Exploring Switzerland: Volketswil, Örmis

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Happy Monday! I hope everyone is well and healthy and can somewhat enjoy the quarantine at home, too! We still go out regularly with our dogs so we have the ability to enjoy the warm weather that Switzerland has been showing off with this past weekend. The other day I asked some of my friends / followers (not a large group, but still!) on Instagram whether they had any tips for us regarding where to take the dogs in and around Zurich. After a while, it seems we have walked every path at least twice in our neighborhood and the surrounding 5-10 km.

I also always check out the account from different people on Instagram, including that of Andrea Monica Hug (@andreamonicahug), whom is not just an amazing photographer but also goes for many runs and walks. The other day she went for a walk with her dad to a place that looked absolutley beautiful and one that I really wanted to see. I wrote her asking where this place was and not only did she tell me, but she also sent me a screen shot of google maps to find it easily – thank you so much, Andrea – that was highly appreciated!

My fiancé and dogs loved the walk as much as I did, though, I probably loved it the most (or perhaps second-most after the dogs). I used this time to work on my photography skills a bit again and just enjoy the time with my camera. Here are some of the photos I wanted to share with you. Of course this is after the processing – all done with Lightroom Classic and Lumiar (Skylum Luminar 4 to be precise). What do you think of them?

All photos are shot with the Canon EOS R with the RF 15-35MM F2.8L IS USM lens.

All About Snow Days & Keeping Your Puppy Warm

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All is white, all is bright – it finally snowed in Zurich this week! And not just a little, no – I mean a lot of fluffy powder snow everywhere. I love it and am crossing my fingers that it’ll stay a while!

My friends child stayed home for a few days and some schools in South Germany are even closed due to snow chaos I heard. Sadly, we “adults” don’t get free snow days anymore. Though let’s be honest – most of us would not be rolling around in the snow the full day (at least I wouldn’t). Unless, of course, one can go up the mountain for snow activities.

Zaphira prefers snow much more than rain. Understandably so, I think. And because our almost everyday lunch activity is to play fetch & catch the ball, this was not different with all the snow. I took Zaphira to a small park area nearby where she run around freely. One thing I didn’t think: the snow was actually so high already we several times almost lost the ball in the snow. Of course that is one thing Zaphira does not accept. Thus, she runs around like a maniac trying to find the ball in the snow not caring whether her jumper gets soaked or not. Surely, it did.

Now, for anyone that also has an Italian Greyhound, knows the breed, has a dog of its own with less fur or one that is not used to the cold temperatures – note that even dogs can catch the flu if we (the humans) aren’t watching out for them. Zaphira for example barely has fur and is surely not made for the winter – I don’t think she would survive one winter by herself. So of course she has a little closet (joke) of her own and thus a few outfits to choose from (well, four jumpers/jackets so to speak).

After being all soaked by the snow, however, her shivering could no longer be ignored. This is when I say: be careful. No one, not even a puppy, should be shivering due to the cold. So I took off her jumper immediately, wrapped her up in my jacket – took some amazing cute little selfies (see the photos) – and carried her back to the office so she would be warm. At the office I made her a hot water bottle (yes, she has her own one there). Because she was shaking and shivering a little more than usual, I also cooked up a chicken bouillon (add A LOT of water) and served it to her slightly warm. Trust me: your dog will love you after this – and it has the great benefit of you not having to worry that your pup isn’t drinking enough!

Do you have any other tips or trick of keeping your pup (those that freeze easily) warm after a day out in the snow?

Linzertorte – Daddy’s Birthday Cake Recipe

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Happy belated Birthday via this blog, dad!

Last week was my dads birthday. Since seemingly forever, one of his all-time favorite cakes is the so-called Linzertorte. My mom used to bake it for him every year at least once for his birthday; sometimes just in-between during the winter season. It’s also a traditional Christmas season cake in Germany. This year my dad was in Zurich for his birthday – mom joined, too. Because they arrived the night before his birthday, I decided to bake the cake a day before and surprised him in the morning with it and a lit candle.

Even though I am not the biggest fan of the cake, I must say it did go pretty well. The only thing I would note down for next time – the jam: it was too sweet for my taste. It really is important to find a good jam too add to the layer – or, make one yourself. Perhaps something I can do the next time around. For now, however, I wanted to share the recipe with you.

What you need

250 g soft butter / I used plant-based margarine
200 g brown sugar
2 medium-sized eggs
1 egg yolk
200 g grounded almonds
200 g flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
knife tip of clove powder
250 g of your favorite jam (I used raspberry – the traditional receipe idea)
more flour
coconut oil 

What to do

1) In a large bowl, mix the butter with the eggs and sugar until nice and soft
2) add in the almonds, 200g of flour, cinnamon and clove powder – keep mixing
3) heat up the oven to 180°C 
4) spread coconut oil (best to use a cooking paintbrush) all over the baking tin (diameter around 26 cm)
5) add ⅔ of the dough into the tin, spread it equally and add jam on top of it (leave 2 cm free towards the edge)
6) add in more flour to the ⅓ of dough – so much, until you have a thicker cookie-dough like mixture
7) spread this dough onto transparent film, roughly 0.5 cm high – and place it min. 45min into the fridge
8) once fully cooled down, take out the dough and cut it into long strips, around 1cm wide
9) you’re ready to now place them onto the jam in any weaving-style you want
10) once done, whisk up the egg yolk and brush it onto the dough (this prevents the cake from burning and turning too dark)
11) now off into the oven – 40 min straight baking

E voila – there you have it! You’re (perhaps) first Linzertorte! Actually easier than it looks on the photo, I swear!

Note: I was inspired by the German-written recipe on the Betty Bossi website (though slimmed-down the recipe slightly) – though feel free to check out this one, too!

Wildnispark Zurich – My Sunday Stroll

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Since I have Zaphira in my life I started going for walks so much more; naturally, of course. Yet, I get bored quite easily if the routine hits too hard and seeing the same scenery daily really doesn’t boost my imagination nor creativity. I likewise noticed, sadly enough, that I don’t know Zurich as well as I wish I did. I thus decided to try and find new walking routes at least once a month. This Sunday I started with taking Zaphira to the Wildnespark (Wild Animal Park) in Zurich. It’s really quite the nice walk in autumn – calm, quiet, not too many people but still oh-so-many smells that kept my little fur-friend fascinated at all times. I especially loved that dogs are allowed in the area – at least when kept on the leash. Likewise, there is no entrance fee – which was also nice. The parking (when arriving by car) did cost 10,- Swiss francs; though because this money is used to support the wild park I really didn’t mind the fee (it’s a one-time pay for the whole day). For those that want to go more often, one can also purchase a parking ticked for the whole year (for 100 Swiss francs).

I absolutely loved this new scenery (and loved seeing the Moose!) and will absolutely go back – especially to see the park throughout the different seasons!

Entering and Exploring Malta with a Dog

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There is nothing I love more than traveling – especially when it involves seeing my family and being able to take my puppy, Zaphira, with me. Due to my family living in Malta, as you may know by now, I tend to visit them ever so often. Traveling to Malta with a dog in general is rather easy – even easier, if it‘s a small dog (up to 8kg in weight) that you can take into the plane cabin with you. Zaphira has flown around 3 times with me to Malta already now, and is getting more and more used to plane rides. It calms me to know that she is less panicky now and I do not have to give her any tablets anymore (which I tried in the beginning to calm her down but did not feel was the right thing to do).

When entering Malta with a pet (cat or dog) it is of utmost importance to register the animal prior at the customs. Recently, this process has been simplified and can be done online here.

Likewise, you must see a vet around 3 days prior to entering Malta to confirm the dog is healthy (get a statement of good health) and it must be treated for worms (in the form of a tablet).

Once you arrive at the airport, you will be awaited by the customs to check that the above processes have been done and to verify the mircrochip number with the one entered onto the online form.

Discovering Malta with your dog is fairly easy when it comes to walking through the streets and visiting utmost touristy places. Dogs are allowed in most public spaces, given they are on a leash, and can run freely in certain areas. Yet, although people living in Malta love dogs, many of them are not used to having their dogs play with others. You will notice that they are kept rather tightly on leashes and are often even scared towards other dogs.

When it comes to Restaurants, one wants to call beforehand to see whether dogs are allowed. It seems that some do not allow dogs at all – not even in the outside areas, whilst others offer your dog their own chair to sit at the table with you. The same thing goes for hotels – make sure that you check online or by calling before booking any rooms.

Funnily enough, and in contrast to what we are used to in most other countries in Europe, dogs are allowed in supermarkets. That is, not all dogs. Big dogs usually need to wait outside and are not permitted. In case you have a small dog, however, no one will tell you to leave the dog outside by itself. Simply carry the dog around whilst you go grocery shopping!

The best seasons to visit Malta with you dog is anything from very late summer / early autumn up until mid-spring. Already in April, and most definitely in May, Malta reaches very temperatures already and walking with the dog for outside for hours is almost impossible and surely not recommended. If you don’t want your puppy to melt away in the sun, and likewise if you don’t want to sit around in the shade all day, the summer is not the best time to exploring Malta with any pet (nor without, as most Maltese that have the possibility leave the island as it becomes too hot)!

If any of you have any recommendations of where to best stay with your dog in Malta, do let me know – as I am still in the midst of further exploring the island; of course, with Zaphira. Likewise, I have planned quite a few trips this summer with her and am always looking for new places to explore that are dog-friendly. Up next with Zaphira is Munich! If you wish, I am more than happy to sharing some tips with you after my visit. Until then, I wish you all safe travels wherever you go! Xo