June 30: Didn’t that go fast?

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Clear blue skies today and …

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… the moon tonight. It will be a full moon in two days

Leo took this shot of the moon. I hope the skies are as clear on Thursday when it’s full. Loves me a good fullmaaaaoooooooon, I does! 🙂

Will keep this post short today. It was wonderfully warm and sunny, unfortunately a bit too hot for the work Pastora and I did – counting all the karate clothes and moving boxes and things while making the inventory. I rode straight home and jumped in the pool.

Still feel like a kid at Christmas on the bike, even if I was overtaken by an electric bicycle on the flat. (I keep telling myself the man had longer legs than me.) My niece suggested the bike should be named Brad, but I already have a Brad in my life and I’m well and truly over him. So far Bruce is still the leader (not hard seeing as Brad was the only suggestion!).

One of the two new plants, which I promised to mention today, has me stumped. The Celosia venezuela was easy to find because of its magenta prongs, but the second has me baffled. It’s quite tall and could possibly be another Campanula variety? The flowers are a beautiful blue and have very obvious petals. Any takers?

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New plant number one – Celosia venezuela – the magenta spiky one in front of the lavender

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And do you think this is another Campanula variety?

Can’t believe half the year has gone! How would you rate the first half of this year? I’m pretty happy with how it’s gone so far and hope you are too (and hopefully I’ll be struck by ‘exercise lightning’ tomorrow and be back on the bandwagon for the next six months!).

What will I do on December 31? I can’t very well keep a blog titled fitfor15in15 when it’s no longer 2015, can I?! Should have thought about that a bit harder.

I haven’t mentioned the I Quit Sugar program for a few days because I find it boring talking about food, but it’s going well (not perfect) and I’m really watching what goes in. As hot as it was today, I resisted the temptation for ice cream! That’s a win.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 29: Zoom zoom zoom!

The new bike, known in Switzerland as a Töffli (which I spelled incorrectly yesterday), proved to be a worthy stallion this morning and afternoon.

It takes 30 minutes to ride to work, which shaves 20 minutes off my commute time. I park at the top of those mega-steep steps, so I still get a bit of a workout. Maybe I should make a new goal to be able to run up those steps non-stop (at the moment, walking them without stopping would be a win!).

The wind was cool, the light was gloomy but the Alps were visible through the clouds, the seat was comfortable, the fumes weren’t too overwhelming and I just loved the buzz and hum of the straining engine.

Leo is slightly amused by my excitement over something that 14-year-old kids are allowed to ride to school. We also think there’s a rule here, that if you’ve lost your driver’s licence, you can still ride a Töffli. So maybe people will see me and think I’m a teenager, or a lawbreaker. I’m fine with either.

On the way home, I stopped at the shops, because I can do that now 🙂 and bought two plants to fill some holes in my garden layout, and some laundry liquid. They all fit wonderfully in that fetching plastic green basket on the back. If you missed it yesterday, here’s another angle 🙂

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I’m also particularly fond of the muffler rust, as you can tell

I overtook a few bicycles and was overtaken by everything else. There’s a long slow hill on the way into town, where I felt like running beside the bike to help with the speed, and on the way home, I was worried about the motor blowing up. S/he was flying down the hill!

Which brings me to my reader request. I think the bike needs a name. I’m quite partial to Bruce, because it’s old-fashioned and reliable. Very apt.

Do you have any suggestions for this gallant steed? Should it be male or female? I’m open to all suggestions. The bike make/brand is Alpina, s/he was born in 1983.

It’s been a day of good fortune today. This afternoon we discovered a loop hole in an electronics company’s advertisement. It said you could take all your working Apple smartphones and tablets back to them to recycle and you would receive money towards ‘Apple products’. What the advert failed to clearly state was it had to be another Apple smartphone or tablet, as if you were doing an upgrade.

So with a little bit of hassle we managed to make our point that even though one part of the ad said swap old for new, it didn’t actually say the new had to be a phone or tablet. Just an Apple product. I’m now the proud owner of a new wireless computer mouse, a green iPod Nano to carry when running (it has a workout app as well) and a CHF50 iTunes voucher. All for the grand sum of CHF16.

What’s also brilliant is we have now Kondo’d our electronics! We took in two iPhone3s (neither worked so we didn’t get any money), an iPhone4, my dead iPhone5 from earlier in the year (again, no money) and my old iPad. I have been wanting to get rid of those electronics and all the associated cables for a very long time. Clean drawer! Relief!

On that note, it’s time for bed. Tomorrow I’ll take photos of the two new plants – forgot to do that – as my 30-Day Challenge (which is sporadic at best!) continues.

I look forward to reading your bike name suggestions! 🙂

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 26: Feast or famish

Sorry I didn’t post this yesterday … busy having fun again!

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This is the photo I mentioned previously where the tractor driver stopped. I thought he was going to get mad at me for taking a photo, but he just wanted to talk about the good weather!

I’ve been forgetting/don’t have time in the mornings to make my breakfasts for the I Quit Sugar program, so for the past week I’ve been making do with a tub of natural yoghurt and a small sunflower seed bread roll on my walk to work.

At CHF2 from the supermarket, it’s not too hard on the wallet but it’s lacking in thrills. So tonight, after a good morning putting together an inventory of karate clothes at work with Pastora, and a few quick beers together at Cafe Pyrennes afterwards (fast becoming our Friday ‘welcome to the weekend’ ritual!), I was really, really looking forward to dinner with our neighbours and their friends at a nice restaurant in another village 10 minutes drive away.

A juicy steak promised plenty of song and dance but wasn’t all that entertaining – this time the Angus beef came from the property of one of the members of the Swiss band Yello (they had some big hits in the 90s, including Oh Yeah). Not really a smash hit this time ’round, despite plenty of veg to make it a feast, so our last meal there remains my favourite.

After dinner, Eve, Paul, Lotti and Fritz came back to sit around the pool with Liliane, Rene, Leo and I in the beautiful twilight (would be amazing to go walking in that light), and the men demolished (and yes, I am using this term with confidence) a bottle of Montenegro that Leo’s dad gave him for his birthday. We’re glad it’s gone! We don’t really drink hard spirits or liqueur at home, and the shelf in the lounge room is full. Maybe by putting the bottles on display, people think we enjoy it and they’re encouraged to buy more. Unfortunately, we don’t have anywhere else to store them, apart from the cellar. Hmm … there’s a thought! 🙂

One thing I’ve really missed with consuming less sugar these past three weeks is a glass of elderberry cordial. They love it here (it’s called Holunderbluten syrup). Feeling adventurous? You can make your own cordial here, if you have access to a tree, or if that’s not quite your style, how about elderflower wine?! Hic!

So my 30-Day challenge plant name for you today is the elder (Sambucus). We have many trees growing around the property, but I’ve never made the syrup!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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The Aare river running through Bern. I cross this bridge to go to work

June 25: Stress … and relax

As soon as the boss goes on holidays, everything falls in a heap, right?

My new boss went on holidays today so of course the email system failed and the website wouldn’t work. Handy, huh! By 4pm it had all been sorted out (hopefully), but I hated having to send Marko an email to say, “Um, do you know how to fix this?”

I met Claudia for lunch and we wandered around the Botanical Gardens. There’s a palm building, nice and humid, which I didn’t know existed. Love being surprised in your ‘home’ city. So many wonderful plants – I didn’t know vanilla, originally from Mexico, was part of the orchid family!

Here are two which stood out for me (as part of my 30-Day Challenge to learn more plant names) – the Acalypha hispida and Victoria cruziana. In the pond with the Santa Cruz water lily was a turtle that bites, or so the sign said. We saw some other turtles at the cafe, sunning themselves. So very sweet. I would load a photo but the computer is going soooo slow – not having much luck with technology today! Oh well!

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Acalypha hispida – red hot cat’s tail or fox tail. The blooms were so soft

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So peaceful, and impressive. Victoria cruziana, or Santa Cruz water lily

This morning on the walk to the bus, a spotted a great photo opportunity – clear Alps, a corn field and a tractor approaching; a true summation of my Swiss experience. After I took the photo, the driver of the tractor opened his door on approach, and I felt a bit nervous. Was he going to get mad at me for taking a photo? No, he just wanted to talk about how amazing the weather was and how clear the Alps had been at 6am. Very un-Swiss, and a wonderful surprise!

Tonight, Claudia and Dani came for dinner, and by surprise Liliane and Rene joined us as well, on the terrace. We had a great laugh and Leo and Dani smoked their obligatory cigars together. Very funny. We hadn’t seen C&D since New Years – we better not wait another six months til next time!

The Junikäfer were out in full force – amazing how many come out at dusk. They really are a force to be reckoned with and Boy, the dog, loves eating them. They must be packed with protein! And it was hilarious watching Leo trying to swat them away – he’s really not a fan of flying insects!

I’ve given up waiting on the other photos to load. I’ll add them in tomorrow! Night night.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

P.S In loving memory of an amazing Kiwi friend, Annie, who was beaten by the cancer demons tonight. She made a lasting impact. Words can’t really do her justice.

June 24: Mixed bag of goodies

I’m typing this again, because, for some reason, my original post went missing! Arrggghhhh! Not what you need at 11pm!

Didn’t fall asleep on the couch this afternoon, because I didn’t sit on it!

Came home from work, put on my daggy clothes and helped Rene in the garden. The two new front wheels for the lawnmower arrived last week, but the weather’s been terrible so no chance until today to put them to the test. Many trips to the compost were made, because the grass hadn’t been cut for two weeks (since I broke the front wheel).

After whipper-snippering around the edges, I finished off the mowing. Then I weeded around the garage (damn nettles!), dead-headed Liliane’s roses and the pots around the pool, and then I thought I’d have a rest. Sat on the terrace for two minutes and saw a plant which I really don’t like the look of, and never have, so I pulled it out. Then I had to give the soil a bit of a scratch to patch up the hole, then I thought I ‘mose well weed that garden bed too. Oh and why not my main garden bed as well, while I’m in the swing of things?! All up today, three hours in the garden and one hour of walking. Not too shabby.

I managed to snap a few pictures in Bern’s Botanical Gardens. After yesterday’s 30-Day Challenge plant name, my eye was drawn to another Allium strain, Allium fistulosum. In German it’s common name is Winterzwiebel, or winter onion. In English, it’s the Welsh onion. I thought the stems would smell oniony, but nothing.

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The Welsh onion in Bern’s Botanical Gardens

Even though I really didn’t feel like it, I cooked another I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program dinner and finally flopped on the couch for two episodes of House of Cards. Didn’t eat a sweet thing all day! After 2.5 weeks of much less sugar than normal, I’m finding it easier and easier. The natural yoghurt for breakfast seems sweet enough. Never thought I’d say that! Berliner doughnuts were on special today in the supermarket – six for the price of four – and I walked straight past (while shooting daggers at the man who grabbed a packet so nonchalantly!)

All up, a nice mixed bag of goodies today. I hope you achieved too. And as always …

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 18: A ceremonial swapping of the tools

The Kärcher is being replaced by the computer tomorrow.

Finally, the concrete around the main farmhouse AND our Stöckli is now clean. Another four and a half hours with that powerful jet spray machine has knackered my wrists again. But the end result, and knowing I won’t have to do it again for another two years, is nice.

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Clean as a whistle!

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The cement in front of the house didn’t scrub up as well as the terrace

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My little garden, just because …

It feels like I’m having a ceremonial ‘swapping of the tools’ – the yellow Kärcher beast is all packed away, and now I’ve taken out the travel case for my computer. It’ll be coming on the bus with me tomorrow for my ‘first day’ on the job. I wonder how many hours a week it will involve? All will be sorted out soon enough, I imagine.

Fell off the no sugar bandwagon this afternoon and ate … *gasp* a cherry tomato!! They just looked tooooooo good to not try one.

We’ve started watching House of Cards on Netflix which I’m really enjoying. Kevin Spacey is brilliant. Just brilliant! It’s definitely adding to my mental fitness.

My plant for the day is another herb. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is my favourite because it goes with lamb. Mmmm lamb. (I love how the thyme was vulgaris and this is officinalis. How official!)

Time for bed. I actually have a very good reason to get up early tomorrow! Yahoo!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 17: Possibilities?

One of my friends from German school, Iva, is married to Marko, who is a karate Dan. He has a karate Dojo and wellness centre on the Aare river in Bern. I’ve mentioned it before, when I did a yoga class there earlier in the year.

Marko has asked me to do some work for him on one of his websites, enso-shop.ch which deals with the selling of karate gear. On Friday, I’ll go in and learn the ins and outs of the website from him, and then eventually, I’ll be responsible for all things to do with the site. Neither of us are sure how much work this will involve, but he wants to push the site more than he’s been able to, because he’s so busy teaching.

This means I’ll be working in the office with Pastora as well, which will be fun. She works there five mornings a week. This could be my chance to get back into the swing of things and help promote his website, which thankfully is mostly in English. I’m very excited and hope I can do enough to make the orders soar! Learning more about how websites work will keep me mentally fit, too. I don’t think it’s really hit me yet, that this could be a job with possibilities.

Being in the city today (to meet Marko) made me realise how much I’m missing sugar. I’m in week two of the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program, when we can’t eat any fruit either. I was bombarded with people eating ice cream, Berliners and other sweet stuff that normally I wouldn’t think twice about buying. Grocery shopping, and seeing all the lovely bananas and watermelons etc was even harder. They’re healthy! But I’m committed to giving this sugar cleanse a real go. In week six, fruit is reintroduced. It was a dumb time to buy that cherry tomato plant – they’re all looking so ripe and yummy, Leo will have to eat them all!

Here are some other photos from my walk to the bus and time in town.

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More corn growing near us, with my favourite farmhouse on the hill

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This looks like silverbeet perhaps?

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A close up of the silverbeet?

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Healthy geraniums at a house on the way to the bus

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A lovely veggie garden on the way to the bus

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How cool is this bug? Love the colour!

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This is the path I take down to the river on the way to the Dojo

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The building on the right side of the river is where I’ll be doing some work

I use a running app on my phone, called MapMyRun. Today it sent me an email to remind me I haven’t been running in a month. A month! Oops! How did that happen? (Well, um easily – busy in the garden, raining, lack of motivation!) Will try to fix that asap.

The 30-Day Challenge with the plant names has also taken a backseat. I think I had a bit of burnout, searching the web for the plants I have in the garden, not knowing where to begin other than a generic description of what the plant looks like – the images always offered up so many options. I’m learning some Latin herb names now, starting with thyme – Thymus vulgaris.

Rather than searching for three to four each day, I’m going to scale it back to one from now on – I’d bitten off more than I can chew! Hopefully that isn’t the case for the website job with Marko!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 11: I broke the mower!

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The part that was mowed! Our little house – those fir trees on the right will have the tops lopped off tomorrow

It was a pretty quiet morning again, but thankfully I had the lawn to mow this afternoon. It was almost finished, when I broke the mower.

I didn’t realise the front left tyre was going flat until I turned sharply right and it went all skewiff. Had to get the jack underneath the front and take the tyre off and try to fill it with air, but it was too late. Kaputt!

Rene ordered two new front tyres/wheels from England (why replace one when you can replace both?! Rene never does things by half. They should be here Monday), because, as he kindly kept saying, the lawn mower is 20 years old and it’s bound to have problems. I couldn’t help but feel that this problem could have been averted if I’d been on the ball a bit more. Strange that I didn’t notice any issues with the steering until it was too late. Bugger!

About 5.30pm, Rene, Liliane and I sat outside enjoying the beautiful balmy evening and planning our day tomorrow. It’s going to be chockers. We’re going grocery shopping in the morning, taking stuff to the dump/tip/rubbish collection, which luckily is in the building next to us, and we’re going to trim some overgrown trees/shrubs at our house – one is growing into the gutter, so it’s about time. Electric trimmer, get ready to be well used!

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Sitting outside, playing with Boy, the dog, and talking lots of German with the neighbours

I’m too knackered to find three new plants to name today, as part of the 30-Day Challenge. I’ve left it too late to write, and there’s nothing left in my batteries. I ate quite well, as part of the I Quit Sugar Program, but maybe I didn’t drink enough water. Or maybe my body is saying, “Where is the sugar, woman?! You know I can’t function without the sweet stuff!”

We’ll see, sugar demons, we’ll see.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 10: Craving sugar, much?

After finishing actor Cary Elwes’ book, As You Wish (reviewed here), I thought it only fitting to watch the movie The Princess Bride today. That could quite possibly be the 20th time I’ve seen it, and I enjoy it every time. Twue wuv. Tweasure your wuv. Has it added to my mental fitness? Well, it definitely made me smile.

I also did a lot of internet reading, not enough job searching, and pottered in the garden for a bit, but the wind was too wicked for my liking, so I mooched. I mooched a lot. I don’t think mooching is very healthy sometimes!

Liliane and Rene invited me for dinner which was nice, as Leo is at a work function. I’m sure the meal they served fell within the boundaries of the I Quit Sugar program. I’ve been very good about not eating sugar, and maybe that’s part of the reason I’m feeling so ‘meh’ today. Detoxing perhaps? I could definitely handle some ice cream or a handful of peanut M&Ms about now!

The 30-Day Challenge continues with new plant names. But a quick recap from yesterday’s request for help – Gabby was quick off the mark to tell me the crop with the back and white flower is broad bean aquadulce (Vicia faba) and Freda kindly informed me the small purple plant from yesterday was another campanula – Dalmation bellflower (Campanula portenschlagia). Thank you, ladies!

Liliane has a lovely blue flowing plant called Gentian (Gentiana acaulis) in her garden, which I would love to take a cutting from for next year (her garden is a bit bigger than mine so I have no idea how all this is going to fit!).

I’d like to get some Speedwell (Veronica spicata) because I like the candle shape, and another on my wishlist is a common jasmine vine (Jasminum officinale) growing on the terrace somewhere, because it would be amazing to be surrounded by that smell in summer.

Tomorrow and Friday will be more active. (I’ll have to make it so, won’t I?! Can’t be mooching for extended periods.) Rene has indicated he’d like my help replacing the mower blades tomorrow, so that’s something to look forward to 😉 and I’ll spend some time with Liliane on Friday as she has the day off!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 9: Catch-ups and temptations

Today I went to the city for the first time in weeks. Weeks! It felt odd walking to the bus – everything’s growing and changing.

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The honesty barrel at the new self-pick flower field. There’s no moving that thing in a hurry!

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What’s growing and how much they cost

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Orderly rows. I don’t feel an affinity with it like the old flower field

It was a social day – I had lunch with Leonie and then Claudia invited me to dessert for her birthday. It’s such a strange custom in Switzerland and Germany, and maybe in other places too. When it’s YOUR birthday, you invite people and YOU pay, and YOU take the cake to work for the celebrations. In Australia, if it’s your birthday, YOU’RE invited out, someone else brings the cake and you DON’T pay. Do you live in a country where the birthday person is responsible for bringing the cake and paying the bill too? I’d love to hear more!

I felt strange watching Claudia pay for our treats but it was lovely to spend the afternoon with her. (I was good and had a bowl of fresh strawberries – high in natural sugar but a lot less than the yummy desserts I passed on! It was so darn tempting! Willpower!) We haven’t seen each other for a month. Afterwards, we went window shopping and strolled around the city.

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Claudia, the birthday girl, with her hot berry and ice cream dessert

My 30-Day Challenge (learning three to four new plant names each day) needs your help! There’s a small crop of black and white flowering plants growing near our house, which I saw for the first time today. I’ve searched the internet but come up with a blank.

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Do you know what this tall crop/plant with black and white flowers is called?

While I’m asking questions, do you know what this one is too? It’s in my garden under the hydrangea (which is getting flowers – it didn’t flower at all last year so I’m pretty darn excited to see what colour it will be!)

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Tiny purple perennial. Any ideas?

The third new plant is Dianthus amurensis ‘Siberian Blues’ (it’s more a purple than blue to me!) and the fourth (yes, today there’s a fourth!) is Lithodora diffusa ‘Grace Ward’. Both are growing in my garden. I love the blue colour of the latter and five-petalled flowers are a signature thing for me. I used to draw them non-stop.

The I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program is going along nicely. Leo liked the dinner tonight, so that’s good. I had a mixture of buffet salads for lunch with Leonia, without dressing, and the strawberries with Claudia. It was a bit of a shock to realise I was ‘under pressure’ to find alternative options to the program menu after only two days. You’re not ‘allowed’ to eat fruit in the middle part of this program, so I figured some berries on day two wasn’t too bad an idea for a celebration. Fruit is re-introduced into the plan slowly in the final few weeks, to see how fructose affects you too.

Here are some other photos from today. It was nice to be out and about. Time for a run again soon, I think!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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A flash of poppies, wheat and my favourite farmhouse in the distance

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Corn, doing its thing

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I started the 30-Day Challenge with one campunala in bloom. It’s going great guns now

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A cold and windy day today in our ‘hood