Thursday, July 28, 2011

Venice

Time for another blog update, since I haven't written one in a few days.

On Sunday we had our friends Allie and Dan over for dinner, 1) because we love them, and 2) because they are leaving soon to go get married in the States! Woo hoo! Congratulations!!!!!!! They're going to watch Richie for us while we're in Venice for the next 4 days, but then they're leaving to go home.

I made a bangin' artichoke dip that I took pictures of while I was preparing, but then forgot to take a final picture of it when it was finished. Oh well. It was all gobbled up so I know it was good. Try it!

Artichoke Dip
Ingredients:
8 oz. package softened cream cheese
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 c. mayo
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
1/2 c. grated cheddar
1 clove garlic, minced.

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together and transfer to dish.
Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

The next time you need to make an appetizer, try this! It's delish. I actually got it from a friend a few years ago and have made it several times since. It's always enjoyed and complimented.

So, our dog is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. He has LOTS of hair. We like to get his hair cut and nails trimmed every few months. Well, the last time we got it done here it was 100 CHF, which equates to approx $125.00. I decided that this time I would try to do it myself.... with um,,, Paul's clippers. Oops! Sorry Paul! He actually looks pretty good. If you do want to get your dog's hair cut professionally here in Zurich, the place I've gone to before is called Hundesalon Bello. It's the cheapest I could find, and the owner is super nice (doesn't speak english, only german). She lets the dogs play together after they're finished being cut, which I think is MUCH better than locking them up in a little cage to wait for their owners.

I tried to get Richie to show off his new 'do.


So, we cut and bathed Richie, are about to brush his teeth and clean his ears, for his stay at Auntie Allie's!! He gets to play with Jack and Penny and have a ball for the next 4 days while we're in Venice.

I. Am. So. Excited. I've never been to Italy! Venice is going to be amazing. I don't even care if it's high tourist season and crowded, I'm going to eat it up. Time to go pack!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Old Souls...

Last night we didn't get in until pretty late. That's not really like us anymore. What can I say? I'm an old soul. The Penn State partying is loooong gone.

Why were we out so late? Because it was Martijn's BIRTHDAY!

Paul and I started the night at the Outback restaurant at Stadelhofen. It's not the same as the Outback chains back home, but has a similar vibe. I was feeling the Monster Truck Burger (I'm such a man) and Paul got the Kangaroo steak. Weird, right? I tasted a bite, wasn't diggin' it.

Then we headed on over to meet up with some friends at a bar called Papa Joe's. This was actually one of the first bars that we actually went to when we moved to Zurich, but it was certainly not the highlight of the evening. The next bar - Widder Bar - was also very nice, but still not the highlight of the evening.

Oh no, the highlight of the evening was the Splendid Bar. Paul and I had been here once before, and always referred to it as the Piano Bar, because there is a man there singing and playing the piano. We didn't know the history behind it though, or it's reputation as a "meet-up" spot for singles (and even some hookers!!) until Dieter (our own little Swiss tour guide) explained it to us. It was AMAZING watching so many people make complete fools of themselves trying to hook up with other people and get shut down, or have the hookers sit on their laps after only speaking with them for a few minutes. When I saw some of their outfits my jaw literally dropped, because they were SO out of place. For the most part, this was a NORMAL bar! Really famous people visit it when they come to Zurich, and apparently Cindy Crawford was even just recently there. I guess that's just part of the "scene" there. It was weird, but funny.

This is the guy that made the evening!

The pianist was fantastic. He played lots of oldies that are/were famous in the States, but everyone there seemed to know them as well. It was so fun to sing and dance along. If you're looking for some entertainment, head there after 11 or 12. It's over in the Niederdorf area.

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Switzerland is Green, in More Ways Than One

Over 44 Swiss Francs for 2 bottles of Opti-Free Saline Solution. Um, come again? I didn't realize how expensive it was, because the last time I needed it I sent Paul out and he came home with a 2 pack. So, trying to be smart like my hubs, I set out to get another 2-pack. First of all, you can't buy contact solution in grocery stores, you have to go to the Apotheke (pharmacy). I entered, asked the lady "Sprechen Sie Englisch?" She said yes. I asked for contact solution. She pointed it out. I picked out a 2-pack, moseyed up to the counter, and waited for her to scan it. "44.50 Swiss Francs, please."

My jaw dropped. I swear, you can get the same thing for like, $11.99 in Giant. I told her that was astronomically expensive and her response "I know. We're in Switzerland - everything is expensive in Switzerland."

We are going to feel like ballers when we come home to the U.S. in August. That wallet's only $200? PICK IT UP! Those jeans are on sale for $99.97? Get three! The problem is that even though you're spending a ton of money on stuff here, it's really not that much better. I saw a simple Ralph Lauren skirt selling for 400 CHF. Come on now. Ralph Lauren is okay, but it's not like, amazing. I told the friend I was with who isn't American that Ralph Lauren isn't that expensive at home. Then I got super excited telling her that if she ever comes to the US with me, I would take her OUTLET SHOPPING. She's been to the US before, but you need a native to show you the Premium Philadelphia Outlets. :) Ohhh baby.

I've gotten my hair done here twice. The last time I got it cut and highlighted, for 264 CHF. It wasn't even a fancy place - not nearly as fancy as the one I went to at home. I told this to a friend from the Netherlands who was in the process of moving here, and she made sure to get hers done before she came. We joked around that it would literally be cheaper for her to get a flight home to the Netherlands to get her hair done, than to get it done here, because it only costs her 30 euro at home. C-r-a-z-y.

However, yes Switzerland is expensive, but I l.o.v.e. it. It's clean. It's safe. Everything works like it's supposed to. I may have seen one homeless person since I've been here. You really do get what you pay for. Everything that we love about it, we pay for, but it's worth it.

They're also way more conscious about protecting the environment, not only in Switzerland but in Europe in general. You can get fined if you are caught throwing something away that should be recycled.

But hey, when you look at this everyday -

Lucerne

View from Uetliberg

Flumserberg

Weggis

Lugano

Andermatt

Zurich - Home Sweet Home

- you want to protect it.

When Paul was telling a family member about recycling over here, he said something along the lines of "If you think Al Gore is hardcore, everybody here is ten times worse." The thing is, that was before it became just a normal part of our life. Now the thought of throwing the toilet paper roll or toothpaste packaging into the garbage doesn't even cross our minds.

Yes, I will go out of my way to find recycling for my empty water bottle. No, that metal can lid doesn't go in the garbage! Silly goose...

Switzerland - you've turned two Republicans into some pretty rigid environmentalists.

Don't get offended, it's a joke. Say we're over at someone's house, and Paul has an empty beer bottle that he needs to throw away. Instead of just asking where the recycling is, he'll say "Do you recycle? Or are you Republican?" It's FUNNY. I swear.

Of course, that's back at home. You wouldn't ask someone if they recycle here.

You don't want to get deported, now, do you?


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I'm Always Right

Poor little Richie had to go to the vet again yesterday. Back in March, we were walking at Allmend (the dog park area we love) and stopped at a kiosk to get a drink. A yucky, dirty, matted, nasty little dog kept trying to sniff Richie's rear, and since he is such a gentleman he tried desperately to scoot away. Unfortunately, he scooted underneath a bench - a very light, flimsy bench - and his leash tipped it over and it came crashing down. Right on his little back. He started limping and wasn't using his back left leg, was crying, couldn't sleep, so we took him to the vet. Turns out the bench hit his spine and caused a disc to pop out, which was putting pressure on his nerves and partially paralyzing his back. Of course, when the vet told me this I started crying, demanding "Well, can it be FIXED? Can you make him BETTER?!?!" He had no idea how to handle me, and his assistant just kept staring at the ground, but that's another story. Anyway, he told us that he would give Richie a Cortisol injection, and that if it didn't help the disc go back into place he would need to go to a special clinic for spinal surgery (insert more gasps and snot into the scene when he says this).

Luckily, the injection worked wonders, and little Richard has been back at it for the past few months. However, about two weeks ago he started squealing, crying, and acting like he was in pain again. I took him back to the vet, who already thinks that I'm just a paranoid dog mom (I'm not) and he told me that sometimes his back will hurt and sometimes it won't. He'll have good days and bad days. I tried to explain that he hasn't been having good/bad days the past 3 months, he's just been fine every day. Problem is - I can't speak German, and his English isn't that good so we have a really hard time communicating. He gave me some dog ibuprofen and sent me on my way.

I really felt like he wasn't taking my concerns seriously enough, and it was proven on Monday night when Richie was up ALL NIGHT crying, squealing and whimpering. I gave him 2 of the pills - did nothing. Gave him another in the morning, and he finally started feeling a little better. I went on English Forum to find a recommendation for another vet to go to, and brought him there yesterday. He confirmed my feelings, saying that the way Richie's back was arched showed that the dog is in pain. He gave him an injection, and a box of Cortisol-type tablets, and Richie seems to be A-OK now. He also gave me a referral for a spine specialist in case his pain comes back.

Moral of the story - I'm always right. Okay, the real moral is that if you think something is wrong, go with your instinct and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I knew Richie wasn't just having some off days; something must have happened to re-injur his little spine. I can't wait to begin our German lessons so that I can finally start to be able to communicate better with people here. It's really difficult trying to talk about serious things, make appointments, etc., when there is such a language barrier. I couldn't communicate adequately with the first vet, which is why Richie ended up crying all night long on Monday. :(

He's now feeling much better, and so is back to being a naughty little boy. I tried to make him get up this morning to go out and he wouldn't. Then I put his leash on him, thinking he'd get the hint, and this is what I got:

"Come on Mom, I don't wanna!"

A side note - I finally bought a good steak from the grocery store last night. 33 CHF but so yummy. And now, back to chicken...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Weekend Recap.

Friday I attended a "Lunch Flow" yoga class at the Fabrikstrasse location. I loved the teacher - she had one of the sickest bodies I'd ever seen. I asked her if she did any other kind of exercise, hoping she'd say "Nope! Just yoga!" which would give me a fighting chance to try and get her body. Unfortunately she's also a dancer. Oh well. I went to that class with a friend, and then ran over to the Viadukt Markt Halle because I'd never been there. This place was awesome. I have to go back and take pictures to show you - I loved it. There were tons of different stands with specialty foods: bread, meat, fruit, cheese, as well as wines, olive oils - everything! I bought an "Indian Mango" and then some cheddar from the British Cheese guy. This man has actually made a few appearances at the American Women's Club here, and his cheese is awesome. Cheddar is hard to find in Zurich, and when you do it tastes kind of "iffy." This guy's cheese is the bomb.

Succulent Indian Mango

Cheddar that costs 14 CHF - and worth every... rappen?

That night, we went to a dinner party at our friends Dieter and Piia's place. I wanted to bring a "typical" American summertime dessert, so I brought a fruit cobbler. I originally wanted to make McGlinchey's recipe (shout out *snap* *snap*) but of course I couldn't find frozen peaches at the grocery store. Just another one of the difficulties that comes with moving to another country - it's really difficult to find a lot of the things I'm used to cooking with. Anyway, I got a few bags of frozen mixed berries, and made the cobbler with that. It was okay - a little tart - but not close to as good as the blueberries and peach combo of McG's. :) I'll give you the recipe for the peach and blueberry combo because it tastes like HEAVEN.

Blueberry/Peach Cobbler

Ingredients:
2 bags frozen peaches
2 bags frozen blueberries
2 sticks softened butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 cups oats
Cinnamon to taste (1/4 - 1/2 tsp)

Directions:
Pour fruit into large baking dish.
Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl - leave "rough" looking.
Pour mixture over the fruit in the baking dish.
Take 1/2 stick cold butter, slice very thin, and spread out over crust.
Sprinkle a little bit of sugar over top (approx. 2 Tbsp)
Bake @ 350 F - 375 F for an hour or until golden brown.

Super easy, and super good!


We had a great time at their place. They are seriously the best hosts ever. My wine glass was constantly full, and they were always up and down, up and down, getting all sorts of yummy food. They had a few other Swiss guests there as well, who were able to give us lots of tips and info about Switzerland and Zurich. Apparently the right side of Lake Zurich is known as the "Gold Coast" because the sun is always shining and tons of wealthy people live there. They also told me the nickname for the left side, where we live, but I can't remember it. :( We played the Swiss card game "Mouse" and really enjoyed everyone's company.

Then, last night, I met up with another friend to go to Zurich's month-long outdoor movie theater - Orange Cinema - over in the Zurichhorn. It was not at all like I expected. I thought there would be a screen, some chairs, etc. This place had put up a bar, a few restaurants, stadium seating - it was crazy! We saw The Tourist, which I heard from several people wasn't that good, but of course I really liked it. I'm not hard to please at all when it comes to movies. I just need it to be entertaining - not Golden Globe worthy. It was a great time with a friend that I haven't seen in forever - Hi Stacy!

Large screen folded down.

Seats behind us.

One of the restaurant selections, a Grill.

The one we chose to go to, it was Asian food.

The bar, with some "rooftop" seating.

Last picture, screen came up and the movie's starting! The really cool thing about the screen is that if you look closely, the big metal posts that are holding it up were actually in the lake water. The lake and mountains were in the background, past the screen. It was gorgeous.

Today it's pouring here so we're just chilling out on the couch, watching some movies and attempting to clean the apartment.

Have a great Sunday!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bodega Espanola and Nacht Flug

I spent yesterday babysitting the boys. We did crafts, rode the bus, terrorized ducks, it was a great time.

When I got back into Zurich I immediately met up with some friends for dinner. We ended up going to a Spanish restaurant in Old Town called "Bodega Espanola" on Münstergassestrasse, where we split a wonderful bottle of Rioja, and a huge platter of paella. I've never had paella before; it was good, but definitely different. The way that they served the seafood was just so odd to me. The shrimp still had all of its casing on - which I've noticed a lot here in Zurich - but it also had its legs. It actually kind of skeeved me out.


He serenaded us, then came around asking for money. Awesome.


The paella.

After dinner we decided to have a few drinks at a bar called Nacht Flug, because it was in a really vibrant, open square in Old Town called Stüssihofstatt. The bar had a great atmosphere and we had a good time talking about how much we've all come to love living in Zurich. Our lives have completely changed, but so far it's mainly for the better.


Katie and I each had a few glasses of white wine and Allie got a Pilsner beer.


I made them let me take a picture. I told them they would become famous when my blog hit it big - Allie told me that if that happened I'd have to start paying her for her picture. Nice, Allie!

It was a really fun night out with these girls, and we just didn't run out of things to talk about. We have to take advantage of not really working, and do this more! I also need to start bringing my camera out, and not only using my phone for pictures. The 3.2 megapixel camera in it just isn't working. ;)

I'm off - ciao!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Feelin' Good and Lookin' Fly

OMG I got a deal. A bargain. In Switzerland? The most expensive country in Europe? Okay - I'm not sure if that's exactly accurate, but let's just allow it for the sake of drama.

I got this dress today for 50 CHF. (A little over $60). I did not see this coming. I can spend 50 Swiss Francs on a simple lunch here, so to get a dress for that completely made my day.

Well, that, and seeing my friend Piia who has been home in Finland for the past month. She finally came back and we met up for lunch and to do a little shopping. Shopping with Piia is always a good idea because I can just pick out things that I think she might pick out, and then buy them. Seriously - I really don't think I have a good fashion sense, but my new rule of thumb is to ask myself if Piia would wear it. Kind of a "WWPW?" if you will. She is super well-dressed. Paul and I randomly met she and her boyfriend in Starbuck's one morning when we first arrived here, and I immediately recognized her as being a good dresser. In fact, one of the first things I told her was that I liked her stockings; I then promptly clamped my hand over my mouth, eyes wide, because I learned in "Cultural Training" (before we moved here) that people in Switzerland don't compliment each other. So then of course I had to explain this, and exacerbate the awkward situation even more. She's not even Swiss, but I didn't know that yet!

Seriously though, why is complimenting people so unpopular here? In the U.S. girls are always telling each other that they like the other's hair, shoes, dress, eyeshadow, etc. I mean, don't say it unless you mean it, but if you like something, tell the other person! Make them feel good! Sincere compliments can make your day. Heck, even insincere compliments can make my day. I don't care if you mean it - just say it!

We were talking about how her boyfriend and Paul both tell us that certain things we wear are "hideous." Anything a tiny bit different, not common, whatever, is soooo unreasonable. Paul loves to call clothes that he doesn't like "aggressive." Really high heels or tall boots? Aggressive. Off the shoulder shirts? Aggressive. Shorts that hit your knees? Don't even get me started.

Anyway - I told Piia to read my blog, so, Hi Piia!

Off to light some incense and relax for the rest of the night. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not...

Tschüss!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Blogging Etiquette

I've been thinking about "Blogging Etiquette" today. I'm a new blogger, and I started this blog as a way to document my life in a new country, as well as to communicate with family and friends back home. As I've gotten more into reading other blogs and writing this one, I've added bits and pieces to it.

Today I decided that my blog needed an "About" section, as well as a section that lists the blogs that I most often visit. I've noticed that every blog I'm on has these sections. I know that I personally always click on the "About" page of other blogs, because I like to know a little bit more about the writer behind the posts - it's interesting! I also think that having a page where you list the blogs that you read is a good way to build rapport and network with others in the blogging community.

That being said, most of the blogs I read are by BIG bloggers. If you read any health or fitness blogs, you've probably come across the blogs that I have listed. The baby blogs (because I'm obsessed with babies!) are all listed as the top baby blogs on the internet. I comment occasionally when I read some of these blogger's posts, but more often than not I just read the day's musings, and move on. Most of these people have no clue who I am, or what my blog is. So that brings me to my point - am I supposed to let these bloggers know that I'm listing their blog on my site as part of a "Blog Love" or "Blog Roll" section? I read their blogs daily because I really like them, and want others to be able to enjoy them as well! I just wonder how this works. What is proper etiquette? I see the traffic that my blog gets, and it's way more than just friends and family reading it. So, if you're a blogger - can you help a sista out? Wouldn't want to make a gaffe (yeah senior year vocab quiz, coming in handy!) and do the wrong thing here.

Danke Schön!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Six Months Down, Thirty To Go...

I've lived in Zurich, Switzerland for 6 months now. Crazy. We arrived on January 10th, and last night when Paul and I got into bed we were remarking on how quickly the time has passed. We've lived here for half of a year! We're here for at least another 2.5, I think I can... I think I can...

I left an extremely demanding, time-consuming job to come here. Going from 110% to zero has been a very difficult adjustment, and one that I've cried about numerous times. Just in the past week however, I've started to feel more at peace with my place in life right now, and with the fact that I'm not really filling a role that I ever thought I would fill. I'm finally allowing myself to just revel in the fact that this is an opportunity that most would love to have, and that will not be afforded to me forever.

Lying under a tree by Lake Zurich

Some may ask - what does a 26 year old hausfrau do to keep herself busy? Well - I babysit twice a week, take care of our apartment, volunteer at the American Women's Club and hang out with friends... oh, annnnnd you know... drag my dog down to Lake Zurich and entertain myself by teaching him to swim in freezing cold water.

What? Not normal?

It's just so cute when those little ears float out to the side while he paddles along. Hey, my parents made me take swimming lessons in an ice cold community pool at 8:30 in the morning. I have no qualms about taking Richie in with me for a bone-chilling dip. He has fur!

On one of the several times that he paddled out and ran back to the blanket - leaving me to run after him while trying to cover my under-boob and saying "entschuldigung" to those I ran by - he was caught completely off-guard by another dog trailing behind him. I watched this dog sniff Richie's hiney for a good 5 seconds before Richie noticed - and when he did he was so startled and completely jerked around in a 180. I laughed out loud. I never get tired of this little guy.

"Hey man, in my country this is NOT acceptable."

Photo shoots with mom are AWESOME.

Oh I also want to mention that I went to a yoga class at AirYoga's Fabrikstrasse studio tonight with a friend. Zurichers - go to AirYoga! It's great. This is the second time I've attended this particular class and I can't recommend the teacher enough. It's Hatha Yoga with Stephen Thomas. I actually received a recommendation for him from a teacher at another studio - he's that good. All of the directions he gives are so clear and detailed, which is something any yoga student - new or old - can use. I'll admit though - some of the stuff he talks about is a little out there. I catch myself frowning and giving incredulous "are you for real??" looks before I remember that I'm not alone in my apartment with Richie, and no it's not okay to react like that. Some people, they just can't hold it together.

Happy 1/2 Year Anniversary to the Stewart Family!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

If you can't run an Ironman, bake like a Real Housewife.

I used to be a runner. Okay, not really a runner so much as the girl who jogged (waddled) by, speeding up a little when she passed by a group of people, and taking advantage of running past crowds of boys in my sports bra - because if I'm working out, then that's acceptable, right? Anyway - I used to do that, then went to college and stopped. Sophomore and Junior year I started working out again, but only in the gym, I never got back out there running. I ran the Frauenlauf 10k a few weeks ago in Bern, Switzerland and had a great time. I can totally understand the racing "bug" that people say they get. However - and this is a BIG however - I don't think there is any bug strong enough to make me want to swim 2 1/2 miles, bike 112, and then finish off with a mere marathon. But dude, do I have respect for the people that do.

Paul and I were walking down to the lake today, like we do on a lot of nice days over the weekend, with a blanket under one arm and a cooler of, um, water (beer) in the other. We noticed that there were policemen and people standing down on the corner. We thought that the Ironman had been the day before and we'd missed it, but lo and behold it was happening today instead! As tough as the race is, I honestly don't think I could imagine a better place than Switzerland (particularly a beautiful city on a lake like Zurich) to have it. It's not too hot, not too humid, and beautiful. We actually got down there in time to see the leader crest a small hill with a videographer following him on a motorcycle. I got excited - these guys are not all skinny, some are legit ripped! I thought it was amazing to watch these people powering through the last leg of their race; they were running a marathon, after biking and swimming, and were seriously cruising. Paul and I were shocked at how fast they were going. Of course when I saw the first woman come through (beating a TON of the men, by the way) I felt the need to clap and yell "You go, girl!" I kept beaming and saying "Girl power!" I'm cheesy, I know.

This guy was one of the leaders.

Blurry photos - taken with my phone.

You can see the volunteers handing the runners turquoise colored things; these were water-soaked sponges that they squeezed all over themselves to cool off. Remember, they're running a marathon after swimming 2.5 miles and biking 112!

Just wanted to get a pic of the shirt, to prove that it was a legit Ironman! I thought I'd only ever see one of these on TV. It's kind of (I said kind of) like being a spectator at the Tour de France. You never think you're actually going to see this in real life!

This was probably the 5th woman to come through. I kept trying to take pics of the women but was missing them. They are seriously as ripped as the guys, and their hair is slicked back from sweat, so you can't really tell it's a girl until she's right in front of you!

So, since I can't compete in an Ironman, and I don't really work out, I decided that cooking something *healthy* might make me feel better. My only healthy cookbook is The Skinnygirl Dish by Bethenny Frankel. Pathetic? Amazing? Those of you who don't know who Bethenny Frankel is, she's a previous cast member of the Real Housewives of NYC, and a hardworking chica who has made herself into a serious multi-millionaire. (Unlike the other housewives, who are dropping like flies into bankruptcy and foreclosure).

Anyway, I made Chocolate Chip Banana Bread. I don't know why she put this in her "healthy" cookbook, but I added flax seed to make it seem more legit.

Mmmmmmmm

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

1 cup raw sugar
1 Tbsp butter
3 ripe bananas
1 egg
1/2 cup choc. chips
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1 cup oat flour (i used regular/wheat)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

*I added approximately 3 Tbsp flax seeds.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
3. Pour into greased loaf pan.
4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
5. Remove aluminum foil and bake for another 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Ristorante Pulcino

Last night was the second time we've been to the italian restaurant Pulcino in old-town. It's pretty reasonably priced, particularly for Zurich standards, and the food is really yummy. Both times I've gone I've gotten something different, and both times I've wanted what my hubs got. Why does that always seem to happen? I have super-bad buyer's remorse, and always seem to regret the things I purchase. Paul likes to joke around that I have a 95% return rate to stores. It's really not that bad, I just like to make sure things are perfect! Note to self: when I return, get the lasagna bolognese. If you live in Zurich, or visit - go to the section of Niederdorfstrasse with all of the restaurants on it and you'll find a ton of different options. Italian, Mexican (eh..), Fondue, plenty of bars. Definitely a fun area for a night with warm weather.

I just realized that I wrote that this restaurant is reasonably priced. It makes me laugh, because it is literally about 100 swiss francs (110-120 dollars) for two simple meals and 2-3 drinks (combined, not per person!) Back at home that would have been expensive, now it's a "cheaper" restaurant. Our concept of money has had to change drastically. To give you a little perspective, look at the list of the most expensive cities in the world. Did you think Manhattan was pricey? It's fallen to #44, and Zurich is #6!!! It should come as no surprise to you that I'll be stocking up on lots and lots of things when I come home for a wedding (shout out - Cristie and Blake!) in August.

Moving on, if you move to (or visit) Switzerland from the US, there are two things you'll probably notice. 1) People smoke, a. lot. And 2) bikes are super-popular as a mode of transportation. I seriously never imagined myself purchasing a bike as a way to get around, but after our outing last night, where Martijn and Marjon were our chauffeurs on their bikes, I'm seriously considering it. However, when I woke up this morning my abs hurt from laughing so hard at the way Paul and Martijn looked on their bike.

The pictures are blurry because they were taken with my phone, while I was moving on the back of Marjon's bike, and Paul and Martijn were moving on their bike.

Such a handsome couple.

Please Paul, by all means - do NOT put down the beer.

Paul's taking advantage of the situation, and holding on tight!


I told her I loved riding on her bike, and that I wanted to do it again. Her response? "Well of course you do! You don't have to do any work, you just get transported!" Way to call me out, Marjon! Just think - I'm helping you work your buns!

She's my chauffeur, I'm her butler!
So there is an Ironman going on Zurich right now, I was supposed to head out earlier this morning to catch it. Oops. Going to go shower then possibly head out. Seeing Hangover 2 tonight as well! Woo hoo!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Let's Be Honest, It's All About Richie

I haven't posted in almost a week. Laura - you're never going to become famous that way! I want to post. I even think about what I'm going to post. The problem is that I've actually gotten really busy! A few months ago when I first moved here, I complained that I had nothing to do. Now, I am busy almost every day! Let's do a re-cap of the week.

Monday - I actually kind of forget what I did on Monday. I know that I thoroughly cleaned the entire apartment, because we had three dogs here for a few days. Three dogs = lots of hair. I also went online to find some home remedies to clean rugs. We have a really nice rug in our living area that just seems to get really grey looking. Apparently, the key is to vacuum it almost daily. I also learned that if you're trying to clean a rug that looks bad, vacuum the top, flip it over and vacuum the bottom, then flip back and vacuum the top again. Sprinkle liberally with baking soda, let it sit there for a few hours (well, the website said 15 minutes, I left it on for a few hours) and then vacuum off. Doesn't clean off everything, but it definitely helps. I've discovered online that baking soda is kind of a cure-all! It has so many purposes. The purpose I've found for it? Cleaning Richie's throw-up off of our duvet and down comforter. That stuff does not smell good.

Tuesday - Work. Babysat the little buggers.

Wednesday - A coffee at the American Women's Club. I actually met two really nice girls there, and am hoping they will join because I'll get their contact info that way! I'm the Welcome Chair at the club now, so I'm responsible for making sure that newcomers feel, umm, welcome. And involved and all that other stuff. So I went to the coffee with the hopes of meeting some nice new people and getting them to join! I made Chocolate-Covered Cookie Dough Pops that went like hot-cakes. I was told that they tasted decadent, like a little piece of heaven, etc. I can't claim the credit for that recipe though, I got it from another blog called ChocolateCoveredKatie.com. I then spent four hours trying to decorate a bulletin board. Why do I think it sounds like a good idea to volunteer for everything? I used to LOVE decorating my classroom, so I thought decorating a bulletin board would be great. I mean, it did look cute at the end, it just took so long because I had to make everything from scratch. Letters, borders, backgrounds, etc. Remind me again why there is no Target here?

Thursday - Worked again. Took the boys on a bike ride down to the river where I thought we could go wading. Turns out the river was dried up so we weren't so successful.

I also made Mozzarella-Stuffed Bruschetta-Topped Hamburgers. They were really good and really filling. Actually not nearly as difficult or time consuming as the name makes them sound.

Took Richie down to the lake to play fetch and have a photo shoot. I don't know why he doesn't understand that Mama just wants him to stay still and look at the camera. I tried out a few different settings on my camera. I've discovered that if you adjust the aperture to a really low number it will bring the subject into focus but blur the background, which is what I really like. I'm still trying to figure out how to get the effect where the subject is in motion and kind of blurred. I thought that I had to adjust the shutter speed and keep it open for longer, but that really didn't give me what I was looking for. I know that I've seen really cool pictures like this before. Any ideas?


Mozzarella-Stuffed, Bruschetta-Topped Burgers

Recipe Serves Two

1/2 lb ground beef (just guessing, as weight here isn't measured in pounds. Also - you can use ground turkey they just don't sell it here.)
1/8 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella

Mix beef, Parmesan, salt, pepper and basil together.
Make into 4 small patties.
Take 1 patty, press 1/2 the mozzarella into it.
Top with another patty.

Repeat to make 2 burgers.

Use whatever bruschetta recipe you like and top the burgers with this after they are grilled.

I put about 1/2 cup balsamic dressing in a pot and stirred and stirred until it became somewhat of a glaze, and drizzled on top of the whole thing.

After this meal was when we took Richie down to the lake. I hope you enjoy the following photo montage.





I love the flying ears here.

I honestly don't think a dog could get any cuter.

Too tired to play, but keeping a watchful eye on dad to protect his ball.

Last night it was pouring, so after Paul took him out to go potty I had to towel dry him off. He is not happy that I am making him let me take pictures before he gets his treat.

Seriously, look how intense he is! He's grilling Paul, just waiting for his T-R-E-A-T. Yes, we have to spell it out. Thank goodness he can't read.

Really mom? Really? I'm a MAN! This is just embarrassing.

Today is a very special day. It is my mom's BIRTHDAY! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!

Now it's off to the grocery store. We don't have any toilet paper, which means I can't go to the bathroom unless I want to use paper towels. Seriously, how did this happen??

Ciao!