Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cycling (and snoozing!) on the Fish Lake Trail

Sunday we had a break from the cold, rainy weather we've been having and my Uncle Cyrus organized a bike ride on the Fish Lake Trail. We rode with his friend Kay and sister, my Aunt Lynne for 15 miles on the flat, paved trail out and back. It was perfect weather, 73 and sunny, and we had a fantastic time. Coco fell asleep at about mile 5 and didn't wake up again until mile 12.5 plus a long chatting break at the half way point. She looked so sweet sleeping in her helmet. :)

Spokane's city motto is "Near nature. Near perfect." and I would have to say the Fish Lake trail supports this claim. The trailhead is only ten minutes from my mom's house and you really feel like you get away and into nature on the ride. We also saw walkers and runners on our ride, so it really is for everyone. 

This weekend the weather is set to sky-rocket into the 90s, and 100s early next week. Unless we hit the trail right at dawn, I don't think we'll be doing much cycling. ;)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Have you ever used Airbnb?

Last year, I had a brilliant plan. In order to fund travel while I'm not working, we would list our apartment as available during J's holidays on Airbnb. If we got a reservation, we would plan a trip around it. Since then, we've gotten numerous requests, but none of them has worked out. Then, last week, I got a request for July and we are going to Paris for five days! We are staying near the Eiffel Tower (in the adorable apartment pictured above) and I'm looking forward to taking Coco to the Jardin du Luxembourg and making a day trip to Versailles. 

Airbnb is an awesome way to travel if you're on a budget. Once we subtract the money we'll get for renting our apartment from the cost of our Paris train tickets and apartment rental, it only cost us 188 CHF! Not completely breaking even, but very affordable nonetheless. 

I'm a little nervous about preparing our apartment for Airbnb guests. I would love to hear about your experience, either as a host or guest. Any tips? Have you ever used Airbnb or done an apartment swap?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Holy Mama Yoga Retreat in Ibiza

I'm finally ready (with photos) to tell you all about our amazing trip to Ibiza! The week came down to five things: Food, Yoga, Relaxation, Excursions and Female Bonding. It was absolutely perfect. Click on "Read more" below to read all about it and see more gorgeous photos.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

ERGObaby for Dolls

Did you know that ERGObaby makes a carrier for little girls (or boys;) to wear their dolls? Coco would go positively over the moon if she saw that! She is always trying to wear her baby doll in our Ergo, but it's way too big, no matter how much we tighten it down. I think that is just about the cutest thing I've ever seen. And, wouldn't it be a sweet way to acclimate a child to a new baby, too? 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tips for Flying with a Toddler

Long-haul, international travel with a toddler comes down to two very simple things: patience and a sense of humor. Let's be clear that those are simple things, which should not be confused with easy things. Remember that whole distinction in Julie & Julia? I thought that was the best part of the book and it's stuck with me. I spent hours, literally hours following Coco around the plane in circles. It was better than the times when I had to force her into the seat on account of the fasten seat belts sign as she flailed, screamed and tried to scratch my face off. So, yes. Patience and a sense of humor are simple, uncomplicated tools that will make flying with your toddler easy. But they are also rather difficult to manage at times! Click on "Read more" below to get my full list of tricks.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Zurich Airport Observation Deck

Tomorrow I will have a full post for you about our long flight from Zurich to Spokane. But first I wanted to tell you all about the amazing Observation Deck at the Zurich airport. 
After we got checked in, we took Coco up to the observation deck to play outside in the fresh air before we were trapped on the flight for 9 hours. She didn't waste anytime getting to it. 
Then she and J watched a few planes take off.
She thought it was amazing! 

And then she was genuinely puzzled as to where the planes had gone when they disappeared from view.
Then it was back to the fun and imaginative playground until it was time to get to our gate. Next time we will leave home even earlier so she can have more play time and so J and I have a chance to get a coffee at the little cafe there and relax a bit. Nice work, Zurich! Pretty much the best thing I've ever seen in an airport. :)

Monday, June 10, 2013

USA Bucket List

We leave tomorrow morning and I am looking forward to

Enjoying
* Everything bagel with cream cheese
* McMenamin's Captain Neon Burger
* Chipotle
* Stumptown Coffee
* Organic Valley Hazelnut Half&Half
* Morningstar Sausage Patties

Seeing 
* My family
* The Columbia River Gorge (pictured)
* The North Cascades
* Spokane in the summer - it's been two years!
* Coco with her grandparents (we've been practicing saying grandma/grandpa)
* Friends in Portland

Shopping
* Nordstrom (especially the shoe and cosmetics departments)
* Baby Gap
* Lolo Boutique in Spokane

I can't believe it's already here. Send me good luck for the flight! See you all Wednesday. For now, it's down the rabbit hole of international air travel. ;) Ciao! xo

(Photo via here)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Have a productive weekend!

I cannot believe that Coco and I fly to the States on Tuesday. We are going to miss J so much! Especially now that the weather has finally turned to summer in Zurich. At last we could go on bike rides and watch Coco frolic in the fountains and wading pools. I'm dreading the flight (of course) and laughing at how I used to think long-haul travel was a pain before children. Ha! A ten-hour flight by myself sounds like a day at the spa: a pile of books, drinks, dozing off whenever I please. Instead, I think I'll find myself following a very enthusiastic toddler up and down the aisles, staring unobtrusively at the (not)-illuminated strip while she says, "HOLA!" to everyone she passes. It's going to be a long journey. Phew!

Tomorrow we're having a send-off brunch with friends and Sunday we are going to buzz around on our bikes and have a relaxed family day in the sun. 

Here's what caught my eye this week:

How windy is it where you are?


Dealing with toddler interruptions.

I adore Sofia Coppola.

A seven-minute workout sounds rad to me!

Unless we're talking ballet, which makes me feel amazingly radiant. I'll take an hour of that, please. :)

Finnish babies in cardboard boxes.

Can't wait to introduce Coco to this baby we just ordered. 

Iced coffee at home.

And, ignorance is bliss, but if you prefer to be informed not sleep at night, here are a couple things to know:

Sunscreen 201

What drowning really looks like.

I hope your weekend is amazing and productive like mine (think packing;) and see you all back here Monday! xo

(Photo via Christie's)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Authentic Creole Rougaille Saussice


Our lovely friends, Tim and Ève, who were in our wedding, taught me how to make this traditional Creole dish six or seven years ago on a visit to their apartment in Eugene. It is one of my favorite meals of all time and so easy to prepare!


Authentic Creole Rougaille Saussice

Ingredients
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp turmeric
1 Tbsp thyme
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (if desired)
4-5 small onions, cut into petals
4-6 links Andouille sausage
1 28 oz can tomatoes

Basmati rice for serving

Recipe
Prepare basmati or similar rice according to the package instructions.

Meanwhile, slice onions into petals and heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or similar. When warm, add onions and sauté until softened and translucent, about 5-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the sausages. Add spices when the onions are ready and give a good stir to coat. Add sausage, cook, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes.

Once the sausages are a bit browned, add the tomatoes. Lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally and crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Serve over hot rice.


I always cut the onions into a petal shape because once they're softened and in the sauce, they are nicer to eat in this shape and stay on your fork more easily.


Once the spices are added to the softened onion, if you choose to add red pepper flakes, be aware that the time between adding the spices and sausage and adding the tomatoes will determine how hot your spices get. For less heat, add the red pepper flakes after the tomatoes, just immediately before, or not at all. We leave them out so Coco can eat it, too. I also don't like to cover the sweet flavor of the tomatoes and turmeric together. If you want it really spicy, add your spices and allow them to fry a bit before stirring in the tomatoes and scraping up the brown bits with your wooden spoon.


After three years, I finally found a sausage in Switzerland that works with this recipe. It's a seasonal summer one, so when summer is coming to an end, my freezer will be full of these! 


And, a little public service announcements about BPA-lined cans. Did you know that the white-lined cans have BPA inside of them?! It's extra terrible to buy tomatoes out of BPA-lined cans because the acid in the tomatoes releases even more of the toxic chemical into the food. After some searching, the only BPA-free can of tomatoes I've found in Coop is the Prix Garantie 800 gram can. It's only 85 Rappen per can, so cheap, cheap, cheap (and not organic;) but the tomatoes are Italian, taste great and not having the BPA in the can is a huge priority for me. So these are our go-to canned tomato for that reason. 

I enjoy this meal regardless of the weather and it works really well with the Trader Joe's Andouille Chicken sausage. I'm sure it would also be delicious with smoked tofu or tempeh if you're vegetarian. Let me know how it turns out if you try either of those. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chinese Gender Predictor Chart Experiment

Have you heard of the Chinese gender predictor chart? It's rumored to be over 90% accurate in determining whether a baby will be a boy or a girl based on the mother's age during the month of conception. The story behind the chart is that it is over 700 years old and was found in an emperor's tomb in Beijing. Apparently it works because of the I-Ching, which is a combination of Yin and Yang, the Five Elements and the Eight Trigrams. How is that for ridiculous? What would Yin and Yang know about which sperm will penetrate an egg?! Yet, despite all that reason, no one loves a superstition more than I do. So I decided to test it. 

I asked dozens and dozens (and dozens!) of women, surveying more than 80 pregnancies and you know what? The chart is not accurate at all! I was really expecting a slam dunk on this one, but will you believe that the instances of correct vs incorrect were exactly 50/50? We had those odds to begin with. 

I did have to wonder though, if the data were correct. Conception is a tricky thing. It can happen anywhere from half an hour to five or six days following intercourse. And, in Chinese tradition, age includes the nine months of pregnancy, so my Western age is 33, but according to the Chinese age calculator, I turned 34 over three months ago! 

For Coco, the chart is correct, and I really want to have another girl for our second. Our plan is to start trying for baby #2 in September, which the chart says would result in a girl! I highly doubt we will conceive on our first try again, but if we do, I hope the chart is right. 

Is the chart right for you? Would you try to time your conception to the chart in order to have a girl or boy?

PS - A scientific way to conceive a boy or girl. (It worked for my sister, who is the happy mom to one boy and one girl;)

(Photo via The Bump)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Montessori Mondays: Being on the Other Side

For years, I was the teacher, but here is Coco a few months ago receiving a lesson on the Cylinder Block from one of J's colleagues. She loved it and it was so fun for me to see her interact with another adult in that teacher-pupil way, if even just for a few minutes. ;) But then, when we went to Ibiza and I had to leave her with the caretakers while we went to yoga class, I was so worried it would be hard for me to say goodbye to her and go off on my own. I had counseled dozens of parents through separation anxiety and saying goodbye, but would I be able to do it myself? 

It turns out, yes! It wasn't completely easy, but I followed my own advice and it worked. ;) Click on "Read more" below to read my tips on saying goodbye at school or daycare for the first time. 

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