Sunday, April 27, 2008

The plus and minus

This past week was simply crazy, but also fun.

The plus

-The weather was great this weekend (I have a light sunburn to prove it), we worked in our small back yard (which is why my back is aching),
- We had a wonderful evening at TBF's Cinco de Mayo party last night and
- today, we both read, relaxed and enjoyed a sunny Sunday.
- And on Wednesday, we're leaving for Vienna to visit Pinki and Andrea, so that won't leave us much time to blog between now and Sunday. Yippeeeee!

To the minus points this week:
- our washing machine just died on us! How did we find out? We tried to wash, of course. Grrrr! No chance for a new one before Wednesday.
- Orange-X worked very late most evenings last week.

But what the hell.... The plus outweighs the minus. I guess it's not all that bad after all.

See you soon again, after Austria!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Lost (well not really) and found again

Can you imagine that? I found a long (half) lost very close friend again! Let me explain: I never really lost her as a friend, but she moved, changed e-mail addresses, had 2 kids in the meantime (which takes up a lot of time and energy) and we kinda lost contact.

However, on Saturday, I received this e-mail from her, saying that she'd be travelling through Europe. She found me again. So we e-mailed back and forth, and today, I reached her by phone. After over 5 years. I think the last time I spoke to her, it was in 2003! I was so excited!

Now who is this close friend of mine? Roxane*. I met her in grade 7, I think ,(Junior High for your US folks). We then went to high school, highs and lows together, both played flute in the school band, and we've stayed in contact throught the years after my leaving Canada. She stayed over a few days when she came to sing for the Canadian army troups that were stationed throughout Europe back in 1995, I think. I also visited her twice in Las Vegas where she used to perform as main singer for none other than *insert drum roll here * the Cirque du Soleil's "O".

And you know what? I am so proud of what she has accomplished, because that business is harder than one thinks. And like all the friends I have, I am proud and grateful of having been just a little part of their lives. She never forgot who she was and where she came from. A simple, loving, and hard working family. She never forgot her friends. She might have been a bit distant for a while, but that's all part of life. You work hard, raise a family and that takes a lot of time and effort. If you can't accept that in someone's life, then forget friendship. And she never forgot who I was. If that isn't a reward, I wonder what is.

I really hope to be able to see her while she's in Europe. I'm just waiting for her itinerary. Worst case, I'll see her during my next trip to Canada (where she is again), for sure.

Rox, I've missed you and I'm glad that you found me again :)

*I hope that I'm not divulging too much about you and if so, please tell me. I'll take it off the blog. Deal?

Monday, April 14, 2008

A new look and a recipe

I'm not quite satisfied with the new template, yet, but I'll be fine tuning in the coming days. I'm getting there. And don't worry; also my sidebar will be updated.
However, I am leaving you with the recipe of one of my favourite side dishes: Green bean and tomato gratin. It's one of O-X's specialties (this one's for you, ET). I love it so much because it's easy to make, very tasty and accompanies any grilled meat or fish very well.

You will need:
250-300g of fine, green beans (Fresh, or deep frozen*)
1-2 eggs (1 large or 2 small)
Approx. 2 dl half fat cream (or coffee cream, if you’re counting calories)
1-2 tomatoes (depends on the size)
Brie or Camembert
Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Pre-heat oven to 180°C (350°F)
  • Eventually clean (the fresh) and cut the green beans into bite sized (2.5 cm /1 inch) pieces
  • Cook in boiling salted water until “al dente” (They should have a bit more bite than if you would serve them right away. They still have to cook a bit)

  • Drain and put in ICE COLD water immediately to stop the cooking and keep the bright green colour, drain again and put in an oven dish.

  • Slice the tomatoes and cover the green beans with a layer of tomato slices. Salt & pepper.

  • Cut the cheese in slices and cover the layer of tomatoes. Slightly salt & pepper.
  • Whisk the egg(s), the cream 1 large egg (or 2 small), approx. 2 dl of half-cream, salt & pepper to taste, and pour the creamy mixture over the vegetable.

  • Place dish in oven for approx. 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

    Serve with grilled chicken, pork chop, steak or fish. No extra sauce needed.

Bon appetit!

*I’ve had very bad experiences with frozen veggies in Canada, so if you can, go for the fresh instead.

PS: Vegetarians can use this recipe as a main dish. Just adapt the ingredients and enjoy with fresh bread.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Vacation planning and new toys

Last Saturday, OX and I drove to Basel to book our summer holidays. Because OX can't take any long vacation between September and end of Novemeber, we thought that August would be an good time to go. And just to make sure we have some warm weather - last August was cold and rainy in Europe - we booked 2 weeks in Egypt. The first week will be a Nile cruise on the MS Regina and we will be travelling the following route: Luxor - Esna - Aswan - Abu-Simbel/Kitchener's Island then back to Luxor. From there, we leave the ship and fly to Sharm El Sheik for a relaxing beach week of non far niente (well, maybe we will do a few things). Neither of us have ever been to Egypt, so we're both very excited.

Once that was done, we went by the InterDiscount XXL shop in Basel to drop off our written conscent to have our coffee machine repaired and decided to have a look at the new DSLR cameras on the third floor. One that had caught our eye a while back was the Sony Alpha series and now that we were going to Egypt, we decided it was time to invest in a bit of a better camera. The price of the Sony A350K was set at CHF 1500 (!) including the standard 18-70mm lens kit. We looked at a few other shops that carried this model, but could find nothing below that price. As soon as we got home, OX started a web search for better offers. And so we found it and ordered online. For basically the same price, we got said camera incl. lens kit, plus an extra battery, an 8GB compact flash card and a very nice Sony camera bag.

On Monday morning, OX already had an e-mail in his inbox saying that his order had been processed and sent out. When I got home on Tuesday evening, I found a notice from the post office to pick-up a parcel. Talk about fast! Of course, the post office was already closed, so the next morning at 8.00am, OX was standing at the post office counter picking up the parcel. He even drove back home to charge the battery so that I could start playing around with our new toy (I'm ususally at home before he is). Isn't that sweet of him?

In order to celebrate (read: waste as little time as possible cooking), I ordered some Indian take-away, left the office early and picked-up the food on the way home. I was standing in front of the terrace door searching for my key, when I realized that I had left them on my office desk! Stupid woman, I thought. So there I was, standing on the terrace with my Indian take-away food in a shady 12-13°C. Dale was looking at me through the glass doors, scratching and begging to go out while I was looking at the Sony box patiently sitting on the table, just waiting for me to try it out. I tried to get a hold of OX, but no luck. After 10 minutes, I tried again, and he immediately picked up. Twenty minutes later, he came to the rescue and opened up. We were both like little kids at Christmas opening boxes and unpacking the accessories. We did a few test shots at home, but that's about all we could do in the evenings. BTW, the Indian take-away food was excellent!

Since OX was in Lucerne yesterday at a 1 day exhibition, I finally had my first real opportunity to take the camera out for a stroll through our neighbourhood and just play with the basic settings to get used to it. The weather was pretty good, so that really made my day. Here are a few of my favourite shots.

I still have a lot to learn; not only about the functions, but I seem to look at my surroundings much more consciously.

The rest of the picts can be found here. Let me know what you think. Really.

Note: Let me know if you can enlarge the picts when clicking on them. Blogger seems to give me totally different HTML codes, depending on the size and position. I just know that if I use small/left, or right, it usually works, if I user med. or large, they usually won't enlarge, and I wonder whether it has to do with using Explorer or Firefox.

Addendum: I just tried to upload this post with Firefox, and now I can't enlarge ANY of the picts.