.  Put handkerchiefs on everyone’s head and give them gloves.  Take on a funny accent and say funny things like, “Wow, the kids that live here sure are messy!” or “Peeeeeee-You! These kids have stinky socks!”

Doing something out of the ordinary is often all it takes to make cleaning fun and not such a chore.  The most important thing to remember is that they are still kids and their cleaning isn’t going to be perfect, but any help you can get will be that much less you have to do. Teaching them the importance of cleaning while they’re young also means that you will have given them useful life skills that they’ll continue to utilize as they get older.

For more clever ideas check out:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Samichlaus poem

Sami Niggi Näggi,
hinterem Ofe stäggi,
bring mer Nuss und Biire,
dänn kummi hinne füre.

This little nursery rhyme is known to virtually every Swiss German child. It is performed to Samichlaus during his visit on Saint Nicholas day (today).

It says the following: “Saint Nic, I am hiding behind the oven. Please give me nuts and pears, then I'll be coming out.”

An Italian version that children in Lugano recite for San Nicoalo would be:

Quando sulle montagne
scende la neve bianca
cammina e mai si stanca
il buon San Nicolao
È rosso il suo mantello
è grigio l'asinello
son grossi gli scarponi
nel sacco ha tanti doni
Ti salutiamo e diciamo "ciao"
ritorna presto San Nicolao

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Swiss tradition of Samichlaus (San Nicolao)

In Switzerland, the tradition of St. Nicolas is somewhat different from the norm. Switzerland is a country of several languages so it is not surprising there are several different St. Nicholas traditions. In German-speaking areas Saint Nicholas is known as Samichlaus. Though he looks the same as Father Christmas, the Samichlaus (originally Sankt Nikolaus) does not bring the presents at Christmas. Rather, he appears on the 6th of December. Children visit the Samichlaus (usually at school or with their parents) to be judged and recite poems that they've learned. The other option - when I was little - was leaving your boots in front of the door the night of December 5th to find them filled with goddies the next morning.

Samichlaus is usually accompanied by a helper called Schmutzli (from "schmutzig" - dirty). He is dressed in a black or brown cape with a large hood. He wears a black beard and is smeared with dirt. While the Samichlaus praises the kids who have been good, Schmutzli takes the naughty kids, puts them into his bag and carries them away. This makes for a practical way for parents to make their kids behave well: "Be good or Schmutzli will carry you off in his bag!"

Fear not for the Swiss children. Described above is the original form. Nowadays Schmutzli is purely ornamental or even left out completely.

My kids used to visit San Nicola in he woods with their school class. Trust me, they never slept very well the night before.

Should you need a Samichlaus for your family you can check out the Chlaus directory here:

The evening meal on December 6th traditionally consists of a man-shaped bread (called Grittibänz, recipe here), mandarines, walnuts, peanuts (with the shells), Lebkuchen and chocolates.

So, make sure you put your boots outside the door tonight and IF you have been good you'll awake tomorrow morning to find them filled with mandarines, nuts and chocolates.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Advent Market in Lugano

"It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air."

During Advent, Piazza Riforma will be populated by charming wooden houses, where you can find all sorts of Christmas specialties, decorations and original gift ideas. In other words, head down town to taste some Christmas spirit and enjoy the festive season, not only the cold December weather!

Venue: Advent Market
Where: Piazza Riforma
When: Every day until Sunday 23.12 from 11.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m.
Monday 24.12 from 11.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.

Tomorrow enjoy a special treat of fairy tales and music for children: Gioacchino Lonardo and his marionettes will tell two of the most famous traditional tales: Jonas and the Whale and Robin Hood.

Venue: Marionette theatre
Where: Piazza San Carlo
When: Wednesday, December 5th, 2012
Time: from 2.30 p.m. to 4.00 p.m

Friday, November 30, 2012

St.Edward's Christmas Fayre in Lugano

If you missed today's Christmas market at the American School Tasis, not to worry.... why not head to Casa Benson to support St.Edwards Anglican Church at their Christmas Fayre tomorrow?

Be tempted by their assortment of homemade traditional specialities, handcrafts and preserves.

Enjoy a glass of mulled wine whilst browsing in the Book Nook and Tiffany's Treasures.

Raffle tickets for the Christmas hamper will be on sle.

Remember to visit the youngsters' stall with their handmade gifts.

Morning coffee as well as lunches will be available. Childcare will be provided.

Venue: St. Edward's Christmas Fayre
Where: Casa Benson, Via Clemente Maraini 6, 6900 Lugano
When: Saturday, December 1st, 2012
Time: 10:00 - 15:00

If you would like to pre-order your Christmas goodies please click this link:
Christmas Fayre Order Form 2012.pdf
Please send your completed order to Patty, or contact her for more information at 091 646 53 52

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A rainy day along the lake of Lugano

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

InterNations Lugano Christmas Party

“At every party there are two kinds of people - those who want to go home and those who don't. The trouble is, they are usually married to each other.”
Ann Landers

Join InterNations on Wednesday, December 5th, 2012 @ Viva Café Lounge & Restaurant from 19:00 onwards. Enjoy the incredible Brasilian meat menu with seven different types of meat and Brasilian specialties, all-you-can-eat, plus two drinks of your choice.

There will also be a Christmas Raffle with several prizes, so don't miss this great opportunity to meet fellow expats, greet the new members in the Lugano community and have a fun evening!

Register for this at directly. Click on the Accept Invitation button by 18:00 of November 28th, 2012 in order for the staff to be able to order the meat and be well prepared. So far 94 people have confirmed.

Feel free to bring your International friends, but please invite them to sign up for InterNations first.

Live the InterNations spirit – Nobody stands alone!
For many guests, it’ll be the first InterNations event; quite a few people will arrive on their own. Please help make them feel welcome. If you see someone alone in a corner, it’d be great if you introduced them to your friends. In this way, we can share the spirit of connecting global minds, and every member will have a lovely time.

Venue: InterNations Christmas Party
Where: Viva Café Lounge & Restaurant, Via Lambertenghi 5, 6900 Lugano
When: Wednesday, December 5th, 2012
Time: 19:00 to 3:00
Entrance Fee: Basic Members - 60.00 CHF
Cover charge includes: Dinner and 2 drinks
- All-you-can-eat Buffet
- 7 meat specialties
- Brasilian Cuisine
- Christmas special
- 2 drinks: prosecco, wine, water and/or from boule
- Christmas Raffle with Several Prizes

And most of all: don't forget to HAVE FUN!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tasis Holiday Market 2012

"Anyone who believes that men are the equal of women has never seen a man trying to wrap a Christmas present."
Author unknown

Don't miss a unique chance to do some holiday shopping, while supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs!

The American School in Switzerland TASIS is holding its holiday market on Friday, November 30th, 2012 where you'll find items for all ages. Over 16 boutiques will be selling English books, toys, Peruvian knits, Cashmere, Jewelery, Italian fashion, photo shoots and gifts. Taste delicious Mexican and Asian food.

Please invite all of your friends for holiday shopping and a Santa visit.

The event is hosted by the TASIS Parent Association who will donate 50% of their profit to the foundation OTAF.

Venue: TASIS Holiday Market 2012
Where: Palmer Cultural Center (TASIS main campus), Via Collina d'Oro 15, 6926 Montagnola
When: Friday, November 30th, 2012
Time: 13:30-18:30
A courtesy shuttle will be porvided bewteen St. Abbondio Church to TASIS from 13:30 to 19:00.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

"Thanksgiving is a time
For reviewing what we treasure,
The people we hold dear,
Who give us so much pleasure.
Without you as my friend,
Life would be a bore;
Having you in my life
Is what I'm thankful for"

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankgiving tips

"Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action."
W.J. Cameron

The year has flown by and tomorrow is Thanksgiving already. We'll be having our feast a few days late, on Sunday, to fit in with everybody's schedule.

Following are lots of useful links to help you decorate, shop and cook for this special celebration:

Make shopping more fun with a colourful Thanksgiving shopping list. Don't forget those cranberries!!!
Thanksgiving Grocery List:

Never quite sure how much turkey to buy or how long you need unitl it is cooked properly. Search no further. Here are the answers:
Turkey Dinner Calculator:

Storing Fresh Poultry
Purchase your bird three to five days before the planned meal. If you've chosen fresh poultry, ask your butcher to take off the legs and neck if necessary, then keep it unwrapped in the fridge. When you're ready to roast the bird, remove it from the fridge, wash it, pat it dry and leave it for at least two hours to come to room temperature before cooking.

Storing Frozen Poultry
Thawing a frozen bird requires patience. The safest method is to thaw it in the refrigerator, allowing ample time for it to slowly defrost. On average, it takes approximately 3 days for a 20-pound turkey to fully defrost. Tip: For a crispier skin, unwrap the bird the day before roasting and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.

Whether your taste in centerpieces is traditional or modern, formal or fuss-free, we've got you covered with 20 ideas for the star of your Thanksgiving table:

Give thanks in a new way this holiday season. Invite friends and family to share what they are most thankful for by creating a thankful tree that can take center stage throughout the Thanksgiving holiday:

Here is a whole list of printables that will keep your kids busy before and after Thanksgiving lunch while you cook or have a sip of that delicious wine!
Thanksgiving printables:

What kid does not enjoy a challenge? If your children prefer computer games, keep them occupied with these educational games online.
Thanksgiving challenge:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Yummy Thanksgiving recipes

"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all."
Harriet Van Horne

By marrying into an Italian family I gave up my traditional British Christmas feast and we enjoy a very abundant Neapolitan banquet every year. Thanksgiving gives me an excellent excuse to present my family with a turkey at least once a year. Unfortunately, neither my hubby nor my kids are big turkey lovers but at this point they are overruled by THE BOSS!

Here are my favourite recipes I keep on concocting every year:

Maple-Roasted Turkey with Sage Butter
1 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 bunch fresh sage, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (12 to 14-pound) fresh turkey, giblets, neck, and liver discarded
8 strips bacon
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons hot water or bouillon
Preheat the oven to 320 degrees F and remove the top rack of the oven.
Put the butter and sage in a mixing bowl and mash with a fork or spoon until the sage is well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.
Rinse the bird thoroughly inside and out with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the cavity and skin liberally with salt and pepper. Using your fingers, gently lift the skin from the turkey breast and slip the remaining seasoned butter under, massaging the breast meat as you go. Truss the bird by crossing the legs over one another and tying with a piece of kitchen twine. Shingle the bacon strips over the breast so it's totally covered. Put the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan, cover the turkey with aluminium foil, and place in the oven.
In a small bowl, stir the maple syrup with 2 tablespoons of hot water to thin. Roast the turkey for 2 hours, basting with the maple glaze every 30 minutes. Continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meaty part of the thigh registers 170 degrees F. The thigh juices will run clear when pricked with a knife, about 4 hours total (20 minutes per pound). About 1/2 hour before you think the turkey is done, remove the foil so that it can brown. When done take the turkey out of the oven and put the roasting pan on the stovetop. Transfer the turkey to a serving tray to rest at least 20 minutes before carving. Serve with Turkey Gravy.

Roasted Turkey Gravy
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large, smoked turkey wing or 2 small ones
1 medium onion, quartered
2 carrots, chopped
1 ribs celery, chopped
1 head garlic, split through the equator
4 stems fresh sage
4 sprigs fresh thyme
6 parsley stems
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the wing, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and herbs, and cook for 5 minutes. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and place over medium heat. Remove the wing and set aside. Add the flour and let cook for about 1 minute. Add the stock and simmer until it has reduced by about 1/4, about 15 minutes. Strain the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Cranberry Sauce
1 pound fresh cranberries, approximately 4 cups
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup 100 percent cranberry juice, not cocktail
1 cup honey
Wash the cranberries and discard any that are soft or wrinkled.
Combine the orange juice, cranberry juice and honey in a 2 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the cranberries and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the mixture thickens. Do not cook for more than 15 minutes as the pectin will start to break down and the sauce will not set as well. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Carefully spoon the cranberry sauce into a 3 cup mold. Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.
To unmold and serve, immerse bottom of mold in hot water for 10 to 15 seconds and turn upside down on plate or serving dish. If necessary, carefully run a warm knife around the edge of the mold.

This year I have discovered a new dessert that I will switch for the classic pumpkin pie. Here goes:

Pumpkin and Bourbon Mousse
¾ cup sugar
6 tbsp. bourbon
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
8 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 cup canned pumpkin
orange zest for garnish
Bring 2" water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Place a medium metal bowl over pan, and add sugar, bourbon, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and egg yolks; whisk together, and cook, whisking constantly until thickened and pale, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and set bourbon mixture aside. In another bowl, whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form; add canned pumpkin, and fold until almost combined. Add to warm bourbon mixture and fold together until smooth. Divide among serving glasses and sprinkle with orange zest; serve immediately.

Happy Cooking! Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Storytelling and Activities

"The first law of story-telling. Every man is bound to leave a story better than he found it."
Mrs Humphry Ward

Searching for an activity on a Sunday afternoon? Come and join Miriam Harpur-Kaegi of English for Fun who will read stories with various themes. The storytelling will be followed by reading and writing activities for the children.

The books will be selected that day based on the ages present. Parents can socialize and/or shop, and snacks will be provided for all - including candy canes and hot mulled wine! No need to register, but please send Robin an email if you know you're coming so she can prepare the age appropriate activities.

Stop by for a short time or stay all afternoon.
Stories will be read at 15:00 and 16:00.
All ages welcome. Please join Miriam and Robin!

Venue: Storytelling and Activities
Where: All for Kids, Via Cimitero 21, 6592 S. Antonino
When: Sunday, November 25th, 2012
Time: 14:00-18:00

For more information or if you have questions, contact Robin 091 858 30 82, 076 580 30 82 or mail:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Asian Food in Lugano

"Anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies with its back to heaven is edible."
Cantonese saying

I have had a special request about Asian take-away places. Following are the best-known spots in town. Please feel free to add onto my list should you know of a gem worth mentioning.

1. Asian Market
An amazing selection of cuisine from fresh to frozen to packets, Indian, Thai, Ghana, Chinese and much more.
Via alla Valletta 4
6900 Lugano
Tel: 091 966 16 27

This Asian Food shop is located at the bottom of Via alla Valletta in Lugano. If you are driving from Montagnola to go to Grancia or Lugano, you go down the twisty windey road Via Antonio Riva. Just as you get to the bottom at the traffic lights you either turn left for Lugano or right for Grancia. However literally just before these lights (you see a Franklin college resdience on the right corner) on your right their is a tiny road that looks like a dead end or parking area, but you drive down there and Bingo there it is!

2. Asian Mini Market (near Madai Music Club)
Via Ferruccio Pelli 14
6900 Lugano
Tel: 091 922 25 00

3. Thai Shop/ Asian, Indian, South American 
Via Bosia 13, Paradiso

Tel: 091 993 28 98

4. Suthin Sinzig Thai Take Away 
Very good takeaway. Simple and very fresh. Caters for vegetarians too!
Corso Enrico Pestalozzi 10
6900 Lugano
Tel: 091 921 49 10‎

5. Sushi Rolls by Marco
Via Zurigo 5
6900 Lugano
Tel: 091 923 43 00

6. Sushi il clandestino
Corso Elvezia 13
6900 Lugano
Tel: 091 921 17 08

7. Tabla di Montagnola
TABLA features Indian and Mediterranean cuisines taking your dining experience to sophisticated new heights. Restaurant and Take Away.
Via ai Canvetti 15
6926 Montagnola
Tel: 091 968 19 00

If you want fresh fish, go to Spaccio Ittico, Via del Piano 12, 6915 Noranco. Best in town!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Making maths fun....

Who ever said maths cannot be fun? How many of you have memories of learning the time tables? Who is battling with their kids to get them to learn the time tables? Are you still faster at time tables than your kids? I certainly am. I hate to admit it though!!!

This morning I participated at a math workshop at my kids school just to understand how exactly they do get taught mathematics in class. My conclusion: not the conventional way! This is fine with me. I did choose the International system for that exact reason but ... PLEASE ... let's just get them to learn their time tables inside out and back-to-front AND FAST!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Maple-Pumpkin Creme Brulée

So now that Halloween is over, what to do with all the pumkins? Enjoy pumpkin in a whole new way. Canned or fresh pumpkin, maple syrup, and whipping cream serve as the base of this creamy, dreamy fall creme brulee.

Makes: 8 servings
Prep 25 mins
Bake 350°F 40 mins to 45 mins
Chill 4 hrs to 8 hrs
Stand 20 mins

8 egg yolks
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl combine egg yolks, cream, pumpkin, maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg; whisk until smooth. Spoon pumpkin mixture evenly into eight 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups.
2. Place ramekins in a large roasting pan. Place roasting pan on oven rack. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
3. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until edges are set (centers will shake slightly). Carefully remove ramekins from water; cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill for 4 to 8 hours.
4. Before serving, let ramekins stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium heavy skillet heat granulated sugar over medium-high heat until sugar begins to melt, shaking skillet occasionally to heat sugar evenly. Do not stir. Once sugar starts to melt, reduce heat to low and cook about 5 minutes or until all sugar melts and is golden, stirring as needed with a wooden spoon. Quickly drizzle the caramelized sugar over custards. (If sugar hardens in the skillet, return to heat; stir until melted.) Serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Everything about Circus Knie is Magical!

It's the time of year again.....

November in Ticino is Circus time. The Circus Knie has travelled across the entire country over the past eight months and will be concluding its tour in Lugano as usual. Soon you'll be able to enjoy the new programme PASSION CIRQUE.

This year's high-caliber programme incorporates the magical combination of acrobatics, animal acts, clowns and popular comedy to deliver a passionate performance.

I thought I'd share some facts about Switzerland's National Circus:
Number of tours since 1919: 94
Number of venues: 43
Tour Duration: 22 March to 18 November 2012
Number of tour days: 243
Of these preforming days: 219
Duration by Location: 2 days to 4 weeks (Zurich)
Performances: 348
- 183 evening performances
- 146 matinees
- 13 morning performances

I usually try to buy tickets for the very last show of the year. Knowing that it is the final preformance renders the show a bit more special and I believe the artists feel this emotion as well. It blows my mind to walk into this magical world before the production and walk out the tent two hours later and find everything - and I mean everything - except the tent we had been sitting under has been taken down and is on its way to Rapperswil, Circus Knie's winter residence.

Venue: Circus Knie
Where: Stadio Cornaredo
Dates: November 15th to 18th, 2012
Thursday - 20.15
Friday - 15.00 and 20.15
Saturday 13.30, 17.00 and 20.30
Sunday 10.30, 14.30 and 18.00

Hurry and order your tickets online here: or buy them at the Swiss Post Offices, Manor dept.stores, SBB train stations or Coop City.

I've added a timelapesed video of Circus Knie tent construction for your entertainment:

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