Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Voltigieren = Vaulting

Girls and horses -- an exciting combination.

Aside from falling in love with our pup, Rikki; my girls love horses, too.

They love horseback riding, though their only experience includes a few minutes on a horse. But they swear they love horses. And indeed, visiting the stalls are always a part of our weekend walks.

One Saturday, we surprised them by bringing them to the Reit-und Fahrverein Birkenau e.V. It was the club's Open House. Aside from winning loads of raffle prizes; we had a great lunch, a plate of homemade cakes, and enjoyed the show. The highlight for the girls? The horseback riding time. They were on the horse so many times!

And then came Voltigieren (Vaulting) show. Little girls doing what looks like circus moves on the horse. My girls were fascinated. But no, they don't like to do something like that. Only horseback riding and taking care of the horse.

Asking around, we learned that there are lessons every Fridays and Saturdays. The girls absolutely want to be there.

The next weekend, we took the girls for a try-out. It was recommended to us that voltigieren is the best way to start with small kids if they want to get used to horses. We arrived early. The girls helped in preparing the horse. And despite wanting to sign-up for horseback riding ONLY; the girls ended up doing the same circus moves on a horse!!!

It was explained to us that voltigieren (vaulting) are gymnastics performed on a moving horse going on a circle line, in full harmony. I was proud of the girls. They were doing gymnastics on top of a moving horse after only a few minutes of trial lessons.

What's more, they were doing almost every move perfectly that the trainer asked if they practiced.

That just shows how interested they are. I noticed how they focused on the trainer; how they concentrated on learning the moves shown to them, how they practiced on the wooden horse, how relaxed they were.

I admit, I really thought they would back out as soon as they see the 'dangerous' moves involve. The girls showed me how wrong I am. The moves are not dangerous at all. 'Mama, they are very easy, ' they told me.

The girls engaged themselves with the cleaning, brushing and the clearing of the stall and the practice arena. And on our way back home, they can't stop gushing about the experience. And even started using the back of our sofa as a 'horse' to practice their moves.

I am glad the girls finally found an activity that they really love. And I am proud seeing them up there!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Coleslaw with Apples and Pears

It is really fun to experiment with recipes if the ingredients are ready for the picking.

Just like the pears and apples. We have more than enough. The girls have had enough of cakes and cookies made of pears and apples. They wanted something different.

So why not Coleslaw with Apples and Pears?

6-8 cups of chopped coleslaw
3 pcs of apples, chopped
3 pcs of pears, chopped
1 1/4 c mayo
1 c chopped onion
1/4 c wine vinegar (essig)
1/2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix all ingredients. Refrigerate in a tightly-lid container.

Tip: Store the Coleslaw with Apples and Pears in smaller containers, ready for each meal.

My girls, who are not cabbage fans, loved it.

I therefore conclude that my experiment is a success! Now we are thinking of planting cabbage in our garden.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Picnic in Heidelberg

We took advantage of another sunny day this October.

We arranged to meet friends in the grounds of the Heidelberg Castle on a Saturday. Do some touristy stuff, enjoy the company, etc...

When we checked the weather forecast (it's going to be a sunny day); we added picnic in our agenda, too. Good thing that dogs on leash are allowed in the castle grounds. (We always check in the internet if dogs are allowed before we drive for most of all our family trips now.)

The girls decided we should bring: some cheese, some fruits and some drinks. My husband suggested some cold cuts, pretzels and rolls. And Rikki nudged me with her nose so as not to forget her dog food.

Therefore our picnic basket was full of sliced cold cuts, cheese cubes, boiled eggs, chopped apples and freshly baked pretzels and rolls. I added some waffles, gummi bears, chips and slices of freshly baked lemon cake. For our pup, a bone and her dog food. Plus, bottles of water and our picnic blankets.

Off to Heidelberg. It was easy to find the right spot for a great picnic; after all, the Heidelberg Castle grounds is huge!

There's enough trees if you want the shades. There's enough hidden corners if you want privacy. There's enough benches if you want to take a break. There's enough to see if you want to feed the eyes. And there's more than enough space to move!

That sunny day, we shared the picnic grounds with some university students reviewing, sun bathers, dog walkers; and plenty of tourists. The girls went wild, running around; the dog echoed their excitement.

Some people avoid the Heidelberg Castle grounds for picnics because they said they don't want to be gawked and photographed by the piles of tourists.

Well, on that day; we received smiles and noticed some are pointing cameras at us. I guess most of them are thinking how lucky we are -- enjoying the warm day with a picnic; on the grounds of a historical castle; with good friends for company.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Our Barbecue Sauce

Having a herbs and spices corner in our garden is really a fascinating experience.

Not to mention the benefits that it gave us.

Healthwise, the girls have accepted seeing those 'greens' in almost all our meals and are not removing them anymore. Before they will ask us to remove those 'grass' no matter how tiny they are. Now they are the ones bringing us those parsleys, cress, dill, olive herb, lemon balm, rosemary, etc. -- urging us to use them in cooking.

Moneywise, we saved gas from shopping trips and the budget for grocery items became tolerable because those herbs and spices are available anytime and free!

That is why our normally very simple barbecue sauce is now a creative mixture of our 'old' recipe and the 'new' herbs and spices from the garden.

The Old Barbecue Recipe includes olive oil, sweet powdered red pepper, cayanne pepper, barbecue ketchup and pepper.

The New Barbecue Recipe combines the ingredients above plus chopped herbs and spices from the garden. The sauce lifts the flavor of the items in the grill and they smell better, too. It is fun experimenting with various combinations of herbs and spices.

I also put those herbs and spices inside vegetable grill packs. My husband throws some lemon balm leaves into the charcoal which adds yummy points to the barbecue.

In fact, we are planning on having a winter barbecue, too. I need to start preserving those herbs and spices!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dining Out with Kids

I was amazed when an acquaintance once told me that they avoid going to restaurants when the kids are with them. Ooops, what does it mean? The kids are 3 and 5 years old at that time. She explained further that it is just an exercise in futility, as they won't even get to enjoy the food and the kids would only be distracting the people around. Worse, that they would only get hurt by running around or be reprimanded to silence by the proprietor and fellow diners. Thus, the only restaurants the kids know are the branches of fastfood restaurants such as McDonald's.

I mentioned that to my husband who replied 'then they dont need children.' I mean, of course eating with a small child in a restaurant would be a big challenge, but so does eating at home. I cannot follow the logic really. We always bring our kids wherever we go, and eating out are one of the special bonding times we have -- either at fast food restaurants or fine dining halls.

Especially since most of the restaurants offer a high chair, if you are big on safety. Some restaurants even offer gifts of toys or activities to keep the kids busy and not bored to tears. In In Germany, I know a lot of restaurants who have kid's corners -- where they arrange small tables and chairs, with loads of crayons and papers or even books -- sometimes even a box of assorted toys to choose from.

And one restaurant in Austria became our kids' favorite. They have an extra room that serves as a playroom -- complete with legos, building blocks, table games, doll houses, etc. -- and a carpet big enough to really let loose. The set up also includes a kiddie table for dining and even high chairs. The door of the playroom can remain closed, in case the other diners would deemed the kids to be a distraction. What's more, the children's menu (which serves also as a coloring pad) comes with a surprise gift. They really spoil the kids in there, at the end of our more than two weeks vacation, the kids are calling it 'their restaurant.'

I hear nobody complaining there. It is really a big hit with vacationers with kids. And to be frank, this is our first vacation wherein we have really dined! No need to hurry, no tempers flaring -- a real vacation! That the food is good was just luck. The thing is, as long as the kids eat and leave us in peace long enough to enjoy our food, then everybody's all happy.

And another favorite, one Greek restaurant near our home, especially during summertime, they have a playground complete with seesaws, slides and a sandbox with big boxes of toys.

Of course, you can find such offers in club resorts, with animators to drag the kids from one activity to another, even dining with them together. But that would be another story.

Important, too, we make sure that we would be in the restaurant before five pm. The kids are not yet so hungry, thus still in a good mood; and the dining places are not yet full, thus, we can choose a comfortable place for us.

Another thing, everytime we order our food, we make sure that the kids' choices would arrive a little earlier. Thus, we, parents can focus on helping them out, if needed. And they would be almost (if not already) full and satisfied when it is our turn to dine. The kids would then have a choice - to stay and play on the table or go to the kids's corner. Make sure that they know the golden rule: that playing on the table meant a silent game or drawing time. If they cannot abide, then they must go to the kids' corner, if there's any.

But what happens if you cannot find a kid-friendly restaurant? Then stuff your mama bag with pens and pencils, small card games, their favorite toys, even books. In some cases, the kids even found games between stacks of paper bottle mats/saucers in restaurants.

You know what we usually do? We always call to ask if there's kids' corner in the restaurant we wanted to visit. When on a holiday, we check out the internet or arriving at the place, the brochures or simply, we go in and have a look. When there's something for the kids', then we stay. Because as long as they get busy, then dining out is just another child's play.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Husband Cooks

One of the things I love about my husband? Is that he won't hesitate to take-over in the kitchen -- cook and clean, too.

Just a few weeks ago, we had last-minute lunch guests. A lovely husband and wife team ( I kid you not).

Well, they arrived from the Philippines a few days earlier. The husband is in Frankfurt on business, the wife for pleasure, of course! These are good friends of mine; and my husband knows them very well, too!

IC is actually the godchild of the wife and is looking forward to the visit; just like her big sister, MC. Both looking forward to the presents, too :-D

My husband said they are in Germany so they would have real German food. I didn't disagree especially since that means he would be cooking!

That same morning, he got busy for his lunch guests the next day. He listed down the menu and shopped for the ingredients.

Early morning on our lunch date, he informed us of the menu: Mashed Potato, Rotkohl (Red Cabbage), Kotelett (Cutlets). There's various cheese, cold cuts and fresh tomatoes as appetizers. Drinks include sekt, alcohol-free beer and radler and for the girls, apfelschorle and water.
He prepared the ingredients and cooked all alone. I tend to disappear from the kitchen because he uses a lot of kitchen articles (pots, pans, utensils, etc) and I hate disorder when I am in the kitchen. Every once in a while I check if he needs help in clearing a space... and that's when I am given the chance to tidy up after him. (And yes, he cleans up afterwards; but sometimes I just cannot help throwing things into the dishwasher as soon as he is done with something.)

The girls and I helped him by decorating the dinner table. We used apples as place markers and placed leaves, nuts and apples as decor; and added our gifts for them (consist of homamade preserves).
My husband's lunch was a success. All the plates were empty but there's enough space for dessert.

The dessert is my creation: colorful glass dessert. Simply because my husband is not a sweets fan. His dessert is usually of a scoop of ice cream with chopped fruits and whipped cream on top; or a bowl of chopped fresh fruits.

My husband cooks. He's got his own favorite recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He bakes, too. Speaking of which, he absolutely hates frozen french fries therefore he makes time to choose the right potatoes, peel them, chop them and cook them. And most importantly, he cleans the kitchen afterwards.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Colorful Glass Dessert

I usually do this dessert when there are left-over cookies, cakes or pies. Especially those kind that my girls ignore.

Because when I create this Colorful Glass Dessert, they doesn't seem to notice that they are enjoying the ignored cookies, cakes or pies.

Ingredients for the Colorful Glass Dessert:

any kind of cookies, pies or cakes
any ice cream flavor
any joghurt flavor
seasonal fruits or nuts
whipped cream


Use a wide-mouth clear glass.

The first layer includes the pieces of left-over cakes, cookies or pies. Then chopped fruits and joghurt. Let rest in the ref. Before serving, add the nuts or additional fruits, ice cream and top with whipped cream.

You might want to add caramel sauce or some other sweet candies or even more fruits on top.

Serve immediately.

More simple recipes here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Liver Cookies for Dogs

Doggie Liver Cookies
Ingredients for Doggie Liver Cookies:

500 g flour
400 g finely chopped beef liver
2 eggs
2 tsp sunflower oil
1 tsp chopped parsley


Mix all the ingredients together. Knead well. Form into small balls. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 20 mins.

Let cool then put in a tighly sealed container.

Tip: Store the container in a dry place, if needed; put in the ref. Let the cookies stand in room temperature before giving them to your pet.

The liver cookies are what we bring every Friday when we go to the dog school. It tastes better, my husband had a piece that's why I know :-D. And offering it as a reward for our pup's good work on that one hour fun seems to make her happy, too.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Would you dress-up your dog?

Rikki's favorite sleeping space, notice that she's cuddling a stuff toy?
The girls have been begging me to please, please buy Rikki a pair of shoes.

They saw dogs with shoes walking around when we were in Manila; and they were really fascinated.

I told them that dogs needed their paws without any hindrances so that they could freely walk, climb, run and do whatever normal dogs do with their paws. If Rikki would be using shoes everytime we go out of the house, then the pup would not survive being outdoors on her naked paws.

I always tell my girls -- that although Rikki is a part of the family, she is still a dog and not a human being.

Lately because of Halloween, the girls are changing their tune. They are now begging me to buy clothes for Rikki. They want a Halloween costume for our pup.

Last night, I gave up. I told them Rikki could dress-up for Halloween. The girls exploded with cheers. But... I informed them that only a short cape or a shirt. No frills, no glitters, no hair accessories, no make-ups, no bling-blings.

They would not settle for a boring cape or a shirt, but when I told them that we would be sewing the costume together? They exploded again with cheer!

I once read about someone giving an advice to dog lovers who wish to deck out their pooches -- “The pet should be treated like a toddler. Therefore, no sharp objects, no toxic elements, nothing that may irritate the skin, no fragments that pose choking danger. Also, when your pet is wearing and strutting his/her stuff, the guardian must be vigilant at all times.”

So I guess, yes, we would dress-up our dog. But only this Halloween.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Krakale or Homemade Croutons

A recipe handed down from generation to generation: krakale or homemade croutons.

Actually, the name krakale have a story. My mother-in-law would always tell me about it everytime she would cook croutons. My husband loves croutons yet cannot pronounce the words correctly; so as a toddler, he would always end up asking for krakale. Well, the girls simply adopted the term because maybe it tastes better when called 'krakale'.


cubed old bread (you could use toast or any type of bread)


Place a pat of butter in the pan and heat. When already hot, add the cubed bread. Add more butter when needed. Keep on stirring until cubed bread bits are brown enough.
Use it as toppings to your pasta or for salad.

Our homemade crouton adds special taste to our simple spaghetti sauce recipe. It is one of the best substitute to meat in our pasta.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dream Mousse Blush from Maybelline

I am not the type to wear a make up, really. Not only because I dont know the right way to apply them without me looking like a carnival mask; but because I dont know to buy the right color to my skin type.

Having all these cosmetic brands with millions of products for zillions of skin types, I just suddenly stopped making the effort. It just confuses me more, and I wanted to avoid wrinkles. But when I happened to stop by a drogerie a few months ago to buy a perfume for my husband; the kids cannot resist the colored attraction, make ups!

With two young daughters grabbing me enthusiastically to the cosmetics section, what can a mama do? They wanted to look, and touch and try them on. I shook my head to an emphatic no, but I got curious. And we ended up the visit with dotted palms and backhands, but with a good find: Dream Mousse Blush from Maybelline. It is not powder, not liquid -- what it said, moist like a mousse concoction.

There were only two hues available that time, the beige-light orange one which looks funny on me and what I got now - the Dolly Pink. Come on, erase that grin. The name seems to invite a lolly-candy image but that's not definitely not it. It takes one careful wipe with your pointer finger from the glass, then apply it to your cheeks. The blush adds only a bare pinkish glitter to your face, but that is enough for me. That simple touch makes me feel prettier and chic. Just what I am looking for.