April

It all went by so quickly! I managed to make a birthday cake for a friend, lay out in the sun every chance I could get and caught up with friends and family. It doesn’t sound like much but it somehow takes up a lot of my weekends – not that I’m complaining!

Now, I’m not going to go into detail about the amazing weather we have had, as a typical swiss person will tell you, because the weather has been quite perfect so far… Oh, no! I just did. What am I becoming? All jokes aside, I’ve learnt to appreciate the good weather as it comes. In Switzerland, it can change from sunny to cold in a matter of hours. This is something I always found amusing: the amount of people confused by the weather. I’ve seen people wear coats and scarves, and  people wearing shorts and a singlet – both on a perfect 24 degree day.

As mentioned before, I like to lay out in the sun as often as possible! So naturally being the woman I am, I ordered myself another bikini for the summer. Black, high waisted bottoms and a nice classic triangled top. After trying them on, I’m still not sure if I can pull of the look of being a 2018’s Baywatch extra.

Here is a pic of me nearly asleep after a pedicure and relation in the sun at the Montreux palace spa. It doesn’t get better than that.

What most surprised me about making a cake for a 5 year old is that I can actually do it! In the back of my mind I always thought it would fall apart or I would drop it just before the party. But no, it turned out well. It wasn’t perfect – but I know now how to make it look better next time I make one. Maybe after a few more practice cakes I could make a tutorial…

Not sure why, but this year I’m very excited for summer and can’t wait to have an excuse to wear less clothing. I’ve been planning a few outfits I want to wear – including many things I’ve had in my closet for a long time but never wore! Oops… I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this.

Until I have more important things to report, I’ll leave it at that. I hope everyone is having a great day/night. Xx

Chocolate brownies

Here is an idea on how to use up your old Easter chocolate: brownies! Instead of forcing myself to eat it as just chocolate, (which is usually great but Easter holidays have put me off chocolate for about a week or two) I transformed it into something just as delicious. Here is my recipe and some photos I managed to take along the way…

Ingredients:

330g Chocolate

700g Sugar

590g Butter (softened)

480g Egg (9-10 eggs)

50g Cocoa powder

240g Flour

2 pinches of Salt

200g Nuts (of your choice, roughly chopped)

(This recipe is enough for a whole tray of brownies – use a tray similar to 30cm by 40cm dimensions or halve the recipe)

For this, I have a hand held mixer. I would prefer/recommend a Kitchen-aid but you gotta do what you gotta do.

1. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

2. Slowly add the eggs, one by one.

3. Add the melted chocolate while still mixing the batter.

4. Add the rest of the ingredients, (but the nuts at the end!) either on a low speed or fold it in by hand using a spatula/wooden spoon.

5. Spread the batter out evenly on your tray. Making sure the tray has aluminum foil on it or baking paper! Butter alone won’t do much…

6. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 mins. But check them at the 15 minute mark – every oven is different! Use the knife technique to check of it’s done (stick a knife tip in the center and remove, if the knife is clean, it’s done baking!)

7. Leave to cool and then remove from the tray. Cut into pieces and enjoy!

Cool tip: use a tin to put some in and give them to loved ones. I got mine at my local thrift shop for CHF 1.-

I hope you enjoy making these brownies and let me know how they went – better yet, let me try some! Comment below about your experience with my recipe.

X Gill

Barcelona.

So, I went to Barcelona for a two and a half day stay last week. I went to just get away from the cold weather in Switzerland and to take advantage of my 3 days off work.

As Christmas and New Years is approaching, work is getting busier and busier. Which gave me all the more reason to get away, relax and meditate before the storm. I have a feeling that time will go quickly this month (December) and if I blink I might miss it!

I can’t guarantee that this blog will be very infomative about Barcelona tourist attractions but it’s more of a chill-traveler’s guide to the city.

I’ve mentioned this before in another blog of mine, that I find shopping relaxing and calming. Hence the name Retail Therapy. That’s what I did for a lot of the time between getting a hair cut, eating at a cute cafe everyone is on a waiting list to get into.

Day 1: I got up in the morning around 8am and started to pack. Yes, I always pack last minute! I planned for 3 outfits and took 1 extra pair of shoes for just incase. I only took carry-on luggage, so only the nessesary toiletries were packed. As I was already wearing so many layers to the airport to leave Switzerland, (becasue it was around 5 degrees celcius!), I was wearing already half of the things I was taking.

-Flew with Swiss to BCN from ZRH over the midday-

I landed in Barcelona and had a hard time trying to actually find the bus shuttle that would take me to the city center.  You would think I did enough research into this but I actually hadn’t seen or heard about AeroBus until I was standing infront of it. It’s cheap, clean, direct and has no-fuss wifi! The buses are also made for people with suitcases and has USB charging stations near the seats. This was definetly worth the €5,90 fo sho.

I got to my hotel and left my tiny bit of luggage at the lobby because I knew that if I went to my room, I would have found a good reason to take a nap. I also was excited to explore the city but also a little overwhelmed on what to see first. I walked, ate snack sized portions of food and drink the whole day. I found a place to get my facial done on the last day of my trip, then pondered my way back to the hotel by the time it was getting dark. I decided to have a chill night in which was nice after being on-the-go since 8am.

Day 2: Slept in. Got breakfast at a little place called Brunch & Cake. This place has a waiting list. I was told I had to wait 20 minutes but I was seated within 5 minutes, which was a pleasant surprise. I ordered an iced matcha and some sort of refreshing juice with mint, (I was thirsty!), then I orded the “Eggs” (scrambled eggs) which came in a bagel with hummus, avocado and salmon – I ordered without salmon. I really liked this place! Just keep in mind everone was taking photos of their plates before eating, including myself. I ate brunch but sadly never got round to trying the cake. Tip: the chocolate pancakes are really just two chocolate cake layers with a ganache filling. Literally, a cake on a plate. Another guest beside me orded it and said it tasted delicious but he was expecting normal pancakes. Just a heads up!

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The good thing in Barcelona is that a haircut is about half the price there than in Switzerland. I walked in to a hairdresser and luckily got seated straight away. There’s something special about getting a haircut that gives a boost of confidence! Wash, cut and blowdry was only €35. I highly reccomend you go to Louis Philippe if you want a modern style for a reasonable price. I know I will be going back.

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I went back to the hotel, inspected the rooftop pool and found that even though it had been sunny, the water was cold. The sun was setting as I made a mental note to go back onto the roof again in the morning when the sun is really shining down, before I go back to Switzerland.

It was then time for dinner. I went to a nice place called Firebug, which was on the same block as the hotel. This place is warm, friendly and has really good food. I’m not a huge fan of tapas for dinner, so I ordered some nachos and some amazing chicken wings. With one Sangria and I was ready to sing karaoke or dance on the bar (maybe because I’m a lightweight, or it was really strong?) I guess you’ll have to find out for yourself. The chicken was amazing (it’s called sticky fingers on their menu) and the nachos were the best I’ve had in a long time.

Day 3: It was a good thing I went to check out the rooftop the day before because I spent a good 2 hours laying out on a pool chair, reading “Start with Why” (which is a really good book, btw), listening to music and soaking up as much sunshine as possible. I had my shoes off, t-shirt and jeans on and I wasn’t sweating yet I was warm enough. The morning couldn’t have been better. There was one other person there also, but they had seated themselves far away. It was so peaceful and quiet. It felt really good to just “be”.

My facial was for at 15:00 and by the time it was midday, I was hungry. So I left my luggage in the lobby of the hotel again and set off in search of lunch. I stumbled across a super cute bubble tea place called AM8. For some bubble tea, cake and stable wifi (which is not so common in Barcelona) this place is good. It’s not the most modern place, but the rose milk bubble tea was really good!

Ceiling in AM8 cafe - very cute!

The second best part of the day (first place would be the sun bathing on the roof in the morning) was getting a facial and deep clean at Dr Beatriz Beltran’s clinic. I got a microdermabrasion session, followed by a thick, cooling peel off mask. I fell asleep just a little, and left the place feeling so refeshed and relaxed. The women there are really warm and helpful with all questions I asked. They don’t speak perfect english but it was enough for me to understand. I had gotten microdermabrasion done before a few times and had forgotten how refreshing it is for the skin.

Afterwards was basically just enough time for me to wander back to the hotel to get my little bit of luggage, get the shuttle bus again back to the airport and check in for my flight back home.

That basically sums up my short, relaxed trip to Barcelona. I didn’t intend to blog this trip because I wasn’t sure it would be enough information but a good friend told me I should anyway… I’m glad he inspired me!

So in short – Highlights:

  • Having alot of “me” time.
  • The weather
  • The FOOD!

Lowlights:

  • I couldn’t shop as much as I wanted to because I had little space/weight to take it back with me (in hind-sight this was a good thing!)
  • I didn’t play “tourist” as much as I could have.

Have you been to Barcelona and would add more to this chill-travel guide? Let me know below.

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How to make a berry nice tart

See what I did there? Terrible pun, I know, but I’m sorry, not sorry! I made this the other day, tried, tasted and loved it! It’s sweet but not too sweet. Try it for yourself and see if you like it. I used half of a recipe for a tart form with a 22cm diameter. I have a tiny tart form which is about 14cm in diameter. This recipe was near perfect – I just had a little too much dough. Good thing, this dough can also be used to make cookies if you add some chocolate drops! The recipe I used is below.

For the dough:

90g Softened Butter

15g Milk

1/2 Egg yolk (for this I broke the yolk and spooned out how much I needed. You can also  just add a whole yolk. Hopefully you have a larger tart form than me and you use the whole thing!)

1 Pinch of Salt

15g Sugar

125g Plain Flour

Mix the butter until soft (be careful to not make the butter too fluffy, it’s not buttercream!), add the salt and sugar. Slowly add the milk and egg yolk. Mix until it is all combined. Start adding the flour, only folding it in. Towards the end you can use your hands and slightly kneed the flour in. Cover the dough in plastic wrap, leave to settle in the fridge for 2-12 hours.

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For the filling:

15-20g ground Almonds (this is to spread on the base of the tart before you put the fruit in. You could also use Hazelnut)

1 Whole Egg

50g Sugar

75g Cream

1 tsp Flour/Maizena/Custard Powder (your choice, all of them will work)

approx. 100g  Berries (fresh or frozen)

Melted Butter (for greasing the form)

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees celcius. Grease your tart form with melted butter. Roll out the dough no more than 3mm (any thicker and the tart wont bake properly). Lay it inside the form up to the edges while being careful not to stretch the dough. Trim any overhang. With a fork, poke some holes all over the base. This helps reduce any air pockets later. Spread the ground almond over the base and put the berries on top.

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Whip the cream, sugar, egg and thickener of your choice until combined and pour over the berries. Bake for 30-45 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling has thickened. Either serve while it’s hot or enjoy it cold.

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Try this recipe for yourself – hopefully with a bigger form than mine! Let me know how it turned out below.