Monday, 31 December 2012

Peculiar Tastes In Food.

Do you have any ?

In a way it is appropriate to share the different food combinations on New Year's Eve. Tonight all over the world, lots of bubbly will be flowing and tomorrow morning a lot of people will make their own special food concoction, you know, to feel better !

This weird food combining used to be reserved for pregnant women. Nobody raised an eyelid when sandwiches were made with peanut butter and sardines. Well, we maybe shuddered a bit but, we thought, ' its the hormones that made her eat this '.

Well, it turns out that men have just as many strange and peculiar tastes in food, as we have. If not more ! Men are not so worried about convention...they just put foods together ( maybe because that is all they have in the fridge at the time ) and suddenly love that newly discovered flavour.

In fact, they try and make their friends and family love it just as much, in their
own little episode of ' Fear Factor '. At least that is what it feels like to the ones having to try all this out !

Here is Bob's favourite food combination:

  • Tomato soup ( from a can or packet ) and a sandwich made with white bread and liberal amounts of smooth peanut butter. Of course Bob eats all this a special way...he dips the peanut butter sandwich into the hot tomato soup, one bite at a time !

When he eats this, you can almost hear him purring with pleasure. Luckily for me, peanut butter is rather rare here in Burgenland. Why lucky ? Well, as peanut butter is such a precious commodity in our household, Bob does not really want to share any of it with me ! Oh drat...


The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Life Before Internet...Of Any Sorts !

Did you, would you or could you have lived it ?

A chance remark on Facebook, made me wonder. Obviously the under 25 crowd, thinks I am from that place, what do they call it...oh yes, the Stone Ages !

Oh, I love using it too but somehow the memory of life before Internet lingers in the back of my mind. Who can remember back this far ?

  • Going to the movies, would involve reading the actual Newspaper to see what was showing.
  • We had no computers at School or University and thus had to look up ' stuff ' manually, by actually reading a book or two in the Library ( Google was still a twinkle in the stars...).
  • Getting hold of your friends was done by a normal Land Line telephone or by cycling over to their house.
  • After School we actually played outside or read books...remember no
    computer games yet !
  • Writing physical letters, Birthday Cards and Thank You cards was the thing to do.
  • No GPS, so road trips were undertaken by reading and using an actual map, which sometimes could cause marital tension.
  • You got your weather forecast from the TV or Newspaper.
  • Banking was still done manually. You would take your savings book and the Teller would write manually in it. ATM's are also a fairly new invention.
  • Listening to your tapes or LP's. The iPod, was again an invention far far off. In fact, I think the early version of the iPod could have been the ' boom-box ', which was cool back then.

There are so many other items that could go on this list, I think ? But anyway, a nice little blast from the past !

P/S :

When I asked Bob, who is four years younger than me, if he could think of more points, he committed a terrible ( not quite fatal ) error, when he told me,
" Remember, I grew up in a different era from you. " cheeky !


Saturday, 29 December 2012

The First Shopping Day After Christmas...

Must be a nightmare for shop assistants !

For some reason and without thinking, we went to town on that day. Stupid really, as it was an even greater crush than the days leading up to Christmas.

It seems that it has been deemed acceptable to exchange the gifts you receive.
Society at large ( when you turn on the News, it shows horrific scenes at shops everywhere ) descends on the shops to return their gifts. There is nothing wrong with the gifts, except that most people want something else !

Look, a few gifts do need to be changed. A diamond ring too small, a dress to big or a shoe to tight. But to exchange the rest, is just a sign of " Blasé " and not a good reflection on our society. When did we stop being grateful to what we get given ? Are we so saturated with things, that anything new is no longer exciting ?

A lot of thought is put into buying most of the gifts. Yet clearly, not enough, if the gift gets returned the next day...Have we just become to critical ? If you don't like the colour of a clothing item, either donate it to someone who needs it and won't question the choice of colour or wear it ! It might just turn out to suit you.

As for the harassed shop assistants, they must have heard every excuse in the book. I wonder if some folk are honest and just tell them, that they don't like this gift ?

Maybe the answer is to only give money or Gift Vouchers, as presents ? Money of course, will be used ASAP, but Gift Vouchers apparently not. In some countries, you can redeem a voucher a few years down the road ! Clearly another sign of " Blasé ".

When the Universe sends you anything as a gift, rejoice and be grateful for it. Putting it into a drawer to gather dust, or running to the shop to exchange it, does not send good signals to the Universe...In fact, it might be a long time before it sends you anything else !


Friday, 28 December 2012

New Year's Eve Parties...Viewed Through Time !

At what stage are you ?

The whole world celebrates New Year's Eve and somehow we all wish, imagine and hope that the following year will be better than the last one. Most likely you have also been enthralled
( or maybe not ) since before you could walk properly. I find that there are different takes on this mega Party, depending on what stage of your life you are at.

  1. Between the ages of 0 - 11, we just float along with our parental take off this party. More often than not, we don't even get to see in the New Year, as it is way past our bedtime and endurance. Yet we think that it all is so cool. Some of you will have sneaked a sip of punch or Champagne...and not liked it very much !
  2. Of course from age 12 - 18, it all changes. Being stuck at your parents
    party is rather " uncool ", and we all tried to pretend to our friends that we either were not going or that we didn't enjoy it ( even though we did ). Libations would have been sneaked by the glass and also liked a whole lot better than previously.
  3. It all starts to happen at age 19 - 30. This is the time of independence and ultra coolness. New Year's Eve parties at that stage in our life start more often than not already at Christmas. In fact it becomes a slightly blurry memory of a lot of days of having fun. As you have guessed, drinks are much liked by now, and many new friends made due to the fact of just inviting anyone we come across ! Not being at a party would be unthinkable.
  4. From 31 - 40 we start to slow down. Spending it with your spouse and close family is far more fun, than doing the rounds chatting to acquaintances. Don't let me get started on this Kissing Custom. Its useful, when you fancy someone, but when you settled, you don't want to smooch a hundred lips at midnight. This is also the start of inventing excuses why you can't attend.
  5. The ' Roaring Forties ' is not always an accurate description, as most of us do want to take it easy and relax. We are grown up enough, to decline some invites and there is sometimes nothing nicer than watching the various programs on TV - those we used to scoff at when we were younger. This is also the stage in your life, where you don't feel so bad, if you don't make it past 10 o'clock.
    The next morning you gleefully congratulate yourself on feeling good and wonder how you managed those " hangover " mornings in your twenties...


Thursday, 27 December 2012

Watching Home Videos On Christmas Eve.

Going back in time...

Years ago, I never could understand this constant need for everything to be filmed. You know those ordinary things that people do. Having a family meal, holidays and Birthdays. Who would ever want to see it again ?

Well, now of course a whole business empire has been founded on those harmless & innocuous home videos. Some folk are earning a bundle, showing the silly everyday stuff to YouTube. I must admit, that yours truly has asked a friend on the in's and out's of making a video with my camera. So in fact, I am armed, ready and most likely a menace to friends and family !

This Christmas Eve, I was privileged ( and I mean that ) to see home movies showing the normal stuff, that was at times my Oma's routine. Making her famous potato salad or just moving around the room, straightening up pictures and ornaments, that were more than straight already.

Home videos can make you recapture times, that you were not part of. I know, that I missed all those family occasions for 30 years of my life. When I sat there, watching these movies, it somehow made me a part of those occasions. Thank Goodness, Albert had the foresight to film some of those family functions !

Of course it's often funny to see how everyone looked and dressed five, ten or more years ago. A bit of a laugh and the quickly wiped away tear are all part of it.
At the end, Albert showed some video footage of Christmas nearly twenty years ago.

Bob almost keeled over ( hopefully in laughter and not in fright ) when he saw me handing out presents. Of course it wasn't easy for me to see myself on screen either. Bob, in between his spurts of laughter managed to utter several phrases : " You should show this on YouTube "
and " I've got blackmail material against Kyle, Leno, Dijan, Carlo and Jaden ".

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Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Sleeping The Night After A Possible Ghost Encounter !

Testing your limits...

As you know, we had a ghost-like happening the other night. Now, it could have been imagination, faulty wiring or really a touch of the real McCoy...a ghost. Of course, in our house it would only be a friendly one !

Posting the story yesterday, launched a few family discussions covering a lot of bases. Mainly, that I might have overreacted but also a funny one, that had my brother-in-law play me the opening bars of Ghostbusters about a blast from the past !
Gosh, can you remember all the dancing we did to that song, in that antique entity
called a " Disco " ?

It was super getting all these reactions yet somehow it put all those thoughts into my mind again
( I know, I wrote about it, so it is my fault really ). Of course the real test was still up ahead. Was I strong enough to put all those ' ghostly ' thoughts out of my mind, when it came to bedtime ?
Oh yeah, that was, excuse the pun, a " biggi ".

All evening, I tried to entice Bob to stay up late with me, by making sure we only watched his favourite programs on the telly. Somehow I hoped that he would pull an All Nighter with me...but as you might have guessed after his reaction on the ' ghost ' night, he went to bed his usual time. Suddenly a conundrum was thrown at me. Should I stay ( alone ) and watch TV all night, or should I go to our bedroom ( the room where it all happens...) with Bob ?

As they say, when you fall off a horse, get straight back on to it. So when you have a ghostly experience, go back to it. Mind over matter. I might as well bite the bullet and sleep there. Which I did.

It was a bit fitful, with dreams of lights turning on but on the whole it was doable. We often are afraid to do something because we think it is scary. Yet if we just go straight ahead, be it a ghost, business meeting or dreaded first date, things usually turn out for the best.

But just to put your mind at rest, should any other ' ghostly ' meeting occur, I will straight away pen a little story about it. Please, if you have had your own ghostly encounters, write and let me know.



Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Could This Have Been A Ghost ?

Our own, courteous and friendly ghost ?

Sunday night was a memorable one, in fact so much so, that it resonates often in my thoughts. Actually who wouldn't think about it...

Warning : Those family and friends who are visiting us often, maybe skip to tomorrows blog post !

For some reason, I suddenly woke up in the dead of night. The light on my side table was still on and those of you, who are avid readers can relate to it. Falling asleep while reading is kind of normal. Anyway, I sat up quickly, as only those who wake up suddenly do.

Of course, Bob ( or rather Grumpy, as he has a different personality when woken up ) sat up because of me and moaned ," Why did you wake me up ? ". Okay, those things happen and still nothing unusual. But while we were sitting up in bed, the room light suddenly switched on ! Imagine, while we were discussing, who awoke whom, the light switched on. A light, that can only be switched on with a switch that is located at the door...a mile away from our bed !

Oh yeah, freaky. Extremely freaky. Bob still had not woken up properly and asked me why I had switched on the light ? " Bob, that was not me. I am right next to you." In fright, I got up ( stupidly ) and went through every room and switched lights on and off. What did I expect ? A ghost standing near one, switching them on as I switched them off, to assure me he was real and there ?

Rather scared, I went back to bed, feeling safer next to Bob. In a way, I hoped that Bob would stay up with me, hold my hand and talk nonsense, to make me forget. One of the pluses of being married...I thought ! No, Grumpy just said ," Switch off the light, I can't sleep ".

Well, I tried for about 5 minutes and gave up, migrating to the lounge and safety of the TV. Murphy's Law, all that any of the various channels showed, were slasher and horror movies ! But somehow, I made it through the rest of the night.

In the morning, Bob didn't believe me, heck, he hardly remembered it happening.
So, we seem to have our own ghost. A rather friendly or possibly lonely one. Maybe it wanted company ? It will take me a few days to get used to sleeping in darkness again, though !!!!

Have you seen Ghosts ?


Amzon U.S. :The Ghost Next Door: True Stories of Paranormal Encounters from Everyday People :Geister sind unter uns: Die Wahrheit über die ewigen Begleiter der Menschheit

Monday, 24 December 2012

Today Is Christmas !

Christmas Eve, for us here in Burgenland

Somehow, there are two different times to celebrate Christmas. I am not sure how that was decided, but I think of Christmas on Christmas Eve ( 24th ). Yet a lot of people all over the world celebrate it on the morning of Christmas Day ( 25th )

Every family has its own traditions and customs on the day. Regardless though, it is a time where everyone feels more cheerful, caring and giving.

Here are a few points that I think go hand in hand with Christmas :

  • Cooking a feast is normal, with usually a happy yet frazzled Mom, when it is on the table.
  • The last few days before, become a time of hectic shopping, in order to get all of the items on the wish list.
  • Wonderful, romantic and " Schmalzy " movies are on most TV channels...' yeah '.
  • Christmas and Christmas Day, are about the only days in the year, that your children willing jump out of bed and at the crack of dawn !
  • Sounds of paper being speedily torn off presents drown out the background Christmas Carols ( all that tedious wrapping seems a waste ).
  • Cries of joy or now & again cries of disappointment fill the air.
  • Walking on crunching snow to attend Midnight Mass, while wearing a few of the presents.
  • Eating so much of the delicious food, that halfway into the evening ( or day ) you change into more forgiving attire. Of course, dieting is strictly forbidden at this time of the year !
  • The most important of course, is the fact that families come together and have a good time...

How do you celebrate Christmas and when ? What is your signature dish for Christmas ? Let me know...


Sunday, 23 December 2012

The First Little Signs Of Belonging...

Isn't that what we all want ?

When you live in the same place for some time, you get to know your surroundings and it gets to know you. It doesn't matter if it is in a big city or a small town.

Apart from friends and family, don't we all get some feeling of belonging, when we walk into a store, and the assistant knows you and more importantly, knows you by name. Or going to your Hair Salon, Doctor or favourite Restaurant and being recognized and acknowledged. In some way, even though it seems insignificant, those little signs mean we belong ! On the other hand, those are one of the many things we give up, when we move town, country or continent.

Just a few days ago, Bob and I did some shopping in OBI ( hardware shop in our nearest town, 25 kilometers away ). Walking through its many isles, the assistants automatically greet all customers, but I am sure that we got a ' Gruess Gott ' that was meant for us.

We were recognized and given the sign of belonging...a personal heartfelt ' Gruess Gott '. For a second, I wondered, if they recognized me, the woman, and thus remembered. But alas, the next second, I realized that they are all in their twenties and most likely only remembered us ( me ) from our frequent shopping excursions into their domain.

That sense of being acknowledged is priceless. Of course in our case, it might not be that priceless, as we spent many hours plus plenty of Euros in their store...The next person who comes to visit us, can get a personalized tour through a Hardware store, with the tour guide, yours truly, knowing where each individual packet of nails hangs ...


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Being asked to help with the wine harvesting also is a gives a great sense of Belonging to the area !

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Trying To Catch Mice Inside The House.

One of the joys of country living !

The other evening, while sitting around the dinner table with all of our friends,
Bob suddenly shouted ," Oh, there goes a mouse ". We've had this problem a while ago and I thought it was sorted out.

While I felt horribly embarrassed, ( because, let's face it, having mice in our house sounds and is just so bad ) our friends wondered if they along with Bob, had a touch too much vino. Of course it only took me a nano second to lift my legs off the floor ! ...So, once again, the mouse hunt began.

There are surely a lot of people out there, who think that it is inhumane to ' hunt ' mice and kill them. But bear in mind, that mice do have ' fun ' and usually reproduce at an alarming rate. At the moment it might just be a mouse or two, but if left alone, we could walk into a room that is crowded out by these little creatures. So please don't judge to harshly !

But now for the hard part. It is not easy to catch these little speedsters. As small as they are, they are thoroughbred racers. We decided to use the manual traps, that everyone says work best. You dangle a piece of ham or cheese and hope it works.

It sounds easy, but the little fellows are clever enough to just pull the food off without setting off the trap. It is true, I watched one do it ! In fact some of the mice in our house have grown in girth and seem to be laughing at our attempts, yet nibbling up all the ham & cheese !

The other night, while sleeping in front of the TV ( eternal insomniac ) I caught three mice using the trap. Just to make sure that there were no more, I set the trap again. When I looked in the morning, the bait was gone, but no mouse...

It seems, by the number of mice, that some of them have been doing the Mattress Tango.... If only our cat Tigger wasn't so shy and feral, we could leave her inside the house for a night or two ! But of course we feed her like mad and she is looking decidedly hefty, in fact so hefty that I cannot see her running after those little speeding bullets !


Sometimes the cheese works yet often a piece of ham is preferred.( After researching online, I think we will use one of those above, humane, traps in the future ).

Friday, 21 December 2012

Pictures Of Our Friends Visiting..

It was like a Christmas Present for us.

Emigrating or Immigrating takes a lot of courage and good cheer. One of the main things that happens, is that you leave your family and friends behind.

Wonderfully for us, a few of our friends ( and family of course ) have taken the time, effort and money to come and see where we live...even twice. Bob and I are so chuffed knowing that they like us and our corner of Burgenland enough to visit more than once ! Here are a few moments captured on camera of the last visit...

Ok, this is Bob, a very proud Bob, with his first
bottle of " self-made " Schnapps using peaches
from our garden.

Having a bite to eat with our friends from South Africa.

Our friends from London ( via S.A. and New Zealand ) together with the S.A. ones...Great breakfast !

Can you tell that he is originally from South Africa ? Jeezalou, put on some shoes...!

Well, at least he is trying to warm up his feet....but really, barefoot in the snow ? That sounds like one of those fables my parents used to tell me...

Just to finish it up, a picture taken from our bedroom, showing the morning arrive, and snow with it...


Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Day After December 21, 2012

Friday is the start of the Good Times !

The doomsday planners are most likely either having their last treat, spending a night in the South African Drakensberg or doing both. I would love to know, if they have been selling up, these last few month and using the proceeds to have an ball...resigning, travelling, ditching the diet and spending all their dosh ?

Now I, believe just the opposite from the doomsayers. For me, after this December 21st, the good times arrive. All the horrible stuff that some, all or a few have been through, will stop. Collectively the world will be a more positive place and thus result in most of us having a more positive life experience.

I am sure that we all have often heard the expression, " It's always darkest before dawn " of my favourites by the way. Well I think, that from Saturday the dawn is here. A few of you will label me as a ' Pollyanna ', but deep down you wonder and hope that I am right.

When you think, you ink. Thought moves mountains and all that collective positive group think around the world, will actually result in a lot of those positive thoughts becoming reality.

At least, that is my take on life. But in the meantime, all the hotels, timeshares and campgrounds in the Drakensberg have started their good times already. They must have been booked out for months, after people watched the movie " 2012 "


Yippee...the start of even better times ahead !

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Four Days Until Christmas...

The excitement & anticipation grows.

It is unbelievable how fast Christmas has come around this year. It seems like just yesterday we were sweltering in the summer heat and now we are shivering and preparing for our Christmas. The hive of activity all around is amazing and there is a tangible feeling of excitement in the air !

The children of course are turbo charged with anticipation for what is under their trees. The younger ones have been designing and writing their ' wish-list letter ' to Santa for the last few month. Those who are more realistic, anticipated all kind of problems and have crafted two or more letters to Santa...the postman could loose one ! Or maybe just to make sure that they get what they want. Gosh, that is parental pressure for you.

Here in our part of Burgenland, it is tradition to have a selection of sweet & yummy biscuits in the house. It is called " Mehlspeise " and most women bake long hours, to have them for this festive season. Of course they can be bought at the bakeries as well.

We have a few good bakeries in the area, who sell Mehlspeise by the pound and probably make tons of it. Apparently, I heard in gym class last night, they have had such a demand for Mehlspeise, that they have closed early on some days ( sold out, but they make more each night )...Wow, business is blooming and a few ladies will have to make their own Mehlspeise ( This writer as well, because as soon as Bob reads this, he will want to have some ).

The programming on the various TV stations has been nice as well. This week there have been plenty of Christmas-movies. Heartwarming and definitely feel good fare. Bob of course rolls his eyes and calls them ' Schmalzy ' and pretends to suffer through them...please believe me, he likes watching them as much as I do, and has been known to shed a tear or two !

The week before Christmas...just fabulous. It also gives us time to haul out the stretchy-waist pants, because we all know that we will do justice to all the delectables that go hand-in-hand with Christmas !


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

What A Husband !

Do you sometimes compare your spouse to others ?

These last two weeks we have had four good friends staying with us. Two couples, and not at the same time. It is only when people stay overnight, that you get a glimpse of their daily routine.

Out of all of us, I was always the first to get up, even sometimes beating the chickens, or rather the rooster next door. Habit, routine or just genetic predisposition, regardless of what time I fall asleep, I normally wake up at the crack of dawn. So sitting in the lounge, I got to observe the different " waking up " patterns. Granted they were all on holiday.

Routine being so ingrained, I witnessed an interesting thing. The men got up before their ladies
( and by quite some time ), said their 'Good Mornings ' and headed for the kitchen, to get a cup of coffee....and brought it to their ladies bedside ! Coffee in bed, what a novelty.

Jokingly I pointed this out to Bob. His response was, " There is no way that I will get up earlier than you, to make you coffee. Forget it ". Good point and to be fair, I am too fussy with how I like my coffee, anyway. Though I hope, that both of my friends appreciate getting coffee brought to their bed.

The other day, when the chips were really down, Bob ( my treasure ) was there ! It being winter and cold, I had a few days of not feeling so great. Bob made me copious cups of tea and even made me my favourite soup. You know, the soup that my mum always used to make me, when I wasn't feeling well. When he asked me what I wanted, I just croaked out the name of the soup, and dozed off again.

Bob then phoned my Mum and asked her how to make this ' get well ' soup. My Mum, apparently, was so taken by the fact that Bob would make this soup for me ( in my time of need...where are the violins ? ), that I think Bob scored a million Brownie points as a son-in-law, and a gazillion as a husband !

It just goes to show, that every husband / partner, has his own individual strong points and as the saying goes : You can't compare apples and oranges...
As a matter of interest, how many of you get coffee brought to you in bed ?


Apart from looking after me when I am not well, he takes out the this funny blog story.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Remember The Excitement You Had About Christmas, When You Were Young...

A timely reminder for myself !

On Saturday, I was shooting the breeze with my young nephew. Due to the fact that our family is tri-continental, it was unfortunately via Skype. Regardless, we had a chat. Being only five and cute as a button, didn't stop him from wielding the iPad like a seasoned adult.

He made sure that I would get a prime viewing slot, while he showed me a few of his favourite toys. Unbelievable ( well not really, as he is a sharp cookie ) how he always got his whole head into the screen. Even at my age, I still have to adjust the camera, or move the chair somewhat in order to have my whole head on the screen... each time I Skype ! Don't let me get started on how well he plays Angry Birds ( Angry Bird Star Wars ). In fact he patiently taught me, a really old adult ( in his eyes ), how to play it and on an iPhone. That was last year, when he was still a young four...

So, here we were, having a chat albeit a short one as he was going over to his friends house. We, of course, covered the important topics in that short and toys. While he was telling me about something, he suddenly stopped and said to me,
" Nine more days, Auntie Birgit ". Being an adult, I didn't catch on and stupidly still had to ask,
" What is happening in nine days ? " Well, ask a stupid question....
" It's ( he has a slight Danish-English accent and ' its's ' sounded so cute ) Christmas in
nine day !!"

When did this happen to me. I mean, when did I forget that wonderful and unbearably exciting feeling of counting down the sleeps until Christmas ? Thinking about it now, brings back those fantastic memories. How great were those last few weeks before Christmas, you know, when as a family we did more " Christsmassy " things. Baking cookies, decorating the Christmas tree and singing holiday songs.

Who still remembers rushing to the window each morning to check if it had snowed ? I somewhat recall the few times, that I would sneak up to our Christmas tree ( we still had chocolate dangling bits as decoration ) and pilfer an ornament. That only got noticeable after I had picked of all the ones on the back of the tree and thus I had to risk the front ornaments !

Talking to my nephew was a necessary and timely reminder, about what is important in this last week before Christmas. Well, Sam, " Thank You ".


Snow in the Weinberg.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Men Can Be " Cheeky " So & So's At Times !

But what would we do without them ?

At the moment, Skiing is the dominant sport on TV and Bob and I love watching the different disciplines. When you live in the southern hemisphere, you don't see any of it ( usually cricket and rugby, with soccer interspersed are the sport to watch there ), but believe me, it is a world class professional sport.

All the skiers are fit, with their bodies trained to professional athletic perfection. Well, when the skiers are at the starting gate, the camera usually shows a shot of them, from behind. Now, you have got to realize that they are usually only dressed in what can be described as a " Cat-suit ". Wind resistance and speed are the most vital things to achieve.

These ladies start each race in a semi-squat position and the camera loves showing them from behind. Look, it is not the most flattering angle and notoriously the camera is known to add a few pounds. So one of our friends from S.A. was watching this and was totally transfixed. The view of these scantily clad ladies skiing downhill in the snow, at speeds of about 100 kilometers per hour, was mind-boggling to him !

Now, as he stood there watching this, Bob and he had this little exchange :
" Alan, isn't it amazing how cool these girls look...great gear !"
" Gee, I could get used to watching this. Ladies doing a sport in skin tight outfits..."
So far so good, but...
" Alan, look when they start, don't you think that they have a huge backside ? "
" Ja, now that you mention it."

Cheeky So & So's ! Anyone squatting and being filmed from behind, might not look so slim. But these girls are trained through and through. How must we mere " homebodies " feel. Next time I ask Bob " Schatzi, does this make my bum look big ", I won't believe his standard reply of,
" Of course not "!


Saturday, 15 December 2012

Burgenland...Easy To Get To.

Visitors Galore....Yipee !

Since moving to Burgenland, we have been blessed by an abundance of friends and family coming to visit us. Wonderful. Mostly they want to see us, and where we have moved to, but I think the lure of Burgenland is also a major draw !

Living in South-Africa was super, but you tend to forget how long and expensive the trip to and from it are. One can't just " pop " over for the weekend. Well living here has been a revelation for me. Friends from London, are able to " pop " over for a weekend without breaking the bank. Again it takes time for me to get used to being in the middle of Europe.

Of course, before the iron curtain came down, Burgenland was at the " bottom " of Europe and almost forgotten by all. Yet now, Burgenland is in the middle of Europe and the " In " place to visit.

Our friends from London were here in August, sweltering yet having fun. As usual, we took them to one of the traditional local Buschenschanks. I wasn't sure if they would enjoy it, coming from sophisticated London. Well I was pleasantly surprised.

They loved the Buschenschank and the local wines so much, that when they told us they were coming this weekend, they only wanted to go to one of the Buschenschanks. Wow, I know Bob and I love our area and traditions, but to hear Londoner's liking them too....!

This weekend, we have two sets of friends that we know from South-Africa visiting. It makes me realize how special they are, to visit us and the fact that they both are here for the second time ( since Bob and I moved here ), makes them even more special. Of course they also all enjoy visiting our stunning part of Burgenland !


The countryside and its wonderful colour scheme, with vines in the front...

Winter adds a special allure to the vines...

Friday, 14 December 2012

The Challenge Of Keeping Your House Warm In Winter.

Almost as important as keeping yourself warm...

Winters are fabulous and I love them, but I have to be honest and say that it does have its little challenges. Warmth being the main one.

This last week we have been dipping into the minus degrees and even though we have sunshine almost daily, the ground and air are still rather icy. Luckily our old farmhouse has walls at least 60cm thick. In the olden days they knew how to build to suit the elements. There are only two small ( toilet ) windows facing the ' colder wind ' side, and the other, window side gets a huge amount of sunlight. Our thick walls, somehow makes the warmth linger longer in winter, and the cool the same in summer.

We have a wood burning pellet stove ( pellet ofen / ), that makes it easy for us. Once a day, we put a packet of those little pellets ( they look like horse feed ) into the stove and that heats us for the day. Of course we don't heat continuously, trying to save a bit of dosh. When the pellet stove is off, boy does one feel the cold. Look, it is an opportunity to wear all of our winter clothes at once !

I have been wondering this whole week, how the older generations managed to survive their
winter ? They did not have all of our modern contraptions, to help during winter. Plain building materials, no special thermal clothing and mostly only a wood burning stove in the kitchen. Can you imagine, every time you want to make yourself a cup of coffee, that you would have to make a fire in your stove to boil water ? On top of everything else, it is not so easy to get a fire going...
I tried it last winter, but did not get the hang of it.

Has our generation become accustomed to this, lets face it, luxurious and easy lifestyle ? We just flick a switch and the water boils, or the heater works. Would we even know how to survive the lifestyle of 50 or 100 years ago ? Imagine having to go outside to your " Outhouse "( check out my blogstory & pictures on Outhouses in our area ) in winter, instead of just walking down the passage, to do your ' business ' !

I, for one, am so grateful that managing a winter, is so much easier and more comfortable than it was in the past.


Thursday, 13 December 2012

A Good Snow Fight.

Yet another fun thing to do in winter...

We have been having a bit of a cold spell, with the temperatures hovering on the wrong side of zero. Look, a winter must be cold. Of course warm clothes are a prerequisite.

Well, not for everyone. Friends of ours are here for a few weeks from South-Africa, and they came equipped for winter - a South-African one. Just throwing a jacket over, doesn't help here. The proper gear is needed...long johns and other unflattering, passion killer stuff ! But they have gamely taken it in their stride, with a smile to boot.

One of our English groups was here yesterday afternoon, and it was decided to have a little snow fight. Bob, being the adult, brave and silly, suggested that he would be one team and the three of them, another team. He should have known better. These boys have home advantage. They have been having snowball fights before they could even speak !

With glee, they agreed. Watching from a safe distance and taking photos was as much involvement I could muster, in this cold. It was fun to watch Bob get a barrage of snowballs from all directions. The boys let out a collective cheer, everytime Bob got hit. You know what boys are like. I think that Bob got one or two ' bulls eyes ' but he was no match for the boys. The shrieks of laughter and fun could be heard, and I am sure that when it snows in the future, Bob will be doing a snow fight...

Burgenland, a great place to live in...


Launching a good one.

Trying to dodge the snowballs is not as easy as it looks !

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Wondering What To Get For Christmas ?

Follow the trend of simplicity.

Buying or rather choosing a present for children, grandchildren or young ones in general, can be a daunting task and surrounded by pitfalls. Astonishingly, a present is nowadays something prearranged between parents and often even the children themselves !

The element of genuine surprise has long been missing ( not in every case, of course ) and with it, some of the joy of giving. Finding something that would be ' oohed & aahed ', was the name of the game, at least for me.

I think it is time to re-discover this way of giving gifts. Buy a gift that they would really not expect. The new genre that covers this element of surprise, is Arts & Crafts. Reacquaint the younger generation with the fun and joy of making an item by hand. No electricity needed and even possible by candle-light ( perfect for power cuts ) !

When did you last buy a present for the younger ones, that you could actually do ? Most of those computer gadgets are beyond the capabilities of us, the " BeeGee " generation. Imagine giving a present, that you could do with them or even show them how to do it. This is an opportunity to be revered by the younger ones, because you can knit, sew or paint.

For me, knitting is one of the most fabulous hobbies to have. It is creative and fun to do, and gives you a chance to be in the moment. I showed one of the girls in our ' English Conversation class ' my knitting and just mentioned that I would show her if she wanted to. Well, the next lesson, she asked me to knit with her. Wow, it was nice to see the interest and determination in her.

Knitting, crocheting and needlepoint is coming back in trend. There are scores of famous actresses and singers who have been bitten by the knitting bug and there are even coffee shops geared for knitters. Wow...

Apart from all this, it is just amazing what kind of wool one can get. The age of only having a choice of two colors or wool is long gone. Shopping in a wool shop, online or real, is wonderful for the soul, and I recommend it for all. Try it out, for yourself or to get a present for a new ' convert '...


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

There Really Is Only One Thing Better Than D.I.Y Work...

...Watching someone else do it !

Friends of ours have been busy doing lots of D.I.Y. You know, things like stripping wall paper, painting walls and laying laminate floors. Exciting stuff to watch !

To be fair, Bob and I did help with a few minor things, but somehow it turned into more of a ' spectator sport '. Like any decent sports fan, we cheered on our team, brought refreshments ( but not so much as to make them have a nap after eating ), and gave our, I am sure, much appreciated arm-chair comments.

To appease our guilt, we will get a chance to strip a wall-papered room all by ourselves. Deservedly it is the kitchen, with many nooks and crannies. Could this be instant Karma ?

Joking aside, there wasn't too much for us to help with while they were painting etc. But it still is great to watch someone do the D.I.Y. building work. Once you have done this back-breaking work
( laying floors, stripping plaster or wallpaper, painting never ending walls ) yourself, you instinctively know the signals of ' oh my gosh, will this ever end ' that they emit ! Wondering whether your fingers will stop working before going home , or if they'll give up their will to function as they get home...

They've both done full days of building stuff, and have always got to our home exhausted, covered in paint and unable to jump up quickly from a chair or couch. All their muscles and bones have been exercised.

Yet, as tired as they were, while they relaxed with a few glasses of our delectable Burgenland wine, I could see that feeling of satisfaction and pride in them. They have achieved something tangible and worthwhile. This is what makes it so satisfying, knowing you did it yourself....


We even had our own viewing section...

You can just imagine what goes through her mind...

Monday, 10 December 2012

The World, What A Wonderful Place !

Signposts of Knowledge are everywhere.

At times it seems that there just isn't enough time to experience and see all the different attractions around the world. Even just the things I find interesting.

Gosh, going to Art Museums and catching glimpses of our collective past must be one of the most interesting activity to do. Watching a program on Leonardo Da Vinci and the discovery of one of his paintings, put it all in perspective for me, or rather made ' another penny drop ' ...

As a norm, we tend to laugh at how old fashioned people were, twenty, thirty or fifty years ago. Never mind going back centuries. Don't we somehow feel pity for the people who lived in the middle ages or thereabouts. What could they possibly teach us ? We are the 'it ' generation who knows it least it would seem so to others.

Yes, there was no vision, thought or even need of all those modern inventions that we all seem to not be able to live without, but what if we could actually learn from the likes of Da Vinci....who lived in the fifteenth century ?

Could there be lots of other " Teachers of Life " out there in the past, who we somehow just shrugged off because we assumed that they couldn't have known what is important to our generation ?

Now with all the economic problems around the world, is the Universe possibly pulling its invisible strings, to make us sit up and take notice of what is important after all ? Yes, there are a lot of people in dire straits, yet this whole economic problem is forcing us to reconnect with our families. Either through moving back home, or to just leaning on them in times of need.

All the huge leaps we have taken with technological capabilities are great, yet they have made us fragment as families, and lets face it, families are what is important. It is our family that gives us that feeling and knowledge that we can cope with anything...


Sunday, 9 December 2012

Waking Up To Snow...

What is more romantic than that ?

Having lived over thirty years without it, I now love every little flake that falls. Isn't it amazing that every snowflake has an individual shape ?

Waking up in the morning and espying that first glimmer of white through the window, is eternally magical and somehow reminds one of Christmas, Gluewein and Carols. Naturally I realize that there are a few negatives to snow...

  • wet shoes and trousers
  • scraping the ice and snow of the car, before driving anywhere
  • a muddy and wet entrance hall ( extra cleaning )
  • undignified falls while wading through the snow
being some of them !

But these few points are easily outweighed by some of the following :

  • building a snowman
  • hearing the crunch of snow under your feet, as you go for a walk
  • a chance to show off all your ' snow-gear '
  • having snowball fights
  • going skiing, skating, or simply sledding down the nearest hill
  • of course the best is, knowing that Christmas is not far off...

What do you do, when it snows ? Let me know...


How great is this ?

Driving can be hazardous !

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Getting Older And Developing Pecularities..

Is Forty the start of it ?

We all have our little traits, you know those kind of traits that drive your spouse mad...and not with desire ! But when do we start to display them ?

In my twenties, it did not matter to me, how I drank my coffee. Well, now, I need to always have a white cup to drink it, you know, the cup must be white on the inside ! I have been known to go to a different coffee shop, because they did not have the right cups... That is a small one. Hopefully the big one, the one that drives Bob dilly, is done by others too.

When I go anywhere, I have to do an elaborate check of all the appliances in the house, making sure that they are off. Of course, sometimes I get sidetracked by something and I start again. What drives Bob crazy, is the fact that he is usually in the car ( hooting or revving impatiently ) and ready to go. When are men going to realize that we women automatically switch to a slower gear, the minute we hear impatient hooting or shouting !

The funny thing is that I know, that I have developed these ' getting older ' traits. At times I even have a good laugh at myself, yet wondering if I am the only one with strange habits. Well, good news for me...I found a compatriot !

Friends from South Africa have come to visit and stay with us for a week or so. We look so forward to friends and family visiting, that we are at times giddy with delight. As one usually does, I chatted to my friend, while she undid her suitcase to give us a few presents.

Well... have you ever...! My friend, in her wisdom has packed several cans of Tuna in her luggage. Yes Tuna ! Like me with my white cups, she likes a certain brand of tuna. As we are both almost the same age, I can only conclude that these strange ( yet perfectly logical to us ) pecularities are a normal sign of entering your forties...

What are your particular habits that drive others mad ?


Friday, 7 December 2012

St. Nicolas Comes To Visit The School...

...and the kids excitement was enchanting.

These last two weeks, the kids could only talk about the arrival of St. Nicolas and his ' companion ' Krampus. St. Nicolas is the good one, and Krampus is the one that runs after you with a stick, should you have been naughty. Obviously it is only a symbolic figure, yet it still has the kids a little bit worried !

Those few weeks before St. Nicolas' arrival, parents all over the world have that bit of extra leverage, to get good behaviour out of their children. " Wait, Krampus is coming to visit you " is rather effective on the little ones ( I know that I can dimly remember the fear of Krampus ).

Yesterday, being St. Nicolas day, the local school had a function and we were invited. It was too cute, seeing the children perform the different Christmas songs. The parents were so proud and all you could see was the flash of pictures being taken ( us as well ).

Bob and I were hovering at the door, and suddenly we saw St. Nicolas standing behind us. He was laden with a bag full of presents and on his way to the children. Someone knocked hard on the door and announced him. Gosh, the look on the children's faces was priceless. Awe, excitement and for a few a bit of fear, in case Krampus was behind him !

The teacher called up the individual children, whilst at the same time telling St. Nicolas, how well behaved they have been during the year. It was the cutest thing to watch. Each one got a present, which looked like a much liked " goody bag " of sweets.

When the ceremony was over, the children all ran outside, ready to play. Most of the kids greeted Bob and I ( in English ). One boy ( he had seen us standing at the door earlier ), did a fleeting ' hello ' as he came running past me. When he got to Bob, he stopped and said to Bob, " Hello Bob, I want you to have my Goody bag "...well, Bob was floored, speechless and chuffed beyond words.


I only caught the back of St. Nicolas

The children performing songs, while waiting for St. Nicolas

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Chocolate & Quiz...

The perfect combination ?

It did not take long, for Bob to start some kind of Quiz round, here in Burgenland. As his German is not in the league of " Quiz Master " yet, he did the next best English one !

Of course, the English one is actually for the older group of kids, that we have for English Conversation. The quiz itself is just a round of maybe ten words to translate into English, but Bob organized teams. The duty of scoring the hits and misses came to rest upon my shoulders..neutral like Switzerland ! But the kids like it.

At the moment, there is still the general confusion, as to whose question it was. Sometimes the answer gets shouted out in great excitement with no regard to the team. Great to see that they are getting better and better in English. From my side the work was not so easy. Every point that was scored ( or not ), one of the boys would run over to my side to watch where I put the tick. In fact they had memorized who had what, and were still double checking me.

It is amazing to realize just how clever children are, when they want to be. Bob had introduced chocolate for the winning team. The first few times, I bought the first chocolate that I saw, with no brand loyalty. No complaints yet.

Last week, I discovered Milka bars, with a sticker on it showing the chance to win Euro 1111. Never one to pass up a chance, I bought two. Before the boys arrived, I opened one bar, to see how the competition worked and also whether I had won.( NOT )
When Bob gave the other bar as a prize, I explained to the boys how special this bar of chocolate was. In fact, I made them open the wrapper and showed them where they had to look, in case they had won something...also not !

They seemed excited about this but, I thought, not overly so. Well, was I wrong. Yesterday, when Bob was handing out chocolate ( the shop did not have more of those ) to the various winners, we got a definite feedback.

The general response to getting a prize of chocolate was rather lukewarm. I even had a few questions, " Can you also win Euro 1111 with this ? "
" Where did you buy the other chocolate "
" Can you buy more of the other one ? " This is obviously something that parents the world over know already, and Bob and I just learned. Kids never forget a thing and we had better find some more of these Milka Bars...


Amazon U.S.A. World's Best Milka Chocolate - Alpine Milk, 10 Bars

Amazon U.K.Milka Alpine Milk Chocolate Bar 100 g (Pack of 22)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Have You Written Your Gift / Wish-List For Christmas ?

The Pressure of choosing the perfect gift !

In case you have missed it, the Holidays are approaching at break-neck speed. The shopkeepers have done a mostly successful job, displaying all those big and small reminders around and in their shops. The choices are often overwhelming, resulting in, " Oh, this is cute "..." this is perfect for ..." throughout the shop. What to buy ?

This is where the wish-list is so ingenious. Surely the children invented it ? When you are young, you know what you want and you are not really interested in a compromise. I think that explains all those news reports of desperate parents queuing up outside Toy Stores, and then being involved in ardent battles over the last toy on the shelve. Of course, children are a wily lot. To ensure that " Father Christmas " gets the message, they sometimes post more than one letter ! Oh, the parental pressures...

What about your own wish-list, to your spouse ? Parents are luckily off the hook when we reach advanced adult age ! They can buy you what they think is appropriate for you. No more wish-list demands on them.

Just from observing life, it seems to me, that husbands always come off second best when it comes to receiving gifts. Women somehow tend to get wonderful bits of Jewellery ( mostly due to our blatant and frequent hints ), expensive perfume, trips to the Spa ( eh..Hello Bob, there is an idea ) and oh the list is endless.

So what do the men get ? The eternal favourite on all Holidays ( Father's Day included ) are :

  • Socks...granted, with a funky design
  • Ties...again with same funky design
  • A Tool for his garage...lest he gets bored of watching TV in his spare time !
  • An item of clothing that he won't actually wear, because we chose it according to our own taste.
  • Of course let us not forget this one : The new underwear we give, hoping we can pry away his favourite pair of ' old & faded ' undies...

Well, I can only say, " Men, start writing your own wish-list."
The canny ones will include lots of expensive gift ideas, interspersed with inexpensive
( that we can give ) gifts....such as gift certificate for ' alone time '...


Amazon UK :Gifts for Men - Man Tin - leads, screws & other pointless stuff I must keep - ideal gift for him

Amazon USA : Flingshot Slingshot Flying Screaming Monkey

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

One Sentence Can Make All The Difference !

Learning a new language is not always easy.

As you know, once a week, Bob and I are having English conversation classes with the local children. We don't teach them per say, but just speak with them, and only in English. It sounds deceptively easy... Yet it is not.

Imagine that you had to explain the rules of a new game to your little child, but all in French / Russian / Danish, a language that they do not know or understand ! Of course at the same time, you need to keep their attention focused on a task that they are not quite sure how to do.
One of the important points is that we don't speak any German with the children but the use of mimics and gestures is invaluable at times.

Each week, we do a lot of the same things, with a little new ' bit ' thrown in. We all like to have a feeling of success in our lives, and Bob and I think, that by doing a few games over and over, the children will start to understand and most importantly have a sense of personal achievement, when they do. It would not be nice, if each week we play and speak a whole new lot of English, which they would not understand.

It always amazes me, how intelligent the children are and we never underestimate them ! Just playing a game of Bingo ( Kids version ) with them yesterday, it was great to hear them start to use the odd English word in their conversations. They did not realize that they were doing it... Of course, they are highly amused by their names being pronounced the English way !

Let's get back to the sentence, that started me along this train of thought. As we were finishing off yesterday, I asked the children to help put the cards away. One of the girls turned to me and said, " This sentence I don't understand. "
Wow, I was pleased as punch. She sort of told me, with that little sentence, that she normally understands what I say, but only this time she didn't !

It was a great feedback to get. Like anything else worthwhile, it takes time to do it properly. At the moment, most of the parents will hear a lot of ' Hello, yes, no and various colours ' repeated at home. Don't despair, soon it will progress to, " Mum, please will you buy a toy for me ".


Monday, 3 December 2012

Handwritten Correspondence.

Are you still writing by hand ?

First off, I am guilty of having neglected the art of Penmanship. You know, writing anything by hand and by yourself. There is no excuse for it, as I was still taught to write letters and cards by hand.

Of course, there are various types of handwriting styles :

  1. Cursive
  2. Calligraphy
  3. Plain - jane...nothing fancy
  4. Hard to decipher...just ask any pharmacist !

Looking through Amazon for gift ideas, I discovered this interesting and ' historical ' section... Entertainment Collectibles. Here is an item from the ' Correspondence ' section : Thomas Jefferson Handwritten Signed Letter There I noticed an amazing fact. Letters written by hand
( obviously signed by the writer ) are selling at enormous prices. Some of the documents on sale, are important contracts and / or of historical interest, but most of them just let you get an insight into how the ordinary part of a life was conducted by extraordinary ( famous ) people.

Are these handwritten letters ( Martha Washington writes to her niece about her impending marriage to Tobias Lear. ) and cards as valuable as they are, as they are handwritten, or would they be just as valuable if they were typed ? In this new-age of ours, everything is electronic. Emails abound and are easy to write. No tippex or whiteout is needed. Yes, do you remember how annoying it was, when you made a big spelling mistake in a letter, and had to write it again ? The good old days...

Last but not least, is that little matter of writing a letter, without abbreviating words or phrases. In the good old days it was called " longhand ". That should be re-introduced as a school subject. Most of the modern " Text / Message " creators, only use various letters and numbers followed by a fullstop, to write a message. If you are not initiated into this language, and I am not, it gets very confusing to configure the simple endings of most missives...LoL...? Does this denote :

  1. Lots of Love
  2. or
  3. Lots of Laughter
  4. or
  5. Possibly a third meaning I don't know about ?

Wouldn't it be funny ( or ingenious ) if they brought out Smart Phones, that only let you text using proper words and sentence structures. Smart Phones, that make a loud beep, if you misspell ? Have you ever tried to write your text messages using proper English words without acronyms or abbreviations ? Why don't you try it for today...


Sunday, 2 December 2012

Village Christmas Fete.

Coffee, Songs and Advent's Kranz...

All the hard work by the Village Elves, culminated in the ' Fete ' day, that was held yesterday. We displayed all our wares and waited for the crowds to arrive. No disappointment fact we were already selling the Christmas-Kranz ( wreath ) before the doors officially opened. When you are good, you are good !

My job for the Fete was to help man the till. Great job, as I got to meet and see most people. This year I graduated from just getting the odd nod here or there, to folks coming over to speak to me. That was the nicest thing to me. Often we don't understand, that it is just as hard for other people to speak with us as it is or us to speak with them !

Bob, when he came in with me, was instantly seconded to a candle lighter. He was rather pleased to be included and happy that his job was a once off '15 min ' thing ! So the rest of the afternoon saw him flitting between my station and his table ( where the wine was waiting ).

Bob was also ' shooting the breeze ' with a lot of people and most importantly was having a good time. At one point, while he was sitting at his table ( front row ), a lot of the kids, who come to our English class, stopped and loudly chorused ( in English ), " Hello Bob, how are you ? ".
Well, Bob told me, he was chuffed that they remembered, but also slightly embarrassed by the fact that most people turned and had a little chuckle...

The local, yet rather famous, choir performed a few Christmas carols. They have such great harmony, that just listening to their performance lifts your spirits and has you humming along. They always elicit an ' encore ', and rightly so.

A lot of our friends and family, living in the different Metropolis Cities across the world, often wonder how we manage in such a small village and most importantly if we have any type of entertainment...Well, life in this small village is fabulous, at times hectic but never boring. I think that there are actually more parties and functions here, than in the big cities ! But the dot on the
" i " is pure and simple... when you go to parties and functions, you always know someone or someone knows you...


Cakes are always a hit.

The hall is looking good with it's X-mas decoration and is filling up.

At the till...

The wonderful choir..." Like a Rainbow "

A few of the local kids performing a song.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Decorating The Christmas Wreath.

It is not that difficult.

Granted, my last thirty Christmas's were celebrated in hot and blistering weather with Father Christmas still sporting a beard yet being sporty in shorts ( some daring ones even in swimming trunks ). Lounging around the swimming pool after scrumptious X-Mas lunches really only left enough energy to admire the various X-Mas Decorations.

Until I moved here last year, I had never even thought of trying to make X-Mas things myself. Once I helped with it, some distant memories of doing craft at Kindergarten resurfaced. Along with it came the anticipation of Christmas. The one with snow, Gluehwein, a tree full of presents and a sighting of Father Christmas's red pants !

This whole week, our Community center has turned into command central for the Village X-mas elves...yes, us. It sounds like a lot of work, but it's a great week of camaraderie, meeting people and just having a jolly good time. After having helped the first day with making the wreath base, I helped a few mornings decorating a few of them.

Creativity is not one of my strengths, but they made it look so easy. There was no pressure as we could do up the wreath mainly to our own taste. Obviously there were a few guidelines, to avoid some of the wreath looking like " Oh my God, what happened here " and running the risk of being left on the sales shelf..

Doing it step by step was a life safer for me. Putting candles, then bows and finally gluing various ornaments to match the colour - schemes. The work was not without ' danger ' as there were lots of spiky things and a hot glue gun.

The latter had it in for me. It seems stupid to be caught out by it, but throughout the mornings I had small, rather insignificant, yet decidedly ' Ouch ' encounters with the glue gun, culminating in ' branding ' myself on my finger. I am convinced that I could almost hear the sizzle, just like when the cows get branded. My own fault, as I was most likely chatting and not watching where the hot glue was getting stuck finger !

After seeing the battle scars of the seasoned decorators, I felt a little bit less stupid. At next years event I will be a whiz with the hot glue gun and hopefully also with everything else. Life is just dandy, here in our part of Burgenland...


My 'Green ' theme...

One morning's work...the three that are on the black bag.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Songs That Instantly Put A Spring In Your Step...

...and make you happy !

There are certain songs, that just transcend the different fashions of ' Current ' hits and morph into those elusive ' Classic ' hits. Immaterial of whether you like Pop / Rock / Alternative / Jazz / Classical music, when you hear these songs, the reaction is mostly the same.

Your foot starts tapping to the beat, you start to sing along because you " mysteriously " know the words and should you be driving when it unexpectedly plays on the radio, somehow you automatically drive a bit faster ( possibly a side-effect of the tapping foot ). Of course turning up the volume is a given. Personally, I try to have the windows up, as I tend to sing along at the top of my lungs !

Here are a few of my favourite " classic " hits, that automatically put me into a fantastic good mood and tilt my world into it's proper setting !

  1. Bee Gees....Staying Alive
  2. ABBA....Dancing Queen
  3. Frank Sinatra...New York, New York
  4. Katrina & The Waves...Walking on Sunshine
  5. Empire of the Sun...We Are the People
  6. Boo Radleys...Wake up Boo
  7. The Carpenters...Please Mr. Postman
  8. Barbra Streisand...I Finally Found Someone ( duet with Bryan Adams )
  9. Beatles...Can't buy me love

There are many more out there. Let me know if you also like some of my choices, or tell me some of yours.


Thursday, 29 November 2012

A Clean House For Christmas...

Spring cleaning for Christmas ?

Just before our weekly exercise class starts, we engage in the usual chit-chat. Actually, sometimes even during class. It is fun, informative ( you know in a small village ) and easy-going. This week, it was much of the same, except for a ' casual ' question aimed at me.

" Have you started cleaning your house for Christmas ? " The question itself was innocent and harmless enough, yet it was one of those " bull's eye " comments. I felt like a deer caught in the headlamps of a car. Two lines of thought ran through my mind at lightning speed.
Nobody told me about this business of ' Christmas cleaning ' and secondly, did she have inside knowledge of our house !!!

My Mum was standing on the other side of me, but had heard the question. I could just feel that little laugh of ' Ha, didn't I tell you ' . Nonchalantly, yet jokingly I replied " I am sure, that when we get to heaven, nobody asks us whether we cleaned enough. But anyway, I do try and clean on a daily basis." She just laughed and said " That's actually true ".

Nevertheless, the next morning I attempted my version of a mini-spring clean. Bob just watched me with caution ( lest I give him tasks ) but was obliging enough to lift his feet, when I wiped the floor under the computer desk.

When we had the boys over for the English class later that day, I heard a stern, yet Bob-like, voice telling the boys " Go and get a saucer to put under the biscuit. I don't want crumbs all over the floor "...Well that was certainly popular with the boys ! ( Of course, I have yet to see Bob getting a saucer when he eats biscuits...)

Just to clarify, because I know that some of my parents will read this, our house is reasonably tidy. Of course I still have a lot of room left for improvement, before I grow into the perfect housekeeper. At the end of the day, the thing that counts the most though, is that our house is comfortable, cozy and lived in...

What I am curious about, is whether it is a common custom to spring clean at Christmas time ? What type of cleaning do you do around this time, that you don't normally do ? If you visit someone, do you really notice if the place is not " professionally " clean ? Please let me know...


Cleaning House: A Mom's Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement

Nie wieder Chaos!: So bekommen Sie Ihren Haushalt in den Griff