February 26, 2010

spring is in the air

i mentioned a few days ago, that we are already moving toward spring in switzerland, at least in the lower regions where we live. i could not resist the morning sunshine today. the soil is still very cold but not frozen, this gives me the advantage of pulling old weeds. there are lots of dandelion...
it's the first year for me to work in this garden and it seems like the past year has not enjoyed lots of pulling weeds. that's ok, we will eventually arrive at a good place with this garden.
the next thing is to talk with my neighbor, she tends some horses...

an other corner of the garden, the snow drops are already in full bloom.

and the tulips and daffodils are peaking. o every time in late winter i wander in the garden to find those little messengers of warmer weather!

February 25, 2010

the satisfaction of mending

the pile of cloths needing to be mended has been growing constantly. i don't mind mending, it's fun and usually very satisfying to see a pile of mended cloths at the end of an afternoon.
i don't fix every week what's being torn and pulled apart the bin gets fuller after each thursday, which serves as my washday.

the boys knees...

this skirt has been waiting for a very very long time to be fixed up. but i'm almost certain, it will be worn and twirled tomorrow, as soon as naomi sees it on her shelf!

February 24, 2010

riding the wagon

our little girl is growing and getting more and more daring...

most often she sits in the wagon and one of the older kids pulls her around the house, she loves it. she sits back and relaxes. it's fun to watch, then her older siblings love to do her the favor and go on and on and on with the ride.

February 23, 2010

afternoon snack

the kids are back to school, after two weeks of winter vacation. we enjoyed lots of snow, skiing and overnight stays at grandparents and aunt T's house... we all relaxed and savored each moment.
but now we are back, the boys enjoyed a good first day, even though elias had a bit a rough start, overall it went well. naomi took a pile of travel photos along to show her kindergartenfriends what we saw and did on our 3month tour across the united states. (joel is still working on the photo books, they will turn out great, but it will take a bit longer as expected for them to be designed...)
non the less i had the urge to bake a special dessert for the kids as a surprise. naomi helped me with the apple cutting, and much more on cleaning all the tools and bowls after our mission was completed and baking in the oven.
and of course a big pitcher of chai latte! what a welcome drink, i'm glad the kids enjoy this so much and don't need to be spoiled with soda!

it was an apple/berry galette, what ever was in the house and seemed like a good fit found it's way into the dessert!
apples, raspberries, figs, brown sugar, creme, sour creme, flour, cinnamon, cardamom, egg i guess that summs it up. and it was yummy, gone within in moments. we got unexpected visitors and they enjoyed it as well.

February 22, 2010

in der zeit des fastens

seit letztem mittwoch, dem aschermittwoch befinden wir uns nun in den 40 tagen vor ostern. eine zeit in der meine gedanken vermehrt an's leiden jesu, an die entbehrungen und das gemeinsame leben von christus nachfolgern nachschweife.
dieses jahr hab ich bei chirstnet.ch einen hilfreichen "fasten kalender" gefunden, der auffordert zum teilen, beten und fasten. am aschermittwoch habe ich drum die zeit mit dem immer wiederkehrenden gebet von ephraem dem syrer angefangen:

Herr und Gebieter meines Lebens
den Geist des Muessigganges,
des Kleinmuts, der Herrschsucht
und der Geschwaetzigkeit
gib mir nicht.

Den Geist der Lauterkeit, Demut,
Geduld und Liebe aber
verleihe mir, Deinem Diener.

Ja, Herr und Koenig,
lass mich meine eigenen Suenden erkennen
und nicht meinen Bruder verurteilen
denn gepriesen bist Du in alle Ewigkeit.


meine hoffnung ist es, dass dieses gebet mich durch die verbleibenden tage vor ostern begleitet. ich freue mich auf das taegliche innehalten und das immerwiederkehrende gebet als staerkung meiner beziehung zu gott und der veraenderung in meinem herzen entegegen zu leben.

February 21, 2010

quick goodies

in my mom's kitchen cupboard were some very yummy cookies. a friend of hers has made them. and my memory very quickly scrolling back to childhood. my grandma was frequently serving us "bretzeli" (or i guess it is close to the so called italian pizzelle). right then and there i had to make some for me and who ever else was around...
my mom's iron was quickly found and the dough made, in between some skiing with naomi the work dough needed to rest and then we baked and got the iron to work better and better... (yes it's an old iron, without any heating adjustments...)

they turned out ok, not wonderfully formed and in all kinds of shades.

but of course they were eaten very quickly in the afternoon!

February 19, 2010

the past days

this was the view.

the breakfast.

the workout.

February 12, 2010

felting fun

amos was bringing a cool decoration home from school. and of course we all were once more inspired to take out the roving to do some felting in our house.
the clay is next, we will see how the ideas of clay pigs and cows will grow into reality...

but first of all, we head out into the snow. visiting my parents, they live a bit higher up and because of that, are blessed with quite a bit more snow. (it's summer on google...)
never the less we will be sledding and skiing! and likely be back by the end of next week!

February 10, 2010

cozy up and keep on working

it's snowing outside and amos eagerly spends his time on a math program where he can collect points. it is lots of fun and he is patiently working on it. of course this keeps him moving up the list of working class mates.
thea is climbing up almost every possible or impossible structure. of course this is fun and there is some adrenalin involved on the parental side. not rarely is a missed step or sliding on top of a table the case of a quick step from mom or any other bi standers

February 9, 2010

afternoon chai

recently amos and i were home alone (not really, as thea was just asleep...)
both of us like to listen to king arthur, and of course keep our hands busy doing something enjoyable. we like to sip on a cup tea, and so we decided to brew a good amount of chai. and nothing goes over a real sweet chai latte, amos loved the whipped creme on top! i can't blame him, it's yummy.
amos is excited about his growing rope, every time he is working on it there are new plans being spun. new ideas for it's usability and they are mostly very creative.

photo taken by amos
my socks are growing, heals are turned and in a few days they should be on my feet!

here is a simple recipe to make chai yourself at home. this is what you will need:

  • 3 cups of water

  • 1 stick of cinnamon

  • a few whole cloves

  • fresh ginger root (sliced thin)

  • ~1 cup of milk

  • honey

  • 5 teaspoons of darjeeling tea leaves

place water, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ginger in a pot and bring to a boil. cover and lower heat to low setting and simmer for 10 minutes. add milk and honey and again bring to simmer. next, add the tea leaves, remove from heat and cover. let steep for 3 minutes and strain. top with whipped creme... and enjoy!

February 7, 2010

one small change the second

i reported on our january challenge here
oh yes, we changed one more detergent, the dish washing, it's now an earth friendly detergent from HELD

now the second small change...

i decided to change to earth friendly cleaning products. saying this is easy, but doing it not...
as already mentioned we live in community, this really means, that our family of six lives together with 8 other adults. for our family all those small changes would have been in place already, but now having moved into a new living situation in november this has changed.
and then, there are those people in the community, who don't understand, that a cleaning product doesn't have to have a pink colour or an over powering smell of spring-flowers!
my observation, has been that especially the male population in the household love strong "clean smelling" air... and they are hard to convince that just regular smelling air ok after having cleaned a bathroom or what ever else needs to be cleaned every week.

one big earth friendly product is already in our cabinets...VINEGAR! yes, i said vinegar! I use vinegar for a lot of things around the house. a little vinegar with plain old water in a spray bottle followed by wiping dry with microfiber cleaning rags and your windows and mirrors have never looked so good.

http://vinegartips.com has wonderful uses for cleaning, disinfecting, odor remover, etc. no wonder it has been around for 10,000 years, it just might be the world's oldest and trusted ingredient.

and then there is the company called HELD, i'm going to introduce a plain "allzweckreiniger", which is just right for mostly everything.
i have to take into consideration that living in winterthur adds a bit of a challenge in regards to very hard water levels. the reason i mention this is, that showers as well as toilets have to been cleaned more often and with chalk (lime stone) removing cleaning detergents. in most cases vinegar works just fine, but some times more acidic cleaners are needed, that's why we will also be using the "badreiniger", which includes citric acid.
overall, i feel like this should be sufficient, though we will see how that change will go over with the male population in the household.
one more thing i'm excited about, i can go and refill those two cleaning products at store without buying new bottles. this will feel like a little success over the plastic consumption.

February 5, 2010

lots of baking

i'm so excited to be able to buy "puff-pastry" dough in the regular grocery store, for a good price. (we call it "blaetterteig" in german).
so was not to stop today after baking "dogs in blankets" for lunch with chicoree salad and veggies on the side. i realized that this was just the start. there was a bit dough left, so i sprinkled it with cheese and rolled it up. the kids loved the quick after lunch snack (like a palmier, just not sweet...)
then i realized that it is the last day before winter brake. of course there had to be a special snack when the kids got home from school this afternoon. in order to celebrate i quickly whipped up some ground hazelnuts, egg, sugar, lots of cinnamon, creme and milk. everything mixed poured into a pie shell and then into the oven.

there was some "blaetterteig" left over... i had to come up with one more idea.
an apple galette sounded just about right, and now it's the end of the day. i'm happy with the day, lots of baking, lots of eating as there are many people in the house who love desserts!

o yes! the kids got home and feel like the best time in the world started. the boys got their first report cards. they feel great about it and are overall very happy with them, very proud to carry home good results! i'm glad for them, it is the first time to have been in school after our years of "home learning".
they also carried home lots of other surprises, then of course it's not just math and language arts being taught. i'm happily looking forward to the coming two weeks. amos has already lots of ideas what he could do, elias will be spending the time mostly at my parents house, splitting wood and skiing. naomi's plan is to spend some days at her godmother's house. this for today, as tomorrow we will all be sleeping in!

February 4, 2010

a new tool

over the past few weeks i found myself a few times in front of the little reading glasses kiosk...
it has been occurring now often, that i was struggling to read scripture in the morning. i know it's small print in my bible, but still until recently i was able to read even the small print well. the same happened more often with nutritional labels at packages at stores...
o well, i caved and decided to take a look at those reading glasses, offered in grocery stores and book shops.

while spinning the rack and trying a few of the +1.00 the kids on my side quickly started to comment about how cute, or how "old lady-ish" i looked.
i was quick to shrug them off and was able to laugh a bit, explaining my problem about reading and failing eyesight.
o my, i'm really getting old now!
it does feel a bit scary and it is the first time in my life that i'm not able to read things easily without adjusting the distance of the print.

so now, i've got a pair of readers. approved by elias and naomi.

and oh well, tools are to be used.
like mortar, pestle, knitting needles, reading glasses.

by joel

February 3, 2010


a few weeks ago, my sister stopped by with a pile of old games. i was so delighted to see those beautyful cartboard boxes with just the best kind of games for naomi our kindergardener. naomi was as excited as i, when i showed her the treasure.
with no hesitation, all the boxes had to be inspected and the playing started right away...

a very cool lotto, such great design!

a so called "woerterschlange" domino kind of game with very nice drawings.

on one side the words were in block print,

on the other side the words were cursive. an other detail was the singular and plural for the cursive side. just lovely this will be played a lot, i'm certain.

o and one of them is a 1000 piece puzzle of switzerland! that one will likely end up on our living room table and the whole household will be involved in it.
i'm glad those games were stored for the past 25 years or so, they are all in very good condition and having had to leave so much behind when we moved across the atlantic last summer, such gifts are a good replacement of things we could not take along. thank you e.

February 2, 2010

farm animals

a quick visit at the donkey's stable...
every time i see the kids interacting with animals i'm wonderfully taken back into my own childhood.
having grown up on a farm, life with farm animals was just a given. the cycle of life is what i know, baby animals of course were a big spectacle for me. there were piglets, calf's, puppies, kitties, chickens, rabbits....
feeding. petting, loving and playing with them, as well as saying good by when the time comes.
i remember vividly when my rabbits, which i loved and cared for were scheduled to be put down and prepared for meals. i knew that they will be on our dinner table soon and that was ok for me. my sister in contrast was struggling and did not eat any of that delicious stew.
that's the cycle of life and it was hard sometimes to let go of an old cow which we led to the pasture for years and years but was just too old and frail now. or the piglets who were so sweet and funny to watch for hours, but some of them just didn't make it. now i know how much i learned, how much i was given in growing up so close to the the soil. thank you to my farmer parents!

February 1, 2010

sledding on sunday

there is not too much to be added.
the snow was wonderful, the world was white and mostly still, until our gang decided that it's now time to do some sledding.