Thursday, September 29, 2016

Get out and vote!

I am good to go.

I have never voted in the United States before but the time has come to change that!

The process has been surprisingly easy even for someone like me who had never registered to vote before. It took filling out a form online, two e-mails to the Board of Elections in my county due to some doubts about my last address of residency - you don't want know how many decades ago - a phone call to a very kind clerk on the other end of the pond and a week later my ballot arrived in the post this morning.

So, wherever you may live in the world: are you ready to vote?

My personal absentee ballot received this morning.

To New York with love from Paris, France

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Who is the OSA

This year, the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) is celebrating its centenary. Yes, that would be 100 years of working on behalf of the Swiss Abroad. Taking the title of "Switzerland – part of the world" the anniversary year is looking back at the OSA's history with the aim of focusing on the current and future needs of our fellow citizens worldwide.

The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) devised and created in 2010. Its aim is to strengthen the link between the Swiss abroad and Switzerland.

SwissCommunity is a free, high-quality platform serving the Swiss all over the world. It is a “club” for international Switzerland, designed and tailored to meet the needs of Swiss people worldwide. You can find and exchange current information, news and events, discuss, ask questions and get answers as well as explore Switzerland online.

One of the tasks of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) is defending the "Fifth Swizerland" and is, in effect, one of the raisons d'être of the OSA since its creation in 1916.

The theme of this issue of the Swiss Community magazine is to look back at the centenary celebrations that took place in Berne on 5-7 August 2016.

Swiss Community online magazine 3/16

I wish you happy reading and sign up if you live abroad and wish to stay in touch about what is happening in Switzerland.

The Swiss Abroad were asked to shoot a video greetings message to celebrate 100 years of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA). The resulting video with all the messages that were sent in was shown during the jubilee festivities on Bundesplatz.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Made me smile today...

Audrey's back... as a chocoholic!

The Breakfast At Tiffany’s star has been brought back to life with CGI technology for Galaxy's latest ice cream advert which is set in the 1950s on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. It's amazing to see how far we've come with computer generated photography and film.

This definitely made me smile today.

Have a great weekend, hopefully with lots of ice cream!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Explore the land of chestnut trees

The chestnut tree trail winds through the woods and explores the land of chestnut trees! Besides revealing woods, crops, chestnut trees, the trail accompanies you through pleasant surroundings and a harmonious landscape where nature stands out in all its splendour.

The itinerary offers you several panoramic spots and the possibility of admiring the architectural details of certain picturesque villages that this very special excursion joins together. Several didactic points, simply marked on the ground and amply illustrated in a separate brochure, may be found along the way. You can even cover just short legs of this trail.

Join the local tradition and pick some chestnuts along the way for arts and crafts. Have fun!

Difficulty: easy
Km: 11
Elevation difference: 215 m
Duration: 4-5 h
Itinerary: Arosio-Mugena-Vezio-Fescoggia-Breno-Caroggio-Arosio
Important: All of the locations along this path may be reached by using public transportation.
For more info click here:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A date with the mycological society of Lugano

It is a Swiss tradition to go mushroom picking in the woods. But how to tell the good ones from the bad ones?

Well, one way is to bring them to your local pharmacy. Yes, mushroom selecting is just one of the many services a pharmacist is trained to do in Switzerland. Click here for the list:

You could also attend a lecture at the local school of Montagnola where a mushroom specialist will explain and show you the good ones from the bad ones for adult and kids!

Adriano Sassi who speaks Italian, French and English is a VAPKO expert and president of the Scientific Society Commission. He will lecture on the following themes:

• What are mushrooms?
• Observe to determine
• Main species and their habitats
• Mushrooms: their shape, habitat and growth.

Adriano Sassi will answer questions from the audience. You can bring your mushroom collection and have them checked by an expert.

Venue: Ticino's mushrooms
Where: Centro Scolastico Montagnola, Aula Magna,  6926 Montagnola
Date: Thursday, September 29th, 2016
Time: 20:00
The event is free!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Switzerland through the eyes of an Expat

It is true that the Swiss can be a little private, reluctant to become friends with foreigners but once they DO become your friend it is for life!

For more info click here.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

14 more Swiss fun facts

1.) The Rolex Company invented the first waterproof watch in Switzerland in 1927.

2.) The global watch industry is dominated by few countries, mainly Switzerland and China. China is the world’s top watch producer in terms of unit volume, but 99% are inexpensive, quartz watches. In the luxury segment Switzerland enjoys a near-monopoly position.

3.) Famous Swiss cheese products are Gruyere, Emmental and Appenzeller.

4.) Gruyère cheese comes from a village in Switzerland called Gruyères. There are allegedly 75 different Alpine scents in the cheese, including vanilla, orchid, violet, chestnut, mint, wood shavings, hazelnuts and fresh grass among them. Two-thirds of Gruyère production is consumed in Switzerland; the European Union and North America eat the rest.

5.) Dalai Lama owns the smallest vineyard in the world, which is located in Switzerland. It consists of only three vines and has an area of 1.67 square meters.

6.) In Switzerland, there are more banks then dentists.

7. ) The first ever youth hostel, established to protect the travelers from bandits, has been operating in the Swiss Alps for nearly 1'200 years.

8.) Teaching is one of the highest paid occupation with the most vacation time: 12 weeks!

9.) Swiss businessman Jean-Henri Dunant also known as Henry Dunant was the founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross, received the very first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.

10.) Swiss mailboxes have two slots – one for letters, and one for packages.

11.) In Switzerland, it is permissible to lease a cow, and during the duration of the lease, you get to keep all the cheese that is made from that cow’s milk.

12.) In Switzerland, it is illegal to keep just one guinea pig; they must be kept in pairs.

13.) The world’s largest meringue was baked in 1985 in Frutal, Switzerland. It consisted of 2500 eggs and 120 kg of sugar, and it had to be baked in specially adapted sauna and was then served with 80 liters of cream. It was polished off by locals in less than 3 hours.

14.) Charlie Chaplin’s corpse was stolen by a small group of Swiss mechanics in an attempt to extort money from his family. After retrieving his body, he was reburied under 1.8 meters of concrete to prevent further attempts.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Mondo Bimbi a Lugano

Given the weather forecast which does not bid well, why not check out play areas, arts & crafts activities, labs, workshops and commercial stands for children and family at MondoBimbi?

MondoBimbi is for parents-to-be, Mums and Dads, Grannies and Grandpas as well as for everyone who is looking for new ideas about children.

At MondoBimbi you can find all you need to know about pregnancy, babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and school age children.

Venue: Mondo Bimbi
Where: Centro Esposizioni Lugano, Via Campo Marzio, 6900 Lugano
Date: Friday, September 16 10:00 am - 8:30 pm
Saturday, September 17 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
Sunday, September 18 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
Price: Ticket Fr. 10.-, Children under 12 years and AVS free of charge
For more info click here:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Oreo Cookie Cake recipe

When it comes to kids birthday partys it's the cake that makes the difference. As my daughter says: "It is not a party if there is no cake!"

For her last birthday I came up with an scrumptious recipe for her favourite cookie cake. Here goes:

For the Cake:
3/4 cup (about 3 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (about 3/4 ounce) cocoa powder
1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (about 4 1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Oreo whipped cream:
50 Oreo cookies
4 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1.) Make cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°. Line bottom of a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper and lightly coat the inside with non-stick pan spray. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into large bowl; set aside. In medium bowl, whisk sugar, sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.

2.) Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until smooth. Pour batter into pan and bake until cake is just firm and toothpick inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove from pan to completely cool on wire rack, about 1 hour.

3.) Carefully cut 6 Oreo cookies in half; set aside. Chop remaining cookies into 1/4-inch pieces; set aside.

4.) To Assemble Cake: make the Oreo whipped cream in 2 batches. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whip attachment, whip 2 cups cream on medium-high speed to soft peak, spoon into large bowl and refrigerate. In same mixer bowl, whip remaining 2 1/2 cups cream, sugar, and vanilla to soft peak. Fold into already whipped cream.

5.) Place about 1 cup whipped cream in bowl and refrigerate until ready to decorate cake. Fold chopped Oreos into remaining whipped cream.

6.) Slice cake in half horizontally to create 2 layers. Place bottom layer on serving plate. Spread about 1/3 of Oreo whipped cream onto cake. Top with second cake layer and use remaining Oreo whipped cream to frost top and sides of cake. Chill in refrigerator for about 2 hours to allow cookies to soften.

7.) Place reserved whipped cream in pastry bag fitted with star tip (re-whisk if necessary). Pipe 12 whipped cream rosettes around perimeter of cake and garnish with reserved Oreo cookie halves. Serve.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

10 more facts about Switzerland

1.) Switzerland is the oldest neutral country in the world; it has not fought a foreign war since its neutrality was established by the Treaty of Paris in 1815.

2.) Switzerland has been an independent country since the year 1499, apart from occupation by Napoleon’s France between 1798 and 1815.

3.) In 2007, Swiss troops accidentally invaded its neighbor Liechtenstein after getting lost in a rainstorm.

4.) The Swiss Guards who protect the Vatican, in the Vatican City are dual citizens and the only Swiss citizens allowed to serve in foreign armies.

5.) Switzerland has a square flag; the only other square country flag belongs to the Vatican.

6.) The CERN particle physics laboratory near Geneva is the world’s largest research centre. Here, more than 100 meters below ground, we find the accelerator that simulates the conditions occurring fractions of a second after the big bang.

7.) In 1891, Karl Elsener invented the Swiss Army Knife after finding out the army’s knives were actually made in Germany. He wanted to create a knife that could have multiple uses and was made in Switzerland. There are over 400 different models of the Swiss Army Knife, and designs today can include an altimeter, barometer, and a computer USB memory card. It has been nicknamed “The World’s Smallest Toolbox.”

8.) The Nestlé Company, started by Henri Nestlé in 1867, buys up almost ten percent of the world’s coffee and cacao bean crops by itself annually. It also created Nescafe, the world’s first instant coffee in 1938.

9.) Every single one of the seven billion Toblerone  produced annually comes from the factory just outside the Swiss capital.

10.) Swiss chocolatier DeLafée has actually developed gold chocolate. They blended 24-karat gold dust into cocoa butter to create edible chocolate gold.

Monday, September 12, 2016

15 facts about Switzerland

Switzerland is a small, fascinating and unique country. Take a closer look and you'll learn all kinds of intriguing facts about this little island in the middle of Europe.

1.) Around 8 million people live in Switzerland. It is one of the smallest countries in Europe.
2.) The capital is Bern. The largest city is Zurich.
3.) The highest mountain in Switzerland is Dufourspitze (Monte Rosa), but the most popular one is the Matterhorn (4'478 meters). The Toblerone shape is actually inspired by Matterhorn!
4.) The Swiss flag is made of a red cross on a white background. Fun fact: the Red Cross’ emblem was designed as the inverse of the Swiss flag, in honor of Henry Dunant and his Swiss citizenship.

5.) Switzerland is the only country after ancient Athens to practice direct democracy. Swiss citizens choose their representative in national and local elections. But they also vote on everything from banning smoking in restaurants, or school hours, to renovating the museum, or changing a local bus route. The Swiss vote more often than any other nation in the world.
6.) You might notice that cars from Switzerland carry the “CH” sticker, not “S” (taken by Sweden), or anything that would resemble the word Switzerland, Suisse, Schweiz, or Svizzera. Instead they are using the old “Confederation Helvetica” (Helvetiqe Confederation).

7.) One of the most interesting facts about Switzerland is that it has four official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. It doesn’t mean that every Swiss person speaks more than one language, but most of them do.
8.) There are 1'484 lakes in Switzerland, the biggest of which is Geneva Lake (Lac Leman), although its southern shore is in France.
9.) Trains are on time, always. And they can take you anywhere, even to the top of the mountain. Every Swiss town is connected to the railway system which also coordinates with an amazing bus system. The extensive railway system and strong regulations on truck transport make Switzerland’s air less polluted.
10.) A typical Swiss meal? Fondue – made of two kinds of cheese melted in a big pot with garlic, white wine, and spices, and loads of bread to soak in that cheese. It’s delicious.
11.) Switzerland produces around 450 varieties of cheese, the most renowned being Gruyere and Emmentaler.
12.) Best Swiss dessert? Chocolate. To taste the best Swiss chocolate you will have to visit, the exported product is not considered as the best.
13.) Switzerland is the world’s largest chocolate producer. Switzerland is also known for being the world’s largest chocolate eater! An average Swiss eats around 9kg of chocolate per year.

14.) The world’s longest tunnel is the Gothard Base railway tunnel in Switzerland. It is 57 km long!
15.) Switzerland is home to MANY international organizations: United Nations, World Health Organization, International Committee of the Red Cross, UEFA, FIFA, CERN, International Olympic Committee. 23 international organizations are based in Geneva alone.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Clean Up Day 2016

It's Clean Up Day!

This Friday and Saturday join the Clean Up Day action organized by the city of Lugano. Volunteer to remove trash, recyclables, and other litter across the city to help reduce the amount of pollution that goes into the local ecosystem.

Did you know that every year, 20 million tons of garbage is added to our oceans, 80% of it from mainland waste. That’s like dumping over 710,000 Boeing 737 airplanes into the ocean…each year?

Together with the event organizers, you can volunteer collecting litter from the sidewalks and grass areas, in the spirit of the international initiative called “Let’s Do It”, a civic-led mass movement that began in Estonia in 2008 when 50,000 people united together to clean up the entire country in just five hours. Since then, Let’s Do It! has spread this model—one country in one day—around the world. To date, 113 countries and over 16 million people have joined us to clean up illegal waste.

Venue: Clean Up Day 2016
Where: City of Lugano
When: Friday, September 9th and Saturday, September 10th, 2016
For more info contact: +41 58 866 77 17 or email:

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