Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year 2021

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Royal Chefs' Gingerbread House

So, it might be a little late but given we are stuck at home during Covid times this seems like a fantastic afternoon activity with the kids.

How could I resist taking a go at the Royal Chefs' Gingerbread House? I cannot... therefore I thought I'd share the Royal kitchen's recipe for making the perfect Gingerbread House with you. Have fun and let me know how you fair.

Gingerbread Dough


  • 1000gr - Plain Strong Flour
  • 14gr - Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 28gr - Ground Ginger
  • 14gr - Ground Cinnamon
  • 355gr - Butter, unsalted
  • 500gr - Light Brown Sugar
  • 140gr - Egg
  • 175gr - Golden Syrup


  1. Mix flour, bicarbonate and spices together
  2. Add cold diced butter and continue mixing until crumb stage is reached
  3. Add sugar and briefly combine
  4. Then add eggs and syrup and mix until dough is formed
  5. Divide into 2 blocks, knead together by hand and flatten
  6. Wrap and chill for a few hours before rolling to approx. 5mm thickness for the house parts and approx. 3mm for smaller decorative parts
  7. Cut gingerbread house shapes using template Gingerbread House template
  8. Place on baking trays and chill again before baking
  9. For windows, crush boiled sweets into the spaces you have cut


  • Fan oven 165c
  • 18+ min for house pieces
  • 12+ min for smaller pieces

Royal Icing: 


  • 1500gr - Icing Sugar
  • 200gr - Egg White
  • 50gr - Lemon Juice


  1. Sieve icing sugar and combine with egg white and lemon juice by hand first before placing into mixer
  2. Paddle together on low speed for about 2min, then scrape sides and paddle well
  3. Continue mixing on low speed for approx. another 5min, until a creamy hard peak consistency is reached
  4. For piping, decoration works loosen icing with some water
  5. To assemble gingerbread house use hard peak icing

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Pantone 2021 color of the year: There are two

For the Pantone Colour of the Year selection process, colour experts at the Pantone Colour Institute comb the world looking for new colour influences, from the entertainment industry to fashion, travel destinations and socio-economic conditions. Influences can also stem from new technologies, materials, textures, social media platforms and even upcoming sporting events that capture worldwide attention.

Aiming for “a message of happiness supported by fortitude,” color expert Pantone has announced not one but two “colors of the year” for 2021. The picks for the coming year are Ultimate Gray and a “cheerful yellow” called Illuminating.

It is the second time in the selection’s 22-year history that two colors have been chosen. In 2016, soft hues of rose and blue were twinned.

Of the 2021 selection, Pantone’s press release said: “The combination … is aspirational and gives us hope. We need to feel that everything is going to get brighter.”

My personal favourite remains the choice of 2001: Fuchsia Rose, a bright, feel-good feminine colour, that  is passionate, intense and exciting, yet also warm and endearing.

2011 was a good one too: Honeysuckle, a bright, sherberty pink shade, uplifting and optimistic, evoking nostalgic feelings of summertime.

Illuminating and Ultimate Grey

Fuchsia Rose


Monday, December 28, 2020

Striving for a better, fairer world...

What motivates students to pursue a career in humanitarian aid, development cooperation or peacebuilding? And why do they sometimes turn away from it? cinfo - the competence centre for international cooperation (IC) - in collaboration with the Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH) has conducted a survey of over 500 Swiss students.

The results show that young people are attracted to the profession because of their desire for a meaningful job and the opportunity to tackle global challenges (environmental, social, etc.). 

The prospect of a personal challenge and experience abroad are also attractive, albeit to a slightly lesser extent. However, some are deterred from starting their professional career in this field by the difficulty of reconciling private and professional life and balancing the career of a potential partner - at a time when work-life balance is considered a key factor in a job’s appeal. 

As many jobs are temporary, financial and occupational insecurity are also likely to make young people hesitate.

Sixteen Swiss IC employers, interviewed in a second survey, indicated that the number of jobs for young professionals has generally increased in recent years. 

The number of applications per NGO job is increasing, while the recruitment of junior professionals for multilateral organisations (such as the UN) is proving to be more complicated.

For more detailed information:

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Christmas spirit

 "May you never be too grown up to search the skies on Christmas Eve."

Best X-mas gift this year.

A Swiss touch in the kitchen.

X-mas table decorations: simple, traditional and festive.

We cannot go without the Italian Panettone.

Busy baking with Expat Girl

In remembrance of Nonna... struffoli fatti in casa!

Babà au rhum à la napolitaine.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas


Thursday, December 10, 2020

Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December – the day on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UDHR sets out a certain set of rights that are the basic and minimum set of human rights for all citizens.

The UDHR is a milestone document that proclaims the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to as a human being - regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Available in more than 500 languages, it is the most translated document in the world.

Setting aside a day to commemorate, educate and reflect on the principles that form the UDHR means celebrating the rights we exercise everyday, and acknowledging that enjoying those rights carries with it the responsibility of promoting these rights for all people.

Things that many of us take for granted – such as the right to an education, the right to receive medical care, and the freedom to practice our chosen religion – are not equally available to all.

Human rights gain new meaning when they become a reality in the daily life of every single person in the world. 

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Grittibänz recipe

What the name "Grittibänz" means is subject to some discussion, but the word appears to come from central Swiss dialect: "gritti" seems to mean something like "standing astraddle" - with the legs apart - and "Bänz" is a short version of the name "Benedict".

Up to the years of 1930 this "Grittibänz" was only known in the midlands of Switzerland, the area of Basel and in Fribourg and Jura. Later the Nikolaus dough man was spread all over Switzerland due to the media and the bakers and their distribution channels.

To make your own little bread man at home, begin by making a yeast dough and have your kids help you. Following 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. 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Swiss tradition of Samichlaus

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 goodies the next morning. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Swiss-American Thanksgiving recipes

This week is Thanksgiving and although I have lived thousands of miles away from the United States most of my life, rarely have I missed Thanksgiving. When I was a little girl the main reason for loving this special American holiday was that I was granted special permission to take the afternoon off from school. 

Today, I am cooking the meal for my family. Days spent in the kitchen are worth all the work when you finally sit down with a good glass of wine at hand and can enjoy your oeuvre d'art, because that is what is!

I have celebrated Thanksgiving in Zurich, Geneva, Washington D.C., Milano, Madrid and Lugano. This year we celebrate Thanksgiving in Paris as a family of 4 due to COVID restrictions!

Over the years the following recipes have proven to be my absolute favourite. Go ahead and experiment yourself!

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. Shingle the bacon strips over the breast so it's totally covered. 
  4. Put the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan, cover the turkey with aluminium foil, and place in the oven.
  5. In a small bowl, stir the maple syrup with 2 tablespoons of hot water to thin. 
  6. Roast the turkey for 2 hours, basting with the maple glaze every 30 minutes. 
  7. 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). 
  8. About 1/2 hour before you think the turkey is done, remove the foil so that it can brown. 
  9. 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


  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. 
  3. Add the wing, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and herbs, and cook for 5 minutes. 
  4. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. 
  5. Remove from the oven and place over medium heat. 
  6. Remove the wing and set aside. 
  7. Add the flour and let cook for about 1 minute. 
  8. Add the stock and simmer until it has reduced by about 1/4, about 15 minutes. 
  9. 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


  1. Wash the cranberries and discard any that are soft or wrinkled.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Carefully spoon the cranberry sauce into a 3 cup mold. Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.
  5. 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.

Please check out my recipe book where you'll find more Thanksgiving recipes. Just click on tab below and go directly to:


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Christmas tree has landed in Lugano

It might not be the most eco-friendly gesture but it is has been a tradition for years... when the city's Christmas tree arrives by helicopter much to the spectators' delight.

This morning the tree flew over the Lugano lake before being carefully set in the center of Piazza della Riforma.

With the coronavirus, it will be a different Christmas than usual. However, there will be no shortage of Christmas trees and the many onlookers - big and small - could savour a first taste of Christmas 2020 today.

Lugano's iconic Christmas tree will now be decorated for the official illuminating ceremony on December 1st when the city centre will once again be transformed into a bright village, filling the festive period with cheer for both locals and tourists alike, in full compliance with the safety regulations in force. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Digital Global snapshot

More than 4 billion people around the world now use social media each month, and an average of nearly 2 million new users are joining them every day.

The world is spending more time on social media too, with the typical user now spending roughly 15 percent of their waking life using social platforms.

However, social media isn’t the only aspect of digital that’s delivering impressive numbers. This digital 2020 October Global Statshot Report – produced in partnership with Hootsuite and We Are Social – shows that connected tech continues to play an ever more important role in various aspects of people’s everyday lives.

To put these numbers in perspective, more than two-thirds of the world now uses a mobile phone (67 percent), while almost 60 percent of all the people on Earth now use the internet.
More than 9 in 10 internet users around the world connect via mobile devices, but two-thirds still connect via computers too.

Social media adoption has jumped by more than 12 percent in the past 12 months.
Social media accounts for more than one-third of our connected time, with people now spending an average of almost 2½ hours per day on social platforms.
Added together, this means that the world now spends more than 10 billion hours per day using social media, which equates to more than 1 million years of human existence.

Instagram continues to enjoy strong growth, but it’s not alone.
Much of this quarter’s growth in social media use is the direct result of the new habits that people adopted during COVID-19 lockdowns.

The time we spend using connected devices continues to rise. GlobalWebIndex’s latest data reveal that the world’s internet users now spend an average of 1½ hours per day watching platforms like Netflix and Disney+, compared to the 2 hours per day that they spend watching broadcast and cable channels.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

A Swiss escape experience

Searching for some inspiration? Ready for a break in your routine? Need something to look forward to? How about taking a trip through Switzerland's cultural heritage with magnificasa? Don't get discouraged by the website's language barrier... this is so worth exploring!

The foundation "Ferien im Baudenkmal" was founded in 2005 with the aim to take over endangered monuments by renovating and turning them into holiday homes.

In Switzerland, the most varied architectural monuments can be found in the smallest of spaces: from traditional farmhouses to town houses. Many buildings are witnesses of industrialization or a record of the beginnings of tourism, renovated they are outstanding examples of modern Swiss architecture.

These monuments - witnesses of a moving past and important components of our townscapes and landscapes - are often demolished because they no longer meet today's usage requirements. The foundation "Ferien im Baudenkmal" commits itself to the preservation of valuable historic buildings throughout Switzerland.

The best part is that the carefully restored objects are made available to the public by renting the houses for vacations at reasonable prices. Many of the monuments are in remote regions. In addition to the idea of ​​saving cultural heritage, holidays in these historic monuments create a basis for sustainable tourism and, in the long term, add value to these regions, which are often at risk of emigration.

Clicking through the history of their portfolio is like undertaking a voyage through Switzerland's diverse cultural history: My personal favourite is this little jewel in Bondo deep in the Grison valley:

Go ahead, give it a try.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Need a break? Holiday architecture is the answer.

Need a break of daily routine? Looking to experience the extraordinary – or you want to share something extraordinary with the world - Holiday architecture is the answer. These architecturally innovative holiday homes are a world unto themselves.

URLAUBSARCHITEKTUR – is Europe’s leading online portal for architecturally outstanding holiday homes. In other words, they bring architecture-lovers and proud holiday home owners together. And while they consciously don’t offer a booking service, they offer a point of contact between hosts and their prospective guests. Their website acts as a gallery where they post beautiful, exciting and exemplary accommodations in a showcase for you.

You can narrow down the number of listed houses by specifying the number of people, the region and many other criteria.

Here is the latest addition: The village of Guarda appears as if taken right from the pages of a storybook. Situated on a sunny south-facing terrace high above the River Inn in the Canton of Grisons (the home of the Swiss children’s book classic Schellen-Ursli) it is famous for its historical village centre. The winding alleys are lined with well-preserved 17th century Engadine farmhouses. One of these houses on the outskirts of the village is Chasa Padrun, in a very scenic location with a beautiful view of the valley and mountains from the garden.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

MUN - Model United Nations comes to Lugano

Model United Nations conferences are student activities, generally organized over 2-3 days or at regular intervals during a school semester. During the meeting and session the students simulate the work of the United Nations.

Each MUN participant assumes the role of delegate of a member country of the UN or of a non-governmental organization, and is called to represent its positions in a committee or a body of the United Nations. During the meetings, particularly in formal moments, rules of procedures are in place that follow the actual procedures adopted by the international organization. The ultimate goal is to create a multilateral agreement through one or more resolutions on the topics discussed, which will then be adopted by the committee in its final meeting.

Thanks to this modus operandi, participants approach an in-depth analysis of the issues that most strongly mark the present, but also a better understanding of the dynamics that lead nations to adopt particular choices and develops an awareness of the difficulties that international diplomacy must face. 

The TI-MUN project aims to offer young people in the upper middle and professional schools of the Canton Ticino the opportunity to learn about the UN and participate in the Model United Nations project.

This weekend the second TI-MUN will be held at the Liceo Cantonale 2 in Savosa. Over the next few years, the association expects to regularly host a TI-MUN Conference in the fall semester and becoming an active pole in promoting the project in the Ticino institutes (high schools, professional schools, USI and SUPSI) by maintaining contacts between the delegates of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

09:00 - 09:15 Opening Ceremony
09:15 - 12:00 Committee Meeting
13:30 - 16:30 Committee Meeting
16:30 - 17:30 Guest of Honor Conference
17:30 - 18:00 Web-apéro

09:00 - 12:00 Dibattiti nei Comitati
13:30 - 15:00 Dibattiti nei Comitati
15:00 - 15:30 Closing Ceremony

Saturday, November 14, 2020

World Diabetes Day

November 14 was chosen as World Diabetes Day because it is the birthdate of Dr. Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin, who is generally hailed as a diabetes hero.

Following the 2006 UN resolution recognizing WDD, the Blue Circle came to be the international symbol for diabetes. The colour choice was in part because blue is the official colour of the UN flags and logos, and partly because it’s the colour of the sky that vaults all national borders... a way of saying diabetes affects us all.

Last year, there were 1,400 events in 120 countries to mark WDD, many of them convening crowds. This year, one of the main events will be a TV news-style program commissioned by the IDF (International Diabetes Federation) called Diabetes Matters, which will air throughout Europe and beyond starting on November 14, 2020.

This year’s theme is "Nurses Make the Difference" and will focus on the vital need for education and funding for these frontline healthcare professionals.

To mark World Diabetes Day 2020, a new online course in the IDF School of Diabetes on the role of the diabetes educator is available free for a limited period:

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Joseph's Machines

Joseph Herscher, inventor of comical chain-reaction machines, has clearly had some time on his hands. 

Joseph made his first machine when he was five years old, the Lolly Machine. This childhood passion was rediscovered in his early twenties when he built a contraption that spanned his entire apartment in a three minute obstacle course culminating in a hammer smashing an egg.

"Creme that Egg" racked up three million views online, encouraging him to build more and more elaborate machines. Soon came the workshops with kids, participation in the Venice Biennial and a feature in the New York Times.

Many of Herscher’s devices are referred to as Rube Goldberg Machines. The name comes from the famous American cartoonist who drew complex gadgets that performed simple tasks in indirect and convoluted ways.

His Rube Goldberg machine to streamline dinnertime lets him keep eating with no break before cake. It's his most complex yet and took three months to make so please sit back and enjoy it! The creativity is brilliant!

This should put a smile o your face today. Happy Weekend everyone. Greeting from Expat with Kids in confinement... 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Today's inspiration

Monday, November 2, 2020

Maple-Pumpkin Creme Brulée

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

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

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

1.) Preheat oven to 180ºC. 

2.) In a large bowl combine egg yolks, cream, pumpkin, maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg; whisk until smooth. Spoon pumpkin mixture evenly into eight 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups.

3.) Place ramekins in a large roasting pan. Place roasting pan on oven rack. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

4.) Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until edges are set (centers will shake slightly). Carefully remove ramekins from water; cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill for 4 to 8 hours.

5.) Before serving, let ramekins stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium heavy skillet heat granulated sugar over medium-high heat until sugar begins to melt, shaking skillet occasionally to heat sugar evenly. Do not stir. Once sugar starts to melt, reduce heat to low and cook about 5 minutes or until all sugar melts and is golden, stirring as needed with a wooden spoon. Quickly drizzle the caramelized sugar over custards. (If sugar hardens in the skillet, return to heat; stir until melted.) Serve immediately.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Marameo publishing house

Marameo is the first Ticino publisher specialising in children's literature. It was set up to promote picture books for the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland that are popular in Switzerland but have been overlooked by Italian publishers.

Marameo! The word is an interjection of a mockery, yet playful and light, like such of a child. A marameo with which - drawing on a good dose of recklessness and defying any business plan - the courageous bookseller, Francesca Martella, appeared on the publishing scene, giving life to the first publishing house of literature for young people. 

It took courage because if the other linguistic regions of Switzerland can count on a wider audience potential, and therefore boast publishing houses and long-running catalogs, the inhabitants of Italian-speaking Switzerland are very few compared to the public of Italy, a nation that also counts numerous highly successful and extremely competitive publishing houses for children. 

Yet Marameo in little more than a year of launching has already made itself noticed inside and outside of our borders, thanks to both an editorial line conducted with a decisive attitude, relying on the names of prestigious authors and illustrators, and by winning the precious international “ProLitteris” award.

In times of lockdown, why not read the alphabet in 26 nursery rhymes by Roberto Piumini with illustrations by Paloma Canonica to your children? 

Or download some free samples here:

A come... Grande alfabeto illustrato

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Happy Halloween

Friday, October 30, 2020

Same as every year... Chestnut muffin recipe

The chestnut is typical Ticino product. The local custom has the children collecting chestnuts in the woods this time of year to roast or to create decorations. Chestnuts are used as flour, bread, cakes, pasta, jam, oatmeal and even schnapps. It is also used in recipes for marron glacé or to accompany a delicious platter of game. Throughout the streets of Lugano the flavour of roasted chestnuts accompanies these autumn days.

The chestnut muffin recipe is a classic and I post it every year. Kids love it and it's fast and easy to make. Given the bad weather and as the forecast doesn't seem promising baking is a great way to entertain the little ones at home.

250gr melted butter
250gr sugar
200gr ground almonds
300gr of chestnut purée
4 eggs

1.) Mix egg yolks with sugar
2.) Add melted butter, ground almonds and the chestnut purée
3.) Mix well
4.) Whisk egg whites until peaked
5.) Add egg whites delicately to the chestnut mixture
6.) Pour into muffin mold filled with muffin cases
7.) Bake in preheated oven at 200°C for about 30 minutes.

Buon Appetito!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The history of Halloween

The history of Halloween can be traced back 2,000 years. It was during these ancient times in Europe that the Celts celebrated the beginning of winter on the evening of October 31st. November 1st was the first day of their new year and it also marked the first day of winter. They believed that death was strongly linked to the long and bitter winter. The Celts thought that during the winter the dead and the living existed simultaneously because it was on this day that the dead roamed the earth. Samhain was the name they gave to their celebration of the dead on the evening of October 31st.

However, when Christians began to gain authority in the 800s, the history of Halloween was forever changed; November 1st became known as All Saints Day or All-Hallows. It is believed that the Christians slightly altered the holiday into a church related celebration, honouring deceased saints. Not unlike Celtic tradition though, the Christians too honoured the dead on this day. The evening of October 31st soon became known as All-Hallows Eve and was eventually changed to Halloween.

The tradition of wearing Halloween costumes stems from an Irish and Scottish ritual known as “guising.” In the 19th century, children would dress up in various costumes and go house to house, looking for gifts of coins, food, or snacks. One of the earliest records of guising is in 1895, where Scottish masqueraders carried lanterns made out of turnips and visited homes to be rewarded with fruit, money, or cakes. When the Scottish and Irish migrated to America, they brought along their guising tradition.

Check out this Visual History of Halloween

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Fizzy Candy recipe

Homemade fizzy candy sounds like just the ticket for Halloween. This simple candy's bright fruity and effervescent feel will be a hit with your kids. Pastry chef Tracy Obolsky's invention allows for easy customization of flavours by switching out any variety of powdered Kool-Aid or powdered, fruit-flavoured gelatine. Citric acid is often sold as lemon salt in grocery stores; if you can't find it, it can be omitted.

Yield: makes 2 cups
Time: 20 minutes

1 cup plus 3 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
3⁄4 tsp. cherry-flavoured Kool-Aid or other drink mix
1⁄2 tsp. powdered citric acid

1.) Line a baking sheet with a sheet of foil. 
2.) In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with the corn syrup, and 2 1⁄2 tablespoons water. 
3.) Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook the syrup, without stirring, until the thermometer reads 300°, 8 to 10 minutes.
4.) Remove the pan from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda, Kool-Aid, and citric acid. 
5.) Quickly pour the syrup onto the prepared baking sheet in one move, then let stand to cool completely. 6.) Smash the candy into bite-size pieces, and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

It's been 10 years...

Reposting my very first post from 10 years ago... you've come a long way, baby!

Before the beginning of great brilliance, there must be chaos. Before a brilliant person begins something great, they must look foolish in the crowd.” - I Ching

Let me introduce myself:

Born an expat to an American father and a very British mother I was raised in Zurich, Switzerland. I fled to the United States to study and came running back “home” to Europe two years later to finish my studies in Italy.

I found myself a luxurious job in the International city of Geneva where my career blossomed for nearly 10 years when I fell in love with a charming Italian.

I turned my whole life around, abandoned my career and with THE ring on my finger said goodbye to friends and family and was swooped off to our first expat destination, my dream port of call: Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Our son was born a Porteño and proud of it. Two years later we moved to Paris, France only to move again after 6 months, this time to Milano, Italy where our daughter was born. A real Milanese.

Enjoying a three year stint in Madrid - a city all 4 of us fell hopelessly in love with - we are now based in the Metropolitan city of Lugano, Switzerland.

Without planning I have returned back to my roots so to say and my husband and kids are getting a healthy dose of Swiss discipline and education.

Personally I am lacking the hustle and bustle of a big city and therefore decided to undertake some territory discovery of my own via a blog.

Welcome to my world....Expat with kids!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Settimana della lingua italiana 2020

One country, four language regions, multiple cultures. In a country known for its white cross and cluster of identities, the Italian-speaking region is often overlooked, even by the Swiss themselves. This region includes the canton of Ticino and four valleys known as the 'Grigionitaliano' – Mesolcina, Calanca, Bregaglia and Valposchiavo – in Graubünden, the country's only trilingual canton.

Italian is Switzerland's third national language, and it's spoken by around 590,000 Swiss people, or 8.1% of the country's population. The language can also be heard in cities in both the German- and French-speaking parts of Switzerland: more than 50% of the country's Italian speakers live outside the Italian-speaking region, in part due to immigration from Italy, especially in the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, Switzerland is home to the third-largest community of Italians outside of Italy.

To mark the #SettimanaLinguaItaliana lets place the spotlight on where and how #Italian is spoken in #Switzerland!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Swiss startups on the map

Co-published by WIPO, Cornell University and INSEAD, the Global Innovation Index 2020 provides detailed metrics about the innovation performance of 131 countries and economies around the world. Its 80 indicators explore a broad vision of innovation, including political environment, education, infrastructure and business sophistication. 

The 2020 edition sheds light on the state of innovation financing by investigating the evolution of financing mechanisms for entrepreneurs and other innovators, and by pointing to progress and remaining challenges – including in the context of the economic slowdown induced by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

For the tenth consecutive year, Switzerland finished first in the Global Innovation Index thanks in particular to the many developing startups. In 2019, nearly CHF 2.3 billion were invested in 266 of them, making Switzerland the 5th largest European country investing in startups. They represent the diversity and richness of the Swiss innovation ecosystem.

Like the biotech company Cutiss AG that won first place in this edition of the TOP 100 of the most promising Swiss startups. Founded in 2016, Cutiss cultivates skin made from human cells in the laboratory to treat skin defects, including severe burns. She was followed on the podium by Wingtra, a startup that produces drones specialized in mapping. Finally, the startup Piavita finished third thanks to its sensors allowing horse owners, clinics and veterinarians to remotely monitor, via an application, sick or convalescent animals.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Taking teens to the screens

According to Swiss owners and distributors, teenagers have abandoned the cinema. Certainly, the children’s cinema club, “la Lanterne magique”, which has 20,000 members in Switzerland, helps those aged between 6 and 12 years to discover the seventh art, but does this mean that they will grow into fans of the cinema itself? The answer is no. “Cultural autonomy develops between 15 and 20 years old. It is therefore necessary to offer something to this age group,” explains Ilan Vallotton, director of “la Lanterne magique”. 

The association and other industry players have therefore developed the #ciné concept, to entice 14-18 year olds to reinvest in film and become regular cinema-goers. Currently present in eight towns throughout the country, the project entrusts the organisation of cinematic events destined for teens to groups of adolescents of the same age. Once a month, they take over a cinema in their town to present a preview of a film of their choosing. “The idea is to position the cinema as a place where adolescents can take control,” explains Ilan Vallotton.

Venue: La Lanterna Magica 
Where: CineStar 3, Via G. e F. Ciani 100, 6900 Lugano
When: Wednesday's at 14:30
For more info contact: Tel: 091 745 30 07 or write to:

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Saving the Swiss cinema

Whether to kill time or to indulge their passion for cinema, people in lockdown from all over the world have turned to streaming or video on demand (VOD). Film consumption has reached record highs. Industry leader Netflix has recorded the strongest growth levels since its creation. But in the midst of the giant American platforms, small Swiss productions are invisible.

Swiss cinema is promoted on local portals, such as Cinefile, Filmingo and Artfilm, which also saw rapid growth at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of Filmingo users quadrupled. Cinefile recorded five times more viewers than throughout all of 2019, while the little platform Artfilm, dedicated exclusively to Swiss productions, saw 20 times more traffic than usual. But despite this significant growth, streaming will not be able to save Swiss cinema, according to key actors in the sector.

To fight against this phenomenon, the Swiss cinema industry is placing its hopes in the amendment of Switzerland’s Film Act, currently under discussion in parliament. In the meantime, you can support screening of independent films, and prevent the disappearance of our culture by checking out the local portals offering films through streaming: and

Following are a few suggestions:

The Divine Order:, trailer in Swiss German:


Citoyen Nobel:

Alpine Fire:

Moskau einfach!

Paradise War – The Story of Bruno Manser:

The Mistress: or

Winner of the Audience Award for Best Narrative Film at the Tribeca Film Festival, THE DIVINE ORDER is set in Switzerland in 1971 where, despite the worldwide social upheavals of the previous decade, women were still denied the right to vote.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Homo Faber Guide

Ever heard about the Homo Faber guide? As I found out this week, it is an online platform dedicated to craftsmanship that allows you to discover artisans and their masterpieces; explore museums, visit galleries and shops selling unique objects; enjoy experiences in cities across Europe. 

Homo Faber Guide is a signature project developed by the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship, an international non-profit organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland, which was set up in 2016 thanks to the intuition of Franco Cologni and Johann Rupert. 

The Michelangelo Foundation’s mission is to celebrate and preserve master craftsmanship, and for this reason it has created a European map of the most significant representatives in this field, with the aim of connecting all its protagonists: artisans, designers, gallery owners, art curators, collectors and enthusiasts of high-quality handmade pieces.

The artisans featured in the Homo Faber Guide have been selected in a meticulous assessment process based on the eleven criteria for excellence. 

Ticino's only participating artisan is a jewelry maker based in Balerna. Curious to meet him? Check out his site here:

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Ticino's suspended valley

Ever heard of Val Calnègia otherwise known as the suspended valley?

If you follow the ancient migratory herding route you'll be amazed by the unique landscape of this sunny valley. Having reached the top of a majestic waterfall, you will find yourself overlooking a panorama of piles of stones and boulders scattered amongst the valley’s meadows and woods. Human ingenuity has seen these rocks skilfully put to use as natural shelters, stables and cellars, which, along with the river’s canyons and rapids, form a unique, enchanting canvas framed by tall rock walls.

The Calnègia Valley widens above Foroglio where the mountains have been shaped by one cataclysm after another. It can only be reached on foot, but the reward in the form of a submerged creek, unusual buildings and spectacular scenery is well worth the effort. The Val Calnègia side valley is best reached from Foroglio. Parking is available near the bridge and the roundtrip along this valley is approximately 8km:

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