Tag Archives: parenting

“Little leaders. Visionary women around the world” by Vashti Harrison

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I do not know if I bought the book for my kid or for myself. Never mind, we both loved it.

The stories of little leaders are well documented. The bios of are filled with factual information in an easily accessible language. A glossary helps understanding some concepts, which could be new for young readers.

We learned a lot about women and girls who had the courage to go beyond and above what was considered “normal” for the times and societies they lived in. Like the story of Fatima Al-Fihri who funded and created in year 859 in Morocco the first degree granting institution in the world, as a precursor for universities. Or Peggy Guggenheim, the art collector who saved modern art pieces, which would have been otherwise destroyed by the nazi regime. Or the work of Sister Corita Kent who used serigraphs to spread bold messages of love and peace.

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Merci Hoerdt

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Merci Hoerdt

for your Celebration of Asparagus

150 years ago a priest had the idea of celebrating the plant.

Since then, each year farmers open their farm gates to visitors in May in the Alsatian village of Hoerdt, north of Strasbourg.

Local cafes and restaurants offer all sorts of dishes inspired by asparagus. We tried asparagus velouté, quiche and salads at Cafe Creme, a family- run and family-welcoming business.

The celebration culminated with a procession headed by Miss and Mister Asparagus, the villagers elect the night before.

Hoerdt is a charming village to spend an afternoon, when touring Alsace and the region.

A birthday experience: cakes and more.

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For my birthday this year I wanted a new family experience around something we all love. And that is easy to choose. We are all into cakes and making a cake by learning from a French pâtissier in France sounded just right.

I chose Atelier de Yann in Colmar, Alsace. It is a multi concept store: boutique factory, tea time, ateliers de patisserie, opened in 2015 by Yann Navarro, maitre pâtissier, chocolatier. And it was a perfect choice. The first word which came to my mind to describe this place and the service is i m p e c a b l e from the registration to the class to the unboxing of the products of our hands at home. I am very happy to note how client-oriented are the owner and staff, something of a gem in France. I notice it when I encounter it. I am grateful that they adapted to the presence of my kid, in a workshop otherwise designed for adults. In fairness, she has better self-management and dexterity than many adults I know.

The class was conducted by Yann, the owner of the place. We navigated through the stages of the Succès Pistache & Framboises, under his patient and humble guidance. We all felt at ease with maneuvering, matching and spoiling, tasting and mixing, taste and quantity balancing, regardless of the age and level of baking skills. Now the pastry bag has no more secrets from me. I also loved that we could each manifest our own creativity at the decorating stage without being bound by French pastry rigors. And there are many.

We left with a sense of great satisfaction as all our questions were answered with the clarity of a great master and the generosity of the host manifested tiny yet significant details of the true hospitality.

It inspired us to share the experience with friends over a cup of coffee. No that we could not devour the three cakes at once.

We will no doubt come back for more and warmly recommend this temple of nurturing the love for French pastry, with our best wishes of success and prosperity to Yann and his team! If I would award Michelin stars, one would certainly go to Atelier de Yann.

The sweetness of grandmother-granddaughter talk

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In a doctor’s waiting room, a very talkative grandmother tries to get her granddaughter’s attention. The 15 year old tries to read. The dialogue goes like this:

– You can read your book at home.

– I can read and listen to you at the sane time, grandmother. I finally learned how to do it.

– You can keep your book. In my younger days, I was reading books all night long. I was 18.

– I am 15, grandmother.

– You can still read your book at home. What’s in you backpack?

– School things.

– Look at this! The grandmother seems surprised by the way the girl’s colorful backpack is made.

She then goes on about the lost value of Christmas, her neighbor crazy driving, religious tolerance … .

The appointment was for the young lady. I thought “How sweet! The grandmother accompanied her grandchild!” I almost wished she would never stop talking. I wished she would turn to me to get me to listen while waiting for her granddaughter to come out of the doctor’s office.

Then I got it. It’s their special thing: a 85 year old grandmother – 15 year old granddaughter dialogue, tune, reverberation.

Here is to all sweet grandmothers-granddaughters joy of sharing!

Violence: the unspoken, the unnotice

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Today is the International Day to Stop the Violence against Women. Campaigns and signs of solidarity are all over the internet.

I think about my family’s history. And the history of so many families touched by violence.

– He gave me a slap on my face, only once, was one of my grandmother’s recollection if her 35 years of marriage, shortened by the war and grandfather’s early departure.

By her world standards, this was a violence-free marriage. In a rural soviet medium, violence was omni-present yet unspoken. It was seen on women faces and bodies, yet left unnoticed. By the church, by the community… .

My grandmother knew nothing about human rights or Conventions. Yet, she gave me the strength to never accept any act of violence be it mental or physical. She gave it to me by the belief that she is always by my side.

As a child I witnessed violence in the soviet illusion of violence free communities. You got quickly to see that the ideal family projected on the soviet propaganda TV was in stark contrast with the reality. What women who suffered quietly needed was to know that there is someone by their side. They still need it today.

On days of campaigns like this, I ask myself: what can I do? Can I be someone by their side? Can we be someone by their side? So that they find the strength they need to live the life they deserve as human beings.

Thank you Wien

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for a wonderful and sweet time with friends and family,

staying true to kids-friendliness and all the fun which goes together,

creating royal experiences at Kinder Museum in Schönbrunn with lots of fun for both kids and adults,

your tour train to keep us dry on a rainy morning in the Schönbrunn Park,

gorgeous Gloriette, where Maria Theresa – the only female ruler of Habsburgs, used to have breakfast,

the Sunny afternoon for the Zoo visit and all the delights of meeting cute koala, panda, a baby elephant, baby zebra, my fave pink flamingos and the rest of the rich animal world in the oldest zoo in the world,


a brief hide and seek moment under generous tree branches,

the treasures of the Natural History museum: the 29500 old statue of Venus, huge dinosaur skeletons, largest turtle in the world and many other interactive and child friendly features. And for getting a dinosaur roaring  to my face. Scared of nothing now 🙂

the gorgeous Belvedere and coffee&cake with friends to celebrate Sofia and friendship

and a small pink print for Vienna – street art by Sofia: