Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 23, 2013

Test your Christmas IQ

You are probably cooking like mad or travelling to someplace during this busy holiday period but if you want to take five minutes and have a giggle, I thought I'd share this true-or-false combo quiz I came across in the easyjet magazine.

Can you spot the festive falsehoods? TRUE or FALSE?

1. Scientists say Rudolph's red nose is because of infection. T/F
2. Santa Claus wears red to symbolise Jesus turning water into wine. T/F
3. The 'true love' mentioned in 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' refers to God. T/F
4.Kissing under the mistletoe references an affair between Vidarr, the Norse God of the forest, and Elli, the goddess of old age. T/F
5. Crackers originally symbolised an assassination attempt on Pope Julius 111 in 1752. T/F
6. In Poland, spiders and spiders' webs are common decorations. T/F
7. Stockings come from the Hungarian tradition of washing socks on 24 December. T/F
8. The Swedish made the first artificial trees out of dyed pheasant feathers. T/F
9. 120 million Christmas trees are grown each year in Europe. T/F
10. Christmas pudding was originally a thick soup with raisins and wine in it. T/F
11. Presents used to be wrapped to prevent rats from eating them. T/F
12. Workers in Spain get a Christmas bonus of one month's salary by law. T/F
13. In Serbia, Santa is a woman who gives the children a kiss while they're sleeping. T/F
14. In the Middle Ages, the traditional Christmas meal in England was pig's head and mustard. T/F
15. In Estonia, the festive meal is a stew made from seal meat and chestnuts. T/F
16. Since 1947, Oslo has sent a Christmas tree to London to thank the British for their help in World War 11. T/F
17. The first bit of music played in space was 'Jingle Bells'. T/F
18. Christmas is the most common time of year for couples to break up. T/F
19. Christmas trees are fed dried banana peels during germination to help them develop their deep green colour. T/F
20. In Russia, it's considered unlucky to give teddies as presents, because bear attacks are common in wintertime. T/F


 15-20 YOU ARE SANTA, THE RIGHTFUL OVERLORD OF CHRISTMAS. You scoff in the face of any mere mortal who asks you which winter berries to add to a mince pie. Travelling a mere 510,000,000km on Christmas Eve is no problem so long as there's a glass of eggnog waiting for you when you get home.

8-14 YOU ARE RUDOLPH. Unfortunately, your ruminant mammal brain prohibits you from absorbing all things Christmassy, but 365 days a year under Santa's guidance has given you some basic wisdom.

0-7 YOU ARE SCROOGE. Christmas isn't your thing. Your prefer high interest loans and Victorian workhouses. Try not to bah humbug your way through the festive season, retaining a certain amount of information is crucial if you want to become less of a grump.

10. TRUE
12. TRUE
14. TRUE
16. TRUE
17. TRUE
18. TRUE

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Swiss Humour

Have a look at the latest advertising of a local insurance company starring the Swiss World Cup alpine ski racer Didier Cuche. Supposedly he retired from competition following the 2012 season.

This is what he is up to nowadays:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Swiss handmade online markets

Every once in a while I come across a product or a service that tickles my fancy to the point that I decide to post it on my blog.

This weekend I came across a Christmas Survival Kit card by www.lulaloo.ch. The designer started brainstorming with her kids about things they love about Christmas and this is what they came up with.

Check it out here: http://www.lulaloo.ch/category/more-celebrations/christmas/.

If you are an avid internet user as myself and with an Anglosaxon background, you will problaby have heard of a site called etsy, an e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items, supplies, as well as unique factory-manufactured items.

Switzerland is big on arts and crafts. Here a few sites similar to etsy that sells handmade or vintage items but are based in Switzerland/Europe:

www.de.dawanda.com/ (German site in Euro)
www.fait-maison.com (French site in Euro)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas concert for charity: Make-a-Wish

Are you feeling christmassy and in need for some soul-searching after a Saturday of shopping? The International Women's Club Lugano invites you to a classical concert with the Orchestra Giovanile d'Archi della Svizzera Italiana. The concert is given for charity to benefit Make-A-Wish Switzerland/ Ticino. So up you get, have a cup of tea and some Christmas biscuits before you head to the Conservatorio and enjoy the spirit of Christmas.

Venue: Make-a-Wish Christmas concert
Where: Conservatorio, Aula Magna, Via Soldino 9, 6900 Lugano, Lugano
Date: Saturday, December 14, 2013
Time: 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

Tickets available at CHF 25.- (including cocktail) at Uff. Manifestazioni Conservatorio phone +41 (0) 91 960 2362 or email iwcl.charity@gmail.com

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Nativity scenes in Vira

The town of Vira with the Church of San Pietro rises impressively above Lake Locarno. The heart of the village, still nearly all intact, is typically Ticinese, with its old houses leaning against one another, its alleys, bottlenecks and porches. On the facades of the houses there are some "frescoes" that were painted in 1970 in occasion of the "Fresco School".

During the Christmas period, Vira is transformed into a winter wonderland of nativity scenes. "Il Presepe a Vira Gambarogno" consists of around thirty nativity scenes, exposed in the little streets of the town.

You'll find reconstructions of the Holy Night in all shapes and sizes, some with traditional features, with the characters placed in a setting re-created with the help of moss, stone, wood and water, while others are more unusual. For example, they have had nativity scenes that were crocheted, made with bottles or yoghurt pots, and from steel wire and chairs.

The first time it took place was 23 years ago, on the initiative of a group of local enthusiasts who wanted to enliven the village at a time of the year that traditionally was quiet and lacking in events. In a sense they were pioneers, as this was the first event of its kind in Ticino. Immediately the local schools became involved in creating the nativity scenes, and in no time at all this special way of anticipating Christmas was met with a great deal of enthusiasm.

The opening day (starting at 15.00) is particularly cheerful with the market in the square, a band playing bagpipes and various local associations offering food delicacies. Traditional Christmas music, chestnuts and mulled wine, together with the lighting, make the atmosphere extremely cosy and warm.

Venue: Il Presepe a Vira
Where: 6574 Vira
When: From 15.12.2013 until 06.01.2014
Click here for detailed programme

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Free Zumba Kids class in Lugano

To all you Zumba fans out there: listen up! I know for a fact that Lugano has quite a few Zumba fans from all kinds of nationalities. Don't miss the ultimate dance-fitness party for kids from 7 to 12 years of age.

If you are fast, there will be a free Zumba Kids trial class available for you today from 17:00 to 18:00. Just call 076/387'00'18 or e-mail: spazio360@sunrise.ch.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nelson Mandela's legacy

While the world is paying tribute to Nelson Mandela today, it seems to me that all the dignitaries whom have turned up at the stadium of Johannesburg are absolutely starstruck themselves.

Despite the pouring rain - which it seems is a good fortune in the tradition of Mandiba's tribe -  crowds are clapping, singing and dancing as they arrive at the FNB stadium. A most colourful stadium I might add.

On another level, I will be watching the movie "The 16th Man" with my children this weekend. "The 16th Man" is a documentary about the South African rugby team and how it helped Nelson Mandela write history in 1995, the year the “Springboks” hosted and won the Rugby World Cup. It is about the courage, the will power, the patience, the willingness to accept, the chance to change and about the determination of a man and his country to abolish old rules and accept the challenge.

“The 16th Man” is DEFINATELY worth watching. Absolutely speechless to what a nation with the right leader is capable of through sports. Never in our wildest dreams......

Monday, December 9, 2013

Funky Christmas playlist

I looove Christmas carols and will listen to them with gusto for the entire month of December. However, I do sometimes prefer a funkier version of the classic songs. My absolute favourite of all times is Lou Rawls' "Christmas is the time". Very Soul and R&B.

Following is a list which will hopefully inspire you to put together your own jazzy Christmas Carol list.

Happy listening:
Merry Christmas, Baby - Otis Redding

Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt

All I Want For Christmas Is You - Olivia Olson

Silent Night, Holy Night - Frank Sinatra

Little Saint Nick - The Beach Boys

Last Christmas - Wham!

White Christmas - Louis Armstrong

Joy To The World - Aretha Franklin

Santa Claus Is Back In Town - Elvis Presley

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Ella Fitzgerald

Christmas Song - Cocoon

Winter Wonderland - Macy Gray

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Album Version) - Jackson 5

White Chrismas (Part 1) - Pink Martini

Baby It's Cold Outside (feat. Norah Jones) - Willie Nelson featuring Norah Jones

Brighten The Corner Where You Are (24-Bit Digitally Remastered 06) - Ella Fitzgerald

Happy Christmas (War Is Over) (as made famous by John Lennon) - The Christmas Party Singers

Blue Christmas (as made famous by Elvis Presley) - The Merry Christmas Players

Maybe This Christmas - John McDermott/Ron Sexsmith

Winterlude - Bob Dylan

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent market in Lugano

Today, the first Advent Calendar window has been opened and therefore the countdown towards Christmas has officially begun.

To celebrate the first of Advent, head down to Piazza Riforma at 17:00 this afternoon to see Lugano's official Christmas tree. Accompanied by music, Julie Arlin will host the lighting of the city's tallest Christmas tree. A really exciting event, especially for children.

After, also check out the Advent market starting today. During all of Advent, Riforma Square will be populated by charming wooden houses, where you can find all sorts of Christmas specialties, decorations and original gift ideas.

A magical world for children, which even adults love to partake in. The joy of being together, without necessarily having to stay in one's home living room. The pleasure of buying presents at the market or in boutiques. This is the kind of Christmas that the city of Lugano proposes and which will feature 37 very special days in the streets of the city centre so that the Christmas season can reach out to everyone.

Lighting of the Christmas Tree
Sunday 1.12.13 at 5.00 p.m.
Riforma Square

Advent Market
Sunday 1.12.13 at 5.30 p.m.
Every day until Monday 23.12 from 11.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m.
Tuesday 24.12 from 11.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Creative Advent Calender for your kids

A long-standing Swiss tradition is the Advent calendar starting on December 1st. This year I felt like sharing an idea that I came across on the English speaking Mums in Switzerland facebook page. It is all about Being Silly, a theme the kids just looove. With the help of ergolino and some other mums I have listed 24 ideas, one for everyday until Christmas.

1. Eat pasta with your hands
2. Make the biggest splash possible (in the bathtub)
3. Have dessert before a meal
4. Wear whatever you want to school
5. Speak in funny voices all day
6. Have an opposite-day: say everything in the opposite way you mean it.
7. Go to sleep in a place in the house you have never slept before (do that on a Friday or Saturday!)
8. When someone calls or comes to the door (postman?) sing to them instead of talking.
9. Dont touch red / blue / yellow ... things all day.
10. Invent your own dish: cook or bake with whatever is available in the fridge (to avoid having to buy fancy spices)
11. Invent a secret language and use it one day long.
12. Use hair gel to make funny hair-do's.
13. Say the ABC backwards.
14. Do you have “finger toes?” Can you pick up things like a pencil, t-shirt, and more using your toes? 15. Can you tie up your shoe laces in a new way? Zigzag those laces? Use more than one pair of laces in each shoes?
16. Wear your clothes inside out and backwards.
17. Teach your kids to whistle for a taxi with two fingers
18. Rewrite your favorite song: sing your version as a group very loudly into hairbrushes while the real one plays on the stereo on low.
19. Wear some crazy and funny socks
20. Try to break a world record, even if you have to invent one
21. Take silly family pictures
22. Do a science experiment (the Coke-Mentos volcano is always  good one)
23. Play charades
24. Whipped Cream Fight: Everybody wears a raincoat. Everybody goes outside. Everybody gets a full can of Reddi-wip. Nobody can eat from his or her own can.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Christmas markets in Lugano

It's Black Friday in the United States and therefore the busiest shopping day of the year. However, this weekend will be busy in Ticino....

Enter into the Christmas spirit at the Chritmas Fayre of St. Edward's Church in the festive setting of Casa Benson. Enjoy a glass of mulled wine whilst browing among the stalls of homemade traditional specialities, handicrafts and preserves. http://www.stedwards.ch/node/294
The address is: The Anglican Church of St. Edward, Via Clemente Maraini 6, 6900 Lugano

Check out the Christmas Market in Savosa at Via Roncaccio 5, 6942 Savosa with many English-speaking stands. Friday and Saturday morning.

There is also the Christmas Bazar at the Scuola Steiner: http://www.scuolasteiner.ch/2013/10/31/bazar-di-natale-2013/ at Via dei Magi, 6945 Origlio

Please make time for the Christmas Open House at All for Kids on Saturday and Sunday! Stop by anytime between 10:00 and 17:00 either day. There will be simple holiday crafts for the kids and snacks for all. You can browse the vast selection of games, toys & more that make learning fun and inspire creativity. Lots of new items have just arrived! http://www.allforkids.ch/.
 Click here if you need directions. The address is Via Cimitero 21, 6592 S. Antonino, and parking is available.

Happy Christmas shopping!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fun facts about Thanksgiving

Fun Facts about the First Thanksgiving
- The Plymouth Pilgrims were the first to celebrate the Thanksgiving.
- The Pilgrims sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to reach North America.
- They sailed on the ship, which was known by the name of 'Mayflower'.
- They celebrated the first Thanksgiving Day at Plymouth, Massachusetts.
- The Wampanoag Indians were the people who taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land.
- The Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford, had organized the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621.
- He invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians to the feast.
- The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days.
- Mashed potatoes, pumpkin pies, popcorn, milk, corn on the cob, and cranberries were not foods present on the first Thanksgiving's feast table.
- Lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese are thought to have made up the first Thanksgiving feast.
- The pilgrims didn't use forks; they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers.

Thanksgiving Facts throughout History
- Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States.
- Sarah Josepha Hale, an American magazine editor, persuaded Abraham Lincoln to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. She is also the author of the popular nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb"
- Abraham Lincoln issued a 'Thanksgiving Proclamation' on third October 1863 and officially set aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving.
- The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition began in the 1920's.
- In 1939, President Roosevelt proclaimed that Thanksgiving would take place on November 23rd, not November 30th, as a way to spur economic growth and extend the Christmas shopping season.
- Congress to passed a law on December 26, 1941, ensuring that all Americans would celebrate a unified Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November every year.
- Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a live turkey and two dressed turkeys to the President. The President does not eat the live turkey. He "pardons" it and allows it to live out its days on a historical farm.

Fun Facts about Thanksgiving Today
- In the US, about 280 million turkeys are sold for the Thanksgiving celebrations.
- Each year, the average American eats somewhere between 16 - 18 pounds of turkey.
- Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States.
- Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States.
- Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States, where it is the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Useful Thanksgiving links

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: http://printables.familyeducation.com/tv/printables/TGivingList.pdf

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: http://www.csgnetwork.com/turkeydinnercalc.html

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: http://printables.familyeducation.com

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

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My favourite recipes for a Swiss-American Thanksgiving

"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.

Last year I discovered a new dessert that I switched 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.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Swiss Fondue recipe

Following yesterday's post on Swiss Fun facts about cheese, I thought I'd share my Fondue recipe with you today.

There are different kinds of fondue: Cheese fondue, Fondue chinoise (where you dip meat into bubbling broth), Fondue bourguignonne (when you dip meat into boiling oil). Both of the latter versions come with an array of yummy sauces such as curry, tartar, mustard mousse, cocktail sauce, just to name a few.

Switzerland was and always will be a Fondue country. 42% of Swiss believe Fondue is the most typical  Swiss dish. Followed by Rösti which is a sort of hashbrown just better and Raclette which consists of slices of melted cheese eaten with new potatoes.

In Swiss tradition if a nugget of bread is lost in the cheese either the person offers the next bottle of white wine (because you drink white wine or hot tea only with cheese fondue) or the other rule is, should you lose your piece of bread you need to kiss everybody of the opposite sex around the table. Enjoy your company and your meal!

Check out my Expat with Kids recipe book for Fondue recipes:

Bon appétit!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Swiss Fun Facts about cheese

Swiss cuisine mirrors the diversity of local history. The Swiss treasure the distinct taste of their regional specialties. Thinking of Swiss cuisine, the first thing that comes to mind is Swiss cheese. Famous Swiss cheese products are Gruyere, Emmental and Appenzeller.

Fondue and Raclette are the most popular Swiss cheese dishes.

Fondue is a dish made of melted cheese adding a bit of wine and garlic. Diners dip bits of bread into it using a fork. Should you drop the piece of bread into the pot you either pay the next bottle of wine OR kiss your table neighbours.

Did you know that the real Swiss eat Fondue only during the winter?
Did you know that people in Switzerland raise their eyebrows when they see Americans eating fondue with fries and Coke?
Did you know that many Swiss have a class of Kirsch – cherry schnapps – with the fondue. The more adventures ones dunk their piece of bread in it before they load it with cheese?

Did you know that “fondue” is French and means “melted”. Even though it’s a French word, it’s called fondue in all four official languages of Switzerland?

Did you know the other very popular Swiss cheese dish, called Raclette, where cheese is melted and scrapped directly from the wheel of cheese?

Raclette originated in the canton Valais. It is heated and then scraped onto the plates. Served with new potatoes, pearl onions and baby pickles and sprinkled with Paprika.

Did you know that – while Switzerland is very famous for its cheese – it’s also the home of the first wine growing area in the world that has been made a UNESCO world heritage site? It’s the area called Lavaux between Montreux and Vevey on Lake Geneva.

Did you know that Gruyere is not just the name of the world famous cheese, but also the name of a wonderful town and a beautiful region close to the mountains and on the border of the French- and German-speaking parts of Switzerland. They also produce Gruyère Double cream, a sort of smooth creamy-rich butterfat from mountain cream which they serve with their other speciality: delicate, thin, sweet meringues.

Did you know that Switzerland doesn’t just have holes in its famous cheeses? It also has holes in its mountains, among them the world’s longest train tunnel through a mountain: the 35-mile (57 km) Gotthard Base Tunnel.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A weekend guide to Zürich

Somehow, I was feeling rather homesick today so I decided to make a list of typical city sight that might come in use should you decide to visit Switzerland's largest city.

In Zurich you should not miss a stroll down the Bahnhofstrasse, the city's main shopping street with many attractions, especially before Christmas period.

Day 1:
Start off at Bürkliplatz (right next to the lake) where you make your own candle by dipping a wick into tubs of molten wax in the Kerzenziehen pavilion. All you need is a bit of patience but my kids love it!

Half way down the street is the Paradeplatz (home to two of Switzerland's biggest banks) where you'll find Sprüngli, a teahouse which sell Swiss macaroons as their speciality. They are better than the French macaroons and definately worth a try! ;) Melt-in-your-mouth truffles, light and delicate ‘Luxemburgerli’ macaroons, handmade dark chocolate, tarts and cakes are just a sample of the many sweet and tempting offers at the café.

Stroll to the Münsterhof nearby where you'll find the Fraumünster Church with its magnificent stained glass windows in the choir created by French artist Marc Chagall in the early nineteen-seventies, or the windows by Augusto Giacometti. Fraumünster, which literally means women’s abbey, belonged to the Benedictine convent whose abbess had wide powers in Zurich.

Continuing along the Bahnhofstrasse at No. 62 you'll find Franz Carl Weber, a
never-ending toy shop on four floors with virtually anything you might be looking for, includes books and a pizzeria. The kids will love it!

Behind the Franz Carl Weber walk up the Rennweg. The name derives from “Rain”, which means slope. In the Middle Ages, Rennweg was Zürich’s widest street. The "Rennwegtor" gate stood at its lower end as part of the city fortifications. The "Fröschegraben" trench lay along the city wall, but it was filled in during the 19th century, and Bahnhofstrasse was built on top of it. Rennweg is the second most exclusive shopping area in Zürich after Bahnhofstrasse and its pedestrian zone invites you to stroll and linger. It will lead you up to the Lindenhof.

This spot, the Lindenhof,  provides a glorious view of the Old Town, Grossmünster Church, City Hall, the Limmat river, the university and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Lindenhof was also the scene of numerous historical events.
In the 4th century, a Roman fort stood on Lindenhof. It served as protection for the occupying Roman forces as well as the local population in the event of attacks by the Alemanni.
In the 9th century, the grandson of Charlemagne built a regal palace as a residence on this site.
This area continued to be a place for gatherings for Zürich’s inhabitants right up to the beginning of the modern era. For example, the oath sealing the Helvetic Constitution was taken on Lindenhof in 1798.
Today, Lindenhof is a haven of peace and tranquility in the heart of the city and a meeting point for passionate chess players.

At the end of the Bahnhofstrasse you'll find Zürich's main trainstation. Behind it, is the Swiss National Museum (in case of rain) called Landesmuseum on Museumstrasse 2 which is definately worth a visit. The museum houses the largest cultural-historical collection of objects in the country. The museum building is over 100 years old and reminds one of a fairytale castle.

If you like cheese and would like a good fondue for dinner go to the restaurant Le Dézaley in the Römergasse 7/9. The fondue prepared according to an old family recipe is definitely very tasty and also comes in a version with morels (mushrooms).

If you're looking for more Swiss German food head to the restaurant Zeughauskeller in the Bahnhofstrasse 28a. Situated in a mediaeval arsenal it serves good solid traditional Swiss fare: generous helpings of meat, sausages, schnitzel and roast. Popular with tourists, locals and lads out for the night, it’s a place where it’s easy to get to know people, as you share the big tables with other guests. Lots of fun.

Day 2
A visit to the Zürich Zoo and the Masoala rainforest. Elephants, rhinos, penguins and 20 species of monkeys are just some of the animals on the Zürichberg that will transport you into an exotic world – with all your senses. Explore the rainforest along a twisting path and gain insight into a typical rainforest dense with palms and inhabited by lemurs and turtles and discover sparse swamp areas with a myriad of brightly-colored frogs.

If you still have the energy, you can walk along The Niederdorf (Niederdorfstrasse) which is the old town running along the east side of the Limmat River. Filled with bars, restaurants, shops, cafes, and a few old adult cinemas, it also contains the Grossmünster church, which is a huge Romanesque-style Protestant church and also one of the 3 main churches in Zürich (the other two being the Fraumünster and St. Peterskirche). A perfect for a stroll during the day, as you can see a mix of the old and new amongst the winding alleys.

Voilà. This wold be my suggestions. Pick and choose as you like.
Following is a Zurich site that might be useful to you: http://www.inyourpocket.com/Switzerland/Zurich/Zurich-in-48-hours_72746f

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The "Swiss Francs" rap

So, there goes Switzerland's reputation or - as they say - bad publicity is publicity too! The Swiss Franc is definately on the rap scene thanks to Ryan Leslie. He actually did go to Harvard! I do love his address though: Global.

Have a peak for yourself and see if you recognize some sights from Zurich:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Lugano's first Family Fair

Here is a lovely opportunity to discover how much happens in town. It's the first of it's kind in Ticino. So don't miss it. I'm talking about the Family Fair held at the Hotel Pestalozzi in Lugano on Sunday, November 10th, 2013.

Come spend a fun day with the whole family, grab the chance to eat a cupcake, or some yummy thai or mexican food while browsing the stalls of the Family Fair.

You'll find plenty of entertainment for grown ups and little people in a friendly environment in the heart of Lugano. Much to learn, to taste, to see and to buy.

For more information and to receive the flyer with all the list of the exhibitors contact: iwcleveninggroup@gmail.com

Presentations/demos during the day:
Ready-Steady-Move! Demo in Spanish (max 12 kids) to join write to: ticino@ready-steady-move.ch

Storytelling in Spanish with Stephanie Bravo

Yoga for parents with Lidia Regoli (adults only, max 12) to join write to lidiaregoli@gmail.com

Storytelling in English with Kelly Fischer http://www.ktf-writers-studio.ch/

Storytelling in Spanish with Stephanie Bravo

Family First Aid Kit: No Home Should Be Without One with Christina Schmid – Franklin college nurse

Storytelling in English with Kelly Fischer http://www.ktf-writers-studio.ch/

Ready-Steady-Move! Demo in English (max 12 kids) to join write to: ticino@ready-steady-move.ch

Discussion about dyslexia

This will be a fabulous event so tell your friends! Everybody is welcome to stop by.
Entry is free. Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Venue: Family Fair
Where: Hotel Pestalozzi, Piazza Indipendenza 9, 6900 Lugano
When: Sunday, November 10th, 2013
Time: 10:00 to 17:00

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's Halloween

It's Halloween! It's Halloween!
The moon is full and bright
And we shall see what can't be seen
On any other night.

Skeletons and ghosts and ghouls,
Grinning goblins fighting duels,
Werewolves rising from their tombs,
Witches on their magic brooms.

In masks and gowns we haunt the street
And knock on doors for trick or treat.
Tonight we are the king and queen,
For tonight it's Halloween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween at Lugano Sud

Tomorrow night is THE night!

Halloween is a very unusual night:
There’s only one night like this all year.
Only one night when spirits appear;
An evening meant to be spent outside,
Yes, it’s Halloween, and you cannot hide.

When the ghosts come out 
and the goblins creep, 
And the skeletons rattle.
How can anybody sleep?
And the monsters march, 
while the witches take flight. 
Yes, Halloween is a very unusual night.

Drop your fears and off you go,
Join the traveling costume show.
Grab your sack and attack the street,
But you better start to trick or treat.

If you are desperate, your kids are nagging about trick or treating and your neighbourhood has not organized any activities, why not pop down to Lugano Sud on Thursday? You'll be sure to find hordes of people, however, the kids will get to participate at the Halloween party organized by the Centro Lugano Sud where creative workshops, face painting and many tasty treats will be awaiting them.

Venue: Halloween Party
Where: Centro Lugano Sud, 6916 Grancia
Date: Thursday, October 31st, 2013
Time: 10:00 to 21:00

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween cupcake recipe

So, I've given you decoration inspiration, video guides to spooky make-up, an activity booklet to download and a party to attend to celebrate Halloween. All you need is something to munch on.

These aromatic pumpkin cupcakes are perfect for Halloween, but you can eat them any time of the year, especially if you use canned pumpkin, as the recipe states.

Pumpkin CupCakes
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon each: cinnamon, ground cloves, ginger, nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
3 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
One 15-oz. can of pumpkin

3/4 cup of walnuts, pieces
Decorations: gummie candies, candied fruit

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.) In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3.) In a large bowl, place butter and sugar and beat together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
4.) Add the eggs to the wet ingredients (large bowl) one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
5.) Stir 1/3 of the flour mixture (from Step 2) into the wet ingredients (large bowl), then 1/2 the can of pumpkin. Follow that with 1/3 flour mixture, then the rest of the pumpkin and then the remaining flour mixture.
6.) Pour the batter into each cup until three-quarters full.
7.) Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
8.) Let the cupcakes cool completely in their pan on a wire rack. Then take each cup carefully out of the tray.
9.) Frost each cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting and add decorations on top.

Cream Cheese Frosting
This scrumptious frosting works really well as a topping for our Pumpkin Cake and Cupcakes. It's delicious as a cookie topping or as filling between cake layers.

Two 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
Two 1 lb. boxes confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

1.) Place the cream cheese and the butter in a bowl. Beat with electric mixer until soft and evenly combined.
2.) Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat until combined and smooth.

If you want to turn it into chocolate frosting, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup dry cocoa during Step 2, according to how rich you like it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Zircus Knie is in Lugano

As the days become shorter and the fog descends onto Lugano, not only has autumn knocked on the door but also ... the circus Knie is coming to town.

Circus Knie is back at the Cornaredo with its new show called “Emotions”. For the 95th time the family Knie is touring around Switzerland.

When the “Cirque National Suisse” took its name in 1919, it was already the fourth generation. The Circus Knie goes back to the beginning of the 19th century, more exactly to 1803!  Today Circus Knie is like an institution in Switzerland. Who has not heard or been once to a circus performance or visited the children’s zoo in Rapperswil. Circus Knie is run by the two brothers Freddy and Franco Knie. Their wives, sons, daughters, grand-children and extended families all take part a way or another in the performances or work at the tent or with the animals.

Just like the title of the new program “Emotions”, you can expect to go through various states of mind during the two hour show. You will laugh, feel excitement, be joyful, be scared, feel thrills and most of all be in admiration.

So, hurry to buy your tickets. Click here!
For a detailed programme click here!

Venue: Circus Knie
Where: Pratone di Trevano (next to Stadio Cornaredo), Via Giacomo E Filippo Ciani, 6900 Lugano
When: November 14th to 17th, 2013
Time: Thursday: 20h15, Friday: 15h00 et 20h15, Saturday: 13h30, 17h00 and 20h30, Sunday: 10h30, 14h30 and 18h00

The Circus Knie in numbers:
Tours Switzerland every year for 8 months
Started in March in Rapperswil and will end on Nov. 17th in Lugano
Gives over 350 performances
Visits over 40 places
Covers 3500 km
100 people needed to install the big tent and work at the buffet and at Landiwiese zoo
50 artists work for the Circus
66 people at every performance in addition to the artists
100 caravans come with the circus where many live

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Expat with Kids turns THREE!

Googling the meaning of the third anniversary I came up with this answer: "The 3rd wedding anniversary is basically when a couple is aware of their strength of their relationship."

So, I am not married to my blog - eventhough my hubby begs to differ sometimes - but it has become a relationship, a place where I continue to share practical information with wacky facts and fun news.

It started out as a challenge. A computer lover, but complete novice when it came to blogging, I sat myself down for 48 hours to set up what is today my blog "Expat with Kids". With people in mind who are living through the similar experience of landing in a small, unfamiliar city searching to connect with locals and the few expats at the same time.

It has been a fun journey allowing me to connect online with many of my followers with specific requests or compliments. Once in a while, I ventured out to meet up with one of a my readers personally and I can honestly say that everytime I did, we connected in a way only expats can do....fast and intense!

Although I must admit we moved to Paris over two years ago, I enjoy continuing my Expat guide about Lugano and am proud of my 10'000 views per month.

Under the motto If you can't bet 'em, just join 'em I have started a second blog in Paris called Expat with Kids in Paris.

A big, hearty thank you to all my supporters and followers who - by clicking my link - encourage me to keep going and allow me to follow my passion by sharing this lovely corner of the world.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

English Movie night in Lugano

Should you enjoy watching movies in their original language, here is an opportunity to see a delightful English movie: “Song For Marian” (also known as “Unfinished Song”)

Click here to see the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtQ6cAaMzKs

The stars of the movie are the great British actors Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp. One reviewer wrote: “It's unabashedly sentimental, but thanks to reliably powerful performances from a well-rounded veteran cast, Unfinished Song proves a sweetly compelling character piece.”

Venue: Movie "Song for Marion" (Original version)
Where: Lux Cinema, Via Giuseppe Motta 61, 6900 Lugano
Date: Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
Time: 19.00 Welcome Drink - Movieto start promptly at 20:00.
Price: CHF 15:00 (Welcome drink included).

For any further question please get in touch with Yvonne Amiconi at ticinovony@gmail.com.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

You're invited to a spooky party at Swiss Miniature

Ghostly creatures take to flight
on this dreary, frightful night…
Bid you join us…if you dare
for a treat or a scare!!

Thursday October 31, 2013
from 8:00pm til midnight
Cost: CHF 35.00
(includes finger foods, drinks, music and dancing)

Bring your husbands, wives, partners, friends, but
"No creatures of the night who have seen fewer than
18 hallowed eves"

RSVP to the Lugano MeetUp team
by Thursday October 24, 2013
Corbin Moro cmoro@ticino.com
Helen Roowalla hroowalla@gmail.com
Zuleika Tipismana Ztipismana@gmail.com
Kathleen de Marchi mail@demarchi.ch

Monday, October 21, 2013

Be Drop Dead Gorgeous - Halloween Make Up

Looking for Halloween make-up ideas I came across a UK site. The tutorials with the super talented Emma Pickles are simple and fast . You don't need a great deal of make up just a few sponges and some inspiration. You'll be on a roll and off to spook out your neighbours and friends. Have fun.

Sexy witch:
Using lime green face paint and red lipstick for maximum impact!

Scary doll:
Create a scary but cute look! Include big eyelashes and wig.

Zombie bride:
Create a Halloween bride makeup look which could be used for a zombie bride, a ghost bride or a corpse bride costume.

Skeleton make up:
Create a scull look with a difference for Halloween, so you'll be sure to stand out.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Halloween Activity booklet

This Kids' Halloween Activity Book is jam-packed with spooky word puzzles, creepy math games, boo-tastic brain benders, and more. Print it out now and get your children in the Halloween spirit!
Perfect to keep them busy during those rainy days. Just click on the picture to download.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fun ideas for Halloween decoration

Pumpkins with Faces

Make 'em laugh! It doesn't take much to transform a parade of pumpkins into a casual crew. For noses, a carrot or root vegetable adds character; other facial features come courtesy of a marker and paper cutouts. Scour the house for an old hat and sunglasses to round out the display.

Spiderweb Doormat

Set the mood and welcome guests with this easy doormat idea. First, cut a 3x4-foot mat into a 36-inch diameter circle with heavy shears. Using chalk, draw a spiderweb on the mat. Cut pieces of clothesline to fit your design. Singe the ends of the clothesline to keep it from fraying. Use heavy-duty white glue to adhere the pieces to the mat, covering the chalk lines.

Glittery Pumpkins

Add some glam to your indoor pumpkin decor with a bit of glue and glitter in this fun Halloween crafts project. To make this shimmering faux pumpkin arrangement, use a paintbrush to coat strips of each pumpkin with clear-drying white crafts glue. Add glitter to the pumpkin, working in small sections at a time so the layer of glue doesn't dry out.

Spooky No-Sew Cat Tablecloth

This hair-raising tablecloth can be made in minutes with our scaredy-cat pattern, available below. Download our free pattern and cut out the cat shapes from black felt. Attach the shapes to a large piece of gold felt using fusible web or fabric glue to finish the tablecloth.
Get the free scaredy-cat pattern.

Jack-o'-Lantern Luminarias

These no-fuss pumpkin face decorations require no messy pumpkin carving and can be made in minutes. Cut the smiling pumpkin faces from black cardstock and tape the shapes to orange cardstock that has been cut to fit the lantern panels. The finished product will brighten railings or steps during the day, but can also light up the night when you put battery-operated candles or flashlights inside the lanterns. For a longer-lasting decoration, put the jack-o'-lantern faces behind the lantern's glass panels.
Download a face stencil.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Lugano Photo Days 2013

LuganoPhotoDays' second edition is taking place from October 12th to 20th, 2013.

René Burri's exhibition "Impossible Reminiscences" is the cherry on the cake of the event. The author of the Che smoking a cigar or LeCorbusier in his workshop exhibits - on the occasion of his 80th birthday and for the first time in Ticino - a series of colour images. Virtually unknown to the public, and displayed in chromological order, situations and portraits captured simultaneously with the black & white ones, deliver a unique vision of the creativity of this great master of photographyʼs spirit from 1950 until today.

The programme of the International festival of photography provides the very much appreciated workshops and conferences. It has been enhanced with a selection of thematic exhibitions, individual portfolio reviews and the presentation of book by emerging photographers.

For more details click here: http://www.luganophotodays.ch/en/

During LuganoPhotoDays, the Lugano MeetUp group would like to invite you to the aperitivo accompanying Fabrizio Capsoni photo exhibition BEIJING 2008 on Friday, October 18th, 2013 at 18:00 featuring a very interesting reportage of 250 photos telling the story of China during the Olympics.

Should you be looking to spend a nice evening together with other Expats just stop by and introduce yourself to the Organization team to sign up. Have fun!

Venue: Aperitiv & Photo Exhibition
Date: Friday, October 18, 2013
Time: 6:00 PM
Where: Galleria/Libreria ART...on paper
Via Cattori 5a
Via S. Salvatore 2

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