Homemade stocking stuffers

I hope that everybody out there found a little bit of magic for their Christmas. I had a wonderful time, and was especially blessed to be able to share the holidays with my mom and stepdad. The day was great, and I don’t know whether the full moon had an effect on us or not, but we ended the day in a fit of giggles, playing cards and tasting scotch. Maybe it wasn’t so much the full moon, but more so the scotch. At that point I got it into my head that the more scotch I drank, the more improved my hangover would be the next day. Snort. That is not how the world works. Actually, I feel fine today, and think that scotch tasting should become a new holiday tradition. Continue reading

Smashing cauldrons and stockings hung by the fire

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I’ve wanted to embrace some of the traditions of our culture here in Switzerland. One of the biggest festivals in the year in Geneva is Escalade. According to legend (or history, or whatever), the Duke of Savoy wanted to take over Geneva at the beginning of the 17th century. On the night of Dec 11, 1602, the French army marched on Geneva along the Arve river (which passes by my village). But the Genevois citizens would have none of it and turned the French army back. One of  the mythic figures of that night was Mere Royaume, who lived right above one of the gates to the city, caused a retreat by tossing a cauldron of hot soup onto the men trying to scale the wall (escalade, in French). I suspect it was the cauldron beaning them rather than the soup that did the trick, but that moment has been celebrated now for 400+ years here in Geneva. Continue reading

Ultimate Reading Challenge: Mission Accomplished

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I finally did it! I finished my Ultimate Reading Challenge. I actually was done quite a while ago, but I was waiting for the right time to read my book set during Christmas. And I got to indulge in one of my Christmas fantasies – the family curled up around the fire and reading this book to each other. And I got to do it while in Chamonix, looking up at Mont Blanc. So pretty much I’m in Christmas heaven right now.

The best Christmas book you could possibly read is Barbara Robinson’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. It is so sweet, and my family has been reading it for years. It’s a kids book, so not long, but we often break it up and read one chapter a night, so it takes a week (of ten minutes of reading a night). This year the kiddies were already tucked into bed, but I’m hoping that by next year X at least might be able to enjoy it. It is about the spirit of Christmas, and cute kids and being kind. Totally recommended. Continue reading

Mushroom empanadas

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Hello all my fabulous people! I’m writing from gorgeous Chamonix, because where else do you want to spend the week before Christmas? It’s been incredible – I’ll do a post on how lovely this little ski village is, but for the moment, just wanted to share a really easy, really tasty appie that I’m going to serve post-ski, post-hottub.* I actually prepared these beforehand, so all I have to do is brush the tops of these delicacies with egg and pop them in the oven. Having it this easy becomes necessary after a Baileys or two!

I often only use one sheet of puff pastry, which will still get you lots of empanadas, and then use the rest of the mushroom filling as a pasta sauce. Just add in some tomato sauce and heat, then pour over pasta. Mushrooms are a great alternative to meat sauce – they are so tasty and kind of meaty, but so much healthier. This sauce was a huge hit, and a great way to sneakily get X to eat his veggies! The original recipe came from one year I was at Christmas in November at Jasper Park Lodge. I don’t even remember who made these tasty guys, but it’s a recipe I’ve used often for years. A real fan favourite. Continue reading

Sleighbells jingling and Christmas crafts

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‘Tis the season for Christmas crafts! Okay, to be honest, I don’t think I’ve make a Christmas craft since my macaroni and glitter days of yore, but X is actually really into art right now. I got him his first paint set and he loves it! He’s also super clean, which is both surprising and fantastic. I can leave him alone with his paint and a piece of paper, and come back later to find a masterpiece on the paper and only on the paper. How many two-year-olds can do that? (I actually have no idea. Is this normal? I initially thought this was going to be the messiest project ever, but now it’s a great easy way to pass a rainy afternoon.)

Since X wants to be all artful, I also indulged in buying some craft supplies. My favourite is a cordless hot glue gun (with light!) that makes me feel like I am a total crafter, even though this really is my first time ever doing anything like this. But a lot of crafts I’ve seen that look super cute entail a glue gun, so I went for it. Continue reading

Swiss History and what makes Switzerland awesome

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I just finished reading A Concise History of Switzerland by Clive H. Church, and hoo boy was that a doozy of a book. Not in a good way. Not even in a bad way. It’s just, this book is about the political history of Switzerland since roughly 1100. Basically a text book that took me an entire month to read. I’d been wanting to inform myself more on my adopted country, and I find the political system extremely confusing. I thought this would clarify things but really, it didn’t.

Switzerland has a very different history from most European countries. As opposed to a imperial empire, it was created through complex alliances and treaties of different regions. Which is great, but doesn’t make for riveting reading. You know who does have an exciting history? France. France’s history is pure sex. I mean, you have despotic sun gods for kings, then a revolution that reshaped the western world, then the Napoleonic era in which half of all romance novels are set. Even after a rather embarrassing surrender in WWII, the French come back with a very sexy Resistance. That’s a political history I want to read.

Switzerland, not so much. But it made me think a lot about Switzerland. So I came up with a list of the good and bad things in Switzerland. Here goes:

Things that make Switzerland awesome: Continue reading