Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Halloween Wish

I'd like to go fishing 
for a star
and send it to you
wherever you are... wrap you once more
in the spells of the night
and fill all your senses
with awe and delight.

To make you a pirate
or perhaps a queen;
to experience the magic
of Halloween.

To capture again
the mystery and surprise
as can only be seen
through a small child's eyes.

by Nancy Hughes

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Last days of autumn at Parco Ciani

Taking advantage of the lovely sunshine this morning I decided to take a stroll through the Parco Ciani. Here are some impressions:

Sun or Rain coming up the valley?

Looking onto San Salvatore

 Feel like dipping my toes in the water

Maybe I'll take a walk along the olive trail to Gandria tomorrow

Pedalos parked for the winter

A perfect spot for reading my book

Looking onto the Monte Bre

The Fine Arts Museum - Villa Ciani

A gate onto the world beyond

Surrounded by nature

A beautiful autumn stroll

Waiting for the snow to cover the colourful leaves

That's my Lugano

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin facts

- In 1584, after French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America, he reported finding "gros melons." The name was translated into English as "pompions," which has since evolved into the modern "pumpkin."

- Pumpkins are fruits. A pumpkin is a type of squash and is a member of the gourd family (Cucurbitacae), which include squash, cucumbers, gherkins, and melons.

- There are more than 50 different kinds of pumpkins.

- Pumpkins have been grown in North America for five thousand years. They are indigenous to the western hemisphere. Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for food and medicine.

- Pumpkins contain vitamin A and potassium.

- Long ago, the colonists made pumpkin pie a bit differently. They sliced off pumpkin tops, removed seeds and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey. Then, it was baked in hot ashes.

- There are about 500 seeds inside every pumpkin.

- Pumpkin seeds should be planted between the last week of May and the middle of June. They take between 90 and 120 days to grow and are picked in October when they are bright orange in color. - Their seeds can be saved to grow new pumpkins the next year.

- Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.

- 2010 saw a new World Record! The largest pumpkin ever grown stands at 1810.5 pounds. It was grown by Chris Stevens and was weighed at the GPC weigh-off in Stillwater, Minnesota on October 9, 2010.

- For tips on how to carve your pumpkin, check out this link:

Origins of Trick or Treating

There are many stories as to the custom of trick-or-treating might have begun.

In the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31. The holiday was called Samhain, which means "end of summer", the Celtic New Year. During Samhain, the Druids believed that the dead would play tricks on mankind and cause panic and destruction. They had to be appeased, so country folk would give the Druids food as they visited their homes.

An old Irish peasant practice called for going door to door to collect money, breadcake, cheese, eggs, butter, apples, etc., in preparation for the festival of St. Columb Kill.

Also a ninth-century European custom called souling. On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes" made out of square pieces of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul's passage to heaven.

Some people think that this led to asking for treats on Halloween in verses or rhymes. Such as:

Deal out, Deal out,
The witches are out!
Trick or treat, you're so neat.
Give me something good to eat.
Nuts and candy, fruit and gum.
I'll go away if you give me some.
Trick or treat, smell my feet.
I know you'll give us lots of treats.
Not to big, not to small,
Maybe the size of Montreal.
I hear a bang, bang, bang
On the door, door, door
A ghost, a witch, a pumpkin, a skeleton and more,
I hear a bang, bang, bang,
On the window too,
A knock, knock, knock,
They want to get you,
It's Halloween Night...BOO!

Fun Halloween Riddles for Kids

Q. Why didn't the skeleton cross the road?
A. He didn't have the guts!

Q. What do ghosts serve for dinner?
A. Ice Scream!

Q. Why don't skeletons like parties?
A. Because they have no body to dance with!

Q. Why wasn't there any food left after the monster party?
A. Because everyone was a goblin!

Q. What is Transylvania's national sport?
A. Drac Racing!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Expat with Kids celebrates 2nd birthday!

Happy Birthday to Expat with Kids!!!

Today two years ago I sat down and challenged myself to set up a blog. Little did I know that it would follow me through part of my life...literally. I am no computer specialist, so during the first months I learnt by trial and error. A great deal of Googling and YouTubing went on to produce Lugano's first English guide for Expats and Locals. The aim was to provide infomation as well as entertainment for the Lugano community: natives as well as foreigners! 

Yesterday my hubby asked me what I had earned over the past 24 months. The answer is lots of acquaintances, fellow bloggers' exchange and even a few friends. Facts, figures, knowledge and enlightment were all picked up along my blogging journey. My challenge was to turn the Expat with Kids site into a success without spending a single franc. On the other hand I refused to advert because I have no intention of making any money much to my hubby's despair.

I enjoy blogging. I enjoy writing about Lugano - a town we called home for five years. The truth is we moved to Paris over a year ago and I am STILL blogging about Lugano. We come "home" regularly and I am sitting in Lugano while I am typing my birthday post and am happy as punch!

So, thank you, all my loyal followers, occassional readers, helpful fellow bloggers and supportive friends for accompanying me on my journey over the past two years.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween costumes in Lugano

Ideally I would sew my daughter's Halloween costume myself. I am full of brilliant ideas and designs. I just never seem to find the time to sit down and do it! So, once I'm done decorating the house and baking the cupcakes I will be rushing down to Tesserete tomorrow to look for an original Halloween costume at L'allegra Bottega. This store will kit out babies, children, adults and even dogs for any special occassion. Hats, masks, wigs, costumes for rent, new outfits for sale. You'll discover the treasures of Ali Baba (literally) and can take your imagination for a wild ride.

So hurry, check out their catalogue online and go look for yourself.
They are open until 5pm on Saturday.

L' Allegra Bottega
via Meneghelli - via Pugnetti
(rotonda Scuole Medie)
6950 Tesserete
Tel. 091/943'46'41
Tel: 079/230'11'28

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Preparing for Halloween

Halloween is not just about dressing up in costumes and asking for candy! It's a holiday steeped in folklore and customs. From carving pumpkins to trick or treating, each ghoulish tradition has its own fascinating tale.

Although it only became popular in America in the early 1900's, Halloween dates back almost 2,000 years when it marked the Celtic New Year. Originally known as Samhain, which means "summer's end" in Gaelic, many Halloween customs and traditions have roots in pagan beliefs and Irish folklore. These customs became popular in America when many Irish fled their country to escape the potato famine of 1846.

Since Samhain marked the end of the old year and the beginning of the new one, the Celtics believed the past and the present were closely linked during this time, allowing the lines between the living and dead to be blurred and the spirits of the deceased to mingle with the living.

They believed that visiting ghosts would disguise themselves in human form and knock on doors asking for money or food. If they were turned away empty-handed, the homeowner risked angering the spirit and being cursed or haunted.

Another Celtic myth was that dressing up as a ghoul or ghost would fool any evil spirits so that the spirits would not try to take their soul.

Orange and Black: these colors were used by the pagans as they celebrated harvest. Orange symbolized the vibrant colors of their crops, while black stood for the death of summer.

Check out this site for lots of activites that will keep you busy over the weekend while preparing for Halloween:

Britshop delivers a slice of home direclty to your doorstep. If you order fast you'll manage to trick or treat in style:

Searching for some spooky cupcake ideas? Look no further, just click here:

And if you are feeling extremly active, check out all HGTV's Halloween ideas (including pumpkin carving templates) here:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Switzerland by Memento App

Feeling bored? Got two minutes to spare? Feel like playing a game? Tired of Solitare?

Try the Swiss i-tunes app "Switzerland by Memento", the Switzerland memory game.

Turn over two cards and if they are the same, you win!

From the Alpenhorn to the Combat des Reines through to the Swiss army knife, the whole originality of the game lies in a selection of symbols that celebrate the culture, the traditions, the particularities and the geography of Switzerland, all within a typically Swiss red and white design.

The perfect game for children from the age of 3 upwards, not to mention older people who want to keep their memory in trim. The whole trick is to memorise the cards so as to finish the game in as few goes as possible.

It's free! So, go ahead and download it now!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lugano's InterNations October Netwoking Event

You’re cordially invited to join InterNations at Ristorante Parco Ciani on Wednesday, October 17th from 19:00 onwards!

Together with over 200 other expats you can enjoy great music, nice cocktails and the famous Parco Ciani Buffet of appetizers. Cover charge of CHF 10.- includes a free welcome drink as well as a tasty selection of appetizers.

Register for this event by clicking the here by 16:00 of 17.10.12. Bring your International friends but please do invite them to sign up to InterNations, too.

Venue: InterNations October Networking Event
Where: Parco Ciani, Piazza Indipendenza 4, 6900 Lugano
When: Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
Time: 19:00 - 0:00

...and don't forget to have fun!!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

30 minute Shepherd's Pie

Today we had guests for lunch. In total there were four adults and six little kids to feed. What better dish to make than a traditional English Shepherd's Pie. It's easy to make, tasty - filled with minced meat as well as veggies - and works for kids all ages.

To spice up my lunch I decided to go International: Spanish "jamon" and French mini-quiches as appetizers, "American" salad with dried cranberries, English Shepherd's Pie, Swiss Mousse au Chocolat accompanied by Italian wine for the adults. 

All I can say is that there was nothing left at the end of the day! ;)

Following is the recipe for the Shepherd's Pie:

2 pounds potatoes, such as russet, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons sour cream or softened cream cheese
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup cream, for a lighter version substitute vegetable or chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
1 3/4 pounds ground beef or ground l
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup beef stock or broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire, eyeball it
1/2 cup frozen peas, a couple of handfuls
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes and pour them into a bowl. 
2. Combine sour cream, egg yolk and cream. Add the cream mixture into potatoes and mash until potatoes are almost smooth. 
3. While potatoes boil, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to hot pan with beef or lamb. Season meat with salt and pepper. Brown and crumble meat for 3 or 4 minutes. If you are using lamb and the pan is fatty, spoon away some of the drippings.
4. Add chopped carrot and onion to the meat. Cook veggies with meat 5 minutes, stirring frequently. 
5. In a second small skillet over medium heat cook butter and flour together 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken gravy 1 minute. Add gravy to meat and vegetables. Stir in peas.
6. Preheat broiler to high. Fill a small rectangular casserole with meat and vegetable mixture. Spoon potatoes over meat evenly. Top potatoes with paprika and broil 6 to 8 inches from the heat until potatoes are evenly browned. 
7. Top casserole dish with chopped parsley and serve.

Thursday, October 11, 2012 - in search of an alternative holiday

Looking for holiday destinations close to nature and far away from the masses? Searching for insider tips with or without childcare, authentic cuisine and real, lasting holiday's experiences for the whole family? Kidstravel is your answer.

Holiday destinations in natural surroundings are particularly called for in our hectic and fast–paced day and age, with ecological factors playing an increasing role in tourism. If you are searching for an unusual experience which includes smells and fascination, Kidstravel will find your port of call.

If you happen to be in Zurich in pursuit of suitable ideas and suggestions - as well as a child–friendly environment at a tourist office where there are coloured pencils, toys, books and juice for the little ones - just stop by at the Spiegelgasse 11 downtown.

Outside of Zurich, the website ( will provide you with a wide variety of in–depth information regarding going on holiday with children. A real treat is the list of the most interesting links and unusual link listings for outings in Switzerland and elsewhere. Unfortunately the site is in German, but you can always give them a call at Tel. 044 262 55 44.

So, get moving. The autumn holidays are just around the corner!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A sculptor for one day

Ever dreamed of being a scupltor for a day? This is your chance. The artist Peter Selmoni is inviting 9 to 13-year olds to experience a day with him in his atelier. He will lead your children into his world of scupltures where he will show them the characteristics of the materials and tools he uses. In his studio the artist will create a work of art in stone and clay together with your kids.

Venue: A day with the sculptor Peter Selmoni
Where: Museo Vincenzo Vela, Largo Vela, 6853 Ligornetto
When: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Time: 14.30 - 17.00
Cost: CHF 20.-
Age: 9-13 years

For more info and reservations click here and contact:
Sara Matasci
Museo Vincenzo Vela
Largo Vela
6853 Ligornetto
Tel: 091 640 70 40/42

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Magic Lantern - a cinema club for kids

The Magic Lantern is an International cinema club for children aged 6 to 12. Its purpose is to help young audiences to discover the pleasure of cinema …at the cinema.

Once a month, club members are invited to attend an age appropriate, quality film in a real cinema. Exclusively for children (without their parents) but supervised by competent and responsible adults, children get a taste of the major emotions of cinema – emotions that parallel those we experience in our daily lives: laughter, fantasy, a bit of fear and sadness. They experience not only the pleasure of being at the cinema with comrades of the same age but also the “decoding process” – understanding the images they will see – thanks to an educational sketch which precedes the film and underlines one or several important aspects of the film.

Through this unique concept The Magic Lantern helps children to discover cinema as an art form and makes them aware of its different components: music, theatre as well as literature.

Venue: La Lanterna Magica
Where: CineStar, Via G. e F. Ciani 100, 6900 Lugano
When: Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
Time: 14.30
Migros School Lugano
Libreria Melisa Lugano
Libreria Melisa at Ikea Center Grancia
or at CineStar half an hour before the show.
Price: CHF 40. - for 9 projections of the season
(CHF 30. - for the second child of the same family, free for other children of the same family)

For further info contact:
La Lanterna Magica
C.P. 1501
6601 Locarno.
Tel: 091 745 30 07 – 079 745 30 00

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ticino's first Water Park to open 2013

Are you ready for Splash e Spa Tamaro, an innovative new tourist attraction, unique of its kind? It will be the first Waterpark in Ticino covering more than 10,000m2 dedicated to leisure and well-being, offering aquatic leisure activities together with Spa and Wellness treatments - all inside a single complex.

The Splash e Spa Tamaro will boast more than 7,000m2 of Splash and 3,000 m2 of Spa incorporated under three separate Domes. Leisure and well-being will be centre-stage in each of them.

The Entertainment Dome will offer a 30m long pool with one metre high waves. A swimming pool with poolside bar will be equipped with more than 80 water and air jets attractions.
One area will be dedicated to the very smallest with slides, sprinklers, channels, wells and interactive water games while the parents will be able to supervise from comfortable poolside loungers.
The restaurant - with access to the terrace – will offer a broad selection of freshly-prepared typical local dishes.

The Action Dome will be dedicated to five latest-generation slides. Unique in Europe, with spectacular shows of light, sound and water all along the way. The brave, not so brave, young and adults will feel the rush of adrenalin combined with sheer enjoyment.
Funnels, whirlpools or even defying gravity in two or four person rubber dinghies make for a thrilling and unforgettable descent.

The Wellness & Spa Dome will incorporate a spacious and luxurious SPA, a Wellness Centre and generously-proportioned relaxation zones. Those who will abandon themselves to themed saunas and Turkish baths, massages and a range of other treatments, will recover from their day-to-day stress in just a few hours.
There will be several outdoor attractions, too, including an amazing panoramic swimming pool heated to 34°C offering more than 85 different types of massages, jets of water and air, loungers and much more. The generous terrace and its breathtaking view, the sauna and the saltwater pool also heated to 34°C, will complete the offer.

This spectacular sounding Splash e SPA Tamaro Water Park opens in spring 2013. So get ready for the fun. You have something to look forward to next year!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Think PiNk

I am seriously wondering how I have never come across this song? "Think Pink" was featured in the American musical film "Funny Face" starring Audrey Hepburn released in 1957, with assorted songs by George and Ira Gershwin.

I am a PiNk lover - in case you hadn't noticed - I will buy anything pink if you put me to the test. My friends can vouch for that. From pink shoes and handbags to pink phones and cameras, pink skioutfit, pink sunglasses and earrings, pink PJ's, pink tennis racket AND golf clubs, just to name a few.


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