Today I wished we were sitting on a Mexican beach, which is pretty much how I daydream about spending all my time. Instead I thawed out some rib-eyes that were gifted to us by my American Military friends who can get American beef at the BX on base. I figured it was a good day for a splurge. I added a shake of this and a glug of that and pretty soon the stove top was sizzling like my skin on a hot sunny day.
Homemade Fajitas and a big spoonful of guacamole is the next best thing to sitting on a Mexican beach in the winter right? And speaking of sizzling my skin….
I am including this photo of myself so I will someday look back and think- “I wish I only had that many wrinkles”. This wrinkled mug was hard earned by lots of sunny days growing up in Florida- I wouldn’t trade it for all the smooth skin in the world. If you live nearby and have seen me at the gymnastics studio, or the grocery store, you may not recognize me. Today I got up, showered and applied some make up. I decided I wanted to head into this day fully camouflaged. My sidekick -Coco also wanted to get into the action and whilst she was supposed to be coloring with markers at the table, applied her own version of black eye makeup. I wished I had snapped a shot but you can see the residual leftover marker stains on this photo below where it looks like she has a black eye.
I also want to point out the lovely new earrings that arrived in the post. It is a tradition that began many years ago, maybe 10 or 12 now. I have a sweet and generous girlfriend with the worlds best taste in jewelry. We reluctantly compete with address changes and in-spite of where we are in the world, a tiny box criss-crosses the globe and arrives in my mailbox right around Dec. 10th. I always wait to open it but it’s usually the first thing I do on Dec. 10th and every year I unwrap a lovely new pair of sparkly earrings. Almost with out exception they are my favorite color- a shade of Caribbean seawater. My sweet girlfriend always remembers, and is always on time. Which is more than I can say for myself but I resolve to be on time in 2014! Today I am so happy to be sporting the prettiest new pair of turquoise blue ear bobbles! I stared into the stones while eating fajitas, its practically like I am on a beach in Mexico.
After cleaning the black marker off Coco’s eyes, she was pacified with a candy-cane on the cheek. As for Axel, I think he is starting to look more like me. It’s a lovely thing to see some resemblance in these children that nearly killed me during pregnancy.
Finally lets talk about Facebook. I have never been a huge fan, in-spite of having been a member for years. Ironically though I login very regularly now craving news from the states and friends back home. And just last week I discovered that my dad knows how to use the laptop AND Facebook when I posted a request for anyone knowing my parents where abouts to send me their new address (yes we are a family of gypsies). Miracles do happen. Today, I have been surprised with the little birthday wishes popping up – it is so curiously delightful to me how something so small can really be so Splendid. People you can hardly remember, people you have never met in person, people that you haven’t seen in years all chiming in to make your day a little brighter and a little more celebratory. Today I have a new respect and appreciation for social networking! Thank you Facebook for connecting me with the world and for helping me realize that even though I am so far away from home, I am not so far from the thoughts and hearts of people who love me. And as I blow out birthday candles I will imagine you are all with me, on a beach in Mexico, eating chocolate cupcakes.
photo by Lovonne Burrow
Some weeks life seems impossibly busy and exhausting with very little to show for it, how does that happen? There is definitely no shortage of Christmas Activity here in Switzerland. The snow is covering everything and we have even seen patches of blue sky this week! Samichlaus comes to our house tonight, and I don’t mean while everyone is sleeping, I mean to actually interview the children and access how they can improve some of their behaviors and talk about what things they are doing well at!!! This is a country with accountability! I love it!!!!
Sami came to town in the UMZUG (parade) last Saturday night. Her is a video from a nearby village Umzug- don’t be alarmed by the guys wearing white pointy hats and white robes carry torches. The video is only a short clip but normally Santas enterage includes the Smutzli this video explains his purpose and origins:
Here in our village it was a long processional of lantern carriers and bell ringers. He has been visiting speil gruppe today and leaving little treats for the children. Axel has heard that all areas of Switzerland have their own Samichlaus- there are many of them. It appears that he is a man of the cloth since he dresses like a catholic priest and made a speech last week on the steps of the church after the parade. I couldn’t understand his Swiss German so I am a little out of the loop. The parents of the children in town receive a paper ( a cheat sheet of sorts) that must be filled out for Sami so that he can have talking points, then we dropped it off at the little candy/newspaper stand in the village where Sami goes to collect the sheets and make appointments. We got a telephone call from him on Tuesday and were shocked to learn that he has picked up some English and will be able to talk to us in both German and English. He will bring treats for the kids and we hope to see some clean bedrooms today!
Other things that are keeping us buzzing with Christmas Spirit is the Free Cookie making at the big shopping center near us. They take the children over 3 and help bake, and decorate a box of free cookies!
I always imagine this Christmas tradition of family cookie baking to be one of the most happy and memorable of the season. In my mind its a Norman Rockwell painting, the fireplace is lit, the house smells of cinnamon, the tree is glittering with handmade ornaments. Mothers smile wearing the perfect share of red lipstick, high heels and a beautiful pressed white apron. They cradle a lovely ceramic bowl in one arm and calmly stir the concoction into a lovely cookie dough. The counter-tops are clean and magically free of the giant mess that seems to be inevitable with a baking experiment that includes the children’s help. The cookies come out of the oven at the perfect golden brown and the frosting and candies are applied with artistic precision. My attempt at the tradition have never born the stress free smiling version of this fantasy but I still try every year. And this year Landerpark allowed me to stand smiling in my heals and red lipstick while I watched professionals cover the kids in plastic aprons and carry them through a painless process stress free! My kitchen is clean and I am smiling. Not to mention the word free is rarely used in Switzerland so we get pretty excited when we hear it!!!
The kids and I also took the train into Luzern on Wednesday (that’s the day all kids get out of school by 11:30) and we went to the Christmas market and walked around drinking warm Christmas punch and looking at the decorations in the city. It was a perfect afternoon because the sun came out and the skies were clear and you could see beautiful snow covered mountains all around. We lingered in the book shop to warm up and then headed rode the train back to the village while snacking of freshly made chocolate filled “berliners” (they aren’t Krispy Kremes but they’ll do in a pinch).
Since this post is full of links I only a few good ones for the weekend:
- Motivations for my work out
- I know this is probably old news in the states but we have watched this video a 100 times- amazing!!!! Does this kid have a scholarship yet?
- This looks so good and with a name like Christmas Crack it must be addictive too!
Finally let’s not forget the reason for the season:
Tomorrow we travel to a few nearby villages with reputations for some very special Christmas Markets (here too), it will be a fun way to spend the day. I wish you were here! What are some of your families favorite traditions that put you in the mood for Christmas?
A new friend in Switzerland has been following my experiments in re-finishing furniture on moxiblog. I have painted nearly every thing in my flat and now I want your stuff too! This new friend has been dying to update her dining room for months and showed me a magazine photo of something that she loved- the photo pictured elegant black and white dining room decor. She is brave enough to paint in black and brave enough to become my first client! The chair commission of 2013 began a few weeks ago and today I delivered 4 newly recovered charcoal velvet dining chairs. I know this photo is a little unfair because if you stick an old mustard colored vomited-on sofa in the snow with a view of the lake it would look beautiful, but because the chairs were so dark inside my flat I wanted to bring them outside for a little experiment in the naturally white background on a uniquely sunny afternoon. I cant tell you how much fun I had driving up the mountain and finding the perfect spot to take a beautiful photo, and then I stuck the chair into the shot and because the snow is so deep It kept sinking!
Compared to the worn out, junk I usually bring home from the thrift shop:
these chairs were in great condition. They are high quality fine furniture, which made me a little nervous about messing them up. When I sat down on them the padding and cushions were so soft. My first thought was how much I would love dining chairs like this, then I realized it would act as incentive for sitting at the table and I would probably eat more. This sour-grapes approach keeps me from coveting other peoples fine furniture:).
I loved the modern color choice and the luxurious charcoal colored velvet that we added. I used the Annie Sloan paint in Graphite tinted a tad lighter with Old White. The chairs are lightly rubbed and distressed so that just a touch of the beautiful wood finish shows through. It took these chairs from classic-casual, to modern and elegant with a history.
I also have great news! We now have a local Annie Sloan stockist in Lucerne! Beatrice is a lovely lady who owns the CUTEST shop in Lucerne! Its also really close to my favorite broken haus, so I park and walk to both. She carries a full line of paint, wax and brushes. I have visited her several times and mostly I just walked around drooling and trying not to get too geeky about her exquisite taste. I have been warned that sometimes I can come on rather strong ~ friendly as I like to think. I worry it can feel a little stalker-ish. Anyway I went to her Christmas open house on Friday night, met her son who was dressed as Samichlaus and now I guess we are practically besties. Tell her I sent you!
beARTrice liebevolles wohnen
Kasimir Pfyfferstrasse 14
6003 Luzern CH
What do you think? Would you be brave enough to paint your furniture black?
If you are interested in a furniture redo, (and you live in Europe) I am taking commissions- email me!
Back home in the States everyone is traveling or cooking – somehow preparing to gather and feast. I am missing home. Last year we were walking on the beach while the turkey cooked. This year it’s -3 degrees C and we are cooking risotto for lunch. Not exactly the same.
I am excited to share a Free PDF Printable inspired my Mrs. Claus Affair Gift card project. When I started searching for a quick but cute printable gift certificate I found nothing!!! I decided I better start searching for something I could use to make one; I found these chalkboard printables at Lia Griffith “hand craft your life”. I immediately started pinning all the coordinating designs- and you can too. In the mean time I used my mad Photoshop skills to make up a gift certificate. I’m the type of girl who loves to get a pretty gift certificate for a back rub or an offer for a job I really hate (like scrubbing the bathtub) so I wonder how many of you can print this out and use it for your loved ones Christmas Gifts? Just share your ideas here in the comments or on my moxiblog Facebook page.
PDF DOWNLOAD: Christmas Gift Certificate Printable
If your graphic savvy you know what to do. For the rest, place this in your Word document as a background, size it for your project and type your to, from’s, and for’s over the top by making your font white. You could also print them blank and use a white pen for your copy.
Earlier this month I posted all about The Mrs. Clause Affair.
I received an email with my person’s name and a brief description saying only that “If any of these women were to be picked I think she deserves it the most. She is around 40 y/o with 4 children. She loves to hike and travel around Germany with her kids while her husband is deployed. This is their 5th or so deployment! ” I thought and thought about what to get. I surfed the internet, scoured Etsy and found so many lovely gifts I had the hardest time deciding. It’s really tough to buy something so important for a total stranger. I kept asking my self what I would need/want most if I were her. And funny enough I have a little experience (2 years worth) being a single mom with a husband who is traveling intensely for a living. Now I don’t pretend that my experience was the same, my husband wasn’t in a life threatening job, and he was usually home on weekends, but my point is that I ALWAYS needed more help. SO I did a little research and found a “mothers helper/personal assistant” who was willing to give this nice deployment widow a helping hand with basically anything she wanted for 5 hours. I think it’s the perfect gift. The only downside was that I really wanted a lovely wrapped gift under her tree, and gift cards can be so UN-inspiring- yawn. I didn’t want her to feel short-changed or like this was a thoughtless last-minute, one-size-fits-all kinda gift.
I quickly began dreaming of a cute graphics project, but what with my chair commissions in full swing and a million other demands like every one around here having to eat several times a day, I am a bit swamped. Lucky for me Lia Griffith did most of the work with free chalkboard printables. DYING!!! They are sooo cute. Visit her blog or check out my Pinterest Graphics Board, you’ll be drooling over the cute printables too.
I wrapped up a pretty cute gift certificate package and printed the Mrs. Claus affair letter explaining how much we appreciate her hard work as the wife of a deployed soldier, and how we didn’t want her to feel quite so lonely on Christmas Day. I almost cried, but I was so excited to get it in the mail to her I found my self telling you! Here’s your sneak peak at the lucky ladies Christmas gift. Make sure and visit tomorrow, I’ll be posting a Free Gift Certificate using Lia Griffith’s designs and some links to free typefaces too!
Our Thanksgiving this year will be on Saturday. I mentioned that we had an international crowd of new friends and old ones coming to dinner. Everyone is bringing traditional dishes to share and I thought I would give you a sneek-peek at our dinner plans. I am also including a free printable at the bottom so you can print the blank menu I designed, with the help of Lia Griffith (more on her fantastic Chalk Board designs as the week progresses).
You can download the
thanksgiving menu download printable by clicking the link. You’ll want to download a few free fonts too if you like the one’s I used:
the dead saloon
After you have the blanks and the fonts downloaded :
- If your graphic savvy you know what to do.
- For the rest, place the PDF file in your Word document as a background, size it for your project and type your menu over the top by making your font white.
- And if you really don’t like to deal with the computer, you could also print them blank and use a white pen for your copy.
I think they will dress up my otherwise plain place settings! Countdown to turkey day!
This is Luzern- beautiful right!!?!?!
My hands cramped up from too many strikes of the staple gun! So whilst I take a break, I thought I’d pop in and say happy Friday! Here are some inspired links for your weekend surfing:
- Who can I hire to knit one of these?! I want a family photo on the front of the Christmas newsletter- everyone in a set of ears.
- I love this FREE printable gift wrap.
- These could be the perfect way to stay warm and add a splash of color to my otherwise black and grey winter wardrobe.
- Can we talk about boots again? It’s my favorite part of winter. I have been coveting these all weather Sorel’s for a year- oh and these too!
- Change your perceptual apparatus to experience rapture, awe, and an emotional reaction to LIFE.
I have missed y’all! I have been buried with activities, tis the season! I have some chairs that I have been commissioned for a make-over. (Christmas $$$!) I can’t wait to show you the finished project.
Yesterday we went to a gingerbread making class in the city- were we met some other English speaking expats from Australia. They were fresh off the plane- only having lived here a few weeks. I remember how difficult those early days were! Now just 7 months into our adventure I am feeling confident and comfortable. I imagine that if I had a regular stream of company visiting from the states I would feel quite content.
Today as I am in-between waxing furniture and cutting upholstery I wanted to just say hello and tell you about the snow. Today was the first time since May that it snowed in the valley. The fog has been here for about a week and we will be lucky to see blue sky again till January. I know it’s a dangerous time of year for my mental health but I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed listening to Kenny and Dolly Christmas music and watching the snow outside while I was inside painting on my projects.
Coco was off in the forest today for farm spiel gruppe. Once a month they head a little further up the mountain to the forest and hike into a spot where they made a little shelter. They build a fire and roast bratwurst and make campfire goodies and tell stories and play- today they got to make snowballs! Axel ran home from school excited to get his gloves on and head outside in the snow. And I had a lovely time inside staying warm and working away on my projects.
I snapped a few shots when we went to pick up Coco. Doesn’t it just make you feel like Christmas is around the corner?!
Do you see how green the grass is still? It’s one of the most amazing and beautiful things about Switzerland. It is incredibly green all year round. Once the snow melts a little in the valley the contrast from the supper green grass and the white snow covering the mountains is stunning.
Check out the flowers blooming under the sign! So pretty!
Do you see how happy I am? Quite unusual when I am outside in the snow. I have my new L L Bean 850 down fill coat to thank. It is long – mid calf, (you cant see in this photo) which keeps me wrapped in a cocoon of warm feathers AND it has a hood because at any given moment it’s likely to be raining or snowing. I am loving it so far, but we will see when the weather really starts getting cold- a full report to come!
Garden gnomes aren’t just for the movies.
Here in Switzerland you see them everywhere. It’s not a cliche, it’s real!
I find that they love the garden, especially when there are toad stools around.
They are also patriotic
The Gnomes come in all sizes. I was taking photos, and realized that y’all can have no idea of the sheer amount of these little guys. Do you see the lens cap cover? This little guy is tiny.
This guy might be my favorite, he loves the sunshine, and his rubber ducky.
Even the Gnomes enjoy wildlife. They care for a deer family and have some pet bunny’s.
If you are a gnome lover you’ll be happy to know that you can rent this paradise. Engelberg is a regional ski paradise in the winter, and only 20 minutes from me! Come see us.