Saturday, February 29, 2020

What do you think grown-ups don’t understand?

When life gets hectic, it’s easy to default to boring conversations and low-level small talk. Have you ever thought about discussing something totally random with your kids, like “How old is old?” or “If you could start your own business, what would it be?”

These conversation cards are carefully crafted to spark thought-provoking discussions with children. Whether you’re on a road trip, around the kitchen table, or getting ready for bed, this deck of prompts inspires you to think and talk together on a deeper, more meaningful level.

With 150 questions to discuss, children can explore a whole world of ideas and issues - nurturing strong communication skills and strengthening family time. The questions are broken up into six categories: hopes and dreams, reflection, likes and dislikes, self-expression, emotional intelligence, and random.

Your kids will love taking their turn to pick a card and ask you a question.

Friday, February 28, 2020

How To Write by Elizabeth Gilbert

My favourite Swiss abroad is the very talented SwissMiss a designer blog/studio based in New York. This was a post she published a few weeks ago which I took the liberty to share.

How To Write by Elizabeth Gilbert

1) Tell your story TO someone. Pick one person you love or admire or want to connect with, and write the whole thing directly to them —like you’re writing a letter. This will bring forth your natural voice. Whatever you do, do NOT write to a demographic. Ugh.

2) Start at the beginning of the story, write what happened, and keep going until you get to the end.

3) Use radically simple sentences.

4) Don’t worry if it’s good; just finish it. Whether or not your project is good, you’ll be a different person at the end of it, and that’s always worth doing.

5) Don’t write with the aim of changing anybody’s life. That will lead to heavy, irritating prose. Just share what delights or enrages or fascinates you. If somebody’s life is changed by it, that’s a bonus.

6) Whenever you can, tell stories instead of explaining stuff. Humans love stories, and we hate having stuff explained to us. Use Jesus as an example: He spoke almost exclusively in parables, and allowed everybody to draw their own lessons from his great storytelling. And he did very well.

7) Your work doesn’t have to be any particular length, or written for any particular market. It doesn’t have to even be seen by another human being. How and if to publish your work is a problem for another day. For today, just write.

8) Remember that you’ve been doing research your whole life, merely by existing. You are the only expert in your own experience. Embrace this as your supreme qualification.

9) Every writer starts in the same place on Day One: Super excited, and ready for greatness. On Day Two, every writer looks at what she wrote on Day One and hates herself. What separates working writers from non-working writers is that working writers return to their task on Day Three. What gets you there is not pride but mercy. Show yourself forgiveness, for not being good enough. Then keep going.

10) Be willing to let it be easy. You might be surprised.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Pesciüm Winter Skyrace 2020

The Pesciüm Winter Skyrace consists of two amazing routes in a breathtaking alpine environment. Choose whether you want to enjoy the day peacefully on an 8km course (with 700m of altitude difference) in the company of the people you love or with your dog, passing through Pesciüm and Nante, or whether you want to fight to the last calorie of your body and challenge the others on the 16km course (with 1300m of altitude difference) which includes climbing the legendary black slope of Varozzei which will take you to 2250m on a 300m ramp with an absurd gradient.

In the philosophy of Scenic Trail, co-organizer of the event together with the Funivie Airolo-Pesciüm, the safety of the competitors comes first and in second place there are beauty and hardness of the route.

Whichever route you choose, you will go home satisfied with the views and the pride of having been able to tackle such special routes.

Places limited to 200 for this very first Skyrace which is already stirring up the runners of the region! The price includes registration, a race pack, the ascent and descent by cable car and a good lunch at the restaurant in Pesciüm. Registration by 27 February, so hurry!

7.00-8.30: Bib distribution (bar Chièuna)
9.00 am: Briefing
9.30 am: Race start
14:00: Award ceremony

K16 (distance 16km): includes race pack, ascent to Pesciüm with the cable car, lunch at the restaurant in Pesciüm, refreshments
Base: CHF 49.-

K8 (distance 8 km) - non-competitive race, you can be accompanied by your dog: includes race pack, ride up to Pesciüm with the cable car, lunch at the restaurant in Pesciüm, refreshments
Adults (from 16 years): CHF 39.-
Children (up to 15 years): CHF 29.-

To view the rules and routes of the race click here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Art atelier for the Carneval holidays

We are off to a great start for the Carnevale holiday week. After yesterday's brilliant sunshine you might be looking for some inspiration in case the weather changes. How about a path of games, readings and creativity in collaboration with Hervé Tullet?

All of this week the Museo Erba is offering one art atelier per day for the creation of themed works. Five Carneval items you never thought of using for a painting!

“A Carnevale ogni arte vale!”

Tuesday, Feb 25: Sonia Delaunay: pronti, cerchi... via!
Un’allegra composizione con stelle filanti e palloncini.

Wednesday, Feb 26: Kandinsky: il papà dell’arte astratta
Dai sfogo alle tue emozioni con coriandoli, stelle filanti e carte colorate.

Thursday, Feb 27: Magritte: giú la maschera!
Come mai una mela gigante ha indossato una buffa maschera di Carnevale?

Friday, Feb 28: Frank Stella: un’esplosione di forme e colori
Trombette e cappellini per un quadro in 3D.

Venue: “A Carnevale ogni arte vale!”
Where: Museo Erba, Riva Caccia 1 - Central Park, 1° piano, 6900 Lugano
Time: 10.00 – 11.30
Mattinata al museo: 9.00 – 12.00
Reservations at 091 835 52 54
For a detailed programme click here:

Monday, February 24, 2020

La tradizionale risottata di Carnevale

In Ticino "Carnevale" is a much loved occasion. In the area of Lugano, the Ambrosian and Roman rites have always coexisted, thus creating a long period of celebrations in which masks, confetti and jokes conquer both the young and old.

The Lugano Carnevale officially started four days ago when King Sbroja received the city's keys from the mayor Marco Borradori in Piazza della Riforma. Did you watch the masked parade of Lugano's school pupils immediately after the delivery?

Today everything is ready for the traditional risotto of the King Sbroja Carneval offered by Corriere del Ticino and Banca Raiffeisen. The popular lunch will take place from 11.45 in Piazza della Riforma.

Given the good weather, between 4,000 and 5,000 people are expected to join the fun and for the first time this year, washable tableware will be introduced for which a deposit of 5 francs will be asked for dishes and 2 francs for glasses. I can't think of a better way to start the week. Buon Appetito!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Lugano's Instagram spots

Where to find the best spots to take a photo in Lugano? There are some many beautiful places but did you know there exists a guided tour through the city designed to spice up your social media account?

LocalBlini is a Switzerland-based startup that provides tailored experiences that shall excite, amaze, inspire or even educate. Their team is international, creative and passionate about bringing people together.

Let Lydia show you the most beautiful and impressive spots in Lugano and guide you with some useful tips to take good pictures from your phone or camera! Of course while strolling through the city and taking photos of the most unique places you will also get to know more about Lugano and learn about its secrets from a local’s perspective.

Only slight hitch is the price of CHF 64.- p.p. for a 90 minute tour but hey, if you want to spice up your instagram feed and impress your friends with stunning shots from your travels, then you are at the right place!

Here are some of my favourite spots from my expatwithkids instagram account.





Parco Ciani



Saturday, February 22, 2020

Language – facts and figures

Switzerland has four language regions: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Multilingualism is an integral part of Switzerland's national identity.

- German is the main language of around 63% of the population. However, they do not speak standard German but rather various Alemmanic dialects that are collectively known as “Schweizerdeutsch” (Swiss German).
- French is the second National language of around 22.7% of the population.
- Italian is the third National language of around 8.1% of the population.
- Romansh is the fourth National language of about 0.5% of the population.
- Several cantons are multilingual: Bern (German-French), Fribourg (French-German), Valais (French-German) and Graubünden (German-Romansh-Italian).
- Swiss German is the most widely used language in the workplace (66%), followed by standard German (33,4%), French (29,1%), English (18,2%) and Italian (8,7%).
- Over 42,6% of the population over the age of 15 regularly use more than one language.
- Foreigners living in Switzerland also contribute to the country's linguistic diversity. English and Portuguese are the most commonly  spoken foreign languages.
- Other commonly spoken foreign languages include Spanish, Serbian, Croatian and Albanian.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Int'l. Mother Tongue Day

Languages, with their complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education and development, are of strategic importance for people and planet. Yet, due to globalization processes, they are increasingly under threat, or disappearing altogether. When languages fade, so does the world's rich tapestry of cultural diversity. Opportunities, traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking and expression — valuable resources for ensuring a better future — are also lost.

At least 43% of the estimated 6000 languages spoken in the world are endangered. Only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given a place in education systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world.

International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

Every two weeks a language disappears taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage. Globally 40 per cent of the population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand.

Nevertheless, progress is being made in mother tongue-based multilingual education with growing understanding of its importance, particularly in early schooling, and more commitment to its development in public life.

Following a long struggle, Romansh became the fourth Swiss national language in 1938. That's when the Swiss people approved this status, with a majority of 91.6%. It became an official language, which includes the right of Romansh speakers to use it in administrative matters, in 1996. According to a study by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, 0.5% of Swiss people listed Romansh as one of their main languages in 2013 versus 1.1% in 1910.

What is your Mother tongue? Is it endangered? How do you tech your kids about your language and  your culture?

Friday, February 7, 2020

Introducing the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley

Did you know that the Swiss Canton of Vaud, the EPFL University, the Ecole Hoteliere Lausanne and Nestlé have joined forces to develop an innovation ecosystem regarding food and nutrition?

Launched on January 23, 2020 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley aims to address the challenges of a sustainable and high-quality nutrition by attracting talent, start-ups and investments to Switzerland.

Ranging from production and nutrition to waste management and recycling, the world is facing major challenges. Switzerland therefore decided to take up these challenges by being home to a unique food and nutrition innovation ecosystem comprising of high-quality gastronomy and agriculture, a high density of scientific institutions and start-ups in the field of robotics.

Joint forces of local stakeholders enabled to create the “Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley” (SFNV) brand, making Switzerland a world reference in the mentioned fields. By joining their forces and fields of expertise, the four founding members will allow the SFNV to focus on various areas: nutrition, life sciences, alternative proteins, packaging science, waste management and precision agriculture.

An international conference dedicated to the future of food will be held in Lausanne on September 25 and 26, 2020, so stay tuned as Switzerland aims to be the Silicon Valley for food.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

The art of tidying up

The Swiss are often stereotyped as an orderly people, unstinting in their commitment to the application of rules but Ursus Wehrli has taken order to a different level.

The idea for his project "The Art of Clean Up" first took shape in a museum. "I found myself standing in front of a piece by the very messy Swiss artist Jean Tinguely. He's famous for putting all sorts of colours, material and objects on a canvas, like Jackson Pollock. So I tried to imagine what a cleaning lady would do if she had to clean up his studio. How far would she go? I imagined his workshop would be filled with all those different objects, paint and material, scattered on tables, on the floor and on the walls. How would she know where the mess ends and art begins? I enjoyed the idea that the cleaning lady would clean up everything – even the artworks – and would leave the room neat and tidy."

Ursus Wehrli has been "tidying up" art for 15 years rearranging our chaotic world and its everyday objects into neat rows, sorted by colour, size, shape, or type.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

World Nutella Day

On World Nutella Day, the best way to celebrate is to break out that jar of your favorite spread and have a sweet treat. In 1964, the first jar of what we now call Nutella was sold from a bakery in Alba, Piedmont. Not long after, the chocolate-hazelnut spread would conquer the entire world.

When Michele Ferrero, the son of a small town pastry maker, decided to follow in his father's footsteps, he started from humble beginnings. Nutella is sometimes called an "austerity recipe", as at the time, in the 1950's, the Second World War and rationing had left chocolate in short supply in Italy.

Adding hazelnuts, which were cheaper and more readily available than cocoa, made the spread much more affordable. But it wasn't all the idea of Ferrero, the Turin-based makers of Nutella. In fact, the city has been known for producing hazlenut-infused chocolate since the times of Napeleon.

Hazelnut chocolate cream, or crema gianduia, was invented in the city in 1806, when Napoleon's wars in South America made cocoa beans so astronomically expensive in the Savoy kingdom that local chocolatiers were going out of business - until they hit on the idea of using local hazelnuts to make their chocolate go further. Ferrero products are now found in 170 countries.

The amount of Nutella produced in a year weighs as much as the Empire State building, and the hazelnuts used to make the spread over a two-year period could fill a basket of the size of the Colosseum.

World Nutella Day, first held in 2007, was the brainchild of Nutella enthusiast and blogger Sara Rosso. Fans love it. Each year Ferrero selects one Nutella lover to lead the celebration. On February 5, Nutella fans post pictures, recipes, and messages declaring their love and loyalty to the popular spread. So let's see your contribution?

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Decluttering the easy way...

Usually January is my declutter month when I reorganize draws, cupboards, shelves... none of this has happened this year and we are already into February.

So, here is a cheat sheet for all of you that would like to but have not yet... jumpstart your decluttering and of course, make sure to donate or recycle the things you can.

Old magazines
Old couch pillows
Movies you don’t watch
Movies that are scratched/don’t work
Burnt out candles
Extra cords
Games with missing pieces
Old books

Broken makeup
Old makeup
Old nail polish
Old perfume
Old toothbrushes
Half empty bottles
Towels with holes
Anything you haven’t used in the last 3 months

Socks without a match
Socks with holes
Underwear with holes
Clothes you haven’t worn in at least 6 months
Clothes that don’t fit
Earrings without a match
Old ties
Old belts
Old purses
Old hats and gloves
Worn out shoes
Worn out blankets
Old pillows

Expired food
Take out menus
Restaurant sauce packets
Old coupons
Old cleaning supplies
Cups with missing pieces
Anything you have too many of
Excess tupperware
Rags with holes
Expired medication
Old mail
Old manuals
Old receipts
Old paperwork
Birthday cards

Broken toys
Happy meal toys
Anything with missing pieces
Things they never play with
Puzzles with missing pieces

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