Saturday, 30 November 2013

Give Arguably The Best Present In The World!

Give your undivided attention and see your kids eyes light up...

You work hard and long hours? You work those hours to also give your kids all the STUFF that they ( and you ) think they need. Chances are, that your kids have a cellphone. Cellphones are a okay. But do they need a smart phone?

If your kids are young enough to still have and get toys, I bet you anything, that they have so many toys, that even they ( your lucky offspring ) are not sure what they have. Cupboards, chests, drawers and heck, even the floor are more than likely littered with toys.

Do you think that your kids have enough time to even use all of this stuff? You know, in between school, kindergarten, extramural activities and homework and TV and Smartphone and....!

So, it is that time of the year again and you are surely planning your shopping sessions. The list of what you'll get for your kids is long and rather expensive, am I right?

Well, there is one thing that you can give your children, that they will adore, love, treasure and remember their whole life. ( F.Y.I.: Surely you aren't imagining that they will remember the oodles of toys you have given them, once they are in their 40's? )

When did you last give your children your undivided attention. Your Time. Your time without any distractions of computers, smartphones or TV? Just pure and simple: Time...T.I.M.E.?

I dare you to print ( for free ) from your computer a set of Gift Vouchers. Gift Vouchers that give increments of your undivided attention. You know, maybe a set of 10. Ten vouchers of 30 minutes each. Doesn't sound like a lot, but let me tell you, for the receiver it is pure gold. The mother load. The treasure. The nirvana of family life...

Make those vouchers as professional as possible. Stipulate conditions, that you can't break:

  • Exact time must be kept. 30 minutes is 30 minutes. A signature and cross through, once the voucher is used up.
  • The voucher can be redeemed at any reasonable time. Stipulate that toilet breaks, and sleep-times are off limits!
  • The voucher takes precedent over trivial things, such as you lounging in front of the telly.
  • The time of the voucher can be spent in any way the child wants. If they expect you to play dolls / Uno / G.I.JOe / drawing / drinking tea from a dollhouse / reading a story or just listening with undivided be it.
  • You are not allowed to correct their way of playing etc. It's their way, not your way...
  • During the time of the voucher, no one is allowed to answer their cellphone. Obviously if it is an emergency, then it is fine.

When you give your gift of vouchers, make sure that your kids know what they represent. Go over the conditions a few times. It will make your kids feel grown up.

As parents, you give your kids so much, in fact you want to give them the world, but in the process you forget the most important thing of all. Your kids need you to spend time with them. Real time, time without the usual and modern distractions. Try it, and let me know...

P/S: Of course you can still buy a few items of the Christmas wish list, but maybe not as many?


Friday, 29 November 2013

Nature Friday.

Memories of warmer seasons.

For a lot of us, the skies are rather grey and overcast. As it is also combined with cold temperatures, I think it is nice to reminisce about the seasons just past.

Our sunflowers didn't stay this stunning for long. But it was great to see them in the morning.
Nature being natural is refreshing!
Peeping through the long grass.
Wouldn't you also like to sit there and read a book or just get lost in your thoughts?
The pumpkin fields flowering, made it a pleasure to walk past.
This being a wine producing area, I have to include this bunch of grapes.
This lavender plant had as nice an aroma as its looks hinted at.
The church seems to be surrounded by abundance.


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Men & Knitting: More Should Knit As It Helps Them Unwind!

Bob takes up knitting again.

About five years ago, Bob tried his hands at knitting. At the time I was immersed in yet another bout of a knitting craze ( they are like the tides...ebb and flow ...). While one knits, it is impossible not to emit happiness. Almost like some beacon or Lighthouse. Yes, knitting is one of those much sought after states: The in-the-moment state. Bob asked me whether I thought he could give it a go.

After a day of teaching ( along with throwing and cursing ) he got the hang of it and there was no stopping him. He did plain squares more for relaxing and de-stressing than for anything specific. He paged through my knitting magazines and saw that many squares could actually make a blanket. He formed a plan. He wanted to knit a blanket for his Mom.

It was to be a surprise for Christmas and he took three months to make it. When his Mom unwrapped her present under the Christmas tree and saw what it was and represented, she shed a tear. Personally I think that this homemade blanket was the best present she had ever received from him.

Bob is going to Denmark for a week, to visit his parents, who are visiting his brother & family. As gifts for the kids, he is knitting them scarves. ( oh and he is taking some more play vouchers for play times, which turned out to be the greatest hit with the kids the last time we were there and was requested again! ) Blog story about our play vouchers..

This week, while we were in town, we dropped by the knitting shop. Bob wanted to get wool for the kids. Choosing the colours was not so easy, but he got the wool. Yesterday, he asked me to show him how to knit again, as he hadn't done any knitting for a few years.

Knitting is like riding a bicycle. Once you know how, it stays with you forever. Bob, I think, was surprised to realize that he hadn't forgotten his craft. Since yesterday, he has been eschewing the social aspect of his computer for the joy of knitting...even at 5 am!

Biggi Brand Yarn 150-098F Fishermen's Wool Yarn, Natural knitting wool Grossa Olympia 028 orizzonte 100g Wolle

5 am...!
Great way to knit. Watching TV, while drinking a cup of coffee and having a blanket to keep the chills away!.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Entertainment Value Of A Simple Sharpener!

Who knew that a humble and simple sharpener could provide so much fun?

What I like to call our faithful English kids, have been with us for over a year now, more or less 1 hour per week. We have seen them progress from an age with all their milk teeth in place, to one where the front two are glaringly missing.

Isn't it funny how we would hotfoot it to the dentist while they are extremely proud and chuffed with that gap. That GAP shows all and sundry that they are no longer little! ( Trying to pronounce some English words through that gap can be rather funny though. )

I won't bore you with the gory details we were told. You know the details of how those teeth left the gums. Not by themselves I gather. It involved a thread, door handle and a not-so-squeamish Dad! When those two front teeth were still dangling in the gums, she wanted to pull them out in our class. Bob nearly had a cadenza at the thought of what he would see. It took him all his effort to deter her.

Last year Bob and I bought a box of wax crayons for the kids. Over time they became well used and rather blunt. For weeks I was reminded by one girl to please buy a sharpener. In fact her
" Oh no Biggi, you forgot again! " comment made me rush out and buy a sharpener.

If I had known how much fun they would have with it, I would have bought one sooner. Yesterday was a surprising and eventful class for us. The quietest kid in the group opened the crayon box, saw the sharpener and said in English " Oh, a Sharpener ". Goodness, I was so proud that he could recall such a difficult word.

Then he started to sharpen one of the wax crayons, successfully. Not such an easy task with a pencil sharpener. Once he had turned to the next crayon, the bits falling from the sharpener created a nice mixture of filings. All of a sudden, the others noticed his efforts. The Uno game in progress was stopped halfway. Clearly the sharpening affair was far more interesting!

It took about two minutes before the sharpener was wrestled from him and the next one had a go. The pile of filings grew larger and more colourful. To be honest, I would have liked to have had a turn as well, but all three were fighting over how many each could sharpen. Just in case they would run out of crayons to sharpen, one girl ingeniously ( oh yes, the one with the GAP ) took a crayon and broke it in two. Instantly more sharpening material...

Oh yes, I was once again reminded that the simple things in life can be and are so much fun.


The before and after. Clearly hours of fun still ahead..

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Mum's Taxi: Could There Be Anything More Embarrassing For A Teenager?

Can you still remember your moments in it?

If you were to take the time and sit across the entrance of any high school, you would see the most amazing sights. At first glance it looks like a bunch of crazy ladies driving at snails pace and seemingly talking to themselves!

Teenagers, who need at least 5 reminders to get up in the morning, and another few dozen to get going at more than their usual slow motion speed, suddenly become professional divers.

Appearing to doze away in the backseat of Mum's taxi while listening to their rebellious music on their Ipod / Iphone...they move at lightning speed once their Mum is on the homestretch, ( you know, the front entrance of their school ) performing the obligatory dive in the backseat to become invisible. They needn't have bothered because lets face it, who would see them apart from other Mums!

If we could listen in, we would hear the furious whispers from the backseat:

  • " Oh my God Mum, please don't stop here! "
  • " Mum, I told you to park around the corner."
  • " Oh Mum, you are so embarrassing. Please don't do this to me."
  • " I'll never speak to you again, if you do this to me! "

At what age do these little angels, in whose eyes you could do no wrong, start to utter this teenage anthem of: " Oh Mum, please don't, you are so embarrassing " ? Talking to a few Mums yesterday, the age tends to vary. Some kids already start with the kindergarten run...

When you live in a small place, you sort of know which teeny belongs to which mother. The other day, we saw a Mum with her two boys, shopping at the supermarket. True to their teenage code of conduct, they never once walked next to her. Oh, they kept a safe enough distance behind her. It kind of looked like mother goose and her ducklings walking in a row.

Every now and then she would toss a question at them, honing in on them with laser sharp precision. Oh, it was too comical to watch the poor ducklings. Blushing from head to toe, they didn't know whether to publicly agree to a box of chocolate Coco Puffs!

If you have any memories of embarrassing school runs, please let me know. Or if you are a Mum, going through this at the moment...


Monday, 25 November 2013

" What, You Aren't Scared Of Wild Pigs Attacking You? "

Well, thanks to you, I am now!

When I still lived in South Africa, unfortunately going for a walk outside was out of the question, unless Bob or my neighbour Carel walked with me. Look, that is just how it was and at least it provided more income for the local Gym. Moving here to our village in Burgenland changed all this for me.

Walking at all hours of the day and by myself is safe and possible. I didn't let any moss grow under my feet and set off for a walk on my very first morning here. Who wouldn't want to walk in this paradise. ( Bob in his wisdom figured out that there was no more need for him to walk with me. He much prefers to sleep in on the Winter mornings! ) Oh, I walk through forests, vineyards and rustic country lanes. Sometimes there is a crowd along the way cheering me along: buck, hares, mice and the odd donkey.

That saying, ' come rain or shine ' is my mantra. Walking in rain is no problem for me. Gosh, if a little bit of rain deters one from walking, the folk living in England would hardly do any outdoor exercise...

To be honest, snow and icy conditions do pose a slight problem, but I've learned how to distribute the weight on my shoes. A few slips, slides and tests of how cushioned my backside is, has taught me tout-de-suite. Apart from a lone runner, I haven't seen or met any other full-year walkers yet.

Of course he looks like a marathoner ( very skinny and always floating over the road. Kind of like Bruce Fordyce, the South African running legend. ). In the beginning I imagined that he was some pro-footballer / soccer player / ski champion doing his daily training. At last year's Christmas function I ran into him and he disillusioned my fantasy. As it turns out he is a policeman.

There are a few other ' constants ' that I see on my walking route. A few pensioners drive around the vineyards inspecting nature, the vines and progress on the few building sites there are. A neighbour fixing his wall, adding to his house etc...

Well, one of them usually stops next to me and has a little chat with me. Something along the lines of: " Oh, so you walk every day? " or " Isn't it too hot / cold for you? " Look, I don't mind, as it gives me a chance to meet new people.

But a few weeks ago I wish he hadn't stopped to talk to me. As we met up next to the forest, he dropped his one-liner almost with glee. " Aren't you scared of wild pigs attacking you? "....

The minute he drove off with a friendly wave, I carried on walking, but at the same time feeling a touch intrepid. Was that rustle a mouse, rat or rather a wild pig coming for me? Suffice to say that nowadays I tend to mentally work out how to run away from a possible encounter.

The other day, my neighbour added more flesh to the bare bones of the wild pig tale. He told me to throw the apples not on our compost heap, but to take them to the forest entrance and leave them next to the path.

When I asked him, if it was for making compost there in the forest, he replied:
" Oh no, that is to feed the wild pigs and deer."....All I can say is " Oh dear me ! "


The two cuties waddling up the the hill. Last winter along my route.
The other day, at the start of my walk.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Looking Back To Our 1st Year In Burgenland.

The first six months of hard labour.

Going through our photos from the start of our adventure, makes me realize that actually Bob and I did jolly well. Bear in mind that we were complete and utter novices. Even family, when seeing our house 'before', told us how stupid a move it was...Well, that was their opinion!

Bob and I also couldn't have done all this without the help of my Mum & Albert. They gave us physical, practical and emotional help. Thank you!

Our lounge. In each room we had to remove old vinyl floor cover, rotten wood and dig down 60cm. Oh yes, with a shovel and a pick.
Each shovel of dirt had to be ergonomically swung into the wheelbarrow and this had to be wheeled outside and emptied on the growing pile of dirt. Bob and I took turns.
We put a 2nd bathroom in the back ' store ' room. It is so narrow that you can not even swing a cat yet alone pivot a shovel. That was the most vexing room of all.
My one and only time as a Stripper...of doors! When we realized that we needed new door frames, we discarded that project. Thankfully!
Our kitchen. Bob is surely wondering what the .... he is doing this for?
Our yard. Eventually we ran out of space for all the dug up earth.
Our main bathroom had to have the tiles taken off. That took us a week. Btw: It is only because I am the taker of photos, that you never see me at work. But I did!
We stripped all the old plaster with a chisel and hammer mostly. For months afterwards we both woke up and couldn't flex our hand for at least an hour.
In between we took a break at one of the local Eateries. Our house would be in the top right hand corner of the picture.
Just about every weekend from July - December we had to be on site at 7 am-5 pm, mixing never ending amounts of concrete. 3 buckets of water, 21 shovels of sand, and 7 shovels of cement...
You might wonder what the big deal is about mixing wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of cement. As you can see, apart from mixing it, it had to be wheeled through difficult places. Each wheelbarrow felt like it weighed a ton. Bob really is my hero. Let me tell you, he never in his life had so many muscles!
Bob is chuffed. Floor cemented and walls plastered. For us it was like reaching the summit of Everest.
We were thrilled to see the back of the pile of dirt. Don't forget that each shovel was dug out by hand.
We see the end on the horizon.
Two years later, this past July. We are happy so far, even though there is much more to be done. All in good time and when the money is available.

Here are a few links to older blog entries, where there are a few ' after pictures '. ( Today's blog does have a few repeat photos and I am sorry about that. Some of you might not have seen them. )

Loo with a view. How our main bathroom turned out.
Two years in Burgenland part 2. Again, some of the same photos are repeated, but it shows off some of the finished rooms.


Saturday, 23 November 2013

Our Family Car Gets A Speeding Fine!

Car pooling with my husband....whose fine is it anyway?

We share a car and are jolly grateful to even have a car. As I have mentioned a lot of times ( I love my husband dearly, but... ) , Bob is usually in the driving seat, driving Miss Biggi. Usually, but not always!

The other day the postman gleefully brought us a letter. One of those letters, where you instantly know that it is not something nice nor friendly. Don't you agree that all those ' Please pay us ' letters have a certain feel, texture and call forth that ' throw it away ' impulse. Bob, likes to make me open all the mail regardless of who it is addressed to. Could that be a clever ploy of his because as they say: possession is 9 / 10th of the law?

Opening said letter, my heart did drop, as it tends to do when one reads an official
' Pay up or else ' letter. Letter is a bit too kind as it was more of a demand. Reading it thoroughly and three times to boot, I realized that we had received a Speeding Fine. To add insult to injury, it was not one, but two.

At first I thought it may have been a mistake with the second one, because it was on the same day, same speed ( 41 kph in a 30 kph zone ) same place. But on my third read through, I discovered that a few numbers on the top were different. Just on the off chance that it was a mistake, we ( of course, Bob waited in the car ) went to the district office building, wherein the office of Traffic Fines resides.

Waiting outside the office was bad enough, as there was another man in front of me who didn't think he deserved his fine. Believe me, when his turn came, he loudly told the lady in charge and I could see her face darkening as he carried on. Oh dear, that boded well for me!

Knowing when I am beaten, I was just in the process of slinking out, when she called me in. My rather timid question about our fines made her go to the cupboard and pull the papers out. Clear as daylight, it showed that for the 1st fine, we drove west, and for the 2nd fine ( 6 min later ) we drove east, past the same radar gun!...Gosh, isn't that the worst job to have? Everyone and their Aunt Fanny will argue that they didn't do it / was a mistake / the monkey drove / the radar gun was faulty...

The fine reached us early in November, but the deed had been done in August. How on earth would we know who drove that day? Both of us, like any couple worth their salt, made it be known that we thought the other one was the culprit. It was by pure luck that we didn't have a tiff about it. We realized that it didn't matter as our kitty is combined, small as it is. As Jane Austin would have said: ' Economies had to be had in our household. '

Sharing a car with your spouse might have its challenges, trials and tribulations ( what music to listen too ) but at least you get to spend more time together. Oh, it might be a darn good idea to keep a diary of who drives on what day!
Oh, and I nearly forgot: " Bob, you should be thrilled when I tell you to slow down. "


Friday, 22 November 2013

Traffic Cops:Love Them / Hate Them, But They Save Lives!

Encounter in the dark!

" Geez-a-lou, I am glad it's not me! " was my first thought when I drove home from Edlitz last night and happened upon a traffic check. My second thought was; " Do I have to stop or not? " which I combined with an automatic touch of the brake pedal.

Gosh, it was only late afternoon, yet it was already pitch black and could easily have been mistaken for the middle of the night. In fact the only reason that I noticed the Police, was that their protective night clothing lit up like the landing strip at the airport.

There were at least three of them ( a bit of a riddle to decipher the reflective strips all over their bodies ) and they obviously had stopped a driver. I could see all the activity on the right side pavement up ahead. But what to do?

Just in case, I was crawling along at no more than 30 kph. Speed limits are 50 kph, but what if they wanted me to stop? They were stationed about 50 meters ahead of me and I felt like a headless chicken. Should I slow down, speed up or pull over?

Diligently I kept my eyes peeled for a reflective wave in my direction. Would they actually wave me in, or is it expected that I stop regardless? I slowed down to a stalling speed and turned my head right in case they grew bored with their current prey and shifted their focus on me. Silly me, I even considered rolling down the window and asking whether they wanted a peep at my particulars. Yes right, a slightly blonde move!

Once I crawled past them, I have to admit that I kept on checking the rear view mirror. Oh and of course I drove with the slow motion care of a newly licensed driver...

Let me know how you react when you see a traffic check up ahead!


Thursday, 21 November 2013

My Prince, A Sleeper Couch & Co!

Not every sleeper couch is the same.

If you want to emigrate anywhere in Europe, I will always recommend our part of Austria - Burgenland - for its fabulous and friendly people, stunning scenery, delicious wines and its second hand furniture.

Admittedly, this sounds weird, but it is so true. Let's face it, once you decide to move to another continent, not everyone can and wants to hire a container to transport all of their stuff. Bob and I decided to give away all of our things ( except for our books of course! ) to two wonderful co-workers. They needed stuff and it felt jolly good to be able to give .

Arriving in our new place with two suitcases ( books somewhere on the high seas ) made our adventure even more fun, exciting with the odd moment of hankering after the old. As we didn't move here with oodles of money, we couldn't just rush out and buy new furniture.

In South Africa, when you buy or sell your home, it is the home and not the furnishings. You might get lucky with a few kitchen appliances, but that is it. Coming over here, it was amazing to realize that when people sell their homes, they leave most of their furniture & stuff in it. Eh, by stuff I mean: Bedding, linens, towels, chairs, beds, kitchens & utensils and of course sleeper couches. Just to put your mind at ease, Bob and I discarded some of the above, but kept the rest.

If you are not squeamish, you can basically get your home furnished! Once we moved into our house, it was nice and uncluttered. We had a sleeper couch from our folks, a nice second hand kitchen table with chairs and our NEW beds. God moves in mysterious ways, because the word spread that we were happy to accept old furniture. ( One of the reasons why people leave old furniture and stuff is because you have to pay to throw anything away. )

We have an art deco lounge suit given to us by friends up the road. We were just so happy for more seating areas, but were even more pleased when my aunt came for a visit and told us how valuable and en trend this furniture is!

Back to the sleeper couch story. The one my folks gave us is great, but once you unfold it, you can feel a hard metal strip across your back. I circumvent that by putting extra blankets over it and most of the time it works. My Prince, Bob, can't sleep on it because he feels this metal strip most of the night.

Yesterday, we drove to collect anther sleeper couch from a friend who wanted to get rid of it. It is a heftier and I suppose more solid couch. Even transporting it was a mission with a few bruised knuckles earned manoeuvring it through the various doorways. The couch is old and once we had it here, we vaccuumed and cleaned it. Yet...

It has an old and slightly mouldy smell. When I mentioned it, Bob just poo-poohed me and told me I was being too fussy. Fair enough. Last night was our first night on it. My Prince could sleep next to me watching TV. Nice, but I could smell the smell and it also felt a tad bit too short as my feet were dangling in space. Like a good wife, I kept my complaints to myself ( at least after the 5th time. )

At one stage, when Bob woke up, he too mumbled that he didn't like the smell....Yeah, maybe my old couch will make a come back! As we have a democratic marriage ( men will know that a happy wife makes a happy life ) I guess that we will sleep on this sleeper couch for a few nights, and then decide....


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Ladies, How Do You Watch Soccer On TV?

As opposed to our men...?

Last night's Germany versus England 2013 match was really only discovered by chance.
Thankfully I took the trouble of glancing at the TV times and as luck would have it, it was shown on ARD ( the first column on the page ). Of course all those other rather good programs were dismissed. By the way, nice job of trying to tempt us away from the soccer. Almost but not quite!

Having just returned from the weekly gym class, I was rather more alert and awake than usual. A kick off at 21.00 hours is more often suited for the younger lot. At such a late hour, the rest of us are more than likely engaging in a bout of TV sleep. Some say it is the best type? How do men, who also add a few beers into the mix, keep awake?

Straight off, Bob and I established that we were both routing for the same team-Germany and made outlandish predictions. My 5-2 prediction ( eh, not reached ) was partly fueled by catching sight of my favourite Soccer-TV-commentator...the divine Mehemt Scholl. A very nice guy who is rather dishy in addition. Gosh, why did I not watch Bayern Munich when he still played?

Once the game got underway, it kind of resembled air-soccer for a while with lots of high kicking legs to be seen! Not so nice to watch for the simple reason that it is extremely difficult to keep track of who has the ball etc. Maybe that induced me to recline more on the sofa bed and take off my glasses. Oh, I still watched sporadically...

All that air-soccer aided me into my first sleep cycle. Every time there was a big cheer ( or a loud snore from Bob ) I woke up. Luckily I managed to witness the important and only goal. Bob, sadly did not. When I nudged him awake for the 2nd half, he had the cheek to question whether I had really seen the goal. Do you know how sneaky he is? His " So, who scored the goal? " , had me wrong footed...

The second half was interspersed with seeing colourful soccer boots and colourful goalies. As a person who needs glasses ( the only time I had 20 / 20 vision with them was the day I got them, smudge-free ) it is awfully confusing that firstly, the German team wore a green usually seen on the Irish, and secondly, that both goalies chose to wear bright orange uniforms. I mean, really, how am I meant to know who is who?

If it wasn't for that helpful ticker tape on the top left of our TV screen keeping score, the goalies uniform might have confused me... All those men snickering right now, just remember that I am a new re-convert to watching soccer.

Watching an entire match, yet not seeing the whole match is alright for me. The cheering of the crowd and Bob's snores / cheers / boo's were ample enough to help me witness the most important parts of the match. Oh yes, even watching it my way, I love watching it.


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Please Don't Wait For Retirement To Enjoy Your Life!

Best laid plans and all that...

About 12 years ago someone told me the story of his parents. Thankfully I was there to hear it, because it did alter the setting of my life compass to a certain degree.

Here it goes: Both of his parents worked. Worked very hard in fact. From the start of their life together, they decided to save and save only for their retirement. That was the oasis in the desert of their daily grind. I am fairly certain, that they uttered things like; " Oh, we won't do that now. Let's do it when we retire."

Like any good and solid citizen, they invested in the usual instruments of retirement. For all I know, they were the delight of their insurance agent. Going out for dinner to a restaurant was out of the question, as that was a treat held for that far off land of retirement. Same with holiday trips and new clothes. " We can't waste now."

After the usual length of time ( and maybe it was a self inflicted prison of sorts ) they were ready to leave the waters and put their toes onto that island of retirement. Well, as you might expect, Lo and Behold...

They chose the wrong country to do their ' time ' in. Of all the place in the world, they had to do their frugality of life in Zimbabwe. Yes, Zimbabwe. As you can guess already, their much longed for pension, was taken in one foul swoop by something so unexpected. Unexpected when they started on their journey. They encountered Inflation. In fact, Hyperinflation.

Their savings and pension was there, but it was worthless. In fact, they struggled to put enough food on their table.

Here is my point. They should and could have enjoyed life while they were living and experiencing it. A dinner here and a small holiday there. Don't get me wrong. It is important to save for your retirement, but it is also important to not neglect life along the way.

Don't deny yourself the little pleasures that make life special. Maybe meeting a friend for a cappuccino or buying yourself a book to read or even going out for dinner with your loved one....


Monday, 18 November 2013

Mother Nature: " I'll stop when you do! "

Who will stop first?

Even the most ardent opponents to Global Warming have had inklings that they might be wrong and yes, it is real. It might be the simple fact that they are growing older and have realized that...having a lot of money means nothing when Mother Nature flicks her tail!

How much more do we have to see, feel and hear about before we all make an effort to reverse the Global Warming triggers. There are so many people who already do their bit to halt & reverse Global Warming. But we need to all do it.

  • Yes, it might cost us more money.
  • Yes, it might mean a bit more work for us.
  • Yes, it might mean not having everything and anything at the drop of a hat.

But, who even has to think about it, when it means that:

  • We don't have to worry about excessive natural disasters.
  • We know that even when our kids grow up, they will have a safe environment in which to live.
  • We know that there is enough untainted food and water for all of us, all of the time.

Sadly in today's times, the countries that adopt Green Environmental Laws, seem to be rewarded with production going to non-regulated countries...Let's level the playing field and get all countries to adopt and adhere to the same Green Environmental Laws.

In the last few decades, most of us have noticed a change in climate, and not for the better. What will the next few decades bring, if we do nothing now?

Let Global Warming be a Global Warning to all of us.


Sunday, 17 November 2013

A Morning Of Buck, Fog & Imagination.

Again, Nature soothes the soul.

My morning started with opening the bathroom window at the crack of dawn and being rewarded with an amazing surprise. As you can see in the following pictures, the morning just kept getting better...

This was a mere ten meters away.
Any sound I made caused their heads to raise and their muscles to quiver..
The start of my route. Looking back over my shoulder. The rising and eddying fog makes me think of Sherlock Holmes and England.
No words needed!
You know, the farmers couldn't be more helpful with their ploughing. Turning the soil brings out the most divine colour contrast with the green grass and the bare vines.
A Church tower has always been a source of strength and orientation.
Can you believe these stunning colours, even in the middle of November?


Saturday, 16 November 2013

Bob, Bread, Burgenland, Bravo!

Making healthy bread is simple and fun.

The other night I was working late and not looking forward to making dinner. At this time of the year, it gets dark at half past four and at six o'clock it feels like the middle of the night. The minute I walked into our house the aromas of freshly baked bread enveloped me. As I looked into our kitchen I saw that Bob had made a fresh loaf of bread and a pot of homemade vegetable soup!

What a Man. As they would say in those Georgette Heyer or Jane Austin novels:
" She married well. " And just to up the ante of this fortunate occurrence, can you believe that he had even washed all and every dirty dish used?
Oh, you are correct in thinking: ' Gosh, she married really well! '

In yesterday's blog I teased you with our ( mainly Bob's ) bread recipe, and here it is:

  • 500g of wholewheat flour.
  • Half a cube of fresh yeast.
  • A grated carrot.
  • Any, all or none of the following: linseed / oats / sunflower seeds / raisins in a series of dashes.
  • 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • A tiny bit of sugar to activate the yeast.
  • A bit of warm milk to put over the yeast.
  • About a cup or so of water to mix it all together. You will need to judge the amount.

We use the weigh bowl to mix all the dry ingredients. When all is mixed we make a crater in the middle and crumble in the yeast. ( your fingers will smell a tad bit... " beerish ". ) Sprinkle the bit of sugar over the yeast and follow up with the lukewarm milk. Use the spoon to flick the flour over the liquid and thus covering it. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and put in a warm place for ten minutes.

Take a bread shaped oven form and coat it with either butter or greased baking paper. Turn your oven to 180 degrees. Get a jug with water and mix it in increments into the mixture. Stirring at the same time. It might take a minute or so and the mixture becomes a big lump of dough. We don't knead it, for the simple reason that we are too lazy! But you can if you want.

The dough is ready to transfer into the baking tin.
Bob does a few 'this & that's and the work is done. Put it into the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 55 minutes.
My nephew who is a Master Baker, told me the tip with putting a cup of water alongside the bread, whilst in the oven. It makes the crust heavenly...
When the time is up and the smell too delicious, take it out the oven and do the knife test. Stick the knife into the loaf and it should come out without any sticky stuff on it.
Here we go. Bob's healthy bread. Make sure you have butter ready for the first tasting. Our recipe is self thought out, so there might be some oops' along the way. But even with oops', it always tastes fantastic and the best thing of all, it costs less than a Euro! Have fun.


Friday, 15 November 2013

Who Has More Check-up's, You Or Your Car?

November 14th was #WorldDiabetesDay.

The heading might sound a bit funny, but for most people it rings true. We are so keen to make sure our cars are properly serviced and looked after, but when it comes to our health we often turned a blind eye or a deaf ear ( who hasn't ignored a " Should you be eating that? " ).

Those world diabetes days, tend to kick our butts into action from cyberspace. All we need to do is have a simple blood test at our doctor or pharmacy. Yes, it might cost us money. Yes, it means a pin prick and a possible quick pain. And yes...we find out for sure!

Finding out for sure might be the reason some of us are too scared to do the test. Somehow visions of bad tasting food will appear. That was so yesteryear. Food cooked the diabetic way is so yummy and easy to make. Once you have weened yourself off the fast food and ready made foods, your taste buds change.

Diabetes is a very serious condition, but it is very manageable and preventable. There are of course several warning signs, and here is a list of signs & symptoms .

Most of you reading this will not have diabetes, but you might know someone who does. Most of you will not get it, but the habits passed on to your kids can determine their future health. In a positive or negative way. Sorry, I know this is a harsh statement to make.

Why not start today and incorporate a few simple changes into your lifestyle. Just do it for 30 days.

  • Change any ' white ' starches ( pasta / flour / rice / bread ) to wholewheat / brown.
    They don't cost that much more and they actually have more taste.
  • Do 30 mins of excercise each day. Walking, cycling or even just walking up and down at the local mall.
  • Here is an easy one for the wallet: Make all meals yourself. Don't buy fast or ready made foods.
  • Eat more vegetables

On a personal note, by pure chance, Bob was diagnosed with diabetes in February. On the day he had his blood tested, our Doctor told us one thing, that has stuck in my mind: " You know, his blood sugar level is so high, that if we hadn't discovered it today, in the not so distant future he might not have woken up! ". Have your loved one's checked out. It only takes a little bit of time, but might give you a lifetime in return....


Bob makes our bread now. Will tell you his recipe in tomorrows blog.
The taster! Oh yes, he got the Scherzel / crust...the most tasty part of any bread. Luckily each loaf has two!!