Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year's Resolutions: Please Don't Sabotage Other People's Attempt!

The one day of the year, that every one tries.

Any vice or addiction is darn difficult to give up. Quite frankly, sometimes it is more prudent to keep it to yourself because ' well-meaning ' friends and family will try and dissuade you!

Let's just take one of the main resolutions out there: Smoking. Today is that day for a lot of people. But there are many more who won't stop today. You'll find them smirking into their glass while mumbling,

" Oh, he'll never make it. I tried and failed, so why should he make it? ".

They say that smoking is one of the hardest addictions to give up. Well done to anyone who goes and breaks the habit. But it is far from easy. It would be easy if we all lived in a cave or bubble. Why, you might ask?

Well, if there is one thing a smoker dislikes more than anything else, it is the one that gets away. The one that has the guts to break the habit. The one who, who unlike them, has what it takes....A smoker doesn't want to be paddling alone in a canoe heading for the fall. Oh no, they will be more than happy to undo any resolutions of their friends.

How many times have the almost non-smokers been led astray by their friends tempting them:

" Are you sure you don't want a cigarette? You know, just one won't be a problem! ". " Look, these are very light cigarettes, they hardly will make a difference. "
" Have one, he /she won't know! "

As smoking is an addiction of momentous proportions, in the process of kicking that habit, the new non-smoker will often beg their friends for just a puff. Don't do it, friends. You know that an addict will say anything to have a puff.

Here is the thing. When any of your friends or family stop the habit, or are on the path of doing it, be a true friend for a change and support them. However you try and justify it, it is not a nice deed at all if you give a nearly non-smoker a cigarette. What is that saying...' with friends like you, who needs enemies? '

Here is a cheer for all of your resolutions and I know that you are succeeding in them!


Amazon.com:Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking: The Easyway To Stop Smoking
Amazon.de/at:Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking: Be a Happy Non-smoker for the Rest of Your Life
Amzon.uk:Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking: Be a Happy Non-smoker for the Rest of Your Life (Allen Carrs Easy Way)

Monday, 30 December 2013

Burgenland: Winter Our Way...

Are there any normal climates left in the world?

We have just had two extremely cold and snowy winters, our first by the way and somehow we expected more of the same. But even now, in the dying days of 2013, we have not had snow and only one cold spell. A few days of minus 3-5 degrees.

It has been murmured that Burgenland is the land of sunshine, with at more or less 300 days of sunshine per year. Look, one can have a cold day, but with sunshine it makes it more enjoyable. Cold and dreary do not go with Burgenland.

This was taken a week ago and on a Sunday morning ( Bob tries to only accompany me on a Sunday...). Weather wise, that more or less was the worst of it. The wind was blowing up a storm. This country lane is unprotected by land, and when the wind howls, you can either be pushed along or try your hardest to stay upright as you push along. Once or twice in the past few years, the wind has almost pushed me over in its might.
Beautiful and sunny, isn't it? Green fields and blue skies almost defies the season of Winter.
On yesterday's walk, the weather was a tad more overcast yet it didn't destract from the nice & calming scenery.
You can see the church spire of Deutsch-Schützen to the left, and the little chapel to the right.
Even in foggy weather, the church is noticeable and not to be missed.
Sunset near Kulm. We went with our friends to have a bite to eat at this Buschenschank in Kulm. We had a great time and it was cemented in our memory with this stunning sunset.
Sunrise from our front gate, yesterday morning. A bit crisp but well worth it. Beautiful Burgenland indeed.


Sunday, 29 December 2013

Downton Abbey, We're Fashionably Late To The Party!

Rather late than never.

You know, they should put a warning label across the cover of the DVD:
" Open and watch at your own risk. This movie could make you forsake all other genres...for a little while at least. "

Throughout the year I have seen different people rave on social media about Downton Abbey. Even my family on two continents were telling me how wonderful this series is. Somehow it didn't register and to be fair, we didn't have a chance to watch it. Well, a Christmas gift has enslaved me to this series.

At first, Bob wasn't overly enthusiastic about watching this series. In fact he only meant to watch the first few minutes with me and sat down on the couch. After the first five minutes, even a mouse running across the floor wouldn't have registered with either Bob or I. Luckily no - one phoned, as we would probably have ignored it. When the credits rolled on the first episode, I could see that Bob was also addicted. Jokingly, I pretended to switch off the TV and gosh, you should have heard the protests from Bob...

From the first scene, we were entranced and pulled into this marvelous and oh so exciting story. The various characters, as they were introduced, shone in even the tiniest of scenes. Each character is woven into the story and taking any one of them out, would unravel the whole. Bob and I couldn't wait to see them reveal more facets of their onscreen persona. Hook line and sinker. In fact, we watched it on the 26th of December at 2 pm and only took a break ( food, lavatory etc ) at 8 pm.

Of course, it is fiction and acted, but for some reason, you become part of the life. Early on, you pick your favorites. ' Mr. Bates ' for me and ' Anna ' for Bob. When did you last talk to a character? You know, when did you last talk to the little black box in your living room? Believe me, I was giving advice to Mr Bates. I cried a few times and had a warm feeling around the heart at other times.

Amazon.com:Masterpiece: Downton Abbey Seasons 1, 2 & 3 Deluxe Limited Edition (Amazon Exclusive Season 4 Bonus Features)

Downton Abbey is a smorgasbord of everything needed to make a fabulous, authentic and addictive series. Bob's parents gave us the series as a gift and when we Skyped them at 8 pm to thank them, his Mom said: " Just watch one episode at a time. Maybe every Sunday? "...Well, that horse has left, no actually galloped out the barn for good!


Amazon.de/at:Downton Abbey - Staffel eins [3 DVDs]

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Take Choices Out Of Your Life & Have One!

Whittle down your lifestyle to one of ease and enjoyment.

Choices are flung at us from left, right and center. From the minute we get up it starts. Shower or bath? Coffee or tea? Toast or cereal? Dress or pants? Before we are even out our front door, we have already made several choices.

Friends of ours are here on holiday and staying down the road ( 2.4 km to be precise ). One of their main goals from this holiday was a chance to de-stress, unwind and jolly well relax! Cunningly they opted out of a rental car. For any shopping trips, they tag along with us. Remember, we are in a small village with just a village shop / tea room. The nearest town is 25 kilometers away and normally we drive there once a week.

If our friends want to go anywhere, it is on foot or of course with us. To come over for a cup of coffee involves a 4,8 km march. They love it. You know, how often do we go somewhere on holiday and are so worried in case we don't see it all, that everything becomes a blur? Staying put in one place for a longer amount of time....almost revolutionary!

Watching my friends unwind has been wonderful. Their faces have lost the harried and pinched look. The only choice that gets flung at them in the morning is, who has to get up to make the first cup of coffee! Sleeping the whole day....not a problem. Walking the whole day...not a problem. Reading the whole day...not a problem.

We should take a few of those pesky choices out of our everyday life. Let's transform our daily life into one of ease & enjoyment:

  • Going to work every day, why not take public transport? No more wondering if taking this or that road will be a shortcut.
  • Leave your credit card at home. In fact put it away in a safe place. Use cash or debit card only. Going shopping will become a breeze...wondering if to get this rather than that for dinner is much easier if you only have a finite amount of money with you.
  • Only take your cell/smartphone along if absolutely necessary. Imagine not having to choose whether you will answer a call or sms...

We have all heard of or read the adage: Life is a journey and not destination. and yet we do tend to forget. Not seeing everything that is available in life is absolutely fine. Remember, when you go to a buffet banquet, you also don't eat everything that is laid out...


Friday, 27 December 2013

Car Keys: How Often Do You Look For Them?

The daily game of Hide & Seek.

Why do we always imagine that being forgetful is the sole property of the old or elderly? Rather a cheek from us, because let's face it, we can be just as forgetful! By we, I mean the 30 - 50 something lot.

In case you are snickering and denying it, what about your car keys or cell phone? Mind you, since the smartphone revolution, it doesn't get lost as much...because it is either glued to our hands or sutured into our pockets. But car keys tend to get lost on a daily basis.

Off the top of my head, I can recall many occasions where panic, raised voices and blame gets flung around while we have searched for those car keys. At least I tend to mostly lose them in the same places: pockets, kitchen table or window sill. Knowing my tendency for misplacing keys etc, I make it a habit to put the keys in the same place as soon as I get in. In theory at least!

The other night, I was the designated driver ( eh, when am I not? ) and managed to get my herd together. Not a mean feat, because I know how nice another glass tastes when you have had too many already. Plus it was at our house. Anyway, they were as good as lambs and went to put on their coats and shoes ( for those living in the Southern Hemisphere, remember shoes are muddy and you have to clean floors yourself ).

In fact they were already climbing into the chariot ( we don't lock cars here, no need to ) and hollering for their chauffeur. Of course, I had misplaced the car keys. Even worse, I was the last one using them, which Bob gleefully pointed out. After searching my usual ' hiding places ' they still were missing. I had fetched our friends earlier and remembered that I had shown them our earth cellar.

As the name states, our earth cellar is a dark place and we have no lights in there. The men were braver than normal and thought nothing of going into a dark and dingy cellar. Even in daylight it takes a few ounces of courage to enter it, as apart from being dark and musty it has plenty of spider webs dangling vicariously from the ceiling.

As I am a good wife and friend, I managed to find the keys just in time to save them from being attacked by spiderwebs and more...

Dear readers, I would love to know if you are also a bit forgetful or if it is only me? At the end of this blog is a place for sharing.
If you've ever misplaced your car keys, press Like or G+ or Favourite but if you do it on a regular basis, please press share, Retweet or comment .
A big Thank You in advance for your input.


Thursday, 26 December 2013

Only Fools & Novices Wear Tight Clothing For Christmas Lunch.

Conquering this feast in fitting attire.

Isn't it simply wonderful to have a get together with family and close friends around about this time of the year? Gosh, in a way it is a dress rehearsal for the same time a week after. New Year's Eve!

A family get together is always marked by food. Delicious food and lots of it. Christmas tends to be the zenith of this. Where else can you eat so much food. Not one roast but two. Not one vegetable dish, but two. Not one potato dish, but two...oh the list is endless. Suffice it to say, that at Christmas time we pull out all the stops regarding food.

Even our careful eating habits fly out the window quicker then you can pull the inevitable Christmas cracker. Let's face it, the the last week in December is a no holds barred affair. You would think that after the first huge meal you would never eat again. Yet before you know it, you catch yourself copying Nigela Lawson in a midnight expedition to the fridge.

Someone should record us at the lunch table. Almost all of us will mumble something along the lines of... " Even if you payed me, I couldn't eat another bite " ...when the plates are cleared and just before dessert. Lo and behold, 20 minutes later, we all have triple helpings of apple crumble and custard topped with ice - cream and whipped cream. When in Rome, do like the Romans!

It is very amusing to watch everyone get up when it is finally over. Those with short memories or a glass too much, are barely able to catch their pants in time. Oh they can forget about doing up the button again and might as well get used to holding up their pants until they get home. Others will waddle along and wonder how they can ever eat again.

That sense of wonderment doesn't last very long. Who hasn't gone home and headed straight for the kitchen? It defies logic but after all this food, you want more!

Tell me, do you still wear tight clothing to your Christmas lunches or do you cunningly don a Caftan?


Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Being Welcomed By A Bevy Of Cats.

Animals instantly uplift your mood.

As you know, I have been selected as a Cat-sitter. Last week I just went once to get the brief on what to do & who to feed where. The modern day cat does not rely on mice any more. ( Our bundle of joy, Tigger, has forgotten what a mouse might look like. No need for her! ).

Yesterday morning I took the drive to feed this bevy of beauties. The whole route there was blanketed by a thick fog that funnily enough only lifted as I got to my destination. As I parked the car, I glanced up and saw the welcoming committee.

Gosh, they really didn't know me from a bar of soap but they were so so excited to see me. The three wise cats indeed. As they saw me get out the car and approach the gate, the quiver of excitement that shot through them was palpable.
Their look-out was stationed at the bottom of the driveway, and she made sure to get me to the house with a miaow here and a miaow there to guide me or rather hurry me along.
It felt so good to be welcomed like this. Trusting this stranger...when they started purring and doing a close figure of 8 around my ankles, I was enslaved! Right then and there I decided to give them an extra tin of food...Their diet was out of the window.
They made sure to block any escape route for me. No, they wanted their dinner.
This was the lady who only likes to eat inside the kitchen, as she is a bit scared of the other lot. She came inside with me, but for some reason played coy for a long time, only eating a mouthful before doing the cleaning routine. Obviously she missed her " Mum ".
You can see, that the troops were happy. In fact, when I emptied each can, they one by one had to put their noses in it...literally.
As they were purring and making ' so glad to see you ' noises, I played along.
Even this beautiful cat who normally eats inside, started to eat. It was so cute to watch her. In a ladylike manner she used her paw to move the food to her mouth.
Paw to mouth and not mouth to paw.
Going home, I had the goodbye committee with the third member following me down the driveway...

When you are around pets, problems are soon left behind. What a privilege to feed this bevy of beauties.


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

In-Laws Or Parents This Christmas?

The tug of war practiced in even the best of families.

Christmas time is hectic in itself, trying to sort out all the trimmings that go with it. Ticking off the various items on Santa's list takes dexterity, energy and effort. Organizing and cooking a scrumptious meal takes time even though it is enjoyable. At least no one will raise an eyebrow if you have a tipple every time you baste the goose / turkey / roast or tofu loaf. Dinner for one comes to mind!

What most couples dread at this time is the question of who to have your Christmas with. His or Her parents? Look, for us it has mostly been easy, as the parents and in-laws ( for both of us ) were hardly ever in the same place. No debate needed or even necessary. But I know that this issues does cause a lot of friction with many couples.

But it shouldn't. Why do most of us overlook the very obvious. Once you are married, you form your own family. A family that comes first. A family that should come first. Often it is us ourselves who don't get that concept. Yes it is nice to spend festive occasions with your family and maybe that is a way to relive our childhood. But, our new family ( us ) should be the place & people we want to spend occasions ( heck, every or rather most minutes of the day as well ) with.

Most families, once you lift the curtain of perfection, have similar issues.

" No, we spent the holidays with your family last year." or
" If we don't go this year, I will get the cold shoulder" or
" Why should I go to your family, when they make me feel unwelcome/ ignore me? "
. I am certain, if you were to ask any in-law of any family, they would tell you funny, sad or hair-raising stories about their own early years of marriage and spending festive occasions with eh...in-laws. Will they get the irony of telling those stories....Of course not, otherwise there would not be a blend of curry spices named: Mother-in-law's revenge!

Christmas should be one of those times when families are there for one another. A time to bury any hatchets, a time to forgive and a time to put the other person's well being above your own.


Monday, 23 December 2013

Are You Doing Something Nice For Christmas?

Just because you can and want to?

Nice is one of those words that can run the gauntlet of ideas and emotions. Nowadays, nice could be going to the movies, or going on holiday and oh the list is endless. But what about doing something ' nice ' in the true sense of the word?

  • Sending a handwritten Christmas card to friends & family? Those are rare to receive, aren't they?
  • Making a batch of cookies and taking them round to Great-Aunt Ida / Suzi / or Agatha, who you haven't seen in a long time and who is lonely.
  • Inviting an acquaintance to join you for Christmas lunch / dinner, because you know they are otherwise on their own and lonely.
  • Taking the time to visit your local Old-age Home. Go and have a cup of tea with someone there. You don't even have to bring a present, because your mere visit alone is worth gold to the other person. Loneliness can happen to everybody & everywhere.
  • Instead of buying gifts for family and friends, that they never will use, donate money to a worthy cause in their name. Now there is a nice thing to do.
  • A few links to online donations:
    Doctors without Borders.
    Unicef / Syria

  • Pay it forward... a small gesture such as paying for the toll fee of the car behind you
    ( a total stranger ) will make you feel good and I guarantee that it will make the other person feel even better!

These are just a few ideas, but I know that you have so many more and maybe even better ideas. Please tell me about them...


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Blending In At The Mall.

Black, Brown & Grey...what gives?

We took friends to the mall yesterday. Questionable choice of days, because going to a mall on the last Saturday before Christmas is akin to running a very dicey obstacle course. No, we didn't have to crawl on our tummies under barbed wire, but it felt like it at times.

Bob took one look at the full parking lot and let out an unrepeatable expletive. As we got to the entrance of the parking lot, I said:

" Bob, please don't try to find parking at the front door. Just take the first gap you see."
For some reason, men would rather circle the lot ten times instead of taking what is available and possibly walking 100 meters! In fact they are like motorized pugilists daring any other circling drivers to take their spot. Oh, your man does this too?...

Parked and ready for action, we set off into the sea of people. Walking straight ahead without dodging to the left or right to avoid an oblivious shopper, was impossible. At least it gave us a bit of exercise. Everyone looked alike in their black, grey or brown coloured clothes ( mine too ) and it created this blending affect of the masses. Hard to differentiate among the lot. Bob now and again mumbled:

" Did you see & greet so and so? "
" No, where was she? "
" Right in front of you."

In winter, our bulky & warm jackets are a hindrance of note. Yes, outside it is freezing yet inside the mall and stores it is almost 25 degrees. If you take off your jacket every time, it gets tedious and little bit dangerous too. Manoeuvring the small cramped isle with a bulky something at your side, can dislodge a few breakables.

The malls are very clever in their layout. Once you are inside, good luck trying to escape quickly and without spending loads of money. Even now, they had rather a lot of ' less 50% ' items. You can bet your bottom dollar that they are still making a profit. Being strong willed and resolute makes it easier to forgo all those temptations. Of course it is helped along vastly if you just take cash and not too much of it!

Next year I am going to wear either white, beige or yellow. No more blending in for me...


Saturday, 21 December 2013

Cat Sitting: Not Everyone Cracks The Nod!

Not everyone is a good cat-sitter either.

In the past I used to wonder about the madness of some cat owners. A cat is a cat, I thought, and you know if they are hungry they must jolly well hunt for a mouse or two! I should have know better than to make a judgement because now I have joined the ranks of cat-lovers and owners.

To be frank, we can get rather carried away with our loved ones....our cat(s). Here are a few little clues about us:

  • We never run out of cat food. We might run out of ' human food ' but never ever for our babies...
  • Some of us ( not us as we own a feral cat, Tigger who has trained us. Her fiefdom is outside only ) buy furniture that can only be used by a cat.
    Little cat-gyms. Rather cute and often placed next to the TV. You don't want to miss out on any display of genius: " Oh look Darling, isn't she clever for doing a handstand like that."
  • We stick to proper meal times. Our Tigger gets fed before us. In fact, trips are planned around our cat's meal time.
  • When you hear us talk to our cats, you might wonder if we have lost the plot along with our normal voices. In my defence, I do realize that I sound like an idiot when I talk to Tigger, but at least I do it in English knowing that the neighbours won't understand what I am saying...
  • We research our little one's body language for clues. Oh yes, they speak a sign language. It is all in the tail. Should you see fangs, I suggest you run!

Amazon.com:The Cat Whisperer: Why Cats Do What They Do--and How to Get Them to Do What You Want
Amazon.de/at:The Cat Whisperer: Why Cats Do What They Do--and How to Get Them to Do What You Want

Last week a friend with numerous cats ( at least 7 ) phoned to deputize me as her chosen cat sitter. I felt and still feel extremely honoured. She lives 20 kilometers away and I drove there a few days ago to get instructions and be vetted at the same time. No, they haven't left yet.

From the start, she said: " Look, don't worry if you can't get here more than once. Our cats are a bit too hefty as it is and I am glad if they get put on a diet." Oh, famous last words, because she at the same time told me to put out almost double the quantity of food, so that they wouldn't go hungry!


Friday, 20 December 2013

STOP! Take A Closer Look, Because You'll Be Surprised.

When did you last take the time?

Click, swipe and judge straight away is the mantra of our times. We all do it, myself included. Aren't we being conditioned with all the information coming at us from all sides ( Social media, email and just being online ) to be superficial in real life too?

How often do we sum up a person at first glance:

  • I don't like the way she looks / dresses / speaks.
  • She / he is so arrogant.
  • She doesn't greet me, so I am not going to bother with her.
  • They have the perfect life because they drive a fancy car / live in a fancy house / spend loads of money.
  • They are the perfect couple.

Stop and take the time to listen for more than a minute to your friends, family or acquaintances. And listen, don't just think about what you are going to say once they are done! Everyone likes to talk about themselves, me included. Stop and listen. I promise you that you will be pleasantly surprised.

There will be facets to your friends or family that you didn't know about, because you have never bothered to ask! Let me tell you, that those facets of a person are what makes them fabulous. It shows how they have handled the hard times, it shows how funny they are, it shows how full of character and pep they are...

Those are the golden nuggets everyone has but that are only noticed once you peel off the outer layers. How to peel those layers off?

Well, listen, listen, listen and ask, ask, ask...and don't tell, tell, tell!

Taking a longer second look, is the magic key to unlocking the secret chamber of treasures. Most people have so much inner beauty, strength and wisdom, that if you don't take the time to discover it, it is your loss!


Thursday, 19 December 2013

My Week Of Marital Solitude Ends!

Hubby went to visit his family...my in-laws.

It is rather liberating to rediscover the ability to do things on your own. Such as sorting out the oven, putting out the rubbish bin on time, driving yourself everywhere and not worrying about staying at home alone. Just so you know Schatzi, I am only doing these chores until you get home!!!

As liberating as it is, I missed Bob dreadfully but with the marvels of modern technology, I was kept abreast of his movements. Facebook suddenly became the local noticeboard that it was designed for. But still, folks forget that one needs to pause for a minute and take a big breath before writing anything on Facebook, as some comments can be a tad bit hurtful.

As you know, we live in paradise or a.k.a. Eisenberg, where there are no robots / traffic light in a 20 km radius. That alone should tell you that we ( I ) have not been in rush-hour traffic for eons. This from a gal that mastered Cape Town, Johannesburg and Manhattan traffic on her own...This little sojourn of Bob's has also improved my driving again. You know, Bob has been driving me everywhere!

Yesterday was the fourth time I drove into Oberwart, which to me seems like a relatively big town
( it has 2 traffic lights and 8000 inhabitants ). Gosh, I was getting into the swing of things big time and parallel parking was even part of it. Oh yes, I am honest enough to own up that parallel parking is not one of my strong points. The gap needs to be ample before I even consider it!

Anyway, yesterday afternoon I drove into Oberwart to pick up Bob. He was already at the bus station when I drove past, frantically trying to find a parking spot ( in between blowing air-kisses out the window ) as it was rush hour. Eventually I found one 100 meters down the road and parked the car in a parallel fashion. It only took me two lots of forward & backward manoeuvres.

I saw Bob running towards me, wheeling his suitcase behind him. Suddenly we could have done a scene in a rom - com with aplomb. Almost in slow motion, we ran towards each other, my hair blowing in the wind, Bob's beanie bobbing on top his head, and hugged for dear life, with a few kisses in between. Thankfully it was dark already as otherwise the passing motorists might have had a giggle, fender-bender or an " Ah, how cute " moment.

As a wife, it can be a bit daunting when the husband goes off to his family sans wive. One never really knows what goes on there.
A husband could run the gambit of... " Does she feed you enough? " to " Are you really happy ? " via " Why don't you do this that and the other ".

Welcome home Schatzi.


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Letter To Santa:Wish List, Shopping List Or An Outright Demand?

Poor Santa needs to work double-time!

Any children under the age of six tend to be extra good, no, almost angelic so close to Christmas. In fact, even the older ones tone down their behaviour appropriately so that their letter of demand might be met. Even if only halfway.

Their is an art form to writing these lists, with the most wished for item at the top and the rest in decreasing order of want. Yesterday I asked five children under the age of seven, what they have put on their wish list to Santa. Well, who knew that Draculaura had so many facets. Apparently you can get a Draculaura sleeping bag ( for the child that is ), Draculaura clothing and of course a lot of virtual paraphanalia for her. But that is a girl's wish.

From the boys came cries for robots, toy guns and an I-pad. When the others heard of the I-pad being on the list, they immediately adjusted their demands accordingly. Our village might have to be renamed- I-pad ville!

We were all sitting around a big table when I asked them about their wish list. It was rather entertaining for me to see the level of debate and bragging that was going on about the individual wishes. The air was crisp with excitement and anticipation, peppered with a few mini-arguments over who has what on their list!

The days until Father Christmas arrives are now counted in sleeps and I would be surprised if they actually sleep on the night before! Only tomorrow's start of the school holidays has managed to deflect their thoughts away from Christmas, but only for a little while...

After a few minutes of wish list discussion, one little girl put up her hand and said:
" Biggi, I need to say something very important."
" Yes, what is it? "
" I want to add to my list, that I want my parents to be happy & healthy!"

Wow, what a great kid....she deserves all her Draculaura items!



Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Do You Use A Filter Coffee Or A Coffee-Capsule Machine?

Which do you find easier to use?

The capsule-coffee-craze is everywhere. In fact it's easier to buy coffee capsules than ordinary filter coffee! Do you think it is one of those crowd phases, such as the slinky / aerobics / legwarmers / Rubik's cube and spending beyond our means?

We women love to get together over a cup of coffee. Is there anything nicer than this? Sitting at a table, discussing the most important news ( naturally about people we know ) and imbibing in a cup of coffee and highly decadent cake " Oh no, I shouldn't eat this...Oh alright, I can start my diet tomorrow ". A highlight of any social circle.

The maddening trend of owning a capsule-coffee maker has more or less extinguished any old fashioned Filter Coffee Machine ( The Percolator ). Only the older crowd and I still swear by it. Amazingly enough, it is much more pleasing on the household budget. Consider that a decent coffee capsule is at least 30-50 cents. One capsule per cup. ( Filter coffee costs about 5 Euros per 500 g and makes about 40 cups )

But now to the drawback of a capsule coffee machine: If you live by yourself, it is great and no problem. But, if you have to make 3-5 cups of coffee at the same time, you'll twist yourself into a pretzel to achieve it. It is just not possible. A strict rule of 1 cup at a time applies.

Usually the hostess makes the cups of coffee one at a time. You can hear it, as this machine makes the relevant noises. A sort of swoosh . Five cups take about 10 minutes. When you get given your cup, it is a coffee roulette of sorts. ( hot or not )

Old-fashioned Percolators take 2 minutes to fill with the relevant ingredients and that gives any hostess a chance to also sit at the table from the start...not missing out on those interesting tidbits of local news. Once the coffee is ready she can just pour everyone a cup. Time and money saved!

Which coffee device do you use at home?

Amazon.com:Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator
Amazon.de/at:Braun KF590 Purearoma Kaffeeautomat mit Timer klavierschwarz/metallic


Monday, 16 December 2013

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Try It & Be Hooked!

Nutty, yummy and very more'ish!

Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil are rumoured it give men more pep in a certain department! Possibly because they are high in zinc. Rather difficult to prove, but worth a try...
Many more health benefits go along with pumpkin seeds, but you know what, they just tastes so very nice that you don't need a reason to eat some.

Yesterday I told you about the world class wines produced by the local vintners. Guess what, our area also produces the most divine tasting pumpkin seed oil...the green nectar as I like to call it.

Pumpkin seed oil has a very rich green colour and even though it is an oil, it can be taken by the spoonful. Yes, it tastes nutty and like more. But the pumpkin seeds themselves do too.

Mum gave me a packet of raw pumpkin seeds and told me how to roast them for a snack. Roasting them sounds like a lot of work but surprisingly enough, it takes just a few minutes. One of the things that Bob shouldn't have but craves, is a bag of chips / crisps. A no-no for a diabetic. He tried roasted pumpkin seeds the other day. He like it so much that he made himself a few more helpings of it.

The result, once you taste the first spoonful is out of this world. I prefer to add a bit of salt once it is roasted. Store bought crisps, chips and savoury snacks just won't cut it anymore.

When friends come to visit, a bottle of local pumpkin seed oil is always nice to take back. Once they hear the folk lore attached to it, the men are rather keen to take more than one bottle and a few women have uttered " For goodness sake, don't tell my husband, he doesn't need any more pep in that department! "...


First step is to put them in a hot pan with a bit of oil. It will only take a few minutes to hear them start to pop. Then it they are done!
Ready to devour.
Can you see the green colour of their oil? Yummy, yummy, yummy!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

One Of The Best Austrian Red Wines Of 2014 Is Produced In Our Village.

Kopfensteiner Weingut is producing the most amazing world class quality wine(s).

As you know, I have a habit of bragging about living in the midst of a wine producing area. My daily walk takes me right through the various vineyards. Of course I knew it was heavenly just by looking at it...

But why take my word for it, when Gault&Millau Austria 2014 are doing it for me! Oh yes, Thomas Kopfensteiner has been lifted to that rare club of vintners / winemakers. Those special winemakers whose wine has all the right notes, tastes heavenly and is unforgettable. A wine that you can't wait to take the next sip of or tell your friends about it!
His " Blaufränkisch Szapary 2011 " does this.

We were lucky to get a tasting of his wines at the local " Weinkost " in September this year. Our friends from London flew in specially for the weekend of the wine tasting. No one had an inkling of what a priceless jewel was in the mix. Well now I can tell them that they were also tasting one of the Best Red Austrian Wines of 2014!

In fact, all you Oenophiles, wine aficionados, connoisseurs and sommeliers...mark next years event in your calender.( Link to our Deutsch-Schuetzen Gemeinde website) Most of our local wine producers exhibit their wines, and you might be surprised with more world class winemaker apart from Thomas Kopfensteiner. Not to make you jealous, but we can just walk down the road to his wine cellar and purchase a bottle or ten!

The simple life in Burgenland: Great people, breathtaking nature and world class wine.... I love it!


Saturday, 14 December 2013

When In Doubt Read The Manual!

Gosh, manuals are useful after all...

Bob is the master of all the heavy stuff in our household. He schleps the heavy bags of pellets to our oven ( I have now discovered that it is a jolly long way ), he cleans it and makes sure the times are set. Like anything else nowadays, this oven has a little computer-brain in it.

My Schatzi has flown the coop to visit his family for a few days. Bob being Bob, he has left me strict and rather detailed instruction regarding the oven. As any seasoned wife would have done, I listened with one ear only. Mentally doing a ' blah-blah, does he think I am stupid?'...!

His main point, which he repeated a lot, was: " For goodness sake, don't let the pellets run out! " to which I replied: " Geez-a-lou Bob, you do know that I am a grown up? Why on earth would I forget to put pellets in the oven! "

Bob has programmed the oven to run for 3 hours in the am and 3 hours in the pm as we have to still watch our pennies. You know, blankets, jerseys along with thick socks keep us warm just as well in between. But don't feel bad for us, because when you see those poor refugees from Syria, our 6 hours of oven time per day are pure luxury. In fact, you should all try it and send the money you'll save to help the refugees...

The other evening I got home in what seemed like the middle of the night, yet it was only 6 o'clock. Our oven was set to heat from 4 pm to 7 pm and I couldn't wait to get inside our warm cozy house. That is one of the nice aspects of a cold winter. The nice wall of warmth that envelops you as you enter the house.

The minute I opened the door, I knew that the oven wasn't on. It was cold and quiet. With a sinking feeling in my heart, I ventured to our pellet oven. The display read ' Warning 508 '. Lifting the lid to check for pellets, I got the shock of my life. The pellet container was empty...oh yes, this Gal who had remembered to feed the cat, had forgotten to feed the oven.

No problem, I thought. It was a bit tricky going outside in the dark to fetch another bag of pellets
( they do weigh a ton...15 kg's ) but I managed. Now, you'll have to picture this next scene. A real blonde one. After filling the oven with my offering of pellets, it wouldn't respond or start. Gosh, I stood there swearing, begging and trying various button pushing on the control board, but to no avail.

Bob had been rather scarce on Skype. In any case, the thought of having to admit that I had done this stupid thing, was not sitting well with me. A week of shivering and freezing flashed through my mind, which would have been preferable to his " I told you so! "

...until I remembered the manual. But where did I put it? Finding it eventually, it took a fair bit of time to decipher it. Every language imaginable is in this manual but I got to the " warning 508 " section ( it seems I am not the only blonde one out there! ). A few buttons pressed on the control panel finally resulted in that much longed for sound of a pellet oven switching itself on!


Friday, 13 December 2013

Did You Know, It Was Frank Sinatra's Birthday Yesterday!

Frank Sinatra, what an icon, what a STAR!

Oh of course I am biased. I love Frank Sinatra and his ballads. Fortunately, Radio Burgenland plays a lot of his songs and they were the one to remind me of his Birthday.

While the cat's away the mice will play...well, Bob's away and so I have free reign over what music to play. Bob will only suffer ( and not so silently either ) through long bouts of my music. What to do when your spouse is away? This very complex and highly difficult question only took me 1 second to answer!

For starters, the order of the day is to spoil oneself. Time for favourite meals or rather sandwiches for dinner, loads of chocolate, sole control of the remote and of course tuning into my favourite radio station.

Bob's visiting his family and getting a huge dose of tender family love & care. As I was mulling over the fact that I miss him dreadfully, a song by Frank filled the air. Ah, the feeling of hearing any song by Frank is indescribable. It is akin to someone reaching out and giving you a hug, making the world feel right again.

When his velvety voice fills the room, cares slip away. When you hear his songs you just want to drop everything you are doing and revel in his musical caress.

Many artists have sung cover versions of his music... Schatzi, even those bands that you love have tried... Who doesn't know the words to " My Way " .

My Dad is a huge Frank Sinatra fan and he was fortunate enough to go to a few live concerts. That is an experience I will not be able to share, but I thought I would put a YouTube link of Frank performing. If you watch until the last second, you'll get goosebumps!

Amazon.com:Sinatra: Best of the Best
Amazon.de/at:Sinatra: Best of the Best


Thursday, 12 December 2013

Do You Also Catch Yourself Sounding Like His Mother?

We are not their mother!

Visiting a friend yesterday, she mentioned that my statement of " We are not their mother, but their wife " has been playing on her mind and that she had made a conscious effort not to fall into this mindset. Well, her husband was sitting right there when she said it, and he roared in protest! Oh yes, once we stop to mother our husbands, the cushy lifestyle is over....

Before I met Bob, I had read this ' relationship advice ' and for a few years at least, I stuck to it like glue...superglue! But as is the case with glue, it stops to adhere and the same happened with me. Before I knew it, I had uttered these idiotic sentences:

  • Don't walk with your muddy shoes in the house.
  • Pick up your dirty socks/ undies / pants...
  • Please switch off the light when you leave a room.
  • Don't forget your lunchbox.
  • Do you want me to come with you to the doctor / dentist / ...
  • Did you thank so & so for such & such?
  • Don't forget to phone .....for his / her Birthday.
  • Did you brush your hair today?
  • If you use the last bit of toilet paper, can you please put a new roll out!

Oh my goodness, even re-reading this list, makes me break out in cold sweat. It's official, I sound like his mother. What ever happened to my laissez-faire attitude?

Tell me, do you also do the ' mothering-bit ' and do you think our men would survive if we go cold-turkey on the mothering?

Or, here is a thought: Maybe I read the wrong advice and mothering is the way to go!


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

We All Know What We Should Do, But Why Don't We?

Greatness shows in the daily little details!

Someone asked me yesterday why I haven't written about Nelson Mandela or as he is affectionately called, Madiba. His greatness was a presence or Aura that was " just there " and how could one write or do more about it. Madiba was a being that didn't need any explanation because his essence was apparent to everyone.

The whole world celebrated his life yesterday. Yet, I think to honour him and his life, we ( oh yes, me as well ) need to do good deeds and say nice words on a daily basis. It is easy to be pious at funerals, but what about walking in Madiba's footsteps even when navigating the little and seemingly unimportant stuff?

  • Yesterday most of us were kind to someone less fortunate than us. But what about today and next week?
  • We all carry grudges. Let's drop them because to be honest, if you carry a grudge against someone else, sadly, only you know about it. Grudges become our secret stash of negativity. And Good Lord, it gets heavier by the day!
  • If you can help a family member or friend in need, do you do it? Or do you find an excuse and mumble that it is their own fault? Remember, we are all one and the same...
  • Yesterday, we all would have forgiven even our worst enemy. But once the euphoria of Madiba has died down, are we still on board the vessel of goodness that he showed us how to sail?
  • Are we all so important, that any word / transgression or perceived insult is gift to be treasured forever constantly festering more and more in our mind? Oh yes, now I have your attention!

If Madiba had been catholic, he might be considered for sainthood. What makes a saint? Isn't it someone who brings out the best in you. Someone who likes you despite your shortcomings? If all of us sprinkled a little Madiba Magic Dust on our mundane yet real lives, maybe the world would not be in the state it is in at the moment.

What we do to others, we are doing to ourselves. Remember, you might ' have it all ' right now but there might come a time when life is not all roses for you. This is the time, that you can only hope that your family, friends or even strangers are there for you...that you reap what you sowed!


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Naughties & Beyond...

Dancing into the new Millennium.

Granted, I was naughty to misspell the heading. It should have been noughties ( 00's ) but to be honest, describing it as the ' naughties ' might not be so far off. More than anything to do with dance style, the dress code more or less revealed your age. ( See yesterday's blog about my take on dancing from the 1950's to 2000 )

The Naughties, 00's

  • This was the decade in which the G-string went main stream!
    ( Remember, in the past, the only shops that would carry G-strings had covered up shop windows and entrances. ) Oh yes, wherever you looked, there it was on public display. Talk about V.P.L...
  • I don't quite know which was invented first: the G-string or the hipster? Think about it, if you didn't wear hipsters, no one would catch a glimpse of your G-string!
  • Men also had a fashion ' date-ment ' of sorts. Wearing loose pants without a belt? Gosh, what were you thinking at the time and I have to say, " Thank you " , that you wore proper undies ( a la Beckham style ) and not G-strings!
  • Men who were young the first time around in the 00's, knew not to make any vigorous moves on the dance floor and to own good underpants.
  • Sadly, men who were young the second time around, didn't quite realize the concept of gravity! Let's just say, a lot of faded undies were on show with that lot. They bought the hipsters ( shouldn't it be called the bumsters? ) but didn't see the point of spending an extra Buck / Rand / Euro for the perfect underwear...You see, right away you knew they were in their 30's or beyond!

The 'tweens' or '10's:

  • Thank Goodness for ' Dancing with The Stars '! Even though it aired already in the 00's, it has slowly caught on as being the new standard. Decorum, grace and style have returned.
  • The Shops have started to carry more normal ( ' Mummy pants ' ) undies rather than the bits of cloth that were so popular only a few years ago.
  • Style and grace on the dance floor made a come-back. Clothing covered the right bits and gave off an air of mystique.
  • Whereas in the 00's, owning and flaunting a G-string was the height of cool and being trendy on and off the dance floor, the wheel has turned. Now in the ' tweens ', wearing and flaunting a G-string is akin to having a date-stamp on your behind...


Monday, 9 December 2013

Tell Me, Which Dance Style / Move Do You Use? (1)

Do you also reveal your age by the way you dance?

Writing about dancing aboard the onboard disco, in yesterday's blog made me go off on this tangent. Dancing and our styles. Heck, I realized yesterday, that I might only know the disco-move. Oh yes, that one!

Watching any dance floor of any function, you can guess any dancer's age rather well, don't you think? We all learned to dance in our teens and sadly most of us stopped learning after that. The style of our teenage years is what we still use decades later! At least I tend to....How about you?

Let's check out a few highlights of dance moves through the decades:
The 1950-1960's

  • If you learned to dance in that time frame, well done, you are a great and varied dancer.
  • You can Rock&Roll the proper way. Cascading off your partners back and doing a slide through, is second nature to you.
  • You know the Twist and do it fabulously well. My Mum put in a twist awhile ago and Bob was speechless at her skill! In her defense, it was a song one could only twist to.
  • You know how to slow dance the nice way. Holding hands but not glued all over your partner.
  • In fact, you still know the art of flirting with your partner. All in a chaste way of course.

Let's look at the 1970's....

  • Most hand holding during dancing was a no-no. The free-style was introduced.
  • With free-style dance moves, you could venture out on the dance floor by yourself. No one would notice as you could just turn a few times in this and that direction to make it seem you had a dance partner.
  • The iconic ' Saturday Night Fever ' started a whole lot of new dance steps. I am pretty sure that the Jane Fonda type of aerobics classes were invented on the dance floor of Studio 54.
  • The awkward foot shuffle was ample as a dance. Add a few hip swings along with an arm stretch or two, and you were a good dancer.

Now for the 1980's...

  • The moonwalk. Need I say more. Could that be why Bob likes to wear different colour socks at all times? In the eighties, showing your socks and their colour was the thing to do. Bob being a rebel, just mixed the colours!
  • In the 80's it was customary to have your shades with you. You couldn't leave them on the table so you wore them while dancing.
  • The crush had its first appearance. Most dance floors I remember were always too small and we were all packed like sardines. Sweaty armpits were never seen, as the 70's arm stretch was frowned upon. Of course in this era, doing a 70's John Travolta like move ensured you a big space on the dance floor. Whispers of " check out the old foggy " could be heard...
  • I nearly forgot, that our hair was our crowning glory in every sense of the word. No gal went out dancing without a can of hairspray in her handbag. Only after 3 hours of vigourous dancing would that fringe drop. Oh my God,we thought we were so cool!

The 90's...

  • Black was the colour to wear along with the Bobby-look: T-shirt worn over a long sleeve one. All Star trainers, the grubbier the better. Oh and tight pants. In fact the pants were so tight, that often the only way to enjoy the dance floor, was above it...remember all those folks carried above the crowd atop a Mexican wave of hands.
  • The music got Grungier and acoustics were non-present. The lights got fragmented and it made our robotic moves even more so.
  • The 90's was almost the decade of anti-moves. No one had a definitive style of movement. Of course a lot of folks wouldn't have notice either way!

Check in tomorrow for part 2...


Sunday, 8 December 2013

A Free Cruise Ticket: Who Would You Take & What Would You Pack?

Imagine, a free pleasure cruise to somewhere or nowhere.

Well, you are more than likely mumbling about this being impossible or as one would say, pie-in-the-sky. Yet, one never knows about life. Remember that wisdom: " You think it, you ink it "

Bob and I were watching a program on life aboard a cruise ship. Oh believe me, we both would love to go. After seeing this documentary on cruising, here is our list of how we would advance the prospect of a cruise ( free or otherwise ):

  1. We both agreed to take a pair of stretch pants. When you see those buffets, all thoughts of fashion or being seen as trendy are out the window...
  2. We both would sample the Margarita buffet throughout the day. What is it about those cocktails that make them look like a slush-puppy?
  3. Running shoes are a must, because I would get up at the crack of dawn to circumvent the promenade a few hundred times. Even stretch pants won't be enough with all those free meals.
  4. Bob definitely wouldn't be seen dead in the Disco. When he saw the John Travolta like moves shown in the documentary, he paled at the thought. Gosh Bob, no one would know you there and I have seen you ' Bob ' along to Abba and sing along ( word perfect ) to ' Staying Alive '....
  5. After a decadent and rather ample Breakfast ( pancakes, English breakfast, toast & jam, waffles & ice cream along with lots of Darjeeling Tea ), I would waddle to a shady deckchair and recline with my favourite Murder Mystery. Bob and I would part ways there, because he would plonk himself down on a lilo in the swimming pool. Fair enough.
  6. An outing to the onboard Spa would be done on a daily basis for sure. A massage along with pampering is part of this ideal of cruising.

Oh there are so many great aspects to sailing on the Seven Seas and into the sunset. Yes, it can be thought of as cheesy but it hits all the buttons of a holiday away from your reality.

Tell me, how would you spend your time aboard a cruise liner?


Amazon.com:Santa Cruise: A Holiday Mystery at Sea
Amazon.de/at:Santa Cruise: A Holiday Mystery at Sea

Just in case, here is a link to the Cruise International website that also offers competitions of winning a cruise.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

You Want Your Kids To Read Because It Helps Them Get Better Grades!

Reading for pleasure is what can make your child get better grades.

Ask most kids if they read books ( and by books I mean novels, stories & adventures ) and they either give you a blank and slightly uninterested look or they mention that catch phrase of today's youth: " Why, I can just look it up online! "....Oh Dear!

The non-readers of today, are short of a few million words in their vocabulary. ( Great article by Hilary Clinton ) They don't get the repetition of a language and its finesse, that they would get from reading books. Non-readers have to work so hard to understand and know the rules of their own language or of a foreign language, which they have to learn at school. If they had read more, they would instinctively know the right structure and placement of words etc.

That is reading and grammar. But, what about general knowledge? The school can only send them out into the world with a finite and lopsided view of ' anything '. The curriculum can't cover everything. Reading gives you a different viewpoint, idea or input on life issues. Of course the most important of it all is the fact that reading for pleasure, gives your kids an imagination. An imagination that is necessary to enjoy life to its fullest.

Parents all want their offspring to do well and slightly better then they themselves did. Homework is done, even if it presents a zone of conflict at the kitchen table on an ongoing basis. Hats off to parents, because it is far from easy to make sure your kid is doing and has done all his homework.

Dear parents, as you are already good at circumventing that daily conflict ( homework ) zone, why don't you include one more issue. A non-negotiable issue. Yes, reading. Reading fiction.

Books are great and can be lent out at your local library. But, I think in today's age of computers and internet, you might have to skip to plan B. Plan B will make your life that much easier and you might be spared the role of parental enforcer. There is one tool in your parental arsenal, that will take the wind out of your child's sails!

Get them a Kindle. Yes, you will have to pay a bit of money now, but think of the selling points of a Kindle:

  • It is a computer gadget and will make your child feel ' with it '.
  • They can whip it out anywhere and even look cool while doing it. It does look like a tablet after all!
  • They can download any book they want. The choice is so vast, that they will find a genre that will get them hooked on reading.
  • If your child is learning a second language you can download books in that language with ease. Here in our village a lot of the kids are struggling with English. Reading an English fiction book, will make the arduous task of learning a second language so much easier and also much more fun.
  • There is a good chance, that once your child is reading, that automatically their grades will get better. Better grades, means better chances of further education. Which is the point of educating your kids after all!

Amazon.com:Kindle Paperwhite, 6" High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Wi-Fi
Amazon.de/at:Kindle Paperwhite, 15 cm (6 Zoll) hochauflösendes Display mit integrierter Beleuchtung der nächsten Generation, WLAN
Amazon.uk:Kindle Paperwhite, 6" High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Wi-Fi

Here is a last thought to leave you with:

  • Have you looked at the structure and spelling of your child's text messages lately? That alone is enough to give you the vapours / make you faint / heck, make you wonder what it is they are saying...


Friday, 6 December 2013

Are You Looking For A New Hobby, Because Gardening Gives You Free Fruits & Vegetables!

Gardening is easier than you think.

Your garden doesn't have to be perfect. Just a normal one will do. If you are too concerned about perfection, you'll never start at all. There is a new trend in gardening and it is aptly named Subsistence Gardening.

Oh yes, gardening not just for the joy of it, but to put free fruit and veg on your table. Who can say no to that? Eating your own homegrown vegetables is a fantastic experience and once you have tasted it, you'll want to have it again and again. Eating vegetables in their respective seasons. Most of us don't know anymore what the correct season for all the various vegetables and fruits are. No, not everything grows all year round on the supermarket shelf.

Imagine if everyone just grew one vegetable in their garden / veranda. That is one less item having to be transported to the supermarket. Less carbon emissions, less wastage. I bet you anything, that if you grow your own vegetables, you will eat them even if they have a funny shape. Any dark marks can be cut out without having to throw away the vegetable in question.

Wastage of food ( especially fruit and vegetables ) in supermarkets all over the world, is a big contributor to Global Warming. Why should we care? Well, have you watched the news lately? Flooding, storms, hurricanes, disasters on almost every continent.
Article in the Huffington Post on Food Wastage.

We had planted a ' hand-me-down ' vegetable that my mum gave to us. It got too bulky where she had it planted and she dug it up and gave us the bulbous root. Sometime in August, our garden got the new residents. It was the Topinambour.

Frankly, we planted them in a spot where both of us hardly ever looked or spent time in. Every now and again, I threw glances in their direction, but more because the flower part of it grew to massive proportions. They are a type of Sunflower, so you can imagine the size of them.

As we are more of the not-so-perfect-and-lazy type gardeners, we noticed that in the last week, the stems had frozen and looked spent. When I got home yesterday, there was a nice surprise waiting in the kitchen. A bowl of Topinambour.

Bob had wanted to weed out the dead plants and to his amazement they bore plenty of fruit! When we looked up online on how to cook them, I got a second surprise.
They are actually also called ' Jerusalem Artichoke ', a well know delicacy.

A health food indeed and let me tell you, we boiled it like an ordinary potato and it tasted out of this world. A dash of salt and a dollop of butter was the only dressing needed... Imagine, treasures grown in our backyard and for free....!


Our homegrown Jerusalem Artichoke! No, this is not a bowl of Ginger....

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Jeez-a-lou, Can You Believe Those Cows!

One cow more bovine than the next...

Bob was the first one to espy them. As is typical lately, I was languishing in my co-driver seat relaxed and off on a daydream tangent. Before I knew it, Bob had slowed down to a crawl and asked me one question only.

" Do you have your camera with you? " By now Bob should know that my camera is with me at all times. We were taking a shortcut to Grosspetersdorf, through a forest and the almost untouched nature that only the back roads and byways tend to offer. When I saw what had grabbed Bob's attention, my camera was out in a jiffy and my finger kept on clicking away. Believe me I took lots of photos and who wouldn't with those beauties around...

Meet Susie, the most beautiful cow in the district! ( names, rank & gender are invented by me ). Bob and I were sitting in the car with the window down. The co-driver window to be exact. Bob tried numerously to get her attention and said stuff like
" Moo " " Yoo-hoo " and " Hey there!"...
One can just read her mind: " Who are these idiots? " As we only have a wildcat at home, we tried to use our cat-voice to get the Susie's attention. I did wonder whether an attack would be on the cards. Steam was coming from her nostrils, but that could have been because it was -3 degrees outside!
Could that be the Papa? We didn't want to find out, but still, looks are genetic. Bob tried a few times to whistle at this magnificent bull ( only because I was next to the open window and he was on the safe side ), but no interest was shown...
An uncle or an aunt perhaps?
I think ' Susie ' would have liked to have come with us! What a stunning family of Highland cows.


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Choosing A Career: A Lottery Of Sorts?

What advice do you give your kids...?

In my generation, and I know I am not a hip 20 something anymore...eh more like a happy 40 something, when you chose a career path to persue, you sort of knew that it would still be there in the future.

Yes, we all embraced the fact that we could deviate slightly from it and chop and change companies. Our parents generation knew that they would start at 18 in one shop / firm / company and stay there until retirement at 65. That was a certainty back then. Maybe most of us tended to jumped from branch to branch of the same career tree so often, so as to not repeat our parents work path.

Technology is advancing at such a pace, that it makes your head spin. Just this week, we saw the possible ' drone delivery ' of Amazon parcels ( I checked the date in case I slept through bits of the year, as this has all the hallmarks of an April 1st story! ). Let's take it at face value. Exciting to say the least. But, and for me it is a big but, what will that do to the DHL / Postal Services and Parcel Services of this world. All those workers might have to look for a different career path.

( There is a thought provoking article in the Financial Times about the relationship between Capital and Labour. Without workers having jobs that enable them to buy the goods produced by companies, the companies can't survive for ever! )

Remember that not everyone is adept enough to be a scientist / brain surgeon / rocket scientist or even university graduate. Society ( usually ) needs its members to take various and balanced career choices. If everyone was a scientist / banker / lawyer / doctor, who would fix your toilets / clean your homes / cut your hair / sew your clothes / cook your food or fix your car?

What career advice do you give your children now? What should they focus on and more importantley will it still be needed in 10 / 20 or 50 years? Navigating this work environment of the 21st century is very scary indeed. Making a good choice might even be harder.

Could it be that Trades are the way of the future?
Hair will always grow, plumbing will always need attention, computer hardware needs fixing, cars need servicing, farms need tending and so on...

What are your thoughts and what job / career do you think is time - proof?


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

That Lousy Nit Causes Mayhem!

So small yet so irritating and hated.

On the whole, Mums are pretty fearless until you mention that mighty foe called ' louse '. Almost all kids pick it up at some time or another in their school careers.

Yesterday, I heard two mums exchanging info regarding a letter sent to them by the teacher. It had the hallmarks of some sort of medical thing. Seeing that we were having an English class with some of their kids, I felt entitled to ask what it was. I couldn't believe it when they mentioned a lousy louse attack at school. Really, in the colds of winter?

It goes without saying that I instantly scratched my head like the proverbial monkey. It was itchy! Bob, when I told him, moved slightly off side from the table. Lucky for him, he is always wearing that Beanie ( fashion statement or for the cold? ) and might be safe from the lousy louse attack...

Some of you might know, that I worked in a Hair Salon for ages. I manned the desk, which incidentally is the first port of call for freaked out mothers.
" You have got to help me. This child of mine has nits and lice. The school sent her home and told me to sort it out. Do something please! "....If only they had realized that those few sentences sent our Salon into an automatic lock - down of sorts ( along with a good dose of fear ).

Lice and nits should enter the Olympics as they can jump incredible distances. They also hang on for dear life on just about any surface: Hair, scalp, comb, towel, chair, clothes....you get the idea. One universal problem is that they are so small and hard to notice.

Sometimes, mothers tried to sneak their children in hoping that we

      A: would get rid of the lice and
      B: wouldn't notice.....which would have made us a real lousy Salon!
But oh boy, I used to dread having a panicked Hairstylist rush to the desk and whisper in furious tones along with turbulent hand gestures that their client had a nest of lice & nits! All the staff were told just the one word - Lice - and like a well trained unit we would go to work, hopefully without causing too much panic...

Unobtrusively yet with precision we would backtrack the journey of the child through the Salon and disinfect everything he / she had come into contact with. Often we had to sent he / she home with half a haircut. Quite a few mums were cross and horribly upset that we hadn't sorted it out. But if you have an unwanted presence of lice in your Salon, you have to close your business for a few days in order to sort it out...

Today, I think Bob and I will sport a partner look. There are some beanies and scarves that might hide my hair totally. This might upset the mums, but trying to de-louse oneself is not much fun and jolly hard work!

I remember that we were told at the Hair-Seminars, that you can get a Shampoo, that usually repels lice. A sort of pre-strike! I'll post a link of good ones at the bottom.

P/S: Let me know if you scratched your head while reading this! ( just click below: Like / Share / or comment )


Amazon.com:Tea Tree Shampoo
Amazon.de/at:Tea Tree Shampoo
Amazon.uk:Tea Tree Shampoo

Monday, 2 December 2013

Jack Frost And The 1st Of December.

Winter in the Northern Hemisphere is just as beautiful as in the Southern one.

Oh yes, we were used to Decembers being incredibly hot and T-shirts being almost too warm. Leading up to the Christmas season in South Africa was normally spent cooling off next to the pool (if you had one ) or languishing on the couch in a darkened lounge. The heat was better avoided...

Yes, we all miss what we were used to at times, but why not embrace the new! Winter is the most beautiful and romantic season. The air is crisp and clear. We had our first cold & freezing ( -4 C ) morning yesterday and I thought I would share it with you:

Bob and I went for a walk yesterday morning. It couldn't have been nicer. Yes, it was cold but nevertheless, the scenery cloaked in a palette of winter colour, was stunning.
The Clouds of Mystery!
I love this hint of Grey...40 shades of grey perhaps?
Farmlands showing their winter beauty.
Nice, isn't it?
This photo was taken from a different angle with more sunlight in play. You can see the Eisenberg covered by rather ominous looking clouds.
A feast for the eyes! Who wouldn't want to go for a walk in this magical place. Hungary is just to the right of this path.
Bob stopped his walk just long enough to strike a pose...