Jul 31, 2010

Rainbow Coloured Cupcakes - Recipe


I am ridiculously happy as I baked Rainbow Coloured Cupcakes today for the first time and the result was prrrreeeeeetty neat ;) 
I've been obsessing about these for ages and finally decided to give it a go.

It was very time consuming and required a lot of patience and a steady hand, but they are sooooo pretty, so I'd say it was worth every minute! ...oh, well.....I hope you agree?Anyway, do you wanna give it a try? 

Here's the recipe!

Ingredients: Rainbow Coloured Cupcakes

250g butter (chopped)
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder
2 ¼ cups white flour
¾ cup milk
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder (I used
Bellagio Orange Pecan Gourmet Hot Cocoa)
1 tablespoon milk
Food colouring (I used blue, yellow, red & green)
Sprinkles or other decorations of your own choice (I used pink sugar sprinkles and dragée chocolate hearts)

Ingredients: Butter and Cream Cheese Lemon Frosting

200g cream cheese softened
200g butter (room temperatured)
1.5 dl's of powdered sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of cream
2 teaspoons of vanilla
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place the cupcake liners (this recipe made roughly 20 Cupcakes) on the baking tray.Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, using an electric mixer, until pale and creamy. 

Add the eggs, one at a time and also beat in the vanilla, baking powder, cocoa powder and milk.
Lightly fold the flour into the creamy mixture. Divide the mixture into six smaller bowls and mix the desired colours.

Layer the batter in the liners gently. It is important not to put too much batter in each layer as if the layers are too heave, there is a risk of the colours blending all together, making the cupcakes more grey than rainbow coloured ;))

Bake in the lower part of the owen for around 20 minutes and then place them on a wire rack to cool for about 1 hour.

Now make the icing in a small bowl by mixing all ingredients together with an electric mixer and pipe it onto your cupcakes.
Finish off with your desired decorations and Ta-daaaaaa!! You are done!

I hope you enjoy making these as much as I did!! 

Inception (2010)

In a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, a highly skilled thief is given a final chance at redemption which involves executing his toughest job till date, Inception.

Cobb "I can't stay with her anymore because she doesn't exist"
Mal "I'm the only thing you do believe in anymore." 
Cobb "I wish. I wish more than anything. But I can't imagine you with all your complexity, all you perfection, all your imperfection. Look at you. You are just a shade of my real life. You're the best I can do; but I'm sorry, you are just not good enough."

It is a multi-coloured cocktail made of fast-paced cleverness, excellently directed action sequences, a nothing less than fantastic cast, stunning visual effects and a jaw-dropping plot!! It is the movie I have been waiting for for a long time.......the movie of the year perhaps.

If I would explain to you why I gave this movie a 4.5 and not a 5, it all has to do with the first 30 minutes, as when they chose their team, it just seems too easy and too perfect. Like it would be a more superficial movie, like a James Bond. I would have wished for more richness in this part. 
Make no mistake, this movie is just as good as they say it are! I would however argue that all though it is indeed a complex story, it is not as hard to follow as some reviews make you believe..... The danger is in the details! If you focus too much during the movie to solve one puzzle, you will get lost as the whole movie is full of them ;) Just go with the flow and do the major analyzing afterwards. 
The magic of this movie is the way it manages to mesmerize it's viewers, both with the big picture and all the details while slowly building up Cobb's emotional dilemma.....

Watch the trailer:
....or read more about it here:


Jul 28, 2010

Hobbies, Interests & Passions, Part 1: Tea by Jordan M. Williams


First things first, I would like to thank Linda for inviting to guest post on her blog, and share with you all a hobby of mine.

My name is Jordan M. Williams, I am a 22-year-old college student from Fresno California (United States), majoring in Nursing... I am also a tea addict. I fell in love with the taste of tea when I was 16.

While in India for two weeks, I was introduced to loose leaf tea in two forms. The first and my favorite out of the two Masala Chai (spiced tea), the second being Lemon Grass Black tea.

Since than tea has gone from hobby to something I am very passionate about.
I've been asked, why
is it that you like tea so much? My response to that is easy, tea is peaceful and calming. To make tea, causes you to take time out of your day and go through a process that can be very relaxing. Which can be something we need in this fast paced world.

Making tea can be a very personal experience. The more pots you brew, you tend to develop a little bit of a tea ritual. I general heat up my water and pick out my tea. From there I find a quite place, steep and strain my tea using my glass gaiwan. Pouring into my black tea-cup I often sip my tea, and ponder about life.
Tea is simple, yet complex at the same time. All you do is add hot water and tea leafs very simple. Yet from one plant (Camellia Sinensis) can be used to make a variety of different teas. From Ti Kuan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) to 1st Flush Darjeeling, there are over hundreds of different teas (excluding herbal infusions). Tea has amassed quite a large culture with ceremonies, practices, even a school of philosophy known as Tea-ism.
I'm not one that can put together a good closing but I will end with this. If you have a hobby, make it one of your passions. Learn as much as you can about it, then go share it with people. It will not only make you happy, but you can make good friendships along the way.

“Today is life-the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto.”
Dale Carnegie

Later Dayz,

Twitter - @iJordanWilliams

A Saturday Menu in photos and recipes


Here are some recipes and photos from a recent dinner....
The recipes are a mix of existing recipes found online with a personalized touch and my own ;)

Starter: Watermelon & Feta Cheese Salad topped with balsamico & akacia-honey dressing & pistachios
Mixed, green salad
Feta Cheese
Red onions
Chopped pistachios
Balsamic vinegar blended with Acacia honey
Flake salt and a
few turns of the pepper mill

Simply chop it up and mix everything together. Finish with topping the salad with the chopped pistachios.

Main course: Grilled file of Lamb on a lukewarm Pasta, Rocket & Beetroot salad bed, served with a Chèvre sauce

600 grams of lamb fillet
1 package Barilla Cannelloni (La Collezione)
4 beetroots
1 bunch of rocket
1 large piece of Chèvre
3 decilitres of sour cream
The peel from half a lemon
Olive oil (Extra Vergine)
Fresh rosemary
4 cloves garlic

Rinse the rucola salad and leave it on paper to dry for around 30 minutes.
Boil the pasta water with a hefty pinch of salt. Also boil the beetroots in a separate pan in salted water. Crush the pasta in large pieces and cook it until it is "al dente". Mix sour cream and chèvre with a hand mixer. Add some salt, pepper and the lemon peel.
Peel the cooked beetroots and cut them into pieces. Make a bed of rocket salad, pasta and beetroots on a plate and drizzle it with olive oil (extra virgin).
Fry the lamb fillet in a pan using butter, first on high temperature until it has a nice griddle, then the temperature can be lowered. Fry for as long as you wish, but it is recommended to serve it medium-rare.

Slice the garlic cloves and fry in a pan on high temperature until they are golden.
Place the lamb fillet on top of the salad-bed and pour the sauce on the edges of the plate.
Decorate with the roasted garlic and a small twig of fresh rosemary.

PS. I am a vegetarian, so my plate was the same but with a Quorn fillet instead of lamb ;))

Dessert: Creamy frosted White Whocolate cake topped with Fresh Berries and Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

350-400g white chocolate
200g butter
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups of white sugar
2 tablespoons Baileys Caramel or Rum depending on what sweetness you prefer ;)
2 dl white flour

Glacing & decoration:
200g white chocolate
1/2 cup cream
Powdered sugar
Fresh berries
Dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees.
Chop the chocolate. Melt the butter in a pan. Remove from heat, add the chocolate and stir until it melts. Beat the eggs and sugar until it's fluffy. Stir in the chocolate/butter, alcohol and flour. Pour batter into a greased form (with removable bottom, about 24cm in diameter). Bake in the bottom of the oven for 30-35 min. The cake should be still creamy inside, not firm. Let the cake cool and place it in the fridge.
Chocolate dipped strawberries:
Cut the strawberries into halfs, leave on the green. Melt chocolate in the microwave or on the stove over boiling water. Dip the non-flat side of the strawberries and leave to harden on baking paper in the fridge.

Chop the chocolate. Boil the cream. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until it melts. Let the glazing harden around 10-20 minutes in the fridge. Spread the glazing over cake and, Sift the powdered sugar over it and add a pile of fresh berries, the chocolate dipped strawberries and some slices of lime.

VOILAAAA! Ready to serve!


Jul 25, 2010

Monday Monday....

Dear sweet wonderful readers,

A new week just started and unfortunately for me, not in the best way as I've gotten sick. This means bed-rest and just the occasional checking of my computer. It's only 11am and I'm already bored of being at home, so I thought I could at least do a little update in between the naps ;)

A heads-up: There will be some guest bloggers appearing here going forward. Am really excited about it!!
The theme is "Hobbies, interests & passions" and it will kick off with a post on "Tea", which I find very suiting, working for Lipton and all ;)

Currently, I'm........
Participating in: The "Influence project", ranking at around 2 000th place of a little over 18 000 participants. Check it out here: http://fcinf.com/v/d2cn
Happy about:
Only working for 2 more weeks, then off to Sweden for my niece's baptism (I'm going to be a Godmother!!!) and 1 week in the Archipelago. Can't wait!!!
Disappointed about: Being ill.......what a drag and always with the worst possible timing =(

Thinking about: Sleep and will try to get some as soon as I press the "publish" button.
Listening to: Bird twittering (windows opened ;)), chiming church-bells and the sound of my keyboard.
Worrying about: Work and all the things I was supposed to do today.......arrghhh!
Hoping: That the upcoming season of "Dexter" will be as fantastic as the previous ones!! It premieres on September 26th and I am really really looking forward. Am also hoping that the weather will get better again soon. Was happy about the rain as if gave our air some freshness, but am now missing the sunshine... Never satisfied, only human ;)
Looking forward to: Seeing Joshua Radin live again in Zurich in October! Bought tickets yesterday...
Wondering: Still what to get for my niece for the baptism and also what present to give one of my friends who recently had a baby! Will need to decide NOW as I will see them both in 2 weeks time. Suggestions anyone??
Planning: A trip to the Dominican Republic this winter. Hopefully this will also involve taking a diving certificate......let's see. Exciting!!!
Feeling: A mix of a lot of things! Sick, tired and worried but still happy and very much in love....
Inspired by: Some really great bloggers out there!! Hopefully you will get to "meet" some of them here shortly...
Thankful for: Good friends and air planes that can take me to see the ones who are not living here in Switzerland.
Wishing: ....that those air planes were more friendly to the environment.
Wanting: To feel all better!! I know it's just a matter of time.....but.....it's just so frustrating! Patience is, unfortunately, not one of my strong suits.

Am leaving you with another Paulo Coelho quote that I really like and that's worth thinking about ;)):

"‎Problem" is the name of a tool created to define who we are"

Have a great week you all!!

Jul 24, 2010

The world is on fire.....

This is not a new song or video, but I still want to share it with you as I find it so incredibly inspiring!

Rather than shooting a conventional music video for "World On Fire", Sarah McLachlan donated all but $15 of the $150,000 budget to various charitable causes around the world and then used the video to explain how it benefited the communities that received the money.

Imagine if all pop/rock stars of the world would do this instead of their usual music videos only bringing benefits to their own and their staff's fortunes and wallets.....now THAT would make a difference.

Linda - Inspired in Switzerland....

Jul 18, 2010

Take a leap!!

“We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
George Bernard Shaw

I want to build a little bit on a feeling I had on Friday. A feeling that was long forgotten or at least hidden deep down inside of me....

For reasons I can't fully understand or explain, age has made me fear things that used to seem like everyday adventures in the past. I'm not talking about BIG, obviously harmful things - but rather small, easy things where fear can't be explained by pure logic.
I could probably argue that age has made me "smarter", at least that's how my reasoning works, realizing that certain things actually do come with danger.....statistics and experience teaches us to stay out of trouble and to avoid situations in which we can so easily get hurt, whether it's about breaking your arm or breaking your heart, or simply the fear of being rejected or disappointed.

On Friday, somebody reminded me of the importance to sometimes take a leap! To go against my illogical inner fears and just do it.... To jump off a bridge, into the Rhein.
When I was younger, I used to do things like this all the time, head first, without doubting thoughts or fears disturbing my decisiveness and determination. Now, at the age of 31, it took me 15 minutes of increasingly heavy nervous breathing, shaking hands and legs of spaghetti well over "al dente" before I finally just jumped.
Simple. Harmless. Achievable.

At the age of 31, I felt old! (if you are around 20, you'll agree that I am, if you are my age, you'll probably know what I'm talking about and if you are less young than me, let me just remind you that I know I'm not o l d , but you've been here too ;)).....

I will still have days of feeling old, rightly or wrongly, I'm sure! ....but this situation made me take a leap, literally, and it made me feel like I was invincible, adventurous and young and most of all - it made me feel alive!! Now this is more important that a number in state records, on a piece of paper or in a passport and I assure you, it's more effective than any beauty treatment I've ever been to!!
Why spend thousands of Dollar's, Euro's or other currencies on fixing the superficial signs of age - when all you should really need to feel good about yourself is erase or reduce the signs of age in your mind to stay alive in your heart and soul? It costs nothing but perhaps some time on creative thinking and it comes without recovery time ;)

It's so easy to forget that we are really our own worst enemies and these are the battles worthy of our energy.

Thanks Chris for encouraging me to take a leap!!! You were right

Linda - Alive in Switzerland....encouraging you to take a leap!

Jul 15, 2010

Linda - Lost in Como

A weekend in Como!
What an amazing start of my one week holiday..... You know, this is one of the things I love the most about living in Switzerland. You can take your car and go to numerous countries (COUNTRIES!), all within a reasonable distance. To give you some examples, from Schaffhausen, I can be in:

Germany in 5 minutes
France in 2 hours
Italy in 3.5 hours
Austria in 3 hours
Liechtenstein 1.5 hours
Czech Republic in 5 hours
Luxembourg in 4 hours
Belgium in 6 hours
Holland in 6 hours and 40 minutes

Now THAT is what I call easily accessible luxury!!

Well, you might be living somewhere around here yourself and wonder how someone can possibly call this luxury (as you tend to get home-blind), so just as a comparison and to put things into perspective:
I used to live outside of Stockholm in Sweden. If I take my car and drive for 5 hours, I get to Goteborg (see map above). Goteborg, a lovely city - but still in the same country, with the same climate and the same culture (more or less).

OK, that was a little detour from the original topic. Now back to Como, an amazing little town/city with Lake Como as the main attraction of course....but it also has some great shopping, charming restaurants and of course, Italian Gelato!! I am a big fan of ice cream and absolutely love Ben & Jerry's, but must admit that there is something really special about Italian ice cream..... The flavours are sooooo genuine and the consistency is so rich and creamy (it makes my mouth water just thinking about it!)

We rented bikes in town, close to the lake, and went on a little adventure ride with 2 missions;
2. Find a nice area to go swimming: Accomplished

I can highly recommend this way of getting around, for the following reasons:
- You have a lot more access than with a car and don't have to worry about finding parking spaces.
- With a car you can not stop when you have a nice view as the roads are narrow and with a lot of ups and downs. In other words, quite dangerous
and a big risk of missing great photo opportunities.
- Great exercise!!
- You see so much more and in much less time than by foot and with the wind in your hair, it feels less hot ;)

The only thing to be aware of is that it is quite exhausting with all those ups and downs, so if you are in bad shape (read worse than me), you might not want to go too far away in one direction, keeping in mind that you also have to go back again..... Hehehe!

We had chosen hotel based on location (close to the lake and the city) and with the preference of the hotel having an outdoor pool as it is really hot in Como this time of year. We also wanted this at a reasonable rate and with a little bit of research, we managed to find a great hotel that offered exactly this. I can highly recommend it with only one
negative comment about the breakfast: Not very exciting ;))
For us, this was however not so important and it was easily compensated by the pool area that was especially great and we had it almost all to ourselves during Sunday.

If you are, like myself, a big fan of shopping - you will be extremely happy if you are in Como with a car as, only 20 minutes away, you will find a huge factory fashion outlet: Foxtown.
I was there also last year and both times, I left it extremely satisfied with my findings (but it should be mentioned that I also left it with a big whole in my wallet ;)).
The big news this year and the main driver for me to go there again, was that they have opened a "7 For All Mankind" store and I was certainly not disappointed!!

If you are in northern Italy or in southern Switzerland, my only advice to you is: GO THERE!!! Don't miss this amazing little gem of a town.......

We drove via San Bernardino to Como to avoid the huge qeues that tend to build up in front of the San Gottardo tunnel and would also really recommend you, if you have the opportunity, to drive this route.......and here are some pictures to hopefully explain why:
Absolutely breathtaking sceneries!

Linda - Loved to be lost in Como for a weekend and will likely go again sometime.....

Jul 8, 2010

Let the holidays begin.....


So it's finally here.....my short, but hopefully sweet, holiday!! Just a week but I figure that as everyone says you have to enjoy the small things in life, so should I ;))

Currently, I'm........
Happy about:
Receiving my order of new bikinis (yes, I went nuts, like I always do in that store, and got 4 of them) from Victorias Secret - juuuuuuust in time for my holidays!! Again....it's all about the small things in life ;)
Disappointed about: Nothing really.

Thinking about: My friends and family! Missing them so much that it hurts right now!!
Astonished by: That octopus who predicted the correct outcome of the Spain vs Germany game yesterday................. I'm not so sure anymore ;)))

Listening to: Chris, making dinner in the kitchen (lucky me!!)
Worrying about: ...things like "When will I move back home?" and "Will I ever move back home". Seems very reoccurring, no?
Hoping: That I can finally wind down during this week and regain the energy that I so desperately need and that I can manage to meet up with Aryan and her family in Italy this weekend!!
Looking forward to: This weekend.....my holidays...........and the rest of my life!!
Wondering: What to get for my niece's baptism in August......any suggestions??
Planning: A big work-related meeting in August and am feeling slightly overwhelmed by all the details of it all! I'm quite confident it will all be all right in the end though.
Feeling: Awfully tired..... I would actually even say worn out.
Inspired by: "Everything will be all right in the end! If it's not all right, it's not the end". Trying to keep this in mind in this little maze called LIFE.
Thankful for: Love!
Wanting: That some friends and family members will soon come and visit me....right now, there are no scheduled visits, which feels a bit.......sad or maybe just boring?
Wishing: That the software I just installed on my GPS that alerts you for speed-cameras really work!!

Enjoy your weekends everyone! I hope you have a lot of sun and laughter!

Linda - Lost in Switzerland for another 20 hours ;)

Jul 6, 2010

Actuals vs Planned

Aaaah yes! Variance analysis! A very well applied concept in my line of work and hence, I should have known, better than a lot of people actually, that things simply don't always turn out the way they were planned ;))

Such a promising day...... Over 30 degrees, sunshine, not a cloud to be seen, great friends with great moods, a "5-kamp" (which is basically being divided into teams and playing 5 games together....a Swedish classic if you will ;)) organized, neat booklets of Swedish drinking songs made by hand (by Emma! Thanks, they were so neat!!), picnic bags full of Swedish goodies and beverages AND a river Rhein that has finally reached swimmable temperatures. What could possibly go wrong??

Again.....coming back to my line of work. Forecasting! Now, here I should really be one of the specialists. So what is forecast by definition? "The process of making statements about events whose actual outcomes (typically) have not yet been observed." ....and yet, I chose to believe, without questioning or creating a back-up plan, the weather forecast that was online the day before. A forecast that, in my defence, to over 90% certainty promised those blue skies as described above.

So let's talk about actuals..... Everything was going exactly according to plan..... The pickled herring, new potatoes, "knackebrod", snaps, Swedish beer and jordgubbstarta had been consumed while songs and laughter loudly sounded in traditional dis-harmony and the first game, "Kubb", had been completed. Parts of the group went into town for a short break to watch Germany play Argentina to pieces (or was it really to take a break from the snaps? No one knows for sure....) and the rest of us were lazing in the sun and taking refreshing swims in the cool, turquoise Rhein.
Like heaven for any true Swede, celebrating "Midsommar".

Then the unthinkable happened!! At around 17:30-18, the sky opened up and out of what seemed to be absolutely nowhere, a flood of rain started falling down from the sky with such intensity that it literally hurt the skin (+ a thunderstorm!)! We had to grab whatever we could and make a run for it.........

OK so here is the sad part....the rain and thunder never seized that evening and neither of us had enough space in our homes to host all these happy, party-friendly Swedes. We had to simply let the anti-climax enter and surrender to the fact that sometimes, things really don't turn out the way you wanted them too......and go home and save whatever we could of foods and hang our clothes to dry.

Key learnings?? Always, ALWAYS have a back-up plan in place.
I must say though, it was an AMAZING afternoon!! Just a little bit too short....

Glass half-full perspectives:
- The "5-kamp" for next year is already done!!
- No hang-over on Sunday
- A lot of us still have a lot of Swedish Beverages in our fridges to enjoy this summer
- In the end, this was INDEED a traditional Swedish Midsommar in all its glory!! It rained! =))

Linda - Happy she wasn't flushed down the Rheinfall and that she at least got to celebrate Midsommar for a few, very precious hours ;)