The Birds & The Bee

cards for sale

A ten card set for only 15 bucks + shipping.

Hot off the press and ready for delivery. States side deliveries are expected in early Nov. Just in time for the HOLIDAYS!!!

Blank folded cards -perfect for Thank you notes or any simple greeting. (from US to US and from Switzerland to Europe and beyond). Each set of 10 comes with 10 5.5 x 4 horizontal folded notecards with matching envelopes. Each set is professionally printed on matte card stock (easy to write on)  and is ready to brighten anyones day.
TO ORDER contact or message me from FaceBook.

Coco’s Birthday Interview 2015

Coco turned 6 (in July). You may remember that every year I do a birthday interview with the children. I got the idea from my friend Shari when we lived in PA. The idea is to ask them the same questions and see how their responses change over time. I think its fun just to look at how their growing up! I am a bit tired of hearing what kind of cereal they like- especially when we don’t eat much cereal, or what their favorite tv show is when we don’t watch tv, so I am thinking about changing things up. Especially as they get older, I think it would be more interesting to ask philosophical thought provoking questions, or maybe something about current affairs. Even though she still holds onto the position of youngest child with every bit of energy she can muster (notice the baby talk answers in the video),  I am so excited that my youngest is getting older. Sure I miss the snuggles at nap time from my sweet 2 year old, but I love sending them off to school and finally having some silence in the house. I love to watch them learn new things and become more independent. I look back at the videos from years prior and while the answers haven’t changed dramatically the kids have grown up a lot. Enjoy the next 15 minutes, and if you have any interview question suggestions- please share!

Rubbing shoulders with Annie Sloan


me and annie sloan2Of course interviewing a celebrity can be intimidating. Lucky for me I was too busy with my daughter’s sixth birthday party mermaid extravaganza to obsess about the upcoming interview until the night before. By obscess I mostly mean, worry about important things like:

  1. What am I going to wear?
  2. How much sleep I will loose by getting up early to drive across the country (yes you can drive accross the whole country by mid-morning)?
  3. What’s the best lunch restaurant in Neuchâtel to eat with your 6 year old daughter?

Annie Sloan is best know for her boutique brand of chalk paint. I knew I didn’t want to write another post about how chalk paint sticks to any surface or a tutorial on waxing. What I really wanted to know from this successful woman, had more to do with the idea that she raised three children AND created a successful career simultaneously. I wanted to know how she created a word-of-mouth sensation without much of a marketing budget and how she became a Pinterest sensation. I wanted to know why bloggers (like me) evangelize ASCP (Annie Sloan Chalk Paint) without any compensation at all- not even in the form of free products.

neuchatel prominade2

Scenic Promenade on the shores of Nuechâtel.

Neuchatel is a charming city on the shores of the beautiful turquoise lake in the French region on the far west of Switzerland. Coco and I got up rather early and headed off for the long drive and a girls day out. I had lined up a sitter for the demonstration and interview, (which ultimately fell through-but thank heavens for iPads).

Victoria Sparkes is the owner of  Bateau Rouge, she is also my art dealer. And now you know how I managed to score an interview with Annie Sloan. Bateau Rouge is a small gift shop and creative studio on Promenade Noire number 8, one of the main streets in Neuchâtel. The chalkboard sign in front, alerts you to specials and treasures inside.


shop treasure

The shelves are full of colorful paints, knobs and artwork to beautify your surroundings. My little birds are perched all over the store.

my little birds smaller

The real feature that day, was a stencil demonstration by none-other than Annie Sloan herself.

annie demo & ASCP

I was surprised at how unpretentious and relaxed she was. I didn’t know what to expect exactly: a bigger entourage, a large colorful hat embellished with feathers – she is British after all -and an artist. In reality- Annie Sloan was quite normal. The news crews from Neuchâtel were on hand to document the entire process and add to the excitement.

tv crews there too

Stenciling as you may remember, is nothing new. It’s making a re-entrants onto the craft market with sophisticated laser cut patterns for all types of decor. Annie Sloan carries a line of stencils as well as, fabrics and of course her paint products. She showed us how easy it is to use them and how flexible they are in achieving a customized work of art. She answered lots of questions including several regarding painting fabric with chalk paint.

She is so honest & down-to-earth she even told a story of how one of her favorite linen jackets had faded and rather than tossing it out, she dyed it using black Annie Sloan chalk paint. She then reached for it and showed us that it was the jacket she had brought along for the day – a little eccentric perhaps, but the jacket was indeed very black and a perfect way to demonstrate that the products do work.

After autographs and photos and fielding lots of questions, she took a few moments and we sat down in a sunlit corner of the shop. She shared with me her journey as an artist and as an educator and how merging the two careers have become a satisfying business and brand. She told me that her desire to practice her art and decorate her surroundings led to creating ASCP- which properties of adhesion, mixability, ease of use, and a beautiful color pallets made it a welcomed solution for DIY’ers decorative needs, and filled a nitch in the marketplace. She told me about writing her first book 27 years ago when her oldest son was just a toddler. While raising 3 boys she managed to continue writing books~ 24 more, as well as working as an artist.

She shared with me that serendipitously her husband an IT professional and a left brain balance to her right brain creativity -built her a website very early on. That internet presence combined with her own early adaptation to Facebook and Twitter are important contributors to her success. Social media has indeed played a large part in her ability to market her brand at a very low cost. It’s hard to search Pinterest for more than a few minutes without running a crossed a mention of Annie Sloan chalk paint. She attributes luck too much of this success and claims that a great product sells itself. She says that by continuing to fill niches in the market with her products she can continue to grow her business and remain successful in spite of lower cost competitors. For anybody that has used her product, we all know that it’s hard to beat. Brand loyalty among her users is significant-I believe it’s because her brand is dependable. When you invested so much time and money into a piece of furniture or cabinetry (or just about anything you want to craft by hand), it provides a lot of peace-of-mind knowing what outcome to expect. And while her products are not inexpensive, they really do work. Thats the reason why bloggers like me, want to shout from the rooftops and tell every one about ASCP.

Annie credits her distribution channel of stockist as another strategy of success. By selling paint through experienced stockist, she is able to provide customers with necessary support. In addition to their stockist, customers can reach Annie Sloan and her team via Facebook and other social media any time of day. She is very quick to answer questions and assist customers through social media. I left Bateau Rouge feeling inspired by a strong woman with a vision, and a disire to share her talent and passions. And because of that desire, she has become incredibly successful along the way. I’d interview celebrities like this everyday if I could. Now Annie, could you just invent something that makes dinner and runs errands so I have more time to paint?! Special thanks to Victoria Sparkes at batue rouge and Annie Sloan and her team for making days like this possible.

match icecream 2

***On a side note: when ever possible, match your gelato to your outfit . 

Easy Rhubarb Tarts

Rabarber_Toertchen_2804If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it… exactly 11 times, (since I started writing the recipe post for Coop@home over at their recipe section is easy to make! These easy rhubarb tarts are no exception. To start, find the list of ingredients here, and the recipe here. Im not even jokin y’all – I made these twice in twenty four hours- they’re that good!

Confession: This southern girl had never cooked with rhubarb. It’s just one of those exotic yankee ingredients that grows up north in cold weather.  I can whip up a batch of okra blindfolded, but I had no idea what to do with a raw stalk of rhubarb… until today! 

chopped rhubarb

I weighed out my Rhubarb so that I could follow the recipe with exactness, but you don’t have to. You can use 2-3 stalks of rhubarb. Chop it up a little and put it in a small saucepan with the water and syrup. Let it cook till softened. Meanwhile make the tart shells be cutting out circles in the prepared dough and fitting them to your muffin tin, small bite-sized ones are really cute but I prefer the normal sized ones that hold more filling.


Make sure to poke holes in the bottom of the crust so that the pie shells don’t bubble up. You can also purchase pre-baked pastry shells at Coop (if you live in Switzerland) so I am sure you can find this stuff locally anywhere in an English speaking country.

pastry shells

Once the filling is cooked till soft, strain it through a sieve, extracting the syrup and leaving the warm soft rhubarb to fill the pastry cups.

strain rhubarb

Finally, reduce the left-over syrup by boiling it for some minutes until you have about 2 1/2 tablespoons left. Whip cream and add the syrup for a light tangy pink cream to top the tarts with. Don’t forget to garnish by sprinkling on the chopped pistachios, the color contrast makes them look more appetizing and beautiful.

I was impressed at how little sugar is actually added to these tarts, especially because Rhubarb can be quite sour. I think the creaminess of the whipped cream helps tame the tartness of the filling. And because they were practically “healthy” we all helped our selves to seconds! These little guys are always so helpful like that.

kids love tarts


Last Minute Mothers Day Gift Idea- repost

2mothers-day-all-in-one-1024x778This idea was originally posted in may 2013, not long after we moved to Switzerland. We had such fun doing this photoshoot in front of our apartment (and in front what seems like 1/2 the village). I remember thinking “if they thought we were strange before, what on earth must they think of us now?”. So I am reposting this idea because it deserves a few more views and because I LOVE it so much!

If you waited till the last minute, gather up the family and use your iPhone to take some photos, send them digitally and let the mothers in your life de-scramble the message?

Happy Mothersday!

Swiss Facilities Grounds Keeping Department


One of my brothers who occasionally reads this blog tells me how he loves to see little insights into daily life in a small village in central Switzerland. Because we have been here two years now and it’s beginning to feel more like home, I sometimes forget how different it is to living in the United States. Today as I was walking back from a doctors appointment (difference #1), I stopped to admire the landscaping crew working effortlessly at the company located just 500 steps down the hill from my house. I often stop to greet them and practice my best swiss sounding German accent ( difference #2). I sometimes wonder if they can even hear me above all of the noise they’re making working away at the groundskeeping. 

Personally, I enjoy the sound of the tinkling bells, wouldn’t you prefer a lawn mower that sounds like a wind-chime (difference #3)? And did you notice the little temporary fencing that they used to contain the crew? It’s portable and extremely flimsy but I think that the sheep aren’t trying to escape, the fence was secured by the boss to make sure the people don’t interrupt them while they’re working.

The best part is once they’re finished working at the end of the summer they’ll probably be eaten for dinner. My friends in landscaping back home can appreciate this difference (difference #4). 

The perfect 7-day Itinerary for a week in Central Switzerland.

Last fall (I keep telling you it’s the best time to visit) my Sister-in-law and nieces came for a visit and had the best time- here is what we did!

Except for arrival day these are in no particular order because each one can be done in one day traveling to-and from Ennetbuergen. Obviously the days you visit Lauterbrunen and Hike would be enjoyed more in Sunshine weather, so try to plan accordingly.  Also a list of alternative ideas are at the bottom.

Arrival Day (Thursday):

When arriving from a long flight most people have the inclination to sleep -(I always need a nap) be careful  no to nap to long and stay up till evening if possible – this will help you re-set your clocks. If you can just walk around the village-

 ennetburgen church

  • Check out the church – yes its okay to go inside, and even take photos, just be reverent and respectful.
  • The graveyard behind the church is lovely
  • The seeplatzli park on the lake front is a must do even if you don’t have small children its lovely to sit at the benches overlooking the lake and watch the swans.
  • Stop at the only place in town to find Gelato.
  • Take a boat trip (check for schedules) from the “ship stop” in Ennetburgen just past the Gelato place and make sure to sit on the outside balconies for fresh air.
  • Take a walk up on the top of the Burgenstock (click here for suggestions).

top of burgentock viewsmap

Day 2 (Friday):


Spend a day (or a day and a night and another day) in Alsacs- Colmar and  Riquewihr, France Click here to see 40 of the last storybook towns.

Day 3 (Saturday):


If you don’t stay in France try checking out Engelberg…… Lots to do!

Day 4 (Sunday):

touring lucerne tour in lucerne
Tour Lucerne-

  • Visit the local LDS church for services in German and with English translation. Service begin at 9:00am.
  • Although Sunday isn’t a market day and the shops are closed- it can be a perfect day to walk around the city for a tour. I give a really good tour that takes about 2 hours. For walking tours in English or German meet at the train station but book in advance and check the schedule for seasonal availability. For market days you’ll have to visit before noon  on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Shops stay open a little later on Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Day 5 (Monday):


Interlaken area is a must do, and the most popular tourist area in Switzerland. Lucky for us it’s only about an hour by car or 1 and a half by train. I always recommend the train because the ride takes you through beautiful mountanin scenery, that is best enjoyed on a train where you are free to walk around an take photos from the windows.

trummelback copy

  • My favorite place in the Bernard Oberland has to be Lauterbrunen. This picturesque valley was the inspiration for Rivendale -Tolkins magical land of the elves in the Lord of the Rings Trillogy. It’s a great place to bring a picnic and take a walk to – Trümmelbach Falls.
  • From Lauterbrunen catch a mountain train to Murren or Wengen.

swiss flag murren

Day 6 (Tuesday):

trotti bikes


Day 7 (Wednesday):

Head to the french region- its a lot to pack into one day so get an early start!

Chateau-de-Chillon-Castle-Montreux- copy

  • Visit the chocolate factory in Broc . We like to visit the Chocolate factory first then head to Montreux to tour the castle.
  • The Castle Chillion in Montreux-  it is beautifully situated directly on the lake. My favorite part was the dungeon! There are lots of lake front restaurants in Montreux but you’ll be on a bit of a tight schedule to fit all three of these attractions into one day so I recommend bringing a picnic an enjoying it by the castle.
  • Then head to Gruyere (one of the 40 storybook towns left in Europe). Click here to see what there is to do . I have been to the cheese factory- home to a little museum exhibit,  but the real pleasure is just to walking around this walled village soaking up the beautiful views. My children played on the ramparts of the city walls for over an hour, using their imaginations to travel back in time. Watch the sunset and have dinner under the stars.


Some alternative ideas:

  1. Alpamare– This is a really fun waterside park- go in any weather. Buy tickets online so you don’t have to wait in lines- plus it’s a little cheaper!
  2. Stein am Rhein– I haven’t been yet, but I want to go and it has come recommended often.
  3. Basel Zoo- Basel market is great too- make a day of it and hit both places, they aren’t far from each other and the trams in Basel are fun and easy to use.
  4. A day in the Italian Canton  of Ticino:
  • We love the beach in Ascona (its free).
  • Locarno is fun to walk the promenade.






Spanish Birthday Cake

DSC_0426On my Birthday “Week” I had a few of my friends (and old neighbors) come over for tea. Sonia (who is famous for her cakes) surprised me with a special cake in my favorite color! Not only was it beautifully perfect to look at but I loved it and so did the kids!!! I think it would be a good cake for brunch- especially if you skip the frosting and served it with fruit? Or just sprinkle the top with cinnamon and sugar before baking- which is the traditional method,  but it really tasted better with aquamarine icing and sprinkles!

sonia and grandmother

Sonia explained that this cake recipe was passed down from her Grandmother who grew up in the Valnecia region of Spain. She said they did not have ovens in their homes so they could mix up a cake and bring it to the neighborhood bakery and pay a little money to have them bake it. Perhaps I wouldn’t be baking so many sweets if I had to take it somewhere to bake? Maybe thats why dessert used to be for a special occasion? With all my New Years fitness goals I am cutting way back on the treats but this cake is on my splurge list- in my defense, it has less than a 1/2 cup of sugar. I think the subtle cinnamon and orange flavors make it feel like perfect comfort food for the winter weather.

Sonia’s Spanish Birthday Cake

  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g sugar
  • 50 veg oil
  • 50ml orange juice
  • 125 ml Milk
  • 200 gr flour
  • 1/5 package of baking powder
  • lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. cinammon

1. mix sugar and eggs

2. add other liquids

3. add powders and zest

4. pour into a greased 9inch cake pan

5. bake 10 min @ 200 C and 25 @175 C


New Years Gingerbread houses

cover shot

As a child I was enchanted by gingerbread houses. I don’t remember ever making one.
I even have a Pinterest board of beautiful candy crusted gingerbread houses that I admire.

Many years ago I swore I’d never do this with my kids again.
I decided it’s a non-kid project.
Some how I found myself unable to resist the lure of gingerbread kits at a shockingly fantastic bargin again ( thank you ikea) because it was on sale after Christmas. Of course the candy (which I also bought at IKEA) probably cost $20!


We tried again for New Year’s Eve and I watched my son suspiciously have accident after accident that caused pieces to break, after each time he would say ” oh that’s okay, I really just want to eat it”. (He’s pretty transparent).


Determined to have a result that reflected some representation of all my effort, I sawed pieces on to new shapes and created a cute cottage and shed.


My daughter, on the other hand, may have provided me with the hope I need to continue this tradition forever. She picked up the tweezers and patiently placed sprinkled by sprinkle into the window box ” planting colored flowers”. I admit it, it was a proud moment for me, just imagine what she will be able to do in a few years. I like to think that it’s good practice for surgical skills. A doctor in the making.