Do Them Yourself!

It is such a pity when the Holiday Season triggers more stress than necessary. All the Christmas cards we have to write, all the gifts we need to buy – and then perhaps even celebrating with far too many people (or in unwanted solitude), with too much food and
too many presents…
Already before my change to a ‘simpler life’ I decided to drastically cut down on the
‘gift’ part, mainly trying to give away only things I’d made myself. It’s not easy:
you have to find something you can do yourself and that is appreciated by the recipients.
I’ve knitted so many things that I think ended up forgotten in the farthest drawer of a wardrobe…! 😉
What anybody can easily do and what is always very welcome are edible DIY gifts. Seasoning mixes, interesting pesto varieties, jams, herbal teas, cookies or sweets, just to name a few.
Why not try these Date Truffles! They are super easy to make, have few easy-to-find ingredients, they taste wonderful – and on top of that they’re even healthy!
Date Truffles
Ingredients for 16-20 pcs
7 dried dates (70 g)
7 dried apricots (70 g)
1 dl cashew nuts
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 pinch each of powdered cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and a hint of powdered clove
a tiny pinch of salt
1-2 Tsp. water (careful!)
Cocoa powder to roll them in
How to proceed:
1. Pit the dates, let dates and apricots soak in water at least 2 hours.
2. Pour off water, roughly chop dates and apricots.
3. With a mixer, mix cashew nuts until smooth, put aside
4. Mix dates, apricots, cocoa powder and spices, and the mixed nuts. Add a little water if necessary, it should be VERY sticky.
5. Roll little balls (approx. 1 Tsp. full each) between your hands.
6. Roll them in extra cocoa powder, and save them in the fridge.
Now you can package up these delicious little health balls into a cute packaging, tie them together and add a note. Watch the Christmas smiles fill the room – because after all those processed Christmas treats one craves something that can be deeply enjoyed, but is a lot healthier!

Who can resist these succulent, yet healthy treats..?

Who can resist these succulent, yet healthy treats..?

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White Light Meditation

In wintertime, when days are dark and grey, we need strategies to avoid getting gloomy.
People turn on extra lights in their houses, or even take light therapy, plan for the
next sunny beach vacation, or light dozens of candles. That’s all fine, but it is just scratching the surface.
The most important thing to do is to get as much daylight as ever possible. When at
work, take a brisk walk during your lunch break. Even on a gray and cloudy day, getting
outside can help your skin create the mood-boosting, health-supplementing Vitamin D.
A complete cloud cover only halves the energy of ultraviolet rays, which trigger
Vitamin D production. Getting fresh air and stretching your legs also makes a huge
difference. However, we also need strategies that light us up from the inside. During
the darker seasons I start my day with a “White Light meditation”.
The “White Light meditation” fills up your whole being with light, and the light somehow
stays as a shining centre deep within you. It makes a real difference in both senses
of the world light: you feel shining and you feel less weighed down by everyday problems.
To reconnect with that feeling, take Light Pauses all along your day: sit or stand relaxed, close your eyes for a couple of seconds, feel your third eye filling up with white light,
and how it spreads inside you. There’s even enough light to share with others! When you
open up your eyes the light from within streams out into the winter dark surroundings
and makes them a little brighter – both for yourself and for those around you.

Perfect light therapy

Perfect light therapy

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Vin Chaud du Valais

However warm you might dress up in winter and however much you heat up your home,
sometimes you still feel cold to the bone. Forget salads and raw foods: eating or drinking something hot is key during this time of year. I’ve already sung the praise of ‘The Soup’,
but a nice hot drink is not bad either. Last season I published the recipe forour family’s favourite Mulled Juice (“Rosy Cheeks and Mulled Juice”) but this time I’m going for the stronger version, based on wine 😉
The British have their mulled wine, the Germans their Glühwein, the Swedes have their
glögg, and the French & Swiss have vin chaud.
There are many nice recipes of vin chaud, but here comes my personal favourite from
my region, since it’s based on white Fendant wine, grown right here in canton Valais.
It might be difficult to find where you live, but you can substitute it with any good
dry white wine.

Vin Chaud Valaisan
0,2 l water
0,1 l sugar
1 orange (eco), peel and juice
2 star anise seeds
2 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
¼ Tsp grated nutmeg
0,5 l white Fendant wine

* Wash the orange thoroughly.
* Peel off the outer (orange) zest from half the orange with a potato peeler.
* Press the whole orange to retrieve the juice.
* Heat up water in a pot, add sugar, orange peel and spices.
* Stir well for the sugar to dissolve, and let simmer 5-10 min.
* Pass through a sieve, add wine and orange juice and let it cool off.
* Fill into a bottle, or enjoy it directly, perhaps with some gingerbread cookies!

If you want to make it even more Valaisan, add a little Williamine, an eau de vie
produced locally with Williams pears. Strong stuff, so be careful with dosage!

Hot, tangy & fragrant! :-P

Hot, tangy & fragrant! 😛

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The Alluring Aspect of Travelling

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve loved traveling.
Once a year, at the beginning of the summer vacation, the whole family was crammed
into the car and off we went to visit family in Germany; every other year to the
Western part and every other to the Eastern part of the country, which was a huge
difference in those days.
I not only loved meeting grandmothers, aunts, uncles and cousins again, but also how
things were different there. It was so exciting to get out of the normal every day
life and experience all those smells, tastes, views, sounds, and feelings!
Traveling has always had this very alluring aspect to me. Perhaps that’s why I
adore a place like Sicily, so full of strong impressions. When the airplane lands
on the island and the bright light and all the soft pastels meet my eyes, my heart
already skips a beat.
Stepping out, the dry, warm air envelops me like a soft hug, and then my ears
start to rejoice: I hear Italian, my absolute favourite language! Che felicità!
As for the odours, the range is wide: garbage left on the streets, jasmine flowers,
fish and seafood in markets, and as a constant background: the salty
Mediterranean breeze.
However, the best part for a gourmand like me is how my taste buds are tantalized
in Sicily! The Sicilian cuisine, inspired by all the different cultures, which
established themselves on the island, is so rich and tasty. Just to mention a few
highlights: the Caponata, a hearty vegetable appetizer, the Pasta alla Norma
(tomatoes, fried aubergine, grated ricotta salata cheese, and basil) and the real
Cassata siciliana, with a soft cream of ricotta cheese – a dessert so rich and
fulfilling to send you right off to Food Heaven!

... and I haven't even mentioned the Sicilian ICE CREAM...!

… and I haven’t even mentioned the Sicilian ICE CREAM…!

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Naturally Curing Seasonal Cold

With autumn and winter, seasonal flus and colds invade us. All around people are
sneezing, snotting and coughing, and finally end up we catching it ourselves. Busy
as we all are, we still continue to go to school or work, further spreading it on…
We should instead be doing what the animals do: staying home, retiring into our beds,
resting and curing it out. Enjoy what we in Sweden call VVV – Värme, Vila &
Vänlighet – Warmth, Rest & Kindness.
However, there is another really easy and efficient cure, already known by our
grandmothers: the Onion & Sugar Cure. It is prepared with ingredients everybody has
at home, and it might sound (and smell) a bit strange, but I assure you: the taste
is not all that bad, and it really helps, if taken immediately after the
first symptoms show up.

The Onion & Sugar Cure
1 onion
3 Tbsp Honey or Sugar
Peel the onion, and chop it finely. Put it in a glass jar with a lid.
Add honey or sugar, stir well. Close the jar.
Let the mix rest for 3-12 hours.

After the resting time the sugar has dissolved. Take 1 teaspoon of the syrup
several times a day.
The onion and sugar cure helps well against a normal cold, but it is especially
efficient against coughing, and that is because onions contain essential oils,
sulphur and flavonoids, which in this combination have an antiseptic and anti-
inflammable effect, calming the bronchi and easing the cough.

The Curing Combination

The Curing Combination

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That Familiar Family Feeling

For a freedom addict and loner as myself, closeness with my family wasn’t always on top
of my list. The relations were warm and good, but – also due to geographical distances –
rather scarce.
Getting older I notice that above attitude is changing, and not only for me. For our
joint birthdays me, my brothers, cousins, uncles and aunts, and our old friends more
and more often just want to spend time together more often. Our material needs and
wishes decrease, and at the same time the wish and need to connect to those who have
been and are close to us increase. I wonder why?
More and more I see the similarities with my brothers, where I used to see only
differences. Was it because our parents treated us differently, or was it the need of
a child to diversify from its siblings, in order to stand out as a Person of its own?
Well, we diversified with life, and can now enjoy the similarities.
More and more, I realise the finitude of life, and the need to do what seems important
to me grows stronger: spending time with the ones I love, and showing them my affection.
Who knows if we’ll all be around tomorrow.
Our circles expand quickly when we’re young; life seems to be an endless bouquet of
options and possibilities. At a certain point, however, the expansion of the circles
is diminishes. We’re no longer indiscriminately make friends with whoever crosses our
path, we no longer go to ever single party we hear about, and we don’t stay up and
about until 6AM every Saturday, hoping for… new adventures.
Instead we’re getting more and more picky when it comes to what to spend our time on
or who to spend it with. We look back, and we remember the ones we were close to as
children, the ones who were always there. It dawns upon us that they might not be
around forever, so we take the time to call them, write them a letter or even better,
to visit them.
We take care of our history, our roots and our family because we realise that we
need to internalise where we come from before we can finally go somewhere else.

Dupond & Dupont, a.k.a. my beloved brothers

Dupond & Dupont, a.k.a. my beloved brothers

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In Soup Heaven

Autumn is the perfect time for SOUPS! When temperatures are turning frosty, nothing
warms you up the way a soup does. Now it’s time to dig out your best recipes and cook
a fulfilling soup that will warm you up from the core when you return from the cold.
I’ve prepared and eaten many wonderful soups throughout the years, but my all time
favorite is The Amazing Avocado Soup. Not only because I am an avocado addict, but also because it’s so ridiculously easy to make, it’s so smooth, and tastes so good. This is
what I call value for money & effort!

The Amazing Avocado Soup
Ingredients for 1 person
0,1 l water
1/2 Tbsp veggie broth powder/1/2 a broth dice
1 Tbsp white wine
1/4 Tsp crema di balsamico/balsamic vinegar
grated nutmeg
black pepper
1 ripe avocado
3 Tbsp Turkish yogurt
toasted pine nuts
How to proceed
Heat up water with broth powder, wine, balsamico, some grated nutmeg and
freshly ground black pepper.
Cut the avocado in halves, remove the pit and take out the flesh with a spoon.
Blend avocado and yogurt with a hand mixer.
When the liquid is hot, add the avocado mix and stir well. Let it heat up, but not boil!
Preheat a soup bowl, fill it with this creamy, green delisciousness, sprinkle a
good handful of pine nuts and enjoy!

The Amazing Avocado Soup

The Amazing Avocado Soup

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Invest in What’s Important

Since I revised my life, moved up the mountain and found my little house, my home has
really become my castle. When I first saw this little chalet I helplessly fell in love
with it! It wasn’t conquered that easily, but finally it became mine. It was an investment
of a lifetime, and now it is also my main source of expenditures… At the same time my financial situation became a bit strained, so every penny spent needs to be thought over.
What do you do when you face major investments?
A new roof was needed, and since the roof is the most important part of the house, there
was no way around this huge expense. The house was built 35 years ago, and the old
eternit roof started to crumble. These kinds of roof tiles are not used anymore because
they contain asbestos, so it felt good to replace them with something else. However, my
main interest in putting on a new roof was the insulation: there was none before, because
the house had always been a vacation home and nobody had lived here all year round. On
winter mornings it was around 12°C (inside!) – a bit too chilly even for my taste. So, last
summer I decided to make this effort and get a new roof with proper insulation.
What a procedure it was to get the What, How, Who and When figured out! With a year’s
delay we finally got it all together and this summer local enterprises did the job. They
put up huge scaffolding and even I had to fold in half trying to get in the front door.
Only one man and one woman (our local hero Flavia, an incredible lady!) did the whole
job. I tried to keep out of the way, but it was really interesting to follow the whole procedure.
With masks on they removed the eternit tiles and then the old wooden construction
underneath, and then they applied a thin protection against humidity under the
insulation. It had not been easy to decide on what to use there: I wanted organic
materials, but unfortunately the organic insulation materials are not (yet) half as
efficient as rock wool, so I decided to use 16 cm of that. Then the builders applied
a new layer of protection and a new wooden construction on top of that. Finally came
the most important part: the new top layer.
In this region slate roofs are tradition, and I just love them. Big, irregular pieces
of slate are used, it’s a real art to lay these roofs and obviously they become very expensive. Alas, no option for me. Normal tiles was one possibility, but then the local builder came up with cupa slate tiles. These come from Spain, are darker than the slate normally used here (nowadays imported from Norway, Italy or even China!). They are cut by machine, and are about the size of normal tiles, so they are easier to work with, and therefore the price was reasonable. I don’t regret this choice a second: this roof is strong and beautiful and it will last a lifetime.
Very rarely I can allow myself this kind of expenditures, but when I do, then I prefer to pay a bit more and get something that will last. Investing properly in what is really important is my credo. And I love the idea that my grandchildren will still be able to benefit from my beloved chalet and its beautiful slate roof in the future.

Isn't it a beauty, my new roof..?

Isn’t it a beauty, my new roof..?

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Life’s Surprises

We met again after ten years and suddenly everything changed. Suddenly my life seems
different, my center of gravity is upset and my feet search for solid ground.
I had installed myself in a world of my own choice and found my own little way of life,
with full freedom, depending on nobody but myself, my wishes and spleens. Of course life
does not want to be lived that neat and orderly. Of course life drew a line through my
bill. A person reappeared in my life and shook it to the core – and I am okay with it!
Now I have to find solid ground again. Or – do I really..? Perhaps it’s time to let go
of the ever thinking, planning and controlling part of me and just see where this
leads me?
Such a chemical reaction between two people is a gift from the universe and I will not
blow this chance to let it change me, to develop and grow “beyond my wildest dreams”.
Thank you life for your teachings and for all the infinite possibilities you present me with!
Have You ever experienced something in your life that felt like destiny?

Running towards something new

Running towards something new

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Enjoy Being Celebrated

With all the firm convictions I have about how to live a good life – eating healthy and doing sports, dropping the ego and being there for others – my life might seem a bit austere. It’s clear that my first command is to practice what I preach, but exceptions must be allowed to reach a good balance.
Once a year I take a day just to indulge in whatever I crave for, to celebrate myself and let others celebrate me too: my birthday! I don’t feel bad about it at all – I just fully enjoy allowing all the light to shine on me. We all need a day when we feel special and unconditionally loved.
This year I have a “zero birthday”, and my daughters wanted to do something special for it. I hesitated because I don’t particularly like being the centre of attention, but then I realised how amazing it is that they actually want to celebrate me! Why shouldn’t I let my near and dear ones show how much they care for me, and enjoy it?
It was an amazing celebration: my daughters organised a wonderful dinner party for a handful of close lady friends in Sweden. It all started earlier that day with my older daughter telling me there was a surprise gift in the closet. Suspecting nothing I opened the door and out jumped my younger daughter!! She lives in England and just started off a new education, so “apparently”  it would not be possible to come. It was the happiest surprise ever! Later we all enjoyed a superb three-course dinner together; an unforgettable evening, full of laughter, wonderful memories, delicious food and wine, fun and play.
Having moved around a lot in my life, my friends are spread out all over Europe, so it’s impossible to do a big party for all of them, and frankly: I prefer smaller, more intimate parties, where you can actually talk to each guest. However, my absent friends joined us on another frequency and were with us in spirit!
After the dinner party, Part II of this amazing birthday celebration will take place on the day itself: an amazing Celebration Day in wonderful Copenhagen with my daughters and my brothers. They planned it all, I only know that there will be some interesting visits, lovely meals, cool places and a surprise guest! And yes: I will certainly enjoy every single second of it without any feeling of “why all this fuss about me..?” I am so totally worth it!
There’s even a Part III of the celebration to follow, and I will most certainly enjoy that to the fullest, too. 🙂

The beginning of a wonderful evening

The beginning of a wonderful evening

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