Saturday, 31 October 2015

True Friends & Family.

Do we put them first?

Isn't it funny how more often than not, most of us are busy trying to impress casual friends, the odd colleague and of course our neighbours. We make oodles of time for them and slavishly follow the norm dictated by society. Impress and look good in front of others.

How often have you gone to a dinner, wedding, or party only because you should have? Those times that you would have rather spent at home with your children, spouse or just alone, relaxing.

Emigrating has some drawbacks, and not seeing family and friends is the main one. Until you've lived through it, you can't imagine what it feels like. Those trips back to visit ( and often they are very scarce due to a lack of funds ) are looked forward to with a feverish excitement and relived many times in your head even before you get there.

Months before the trip, you are already planning how and who you would like to meet. What haunts you are going to frequent ( eh, coffee shops not night clubs! ) and what foods you are going to taste. Yes, emigrating suddenly enhances the hue of all of the above. Everything is more glamorous, tasty and nice in your memory.

One of the main lesson to learn when you are living far away from family, is that time is precious. Really, each day of the holiday is a precious day. Holidays often pass us by in a flash and when you only have a few weeks to tank up on family and friends time, you have to protect that time for the precious present it is.

Then there are those moments when you understand that life has carried on for your friends and they don't have ( or make ) the time to meet with you. As bitter as it sounds, somehow it does confirm that those fragile roots you have created in your new home, are gaining solid ground and are in the right place.


Friday, 30 October 2015

Fall-ing In Love With Autumn Again.

Even Shakespeare created a Sonnet for Autumn...

I wanted to post some lovely and leafy photos of Autumn for you, but their was a slight problem in the loading. That made me realize, that you can paint pictures with words.

It didn't matter that the weather was overcast and rainy, because the vivacity of the yellows and oranges was breathtaking and went right to the heart of the matter...causing a giddy sense of happiness.

Walking through our forest made me wonder how many generations before me had had the pleasure of seeing these Autumn hues. Did they even take it in or are we only seeing it in contrast to our insanely inane lives. Haven't we allowed a little hand held phone to rule our every move, action and reaction?

Perhaps we will go down in the history books as the lost generation if not the last...

There was place in the vineyards, where the grass was still an emerald green and it showcased the golden hues of the leaves, leaves that were coated in a mist of dew while either still dangling on a branch or resting beautifully on the ground. Divine.

Shakespeare's Sonnet #73
That time of the year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing fire of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.


Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Present Of A New Day.

Is that why they call it the presence?

Waking up each morning is special, if only for the fact that we do. Actually right there is the best reason to wake up each day because it means you are alive...but are you living your life? Every morning, the slate is wiped clean and you can chisel new hieroglyphics into your tablet...the real tablet called life.

Each and every day there are a million things to look forward to:

  • Meeting new people and maybe gaining new friends.
  • Seeing a sunrise.
  • Being the recipient of a smile. A friendly smile. One of those smiles that makes you smile in return.
  • Meeting your soulmate. Being single makes this one of the top reasons that you can't wait to greet a new day.
  • Being healthy.
  • Having your family around you.
  • Being kind to a stranger. Perhaps helping a stranger without posting about it.
  • Being kind to yourself.
  • Going for a walk, even if it rains.
  • Being engrossed in a new book. One that makes you forget all sense of time and dimension.
  • Knitting socks for winter. Don't laugh, but they say knitting is the best activity to make you live in the moment.
  • Having dinner with your family around the kitchen table and discussing what the day brought.
  • Seeing a sunset and being grateful for it...


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Are We Addicted To The Pursuit Of Perfection?

Quite a waste of time, isn't it?

Just consider all the collective moments in our lives that we've used to try and be perfect. Perfect for whom? Perfect for what? All those hours, days and perhaps years didn't make us feel any better, or did they?

Most of us have something interesting in the back of our cupboards and yesterday I was digging around in ours and found a book that spoke to me. Either a book grabs you or it doesn't and luckily I started to read this one.

Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen.

Kitchen Table Wisdom 10th Anniversary: Stories That Heal

One of her anecdotes was about the time we waste trying to achieve perfection. We do it because it sort of seems the thing to do or because our parents taught us to try and be perfect. Consumerism has at its base, the pursuit of perfection.

It can become an never ending task and there will always be the next best thing to have in order to seem perfect. We ( especially women ) have a habit of spending decades within the confines of a dieting habit ( hell ) to lose a few pounds. If at the beginning of that road of dieting torture someone pulls you aside and tells you:

" Look, those 5 pounds you want to lose, are still going to be there in 10 years time. Why not accept them as part of you now and save yourself the torturous walk down this never ending road? Why don't you rather have a decade of bliss, internal bliss?"

One of my personal torturous paths is that wobbly cobble stoned one to a clean house. Clean by whose standards? Let me point out straight away, that our house is not perfectly tidy nor could you eat off our floor. Well, only a deranged person would eat off a floor in any case. And luckily my family and friends are neither!

Reading this chapter yesterday brought home to me the amount of time I have wasted worrying about cleaning. I could have had fun doing other mentally interesting stuff. Reading, meditating or just hanging out with myself and feeling good about myself the way I am and the way our house looks...

Instead of perfecting often imaginary flaws about ourselves, we would have a much better life if we were to count, adore and like what we are.


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Processed Meat Dilemma Might Just Be A Huge Help Against Global Warming.

Eh, really, why is everyone so surprised at the link between processed meat and cancer?

Most of us have known all along that eating copious amounts of polony, bacon, ham & cold cuts wasn't good for us. Be honest, because why else is that yummy crispy bacon seen more as a treat?

Have you noticed that the only thing separating a treat from a threat is an H?

Naturally there is a tremendeous outcry over the WHO's announcement about their findings regarding processed meat and cancer, but aren't we all more upset because this announcement cements what most of us had floating in some part of our brains as a fad. You know, those fads where one day it is fine to eat something, and another day it isn't.

Not anymore. Now processed meat has joined the elusive and slightly deadly club of smoking. Quite frankly my dear, there is no more excuse of ignorance at the end of the road...

If the health threat of processed meat is taken as seriously by governments as is the smoking threat, then we are going to be in for a big and rather yukky surprise when we'll do our shopping. Perhaps the packaging of a pound of bacon, a packet of cold meats or a six pack of Vienna's will have a few images of a diseased organ or two...

I am pretty sure that very soon a few stories of folks living to a ripe old age while having eaten processed meat each and every day will make the rounds of social media...and you know, everyone can make up their own minds about what to eat!

But, let's have a look at the overall impact of this health warning. Even if only 5 % of the world's population take heed of it, that is a vast amount of green house gases saved. Less cattle bred, less water used for feeding them, less rain forest cut down to grow more feed and less chemicals used to process them.

How Factory Farming contributes to Global Warming.
W.H.O. website

The hunt for a cure for cancer has been going on for over a century. What is becoming glaringly obvious, is that we've processed our food to such an extent that:

  • ...we don't know what actual real food tastes like...
  • ...the big pharma is constantly making a profit by the failure of a cure and yet, somehow we've discovered how to put a man on the moon in a relative short time...
  • ...a lot of us seem to have become addicts-processed food addicts-and when you consider the amount of chemicals used for processing, it can hardly come as a surprise...
Could part of a cure for cancer be so simple as just eating real and unprocessed food?


Monday, 26 October 2015

Jaws, Back To The Future & A Boombox.

The retro chic of our youth?

When you are clinging on to your 40's with all your might before dropping into the next round figure, it hits you like a bolt of lightning when those under 20's look at you with a blank stare the moment you mention Jaws. Oh my, we've aged.

The hip classic movie doing the rounds of social media seems to be Back To The Future and what we thought was a modern way to listen to music ( the boombox ) is pointed out as an antique. Honestly, I'd be surprised if anyone on the lesser side of 20 even knows what a tape looks like...I suppose we laughed that way about the gramophone or some such.

Hearing a teenager say that they are clueless regarding the best shark movie of all time, is akin to looking in the mirror first thing in the morning after a night on the town. A jolt giving event!

The other day, one of the boys that I have for extra lessons, was excitedly telling me about this cool movie trilogy called Back To The Future and asked whether I had seen it yet...

" Sam, I watched this movie when it first came out and I had a crush on Micheal J. Fox. "
Naturally I held back the fact that most of us girls in my era had seen it at least a gazillion times. Regardless, he nearly fell off the chair in laughter and I think he asked me how old I really was. Which prompted me to quickly change the subject, successfully.

Before you snicker at me, please remember that for a teenager anyone over 30 ( never mind over 40 ) has one foot in the grave! No reason to make eh, 40 something sound like 60 something.

The other day I heard someone say that our generation had the best time to grow up in. Pre-Internet and it seems that we had the privilege of growing up alongside the best movie director and producer. It isn't often that movies withstand the test of time.

  • Jaws...Steven Spielberg.
  • Back To The Future...Robert Zemeckis ( Director ) Steven Spielberg ( Producer ).
  • Jurassic Park...Steven Spielberg.
  • Indiana Jones...Steven Spielberg.

Just in case you want a retro-movie night, here are a few choices.


Sunday, 25 October 2015

Discovering The Beautiful Eisenberg Vineyards Behind The Wheels Of A Lamborghini.

A Lamborghini, a Bar and a pied piper all in one...

Goodness gracious, even the heavens obliged for yesterday's wine walk through our Eisenberg vineyards. It turned out to be the most sunny day imaginable. Don't forget, that we've been rather inundated with rain recently.

Bob and I were part of last year's walk and wild horses couldn't have kept us from joining this year's walk.. Both of us love starting traditions and it seems this is one of them.

So, this was our mobile Bar for the afternoon and I thought it would make a good start to see Bob next to it.

Just to put some of our families minds at ease, I did give Bob advance warning about this photo and he didn't breath for a while!!!

This was the first pit stop and local white wine or spritzers were served for all. Gosh, you'd think we'd walked for hours and hours by the eager response to this particular stop. The more stops we had, the more jolly the walk got! Did I mention that we had a pit stop at one of the local Schnapps Giants?

So, this was our pied piper for the walk and as you can see the flag could be rather useful for any strays...last year, a few walkers disappeared into a cellar...a wine cellar and the rest of us had to await their reappearance from it!

Just in case your were in doubt, there is our Lamborghini. Yes, the real McCoy. As of yesterday yours truly is aware that Lamborghini make tractors.
Admittedly, at first I thought Bob was joking...

Move over Long-drops, here is another Loo with a view...
Most of us recycle with tremendeous enthusiasm and I must say, this one had most of us snap away like happy tourists.

I bet this loo can tell some funny stories about a neighbour wobbling home in the early hours of the morning!

Our mayor chose a different route yesterday and one of the reasons was so that we could see the actual steepness of the vineyards.

As he pointed out, some of these vineyards can't be worked on with tractors or machines...oh no, they have to be tended to by hand. Hard work indeed.

In our neck of the woods, you never know what is around the corner or rather around the vine...This particular photo was a view that made me smile and be grateful to live in, among and with nature.


Saturday, 24 October 2015

See, We Live In The Leafy Part Of Eisenberg.

The many definitions of wealth.

This could almost be a modern version of the Rorschach Test...
" What do these leaves remind you of? "

" An abundant life with the beauty of nature being recognized. "

This particular peach tree has decided to shed every one of its leaves except for this bevy of beauties. Aren't they simply magnificent in their hue, tenacity and placement?
The mighty vine and its ability to stun the casual observer in every way. The visual, the abundance and knowledge that each year it manages to produce luscious grapes which create our tipple of choice. Could life be any more leafy?
We've harvested their fruit and now they seem to get ready for hibernation. But before they do, they morph daily from the richest of green to the rainbow like spectrum of autumn. Walking past them changes everyone's mental screensaver to one of joy and happiness.
As I was driving to Woppendorf, I had five minutes to spare and stopped to pay homage to one of the many spectacular trees along the road. Just about every village in Burgenland is leafy beyond a doubt...
The many colours of autumn: Some of these trees will be green for the entire winter while the others will be holding on for dear life. Most go with the flow and slowly strip their foliage.The farmers are ploughing their lands for the fallow season. This fishing pond is between Eisenberg and Deutsch Schützen. Tranquil, isn't it?
...not for the fish, of course... The kaleidoscope of colour is amazing to behold.


Friday, 23 October 2015

Handcrafted Wine And Some Pressing Matters.

Not every grape ends up on a supermarket display!

We got the call up for a stint of pressing duty. No, really, pressing business and rather important business too.
When you see the richness of the colour, you can just feel a good vintage brewing. Did I mention the delightful aroma wafting through the cellar? These grapes have been fermenting for a few could get tiddly on the fumes alone. This recycled washing machine drum is a perfect way to speed up the pressing of the grapes.
A manual wine press. The fermented grapes get put in and then squeezed for their juice. It takes time and a few rounds of pressing are usually on the cards.
As a lever presses down on the pile of grapes, the juice can be collected in a bucket and then put into the vat. By the way, the hardest part of the pressing ( or anything to do with making wine ) is the thorough cleaning with high pressure water before and after...
Even though I used a flash while taking these photos, the colour is that vibrant. Give it some more time and this future wine will be divine.
No words need with this picture...awesome colours.
We use everything except the stems. The dried and squeezed out grape skins & their pips, get put into these green containers and from this lot, a Grape Schnapps will be made. All natural and no additives. The good life in paradise.


Thursday, 22 October 2015

New York's Wine Critics Are Discovering Our Local Blaufraenkisch Reds!

Fairly unknown, but once tried never forgotten...

One can imagine that the average palate of a New York Sommelier is rather jaded because they have such a vast variety of wines to taste. Mostly great wines but as I say, once in a while a red wine varietal comes along that somehow puts the sparkle back in their taste buds and a feeling of having found that proverbial nugget of gold.

For the last few years, I have been bragging about, writing about and luckily sipping our fabulous Blaufränkisch reds. The delightful, delectable, divinely tasting red wine produced around our village. My own mum makes fantastic wine, but alas you'll only get to taste it when on holiday, as she doesn't produce enough to do any shipping.

The new guard of vintners ( winemakers ) in our village have taken the wine world by storm. Most of them come from a long line of winemakers and I can picture them as toddlers having being there to imbibe their parental vintner's know how.

Take Christoph Wachter for example, who is a young vintner with the unique ability to transform humble grapes into eloquent and unforgettable treasures in a bottle, and who has won many awards for his excellent wine making skills and vintages. It was no surprise to me, that when the New York Times ran an article on Blaufränkisch and its brilliance, Christoph's name and wine was on their top 10 list. ( Thank you Polly for sending me the link. )

Our area is renowned for their Blaufränkisch wines ( and it has to be certified twice before it gets a quality seal ) and as a wine lover, it feels like a wink of fortune to have such high caliber wine estates within walking distance. ( There is never an even remote chance of running out of wine...) Apart from being as proud as punch, I am so glad that the wine glitterati of the world is sitting up and taking notice of our locally produced wines.

Of course, the cherry on the top in our village is that the Wachter-Wieslers Restaurant owned by Christoph's family has just received the official nod on their culinary abilities and they can now be called one of Burgenland's top 5 culinary destinations. Coupled with their world class wines it should tempt wine lovers, sommeliers and foodies to spend a weekend in our part of the world. A part that I tend to equate to paradise....

Wachter-Wieslers Ratschen...Top Restaurant and Inn.


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

For The Love Of Reading...Or Not!

Why aren't more language teachers advocating reading?

Learning a second language in school is never easy. Rules, grammar and more rules are coming at students from all directions and to remember them is jolly difficult. Doing some English tutoring, makes me have to sit up and learn ( not relearn ) these rules.

We never had a lot of those grammar rules in school. Or at least we might have had but as we were told to read books, the grammar was mastered instinctively. We had to read a few books each term and give a report on them. As an enthusiastic reader, that was easy back then.

Nowadays, it is rare that children read, never mind go to the library. In a way we can't blame them because as adults we do make it easier for them to be happy just being connected. They don't see the point of reading a novel or book because they can just Google anything.

Reading would make their time in school that much easier. Looking up the rules of when to use for example while or during can be a thing of the past and instinct could take over.

The workload of a high school student is full to the brim. Homework, studying for tests, and of course keeping up with the work is a full time job with lots of overtime.

Showing children into the magic realm of reading should be a must do for any language teacher. Choose the right genre of books and put it on their homework schedule. At best, some students will fall in love with reading and be unstoppable in that department and at worst case, students will have read enough extra words through the books and will thus not struggle as much during language class.

Let's get children to sample that magical land that seems far away and yet is as close as the nearest library or bookshop. All they need is one book, a book that holds the key to the realm where the love of reading is all that's needed...


Here is a link to a school founded on the principal of reading...voted one of the best schools too.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Dear Mouse, Mice & Mouse-lets, The Buffet Is Open.

Another year, another harvest another mouse season...

Good grief, I almost feel like the town crier...

" Dear mice of Eisenberg. Please feel free to come and sample the various morsels we have left you around our house. Don't be shy! "
The minute our family left last week ( well, it might have over lapped a day or two but sagely, Bob and I kept quiet ) the mice came out to play.

For those of you in the novice mouse corner you might not know the signs. Well, at first you hear the little mouse's feet running around. As small as they are, you do hear them. Secondly, you smell their peculiar habit of marking their territory. And last but not least important, you battle to have a good nights sleep because your mind is replaying any and all movies where a mouse climbed up to a bed etc..

Now and again you might run into one of the mice as happended to me on Saturday night after coming home from a party. Picture it: Almost eleven at night, I went to the lavatory and as one does at such a late time, on autopilot. Just before I eh, sat down, I saw a small dark thing trying to run past me on the floor. After blinking a few times in disbelief, I don't know who got more of a fright, but the two of us did a two step of trying to get away from one another. Sleep didn't come easily that night!!!

Bob and I have been setting traps and placing them strategically throughout the house. A few were successful for us but a lot were rather yummy for the mice. One of these little house guests of ours, has been snacking on ham, bacon and cheese every night so far.

It must be getting rather plump with all the delectable morsels apart from being also extremely smart because it side steps the simple yet quick acting traps. Believe me, there have been times where one of us got a finger caught while setting it.

Yes, a house cat is the answer and it is our fault that we have dithered for so long. One thing seems certain...

The word of mouse is filtering through our neighbourhood and, dear neighbours, you are very welcome that we have taken on this year's hosts duties...


Monday, 19 October 2015

It's The Yah-ellows That Have It...

A glimpse of Autumn.

Bucking the trend and staying tall and yellow. Elton John's song
' I'm still standing...
keeps running through my mind.
The friendly crowd next to it. It was the most amazing sight to find. Walking in the vineyards and admiring the slumber of Autumn and suddenly being rewarded with a bright yellow flower bed.
The vines have turned into a smorgasbord of colour. Rather stunning to walk about now, as each vine has varying shades of Autumn. A walk among them makes you forget any problems or irritations.
A simple tree on a pavement. The yellow and green speckles of each leave was magnetic. Yesterday was misty and slightly grey except for the dots of colour in the landscape. In fact, they became more prominent because of the mist.
...For whom the bells toll... alas, for the leaves it is a downhill slide off their branches.


Sunday, 18 October 2015

What If Some Of The Things We Think Are Bad For Us, Are Actually Good For Us?

Could there be a global wave of happiness?

Look, right off I am still against these awful cigarettes.They are just plain bad in my opinion. But for years we have been taught that this that and the other is extremely bad for us and our thighs. I don't even need to list the supposed culprits as we all know them!

Somebody along the lines of food history told us what we should and shouldn't eat or drink. But now, there seems to be a crack, no make that fissure in this thought movement. Just the other day, it was admitted that actually, whole fat dairy might be much better for us then the tasteless low or no fat dairy. Jeez-a-lou...all those years of drinking grey looking cups of coffee!

To meat or not to meat, to chocolate or not to chocolate and to wine and not to w(h)ine is a subject that keeps most of us busy throughout the day.

The secret of the health benefit of red wine is long out of the bag and if you are not convinced, hop across the pond and into France. Red wine and divinely fatty cheeses keep the French slender and their hearts healthy.

The latest contrary idea making the rounds of Social Media is an idea so outrageous that it starts to make sense after a few moments of contemplation. Whether it is true ( perhaps not ) is secondary because the mere thinking of it makes it of my favourite sayings is after all that You Think It, You Ink It.

Drinking a glass of red wine is equivalent to one hour of working out...
Oh, just imagine how much fun it would be to shape your body into a more slender line. Just last night, attending a friends 50th Birthday party, I did two hours of strenuous workout and my Schatzi did many hours more...

If they come up with workout times for chocolate, fatty cheeses and more, the ensuing group think might just rescue our planet from this constant bad, angry or dissatisfied mood phenomena.


Saturday, 17 October 2015

So Young And Yet So Picky.

Having a cow in the backyard might be an option.

As I said to Bob, when I was young I lived for meal times. Food was important and missing meals was a punishment. Yet, this week with the youngens has shown me that perhaps I was the exception.

Unless you reminded them, they wouldn't think of eating. At times a forceful

" Put down your tablet and come and eat lunch! Now! "
set of instructions had to be said. Funnily enough, once they were sitting and eating, they seemed to be enjoying it. Sort of.

Siblings with their different tastes and likes are interesting to have around. They do have a common taste and apples it seems to be ( not forgetting ice cream of course ). They both loved munching them and even mixing an apple with a chip, biscuit or chocolate. They must have eaten two apples each per day. In fact, before they left, Josie stocked up in our backyard. Nice.

One loves grape juice and the other one loves milk. As small as Sam is, he can drink 2-3 glasses of milk without hesitation several times a day. That seems to have been the only food group that he had big quantities of. Sweets aren't really a food group so they don't count.

He has unerring tastes too. We had run out of fresh milk and had opened a liter of long life milk in the morning. An almost full container was in the fridge. During the day I had replenished the milk supply and a few unopened liters of fresh milk were chilling in the vegetable drawer of our fridge.

" Aunt Birgit, can I get myself some milk? "
" Sure, you know where it is. "
I was glad he was comfortable enough to help himself. Oh, I had to stifle a giggle when I happened to see a minute later, that Master Sam had forgone the long life milk and opened himself new container of fresh milk. Can't fault him for having good taste...


Friday, 16 October 2015

Our Nephew, The Budding Film Maker.

Eight years old and already making mini-movies.

Somehow I still tend to think of a film maker wielding a big camera around on his shoulders. Big enough so that one is at least prepared and can smile prettily beforehand. That is so old fashioned as now our nephew merely wields his Smartphone.

Only yesterday I got caught out and on film too. Here is the thing about film makers: they get inspiration at the drop of a hat. Just driving and sitting in the backseat of our chariot, he got inspiration and was recording. Naturally, I thought he was singing too loud and asked him to take it down a notch as I couldn't hear Bob. So now, my voice of censure is there for eternity...

I am so in awe of his talents as he shoots his movies ( or does one call it videos or perhaps Smarteos? ) on his mum's Smartphone. He will edit and record again with amazing precision. Don't forget he is still a tender eight years old.

As he is a budding Star Wars fan of gigantic proportions, his movies reflect that theme. The other day he showed me one of his works on YouTube...oh yes, he puts his movies on YouTube...and after I had watched it, he told me that a few people had left ugly comments underneath it and he was rather upset about that.

" Sam, don't worry about them. At least they have watched your movie and taken the time to leave a comment. "
and he was so excited when I liked his work and left a little comment. Ah, an artistic soul is a tender soul.

At first when you look at his video, it might seem simplistic but when you take a moment to ponder, you realize what went into it. A concept, a lot of retakes, a few helpers and the ability to envision the finished product. Which he has clearly done to perfection.

My favourite is the scene where the hero ( is that Iron Lego Man ? ) flies through the rain to land in a country far far away ( a.k.a. the lounge ) Brilliant how he directed it.

Well done Sam. Absolutely awesome...


Thursday, 15 October 2015

We've Survived Three Days Of No Internet In The Evenings.

Never mind just us, but an almost teenager and a youngster too.

In a way I thought it might have been more difficult than it actually was. At the start of our
solo being in charge time, we told both of them that after 6 o'clock in the evening, there was to be no playing on tablets etc. None. Of course we did add that instead we all would play either Monopoly, Uno, Cluedo or something else.

Contrary to popular belief, it was actually the two of us ancients, that suffered a bit with the No-Internet rule! The kids almost sat at the kitchen table before we had finished calling them up for a round of play time.

A whole day with kids does tend to be exhausting and honestly, before we sat down to play time, the thought of lounging in front of the telly was hovering like a magical vision. Yet, once we sat down at the table, it was the greatest fun. Laughing mingled with angry looks ( mainly in Uno ).

Uno is such fun and very strategic. Seating arrangement are of the utmost importance because you never know who has the plus fours! Bob, in his wisdom has been keeping a running score over the few days and as luck would have it, he is winning (? ) and I am stone dead last.

In one particular game, Sam was dealt a double whammy by his gleeful sister. He is such a card...

" Uncle Bob, I am so cross right now, that I want to say the ....word! "
He mentioned the first letter only and I told him to totally forget that word. For theatrical effect, I clapped the air in front of him and told him that from now on the word is no longer in his head..
" Aunt Birgit, you better clap in front of me too, because the word is also in my head and I don't like it. "

My reportoire of meals to make has worn a bit thin. Meals that appeal to the younger crowd. Bob, made lunch for them yesterday and it was a winner with no left overs! Brilliant. He is such a good uncle and of course the kids adore him even when he tries to be strict!

One thing I have noticed, is when I ask them to help in making the food, the chances are infinitely greater that they will eat it. Case in point: Josie made the dough ( by hand ) for our pizza last night and promptly had two slices. Sam, didn't feel like participating and alas didn't eat his pizza.

Being a parent must be the most exhausting job, but also the most rewarding. Children are a blessing to have and to have around. Alas, the invention of Smartphones have robbed many parents of this precious time. Time spent fully present with their children.


Wednesday, 14 October 2015

" Aunt Birgit, Is That What I Think It Is? "

The lure of onions seems to have bypassed the younger crowd!

When you don't have children, you never have to think of tempting meals to cook. Tempting for the younger palate that is. Just to be on the safe side I thought I would make Macaroni & Cheese. Surely I couldn't go wrong there?

Our kitchen faces the dining room table ( on purpose as I didn't want to always be stuck in the kitchen and miss all the chatter ) and for once it wasn't the best idea. As I was chopping an onion and wiping my eyes, I heard a voice from the gallery

" Aunt Birgit, is that what I think it is? You know I hate onions. "
Several thoughts flashed through my mind, while I felt like a burglar being caught red handed. Seriously, I panicked for a second while an eight year old stared me down. At first I wanted to deny it and pretend it wasn't an onion but then he is clever beyond his years.

Fleetingly I considered changing the menu but then again, no, when in Rome do like the Romans so he would just have to try it. There is always bread and butter on standby.

" Yes Sam, that is an onion. I need it to make your supper taste good. "
Oh, those blessed with kids are snickering at me right now at my idealistic belief in reasoning with an eight year old.

While the dish was in the oven, I had an occasion to converse with Sam on his own. He again made me aware of how unlikely it was that he would eat supper. Again, I was reminded of the onions. Fair enough. He was honest and I liked that.

" Sam, I know now that you don't like onions, but I needed to put them in to make the food taste nice. Try one spoon of it, and if you don't like don't have to eat it. But just try it. "
He looked at me with that angelic lazer look for an unnerving few seconds but then consented to try my meal.

Later, as we sat around the dinner table, he bravely ( with exaggerated acting skills ) tried this spoon of my Macaroni & Cheese. Hats off to him for being true to his word. As he was tasting the food, I already turned to get up for some bread with butter, when his words make me almost drop my cutlery.

" Mmmm, Aunt Birgit this is nice. I like it. Please can I have some more? "
" Oh, of course you can. I am glad you like it. "
" It's better than the one my mummy makes. You must give her the recipe. "

To date, that was my only hit in the culinary department, as last night we made potato wedges and they were rather a disaster...


Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Being The Owner Of Money Seems To Do The Trick.

A trip to the supermarket and an 'aha' moment.

As you know, our niece and nephew are staying with us at the moment. Yesterday their parents left for a mini vacation of three days, mainly because the kids wanted to be alone with us and partly because they could have a rare few days alone...Either way, it is a win win situation. Bob and I are clearly the winners.

Their parents left pocket money for them which would also cover things like going out eating; ice creams and so forth. So, we went for a drive starting at Aloisia's, looping past a supermarket and ending back home. The kids had been to Aloisia's before, but still had cake and hot chocolates. One almost untouched piece of cake was doggy bagged!

Before we went into the supermarket, I told them that they could buy what they wanted, but had to pay with their pocket money.Lots of oohs and aahs were issued and I think Sam rubbed his hands in glee.

Clearly they had been in a supermarket before as they honed in on the sweet and joghurt isles with lazer precision. The vegetable rack didn't even warrant a glance. At first they wanted to buy everything.

" Take it, it is your pocket money after all. "
" Aunt Birgit, are you not buying it for us? "
" No, you have your own money. "
Suddenly, a round of pricing ensued. And collaboration between brother and sister. Never underestimate an eight year old. With an astuteness beyond his years, he put a five pack of Kinder Milch Schnitte in the trolley. He got his sister to share half the price and told her the fifth one would be for Bob and Birgit.

The cereal isle was next, and he almost tripped up when he noticed a Star Wars theme on one of the cereal boxes. Oh, he wanted it. Bob was called to inspect this box with Star Wars on it and then he glanced at the price. Almost 4 euros.

" Aunt Birgit, can I buy it? "
" Of course, it is your pocket money. "
He stood almost hovering and clearly debating with himself when all of a sudden he said:
" You know, I won't buy it. It doesn't look very healthy. "
By that stage, the supermarket owner was torn between giggles and awe. He even told me that he couldn't get his own kid to understand the value of money.

To cut a long story short, even the supermarket's Holy Grail, the sweet isle, was negotiated along the same principles. Not much was bought...

Later in the afternoon, I spotted the piece of cake from Aloisia's being ignored and forgotten.

" Sam aren't you going to eat that piece? You paid a lot of money for it. "
" Oh no. Aunt Birgit, you never told me that it I had to pay for it with my money. If I had known that, I would not have eaten or drunk anything! "

Ah, the good life....


Monday, 12 October 2015

I Activated The Magic Door Inside Our House & Made An Interesting Discovery.

Kids are so bright and surprising.

Our niece and nephew ( & their parents of course ) are staying with us for a few days. They are 8 and 12 years old and naturally they come equipped with various electronic hand held devices. Bob and I had been planing for weeks on how to make their stay with us fun and memoriable without too many internet linked games.

We had a lazy Sunday yesterday and when Sam ( 8 ) woke up and came through the lounge, I said to him:

" Sam, after breakfast we will all play a game and you can choose which one. But, the door to the lounge is a magic one. No phones are allowed through it while we are playing! "
to which he replied:
" Aunt Birgit, but the door must also keep out iPhones, iPads and tablets! "
Touche indeed! Anyway, he was excited and the thought of not having any gaming device didn't bother him in the least. When his older sister Josie woke up, I explained the same thing to her but ( luckily ) forestalled her and mentioned that she could choose the type of game the next day!

After breakfast I gave Sam my cell phone with a ten minute alarm set on it and told him that when it rang, everyone must be at the table to play Monopoly. Josie was watching a movie on her tablet and secretly I was a bit worried that she might not want to play with us.

The alarm rang, and Sam marshaled all of us to the table. To tell you the truth, I couldn't wait to play because it evoked memories of playing Monopoly when I was young. Josie dropped her tablet in a flash, almost ran through to kitchen table and was ready to throw the dice. Sam, when I reminded him about the magic portal rule, did a quick check on everyone at the table and banished an errant Smartphone to another room.

Monopoly takes time to get really exciting and we had a few ' this is so boring ' wobbles, but everyone ( parents too ) persevered and we played for about 4 hours.

  • 4 hours of no Internet.
  • 4 hours of great family fun.
  • 4 hours of kids being excited when someone landed on their street.
  • 4 hours of seeing various bits of lovely character traits peep through, traits that normally are cloaked by the lonely Internet time.

We had a break for lunch in between and when I went to call Josie from her room, I hadn't finished my sentence before she had already dropped her tablet and was excited to carry on playing Monopoly.

As tempting as the Internet is for the youngens, they still prefer playing old fashioned games as a family. Quality family time.

Oh, and by the way, Josie won and won big. The Real Estate Magnate in our family it seems...


Sunday, 11 October 2015

Technology 1 : Childhood Memories 0

Could this be the evolution of childhood memories?

  • 1000 BC Roaming the fields and playing with stones...being outside
  • 1000 Helping to turn the wheel for either making cloth or to extract water from a well...being outside.
  • 1900 Playing with your friends outside and showing off your dolls or toy soldiers...being outside.
  • 1950 Cycling to your friend's house and either listening to the radio or playing in the garden, such as hide and seek...being outside.
  • 1970 Having a Bonanza Bicycle and careening through the neighbourhood with your friends or alternatively watching the real Bonanza on TV. Using the library in your town to get books to last you a month. Reading after bedtime was forbidden and thus you smuggled a torch under your duvet...mostly being outside.
  • 1985 Hanging out with your friends ( all from the neighbourhood for easy visiting access! ), skipping the odd day of school, smoking in the bathroom and thinking your parents would never guess because you left a window open, lazying around the pool and discussing that exciting venture called life, getting up to mischief such as putting dog poo wrapped in newspaper on your neighbours doorstep ( no, not me, but I heard a fondly recalled memory of it last night. Mentioning no names! )...being outside.
  • 1995 Playing all day on your new Mac, or desktop. Playing computer games all day... being inside.
  • 2005 Playing on your cellphone. Playing on your playstation. Playing on your Nintendo...being inside.
  • 2015 Googling, YouTubing, Facebooking, hanging out with your 500 online friends, swiping a finger over the iPad / iPhone, remembering that this time was the start of your neck and back problems...being inside.


Saturday, 10 October 2015

A Friendly Day, A Saturday, A Caturday!

The clash of domestic titans.

As it is said, the pen is mightier than the sword and it follows that a kitten is mightier than a dog. Louder too, because if you'd have heard this little bundle of cuteness belt out a hiss, you wouldn't have believed it.
" Woof woof, I want to play with you. "
but as they say, cats are curious and aloof creatures. But, I do admit that this little one might have been scared. Yet, the two of them are living as neighbours with permeable fences. And no, alas they are not our pets.
It was so cute seeing them perform a ritual which they do on an almost daily basis. All he wanted to do was play and the little cutie hissed and shot our her front legs to get in a swipe. She didn't rush off though.
A classic fighting stance. The flapping ears almost reflect fun and enjoyment, while the kitten with its open ajar is almost audible in its hissing...
Don't be alarmed at seeing a black kitten. An old wife's tale... If I could have, I would have smuggled the little kitten home. So cute and so full of pluck. She stood her ground and was mightier than the dog.


Friday, 9 October 2015

Why Is It So Difficult To De-clutter Our Wardrobes?

The Achilles heel of many women.

Surely a pair of jeans which honestly I can just about get both legs in, can't be so important that I keep them in my cupboard from one year to the next? Might I pepper this with a stage whisper:

" Don't tell anyone, but I haven't fitted into them since Friends was popular. "

Perhaps I am more like a squirrel than I care to admit. Hoarding, hoarding and more hoarding. But here is the silly part, I am holding on to clothes that under no circumstance I would ever fit into again. And on the off chance that I might, they will be so out of fashion that only the brave would venture out in them.

It took us over a month to get up the nerve to address the chronic state of our wardrobe. Chronic would be when you have to stuff t-shirts or jeans in with great force in order to be able to close the wardrobe door. Never mind, that whatever is languishing at the bottom of each shelf, hardly ever sees the light of day anyway or the outline of our bodies. Shocking, how both Bob and I are so loathe to go into wardrobe battle.

Like a good couple, we attempted this chore together. Anything we thought we might never wear again went into a pile which we later drove to the donation bin ( Each village has one ). In my mind, I had been extremely forceful and pictured airy and barely used shelves. Thoughts are easier than deeds.

We managed a fair amount, but still the shelves are full and Bob dejectedly mumbled about the full laundry hamper & that he was amazed at how many pairs of jeans he actually has...I must say I was rather proud of Bob, because he finally got rid ( ripped up ) his favourite camo pants. Yes, he ripped them beyond repair. Yet, now that I think of it, I haven't seen the debris of them anywhere...has my Schatzi perhaps hidden them somewhere and is merely waiting to take them to a seamstress or to his mom?

Each bit of clothing has a story behind it and perhaps that is the main reason we are so loathe to be parting with them. But isn't it just dreadful seeing a cluttered wardrobe? Almost depressing. No, in fact very depressing and very stupid as I usually wear the same items of clothing most of the time. A handful ( jeans, t-shirts and jerseys ) is enough.


Thursday, 8 October 2015

We Can Fly To The Moon, But Hospitals Are Still Rather Dreary Places.

Is it a wonder that nobody likes to go to one?

I have had the occasion of being a chauffeuse or rather the ' bringer ' of a villager to hospital visits. Not overnight stays but to have the various check ups that the Gods of Medicine practice from the hospital wards. I do say Gods, because the senior titles of these doctors inspire obedience and admiration by the patients.

" The Primar told me to do this or that...I will do what he says."
Driving him to the hospital is always fun because he has a lot of knowledge, local knowledge! Say no more...

By now I am rather clued up about some of the corridors at the local hospital. Look, it is a hospital like any other and is medically very good. The nurses fast walk throughout the corridors and the out-patients linger on hard chairs debating whether to touch a magazine or not, one that might be as old as the hills and been touched by many others.

A few times I've sat waiting several hours. Usually I take a book, but one can't help but notice things. Sitting there for a long time is rather depressing. The decor is stark and the floors are mostly that ugly linoleum; favoured everywhere - sticky in some parts and loud as can be when the nurses stride about with their unmistakable purpose.

As my perch was at the geriatrics unit, at times the voice of the receptionist was heard by all and sundry, explaining to a sorry soul that he / she had to give a urine sample.

Every few minutes, a hospital bed was wheeled passed by a carer. A bed mostly occupied. Occupied by either somebody writhing in pain, or almost exposing too much of their body because they were clad in hospital gowns. Personally, I tended to look away, as I would hate to be paraded about the waiting areas like some distraction. Not very dignified.

Most of the nurses and doctors treated patients with all the dignity and respect needed but a few had that peculiar language applied to the where they become almost invisible and are treated like toddlers. Never mind that being older one should be afforded oodles of respect. Age is earned and most envied, as not getting old means only one thing!

Anyway, back to the interior of the hospital. Clearly the interior designer didn't spend a lot of time in it. There should be a law that before they design it, they need to spend a few days hanging about in a dreary hospital.

We all know, how expensive a sojourn to the bastion of medicine can be. Unless you have medical aid, your house and savings might be used to pay for the trip ( gosh, it is cheaper to spend an all inclusive month on the Q.E 2 than in a hospital ) So, there can't be a lack of money in hospitals and more importantly no reason to make the interior so dreary, boring, undignified and at times, plain ugly.

Nursing and being a doctor are fabulous careers to do. Saving lives on a daily basis must be the best feeling in the world. But, even the staff are surrounded by the dreariness of hospitals. They are in it most of their lives and deserve it to be more cheerful.

Making the interior design of any hospital more cheerful and not just starkly functional, could even aid in the healing process of patients. Not to mention the happy disposition of the staff...

Effects of Interior Design on Wellness.


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Could You Do This?

Aren't we all rather stupid for not doing this?

We all moan about the flash that whizzes past us all the time.

" Geez, time just goes so fast! "
and so we realize that doing something for the time span of a year is not so hard. Sort of.

Only this morning I heard how the Smartphone companies are rubbing their hands in glee with the prospect of the oncoming Christmas season. A season to be jolly and it seems a season to yet again upgrade your phone.

Like lemmings we jump of the cliffs and get a new phone. What is wrong with our old phone...the phone we bought last year. Positivey ancient! What with peer pressure, low self esteem and too much loose change in our pockets ( +- a few hundred euros or dollars ) we follow the herd and upgrade yet again. Being trendy seems to be the most important issue in our lives. If you don't believe me, just go to any mall, coffee shop, meeting, schoolyard...and see what everyone is flashing about, or constantly bowing to.

But do you ever wonder what happens to your castaway phone? It is not like a banana peel that you can toss out the window because it decomposes naturally. No, throwing away Smartphones is one of the most toxic environmental affairs.

Your Smartphone's secret afterlife.

It is rather ironic, that the one item that stops us relaxing and living a life free from constant interruptions, is also the most coveted by all. Is it just me, or does it seem like we have morphed into Smartphone junkies?

So, here is what we should try to do...

  • Only buy new things, when the old ones are broken or worn out.
  • Don't buy anything because you like the new shape, colour or because your friends have it.


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Harvesting The Red Grapes Of Eisenberg,

The manual way or rather perhaps the Manuel-Fawlty Towers way...

All our calendars, social or otherwise, had been cleared to harvest the red grapes yesterday. Mum had checked ahead on the weather online, and we all were on tenterhooks when it was raining early in the morning. But, as they say,fortune favours the brave,the skies cleared and the harvesting went ahead.

As it happens, the weather changed for the better at about nine in the morning, and by the time we had finished picking grapes in the afternoon, I had heard Le Bob tell me at least fifty times that he wished he'd worn shorts. It was hot with blue skies and the bunches of grapes were in perfect condition.

Mostly, only one snip was needed and to be honest, the whole day I was imaginging sipping the ensuing vintage. This year it has been murmured in the vintners' circles that the 2015 vintage will be one of the best in a long time. A few brave souls even muttered that it will be the best wine of the century. This one or the last one? You see, it has been an incredibly hot summer and a summer that was not blessed with too much rain. Ideal conditions for grapes.

The last trip to the grape-crusher, the Rebler, was done and we were in the process of cleaning the last bucket ( and looking forward to a celebratory harvest meal at Bruni's ) when one full bucket of grapes was found in the back of a car. A bucket was not enough to reconnect the Rebler but it was too much to discard. Goodness, that bucket alone would provide numerous bottles of delectable wine!

Only one thing to do. We crushed the wine like they did in the days past. With all the various machinery we use, we tend to forget that wine was made by hand a few hundred years ago. Without machines and only with the proverbial elbow grease.

Three of us sat on a bench and did the old pick & crush two step...take a bunch of grapes, pulling them off the stalk while at the same time crushing each grape between our fingers. Even though we were tired, it was a rather fun way to do it. At least we didn't need to use our feet to crush it!

Isn't it funny how little words make us think of things? Rudi was laughing and said that we really made a real manuel wine...and of course that got my mind straight away visiting the stored memories of Fawlty Towers. and if you also loved that show, I bet you are right now vividly recalling a famous Manuel sketch.


All day I had the most stunning opportunities to take photos, but if you've ever done grape harvesting, you'll know that your fingers are sticky as if covered in glue.
There was this one vine clothed in a vibrant stunning red, that was so impressive that I went back at the end, but only after cleaning my hands...

Monday, 5 October 2015

Corporate Greed, Will It Ever Stop?

Will those responsible be charged?

We see it happening on the news. One greedy scandal after the next, it seems. In a way we become immune to it and most of us tend to think that the corporates will get away with it. Remember all that subprime debacle almost ten years ago? Who is paying the price apart from pensioners who have lost a lot of equity?

As an ordinary Joe Public:

  • you drive a smidgen too fast
  • you drive a smidgen over the alcohol limit
  • you forget to pay all your taxes
  • you put the wrong rubbish into the trash can
  • you...
the list is endless of the seemingly small fry crimes that we, the Joe Public gets punished for. Punished properly and not just a slap on our wrists.

With the recent VW scandal, will anyone really get punished? I don't just mean early retirement
( let's not forget that they usually take early retirement with millions of Euros ) but time served and money taken away. It almost seems that there are two different set of rules when it comes to big business and J.Public.

What causes most of us to do the right thing and not commit a crime? The threat and fear of punishment of course. Perhaps the severity of corporate punishment should be moved up a notch. By the way, personally I tend to think that the only punishment worthy of deterring would be cheaters, is taking all their money away.

But let's step back a bit and work out why there is this necessity to make profit all the time. The big corporations are mostly owned by shareholders. Shareholders who demand a dividend a few times per year. If the company does badly, executives get shown the door, and shareholders move on to a seemingly better deal.

The pressure to make a profit seems huge. What about if once you buy a share of a business, you have to keep it for at least a year? No business can be profitable all the time and if the boss knows that a loss won't cost him is job, perhaps the temptation to cut corners is gone.

The sad part of this VW scandal is that it affects thousands of VW staff,

  • who have worked hard
  • and are honest
  • and loyal
  • and are not responsible for any of this
Yet, their futures are under threat.


Sunday, 4 October 2015

The Coattails Of Night Lifting To Herald In Dawn.

A misty affair in Eisenberg.

There is nothing better than to be able to watch this transition from night to day. Somehow with the advent of Autumn it seems much more poignant yet magnificent nonetheless. A theater that alas many miss the performance of. There is only ever the one.

Nature's curtain raiser takes place, eh, at the crack of dawn and getting up so early to see it is not on everyone's list of things to do.

This morning was a spectacular one. Dawn was creeping over the horizon and because of the departing cold of the night before, it brought with it a blanket of mist. Seeing the hazy air hovering above the fields is frankly awe inspiring and I am not surprised at that song, Morning has broken that is often sung in churches and assemblies.

You are probably humming Cat Steven's version to yourself .Morning Has Broken ..

The little window before the sun's rays bring the colour back to everything, is the best time of any morning. If you are fortunate enough to live in the country, you might see wildlife waking up and bouncing about. Birds fluttering out of their nests with an accompanying sing song of chirping. Some sit on the roofs, some on telephone wires and some hop about on the lawns, hoping to catch a worm or two.

The early bird catches the worm...
Only yesterday Bob saw a deer ambling across our front garden. Every so nonchalantly indeed. Of course, the jury is still out on who was more surprised of the two...Bob or the deer?

Our corner of Burgenland is in the throes of harvesting all around. From the fields to the vines there is a constant activity and yet, at dawn there is the ethereal beauty coupled with stillness that borders on the divine. As simple as the advent of dawn might sound, it reminds one of what is truly important in life.

Nature doesn't mind what you have, own or look like. Nature is constant, nature is pure, nature is a reminder of how great it is to be alive.


Saturday, 3 October 2015

A Doggerel Today Keeps The Doldrums Away.

Sometimes we need to be reminded of the humour in our lives.

The doggerel has been around for over a century and it seems to only be attributed to Anonymys. But I think it is still en trend and rather funny. I hope you'll get a giggle out of it...

We'll begin with a box and the plural is boxes.
But the plural of ox should be oxen not oxes.
Then one fowl is goose, but two are called geese.
Yet the plural of mouse should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a whole lot of mice.
But the plural of house is houses not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?

The cow in a plural may be cows or kine,
But the plural of vow is vows and not vine.
And I speak of foot and you show me your feet,
But I give you a boot...would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?...

...We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
But though we say mother we never say methren,

Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine is she, shis and shim!
So the English I think you'll all agree
Is the trickiest language you ever did see.


Friday, 2 October 2015

Alas, The Royal Highness "The Customer " Has Been Stripped Of The Title.

Granted, not everywhere but in many shops.

Trading and dealing with clients is a wonderful job and I loved it. Being in a shop, selling your wares makes the business of making a profit real. Not the abstract stock market way, or the conglomerate way, but the small business way. One most important, if not the most important aspect of making a profit, was the care and attention given to the customer.

The customer is King...
is a saying that is imprinted on the back of my mind as it should be imprinted on any and all people dealing with customers.

It should be, but these days, it is not. Just yesterday I was taking someone to the doctor's rooms in Oberwart and had an hour to kill, whiling away some time. Look, the center of Oberwart is not that large and most shopping gets done in a shopping center on the outskirts of town. But, there are some shops of interest and I did a bit of browsing.

Granted, I am not dressed up to show that I have oodles of money to spend, but I didn't think that I might resemble a shopper who doesn't like to pay a.k.a. the notorious shoplifters. Well, walking into a shop in main street ( the only customer too ) I greeted the sales lady and said that I was just browsing. She actually looked me up and down and I could feel eyes following me and it made it awful to just be in the shop. There was something that I wanted to get, but that attitude of watching my every move, changed my desire to spend money.

By the way, the way people dress does not indicate how wealthy they are. Often the shabbiest dressed customers have the most money to spend. Don't ever forget that.

Last month, while savouring an ice cream cone at the E.O. shopping center, I had the opportunity to observe. Eating an ice cream tends to keep you out of shops! My perch was opposite a Jewelry shop and I watched the process of a client trying on necklaces. That is nothing strange in a jewelry shop, but the fact that the shop assistant had a face of boredom, irritation and impatience all rolled into one, was tragic.

Spending and leaving your money in any shop, takes time and consideration. Oh, don't get me wrong, there are clients that try your patience but they still spend money. Without clients spending money, you don't get a salary.

Contrary to popular belief, it isn't the boss that pays your salary, but the customers. Your boss is just a middle man who hands the money spent by clients over to you as your salary.

Running any shop, one is aware that a certain percentage of stuff gets taken without payment. Instead of making each and every customer feel as though they might be the pilfering kind, make each and every customer feel as though they are royalty. Just imagine that real royalty deigns to enter your shop...would you treat them the same way as you would a woman dressed in jeans and t-shirt?

As one always says,
Don't bite the hand that feeds you...


Thursday, 1 October 2015

Potatoes, Apples Of The Earth, Grumpian Or Just Plain Yummy?

Don't you dare call a potato humble.

Funnily enough, in our area of Burgenland, the potato has numerous names. Kartoffel, Erdapfel and Grumpian. Rather confusing for us as we just call it by the easy name of Kartoffel.

Do you know, that one of my all time favourite meals is a boiled potato with butter and salt? There is nothing like it and it is easy to make. Original fast food. No, I don't microwave nor do I possess a microwave as I think they are not good for our health.

In this new age of protein, the potato is seen as an enemy by many. Bant all you want, but how long can you go without a proper dish with Kartoffel? A homemade mash dripping with butter, or a baked one full of sour cream or a boiled one with lashings of butter and chives.

Anyway, when I do cook them I make more because they make a nice cold snack. How often do we search for a quick snack in our fridges and find nothing? A cold potato with salt is just nice. Or with a dollop of mayonnaise, or a pat of butter or wrapped in a slice of ham...

Yesterday was one of those days where the weather was a bit on the colder side and called for a soup. A quick lunch soup with some left over boiled potatoes. The nice bit about making your own soup, is that anything goes. There is no right or wrong way and that is the pathway to experimenting in the kitchen.

Onions, garlic, ginger, potatoes, stock cube, sour cream, dried forest mushrooms, salt and pepper.

Bob is anti ginger at the moment and so he declined to even taste it which I was glad about, as there wasn't that much soup in the first place. There are so many creations I can make without fear of them being caught in the mid morning / afternoon / evening / midnight fridge raid...all I need to do is place a slice of ginger on top of whatever and Bob will leave it without even tasting it.

Can you tell that we are not Newly Weds any more? Hee, hee, hee...