Happy Holidays!

Two weeks of relaxed holidays. Time for family & friends. Carefully selected, favourite food, prepared with extra love and care. Long walks, all wrapped up in hats and shawls. Evenings with flickering fires, long conversations, good books and mulled wine.
A period of intense cosiness and without any demands.
The blog takes a break and wishes you all
Happy Holidays!
See you on 6th January, 2018 🙂

All dressed up for Christmas!

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Snow-White Happiness

Ever since the winter of ’69, when we played in more than a meter of snow (and school closed for the day!) I have been longing for a really snowy winter. This year I finally got it, with interest and all 😉
The first snow already came in beginning of November, and stayed. I was even able to start off the snowshoeing season two weeks later! Then, last week-end, it started snowing seriously. Heavy snowfall for two days and in the end we had almost received a full meter. On Sunday I went out to shovel the 78 steps down from my house, and when I was done I just had to start right over again… But I loved it! Who cares about some extra work when the world suddenly is … magical?
Snow arouses a visceral feeling of happiness in many of us. When it starts snowing we run to the window to see the magical white movement outside; that joyful dance of tiny shimmering snowflakes. Then we go out, turn our heads toward the sky and try to catch snowflakes with our tongues, feeling like children again. For me no other weather or event in nature throws me back into childhood bliss as immediately as snowfall….
…I remember going very fast on a sledge down our steep garden path, building snowmen and “snowball lanterns” (a Scandinavian speciality?), having snowball fights and getting my face rubbed with snow by the boys at school. Not to forget all the snow angels we made – we were simply in heaven when it had snowed!
Of course, all these fun outdoor activities are a big part of our deeply rooted love for snow, but there’s more to it. The whiteness of snow is surely one important factor. In winter, when snowless days just seem gloomy and dark, the extra light that snow brings cheers us up considerably. It seems that people far up north don’t get as depressed as we might believe by the lack of sunlight because of the snow.
Yes, I know I’m privileged living up here in the Alps, where at least once a winter we get a proper layer of snow. I know that living in the “lowlands”, and especially in bigger agglomerations, the little snow you might get feels more annoying than anything else: all to quickly it turns to a grey and wet mash that just makes life more difficult.
Luckily snow stays very white and fresh up here. And despite all the shovelling, freezing, slipping & falling (ouch!), I adore snow. It brings light into my soul and fills me with deep joy. That is why I love to share the snowy beauty of my surroundings – have a glance at my Instagram account! These magical white winter landscapes spread so much light and joy – and so many wonderful memories!

The whiteness opens my eyes and my soul

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The Inner Child

Thinking back at when we were children, there are not always only sunny and happy memories, but also things we feel that we were missing. Perhaps we didn’t always feel fully noticed or appreciated, perhaps we wanted to be hugged more often, or dreamed of having our parents read bedtime stories to us. These regrets often remain with us as adults. Deep inside us the child we once were still longs to be acknowledged, played with, or hugged.
Have you ever spent a day with your Inner Child? It is a wonderful way of finding back to your own younger self and perhaps even filling some of the old voids. It is also a wonderful way to see the world through the eyes of a child again!
From time to time, I devote a day to the eight-year old girl with an unruly fringe and skinny legs that I once was. Starting off at breakfast, I imagine serving her something she loved, like white bread with a lot of honey and a hot chocolate, and then we will go out and explore the day together. I take my Mini Me by the hand, give her my full attention, answer all her questions, and share my world with her – hoping she will share
hers with me.
Most often we go for a little hike together, perhaps along the bisse (watering canals on the mountains). We stop and play along the water; building little bark boats and see how far they get, dipping our hands in the fresh water and splashing it on each other. Or, more seriously, we study how the water makes its way past all kinds of barriers and I show her flowers and insects of which she tries to learn the names. She climbs in trees next to the pick-nick place and we laugh at the wooden statues that local artists have carved of old tree trunks.
We have our pick nick together on a big blanket next to the little pond, and she devours the fruit tart I brought as dessert. Sitting peacefully in the grass, I ask her about what’s important in her life, and she tells me about her cat, her best friend, and school: little hassles and moments of joy there and at home. We talk about books we like, and things we enjoy to do – and not. I applause her agility in the trees or how quickly she learns building bark boats, and I compliment her on her curiosity and knowledge about nature. And, most important, I tell her how much I like spending time with her and how I enjoy her sweet ways. She shyly smiles and runs off to discover something, and I can see that she’s happy.
At the end of the day, before hugging goodbye, I give her a chocolate heart wrapped in shimmering red paper, as a symbol for my love – and because I know that she
adores sweets ☺
I am convinced that a day like that would have nourished the shy little girl, who – sandwiched between two brothers – often felt invisible, but it also nourishes today’s Sabina. Spending a day with my Inner Child is such a tender experience. I feel happy and invigorated and at the same time it deepens the connection with mys earlier self. When I meet and somehow incorporate the person I was so long ago, I feel… complete.

Mini Me on the left, aged four

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Whisky Glögg

The holiday season is here and even in my village the traditional Christmas ornaments
are in place on the lampposts. Apart from decorating my house the most important preparation is making my own glögg.
Glögg is a Swedish version of mulled wine with sugar, lots of spices, and sometimes – as in this case – some extra liquor. It is served with toasted, chopped almonds and raisins (preferably soaked in the glögg while warming it up). For me, the peak of cosiness on a dark and cold winter evening is to slowly sip a glass of hot glögg in front of
the fireplace.
During the years I have tried out lots of different recipes, but this Whisky Glögg is my absolute favourite. It enhances the Christmas Spirit considerably, so I thought I’d
share it with you!

Whisky Glögg

1 bottle (0,75 dl) red wine
5 dried apricots
zest from ½ an orange (organic)
0,75 dl brown sugar
a tiny pinch of salt
a pinch of grated nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
½ Tsp. cardamom pods
1 Tbsp. cloves
4 star anise
4 slices of fresh ginger
2 dl whisky*

• Slowly heat up the wine in a casserole. Peel off the zest of half an orange with a
potato peeler and cut the apricots in halves and add them to the hot wine.
• Add sugar, salt, spices and whisky to the wine.
• Let it all simmer (do not boil!) 5 minutes. Cool off the mixture and let it rest for a day.
• Sieve off the orange zest, apricots and spices and fill the glögg into a bottle,
stored in the fridge.

When you feel like a hot cup of winter goodness, slowly heat up some glögg and serve it in a mug together with raisins and chopped almonds, preferably cuddled up in a warm place with nice company or a good book. The hardest part is to enjoy it with moderation 😉

* If you don’t like whisky, substitute it with sherry, fruit brandy, or what else is in your drink cabinet that feels festive.

No, I rarely drink it outside 😉

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Tonglen II

Sometimes you come across a person during your day and you can see it in his or her face that they are not well. They might seem anxious, sad, angry or just extremely tense. In moments like these you feel that you’d like to alleviate their situation, but you have
no clue as to how.
Sometimes you find yourself witnessing a difficult situation between people and there is nothing you can do to help. You might be on the bus and a couple starts fighting, with harsh words flying through the air and lots of accumulated frustration at both sides, or walking through the supermarket and an exhausted mother screams at her disobedient child. If you meddle in with comments or well-meant advice, the situation
might just escalate.
In these situations you can do tonglen. I have blogged about it before, but I find this meditation technique so helpful that I want to beat a stroke for it again. In Pema Chödron’s wonderful book “Comfortable with Uncertainty”, she explains tonglen as follows: “Tonglen, “Sending and Receiving”, also described as changing self for other. In the practice of tonglen, we breathe in whatever feels bad and send out whatever
feels good”. Here is how I practice it:

• Rest your mind for a second or two in a state of openness and stillness
• Visualise and feel the sadness/anxiety/worries of the other person as a stream of
dark clouds.
• Breathe in the dark clouds of their suffering through all the pores of your body.
• Let go of the darkness and suffering completely.
• Fill your whole being with love as a stream of warm, golden light.
• Breathe out and send this light from all your being to the other person.

When you start to practice tonglen you will feel how it increases your compassion and empathy for others. It makes you see other people in the street as equals, worthy of respect and love. You realise what a good life you have, how much you have to to give, and practicing tonglen is a wonderful way to share your abundance of joy and love with
anyone out there who needs support.

Thank you @vdepertis for this beautiful art work!

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Poetizing Life

When I read the expression “to poetize life” it instinctively appealed to me, even though I wasn’t really sure what it meant. Checking up the expression I learned that to poetize life means to “bring beauty and love to man, to make life poetic”. Well, that is exactly what I strive for in life. ☺
To poetize life doesn’t necessarily mean to write poetry. To read it, however, already is a great start, if it appeals to you. Since I picked up reading poetry again I have noticed the difference poetry makes in my life. Reading my favourite poets (Pablo Neruda, Rainer Maria Rilke, Rumi, and Hermann Hesse to name a few) and discovering new ones (Mary Oliver, Robert Frost , Edna St. Vincent Millay) sharpens my senses and brings me closer to feelings and sensations. It opens me up to connections, surprising insights, and to other people’s struggles and pleasures.
Nobody wants to live life along a uniform, grey track, shielding off from what could move him or her. We all want to live life to the fullest. I find “poetizing” it is a good way. It helps me to live with all senses wide open, taking in the way the sunrise colours the mountaintops with a warm pink, the sound of bleating sheep, the presence of an upset friend, a gush of wind in my face – or whatever life brings my way.
The prerequisite for a poetized life is to be relaxed and open, and to slow down your pace; not an easy thing to practice in our rush-around society. At a slower pace we are much more open for the beauty and wonders in our world. This is my little list on how I
poetize my life:

• Read poetry
• Write poetry (I work with haikus)
• Spend time in nature (hiking or working in the garden)
• Meditate
• Look for beauty everywhere: in nature, in art, among the people you meet
• Note what moves you during your day in a Poetic Notebook. Enjoy the notes in the evening, grateful for what any “ordinary day” brings you
• Write beautiful cards (preferably home-made) to friends
• …perhaps you have any nice idea?

What it all comes down to is to experience and get connected with the beauty in life, to consciously enjoy it – and to pass it on to others. To poetize life is to live it fully. Like Edgar Morin put it: “Living prose is only surviving. To really live is to live poetically.”

Let’s walk into another lovely day! (Thank you, @rumi_poetry)

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At Home Outdoors/Draußen zuhause

When I was a little girl there was a period when my mother had to make me go outside.
I just wanted to remain in the house, being a bookworm already then. There were not
many kids nearby that I liked to play with, and I didn’t really know what to do out
there on my own. Often I spent this enforced time outside on the swing in our garden….
Since then my attitude to outdoor life has changed radically, especially since I
discovered hiking and moved to the Swiss Alps. Here, spending time outside is the
rule and not the exception, at least during spring and summer. I adore my long hikes
with pick nick, photography and flower studies or working a whole day in my garden,
cleaning it up and taking care of flowers, herbs and vegetables.
Even during autumn and winter I go outside for hours, hiking or show-shoeing. Sometimes these winter tours seem even more precious since they’re so urgently
needed: the feeling of getting sun on my pineal gland in December is just wonderful.
The positive effects of an intense outdoor life are manifold:
• You use lots of physical energy and always have a healthy appetite. That is one of my favourite effect, since I also adore cooking and eating ☺
• You most often sleep well at night, since your body has had the possibility to make a real effort and get pleasantly physically tired.
• You get a good complexion, since you always get enough fresh air and sun. Of course it’s crucial to protect the skin against too much sun, but luckily I have found an excellent, organic sun shield (Solar 7 by Soglio).
• When hiking you “walk off” any concerns and worries or other things that may burden your mind. Your thoughts fall into place and you can see clearly again. As the old
Romans so nicely put it: “Solvitur ambulando”, solved by a good walk. You can also practice walking meditation, a wonderful way to nourish your soul, make you
peaceful and happy.
• You nourish my need for beauty every day, spending much time in nature. There are so many wonderful things to see along your path: from the small details (a rock, a flower, some lichen), to the grandiose views over the mountains. All this fills your soul with
deep happiness and a feeling of peace and belonging.
• Spending time in nature will inspire you. I get ideas for little haikus, for blog posts
or small DIY projects.
• Last but not least, during the warm seasons there is the great pleasure of enjoying the effects of my garden work! Because my soil is filled with mountain rocks and rain is
scarce here plants take a long time to grow and develop, but sometimes flowers thrive at unexpected places and I have wonderful surprises in the veggie garden.
I know I am privileged being able to spend so much time in the fresh air in such a beautiful area. Working full-time at an office obviously makes this kind of life-style much harder. However, if you try to go outside on your lunch break and make at least half an hour evening walk every day, you will already be surprised by all the positive effects!

Enjoying outdoor life

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Profuse Pumpkin Period

Even if we don’t celebrate Halloween up here in the Swiss Alps, we’re still in the middle of the pumpkin period. A kind neighbour, more successful in growing these gorgeous fruits than me, gave me a big specimen and I tried out several nice recipes I found a new variety of my beloved pumpkin soup, made a tasty stew with lentils and cocoa cream – and this beautiful jam.
This is the kind of jam that I like – with a luminous colour and a sweet, tangy and a little bit spicy flavour. As the Swede that I am I sometimes eat my sandwiches with cheese and jam, and this one pairs perfectly with a mild and creamy cheese.
It takes some time to cook, but it’s worth every minute you invest!

Pumpkin Jam With Ginger
1 kg pumpkin
2dl water
1 organic lemon – the zest and the juice of it
30 g fresh ginger
6 dl jam sugar

Peel the pumpkin, remove its seeds, and cut it into 2 x 2 cm cubes.
Peel and grate the ginger.
Grate the zest off the lemon and press out its juice
Put water, pumpkin cubes, grated ginger, lemon zest and juice in a big casserole and bring it all to a boil.
Add the sugar and boil it until the pumpkin is thoroughly cooked and starts to disintegrate (30 – 40 min.).
Rinse jam jars with boiling water, fill them with the hot jam, close them immediately and turn them upside down to cool off.

I love becoming creative in the kitchen with what the season (and a generous neighbour) has to offer! Don’t you?

Always a welcome gift, too 🙂

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Be There for the Elderly

It is now been 8 months since my mother passed away. At the age of 89 the day she left us did not come as a surprise, but of course it was still a great loss. Apart from being the mother of my brothers and me and the favourite “Oma” of all her grandchildren, she was an amazingly positive and inspiring woman, who left a void that will always remain. Living far away from her my visits weren’t as frequent as I would have wanted, but I did what I could to keep in touch: daily telephone calls as long as that was possible, and later I wrote letters and postcards to her.
All around me, members of the older generation leave one by one, and that reminds me of how important it is to care for the elderly, be they close family members or people I meet where I live. As so often in small villages, the average age here in Mase is quite high: several of my friends and acquaintances could almost be my parents. I highly enjoy their company, the peace they emanate, their broad knowledge and, yes, their wisdom. Spending time with my older friends helps me to slow down and be patient and I am always grateful for being reminded about that.
I am well aware that the older people are, the more you need to seize the occasion to spend time with them or simply to let them know that you think of them, so I grab each occasion. If I’m not in a hurry to catch the bus I always stop for a chat when I meet my elderly friends in the street or in the grocery store and returning from my hikes I sometimes do surprise visits to them. At first they might be embarrassed by not having cleaned up their living room or showing up in an old sweater, but once they realise that I couldn’t care less about such things, they’re always happy to have some company and someone to talk to about their worries or problems or to simply share a cup of coffee with.
I’m not much of a “telephone person”; instead I’ve decided to write at least two cards or letters per week, one of them to an elderly person. It’s not just because I look forward to receiving cards or letters in my own letterbox, but simply the pleasure of knowing that a little written greeting will make the receiver happy, especially if it’s an elderly person.
Make a list of all the elderly/lonely people you know and decide to call, write, or – best – visit one of them within the next two weeks. Perhaps you can even make it into a
recurring event?
Your reaching out will be very appreciated and you will make a real difference in their lives. As they will in yours ☺

Don’t wait too long to visit

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Sunny Mood on Rainy Days

All my life I have resisted any kind of dependency. Many years ago, just as an example, during a trip to India, I got a bad headache because I did not get my morning coffee. It made me realise that I was addicted to coffee and I immediately quit drinking it regularly.
The latest facet of needing something (to be a certain way) has been “weather dependency”. If the weather was grey and rainy I often got into a grey mood. So I asked myself: how can I avoid being dragged down by “bad” weather? How can I be happy despite compact grey skies, heavy rainfall or any kind of unwanted weather?
First of all I’ve trained in not wanting or rejecting any weather. Unfortunately not yet translated into English, Dominique Loreau’s book “Aimer la pluie, aimer la vie” (“Love Rain, Love Life”) has been an inspiring guide along the way. The author is fascinated by rain and she has listed literary texts, poems, haikus, and music that have accompanied her through different kinds of rain. She shows how loving rain can change your perception of the world and open you up to accepting whatever life brings. A small quote: “In rainy weather, the intimate contact with nature reminds us of this truth: every phenomenon is transient and in constant change.”
I also worked out some strategies to remain in a sunny mood on rainy days:

Visualise the sun behind the clouds. I close my eyes and feel its light and warmth inside, and how it still nourishes me despite the thick clouds.
Learn to see the beauty in the kind of weather I instinctively rejected. Even if I have to push myself, I dress up appropriately, grab an umbrella and go for a long walk. Soft shades of grey move like fairy mist and little raindrops glitter like pearls on flowers and leaves. The smell of rain on warm asphalt makes me close my eyes and smile. I thoroughly enjoy the freshness of the humid air, breathe it deep into my lungs and return home full of vitality and joy!
Feel the happiness of vegetation. I go out into my garden (if you don’t have access to one, go to the nearest plant in your street or local park) to see and feel how the vegetation thrives, knowing that rain is just what it needs to grow strong and beautiful.
Write a happy card to an elderly person or a child. I put all my love, care and positivism into it, writing a kind or funny message, perhaps even with a beautiful poem or quote about rain. It makes me happy to know that it will spread joy to the receiver.
Pamper myself with Rainy Day Pleasures. Perhaps I’ll have a fragrant tea in my finest cup, light my favourite incense, wrap myself up in the softest shawl I own and read a good book, or diligently do time-consuming things like cleaning up photos from my cell phone and computer, sorting out clothes I no longer use or even clean out and organise the book shelf or spice rack.
Make special plans for the next sunny day. Once the sun is out again, we shouldn’t just take it for granted, but consciously enjoy it. I might plan to take somebody out for hike (or a bicycle ride), to have a glass of wine at the restaurant’s terrace, or to prepare a lovely lunch salad and have a picnic.
Prepare a favourite meal. I have made a list of easy, favourite meals, fulfilling and tasty, that make me happy inside out. Lentils with apricots, Avocado pasta, a fragrant soup, and of course, the famous and oh, so delicious Banana Bread.

Do you have any specific strategies for turning “bad weather, bad mood” into “whatever weather, good mood”? I’d love to hear about them and perhaps even add them to my list!

Grey drizzle in Mase

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