April 29, 2012

Hermes' Heritage in Madrid

The French are following me.

I am writing from Madrid but how could I resist a Hermes exhibition where exquist artisans of THE luxury brand were showing off their know-how?

What would you do if you had the chance to meet Hermes' chef d'atelier and watch him meticoulsly print colour after colour on the most delicate silk carré.

I was allowed a glimps of the fabrication of the unequaled, globally idolized, exclusive Kelly bag and discovered some tricks of the trade on assembling and sewing devine leather saddles by hand.

This exhibit was an intimate, instructive and enjoyable discovery into the world of fabrication of the epitomy of luxury symbols. A constructive and refreshing change to the retail frenzy that this brand usually evokes.

April 25, 2012

Home is where the heart is

"Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest."
Robert Montgomery

What if your heart is in different places at the same time? What if you can't decide where your heart lies? What if every time you go back to a place where you used to live, you discover a part of your heart is still there? How many cities can find a place in your heart? Do you encourage this love or do you move on and try to forget about it? Is it the place or the people that have conquered your heart? How strong do your children feel this heartache? How do you explain this constant moving to them? How do you cure it? Is there a cure to expat globetrotting?

So many questions. I imagine the answers will be different for every person and each family going through the relocation experiences. 

Our family's cure is to visit the places and friends we left behind. It means we don't necessarily explore new destinations every holidays but then again "We are lucky enough to actually live in a different place every three years so why bother with a superficial 2-week holiday only to scratch the surface of a foreign culture", says Expat hubby. We travel to the same spots again and again. We meet up with friends and enjoy the activities we always did when we used live in that country. I do admit the list of places to visit does get longer the more you move and therefore we started planning our pilgrimage in a family reunion.

Our two favourite spots are Madrid in Spain and Lugano in Switzerland. Here are a few impressions of our last visit to Lugano which we called home from 2007 to 2011.

April 22, 2012

A French Odyssée

You might have noticed that my Paris adventures are on hold for a few weeks due to holidays. I do feel bad if I don't publish each week, therefore I have decided to share an engaging video by the renowned French jeweler Cartier to take you on an exquisit odyssée while I'm gone.

April 12, 2012

A three-year family plan

“When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, train and educate people.”
Chinese Proverb

So I am Swiss and I am organized but it never even crossed my mind to concuct a five year plan until I stumbled across a post by Simple Mom blog.

Sitting in a lounge waiting to travel from Paris to Geneva this past Easter weekend, I presented my loved ones with a blank sheet of paper and told them we were about to play a new game: the 3-year plan. My kids of course had no clue what I was talking about while my husband was half-way through his task before the rest of us even started! He loves strategic planning.

What do you think your kids would come up with?

Well, after having diligently poured thought into the matter - individually - we compared notes. We all agreed that 2014 would be a good year to move. A true expat family we are!!!!

We also all agreed we needed to keep up sports in our everyday lifestyle.

Expat boy and I put a trip to Argentina into our plan... He was born there!

Expat girl and I coincided that moving to Brazil would be cool and my hubby and I had the same idea about throwing a huge big party in 2 or 3 years time inviting everybody that had come to our wedding 14 years ago.

Expat boy decided he needed a summer job at age 16 and Expat girl was speaking 5 languages and would become a popstar by 2014.

Way to go kids! Tell me, how would your family's three-year plan look like?

Expat Girl 3-year plan

Expat Boy 4-year plan

April 10, 2012

Isle of Lewis: a place of past times

Last week I got to hop on a plane (or two or three) for an unexpected voyage to the Outer Hebrides. Stornoway, the capital, is a burgh on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It is a place

- where people greet you with a hearty smile and mean it
- where places with unpronoucable names turn out to be of breathtaking beauty
- it is the kind of place where you have breakfast in the hotel restaurant in your slippers
- where you can have porridge, grilled kipper or smoked haddock for breakfast ... every morning
- where desolate landscape turns stunning thanks to light and space
- where you spot heards of stags at night roaming around the moors
- where wellies are indispensable rather than fashionable
- where the taxi driver has been from the Falklands to Ascension Island and ended up in the outer Hebrides serving the RAF
- where total strangers invite you to their home for a cup of tea because you ask for directions along the road
- where there are definately more sheep than inhabitants
- where the light is brighter but the winters longer
- where people speak with an accent that I'd love to be able to call mine
- where life is simple and uncomplicated and so far away from today's reality

Although this corner of the world is definately off the beaten track it is worth a visit. I promise you your Scottish adventure will be different from anything you have experienced beforehand.

April 2, 2012

A new food experience

"A frog in a well does not know the great sea."
Japanese proverb meaning: People are satisfied to judge things by their own narrow experience, never knowing of the wide world outside.

Today I took my son to explore a Japanese supermarket accompanied by my foodie friend - whose grandmother is Japanese - and her son. That in itself would not be so bad if my son weren’t of Italian heritage. Italians like their food, they like it cooked, they like it done the way their mamma cooks it and they like to eat what they know. The Italians are fantastic explorers, travelers and improvisers but they are not very flexible when it comes to food. My friend guided us through the exotic fresh produce, the aisles of colourful, unfamiliar-looking cans and the frozen food section of bizarre looking bags. My son ended up choosing a pot of Banana jam...but just because I made him pick something!

But wait, our adventure did not end here. We were taking our boys out to lunch after having completed the parents-teacher conferences. What they did not know was that they had to cook it themselves before they could devour it. My boy was in a state of shock. La Mamma is suppose to cook NOT the son!!!!!

Arrived at L'Atelier des Chefs the young and kid-friendly chef welcomed us with white plastic aprons et voilà we were ready to prepare our lunch à la francaise.

Diligently Expat boy cut the carrots and the zucchini but gave up at the champignons (he hates) and flately refused to prepare the filet of duck. He could not get his head around the fact that he was about to eat duck!

The express cooking class was great. It took 30 minutes to prepare and then we all sat around a long wooden table with a glass of vino (for the adults) and feasted on our honey-balsamico glazed duck with wok stir-fry vegetables.

Click here for the recipe: Filet de canard laqué au miel de soja et balsamique, wok de légumes de saison

Expat boy was ecstatic to be able to run off and play football with his pals for the rest of the day!

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