Happy New Year and welcome to a kinder 2017

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This is my new happy place – steaming cup of coffee, good book, some exceptional scenery.

Happy 2017 to absolutely everyone!

I don’t know about you, but this year couldn’t get here soon enough. 2016 seemed long. And somewhat … fraught. I mean, let’s all be serious for a second, no matter what your politics or ideologies, I think we can all agree that 2016 was a bit of a bitch, can’t we? World order seems to be remarkably unstable, which leaves me feeling itchy.

Personally, this past year has been a rough one for me, for no specific reason. Or rather, two very specific reasons. Had you heard that raising small people can be challenging? I thought I could handle it no problem, but some days, guys. I just grip my coffee cup as hard as I can and pray for the sweet release of … sleep, someday. I haven’t slept in months. It feels like. Both kids are amazing and awesome and healthy. But Little E started walking basically on her first birthday and I haven’t really had a spare second to myself since. Her capacity for mischief far outweighs her actual size, and I wouldn’t have her any other way. But to paraphrase every parent ever: I. Am. So. Tired. Continue reading

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Travel Suisse: Zurich

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I can’t believe we have lived in Switzerland for over two years, and I’ve only just visited Zurich. It seems like such an obvious place to visit. I know many people think of Zurich and Switzerland to be essentially the same thing. And it’s so close – well, everything in Switzerland is, it’s not a very big country.

But there are factors involved in not visiting this city yet. The first and foremost being cost. If Switzerland is crazy expensive, then Zurich is hella-crazy expensive, so we’ve always avoided it a bit for that. Also, there is the language barrier. Not that it matters in such a tourist-friendly city (I wouldn’t be surprised if more Swiss in Zurich spoke English than in Geneva), but our grasp of French often keeps us turning towards our large French neighbour to the west. Continue reading

Maison Cailler

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I can’t believe it’s taken us this long to get here. But finally, on a stormy Sunday, we made the short trek over to Lac de la Gruyere (yes, famous for the awesome cheese) in order to experience the highest experience in a chocolate-lover’s life – the chocolate factory.

Maison Cailler seems so elegant for a factory. Like, I wouldn’t expect Willy Wonka to approve. Or maybe this is where Wonka puts on his evening jacket and has a snifter of cognac. (Or whatever elegant people do. Personally, if I’m not sporting at least a small bit of baby vomit I’m feeling pretty elegant.) Continue reading

Christmas in Chamonix

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There’s just no way around it. I am suffering from some post-holidays blues. I really thought this year was going to be different. I was all ready to face the new year, looking forward to facing the new challenges and adventures this year would bring. But January 1 rolls around and, as it invariably does, I’m questioning what the hell I’m doing with my life. You’d think that in your thirties you’d have grown out of the phase, but apparently, no.

I have had no inspiration, no desire to do much at all, and the thought of keeping in touch with people seems overwhelming rather than enjoyable. I have to drag myself out of bed in the morning. I’ve been feeling sluggish, lazy and creatively constipated. And life at the very moment is anything but glamourous. The thing with living in Switzerland is that life is sometimes incredibly awesome – I wouldn’t give that up for anything. But no matter where you’re living, life is often commonplace, boring, even kind of gross sometimes. For example, I am at the moment potty training X. I’ve been dreading this for awhile, but it’s time. It’s raining nonstop and what better time to stay in and work on perfecting peeing into a small receptacle? 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

Spontaneous Cruises and Positive Thinking

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Not too long ago, we had a gorgeous Genevois weekend. Not wanting to travel too far afield, I suggested we just take the bus downtown and walk along the waterfront. I hadn’t actually done that since coming back from Canada weeks and weeks ago, so it seemed like the perfect thing to do. Perfect was in store for us, in fact, but a big part of that comes from my forcing myself to be more open to things.

Whenever something new is presented to me, my kneejerk reaction is usually “no.” All I can think about are the downsides, the things that could go wrong, the absolute worse-case scenarios. I come by it honestly, it’s a family trait. Z is the opposite. He is incredibly positive, and is always suggesting new adventures, ones that I think are just too much, and yet they always turn out to be awesome. Slowly, though, I’m starting to trust him, and the joys that come from saying yes instead. It’s a process, so I still usually start with no. Then I have to step back, think about why I’m saying no, then lean into my discomfort and go with the flow. It might sound silly, but I have to do this even with little things. Like when we passed by a roasted nut hut downtown (these things are everywhere here.) Roasted chestnuts are a delicacy, I guess, and they smell amazing when you pass by them. So Z thought we should get some. And I agreed. I figured there could be literally no downside to buying some delicious chestnuts. Continue reading

Travel Suisse: Chateau Grandson

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I had this discussion with Z when we drove into Germany and back. You know how sometimes you drive into a new country and you have no way of telling the difference because everything looks exactly the same? Switzerland and Germany are not that. You could tell immediately when you entered Germany, as everything flattens out. And, I know we were driving in the Black Forest, and I know that it was at twilight, but everything just seemed a little more sinister in Germany. The whole mood was different. (But really, what better place for sinister than the Black Forest at twilight?)

I’m being unfair. On our way back out of Germany, in the light of day, it really was charming, with cute little traditional villages. But, I’m sorry, there is no comparison. Switzerland is seriously beautiful. Like, the most beautiful place you could ever possibly imagine. Everywhere I go I Switzerland, my breath is taken away. Continue reading