Don’t I Know It, Sister

10/31/2008

This milkman’s truck was the first thing I saw thins morning coming out on the street from the apartment in Brussels. Apparently, this particular milk delivery service favours French language. That *is* an issue in Belgium, you know.


Photo by dr. fil the cat; click to enlarge

Sestavi vlado

10/28/2008

Izzivam vas, da odgrnete svoje kristalne krogle, se zagledate globoko vanje (ali v oči Boruta Pahorja, kar vam je ljubše) in poskusite uganiti sestavo nove slovenske vladne ekipe.

Kakšno bo število članov vlade? Koliko bo “neministrskih” mest in kako se bodo imenovala? Kdo jih bo zasedal? Kako bodo resorji razdeljeni med stranke? Koliko konkretnih imen si upate napovedati na posameznih ministrskih stolčkih?

Pobiram vladne stave :-)

Kdor bo najbolj približal balinček, bo dobil nagrado. (res)

Se bo kdo opogumil?

Eighty Eight

10/27/2008

Vse najboljše, babi!

Grandma Cvetka

This was the first photo I took with my Niki a year and a half ago, but my grandmother still looks exactly the same. It seems as if by magic, but she claims that it isn’t creams and lotions, but rather the work she does around the house, which keeps her in shape. She, does, however, love to use cosmetics and dress up. Never for the sake of others, but because it makes her feel good and because she deserves it. Way to go, babi!

Happy 88th! And many happy returns.

Courgettatious Muffins (zucchini, chocolate, walnuts)

10/26/2008

As one my wonderful new friends here in Luxembourg was throwing a house-warming party, I decided to take my chances and test the oven at the apart hotel I’m staying at. Apparently, the oven was only used once. That was by another guest four years ago and it was a disaster in more was than one, so it has been off-limits ever since. However, the owner was kind enough to let me talk him into allowing me to attempt to use it. With utmost care of course. I must say that the oven and myself got along quite well and as it was cooperative, here comes the result.

What sets these muffins apart is the grated zucchini (courgette), which makes them nicely moist and allows them to keep fresh longer. Not that this particular batch had to wait too long, but good to know. They also freeze well.

Ingredients for 12 muffins:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (courgette)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chopped up dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

Combine the egg, oil, milk, lemon juice and vanilla; mix well.

Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in zucchini, chocolate chips and walnuts.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 180°C (350°F) for 20-25 minutes.

The  entire batch (save the one I left at home for the owner of the apart hotel as agreed) held its own against other foods at the party. They were gone soon enough and received several rather favourable reviews, so I do believe I will be making more of them shortly. I may decide to make them in the miniature muffin models the next time, however, as they’re obviously too large as snacks and we ended up cutting them into pieces.

With thanks to Janet for the original, only slightly adapted recipe.

Strength of a Woman

Today, these girls put such a big smile on my face. And they made me remember all about the ‘strength of a woman’.

Thanks and… More power to you!

Simply beautiful.

Smeh je pol zdravja :)

The final stretch…

…so close… slowly, but surely, straight to…

…victory!

Way to go, girl!!!

I couldn’t have put it better myself, so here comes Shaggy…

Pumpkin Soup – the 1002nd way of doing it

10/22/2008

Not really sure if this is due to it being October, a slight case of nostalgia for a certain very hot pumpkin soup I recently had, being sick and my body crying out for extra vitamins or just the fact that my heart skipped a beat when I saw an irresistibly orange slice sitting invitingly all alone in the front row of our store’s vegetable stand, but I decided on pumpkin soup for dinner.

Having done some web research I found that there must be as many ways of preparing this dish as there are cooks in the world. Subtract those who stick to the best recipe devised by one of their maternal-line ancestors. At least, everyone seems to agree that the end result is delicious and healthy. Apparently, pumpkin is a good source of vitamins and minerals, particularly beta-carotene, vitamin C, and potassium and helps prevent arterosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, which can lead to strokes and/or heart attacks.

I don’t know about any of that, I just know that Lisa still owes me her own best recipe and that I wanted pumpkin soup. 

I simply cut it up into small pieces, added a small amount of water (an unorthodox move, I’ll get smashed for not having used soup) and let it simmer for some 20 minutes, stirring and mashing in between with a fork. Remembered that I rather like onions and garlic so chopped a shallot and two cloves of garlic and added into the pot. Simmered for a while longer, mashing the pumpkin bits more and more with that fork. Added pepper, salt and basil. Turned off the heat and added some vinegar (don’t ask… I like vinegar!) Turned out yummy! To me, at least. Then again, I was not cooking for Her Majesty. Incidentally, I do like her new horse.

Please note: this is not, I repeat, not the best pumpkin soup ever. It may not even be very good. I suppose most would like to add a potato and/or a carrot as well as sour cream or at least some milk. It did the trick for me, though. Vinegar and all. Although I must confess to having taken a sip of the walnut brandy procured at the Vianden nut festival and to having been exposed to my rediscovered grandson’s palaverous take on the Queen’s visit to Slovenia and the implications of the widely-discussed dinner reception. 

I Envy the Queen of England…

I Envy the Queen of England, but only today, as she is visiting the greatest place on Earth. See BBC’s note.


People waiting in front of the hotel in hopes of catching a glimpse of Royalty. (Source)

(all other photos by dr. fil)


Prešeren Square


Pr’Fotru on Trubarjeva street


Ljubljana fish market leading to the open-air market


View from (and of, sort of) Šmarna gora

A few bits from the Queen’s speech at the state banquet in Ljubljana, Slovenia, 21 October 2008

The Slovenian state may be young, but her people have made a rich contribution to the life of Europe, in arts, science and letters.  One important symbol of Slovenia, with deep and colourful historical roots, is of course the Lipizzaner horse which originated here.  Tomorrow, Prince Philip and I will visit Lipica to learn more about a breed which has been prized for centuries in stables across the continent and with which Slovenia so strongly identifies itself.

Contacts between our two nations go back many centuries.  In 1687, your great scientist and historian Janez Valvasor was elected to our Royal Society for his contributions to our understanding of the natural world.  In recent years we have lent his name to a scholarship scheme for Slovenian students in the United Kingdom.

(snip)

I must also mention the long-standing affection of British visitors for the Julian Alps, which dates back to the beginnings of Slovenian tourism in the 1920s. Winter and summer, British visitors continue to come here to admire the beauty of your mountains, forests and lakes and to enjoy the warmth and generosity of Slovenian hospitality.  What is more, growing numbers of British people are making a second home in Slovenia.

So it goes…

Worlds Apart…

10/21/2008

…and yet so close

(click to enlarge)

all photos by dr. filomena

Real Slovenia: Those Prices Again

10/20/2008

Looking for another draft, I came across this text which I’d written for my employer, GBD Real Estate. Even though I am momentarily not involved with real estate (but still recommend GBD to anyone interested in real estate in Slovenia!) I’ve had several interesting discussions over the past few days.

A large piece of land in an interesting location for a substantial investment was put up for auction by the City of Ljubljana today and despite a significantly reduced price, there were no bidders. None whatsoever. Click here to hear/see the story in Slovenian (courtesy of Radio Kaos). Good location, reasonable price, would have been gone in a heartbeat not too long ago. Has the City made a mistake by offering it for sale too late? Possibly not. The City has made some lucrative deals and holding on to this particular plot of land, though it may lay heavy in the City’s hands and on its books, will not translate to a disaster. The event does, however, reflect the changing situation on the Slovenian real estate market.

I still do not expect any bubbles bursting at the speed and with the sound of the great overseas balloons, but with buyers either convinced that prices will be further slashed or unable to secure loans because of the rising interest rates and/or job insecurity, the times ahead will pose a challenge to investors, builders, sellers, buyers and lenders alike. I would a venture a guess that the only ones sitting pretty are those few whose business consists of quality-service rental properties.

It will be most interesting to see the development by the end of Summer 2009. Even here in Luxembourg, property prices  are on the decline and that’s saying something. Hold on, everyone!

Published on 8 April 2008:

Are they bound to decline?

Lately, clients have been asking for our predictions regarding prices of real estate in Slovenia, particularly in Ljubljana where the growth has been exceeding expectations for years.

Marko Puschner of Slonep reports that the Surveying and Mapping Authority of the Republic of Slovenia will publish its report on the price trends in late May 2008. The report was due in March, but some glitches in data collection occurred.

In view of extensive new development in Ljubljana and surroundings we believe older properties are unlikely continue to appreciate with the same pace and the prices of properties close in the greater Ljubljana area have grown so much over the recent years that the trend is not likely to continue in absence of substantial changes in Slovenian economy.

The growing real estate prices were accompanied by a growing sector of real estate loans which, as an example, grew by 71.5 per cent in 2005. The share of real estate loans in the debt of the Slovenian population with banks increased from one tenth in 2004 to 67 per cent in 2005 alone. (source: Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development of the Republic of Slovenia)

The properties most likely to retain their current value and increase it over time although probably not at the same rate as in the past, are those in the most sought-after locations and high-quality new constructions.

Čolnarček z Ljubljanice potrebuje tvoj glas

Čolnarčkova pot je projekt Združenja staršev in otrok SEZAM, nevladne organizacije, ki skrbi za različne želje in potrebe staršev in otrok. Poleg varstva, inštrukcij ter pomoči družinam s telesno in duševno prizadetimi otroki pa je Sezam tudi inkubator, generator, spodbujevalec in promocijski center za vse nove ideje, pobude staršev, študentov in zunanjih sodelavcev, predvsem umetnikov in pedagogov.

Pod njegovim okriljem se izvaja turistični proizvod za otroke, imenovan Čolnarčkova pot. Čolnarčkovo pot, ki so jo zasnovale tri etnologinje in kulturne antropologinje, je bila podprta s strani Mestne občine Ljubljana ter Zavoda za turizem Ljubljana, sodeluje pa tudi v Banki turističnih priložnosti Slovenije.

Čolnarčkova pot je animacijski program za otroke na turistični ladjici, ki vozi po reki Ljubljanici in na inovativen način vključuje dediščino ljubljanskih čolnarjev v turistični proizvod. Otroke na plovbi po reki namesto klasičnega vodiča spremlja lik Čolnarja Matije. Med 45 minut trajajočo vožnjo čolnar Matija pripoveduje otrokom zgodbo iz ‘svojih starih čolnarskih časov’. Zgodba temelji na različnih legendah, mitih in drobcih iz življenja ljubljanskih čolnarjev ter reke Ljubljanice in se ujema z lokacijami, mimo katerih pluje ladjica z otroki. Pripoved je ponazorjena tudi s predmeti, ki so bili del čolnarskega življenja in se ves čas prilagaja zanimanju in koncentraciji otrok, ki so v pripoved tudi živo vključeni (interaktivnost). Ob pristanku dobijo otroci ilustrirano brošuro s križankami, pesmicami, kvizom in ugankami iz življenja ljubljanskih čolnarjev. Slikanica služi kot turistični spominek, hkrati pa predstavlja alternativo klasičnim učnim listom. V slikanici otroci lahko na zabaven način preverijo, kaj so si zapomnili iz plovbe po reki.

preberi več…

Zdaj pa k bistvu – Čolnarček je nominiran za nagrado Slovenske turistične organizacije Sejalec. Podporo izvirnemu projektu, ki razveseljuje otroke, medtem ko se pridno učijo o preteklosti in kulturni dediščini svojega okolja, lahko izkažete tako, da glasujete zanj.

Klikni in glasuj, s čolnarčkom zapluj!

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