Friday, May 30, 2014

Our Big Move: Duluth, Minnesota!

Back in February we went to interview in Duluth, Minnesota. The job prospects came out of nowhere and one week we were going about our business in Zurich, the next we booked tickets and were planning our trip to Duluth. While we were there, the record was broken for the longest number of consecutive days the temperature didn't rise above zero Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius). Brrr! It was the coldest winter in 30 years and unlike anything we'd ever experienced before. During the walk pictured above, it was -6 Fahrenheit (-22 Celsius!) and we really couldn't stay out much longer than 20 minutes. We like to think of ourselves as adventurous folks, so we didn't let the sub-zero temperatures dissuade us away from the offer we got. Besides, by the end of the week, it got up to a balmy 20 Fahrenheit (-7 Celsius) and we didn't even need to wear a hat! ;) Our Zurich chapter is a wrap. In a few weeks, we are moving to Northern Minnesota. Luckily all the snow has melted by now and it is much warmer. ;)
We must be crazy to move to Northern Minnesota. But one huge bonus I have my fingers crossed for is the Northern Lights. The photo above was actually taken in Duluth in August 2011 when there were auroras caused by a double sun blast. Wouldn't that be incredible to see?

I sincerely hope you'll follow along with us on our new adventure! Baby boy will be born in Duluth and Coco will start Montessori there in August, just as she would have here. J and I are looking forward to settling into our new rental (it's gorgeous and huge!) canoeing and camping with Coco as best we can before baby boy arrives (or after depending on his temperament;) and American convenience. With two kids, I think having a car will be nice change of pace!

So now I'm in the brainstorming phase of what to call the new blog. Swiss Lark won't really make sense once we're not here anymore, and I'm not really sure what to call it or what direction to take with blogging. We shall see what I come up with. No matter what, I'll be sure to forward you all to the new site, of course! Thanks for being part of our Swiss Lark and following along with our day-to-day life here. Over the next few weeks, I hope to re-cap our time here, post photos of all our last-minute travel around Europe and share with you how it feels to leave this place we brought our first child home to and where we became parents. We certainly have grown and changed a lot since we arrived. Stick with us; there's more to come! :) xoxo

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Decorating: The Kids' Room

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Now that we're moving, all I think about is furniture. I think it's partly because I have nowhere else to channel my nesting energy while packing up our home and getting rid of things, and partly because redecorating is just about my favorite thing ever. I still need to fill you in on the details of our move - it's a big one - but for now, let's talk about how cute Coco and baby boy's shared room is going to be.

We are getting Coco the cutest ever toddler bed and handing down her changing table and crib to baby boy. I'm going for a yellow, pink and blue color scheme and getting each of them the adorable silhouette duvet covers from Stokke for their respective beds. Before he transitions into the crib, we will co-sleep with baby boy. And while most of his naps will be outside in his pram, I got this lovely bassinet for his naps inside. For his clothes and blankets, I decided on an ultra modern dresser that combines the white of the changing table and the natural wood of the crib to tie them together a bit more.

Another element I really wanted to include was a big cozy chair we can all snuggle up on to read books together. I love the pop of color in the form of a yellow nightstand next to the chair to hold said books. ;) Because Coco will be choosing her own clothes and dressing herself any day now, it was important to get her a toddler proportioned wardrobe and dresser so that she can reach everything. And, finally, to keep the room cheerful and cozy, I chose an aqua dot wool rug for the floor. 

I am so excited to see it all come together! Do your children share a room? Would you have a boy and girl share or do your children have their own rooms?

Friday, April 11, 2014

3 1/2 Room Apartment in Seefeld: We are moving!

Some big changes lie ahead for our little family. With baby boy making his entrance this summer and our move coming up, I'm dealing with it as best I can. But honestly, I love our apartment and city life so much, it's hard for me to give it up. :( Moving forward in life is always like that isn't it? I have the hardest time letting go.

*UPDATE May 1: The apartment has been rented. Thank you for your interest!*

But the time has come to advertise our beloved apartment. We are looking for someone to take over our apartment and furnishings as of July 1st. We investigated every possible scenario of how to structure our move and given that I'll be nearly 8 months pregnant at the time, we decided it's best to pass on our furnishing to the new tenants and pay for IKEA delivery and assembly at the new place. 

We have the most beautiful 3 1/2 room apartment, right in the heart of Seefeld. It's located on a quiet lane with easy access to public transport, the lake, parks, grocery stores, shops and restaurants. It's the perfect place to live! Click on "Read more" below to see more photos and get the details.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Montessori Monday: Beautification

Sunday afternoon, I had just finished making a cup of tea when I was walking out of the kitchen and had to stop to admire our little flower arrangement on the kitchen table. Having flowers in our home brings me an incredible amount of joy and happiness. Such a small thing has such a lovely impact. 

The idea, feeling and understanding of beautification is also integrated into the Montessori curriculum. The classroom isn't just a room with materials where lessons can take place. It is a carefully laid out, inviting, beautiful place that calls to children and motivates them to explore. That is why instead of calling it a schoolroom, it's called The Children's House or Casa dei Bambini in Italian. Montessori believed the children should feel at home and that through creating an attractive place, they would also feel called upon to care for it. Isn't that wonderful?

The only other place I've seen that idea laid out is in the book Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure. Have you read it? It is fascinating. Over the course of eight weeks, you completely re-energize, de-clutter and deep clean your home. I can't recommend it enough. About flowers, he writes:

As simple as it sounds, the act of buying flowers for your apartment holds great significance and will heal your apartment on many levels. As organic elements, flowers strengthen the bones and contribute to the breath of your apartment through humidifying and cleansing the air...Typically one buys flowers for another, but it is particularly important that, whether you live alone or not, you view flowers as a gift to your home. This is the beginning of nurturing your home and taking care of it. 

I think it's absolutely beautiful. Now every time I buy flowers, I see them as a gift to our home and I love the atmosphere fresh flowers create. It truly is an interaction and brings new energy into our space. In Montessori classrooms, the children learn flower arranging from age four or five. This awareness in Caring for the Environment instills in them a love of beauty, order and nurturing their space. 

Do you buy flowers often? What are your favorites to have at home?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Have a fantastic weekend

This weekend we are going to the Knies Kinderzoo in Rapperswil. They have a baby elephant! And a baby camel! And elephant rides! It's going to be exciting. Other than that, I hope to get in a few naps in and enjoy the sun. I hope it's sunny where you are. 

Here are a few links for your weekend:

Love these adorable finds under $20!

Very sweet, new-to-me blog

The right milestones to watch for - and help happen.

Ten best airports in the world.

Stay-at-home-mom day. Laughed out loud!

Clever yet innocent April Fool's prank.

What it means to be an American woman abroad. Also laughed out loud! 

Have a fantastic weekend! PS - I discovered a previously unknown perk to Vidis Kochtüte tonight: It's just as easy for Joel to make dinner as it is for me. :) :) :) Take it easy and I'll see you back here Monday. xo 

Elephant and girl photo via Pinterest.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Our Experience with Vidis Kochtüte

Last week we tried Vidis Kochtüte for the first time. The recipes are super quick and easy and after our first dinner, I immediately ordered a five-recipe bag for this week. From now on, I think Monday afternoon is going to be my favorite time of the week because our Kochtüte will arrive. :)
It's lots of fun to unpack the bag and see all the ingredients. All items that need to be refrigerated are packaged separately in a reusable compost bag. I put everything away and then flip through the recipes for the week to figure out what to make first based on the dates on the meat and fish, or the delicate nature of the produce. Last night we had a salad because I wanted the greens to be super fresh. Tonight we are having the wok veggies for the same reason. The fish is good through Friday and the pasta is shelf stable well beyond that time so they can wait.
Preparation goes extra fast because mostly everything is pre-measured and ready to use. We save the little plastic fish from the soy sauce for Coco to play with in the bath. They're lots of fun! 
Once I've decided what to make, I simply gather the ingredients together with the recipe booklet and in less than 30 minutes, dinner is served! These salads with orange vinaigrette and smoked ham were so good that we completely forgot to take a photo. ;)
But look at this incredible veal and mashed potatoes from last week. The topping was a delicious garnish made with dried apricots, almonds, parsley and garlic. Amazing! 
Coco couldn't wait to dig in, but she controlled herself long enough for me to take a photo. Much to our surprise, the portions are generous enough that all three of us felt satisfied and full, without feeling stuffed, after each meal.
We loved seeing Coco try new flavor combinations. And she loved having adult food with us. On a practical note, we find clean up is quicker and easier than usual. The recipes are so well organized that it's just 15 minutes back to a sparkling kitchen after dinner. I'm hooked; I don't want to ever want to go back to planning and shopping for our meals!

We are now happily paying Vidis Kochtüte customers since giving it a try! If you like to cook, but hate grocery shopping and planning, I highly recommend Vidis Kochtüte. All of the ingredients come from high quality Swiss suppliers and are bio (organic) wherever possible. It's the best thing I could have asked for while pregnant with a toddler. Honestly. :)

Special offer for Swiss Lark readers: Enter the coupon code SWISSLARK (all caps) at checkout and receive a 20 CHF reduction on your first order. Offer good through June 30, 2014. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Montessori Mondays: Floor Bed

Because we've been so happy with Coco's Stokke Sleepi crib, we've decided to get the same one for baby boy, but in white, and with the kit so that it grows from Mini (pictured) to Sleepi. I'm sort of giddy about it and can't wait to have our precious, heavenly smelling newborn swaddled up in that bed for his nap with the white on white on white bedding. Swoon! 

I love everything about this plan, is in direct opposition to the Montessori way. Click on "Read more" below to find out the Montessori approach to infant and toddler sleeping...

Friday, March 21, 2014

Have a lovely weekend.

Do you watch music videos? I usually don't because they're always so bad and I feel super embarrassed for the musicians who look so silly and over-directed. BUT...these sisters from HAIM (rhymes with time) completely rock. I have the biggest girl crush on them. They seem so cool. I like to think we'd have fun hanging out. But let's not get carried away...
Haha! ;) I can't get that song out of my head ever and I love singing along with it while I make dinner. They're such good female role models for young girls. Totally rad!

And here are a few links for your weekend.

Would you let your child play at The Land?

Soon to be stylish baby names? I love Otto! (But glad our name isn't on the list;)

I can't wait to make these ping pong ball cafe lights for Coco's room.

Gorgeous, natural-looking summer eye shadow.

That's all I've got for now. This week was too beautiful to be inside surfing the web. ;) I hope your weekend is lovely! See you back here Monday. xo

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Turning a Corner

Things around here have been really awesome lately. I think it all comes down to one simple thing: I quit my job. 
When I was working (and she was coming to work with me) it was only a few hours each morning, so I didn't see how it could be so disruptive. But it was incredibly stressful and put a terrible strain on our relationship. I knew I had to quit when I realized I wasn't enjoying my daughter at all anymore. Now that I've quit, Coco is back to her usual self. She's joyful, energetic, curious, talkative, happy. She's not acting out in an effort to get attention. She's not willful and surly. It's so nice to have our girl back! I felt so bad about quitting, but it was absolutely the right decision. 
Now our routine is back. We get up in the morning, have breakfast together and either get out to do something or relax a bit at home. I'm blogging again. Coco is napping again. I don't feel overwhelmed, irritated and tired all the time. We are all benefitting. And much to my surprise, two-and-a-half is turning out to be quite a delicious age. I'm blown away by the expressive, thoughtful little person she's become each and everyday. Oh, Coco. Words cannot express how I love you so. :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cold-Busting Super Lemony Ginger Chicken Soup

Whenever I get a cold, I always crave chicken soup. Obviously! But oddly enough, chicken soup in a can does not exist in our neighborhood grocery store. That leaves me several unappealing options: Have a stockpile on hand for when sickness strikes, head out to a specialty grocery and buy some, or make stock ahead and freeze to whip up soup in a jiffy. None of these options works well because if we have a stockpile of cans, we end up eating it other times. When I'm sick the last thing I want to do is make a trip to a specialty grocery (and most likely find they don't have what I'm looking for when I get there anyway;) And our freezer is just slightly bigger than a shoebox, so we don't the option of freezing anything.
The last time I was sick with a cold about a month ago, I took the path of least resistance to brothy, healing goodness. I cut corners, I broke all the rules, and I made a delicious, nourishing soup in about half an hour. It was so satisfying and soothing, that even when we have access to cans again, I will probably go ahead and make this anyway. It's not made with homemade chicken stock, or even home-roasted chicken, but I'm no longer convinced that's better. 
Cold-Busting Super Lemony Ginger Chicken Soup

1 store-bought rotisserie half chicken
2 cubes chicken bouillon
1 liter (32 oz) fresh water, or as directed on your bouillon
3 celery stalks, sliced thin
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
15 grams (1 Tbsp) butter
1 knob of ginger, sliced
1 lemon, washed and halved
Handful or two of egg noodles (optional)
Salt and pepper
  1. Melt the butter in a dutch oven or similar heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. 
  2. Sauté the onions and ginger with some salt until the onions are translucent, about 4-5 minutes. 
  3. Add celery and carrots and sauté for a few minutes. 
  4. Add a few grinds of pepper, bouillon cubes and water, turn up heat to high and bring to a boil. Immediately turn down to medium-low. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pot, drop in the lemon halves and simmer until vegetables are soft, about 12-15 minutes. 
  5. Meanwhile, shred the chicken. 
  6. Bring back to the boil, toss in noodles and chicken and cook until noodles are ready, according to package instructions. 
  7. Serve immediately. 
This soup will last a couple days and tastes even better when reheated the next day. Don't discard those yummy, flavor-releasing lemons halves until the soup is all gone. If you want it even brothier, just add more water and bouillon to suit your tastes. I hope you won't need this anytime soon, but if you do, get well! xo

PS - Our Vidis Kochtüte sack arrived last night. So beautifully presented and we can't wait to share that with you later this week. :)
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