Friday, 31 May 2013

Should A Family Visit Equal Spring Cleaning ?

The wonderful anticipation underscored by bouts of cleaning...

Each time I make a promise to myself to keep the house tidy and clean...even just for us ! Famous last words. As usual we are only galvanized into action when we know that family is coming to stay. Not just for a meal, but for a length of time. Time to ( maybe ) have a closer look at various dust friendly, cob - webbed corners.

Oh I know that only a few visitors do take the time to look for flaws in our cleaning ability. Luckily, most visitors are just plain happy to see us and everything else is meaningless. Yet, what is it that makes us turn ( for a short time ) into clean freaks the moment we know that others are coming to stay ?

Just now a horrid thought crossed my mind. Am I ( are we ) an aberration when it comes to cleaning ? Is everyone else up to date with all that jazz ? Take us now. We've know way in advance that on such and such a day, it needs to shine...but for some unknown reason ( laziness perhaps ) we've left it to the last minute.

We still have a few hours of grace and we aim to use them to our maximum ability ! Stupid when you think about it. Gosh, in the middle of last night, I heard myself shouting at poor Bob : " Don't use this toilet. I have just cleaned it !" As you can imagine, that went over very well. " This is my toilet too and I will use it whenever I want."

Maybe I have gone a bit too far in this current bout of cleaning . But then again, men usually don't have to clean in and around ( men, why can't you aim better ? ) a toilet !!! Oh yes, spring cleaning can test your patience.

Yesterday Bob and I cleaned, rearranged and tidied up to such an extent, that both of us were almost speechless with joy. All of a sudden the chips of complacency dropped from our eyes and we had a new appreciation for our home. Bob even put on his tool belt and was drilling and putting up pictures and shelves. Wow.

" Can you believe how nice our home looks ? " or " Why didn't we do this earlier ? " or " Let's pinky swear to keep it like that all the time !" Of course this last one is rather questionable and in a way I am glad. A house needs to be lived in and it's fine to have non-perfection. At least I prefer it. As long as the first impression from our visitors is good, that is all that counts...

Yeah, now for the good stuff. We are so excited to have our family come to stay. On the off chance that family of ours are also reading this, don't worry, we gladly will undertake bouts of spring cleaning so that we can get to spend time with you.


Thursday, 30 May 2013

Our Feral Cat Rules The Roost.

An almost middle aged childless couple & their cat...stereotypical indeed !

Gosh, she could be a reincarnation of a great silent actress from the 1920's. Cats are notoriously non-talkers but for some reason our cat's mimics and gestures pack a punch and have us running to please !

Well, our Tigger has us wrapped around her little paw. More so Bob. Frankly I think she sort of cheats on us. Our delectable tidbits alone cannot account for her girth. More than likely she gets her three meals a day and all of them at different locales.

Even after more than a year of living on her property ( oh yes, she was here first ) I have yet to see an offering of sorts. You know, a mouse, bird or snake. Quite frankly she is too well fed and needs time to languish while digesting the various meals.

We used to both take turns putting out her food but somehow Bob has taken over. He talks to her and I must say, she is far less skittish with him. When we buy her cat pellets, Bob, like an enslaved parent only wants to make sure she is happy. " Oh, we can't get this flavour. She hates it and leaves it in her bowl " while all I can suggest is " Well, she'll soon get hungry enough...".

Our Tigger knows what she wants and goes for it. She realized that we are at times prone to forget her exact feeding time. No problem for her. About an hour before she cunningly sets up station across the kitchen and lounge window. Usually she manages to look pretty yet hungry at the same time. Oh yes, we comply asap...

Bob often thinks that I take too many pictures of the same thing. A while ago it was the chickens. " How many different pictures do you need to take. Once you've seen one, you've seen all ". Men don't understand. Everyone has a good and a bad angle in pictures. The trick is to take numerous shots in order to get a great result.

Yesterday afternoon, Bob whispered to me to get my camera. Lo and behold, Tigger was doing her acrobatic cleaning stint across the courtyard. " Try and get a good picture of her but for goodness sake be quiet ! "...oh yes, our Tigger apart from being cunning also has supersonic hearing. One false move and she skittles...

Bob can of course also show his strict side. He caught her meandering ( hopefully not for digestive reasons ) through our new vegetable patch. Well, he was out there like a shot, shooing her away in no uncertain terms !

Life is good.


See what I mean ?

Our cute little Tigger and her mimics... Cat Scratcher Lounge, Walnut Brown

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Fixing Up Our House The Slow Way.

It doesn't have to be perfect.

Once you learn to stop the need to impress your neighbours, friends and dare I say " countrymen " life gets so much more fun and simpler. The only person you need to impress is yourself.

We love our house. It is old but solid. The first year we were here, we worked off kilo after kilo redoing the inside. Oh yes, we really put our backs into it. Taking up old floors and digging down 60 cm is fun only on the first room ! Chiselling off old plaster on all the walls can only be described as a labour of love...

Bob and I are as snug as a bugs in our home. The outside though still needs plenty of TLC. But all in good time. Yes, our outside walls are chipped, the old pigsty ( the real one, an outbuilding ) needs a new roof, and what we eloquently call our summer kitchen needs one of those Ty Pennington specials.

Whereas the majority of folk would take a loan from their bank to do all those improvements, we are doing them a bit at a time and only as we can afford them. No need to pay hefty interest payments to appease the neighbours et al. ( A must read website:Mr Money Mustache-just read one entry ).

Yesterday was supposedly the only sunny day of this week. Never one to miss an opportunity, I announced my plans to Bob early in the morning." I want to paint the garden wall today. " to which his reply was " Why, it looks like rain and we can always do it some other time "...famous last words.

When you're married for more than a year ( or however long the honeymoon phase lasts ) you learn to read between the lines. Bob clearly did not feel like painting. Through trial and error I have learned to ignore his protests and just go ahead and do it.

Once I start a task, Bob is there within minutes helping me with only the odd mumble to be heard. But once we've finished whatever " outrageous " task I suggested, Bob is chuffed to bits with it ! In fact sometimes he makes out like it was his idea all along....


This is the kitchen and back bedroom in its raw phase ! Ah, the memories...

A case of one shovel at a time...

Our bedroom with the new concrete floor. Those days when a new floor was put in were always the best...we had to wait a few days before we could do anything else. Rest days !

It was all worth it in the end. Yet while doing the work, it seemed so far off and at times unreachable. We didn't do too bad, did we ?

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Vegetable Gardening: Join The In-Crowd...

Backyard or sustainable gardening is good for our Environment and wallet.

Apart from all the brownie points earned on my " good earth citizen " passport, it is satisfying, amazing and incredible fun. Gardening that is.

Talk about killing two birds with one stone. Getting your vegetables almost for free and saving on all those carbon emissions that are involved when buying them at the supermarket. Actually it should be three birds because digging in your garden helps you to forget your worries for a while and sometimes for good !

Once you start to think along the lines of putting a vegetable patch in your backyard, it seems as if the universe is in agreement. Everywhere you go, you get seduced with seedlings, plants, designer soils ( still mostly dung of some sort ) and even trendy gardening wear.

Flowers are the star of most gardens but why shouldn't they co-exist with their less attractive cousins, the vegetables ? In fact they would shine even more in their beauty. The shift to sustainable gardening is heading mainstream. The thought that only the poor do their own gardening has shifted. Rich and poor alike are gardening.

Once you have tasted your own homegrown vegetables you become addicted to them. Who can ever forget the taste of those vegetables ? Yes, imagine, vegetables with flavour...

Gardening is also a great physical workout. Have you ever tried to dig up soil that has a heavy root system underneath ? Even pulling out the ever present weeds takes some effort. Never mind hauling a full watering can all over the garden !

Could you imagine the positive impact it would have on our environment, if most of us grew some of the vegetables and or fruit we eat ? Just think about how much less carbon emissions would be used to transport vegetables !


The feeling of planting your first vegetable patch is second to none. This is the first day of planting.

This was taken this morning. The angle is different, but can you see how the vegetables love being here ?

Monday, 27 May 2013

It's Up To Us, How We Experience Life !

Do you practice the " glass is half full " or the " glass is half empty " way of looking at life ?

Isn't it funny how the C's ( critize and complain ) fit most of us like a glove. It feels comfortable and is what we do without giving it another thought. Be it meeting someone new, visiting someone at home or even commenting on a passing motorist and his skill ! We all do those things and I've done them as well.

But once you become aware of it, just changing your thought pattern sorts it out. Flip the switch from " glass is half empty " to " glass is half full ". Try a day of not criticizing or complaining...

When you just accept situations and people as they are ( still a learning process for me at times ) it frees up a lot of mental energy. Energy that you can use to appreciate the little things. For me it is nature.

The clouds just looked like cotton candy to me.

I felt like reaching out my hand and touching the cloud was possible.

Symbiosis is so beautiful. Vines and roses sharing an address.

A painted wine barrel outside the Bildein Village hall.

Wow, look at the wisdom of this enormous tree. What secrets does he hold and how many couples have sat underneath it ? It is outside the Bildein Church.

A simple meadow with its stunning array of colours.

A new day, new opportunities and new experiences...


Sunday, 26 May 2013

Backstage With The Local Choir.

A perfect spot to see who's who..

Last year I was an ordinary spectator sitting nice and quiet in one of the rows. Yesterday I was privileged to have several new vantage points. At one stage even the notorious Back row.

The row synonymous to crew, rebels, late comers and of course Teenagers ! Being part of the crew implies passing bottled water to the stars and keeping screaming fans off of them...No, I was part of the door keepers union. In fact my task was to garner the voluntary donation in lieu of an entry fee. Sounds easier than it is.

On the whole everyone gave generously and it didn't need a lot of persuasion from us ( at one stage there were three of us ). We at times felt like the " Trolley Dollies " from yesteryear. A lot of smiling and elegant hand gestures. " Trolley Dollies " is the term used by the older crowd. We younger lot call them Flight Attendants !

While I was standing in the" its-cool-to-be-seen-in " back row, right next to the door I was privy to an amusing side show... The choir, who were of course the main feature of the evening, outdid themselves. Beautiful, harmonious and uplifting. Alas, last night they had to limit their encore to only a few songs, as the UEFA cup final was showing straight after.

Back to my amusing side show. The two chairs in front of me were occupied by two teenage girls. They could have been mistaken for twins. Same trendy clothing, hairstyles and must have smartphones. They kind of whiled the time away in slight boredom. Towards the end of the performance, a few late comers arrived. Not just anyone, but the local youth fire brigade...
Oh yes, men in uniform !

They had taken part in some competition among Fire departments and were thus emitting a disheveled, sweaty and manly aura. Oh and of course they wore uniforms. Well, one of the girls turned to see who had come in and the rest, as they say is history.

Body posture underwent an instant transformation. An elbow was pushed into her friends ribs, on the off chance that her radar was not working. As if that ever happens. Each of them tossed their mane once or twice and I think that was a signal to ensure that they were noticed !

The boys ( or rather young men of say 18 ) played their part to perfection. As has been the case even in the caveman days of my youth, they pretended to be cool and not in the least interested. All pretense of course. The flicker of their eyes gave them away every time. Great fun to watch.

Where we ever like this or rather was I ever like this ? For one thing, my mane was a collection of curly tresses with the occasional dread-lock intertwined. Tossing it, could have hurt someone...But what struck me was how they all had one common denominator. Can you guess ?

Oh yes, they were all doing a perfect impression of a virtuoso. Watching their fingers fly over the smartphones was almost akin to watching a piano maestro ! Somehow I don't think that any teenager would ever leave home without one. I wouldn't be surprised if they were even " texting " each other while they were close enough to reach out and shake hands !


Posing for pictures is not my strong suit.

Sorry, I couldn't keep flashing the choir while trying to get a good and well lit picture. So this will have to do.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Good Neighbours & Wine: Village Living At Its Best.

A bottle store with a difference !

It's been said that wine and wine cellars are a symbol of wealth. Well, I can only tell you that our village and all the neighbouring ones are paved with gold, albeit it has a red colour !

There are the major vineyards but we also have loads of smaller ones. You know, the ones that have been in families for generations. Ones that are still operated on the old principles or as the advertising slogan would say: Handcrafted with love !

The other evening, Bob felt like some red wine. So he dressed to go shopping by putting on his sandals and proceeded to walk to our neighbour. He is one of the " Handcrafted with love " lot. Don't feel pity for Bob. It was only a walk of 200 meters ! Within minutes he came back a little bit dejected." Did you get your wine ? "
" No, there was no one at home. "
" Never mind, you can get some tomorrow ".

An hour later, while we were on Skype to his parents, I heard the a voice in the background.( For those of you who Skype, you know how loud the volume is, and for some reason we all tend to talk louder into the microphone as well ! ). " Bob, there is someone at the gate ".

" Well, don't tell me, go and open it !" Men sometimes don't understand. By now he should know that when I am in my " comfortable attire " ( not quite pyjamas but almost ) it is not for public inspection. Seeing that we were still on Skype ( where you can hear every whisper from the other party ) I tried to elegantly purvey this to him...

When Bob took the hint and went to the door, I could hear that it was our neighbour. The same one Bob had gone to for wine earlier. After some warbled conversation, Bob came back beaming, holding a bottle of wine. Jeezalou, that is service indeed !

When I said to Bob how clever it was to leave a message, he told me that he hadn't left one. In fact no one was there. One explanation only : Great minds think alike.

Our neighbour for some reason felt that Bob would love to try one of his new vintage bottles of wine. Isn't that just the bees knees...

This neighbour is caring too. When he doesn't see Bob for a few days, he will stop by to ask me if all is well with him. He is also the one who often gives us some of his home grown vegetables or freshly laid eggs and at times great advice about our gardening. He is a treasure all around.

Life in a small village is the best !


Friday, 24 May 2013

Salzstangerl, Surely You Don't Drink Wine Without One ?

A simple, honest & affordable Taste sensation.

Wine is notoriously the drink of choice for the ' lofty ' lot. But us mere ' grounded ' lot do need to have sustenance along with it. Even our good Burgenland wines need to tango with some vittles.

Our area wasn't always prosperous and women came up with delectable baked goods that required only the bare essentials. Necessity is often the mother of invention. Salzstangerl is one of them. In our area a function is never complete without it. " Wine & Salzstangerl " sounds like a good slogan to me !

My Mum's wonderful neighbour has taught her how to make them the authentic way. The village choir Like a Rainbow ( Blog story about last year's performance ) is having their yearly concert and are hosting the party along with it. As one of the members, my Mum is bringing a homemade specialty... Salzstangerl.

This is one of the things that makes moving here so special. I get a chance to do ordinary normal things with my Mum. Yesterday we did the batch of Salzstangerl at our house. Honestly, I had no idea how much work it takes. At times I spared a thought of pity for the pastry chefs who do this all day long !

The dough had risen to its perfect size, when we started to flatten it again. We had a conveyor belt system. I flattened and Mum rolled the pieces into their distinctive shape.

The line of little balls of dough awaiting their fate of being flattened seemed never ending. A great workout though. Once they were rolled and lounging on a tray, they had to rise again ( first we flattened and then we hoped that they would rise ! ).

Once they had their correct size, they were baked, a tray at a time. Ah, I wish I could convey to you the mouthwatering smells and aromas that wafted through the house. Anything baking in the oven somehow has that special something that transports us back to childhood. Never mind making us hungry.

My fabulous Mum standing proud over her homemade Salzstangerl. Baking and if you are fortunate enough to do so with your Mum, has the ability to soothe all your troubles. Baking is so grounding a hobby that it tilts your world to its right position. You should try it... Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking


Thursday, 23 May 2013

Fantastic Way To Predict The U.E.F.A. Cup Winner.

Boys and their ideas !

English class was far from easy yesterday. The boys were unsettled and restless. Oh dear, to rein them in seemed close to impossible. Nothing would interest them.

Our group was made up of four boys, a baby ( little brother of two boys in the group ) and myself. The boys are rather soccer mad and therein lay the problem. We had just had a major storm and slip sliding around the muddy fields was out of the question. Whatever I tried to keep them riveted or even awake failed miserably.

Well I thought, there are so many ways to catch a monkey and with cunning I threw out a few baits. " Are you boys going to watch the big match on Saturday ? "
The noise level dropped a bit and I got a " What match do you mean ? "
" The only important one of course. Borussia Dortmund against FC Bayern Munchen. " That did the trick. Everyone's attention was mine. Just to show them that this girl knows something about soccer, I asked " Who saw the mighty Ronaldo red carded last week ? "...Hook line and sinker !

Dortmund is my team for the match and clearly I was the only one. It almost caused a riot when I predicted the final score would be Dortmund 2, Bayern 1. Cries of " Never " and " Bayern is the only good team " were doing the rounds.

Naturally I stirred the pot a bit longer and persisted vocally that Dortmund would win. In desperation one of the boys ran to the table ( we were all huddled on the floor next to the baby ) and I saw him furiously scribbling away. Oh please let there be no tears. Ha, what was I thinking. He raced back to us with two small bits of paper in his hand.

He held it up and one had Bayern written on it, the other one Dortmund. With dexterity and ingenuity that can only stem from little bright sparks, he told us " We will let my baby brother decide. Let's put the two papers in front of him. Whichever one he grabs first will be the one winning the match. " Logic you can't argue with but bear in mind that the baby can't talk or walk yet.

Oh, the crowd was wild with excitement. The baby sitting on the floor, with those two bits of paper in front of him was all of a sudden surrounded by cheering fans egging him on to take their teams paper. The older brother shooshed them off and told them to keep quiet. Eh, I didn't think the baby understood the shouts of " take the left one."

Being a good baby brother, he picked Bayern. ( He is a baby, what does he know about soccer ! ). The boys feeling like they were on a roll and also to prove it to me in style, did the paper trick a few more times. Lo and behold, the baby went for the wrong team every time....


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

How We Beat Diabetes Within An Inch Of Its Life !

If you intend to eat healthily, please start because it works !

Three months ago we discovered that Bob has diabetes and rather severe levels as well. At the start, the doctors told us that he would take insulin ( injection and tablets ) for the rest of his life. A daunting yet rather scary wake-up call.

This is not like starting a diet on Monday or the following Friday. No, your life is at stake and you've got to grab the bull by the horns and start the very next meal. We had the added handicap of an extremely tight food budget. Challenge indeed !

You know, when there is only one way to go ( forward ), you tend to get stuck in with both hands. It is amazing how creative one gets when the money is on vacation elsewhere. One good point about diabetes is that when you go grocery shopping, you can breeze through the first temptation isle.

The big discounters make a point of herding you from the door straight into Temptation Central. Lethal when you are hungry. Seeing biscuits, chips and chocolate it takes a lot of willpower not to put them in your trolley. No more issue for us. We just waltz right passed them as they are off our menu.

From day one, we had three meals a day with Bob having a Banana mid morning and assorted nuts mid afternoon. Snacks sorted with minimal costs. It has in a way been a blessing that our budget was a bit tight, as it forced us to buy basics. We make our own pizza bases and breads using wholewheat flour. Seasonal vegetables and fruits are less than the other kind. Instead of red meats we have lots of lentils, split peas and chick peas. Bob has become a 5* porridge chef !

There are a lot of foods ready made for diabetics. Yet even they are processed. Sometimes I think that when you don't have the choice, it is much easier. We sort of stand out at the various supermarkets...our trolley is always full of the healthy stuff, that the cashiers all take notice and comment. Great conversation opener. Bob and I have discovered a new game : " look what's in their trolley ". You should try it sometime !

Bob of course had to exercise along with the new eating plan. But wow, within the first few weeks he was allowed to reduce the insulin he injected. After a month, he could leave the injections all together. He still had to take tablets for diabetes and cholesterol though.

Yesterday he got the results of his first three month check-up. They have retested everything in detail. Well, can you believe it, Bob's sugar counts have almost halved along with his cholesterol. The cholesterol tablet....gone ! The insulin one...half the dose !

Even the doctors were amazed at what Bob has achieved. Three months ago Bob was almost admitted to hospital for his extreme high levels of sugar. Now, three month later his levels are scratching on the edge of normal.

Yes I know, eating healthy is not so easy. It takes a bit more effort to prepare and a lot of discipline. But think of the good points. Weight slides off and your body can actually enjoy being a body. Not slugging along trying to discard all the rubbish you put in.

So in just three short months, Bob has turned his health around. For all those Doubting Thomas' out there : eating simple & healthily works. Just imagine what eating healthily can do for other ailments ?

Biggi Do I Eat Now?: A Step-by-Step Guide to Eating Right with Type 2 Diabetes

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Matched, Hatched & Dispatched.

Would you read your newspaper without it ?

Ask any woman older than fifty what section of the newspaper she reads first and the answer might surprise you. The smaller the community of the newspaper is, the more this seems to happen.( Men mostly grunt, cheer or lament over the back page news, so I don't include them.)

Back in South Africa I often remember hearing the more mature ladies discussing the latest news on the " Matched, Hatched & Dispatched "...or also know as " Marriage, Birth & Death ".

Being single, you might now and then take a peek at the " Matched " section, just to see who is off the menu ! Once you are married you want to see others becoming a " Mrs. " for the joy of it... or if Marriage is not all you thought it should be, you don't want to be the only stupid one !

The Birth column is cute but one wonders what some parents were thinking when they chose the name for their bundle of joy? Are some of those outlandish, dare I say freakish names a small revenge by the mother for having had a hard and painful labour ?

Sadly, years down the line you want to see if you know anyone on the dispatched list. As awful as it is to say, I am sure that in a way, one would be glad to read the list as opposed to being on the list. Reading about a person being survived by three generations makes you feel better because you know they have had a good life.

Frankly, there should be a fourth section. Right between " Hatched & Dispatched " is a space for
" Mismatched " ! They can even split that space into " Mismatched once ", " Mismatched twice " and sadly it happens " Goodness, Mismatched yet again ".

Of course the online environment has moved this " Matched, Hatched & Dispatched " up another notch. Oh yes, now you can peruse these sections of newspapers from all over the world. It is like being a nosy neighbour of the world.

Twitter is fantastic as it allows me to be the fly on the wall ! The other day, I started following the New York Times wedding announcements ( @nytimesvows ). Wow, you must read one, but don't blame me if you get hooked on them. New York does most things bigger, better and with style. Fabulous.

Each of those wedding announcements is an article in itself. It goes into detail of how the couple met, where they are from, what they now do, where they studied and with what zest ( cum laude / summma cum laude ) and finally what their parents do. It is pure pleasure to read these announcements. They have an air of Victorian glamour about them and I can tell you, once you start reading one, you read them all.

Sunday mornings, I read a few out loud to Bob just because they are such a treasure. But don't think it is all roses. The best bit is the slight irony of the writer. At the end there is always a stark line : The bride's / groom's previous marriage ended in Divorce / death...

Biggi Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner & Organizer [binder edition]: Worksheets, Checklists, Etiquette, Calendars, and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Uhudler Express: Great Way To Sight See In Burgenland.

Hot weather, ice cream and the Uhudler Express.

Hot weather and ice cream go hand in hand. A lifetime of gorging on ice cream in the summer months has conditioned us for it. You know, as soon as you hear that little bell tinkle ( the one unique to ice cream vendors ) you turn to look for the least I do !

Eberau, which is a leisurely ten minute drive from us, has a fabulous Coffee Shop that also sells delectable ice cream. It takes huge willpower not to go their daily. Oh dear, just writing about it, makes me want to savour one of their ice creams..

Eberau's village square must be one of the most romantic, scenic and idyllic ones in our part of Burgenland. We decided to get an ice cream ' to go ' and proceeded to lazily devour it under a shady tree. " What does yours taste like ? "..." Oh, its divine and oh so tasty. " I mean what more is there to talk about during these moments ?

All over sudden, the gentle reverie was upsurged by the cacophony of a choo-choo. Sort of like a greeting from Thomas the train. How intriguing indeed. Turning to see, we spotted a jolly and colourful mini-train car carrying cheerful passengers. When it stopped right in front of us, it was like a group of bees had spotted a pot of honey. People came from all directions to get a close up look.

What a grand idea. A little choo choo train ( The Uhudler Express ) to sight see. From coffee shops to vineyards. No stressing about having a glass of our delicious Burgenland wine and driving.

Can you imagine what fun a hens party would be ? One where you get to try wines from different vineyards, get a chance to ride in the Uhudler Express and have the fresh air keeping you awake...

One of the main assets of Burgenland is its beautiful scenery. The colours that nature bestowed on it are just so breathtaking. All the different shades of green intermingled with cheerful flowers and trees are an impression that resets your inner compass to its perfect setting.

Wildlife still runs around freely and with confidence. Sitting in an open choo choo train and witnessing a buck bounce around, a pheasant waddling on the field and jumbo sized rabbits hopping all over must be a once in a lifetime treat.


You can see the train circling the village green.

That really look like fun !

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Is Time Speeding Up For You As Well ?

Before you know it, the week is over.

When we were children it seemed to take for ever before that lovely old and bearded man came down the chimney ! You know, the one dressed in red and loaded with parcels. Gosh, I remember thinking that surely it cannot take this long ? At five years old, waiting for Christmas or our Birthday was an exhausting mission.

What happened to time and our perception of it. Do thoughts determine our reality ? Remember how we prayed for time to pass quicker ? New toys were needed and we wanted them sooner rather than later. Positive thinking seems to have worked...

Careful what you wish for ! Time seems to fly by at a rate of knots. It's only the rituals we have that make us see the time slipping through our lives. For me it is Thursdays. The last day in our weekly TV guide. A day to buy the new one. Each week when I go to the local shop, the same thought loops through my mind; ' Good lord, another week gone already.'

Of course the classic time ' thieves ' are our holidays. Oh, that glorious feeling when you get home that last working day before you're due on your leave. Is there anything better than contemplating all those free days ? Maybe two, three or ( in generous Europe ) five weeks of leave. Who hasn't done the mental arithmetic of how many days, hours and how much fun it will be ?

That first day behaves according to what we expect of it. It drags along and seems endless. Sleeping in, breakfasting in bed, sight seeing, shopping and still it's only lunchtime ! Even driving great distances to get there is exciting ( it is part of our holiday after all ) and done in record time.

That magic of that first day sets us up with great expectation for the rest but before we know it, the first week is over. It goes without saying that we have not done the half of what we wanted to do. The days just run out of time ! At some point you get the spoil sports who start counting the time in reverse: " Only 20 /10 /5 days left ". Regardless of how we count our leave, a snap of our fingers and it's over.

Every now and again, life likes to tease us and makes time pass in slow motion. Off the top of my head I can think of a few nerve racking events, such as making a speech or the dreaded school oral. Why is it that those dreaded moments make five minutes seem like an hour. Even awaiting your turn ( shaking in your boots ) is unbearably long. Maybe those brave volunteers, you know those ones who always put up their hand to start their oral first, were the clever ones after all ?

Is there a good way to spend our time ? Who can say, yet the old saying " Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today " is very apt and it seems just in time...


Saturday, 18 May 2013

I Love My Husband Dearly, But...!

Driving with a spouse is not the best idea.

Bob likes to drive and whenever we are in a car together, he takes the controls. It is rather nice to be driven around and being able to take in the scenery and give the odd shout of : " Careful, there is a car ". These things tend to happen when you are married ( at least I hope it's not just us ? ). While I am " chauffeured " around I often think of it as driving " Miss Biggi ".

All this is well and good, if you still drive lots on your own. But, here in Burgenland, there is no need for me to drive a lot by myself. Except of course the odd lone drive into the village. Does it count ? Well, no traffic lights and only one Stop sign, so not good practice.

Isn't it just dandy how, when you think about something, you tend to hear it everywhere ? There are times when I worry about my ' big city ' driving skill. Just the other day I was told of another woman who sold her car, because she had lost her nerve to drive. After a lifetime of driving ! Again, a well meaning husband had driven her as well. Can you see where I am headed ?

Yesterday, I put my foot down and told Bob that I would take the wheel on our way to town. Oh, you should have heard the protests. Jeez-a-Lou, doesn't he think I can drive ? Eventually he got into the passenger seat, but with a dejected air, like a lamb to slaughter !

Being slightly older than Bob, ( this is one instance I'll admit it ) I have had a head start with driving and not once have I had an " incident ". In fact I picture myself as a snazzy driver and yet it is obvious that Bob has a different view on this ! Aah, the youth of today ...

Even before we set off from the driveway, Bob did a fairly good impression of a driving instructor. Checking every angle of the road before I even put the car into gear. Needless to say, that for once his seat belt was fastened in record time...

My Bob is a natural worrier and kindly I kept quiet ( more a case of biting my tongue ) as I had to listen to a never-ending string of advice : " You're driving awfully close to the curb. " or " careful, there is a car parked 50 meters ahead. " " this is a 50 kph zone, slow down for goodness sake ! ". Oh, the hits kept on coming...

After a while, I mentally tuned out his comments, air braking and frequent checking of his side mirror. That in itself would be enough to make anyone nervous but thankfully, I had not lost my driving touch !

In fact, after a while ( when he realized what a great driver I am !!! ) Bob had time to notice the surroundings. Something he never has time for while he is driving. Those were the moments that I enjoyed driving Mr Bob !


Friday, 17 May 2013

How Do You Define Abundance ?

There are so many different aspects of Abundance.

Who hasn't imagined what they would do, if they had a big win at, lets say the Lotto. Thought or rather imaginary purchases must be reaching an all time high, and it would be interesting to know which brand is #1 in the imaginary purchase list !

But we all have a different idea of abundance and how it would affect us and our life. Here are some ideas and I would love it if you add your own to it...

Some ideas of abundance:

  • Being blissfully happy with your life.
  • Being debt free.
  • Having a million dollars / euros in the bank.
  • Never having to worry about bills.
  • Never having to look at a price tag.
  • Having the luxury of free time.
  • Being able to decide each morning on what you would love to do...and do it.
  • Travel and see the world.
  • Helping others.
  • Being lack of ill-health.
  • Having healthy children.
  • Sitting with a glass of wine, your beloved and enjoying nature.
  • Having friends and family.

These are just some ideas of abundance. We each of us have our own dreams of abundance and what it means. How do you intend to use and define abundance ? Please add your thoughts, or just like, +1, or share if the list above more or less covers your ideas of it.

Biggi of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth Wealth Diet: The Proven, 30-Day Program that Realigns Your Mindset towards Greater Wealth, Abundance and Happiness: 1

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Gentleness Of Life In A Village.

Gardening and village life go hand in hand.

Moving to the scenic rural countryside of Burgenland has brought us the pleasure of having a big garden. Oh, to be honest, there are times when it seems far from a pleasure. Grass just grows overnight, weeds delight in re-entering the stage, fences need to be mended and even our wall could use a dab of paint...

With our village being so small, each garden counts in giving the village a romantic, well kept and attractive canvas to shine on. You know, as soon as the spring birds dock at their summer destination, all the gardeners are out and about removing the winter malaise from their gardens.

All those summer tourists ( I do mean birds, although we have plenty of real tourists ) perching on the tree branches, telephone cables and rooftops somehow expect to have a nice, neat and colourful stage. Early each morning, I can hear them tweeting to each other. For all I know, they are commenting on the lack of colour in our garden. Green can only go so far before it becomes boring !

Partly to oblige my little tourists yet also for the satisfaction of seeing a boisterous flower grow into adulthood and cast a magical spell over the garden, I have got stuck in. Our garden also features many fruit trees which delight in attracting gangs of bees ! Their buzzing tends to enrich the background beat of the avian choir. A happy symbiosis indeed.

Yesterday I cleared a little garden against the front wall of our house. Ah, digging up soil can bring forth a surprise or two. Snakes ( alive or dead ) and bones. These were little enough to have most likely belonged to a feline of sorts. Never mind the little parcels of poo that our cat Tigger has been leaving there !

Pottering about in a garden makes us lose track of time. What feels to us like an hour can turn out to be three hours. Gardening is one of those instances where we are in the moment.

A time for recharging our batteries, shutting out the " noise " of life and just digging in the sand / earth / dirt the same way we did as children in our sandpits. Nails that have a touch of " gardener " about them should be held up with pride !


Work in progress !

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Marketing's Magic Key !

Word of mouth, might be old fashioned but it works.

With the enormous speed and expansion of anything to do with social media, or dare I say Internet, it is understandable that the rules and pointers off marketing are also changing or rather adapting. In fact, it can keep your head spinning for ever, trying to find your own path through the maze of ( online ) marketing.

As you know, Bob and I hold English Conversation classes. It is so nice that our community has embraced this opportunity of having two native English speaking villagers ( Bob and I, of course ). The Mothers have given us their stamp of approval, no question about it.

But, as we are finding out, when the children are between 5-7 years old, Mothers kind off loose the upper hand. Almost like the proverbial donkey, once the kids don't want to go, they just dig in their heels and that is that. The toughest crowd on earth.

Entertaining such a young audience ( don't forget they hardly understand us ) is far from easy. Attention spans are shorter than short, and the boredom factor is always present. Bob and I try and vary it a little bit, but the basics can only be done by repetition.

Once, as a last resort ( bored kids infect each other ), Bob took a piece of paper and made a paper aeroplane. Remember, we grew up the old fashioned way...without computerized toys ! Well, one by one, the kids perked up and all of a sudden they were enthralled by Bob's plane.
Shouts of: " Bob, make mine first. " or " Biggi, can I colour mine Silver and Gold " were everywhere.

Yesterday, we had a young boy come back to our class. He hadn't been for a long time. As he settled in at the table, I heard him say " Bob, can you make me a paper plane like you made for Simon ? "....Aha !

You see, word of mouth, even in Kindergarten, is still the only way. We could have dropped flyers, created advertising and banners, but the only thing that counted for this little fellow, was the fact that Bob made paper planes in English class. Word of mouth it seems is the magic key...


Paper planes built both for speed and agility !

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Max Raabe And The Great Gatsby.

My taste in music, is it the new " Alternative " ?

A while ago I discovered the fabulous Max Raabe. His songs just resonated with me and there and then I wrote a blog post. My husband Bob, a true " Alternative " music lover, was hoping his friends wouldn't see it.

Bob was wearing T-shirts over long-sleeved shirts way back before all and sundry wore it. He loves bands like " Pixies and Nick Cave.....". Oh yes, opposites attract and all that.( Don't tell anyone, but I've seen Bob tap his foot along to the beat of my music ! )

But should't I be called the " Alternative ", as my music tastes are not the norm. Max Raabe, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Louis Prima to name but a few. Oh, don't get me wrong, I love the 70's music and will sing along to Pop Songs, just like everyone else. When you think about it, Bob's music is now almost main stream, in fact it could be called rather normal ( boring ) ?

Can you imagine the great one liners that I could use : " Hi, what type of music do you like ? "
" Oh, I am way into that " Alternative " stuff..." or " I go to clubs " ( they don't know I am talking about original big band clubs ) ...

The new " Great Gatsby " movie has got the world all atwitter. People are falling in love with the elegance and fun of that era. The roaring twenties, a time where style, class and manners were everything. Imagine a time, when men didn't use foul language in front of women ? ( Men, just to take the wind out of your sails....also a time where women didn't swear in front of men ! )

A time where the merest hint of a flash of an elegantly shod ankle had a man's heart aflutter ? Bare midriffs were nowhere to be seen. Women's dresses kept our assets hidden and therefore a challenge to be discovered. A woman's curves were revered.

I wonder whether our more bereft style of clothing has got us into this quest for being skinny ? If you could hide all the bits you don't like, there wouldn't be that constant need for food denial... Just a thought !

Our world is so open and out there, that we all miss that elusive mystique. Showing all ( thoughts or body ) is not that interesting, or am I wrong and it is ?

Max Raabe makes it possible for us to experience the old world charm in our world. He at times mixes, dare I say jazzes it up, but overall just listening to his songs will transport you back to an era, when the world seemed fine...

Biggi Great Gatsby

Monday, 13 May 2013

How To Help Our Environment.

Oh yes, every bit counts....

Yesterday, my thoughts on saving our environment got wonderful results and comments. There are so many of us. The " wanting to have our wonderful planet around for eons " lot . We don't argue or question if or when it makes a, we just get on with it and do it !

What I tried to bring across was that it often is the little things that make all the difference. The little things that we can all do on a daily basis and not even notice it. I wonder if most people imagine that by going " green ", they have to go to rallies, hug trees and stop using deodorant etc !

No, if we just do the small tasks in another way, collectively it all adds up :

  • Take the train, bus or subway...if you have the option.
  • Drive your cars for longer before trading it in or buying a new one.( Here a thought provoking blog post by Mr Money Mustache about his take on us & our cars. )
  • Before you throw anything away, think of recycling it.
  • Switch off lights in unused rooms and bedrooms.
  • Take your own shopping bag to the store. Don't use plastic bags.
  • Find your neighbourhood's recycling center and start separating your rubbish.
  • Buy cleaning products that don't pollute our planet too much.
  • Try using more 30% wash cycles with your washing machine. It cleans clothes just as well.
  • Buy local whenever you can. That alone kills two birds with one stone. You help support farmers & shops in your own area plus you save on petrol.
  • Cut back on the amount of meat you eat.
  • If you have a garden, use part of it to plant vegetables. Just tending to it, is therapeutic and keeps you supplied with homegrown vegetables.
  • In winter, cut back on the amount and temperature of your heating system. Here is a thought: If its winter and you can run around inside your home in just your're heating too much ! Jerseys, socks and blankets are there for a reason and are incredible romantic !

Look, the list is endless. Let me know what you would add to my list and ask your friends how they changed small things in their daily routine...


Sunday, 12 May 2013

Mother's Day & A Future !

Wouldn't you want your children & grandchildren to experience one ?

Mother's day is that one day a year, where two parties look forward to it. Of course in an ideal world Mothers will lounge in bed all day and have their wishes read from their eyes, by us kids ! As kids, Mother's day is our way to show some ( more ) appreciation.

Mother's are far more fortunate than Fathers'...they don't end up with ties, socks or undies ! No, they receive breakfasts, flowers, chocolates and more.

Well everybody, shouldn't we make sure that our children have a chance to do the same for us one day ? When we were younger, a future was never in question. We worried about what to do or what to have in our future, but future itself was never in doubt ! Sadly, it seems that a future could be in doubt...

Reading an article in the New York Times sent shivers run down my spine. What are we, collectively that is, doing to our wonderful planet ? Global warming in the last decade or so, was banded about everywhere yet clearly most of us weren't listening.

The danger levels have crept higher and by tacitly accepting this, we must have thought it didn't matter. Not anymore. Just look at what the weather has done this last year. Now that is a big clue already.

It seems that somehow we just have carried on taking deposits out of our children's chance of a Future ! Look, our planet is not like our house. Once you put a lien on it, that is it. You can't pay it back and hope everything returns to what it was. All of us, myself included, need to wake up and grab our chance to save our future !

It all sounds difficult and possibly daunting to do. No one likes change. Most of us wait until someone else does it first. But, what if that other person thinks so too ? Are we like those frogs that jump into cold water and slowly get boiled alive, without realizing it ?

Why don't we ( each one of us ) just do one thing different each and everyday ! :

  • Every car journey you undertake, plan it within an inch of efficiency. Even if it is just to get groceries. For example, buy groceries only every other day / once a week. You would save petrol and carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Let's do just one thing " green " per day, but every day. Eg. take the bus /bicycle, switch off unnecessary lights, buy something produced locally and the list is endless.
  • Maybe each News Cast ( around the world ) should begin with : " I hope you've done your green thing today ? ", followed by a heat map of the world. Let's get the colour from red back to green.

To do small changes everyday doesn't take a lot of effort from us. We don't need to wait until and / or if Governments come up with a solution, answer or dare I say the way, isn't a Government made up as a representation of us, the people ?

Happy Mothers day to all...

Biggi Can Prevent Global Warming (and Save Money!): 51 Easy Ways

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Diabetes Part 2: A Healthy & Inexpensive Way Of Life.

Apart from knowing your health is affected, it changes daily life undeniably.

Diabetes part 1: As we left the Doctors we stopped at my parents place ( only 500 meters from the Doctor ) and told them our earth shattering bit of news alternating between sobs and hyperventilation from me.

Parents are the greatest invention ever. They know just the right things to say and do: " This is in a way a good thing because you two have been eating so badly. That stops tonight. Your body comes first." while my Mum told us this, she already went around her kitchen and got together a care basket for us.

There was no easing into this. Supper had to be healthy. No chips or chocolates to grease our shock ! The shops were closed and Casa Bob & Biggi only contained edible items that got us to this juncture in the first place...As I said, my Mum is just the greatest !!!! ( Everyday she phones to encourage Bob and to know what his daily ' sugar ' readings are. That first week, she checked up on Bob 3-4 times per day. A " Well done, Bob " was heard a lot and helped so much..)

Week one was the most difficult. It takes practice and patience to a): inject yourself with needles all day long and b): to make sure each meal is balanced, healthy and affordable. Necessity is the mother of invention and within this first week we had a routine put in place.

Back at the Doctors that first night, they told us that Bob would need injections coupled with tablets for the rest of his life. Well, all the bits of information I gathered over a lifetime of reading women's magazines, came tumbling down after languishing in the dusty attic of my brain. Oh boy, I was now on a mission. Bob, poor lamb, had never perused those ladies magazines ( maybe other types ? ) so he just had to take my word for it.

Now Bob is hooked on all those healthy morsels that permanently reside in our fridge and cupboard :

  • Vegetables, vegetables and more vegetables.
  • Obviously no sugar ( added or inherent).
  • No white flour. We make our own bread with wholewheat flour.
  • Pastas etc only the healthy wholewheat kind.
  • Fats have left the kitchen except for the good ones.
  • Pulses and lean protein.
  • The most important of course is Bob's daily power walk..

The Doctors keep an eye on Bob and have taken him under their wings ( they really go above and beyond ). Already in the first month, Bob was allowed to decrease the amount of insulin he injected. They couldn't believe the change in Bob. His blood sugar dropped to such acceptable levels, that one month in, he stopped the injections all together. Oh, he still takes insulin tablets, but the injections are over ! Bob, you are amazing !

Our will and determination have even surprised the doctors and it shows what a difference healthy food and exercise make to our bodies.

Discovering diabetes has been the best thing for us ( naturally it would be even better not to have had it at all ) as we now live a healthy life. Bob feels better in body and mind. Another good side effect...Bob's lost over 25 kg in the process.

Biggi D: How to Lose Weight and Beat Diabetes (Even If You Don't Have It) Recipes Collection Diabetic Meals

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Shock Of Discovering Diabetes, Part 1.

Handling and living with diabetes has changed our life for the better.

Valentines this year was far from romantic as Bob had a bad earache. Bob, like most men, is not fond of going to the doctor and since I have know him I can count on my hand the number of times he has been to see one.

Bob was clearly in pain but never thought of having it seen to. So, I resorted to: " Bob, either you go and have your ear seen to or you stop complaining ! " To my surprise, Bob hopped into the car and drove to the doctor. When he came back, he told me that it was a middle ear infection and had tablets to help sort it out.

Even though we live in this small village, we have two wonderful, world class doctors. When they first see you ( and then more or less once a year ) they take a few vials of blood to test for the usual suspects. No discussion, it gets done. Fantastic.

At about five o'clock that afternoon, we got a phone call. It was the doctors rooms and they wanted to see Bob asap. Oh yes, we both felt nerves, stress and panic all at once ! A call back from the doctor can do that...The surgery was long closed for the day, yet they stayed behind to see us. As we arrived, we were ushered into the rooms. ( I was asked to go in as well )

Our doctors like to ' rip off the plaster in one go ' as opposed to ' inching it off slowly '. We both sat down and
" Bob, you have diabetes and quite severe ! " was all we heard as we both tuned out in shock for a few seconds.
" You know Bob, your blood sugar count was so high, that I was close to admitting you to hospital." Oh boy, that was enough to make me recline on that ' sofa ' that doctors have, otherwise I would have fainted outright.

When I glanced at Bob, he was sitting extremely pale in the chair but otherwise he didn't swoon, cry or shake. Strong and tough as nails, what a guy !

Right then and there, Bob had to learn to take his blood sugar count and to inject insulin. Both doctors gave him a crash course and said to call them day or night, if we had any problem ( we stayed long enough to see the insulin take affect ). The whole time, both doctors were extremely supportive, encouraging and kind to Bob.

It goes without saying, that Bob's early morning blood sugar reading had to be phoned through and depending on it, he would go and see them.

Again, I can't say enough good things about our doctors. When did your doctor last run a blood test on you ? If it wasn't for the earache, the diabetes would have had free reign in sabotaging Bob's body and we might only have found out when it was too late.

Please, go and have a blood test done. Think of it like a insurance on your quality of life. You do insure your house and car, so you might as well insure your standard of living !

In tomorrow's blog I will tell you what positive change this diabetes has called forth and Bob's amazing results...

Biggi End of Diabetes: The Eat to Live Plan to Prevent and Reverse Diabetes

Thursday, 9 May 2013

How Much Do You Still Write By Hand ?

Could Hand Writing become extinct ?

A blogger who I follow on Google plus Jesse Wojdylo posted a picture of a bottle of white-out and asked when we last used one. That hit a nerve. It made me realize that writing by hand is not necessary anymore !

It's so convenient to use our computer or smartphone for everything. Email, notes, essays,e-cards, shopping lists and even electronic signatures are rather typed than written. Most of what I write during the day is on a computer. In fact, finding a pen is akin to a treasure hunt in our house !

The other day, one of our little students ( a wise old lady of 6 ) brought her pencil case with her. She carried it with pride and watched it like a hake ( eh...hawk ). This pencil case held all her writing paraphernalia...crayons and a few empty fountain pens which were a hand me down from her sister. She was bursting with pride and it reminded me of how much fun it was to write with pen and paper.

My pencil case was my most prized possession and getting that first one was just so exciting. Opening the zip and wondering, no hoping that it was fully stocked. It had two inner partitions and held such treasures. Coakie pens, crayons, hard and soft pencils, rulers, erasers, pencil sharpeners and the best of all, the fountain pen !

Being a left-handed gal, my fountain pen was different to the norm yet I still smudged at times. Learning to write in little school was such an awesome adventure. Remember how hard we concentrated to get the loop of the " g " below the line ?

The little ones at the start of their hand writing career must ask the question at some point: " Miss, when are we going to use this ? " When indeed ! Should typing be the universal subject from now on, and hand writing an elected extra ? Hopefully not !

All this had made me eager to buy a fountain pen and paper ( the one we used as kids, the double lined one ) and start practicing my hand writing. Let's make hand writing fashionable again.

  • A friends Birthday...write a card and send it by snail mail ( post ).
  • I know that email is so easy and quick, but think what pleasure it give give your friends when they go to the post box and find a hand written letter from you.
  • Write a love letter to your other half.
  • Instead of using a phone to text, write a little note and give it to that class mate..the one you have a crush on.

Biggi Blanc Meisterstuck 149 Fountain Pen 146 Meisterstück Le Grand Fountain pen Kolbenfüllfederhalter

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Mundane Is Trendy Again !

Dreaded when we're young and yearned for when we are older.

Action, excitement and change is all we thought of in our twenties. Goodness, the thought of living life the way our parents did, was unthinkable and to be avoided ! Yet a decade or two later we've come full circle and realize we live and do as our parents once did...and love it !

  • We plan our holiday so that we don't need to be at airports for more time than necessary.
  • Oh yes, going camping seems just the thing to do. Just imagine having your own cutlery and making your own coffee just the way you like it...bliss indeed !
  • Shopping at the mall is not fun anymore. Crowds, noise and blandness.
  • Gardening has transformed from a dreaded chore to a hobby we long for.
  • It seems perfectly fine to only buy new clothes when the old ones become " holey ". In fact some of us are ingenious enough to have kept our clothes for more then a decade and suddenly we are " trendy " again without costs incurred ! ( please let's only wear them if they still fit us!!! )
  • Baking our own cakes and inviting friends over for a cup & slice is much better than meeting them elsewhere.
  • Boiling up fruit to make jams or knitting a jersey is extremely satisfying and something we are openly proud of !
  • Downsizing is the new " must-have ". Gone are the days where we wanted bigger and better than everyone else. We are now mature enough to realize that downsizing actually means more dosh in our bank and far less debt...and worry.
  • Watching the seasons morph into their four different segments is exciting and we love to talk about it.
  • Most importantly we now appreciate what a luxury free time is. Having some time just to sit and ponder is the ultimate. In fact, I imagine that there must be legions of highly successful folk all over, who sit at their desk 12 hours a day and dream of having that ultimate luxury: Free time...!


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Sustainable Gardening Is Easier Then We Think.

Just think: Saving money and the enviroment !

When you think about it, it takes as much effort to plant a flower as it does to plant a vegetable. Powerful, simple and a case of " why did I never think of this before "...

Sustainable gardening actually hits three birds with one stone : you don't need to buy so much at the store, your garden is utilized yet looks pretty and most importantly, you get to dig with your hands in dirt, mud and earth. Instant therapy !

In the case of vegetables, they do grow themselves yet they also require your tender love and care...but so does a flower ! You know, I am a novice gardener of note but I am going for it because if one doesn't try one never knows ! Yeah, mistakes are good and necessary.

This is will be the main vegetable patch. We went to town yesterday ( literally & figuratively ) and planted a fair amount of seedlings. Lettuce, chilli, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, cabbage and celery. Hold thumbs that they will take root. This patch is right outside our front door because hopefully I won't forget to weed it then ?!

As we live in an old farmhouse, there are many outbuildings on our property. They also need T.L.C. but that is for the future. Bob wants to make this a vegetable patch as well. His enthusiasm has dimmed a bit when he realized how deep the old tree roots are there !

The fruit trees are now glowing a happy green and I think the apple trees will mostly bear fruit. We have four different apple types and three different pears, plum and two walnut trees. We can't wait to make jam again this year. Once you eat your own homemade jam, store bought ones somehow never measure up !

Here are some more peach trees and a few hollunder bushes. They can either be wrapped in batter and deep fried like a doughnut or pressed for syrup.

We are lucky to only have fields on the one neighbouring side. Of course it's always nice to see visitors such as this little fellow screeching for his woman !

There is an amazing story about sustainable gardening in the New York Times, that's worth reading.


Monday, 6 May 2013

A Weekend Of Wine, Birds, Buck and Sunshine !

A Burgenland weekend for Wine lovers.

Our village sure knows how to go all out. As you know, we live in the midst of one of Burgenland's premier wine regions and in almost every direction we can see the vineyards. The village and surrounds boast about 35 Vintners.

It's quite groovy, because we never run out of good wine...It's almost ethereal to buy wine at source. The only thing to trump that feeling would be to make your own and you know, just put the wine jug under the barrel's tap !

This whole last weekend, our village was crammed full of wine lovers. Wine tastings were available everywhere and I was chuffed to see how important our village featured on the wine calendar.

With great forethought, the village had hired a few mini-buses and created designated bus stops for the wine-tourists. A shuttle service between wine estates ! What great fun the busdriver must have had towards the end of each day. In vino veritas and all that...

All the Kellerstoeckl ( here is a link to some for rent ), holiday flats and B&B's were let out and suddenly our little village had a touch of Viennese flair ! Walking my morning route I stumbled across a few new faces. Runners dressed in urban sports gear and cyclists that were kitted out with labels, sunglasses and enough attitude for a Tour de Anything. Definitely not our normal jeans, sandals and t-shirt lot.

One young couple who especially came here because our wines are held in such high esteem were the most ingenious. They set off with a rucksack and sturdy shoes mid-morning and walked to all the different vineyards. No drinking and driving for them ! Just wonderful.

Mother nature showed her approval of this event because the sun shone until yesterday lunchtime. The temperature hovered around 25 degrees celcius for most of the weekend. With the sunshine and warmth, all the calling cards of our rural bliss showed themselves...

  • Rabbits the size of grown cats hopping merrily across the roads or just in and out of the forest.
  • Energetic and boysterous buck were executing almost gazelle like bounces in the fields.
  • Pheasants were playing chicken with the suddenly hectic traffic...
  • All the birds were on top form and started their concerts early and I am sure that a lot of woozy headed folk wished they would stop.

A glass or two of great wine, nature and sunshine...what more does one need ?


Just a quick glance over some of our vineyards.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Being Off-line: The New Luxury ?

Reading a book offline, can you still do it ?

Let's face it, we are all connected online and there is nothing wrong with it. Our lives have gotten easier to manage. Connecting with long lost friends and family on another continent is now a cinch.

What has become harder, is summoning up the will to take an hour ( or more ) and do something offline. Somehow there is always that feeling that we could miss out on something !

I know that even stopping the scroll down a News feed on any Social Media platform is not so easy. Who else feels like there might be a nugget of something just below the fold ? A friends update on their day, a silly picture or an interesting joke. Oh yes, clicking away from the news feed is far from easy...

Recently I have noticed that my ability ( mental stamina ) to read a novel has diminished. Frightening for me, as I used to be able to devour a novel in a weekend. Thoughts of aging and or brain shrinkage circled rather a lot when I couldn't even focus on reading one chapter of a good book ! What was going on ?

Ironically it was while I was connected online, that I stumbled across a wonderful blog post. A technology writer / blogger who had just completed a year off-line ( completely and totally off-line ). A must read by Paul Miller. This might calm a lot of worries about our ability to focus.

We all just have a bit too much on our plate. Online we juggle so many ' virtual ' balls that it is no wonder if we can't find the energy to focus off-line. When did you last play a board game with your family, have a meal without Smartphones or read a book ?

Taking a proper time-out ( just an hour or two ) from my online life has given me peace of mind and thankfully re-ignited my ability and love for reading books. Let's make reading off-line, a necessity of the last century a must have luxury of this century...

I would love to know if you also took longer than normal to finish a novel. Please drop me a comment ( online )...


Saturday, 4 May 2013

A Blogger Needs Passion, Nerves & Chutzpah !

My 1st Birthday as a blogger and my 365th post...

Let's be clear, blogging is not for the faint of heart. But I love it and as trite as it sounds, I can't picture my day without it.

Just for a second close your eyes and imagine ( maybe not, as I need you to read further ) what it would be like if you had to venture forth to your local shopping center, the place where your friends, family and acquaintances flit, lounge or linger around. But with one condition: You must be naked !

As you do your shop ( naked ), you get some people who:

  • Take one look and start to criticize your body.
  • Start to laugh outright at you.
  • Just stop and stare in stupor and then shake their heads.
  • Compare yours to theirs.
  • Sadly and most worryingly of all,some just give you the cold shoulder and totally ignore you.
  • BUT thankfully a few will luckily pat you on the shoulder to say they like what you are doing.

Well, that's what we bloggers go through each time we upload a post. We totally expose ourselves to you !!! Nerve - wracking, nail biting, tear jerking yet also fabulously and divinely exciting.

A common way to spot us bloggers is seeing our reaction as soon as anything exciting ( even at times mundane ) happens. We'll be the ones either making furtive notes, talking into a mini recorder or whipping out our smartphone to let our fingers flick across the screen as if they were performing in River Dance !

A few of us withdraw from conversation and start to mentally practice how we would string our sentences together. Oh and it goes without saying that a camera is always at hand. In fact a true blogger never leaves home without it. Another clue, for sure !

Bloggers have courage, ingenuity and good old fashioned chutzpah. Let me paint you a picture of what some of our average day is like. As you finally settle on a topic you spend enormous amounts of time writing it, deleting all or part of it and starting again. If we are lucky we have a sounding board or spouse at hand for editing.

Bob's been my chief cheerleader and has given me support, ideas and different viewpoints from the word go. He's also been brave enough to tell me if he feels the story isn't good and that's akin to pulling the lion's tail ! Plus he checks my grammar. Thank you Schatzi, you are the best.

This year has gone by in a flash and I am certain that blogging gives each day an extra boost. What has been so nice for me, is that my family have been wonderfully supportive by reading most or all of the posts and even I know that some have been tough like a shoe sole.

As I can count my ( blog reading ) family on two hands, I know that there are a lot of other loyal readers out there. I want to give you a big, no make that huge " Thank you " for reading my posts.

Like anything else in life, practice makes perfect. Hardly anyone is born a perfect blogger. So thank you for your ongoing patience. My kind sister-in-law was the first to comment and I will always remember and be grateful to her for it. A big thank you to my family ( especially parents ) and friends.

Biggi Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community

Friday, 3 May 2013

Thursdays, A Cup Of Coffee And Google Plus.

Google Plus just keeps getting better, cooler and very interesting !

It almost sounds like one of those " Bar " jokes. You know those where an Irishman, a German and an American meet in the bar...!

When I first heard about Google Plus, I admit that I was a bit skeptical and single-mindfully set on Facebook. A social media hangout apart Facebook was unimaginable for me. But once I had joined and slowly got the hang of it, another online world of possibilities, ideas, thoughts and people unveiled itself to me.

Can you believe that there are even Video-Hangouts between groups with similar interests ? Very cool indeed although to be honest I have not yet mastered how to be in ( or is it on ? ) a Hangout. But slowly, slowly catchy monkey !

Google Plus always shows you what is trending and I stumbled upon the " It's Thursday and I have coffee "( #coffeethursday ) trend. With such a groovy name I couldn't help but take a peek.

It was like a treasure trove of ' coffeebilia '. Photos of it, moving pictures of it and odes to it. Everyone had a wonderful coffee story and what struck me was how everyone was just so happy. No moaning or groaning about life and its less enjoyable aspects. No, it is a happy bunch of coffee lovers hanging out online.

As a coffee lover myself, I realize that we all have a certain something....caffeine buzz ! Scrolling down the many and surprisingly mostly different looking cups of coffee made this Thursday special. How do they manage to float the milk froth on a cappuccino to resemble a heart / cat / cloud / smile or face ?

If you aren't on Google Plus yet, try it and cruise around the different avenues of interest, fun and like-minded people. Be sure to look up the Thursday's coffee crowd...and me !


Thursday, 2 May 2013

F.C. Bayern Munich's Semi-Final Soccer U.E.F.A. Cup 2013.

Bayern Munich has gained another Fan !

" When you are good, you are good " seemed an appropriate saying last night. Whenever a Bavarian shod foot touched the soccer ball it was almost a forgone conclusion that it would either find the right goal or at least avert a wrong one ! Poetry in motion.

Rules and regulations of Soccer ( apart from the fairly obvious ones ) are a mystery to me but that doesn't stop me from enjoying the game. In fact, it surely makes it more fun to watch. Ardent fans with their encyclopedic knowledge of the rules can at times get so caught up in a " questionable " Referee call, that they tend to miss the next five minutes of action. Not so for this gal...

All the players are excellent, but you get the few that live in a different stratosphere. Extreme skills married with a glow of personality draws our eyes to them like a magnet draws a nail. It's not looks per say, although at their level of fitness they all have a certain something ! Surely I couldn't have been the only fan giddy with delight at seeing a few shirtless players at the end ?

Success breeds success and you could almost see and feel that positive aura beaming all around them. At times they were so quick with their footwork, it was almost impossible to see it all. A quick turn of a hip there, a speedy flick of a foot ( forward and backwards ) and varying degrees of pirouetting made us slavishly follow each second of the match.

It was a sheer pleasure to just witness some of the ballet like moves around, next to and over the ball. Again, poetry in motion. I'd love to be a fly on the wall when these soccer-gods are doing the everyday mundane things like dancing at a disco, Dancing with the Stars or even doing a few Gangnam moves.

The final at Wembley Stadium will be a cracker and will pose a conundrum for me. Recently I have grown rather fond of Borussia Dortmund and their epic skills, determination and successes. But I am Bavarian and should side with Bayern Munich ...oh well, I am sure to find the perfect solution on the day.

Biggi Bayern München Kunststoff HardCase Schutzhülle FÜR iPhone 4/4S + Schutzfolie
PUMA Herren Trikot BVB Home Replica Int'l, blazing yellow-black, M, 741439 01