31 January 2008

An Unusual Request

Today I attended the wedding of complete strangers.

No, I do not make a habit of crashing random weddings. Not even if the buffet looks really good and I am hungry. (Well, maybe if I were REALLY hungry!)

I was actually invited.

See, last month I received an email from Sarah, a good friend and former co-worker. She wrote, "Some friends are getting married in Switzerland at the end of January. Can I give them your name and telephone number just in case they need some help?"

Sure, I replied.

Then two weeks ago I received a second e-mail from Sarah. "They just found out they need two English-speaking witnesses. Are you available?"

So I sent out an e-mail to the Bloggy Hausfraus. Laurie volunteered first. Which is how we found ourselves standing on Werdstrasse at 2:40 pm this afternoon, wondering why we hadn't thought to ask for a description or even what color they would be wearing.

Fortunately it wasn't a busy area and we did indeed find them.

Of course, we had to know why they were getting married in Zürich, of all places, even though neither of them is Swiss, knows anyone in Zürich or has any apparent connection to here. Turns out they had already planned a vacation to France and Switzerland when they decided to get married. Neither wanted a large wedding, so they just made it their wedding trip.

Note: You cannot get married in France unless you have been a "resident" of France for a minimum of 30 days. That law probably helps cut down on the number of people requesting a sunset wedding at the top of the Eiffel Tower! (Thanks for the correction, Samantha.)

After the very simple ceremony at the Zürich Cantonal offices, we headed for the Jules Verne Panorama Bar for a champagne aperitif and the best view of Zürich.

Good Luck, Susan & Crosby! Best Wishes for the Future!

By the way, did I mention that my "fee" for this service is that I have naming rights for your firstborn? Forgot to mention that part? Hmm. Yep, that was that second document you signed. The one completely in German.

27 January 2008


This week we have two recipes! Both are Indian and were found on separate websites I have since lost. Both are basic and (most importantly) easy recipes to follow.

The first is...

Chana Masala
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup vegetable broth
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp chopped ginger
Squirt of lemon juice
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
pinch of salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Heat frying pan to medium-high. Add oil and onions. When onions are translucent add spices. Mix well. Add chickpeas and broth. Simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.

While that dish is simmering, start the next.

Aloo Palak Masala
1 cup chopped spinach (fresh or frozen)
1 large potato (or a few small potatos), diced
2 small tomatoes
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Squirt of lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Pu the following ingredients in a blender: tomatoes, chili powder, lemon juice, ginger. Puree and set aside. Heat frying pan over medium-high burner. Add oil. Fry potatoes until nearly done. Add spinach. When potatoes are completely done, add pureed mixture. Mix well. When all ingredients are hot, it's ready to eat.

Serve both dishes with basmati rice and naan bread. Both recipes make 4 servings.

Comments: This was another great meal and super easy to make. GLH even thought about taking the leftovers in for lunch, but then couldn't remember if there was a microwave anywhere at work as he usually eats in the cafeteria and doesn't pay attention to little things like whether or not there are microwaves in the break room.

So three posts in one day. Can you tell who is having a "get things done" kind of a day? And therefore needs distractions to put off the list of things to do?

C'mon fellow bloggers. Help me procrastinate. Post stuff so I don't have to clean and do laundry! Help a girl out, will ya?

Top Travel Tip for the Day

When making the decision to follow a driving tour in a guide book, you may wish to closely examine the entire route. Not just the destinations on the route.

Or your driving tour may be abruptly ended by a huge sign informing you that the mountain pass is closed. Because, of course, it is winter time in the Alps.

Although we did go far enough along to get this fabulous view from the top of Merten:

We'll try to complete the driving tour in the Spring. After the snow has melted and the passes are once again open.

Where's Waldo?: Swiss Version

Can you find the Non-Smoking section in this Swiss restaurant? You may have to look REALLY close...

There it is! That one small, two-seater table. Completely surrounded by tables with ashtrays!

And I am pretty sure that if you asked to smoke there, they would take away the non-smoking sign and bring you an ashtray. At one restaurant, when we asked if they had a non-smoking section, they went to a table in the middle of several smokers, picked up the ash tray on the table and said, "Here. This is non-smoking." And they weren't even being sarcastic.

Sigh. How much longer before smoking is finally banned here? France and Bavaria became non-smoking on January 1st. Hopefully it will come. Eventually.

26 January 2008

NOT What I Paid For!

Yes, Switzerland is expensive. And for the most part I have gotten accustomed to paying quite a lot of money for pretty much everything.

But it really burns me up when I pay a lot of money for cheap junk!

I needed to purchase some bed linens. Because our duvets come from the US, I can purchase duvet covers on my trips there and they will fit. (I need hypo-allergenic duvets. I have never found them anywhere in Europe.)

But for the fitted sheets and matching pillowcases I have tried to purchase here in Switzerland.

The first round I purchased from Ikea. They were inexpensive, but also scratchy and uncomfortable. And they didn't fit the bed correctly.

The second round I purchased from a department store. They were substantially more expensive, but of very bad quality. After only 6 months of use, they were already wearing out.

So this past week I decided to bite the bullet and get really good quality ones that would be both comfortable and more durable.

The fitted sheets (stretchy jersey) were 70 CHF ($63 USD) per sheet. Alright. Fine. I'll pay for it. Frankly, they are not as good of quality as the much cheaper ones at Bed, Bath and Beyond in the US. But they fit the bed, are comfortable and look acceptable. We'll see how long they last.

However, I am so angry about the pillow cases!

I paid 59 CHF ($53 USD) for each cotton percale pillow case. After one washing, they had shrunk quite a lot. And they shrunk unevenly with the seams getting all messed up and crooked. Which means that the fabric wasn't cut straight before sewing. They require ironing just to get them straight enough to be useable, but they do not look good. Plus, after washing the fabric is so thin you can see through it.

My sister is coming to visit in a couple of weeks. She is going to stop by Target and pick up pillow cases for me. A set of two will be about $20 USD (22 CHF).

I think in the future I will purchase all bed linens in the US. With the stretchy jersey fabric, it should work on a European-sized bed. And at least we will get what we paid for!

By the way, do not even get me started about the crappy bath towels over here! Again, we purchase those in the US.

25 January 2008

Amazon Rocks: Part 2

One more reason to be thankful for Amazon...

This morning we received an e-mail that sent me into a full-blown panic. An application we are submitting requires we provide our full addresses for the last 10 years.

10 years! Do you have any idea how many places that is? It involves 2 countries, 5 states and 7 actual addresses. Most of them apartments. And that's just me!

Do you think I kept a record of all of those places? No indeed. Why would I have done that? When would I ever need to know that information? Ugh!

After desperately searching my paper and electronic records, Google Map, online tax records and my memory, I had only come up with a couple of the required addresses.

Then GLH suggested Amazon.


I placed my very first order with Amazon in February of 1996. And there in my online account they have every item I have ever ordered, plus shipping and billing addresses. That gives me 12 years worth of addresses.

I am so relieved that I am not even upset that all that information is sitting out there, waiting to be hacked by some pimply-faced, socially-maladjusted teenage boy with nothing better to do.

Thank goodness that GLH has not been anywhere near as "transitional" as I. It took him 5 minutes to gather his addresses.

Note: I decided against totaling up how much money I have spent on Amazon in the last 12 years. That is too scary. But it perhaps explains why they periodically send me little "thank you" gifts...

22 January 2008


We received a letter today from the Stadt Zürich Polizei. It's our first speeding ticket in Switzerland!

GLH is being fined 40 chf for going 1 km over the speed limit.

Yep. 1 kilometer.

They clocked him going 64 km in a 60 km zone. But you are given the benefit of a 3 km plus/minus reading error. Which translates into 1 km.

He is disappointed about one thing. There was no picture of him breaking the law.

GLH wants me to add one detail. He was caught speeding on Christmas Day. He is considering this a belated "Merry F***ing Christmas from the Zürich Polizei!"

21 January 2008

Quirky Meme

I've been tagged by A Librarian...

The Rules:
a. List seven habits/quirks/facts about yourself
b. Tag seven people to do the same.
c. Do not tag the person who tagged you or say "whoever wants to do it."

Here goes...

1. I can be obsessive compulsive about information gathering. In some ways it is a benefit and there are even people who will refuse to play trivial pursuit with me. But there are times when I will work myself up into a state about something that is extremely unlikely to happen and GLH will tell me to back away from the computer.

2. I will read pretty much any book or watch pretty much any movie or tv program that features a vampire. It has to be terrible for me to turn it off. I still miss Buffy.

3. I detest shopping of any kind. When I do need to buy something I go in with a list and purchase what I need as quickly as possible. If I find a shirt that works well for daily wear, I will frequently get the same shirt in 2-3 colors because it means less shopping in the long run.

4. I avoid attending gatherings that will have more than 15-20 people. Partially because I prefer smaller gatherings that allow for real conversation. But mostly because I had some hearing loss as a child. Even after I regained my hearing, I had some permanent damage. If there is too much background noise, I am unable to distinguish specific voices and therefore cannot hear anything that anyone is saying.

5. There are only two exceptions to the shopping avoidance: traditional German Christmas markets and office supplies. I love shopping for office supplies. No place in Switzerland satisfies my craving. I really miss Office Depot.

6. I am extremely picky about PB&J Sandwiches. The peanut butter must be all natural with peanuts and salt as the only ingredients. It must be evenly spread on both slices of bread, not just one. It must have strawberry jam. Anything else is unacceptable.

7. I am a Rule Follower unless the rule doesn't make sense to me or goes against a personal rule. In that case, I will go out of my way to break the rule.

And now I am going to break the rules. I don't tag people. If you want to do it, feel free!

20 January 2008

Paht Thai

Paht Thai (Also known as Pad Thai)
Real Vegetarian Thai by Nancie McDermott

4 oz dried rice noodles, the width of linguine or fettucine
Vegetable oil for deep frying and stir frying
8 oz firm tofu, cut into slender 1 inch long rods
1 tbsp coarsely chopped garlic (4-6 cloves)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup Vegetable Broth
2 tbsp Tamarind Liquid (or lime juice)
1 tbsp Asian bean sauce
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground red chili pepper flakes
1/2 cup finely chopped salted, dry-roasted peanuts
2 cups bean sprouts
3 green onions, whites thinly sliced cross-wise & green tops cut into 1 inch lengths
1 lime, quartered

Place the dried rice noodles in warm water to soak for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, pour vegetable oil into a medium skillet to a depth of about 2 inches. Place over medium heat until a bit of tofu added to the pan sizzles at once. Line a plate with paper towels and place near the stove. When the oil is ready, add the tofu in small batches to discourage them from sticking together. Fry, turning to cook evenly, until crispy and golden, about 2 minutes. Using a long-handled wire strainer or a slotted spoon, remove from the oil, draining over the pan briefly, and transfer to the paper-lined plate.

When the noodles are very limp, drain and set near the stove.

Heat a wok or a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the garlic and toss until golden, about 1 minute. Add the egg and tilt the pan so it coats the surface in a thin sheet. As soon as it is opaque and beginning to set, scramble it well and transfer it to a serving platter.

Add 2 more tbps oil to the pan and heat for 30 seconds. Add the softened noodles and, using a spatula, spread and pull the noodles into a thin layer covering the surface of the pan. Then scrape them down into a clump again and gently turn them over.

Add the vegetable stock, tamarind (or lime juice), bean sauce, sugar, soy sauce and salt. Toss well. Repeat until noodles are well coated and flexible. Add the chili flakes and about half of the peanuts and turn noodles a few more times.

Set aside a little less than half of the bean sprouts for garnish. Add the remainder to the pan along with the green onions and the cooked egg. Toss well and cook until bean sprouts and green onions are shiny and beginning to wilt, 1-2 minutes more. Transfer to the serving platter and squeeze the lime wedges over the top. Garnish with the remaining peanuts and bean sprouts on one side and serve at once.

Serves 2.

Comments: Wow! This one was good! It's way more work than I would normally bother to do, but as Pad Thai is my favorite Thai dish I gave it a go. And boy am I glad I did. GLH liked it so much that he didn't even deliver his standard line about how it would taste better with meat. This recipe is a keeper! And may become one of our new "Guest Standards."

19 January 2008

Holiday in Naples?

Hmm. This might be why we found a great rate on a 4-star hotel in Naples...

In Mire of Politics and the Mafia, Garbage Reigns

Hope they get it worked out by March. Otherwise it might be a very smelly holiday!

18 January 2008

Amazon Rocks!

Shortly before dinner I ordered a stack of books from Amazon in the US and clicked on the button for international delivery.

Yep, I order from Amazon in the US instead of the UK or Germany. Why?

Well, first of all, it is actually cheaper. Not only do the books cost less in the US. But the shipping rates are less as well. Especially with the current exchange rate. And trust me when I say you don't want to know the cost of English-language books here in Switzerland!

I also get the books much faster. I just checked the status of my order. The books have already been boxed and are waiting for the shipper to collect them. I expect them to be on their way by tomorrow morning. I expect them to arrive by the end of next week. At least, that has been the pattern from past shipments.

When I ordered from Germany it was more than a week before anyone bothered to get the books off the shelf and stick them in a box, even though that status for all of them was "available." Then it was another week before they actually managed to ship the box. The entire process took nearly 3 weeks from order to delivery at my door.

My experimental order from the UK never arrived and I eventually cancelled it. Not eager to place another order.

So, yes, Amazon in the US really is the best option. Even from Switzerland!

16 January 2008

Thai Yellow Curry Tofu and Vegetables

This is a super-easy one that I came up with by combining some ingredients I already had. I made it last night and it worked really well.
Thai Yellow Curry Tofu and Vegetables
Package of Tofu
500 ml Coconut Milk
2 tbsp Yellow Curry paste
Vegetables of your choice for stir fry, either fresh or frozen
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Cut tofu to whatever size you prefer. Brown in frying pan over medium heat. Remove tofu from pan. Mix coconut milk and green curry paste. Stir fry with vegetables in the pan. When vegetables are ready, stir in tofu to reheat. Serve over rice. Serves 4.
I have been trying to convince myself, with limited success, that I like tofu. My issue is that I really dislike the texture of tofu. Too soft and squishy. People who like tofu will likely shudder, but I have discovered that if I cut the tofu into small pieces and then fry it in a bit of oil, it gets crunchy. I don't mind it that way.
GLH said that this one was delicious and a little dangerous. It was so good he ate a bit too much of it. Of course, he predictably said it would be even better if I added chicken or something...

15 January 2008

Stop Vacuuming!

Yesterday I had to tell my husband to stop vacuuming.

I know! How unbelievable is that?

Here's the thing. Over the weekend we went to Media Markt (one of GLH's favorite stores, second only to Conrad). Why? Well, "Gadget Boy" needed some electronics. What did he need? Couldn't tell you. You think I have any say in what electronics the man buys?

Except for Guitar Hero II. I've put my foot down on that one. He already spends too much time in front of a computer. An addictive and extremely loud video game in order to blast heavy metal music is not entering this home! But I digress...

Anyway, while he was hunting up what he needed, I meandered around the store and happened upon some cordless stick vacuums. It occurred to me that cleaning up after the cats, specifically their litter area, would be much easier if I had a small and easy cordless vacuum instead of having to drag out the much heavier one.

So when GLH had picked out his electronics, I pointed at this one.

Of course, the new vacuum is a gadget just like any other gadget. So perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised last night when he started vacuuming. After 11 at night. Directly beneath the bedroom of our upstairs neighbor's 3 year old daughter.

Which is why I had to go and demand my husband stop vacuuming.

13 January 2008

Cash-Based Society

Switzerland is a cash-based society.

When you open a bank account, you are not issued checks. Instead, you receive a bank card you may use to withdraw money or use as a credit card. When you pay bills, you either arrange the payment online, or you go down to the Post Office, hand them the bill and the cash and they arrange the payment for you.

Credit cards are only recently popular in Switzerland. Most of the touristy-places have accepted them for years, but it is only recently that places like the grocery stores have. And imagine our surprise, the first weekend we lived here, when we stood at the cashier's desk with close to 2,000 chf in computer electronics, only to be told that it was cash only! Fortunately there was an ATM nearby.

For the most part, living in a cash-based society works well. We have grown accustomed to using cash instead of check or credit card. And since the crime rate is so low here, having large amounts of cash rarely presents an issue.

But occasionally living in a cash-based society is a pain in the rear-end.

Take this evening, for instance.

Although we generally either pay with cash or do online bank transactions, occasionally we have United States transactions that require a check. This evening we went out to the Zürich airport to mail a very important document along with a fee that could only be paid via check. We went to the airport because the document was important enough that we wished to send it via FedEx, and the airport drop-off location is open 7 days a week from 5 am until 10 pm.

There is a counter near check-ins that handles drop-offs for several different delivery services. We told them we wished to send something to the United States via FedEx.

Swissport Employee: "Is it a document? We cannot accept packages."

Us: "Yes, it's a document."

SE, peering closely at the small stack of papers: "What is that?" She points at the check.

Us: "It's a check."

SE: "You cannot send a check. That is not allowed."

Us: "What? Of course it is allowed. We have sent checks through FedEx for years!"

She consulted with another employee in rapid Swiss German.

SE: "No, checks are not allowed. It is against regulations. You cannot send money."

We believe the problem is likely that being Swiss, she has had no experience dealing with bank checks and does not understand that it actually isn't money. It is only a document that represents money. And then only to the person who can verify to a bank that they are the individual/organization named on the check.

We finally managed to convince her to accept the document for shipment. But she wrote, in large letters, that the envelope contains a check. Which actually didn't make us happy for security reasons, but such is life. She then wrote down our telephone number in case the people who come to pick it up cannot accept checks.

After verifying that the people who come to pick it up are indeed FedEx employees, who hopefully have a better understanding of such things, we paid for the mailing charges and left.

Who has ever heard of it being against regulations to send a check through the mail???


UPDATED 14 January 2008

Just checked the tracking information online. The envelope was picked up and sent to the USA with no further problems. Obviously sending a check via FedEx is allowed, even in a cash-based society!

12 January 2008

Must Find!

After more than a year in Switzerland I have identified two electrical appliances that I have not been able to find here and I simply cannot continue to live without.

So if any of the Swiss-based Bloggers know where I could find one of these items, I would be hugely grateful. Otherwise I may end up using a car battery-sized electrical converter and bringing them from the United States!

The first is an electric frying pan, an incredibly common appliance available for around $20 (USD) from any Target, Wal-Mart or similar anywhere in the United States. It was always the appliance in my kitchen that I used more than any other. And yes, I know I have regular frying pans. But I just really like the electric frying pan so much more!

I also have not been able to find a "rising sun" alarm clock. You know, one of those things that fakes a sunrise for the 30 minutes leading up to when the alarm goes off. It is really hard to get up in the winter without one and I miss mine so, so much.
Help me, please! I am begging here!

Intelligent Risk Management

Regardless of where you stand on the Global Warming/Global Climate Change issue, this simple video by a science teacher is worth watching. It's worth 10 minutes of your time.

11 January 2008

Curried Couscous and Vegetables

In an effort to keep with my resolution to cook at least one new recipe each week (except, of course, weeks during which we travel) I decided to post one recipe with comments every week.

Curried Couscous and Vegetables
Source: Quick Fix Vegetarian by Robin Robertson

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 scallions, chopped
2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced across
1 1/2 tbsp Madras curry powder
1/2 cup frozen baby peas
1 (16 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups water or vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups quick cooking couscous
Salt and Freshly ground black peper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add scallions and cook, stirring, for 1 minute to soften. Add zucchini, cover, and cook for 2 minutes to soften slightly. Stir in the curry powder. Add the peas, chickpeas, and water and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous and season to taste with salt and pepper. If you like it spicier, add more curry powder to taste. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes. To serve, fluff the couscous with a fork and transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with parsley. 4 servings.

Comments: Pretty good recipe, easy to follow and I had dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes (very important consideration for me!) Even though I realized too late that I only had Garam Masala mix and was fresh out of curry powder, it tasted good anyway. I think it would probably also work well if you mixed in different vegetables. GLH said, "Pretty good. Would work well as a side dish with a nice, juicy steak." But then, that's what he always says, even though the joke is getting a little old. We will likely repeat this recipe.

09 January 2008

Too Tired to Sleep?

Can a person get so tired that they can't sleep?

I remember reading somewhere that infants and toddlers can become so tired that they literally cannot fall asleep. Can it happen to adults too?

I currently have the worst jet-lag I have ever experienced. And it is all my fault. When we got home on Saturday, I was determined to stay awake until evening. When I do that, I have a long, hard day. But I am usually fine by the next day.

But it was a cold, dreary and rainy on Saturday. Plus GLH (who never has jet-lag and can fall asleep pretty much anytime and anywhere he wants) decided to go to bed. After showering, eating breakfast, checking my e-mail and watching t.v. for a while, I decided that it was a crappy day and I was tired. Plus GLH looked cozy and warm. So I went to sleep too.

We woke up in the late afternoon.

At 10:30 GLH went to bed and fell asleep immediately. I took a sleeping pill and read a book for 20 minutes while I waited for the pill to take effect. Then I turned off the light and tried to sleep. At 1:30 in the morning I gave up. I got up and took 2 sleeping pills. And remained unconscious until nearly noon, possibly in a drug-induced temporary coma.

It is now Wednesday and my sleep patterns are still out of whack. I sleep for a short while at night, anywhere from 3-6 hours or so. Then I force myself to stay awake all day so that hopefully I will be able to sleep that night.

I am so exhausted I am barely functioning.

So again, I ask you, can you get so tired that you cannot sleep anymore?

By the way, to our international guests who think I am mean when I force them to stay awake from the time they arrive on the morning flight until at least 9:30 pm. THIS IS WHY I DO THAT! It really is for your own good.

And I will never, ever do this to myself again!

08 January 2008

Small Piece of America

Today I met up with a friend who recently had a baby. After a walk-about until baby went to sleep, we headed to Starbucks.

I know, I know. I went to Starbucks. That evil corporate giant who sucks the lifeblood out of the small, locally owned coffeehouses across the United States.

In my own defense, Switzerland is not known for it's Coffeehouse Culture. With few exceptions, Starbucks is pretty much it. It's not like there were any other coffeehouses to put out of business.

Plus, Starbucks is an extremely popular choice among mothers due to its strict corporate policy of Non-Smoking, which incredibly extends into the Smoker's Haven that is Switzerland. No second-hand smoke mingling with the pregnant women and the youn'uns. Or me, for that matter. So, give me a break already. (And yes, Kaite, I am talking to YOU!)

Anyway, while placing my order I realized that I wasn't speaking German. Though in most exchanges I have on a daily basis I doggedly continue to speak German even when they respond in English. Not a single German word had passed my lips since I walked through the door.

Then it hit me. I have never spoken German at any Starbucks I have visited since moving here. In fact, this is the first I have noticed that I don't attempt German while within the walls of a Starbucks. Not even to say Verstehen Sie Englisch, bitte?

After some thought I figured out why. Starbucks is the most American-feeling place in Europe. (Well, aside from the US embassies. But that's different.) My point is that it didn't occur to me that I should speak German in Starbucks.

It's an American company with an American feel and I am going to speak, well, American. And I won't feel a single ounce (not gram!) of guilt about it either.

So there!

One last note: Ya think Starbucks is expensive in the US? Hah! Try paying over 5 chf (close to $5 USD) for a small cup of tea! And they won't even give you more hot water for free. Astoundingly enough, it no longer puts me into cardiac arrest. Have I gotten accustomed to how expensive everything is in Zürich?

07 January 2008

Resolutions for 2008

I do not normally do New Year's resolutions, but I've discovered that the life of a Haus Frau can become a bit driftless if one isn't careful. Then you begin to feel as if your whole life is merely housework. I've actually done a pretty good job of keeping engaged and involved in a number of activities outside the home, but the former manager in me seems to be craving a bit more structure.

So I decided to set some resolutions for myself for this year.

Goal: Expand Freelance Writing
A few months ago I started freelancing for an American organization based in Germany. Currently I spend an average of 5 hours per week writing for them. I've discovered that not only do I really enjoy writing, but I rather like the extra money it brings in as well. I'd like to explore additional opportunities for freelance writing.
Action: Expand to 15-20 hours of freelance writing per week.

Goal: Learn More Vegetarian Recipes
I am a really lazy cook. If the meal takes me more than about 15 minutes to prepare, I really cannot be bothered. Mostly because food just doesn't matter that much to me. Most of my focus for the last 2-3 years has been "will this make me feel sick" rather than if I enjoy the food or not. Frankly, I'd be perfectly happy rotating through one of about three meals pretty much indefinitely, especially as I know that none of them make me sick. But I should probably work to develop a healthier attitude towards food again. And I realize that GLH is probably tired of the current rotation.
Action: Make at least 1 new recipe each week. Track which recipes are good and which should never be made again.

Goal: Expand Reading
I realized that this past year I have read, almost exclusively, novels. Mostly historical novels, to be specific. I'd like to expand my reading interests a bit and perhaps get back into some nonfiction reading as well. Perhaps I could even combine historical novels with nonfiction works on the same topic?
Action: Read at least one nonfiction title per month

Goal: Become Literate in German
I continue to struggle with learning a new language. The work of learning German is dull and monotonous. Since I enjoy reading so much, I thought perhaps reading in German would motivate me more.
Action: Read at least one novel in German by the end of the year

05 January 2008

Missed Connections

We made it.

But our luggage didn't.

Our flight from Cleveland to Newark was delayed more than an hour due to a shortage of flight crew staff. We got to Newark about an hour before our flight was scheduled to depart. Which should have been enough time to transfer the luggage at any airport except a chaotic one like Newark.

Supposedly it will be delivered tomorrow morning after the daily flight from Newark to Zürich.

On the bright side, we get to delay the unpleasant task of unpacking and laundry until we've had more sleep.

Side Note: Is it a sign you travel too much when you recognize some of the flight crew, baggage handlers and immigration officers at Newark and Zürich airports? Fortunately we do not make that flight often enough that they recognize us!

04 January 2008


GLH and I, along with my younger sister, are going to Cairo the middle of February.

In order to avoid catching some kind of highly contagious and totally unpleasant disease, we needed to get shots. It is recommended by the CDC that travelers to Cairo get vaccinated for Hepatitis A and Typhoid Fever. Figuring it would be easier and cheaper to get this done in the Cleveland, we went to a local travel clinic this afternoon.

It was definitely easier and cheaper than it would have been in Zurich, especially as GLH did not need to schedule it into his work day.

But now my left arm hurts so much I can barely lift it. Loading baggage into the overhead bin will not be easy. Good thing GLH will be there!

02 January 2008

Hanging Out

Hanging out in Cleveland. Seeing family, shopping at after-Christmas sales, going to movies and some shoveling (blizzard last night).

Back to Zurich over the weekend...