Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year 2017

My Parisian blog hit the top 50!

What a way to finish the year?

Waking up this morning reaching for my phone, a little notification is telling me my French blog has been mentioned. Curious I tap the link and to my surprise I find my blog listed amongst the top 60 Parisian blogs published by who choose the best ones from thousands of top Paris blogs using search and social metrics.

These blogs and websites are ranked based on following criteria:
- Google reputation and Google search ranking
- Influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites
- Quality and consistency of posts
- Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review

It is the most comprehensive list of best Paris blogs on the internet. I am totally chuffed. I still have not quite come around to calling myself a blogger despite my many published posts and constant viewers' increase over the years. I am still convinced that only my friends follow me but I guess my Parisian adventures are being read by many more given that this is the second time I made into a top Parisian blogger list this year. Paris is after all the biggest blogger community outside of the US.

Expat with Kids in Paris grew out of my first blog Expat with Kids that came to life in 2010 when we were still living in Lugano. I have continued to feed my Swiss blog as a way of staying attached to my home country. I could not bring myself to just drop all my followers and readers. Expat with Kids in Paris began in 2011 as a fun way to account for my daily adventures with the Parisians and the French lifestyle.

Thank you to every single one of you who have enjoyed having Expat with Kids and Expats with Kids in Paris on your daily feed via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Mille mercis to for listing me in the Top 60 Paris Blogs and Websites for 2016 and Bonne Année 2017 à vous tous!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Panettone Pudding recipe

Panettone is a typical gift you receive during Christmas festivites from acquaintances, neighbors, associates or colleagues. You therefore end up with at least 4 or 5 boxes of Panettone. You can either freeze it or else below you'll find a posh version of bread and butter pudding, rich with cream and sugar - great for using up any excess Christmas panettone to dish up for tea or supper.

Cinnamon syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Bread pudding:
1 loaf panettone bread, crusts trimmed, bread cut into 1-inch cubes
8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups sugar

To make the syrup:
1.) Combine 1 cup of water and brown sugar in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
2.) Boil until the syrup reduces to 1 cup, about 10 minutes.
3.) Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream and cinnamon.
4.) Keep the syrup warm. (The syrup can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Re-warm before serving.)

To make the bread pudding:
1.) Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish.
2.) Arrange the bread cubes in prepared dish.
3.) In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, milk, and sugar to blend.
4.) Pour the custard over the bread cubes, and press the bread cubes gently to submerge.
5.) Let stand for 30 minutes, occasionally pressing the bread cubes into the custard mixture. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
6.) Preheat the oven to 180°C.
7.) Bake until the pudding puffs and is set in the center, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly.
8.) Spoon the bread pudding into bowls, drizzle with the warm Cinnamon Syrup, and serve. Yummy!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Happy Holidays

Friday, December 23, 2016

Un Natale insolito

The kids' attention nowadays is difficult to peal away from the screen. The children's library in Besso (LA BIBLIOTECA DEI RAGAZZI) tries its best to captivate the young readers' interest with all kinds of activities and events.

Their latest invention is a funky advent calendar. Just take a look at what today's window opens up to: a lovely short story read by a local family of five called "Un Natale insolito".

Should your children understand Italian it is a charming bedtime story to listen to, just click here: 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Do you know the names of all Santa's reindeer?

Old Santeclaus with much delight
His reindeer drives this frosty night.
O'er chimneytops, and tracks of snow,
To bring his yearly gifts to you.

The reindeer which pull Santa’s sleigh are thought to have come from a poem from 1823 by Clement C. Moore "A Visit From St Nicholas". It is more commonly known as "The Night Before Christmas. The names of the magical flying animals are:

1. Dasher
2. Dancer.
3. Prancer
4. Vixen
5. Comet
6. Cupid
7. Donner (or Donder)
8. Blitzen
9. Rudolph

Originally, Santa had eight reindeer. And then Rudolph came along. So now he has nine. Rudolph’s story was originally written in verse by Robert L. May for the Montgomery Ward chain of department stores in 1939.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Seven facts about Santa's reindeers

Eight little reindeer beside Santa's sleigh, 

Getting hitched up - to be on their way.
The first one said, "We can't be late,"

The second one said, "Christmas won't wait."

The third one said, 'The sleigh's full of toys....."

The fourth one said, "For all the girls and boys."

The fifth one said, '"I'm ready to fly...."
The sixth one said, "Across the evening sky."
The seventh one said, "Look, it's starting to snow."
The eighth one said, "I think it's time to go."
Ready?" asked Santa. "It's almost Christmas Day."
And off they all flew - - up, up, and away!

One of my most popular posts around Christmas is: How many reeindeer does Santa have?
I therefore decided to come up with some more fun facts on reindeer.

1.) The names of Santa's reindeer are from the poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas", more commonly known as "The Night Before Christmas," written by Clement Clarke Moore in 1823.

2.) Most of Santa’s reindeer have male-sounding names, such as Blitzer, Comet, and Cupid. However, male reindeers shed their antlers around Christmas, so the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh are likely not male, but female or castrati.

3.) Rudolph's story was originally written in verse by Robert L. May for the Montgomery Ward chain of department stores in 1939, and published as a book to be given to children in the store at Christmas time. According to this story, Rudolph's glowing red nose made him a social outcast among the other reindeer. However, one Christmas Eve Santa Claus was having a lot of difficulty making his flight around the world because it was too foggy. When Santa went to Rudolph's house to deliver his presents he noticed the glowing red nose in the darkened bedroom and decided it could be a makeshift lamp to guide his sleigh. He asked Rudolph to lead the sleigh for the rest of the night, Rudolph accepted and returned home a hero for having helped Santa Claus.

4.) Norwegian scientists have hypothesized that Rudolph’s red nose is probably the result of a parasitic infection of his respiratory system.

5.) Reindeer have large hooves that spread apart as they walk on the snow. They act like snowshoes and prevent the reindeer from sinking in the snow! Have you ever tried walking with snowshoes?  These special hooves also help them look for food beneath the snow.  The tendons in their hooves create a clicking sound when they walk.

6.) Reindeer have an excellent sense of smell. Because food is scarce in the Arctic, reindeer use their great sense of smell to detect food buried deep beneath the snow.

7.) Reindeer are excellent swimmers.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Santa skiing on the Swiss slopes

Who said Swiss don't have a sense of humour? Just look at how much fun 1200 Santas can have on the slopes of Verbier.

Skiers in appropriate costume were invited to ski for free in the Swiss ski resort for one day only as part of a special event to celebrate Verbier's official opening weekend.

Held for the third year in a row, it proved more popular than ever this year as around 1,200 Santas arrived to claim their free day's ski pass – double the number at last year's event.

Free wine, croissants and raclette were offered throughout the day, as well as the chance to win a season pass in a prize draw. Now, all we need is a bit of fresh snow for the holidays!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Magic Reindeer food

In order for Santa to find your house easier, how about sprinkling the lawn with a little Magical Reindeer food.

Magic Reindeer Food Recipe:
- 1/4 cup dry oats
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- handful of green sugar sprinkles

You can add this poem to the outside of the bag or jar:

Make a wish and close your eyes tight,
Then sprinkle on your lawn at night.
As Santa's reindeer fly and roam,
This food will guide them to your home.
For your gift to the reindeer, and Rudolph, too,
Your wish may be real,
your dreams may come true!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Special Christmas Services at St. Edward’s in Lugano

The Anglican Church of Lugano warmly invites you to the St. Edward’s Family Christmas Service with Children’s Nativity Play this Sunday December 11th at 4 p.m. This Service is for all the family, young and old.

Another upcoming event is their Evening Candlelit Carol Service on Sunday December 18th at 6 p.m. A lovely occasion to get those voice cords going again... when is the last time you attended a Christmas Carol service? It will be a traditional Service of Nine Lessons and Carols in a candlelit setting. Not to be missed.

Please do join the St.Edward's congregation for Christmas refreshments served in Casa Benson after both of these special celebrations.

The Christmas service on Sunday December 25th at 10:30 a.m. will be a Christmas Day Sung Eucharist & Carols for the Nativity of Our Lord.

Venue: Christmas Service and Carols
Where: The Anglican Church of St. Edward, Via Clemente Maraini 6, 6900 Lugano
- Sunday December 11th at 4 p.m: Family Christmas Service with Children’s Nativity Play
- Sunday December 18th at 6 p.m: Evening Candlelit Carol Service
- Sunday December 25th at 10:30 a.m: Christmas Day Sung Eucharist & Carols
For more info click here:

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Grittibänz recipe

It hit me this afternoon while I was sitting in front of my computer... Samichlaus had not come by! A big tradition in Switzerland, one that cannot go unnoticed even if you live in Paris. I popped out to buy some ingredients and went to work.

Expat daughter would be so happy to find a taste of "home" for teatime. She still remembers when her school class in Lugano went into the woods looking for San Nicolao. He would be waiting to distribute a Grittibänz, mandarines and some nuts to the good children, the bad children had to work things out with his helper "Schmutzli" who was considerable less understanding. However, after reciting a little poem in honour of Saint Nick they would all walk back to school with a big grin on their face carrying lots of goodies to take home.

Here is a super-easy, fast, yummy recipe for Grittibänz:

500 gr flour
1 tablespoon salt
70 gr sugar
70 gr butter
2 dl milk
1 egg
25 gr yeast
1 egg for coating
For the decoration: raisins, shelled almonds, candied fruit, possibly coarse granulated sugar.

1.) Cream the yeast with a little sugar in a cup.
2.) Place the flour in a bowl and mix it with salt, sugar, slightly warmed butter, lukewarm milk, the egg and the yeast to a dough.
3.) Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Cover and leave to rise to twice the amount in a warm place.
4.) Knead the dough again, use a knife to cut off pieces of dough in the desired size and roll out to an oval shape.
5.) Mark the head by pressing the dough together slightly and turn the head to the back to make the neck. Cut out the arms and legs with scissors and place them in the required position.
6.) Decorate the figures with raisins, shelled almonds and candied fruit and trim the hat with remnants of dough. Leave to rise and put in a cold place for 20 to 30 minutes.
7.) Before baking, brush with egg and possibly sprinkle with coarse granulated sugar. In a preheated oven, bake for 20 to 30 minutes at medium temperature.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Swiss Saint Nic is on his way...

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 the 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.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The modern Third Culture Kid

Denizen is an online magazine and community dedicated to people who grew up in multiple countries, international school alumni, or Third Culture Kids (TCK). Third Culture Kids are the international nomads that possess the cross-cultural views and diverse experiences that are necessary in a ever-shrinking world.

Formally defined, TCKs are people who have spent a portion of their formative childhood years (0-18) in a culture different than their parents. TCKs are, quite literally, citizens of the world. They are hard to define and are made of an infinite amount of experiences.

Last August Denizen conducted an informal online survey of more than 200 Third Culture Kids. The majority of respondents were female, with the average age being 29. They were curious about the lives of the modern Third Culture Kid. They wanted to learn more about who these TCKs were, how often they’d moved, and how they had aged.

To the most frequently asked question “Where are you from?”, the easiest response is always “It’s complicated.”

Friday, December 2, 2016

Swiss love Christmas crafts

The DIY-happy Swiss like nothing better than to make their own Christmas presents, or to help their children make them. A Migros magazine survey from 2014 found that for 73 percent of Swiss present-making with the kids was a Christmas ritual.

Here are three 5 minute yarn crafts for Christmas that are fun, colourful and hassle-free to make with kids of all ages:

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