This week I am…

IMG_5025

…mesmerized by this colorful natural phenomenon.

…meeting new people (this is how they’ll size me up).

…earmarking this “outfit meets book” for future reference.

…scrolling through this stereotype-shattering slideshow.

…trying this lighter take on a Southern dessert staple.

…sharing this article with my superhero friends (ahem, working mothers).

…salivating over this home. Holy wallpaper!

IMG_5055Did you have a nice weekend? We enjoyed the quaint “Fete de Geneve” parade.

 

Happy Swiss National Day

IMG_3377

This Saturday is Switzerland’s National Holiday, so I’ve rounded up my favorite photos from the past ten months of living in this beautiful country. (Spoiler: Switzerland looks good from every angle.) I may only have a visa, but I’m a proud Swiss resident and feel fortunate to experience what makes this part of the world truly special. Hop Suisse! Hopp Schwiiz! Forza Svizzera! 

IMG_3432IMG_3295IMG_3431IMG_3329IMG_3319IMG_3071IMG_3001IMG_3543IMG_3519IMG_1889

IMG_188510351475_836803611790_1001723943494107315_n10881833_836803691630_7079482638934440842_n14388_10102621496975868_7407411146664730281_n1531561_829627173430_5585660211118040640_nIMG_344610417578_10102396661318328_549134473303405467_nIMG_4912IMG_4883IMG_4866IMG_4454IMG_3500If you are interested in celebrating Swiss National Day in the States, apparently there are celebrations in New York City, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. If you do not live near any celebrations I’d recommend watching Heidi over some raclette …but for now, a few links:

Once in a blue moon

A strawberry over Thailand.

A strawberry moon over Thailand.

Throughout my life, my mother has always known what phase the moon is in–waxing, waning, full, new, strawberry. It’s a fun hobby of sorts that I’ve come to adopt as well. There is not much to it besides checking an almanac, but once you start doing it, you will find yourself looking at your life more and more in moon phases. Beginnings and endings. Starting over. Clean slates.

Which is far easier than waiting for New Year’s Eve to make resolutions and changes.

A honey moon over Yosemite.

A honey moon over Yosemite.

You’ve got to acknowledge the moon has some pull. Some gravitational pull. The ocean tides are ruled by it. Crime spikes. Hospitals are busier on full moon nights, my friends in medicine say. Some believe getting married on a new or waxing moon is good for the marriage (we got married on a new moon!). It’s no coincidence we call the newlywed phase a honeymoon period.

A harvest moon over Ontario.

A harvest moon over Ontario.

The moon has taken on new meaning for me since moving thousands of miles away from friends and family. Not to be sappy, but I love looking up at a gorgeous full moon in the night sky and thinking about what my stateside friends will see. It’s something everyone can share.

And this Friday night, we’re in for another treat. A rare blue moon.

A blood moon over San Francisco.

A hunter’s moon over San Francisco.

The phrase “once in a blue moon” came about because a blue moon only occurs once every two or three years. The term refers to an “extra” full moon–when there are 13 full moons instead of 12 in the calendar year. There are usually three full moons for each of the four seasons, so when there is an extra moon in one season (like this summer) it is applied to the second full moon in the same month. The last blue moon was in August 2012 and the next will be in January 2018.

Blue moon over New York City in 2012.

A blue moon over New York City in 2012.

Don’t forget to look for the blue moon tomorrow night…but for now, a few links:

My expat shopping list

When I lived in the States you couldn’t pay me enough to spend a precious Saturday afternoon at Costco, stocking up on bargain-sized products. These days, my husband and I daydream of going to such a super store and filling an oversized cart with all the things we miss back in the States. We even keep a running shopping list–which has become so long at this point, we’re going to need an extra suitcase just to haul it all back to the Alps. The list includes:

5840_Large

Not to be a total stereotype, but we love peanut butter! We’ve only found off-brand, sugary versions at our local “American store” for about 18 francs. Quel scandale!

0074759961374_A

Does the land of chocolate have chocolate chips? Nope. I love California’s own Ghiradelli.

tidetogopen

Maybe it’s the lack of BBQ sauce, but the Swiss don’t seem to need Tide To Go pens. We do.

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 20: Various hot sauce brands are photographed in New York, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (Photo by Damon Dahlen, Huffington Post) *** Local Caption ***

While we’re on the subject of BBQ…hot sauce! At least the Swiss have Tabasco and Siracha.

00644209793471_full

We love our ‘Pancake Saturdays,’ but cannot find a true syrup in Switzerland.

trader-joes-brand

Trader Joe’s brand products! Any and all. I wonder if I could open a branch here…

11971208

Classic Steno Pads for reporting. Surprisingly difficult to find here.

The list gets more cerebral as it goes on…(affordable pedicures, my mother’s linguine with clams, margaritas from El Chucho)…but I don’t want to bore you! While in the States in January, we reconnected with friends living in various other countries and compared expat shopping lists–it’s fascinating to me what is difficult to find in some countries and not in others. What is on your expat shopping list? If you moved, what would you miss?

The path not taken

5810531770_52c434eee0_o

While on a power walk around my neighborhood last week, an impeccably dressed older woman on a bicycle flagged me down. Seeing a Swiss person smiling and waving is something new for me, so I slowed my roll and pulled out my Beyoncé-blasting earphones.

Bonjour! Bonjour! She spoke quickly in French of which I only caught “marching” and “beautiful.” I must have had a puzzled look on my face, because she moved into English.

“I saw you walking here so beautifully and said to myself ‘she must be a classical ballet dancer.’ The way you carry your body . Like a ballerina,” she said, mimicking me and holding up her chin.

I was taken aback.

I am not a ballerina, but I took ballet for years. Obsessively. I danced all over the house. I did pirouettes on recess. I walked only on my toes. But I realized in high school I was probably not going pro, so I put away my tights. I joined the tennis team and focused on getting into college.

5809967569_fc8d3b9e05_o

Of course, my passion for ballet did not die.

So, to hear this Swiss woman asking me (at 30) if I was a ballerina was like hearing my deepest, most-treasured desire come to life. The greatest of compliments. Somewhere inside, a 14-year-old, leotard-clad me was beaming.

I assume we all have some secret, far-fetched career desire. The path not taken. To become a professional baseball player, rock star or actor. Since the ballet industry is incredibly competitive and youth-driven I remember thinking when I quit why did I waste so much time on that? 

In the years since, I’ve come to realize that these dreams–fulfilled or not–are part of the human experience. The belief that you could become anything is a blessing that comes with being a child. These dreams both keep us up at night and teach us discipline. They buoy the soul and ignite imagination. The countless hours I spent pointing and plié-ing were not wasted.

After all, I’ve got ballet to thank for my posture.
5809967641_bd1fca91b8_oWhat is your path not taken? Or are you still chasing one?

If you dreamed of tutus and toe shoes like me, you might find this documentary thrilling (or this documentary, starring Bakersfield’s own ballerina Tiler Peck). Meanwhile, enjoy these links:

This Week I am…

IMG_2950…loving this reality check on the “marriage by numbers” debate.

…celebrating this small feat for an artist I’ve been following for years.

…booking a trip to one of these secret European villages.

…marveling at this bizarre trend. (Is the President even more charming than I realized?)

raising caring kids…well, someday I am.

…stealing these simple interior design tricks.

polishing my ponytail for fall.

…sharing another “state-by-state guide to…” with my US friends. This time, fictional celebrities.

IMG_2949

Did you have a cool weekend? The Swiss heat wave broke for a summer storm. Heavenly.

I want to go to there…

goodwp.com_28495

…the Italian Riviera. Now that I’ve been to the French Riviera (and I’m smitten), I’d like to visit the Italian stretch of dramatic coastline where the Maritime Alps meet the Mediterranean Sea.

riomaggiore-fishing-village-in-liguria

It seems that while the French Riviera attracted the great writers of the 1920s like F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Italian Riviera had all the hype in the 1820s. This colorful northwestern part of Italy has attracted writers such as Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and his wife Mary Shelley. They stayed in Lerici Bay so often that it was renamed “The Gulf of Poets.” (In fact, Percy drowned swimming here). Of course, there are many more reasons to visit this part of the world beyond seeing where Frankenstein’s creator liked to summer.

Cliffs-and-villages-of-the-Cinque-Terre-and-the-Italian-Riviera-Italy

If you have time, visit all of the Riviera. Otherwise, choose between the eastern side–for scenery and glamour–or the western side–for beaches and swimming. It is highly recommended to stay in San Remo (which is almost on the border of France it is so far west), considered the best of both worlds. I’d probably fly in and out of the port city Genoa and venture out to different areas. Genoa’s architecture is reason enough to make a trip. Outstanding cuisine is the second reason.

Genoa.3

Or take the train an hour east to the picturesque and tranquil fishing village of Vernazza.

wedding-in-italian-riviera

Now usually I’m one to rent an apartment or camp to see expensive, beautiful places, but I don’t think I could venture to Vernazza without spending the night in La Malà Hotel. The serene, all-white interiors are the perfect compliment to the water views and stone walls the ocean hugs.

kim_olson_la_mala_room_blog_4510

kim_olson_la_mala_room_view_blog_4581_99

As far as packing for a place with such a colorful coast, I’m thinking clean lines and neutrals:

A9113_WN2294Madewell Panama Hat

5644084105_6_1_1

Zara Sleeveless Dressb40c74065c1d9d992f298d26dead2354

Marysia Mott Swimsuit

EG4527-0000

K. Jacques Sandals (worn them every day this summer!)_8627897

Mar y Sol Caracas Beach Bag

Novel that takes place on Italy's Riviera

Novel that takes place on Italy’s Riviera

Wishing you sun-drenched travel wanderlust for the weekend…but for now, a few links: