Thursday, September 23, 2010

Falling in love with Fall

I'm becoming quite giddy as the fall season begins to blow through southern Texas. It's always a good sign when you begin to see the trees shedding their leaves. That's a cue that summer is about over and with a snap of a finger autumn will be making a grand enterance shortly. It's something I've become accustomed to while living in Texas over these past few years. The seasons change literally overnight. One day you have a beautiful spring afternoon and the next you wake up to a hot and humid day that lingers on and on and on. I haven't met anyone yet who has shouted for joy over a Texas summer. I believe once you experience one you'll understand why I feel like a hostage taking refuge in my air conditioned home for nearly 3 months. Summers in Houston are much worse than back in Austin. I thought Austin was hot but it's nothing like Houston. I consider it my hibernation season and with any hibernation it is no wonder I begin to pack on a few unwanted pounds like a hibernating mama bear. However, now that the weather is about to start cooperating I can begin to shed them off on the tennis courts and greenbelts.

I can't wait to start jogging the greenbelts again. I've managed to drag myself unwillingly on them during the past few weeks. Only to arrive back home exhausted and drenched from the terrible humid blanket that covers the city (and that's early in the morning). You know it's going to be hot day when the windows are sweating and it's only 6 am. I can't wait to actually take advantage of exercising outdoors. I'm hate exercising indoors. We had a membership to a great athletic club but they shut down in May after selling the property to an investor group. They had been in business nearly 30 years. I wish they hadn't closed the doors because it was a fabulous club. It had three pools, 10 tennis courts, spinning classes, yoga, aerobics, weight rooms, racket ball courts, etc. Now I try to get at least 50 minutes of cardio on my exercise bike that is crammed in the corner of my office. My office is jam packed with decorating books, sewing machine (that hardly is used), sample binders (from my project manager days), and two massive rolled up Persian rugs. I feel like a trapped hamster running on a wheel rather than exercising. It's not the same experience at all.

Oh yes, I can't wait for the next cold front. They say on the news it'll be arriving this weekend. In the evenings it'll actually be in the 60's. THE 60's!!! I can't even think back to when I actually felt that cool without basking under the AC.

Not only does fall represent cooler weather but it is also when the arts start up again. I've already received the line up for the Houston Opera, Symphony, and Ballet. I can't wait!!! My husband on the other hand can't wait to attend the first hockey game of the season. He loves the Dallas Stars. What are some of the things that you are looking forward to this season?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bern ~ part two

Before we continue our tour through Switzerland I wanted to share with you a few more sights. Bern is truly an amazing city and there is so much to see. I could spend an entire week taking in the sights in this single location. Let's take another day and stroll through Bern before heading to the Swiss Alps.

One of my very favorite things to do while visiting in Europe is to SHOP!!! They have so many wonderful little shops that carry really unique things that I can't always find in the states. That's what makes the shopping so special.

One of the popular areas to shop in Bern is called Gerechtigkeitsgasse (aka: Justice Alley). It's located in the Old City of Bern. The Old City is where the medieval city center is located and also considered the heart of the inner city. Located in Gerechtigkeitsgasse is a famous fountain called, Lady of Justice.

The Gerechtigkeitsgasse cannot be reached by car without a special permit. It is accessible by foot or bike or by bus line. Both sides of the street are covered with Lauben, stone arcades that protect pedestrians from inclement weather.

Another famous attraction is the Pfeiferbrunnen. It was built in 1545 by the Swiss Renaissance sculptor Hans Gieng. The lovely woodcut Bagpiper originally stood in front of the Gasthaus hotel. The Bagpiper's fingers were damaged during a renovation but thankfully were repaired in 1874. The fountain was relocated from its original spot between Ryffli-and Storchengässchen and can be found in its current location in front of Spitalgasse.

Bern is home to several museums. There are two that I would love to tour, Naturhistorisches, Historisches Museum Bern, and Kunstmuseum Bern. They even have a Swiss Alps Museum. How cool is that?!!!

Barry is a famous Alpine Rescue Dog. A group of monks in St. Bernard's monestary in the alps used bi dogs to help them. These dogs were various big dogs who bred for many many years, resulting in today's St. Bernard. It is named for St. Bernard's Monestary. You can find Barry at the Naturhistorisches Museum.

Remember, Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen, founded the city and named it after a bear he had killed. The Bear is a symbol of the city.

Look at this fabulous Bear park. It's called Bären Park and it's huge!!! The new park opened in 2009 and was specially designed for the bears. It has caves and all. The bears are very well taken care of. You can become a fan by following them on facebook. They post current pictures of the bears.

Look at that adorable face.

You know how much I love to read about historical places. I read that this is a tiny cafe where Albert Einstein use to frequent while living in Bern (between 1902 to 1909).


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bern, Switzerland

Today we are going to be traveling to Switzerland's capital city, Bern. German is the official language of Bern. The language is called Alemannic dialect, Bernese German. However, most residents speak both. English and French are also fairly spoken, but to a lesser extent. There are numerous spellings of Bern deciding on the language. German pronunciation is Bern; French is Berne; Italian is Berna; and Romansh is Berna.

Bern is one of the most popular cantons in Switzerland and was ranked among the world's top ten cities for the best quality of life.

Bern was founded by Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen, founded the city on the Aare river in 1191 and allegedly named it after a bear (Bär in German) he had killed. It was made a free imperial city by the Holy Roman Emperor Federick II in 1918 after Berthold died without an heir. In 1352 Bern joined the young Swiss Confederation becoming a leading member of the confederation. It invaded and conquered Aargau in 1415 and Vaud in 1536, as well as other smaller territories, thereby becoming the largest city-state north of the Alps. It was occupied by French troops in 1798 during the French Revolutionary Wars, when it was stripped of parts of its territories. In 1831 the city became the capital of the Canton of Bern and in 1848 it additionally became the Swiss capital.

A statue of Berthold in Berne.

The Swiss parliament and government building, the Bundeshaus, with its imposing green dome, stands high above the Aare river in the capital, Bern. It has become so much of a landmark that it is hard to imagine what the city skyline looked like before it was there. But the building was only completed in 1902.

The Münster of Bern is the Gothic cathedral. Over the main portal is one of the most
complete Late Gothic sculpture collections in Europe. This collection represents the Christian belief in a Last Judgment where the wicked will be separated from the righteous. This sculpture shows the wicked naked on the left, while the righteous stand clothed in white on the right. In the center is Justice, with Saints and the wise and foolish virgins around her. In the center stands Micheal the Archangel with a raised sword.

The sculptures of the Last Judgement were the only statues in the Münster to survive the iconoclasm of the Protestant Reformation. The 47 large free-standing statues are replicas (the originals are in the Bern History Museum), and the 170 smaller figures are all original. The Last Judgement was the work of one sculptor, Erhard Küng from Stadtlohn, Westphalia, which gives the collection a unity of design.

Zytgloggeturn is the oldest building and is now the focal point of the city. The oversized clock is one of the biggest attractions in Bern. It was built in the 12th century!!! And the tower still plays a puppet show precisely four minutes before the hour. How amazing.

Rathaus is the oldest city structure is now a government office. This gorgeous building serves as the meeting place of the Bern Municipal Council. It was built during the beginning of the 15th century and has been renovated over the years. Tourist can visit and take walking tours and see medieval artifacts and antiques scattered throughout the building.

The Nydeggbrucke is a stone arch bridge that hovers over the famous Aare River. The scenery is out of this world with a beautiful blue crystal water and lush forests. Bern looks as if it were in a fairytale.

After taking in the sites you might want to sit down and indulge in Swiss cuisine at the famous underground restaurant, Kornhausskeller. Absolutely stunning!!!

Did you know that Albert Einstein lived in Bern? Tourist can visit his apartment where he published his "Special Theory of Relativity." Wow, I would leap at the opportunity to see Einstein's home.

This is a very unique post because I recently was researching my ancestry and found out that my great, great, great, great grandfather was born and raised in Bern. I had no clue we had any connections to Switzerland. My family, both sides, are both very German. This relative is the furthest back I can trace. I wonder where he lived in Bern?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Just fuss'n.....

Could someone PAH-LEEZ explain how this little bag could ring up to $80.00?!!!

I'm sorry but I just don't see $80.00 worth of product here.

This afternoon I stopped by Hallmark to pick up a Birthday gift for my baby nephew (he likes Webkinz). Since I was already there I thought I would browse and pick up a few things for myself. When the clerk rang me up I was shocked at the total. I had to check the receipt twice before I left the store. Not that I didn't want to return anything but gosh golly that seems a lot for what I was walking out with. I wouldn't call myself an impulse shopper. I'm not one you would find roaming around the store searching for nothing (that would be my sister). My weakness are antiques. I probably wouldn't have notice the $80.00 total if I were at an antique shop BUT HALLMARK?!!! I'll have to be more cautious when shopping there. Is there a store that you find yourself scratching your head as you ask yourself, "what on earth did I buy?"

Here are my top five:

1.) Obviously Hallmark.

2.) Costco

3.) Whole Foods - Rule #1: Never shop at Whole Foods when you're hungry.

4.) Hobby Lobby

5.) Target

Yes, these five stores seem to do me in every trip. What are some of yours?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mignon Faget Drawer Liners

Just wanted to share with y'all a new product I'm madly in love with. I just received my drawer liner from Mignon Faget It's wonderful!!! You can purchase your liner in rose or lavender scented. I have the rose and it smells awesome. The material is really sturdy but looks very elegant. I love this one so much that I'm ordering another and thought I would purchase a few for Christmas gifts this year. Just thought I'd share a quick review.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Southern Style

It's a Southern Thing Y'all