Sunday, November 30, 2008

Late-Night Snack...

I made some popcorn a little while ago. It's not something I make very often, but I had a real taste for it tonight. And I'm not talkin' none of that air-popped crap! No-sir-eeeee! I poured some vegetable oil in a pot, threw in about a cup of kernels, and gave it a shake every now and then. Not only that, but I also doused it in melted butter and gave it a good BAM! of sea salt.

It was da-AMN good!

I crunched away on it while I spoke to Mrs. TBF who was crunching away on some Fritos at her mom's house. A beautiful moment, indeed. However, I have to admit that I was a bit jealous of the fact that Mrs. TBF was getting to enjoy the sacred Fritos.

Mmmmmm, Fritos! Llllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!*

But I'm not complaining. Really! Popcorn on a Sunday night is a pretty darn good snack. I am wondering about one thing, however:

Can I use bacon grease for popping popcorn?

Just askin'.

*simulated angelic singing

Fending For Myself...

Mrs. TBF and I buy our eggs from a local farm. We walk there (a couple of miles), pick out our organic eggs, drop the money into the mailbox, Mrs. TBF says "...thanks, girls!", and then we walk back home.

Aren't we just the greenest people you know? I mean, no car, walking to a local farm to buy organic eggs...

OK...I guess we're not really that green. But, we're trying!

So the best thing about these (in my opinion, overpriced) eggs is that Mrs. TBF uses them to make me an omelet every Sunday morning. Let me correct that: every Sunday morning when she is here.

This morning? She was in Chicago.

It's been a long time since I actually had to make an omelet myself on Sunday morning, but I managed...


It wasn't half-bad, but it definitely wasn't as good as the ones Mrs. TBF makes for me. Also, I didn't even think about the bacon (in the freezer) until the first forkful of omelet was in my mouth. So disorganized!

Mrs. TBF will return around 11:30 a.m. next Sunday morning. Would it be wrong of me to ask her to make me an omelet as soon as she gets home?

Um...thought so.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's GOTTA Be A New Personal Record!

I put up all of our Christmas decorations yesterday!

Yes, you read that correctly. I - Mr. Scrooge - unpacked all of our Christmas decorations (including this one available at yesterday and arranged them in whatever places looked good. Not only that, but upon playing Bing Crosby and David Bowie's Little Drummer Boy duet on the iPod just after midnight early Friday morning, I also declared the Christmas music season* officially begun. Our apartment is just oozing holiday cheer.

What the heck has gotten into me??? Am I mellowing in my old age? Who knows?

Mrs. TBF came home from work on Friday evening to a very different apartment from the one she left to go to work in the morning, and she seemed very appreciative. Everything is up except for the tree, and that won't happen until a couple of weeks from now. We had a nice dinner, enjoyed a little wine, went to bed...

...and then she got up at 4:30 this morning in order to catch a 5:45 a.m. taxi to the airport.

Yup, that's right: she's off to the U.S., and she won't be back until next Sunday.

I went with her to airport, saw her off, and then took the bus/tram back home. When I walked in the door at 7 a.m., King was complaining about me not having fed him before we left for the airport.

No appreciation!

I have to say that King has ABSOLUTELY NO HOLIDAY SPIRIT! Although I think he secretly likes the little Christmas bandana we make him wear this time of year.

*day after Thanksgiving until midnight on January 6th (Three Kings Day)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

For What You Are About To Receive... will be truly thankful.

Many people in America are tossing and turning in their beds right now due to their annual pre-thanksgiving turkey angst. Please, stop your worrying because THE BIG FINN is here to put you at ease.



If your turkey is still in the freezer...YOU'RE SCREWED! It'll never defrost in time. Just go out for dinner at Old Country Buffet or some other place where you can strap on the feedbag for cheap. Trust me, the blow dryer won't work!!

However, if you have a fresh or thawed frozen turkey in the fridge, there's nothing to worry about. Break out your Weber grill, and you'll soon be eating some of the best turkey you've ever eaten.

But hey, enough of my blathering. Let's let the good people from Weber tell you how to do it. Here it is straight from the pamphlet that was included with the first Weber we purchased back in 1988:

Instructions for grilling the turkey using the indirect method.

Instructions on how to do the indirect method.

Here are a couple of our tips:

Forget the meat thermometer - you won't need it. We always just BBQ the turkey for 11 minutes per pound, and it's perfect EVERY SINGLE TIME!

We always Q the bird without stuffing. I've read that you can do it with the stuffing, but you have to add 2 minutes per pound to the cooking time. Mrs. TBF just squeezes the juice of a couple of lemons into the cavity before throwing in the sqeezed lemon halves. Then, she adds a mixture of various herbs and some crushed garlic cloves to "perfume" the bird.

Important: make sure you put some water in your drip pan. Otherwise, the skin of the turkey will turn black. I wouldn't recommend making gravy from the drippings because the drip pan will have little bits of charcoal in it, and who wants that in their gravy? Just make a gravy separately using the turkey giblets on your stove top.

Finally, let the turkey rest at least 15 minutes before carving it. We've actually let a turkey rest for about an hour before, and steam still came out of it when we sliced into it after an hour of resting.

And there you have it. Not only will you serve up one of the best tasting turkeys you've ever eaten in you life, but you'll also free up your oven for other things. Mrs. TBF can add some info in the comments in case I've forgotten anything, but...there you have it!

Oh, and us? We've already had our big Thanksgiving dinner this year. Rita and Eric were kind enough to host us (and a bunch of other people) at their house for Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings this past Saturday. Of course, I had to get my fingers a bit "dirty" by doing the post dinner preparation of the carcass for turkey soup.


What do you mean, what happened to the rest of the meat???

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanks, But...I've Got To Wash My Hair!

Big news in Baselland! More specifically: big news for us regular riders of the No. 10 tram line.


What's Tango, you ask?

I'm not totally sure, but I think it's the model name of the new tram cars that are about to begin gliding along the tram tracks that we can see from our bedroom window.

Exciting stuff, huh?

But wait...there's more.

Baselland Transport (a.k.a. BLT) is pulling out all the stops and putting on a TANGO-Premier extravaganza the likes of which has never before been seen by the unsuspecting Swiss public! Yes, this Saturday - and THIS SATURDAY ONLY - between the hours of noon and 5 p.m., we have been invited to "discover the new Tram-Generation" with a FREE round-trip to the BLT depot in Oberwil where we'll receive a FREE bratwurst...a FREE beverage...a FREE film...AND a FREE dance show!

ZWWWWWWWooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOP! (That's supposed to be the sound of a record skipping!)

Ya had me...and then ya lost me!

Dance show? DANCE SHOW???! Ain't gonnna happen! Not me. Nope!

The dancing gene (for both enjoyment and execution) DEFINITELY did not get passed on from the parents to yours truly. There's NO WAY - despite the offer of a free bratwurst - that I'm going to sit through a dance show.

Hmmm...all you can eat bratwursts? Maybe.

Wait...what am I saying. NOPE!! NO WAAAAAAAAAAAAY!


Just because I won't be there doesn't mean that every other person in Basel won't be packed into the tram cars like sardines. C'mon! Free bratwurst? Free ANYTHING?

FUGGEDABOUTIT!!! It'll be mayhem, I tell ya!


Then again, I do expose myself to the possibility of running into the death cloud. But then, that's always a risk, and a risk I'm prepared to take in order to avoid the dance show mob.

I am, however, reasonably excited about the new tram cars. How will they be tricked out?

On-demand video entertainment?

iPod docks?

Wireless internet?

Death cloud neutralizer?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Early Thanksgiving Cravings...

We're down to the last few hours of Pippin's stay at our house. She's a really, REALLY good dog, and I'll be kind of sad to see her go. There is, however, one strange thing I've discovered about her.

She smells exactly like homemade turkey soup.

It's not a strong smell. But when you stick your nose into the back of her neck and take a whiff, you definitely get the smell of turkey soup that you've made using the Thanksgiving turkey carcass.

Oh, and remember how I said that we just let her sleep on our bed rather than telling her to sleep in her crate? It turns out that her favorite place to sleep is wedged right in between our pillows. Now my pillow smells...that's right...exactly like turkey soup.

I woke up this morning with Thanksgiving on my mind. Lucky for us, we're going to our friends' home for an early Thanksgiving dinner this weekend.

Can't wait! GOTTA wait! CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Art In Da House!

There was an art exhibit in our town about a month ago. Seeing how there's not much else to do around here on a Sunday, we went. One of Mrs. TBF's colleagues from work is an artist/photographer when he's not spending time at his day job being Mrs. TBF's colleague, and he was showing some of his work. And lo and behold, we bought some of it.

His name is Timm Süss, and you can check out some of his work at his website.

Here are the three that we bought last month that I finally picked up from the artist last week. I'm a big fan of photographic art, and I especially liked Timm's reoccurring theme of decay.

And who knew that Timm's art would inspire performance art by yours truly?

Stare at photos on floor leaning against wall...

Stare at drill...

Stare at photos again...

Stare at drill...

Time decays and is reborn...

You may begin snapping your fingers now.

It Wasn't Me...HONEST!

There's nothing like getting on a bus, having the doors close behind you, and then being engulfed by the "death cloud". No...make that the OLD MAN DEATH CLOUD!!! That was our unfortunate situation this past Saturday after getting on the No. 34 bus at Hohle Gasse. Or should the stop be renamed: A. Hohle Gas?

...just came up with that one right now off the top of my head.

...pretty proud of that!

THIS DUDE was the culprit!

No...not me! The old dude...HONEST!

Diva Enablers!

We've been dog-sitting Pippin since this past Saturday evening. Our next-door neighbors in our old neighborhood had to go to Warsaw for a few days, so we told them we'd be happy to look after "the Pip".

A couple of days before Pippin was to arrive, her "mommy" (she wishes to remain anonymous) dropped off some of her supplies (crate, food, toys, etc.) and instructions for taking care of the Pip. Here are a few excerpts from those very detailed instructions:

...walks between 8:00 - 8:30 a.m. Lasts between 35 - 50 minutes.

...gets sausage treats on walk when she does not bark at other dogs.

...Pippin gets her "treat bag" after her morning walk. The big piece of treat is broken up into 6-8 pieces and hidden (not too hard) in her red blanket and you have to tell her to find. Do not put the blanket on the floor. It has to go on carpet because she does not like the plain floor - she slips too much.

...After her treats & blanket, you tell her it's breakfast time - one-third of a container of soft food.

...At lunch she gets a bag of hard food & 1 tbsp. of soft food with one slice of lunch meat (cut into small pieces).

...Maybe one or two sausage treats if she is good. Playtime with toys & she likes to bite hands. [TBF: You mean she has some stuffed toy hands that she likes to bite? Pip Mommy: No...she actually likes to bite your hands.]

...Suppertime is right after her afternoon walk which is around 4 p.m. (usually 20-30 minutes). Suppertime is bag of hard food & "Sunday chicken" [roasted chicken from grocery store].

...She may need some help jumping onto couches.

...She should go "potty" before bedtime, and her bedtime is between 10:30 - 11:00 p.m. Just tell her it's sleepy time and go to box and she will go in there. SHE GETS A MASSAGE & BELLY RUB [caps mine] before bed time.

I kind of teased Pip Mommy about the list when I first read it (TBF: You're joking, right? Pip Mommy: No, and I forgot to write down that she gets two strips of bacon with her breakfast on Sunday mornings.). But then I started to think back to the days when we had a dog, and I soon realized that we were just as guilty in diva creation. Our dog slept on our bed, got fed table scraps, and was not banned from using any piece of furniture as her own. We bought her Walker's shortbread cookies and Basler Leckerli (probably the only expat to actually like the taste of them) and gave them to her as treats. Oh the greatest dog treat of them all: stick your fingers in your dog's ears, rub them around a bit, and then let your dog lick her ear wax off of your fingers. Dogs LOVE it! Oh sure, you say it's gross now...but I GUARANTEE you you'll try it!

Oh...and telling the Pip to go in her box after her massage and belly rub? We wouldn't DREAM of it! She sleeps on our bed...wedged between our pillows.

Pippin appears to have even won over King.

Saturday evening.

Sunday morning.

Monday afternoon.

The Deep Freeze...

The contents of the freezers have been audited and reorganized, and the freezer list has been updated.

What's in your freezer?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Love Muscle!

Ooops...sorry! I meant "I Love Mussels"!

We had a rare stay-at-home-just-the-two-of-us Friday night this night. And did we slave over the stove for hours?


I picked up a container of mussels, a crusty baguette to soak up the jus, and we were in bidness!!!


Not only did we enjoy it, but King got in the act too!

Mrs. TBF washed the mussels down with some wine. I, however, decided to wash them down with a (very large) Belgian beer.

After I was done, I told Mrs. TBF that I was feeling a bit tipsy. How could that be? I only had (hic) one bottle...of this...9% ALCOHOL BEER!!!!

Word to the wise: always read the label first.

Next time...

*That's one of my trademark sayings which was inspired by Justin Wilson (remember him?). Translation: "SHIT, that's good!"

While Mrs. TBF Was At Work...

...I took the tram to Basel's main train station, plunked down nearly fifty bucks, and came home with two stunning blondes. Yes, I'm a sucker for these talented, beautiful ladies, and I have no shame.*

Anastacia's new CD came out last month. It was actually released on the day after we came back from Paris, and I was too busy preparing to leave for Chicago to buy it back then. I just figured I'd buy it in Chicago, but I found out that it won't be released in the U.S. until a date "TBA" in 2009.

It still amazes me that Anastacia is only a HUGE star outside of the U.S. What's up with that? I mean, she's American for God's sake!!! Not only is she American, but she's the best kind of American: Chicagoan-American!!!

The lady on my other arm was Dido. I don't know what it is about her, but her music just gets to me. I always tell Mrs. TBF that she has the "voice of an angel" and "sings to my heart". Her new CD was released TODAY, and I rushed out (like a sissy) and bought it! Not only that, but I then rushed HOME like a sissy and listened to it immediately.

I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I got tingles on the back of my neck and felt stinging behind my eyes a couple of times while it was playing.


*A feeble attempt at trying to sound manly on this most feminine of days!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Convenient...But Expensive!

I'm making garden vegetable soup for dinner tonight. It's a weekly staple at our house during the colder months.

The recipe calls for 2 cups of broccoli florets. I would normally buy whole broccoli, but I was feeling kind of lazy today so I just bought the bag of florets.

Last week, while in Chicago, I bought a 3 lb. bag of broccoli florets at Costco. I paid $4.49 for the bag. The price stuck in my mind because I remember being amazed at how cheap it was. Seriously, it would have been enough broccoli to feed me and Mrs. TBF for five nights. And while I'm thinking about it...

If you're one of the many people complaining how expensive food is, here's my advice to you:


If you're somebody who doesn't complain about the cost of food...well...then just go ahead and keep buying junk food.

So, the 3 lbs. of Costco broccoli florets at $4.49 comes out to about $1.50 per pound. And the 300 gram bag of broccoli florets at my local grocery store? It cost CHF 3.50. After a little quick metric and currency conversion, that comes out to...$4.50 per pound.

Yes, broccoli florets cost three times more in Basel than they do in Chicagoland!

Of course, I'm not complaining. After all, I did also buy a bunch of roasted nuts and a large bag of tortilla chips. I mean, come on! It's almost Friday!

Crisis? What Crisis?

Isn't there some kind of credit crisis going on right now?

If so, then why did I just receive this e-mail from my U.S. credit card company? You know...the credit card I rarely use.

Congratulations. Your revolving Credit Line is $40,000.

As a valued cardmember who has maintained an excellent account record with us, you have earned the credit line indicated above.

Buying power is in your hands.
You can use your card for all your purchases -
from everyday expenses like groceries and clothes,
to big-ticket items like vacations and home improvements.

Isn't revolving credit one of the things that has gotten people into such a big mess in the first place? It's called spending money you don't have, people! Don't do it!!!

Okey-dokey....I'll get off my soapbox now. But I've gotta be careful: the TBF soapbox is a BIG soapbox.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mrs. TBF-li: Meine Liebe Frau!

When the heck did Mrs. TBF become so Swiss?

We celebrated our friend Rammy's birthday at our apartment this past Saturday night. Our guests were invited over for 7 p.m. At 7:06 p.m., I heard a "...Where the hell is everybody?" coming from the kitchen.


Has It Really Been Five Years?


My passport expires on January 20, 2009. One of the only sucky things about being a Canuck is that the passports are only good for five years. Considering how much we travel, when to get the passport renewed is ALWAYS a major issue.

As it turns out, a good time to renew it is RIGHT NOW!!!

According the embassy in Bern, it'll take about 15 days to get the new one. Last time it only took a couple of days, but the embassy in Bern printed it themselves and it was a NON-MACHINE READABLE passport. This time, a machine readable, biometric passport will come to me all the way from Canada. Hence, the longer processing time. Seeing that I won't be traveling again until December 19th (going to London to celebrate Mrs. TBF's birthday), I feel very confident that, if I send in the application by next week, I'll have my new passport in plenty of time.

I already had my "expressionless" pictures taken in Chicago last week, I've downloaded the passport application off of the embassy's website, and now I just have to fill the stinkin' thing out. That's going require aboot fifteen minutes of intense focus, eh?

The attention span is not...quite...there...yet.

The Brain Thaws...

I've been suffering from my usual jet lag after returning from Chicago. On Saturday night/Sunday morning, I went to bed around 5 a.m. On Sunday evening, I was feeling tired at around 7 p.m. Yesterday morning, I was pretty comatose when Mrs. TBF woke me up. Today? Better, but still not normal.

So what's been going on since last week? Well...

O'Hare Airport in Chicago now has an extra runway. Somebody told me that the flights have been much more on time since this runway opened a couple of months ago. My flight? It left the gate precisely on time. Go O'Hare!!

Oh...and another thing about O'Hare: The BA lounge has Fritos!!! There were four bags in the basket when I spotted them. I grabbed them all and threw them into my carry-on bag. Screw the other passengers! They were mostly British anyway: they don't know what Fritos are.

Heathrow: Terminal 5 is great!! This was the first time I had actually landed at T5 and departed from T5. And, I'm happy to report that I enjoyed a flawless travel experience. The flights were totally on time, and, more importantly, all my bags made it home without delay.

Speaking of bags...
I just finished unpacking my bags yesterday, and what a collection of random objects they did contain. For example: a box for Mrs. TBF containing 48 tennis balls. Why, you ask? Well, that would be because a sleeve of 4 tennis balls costs CHF 24/$20 in Basel, and the box of 48 tennis balls from Costco in Lake Zurich, Illinois costs $30. Even if you add in the Illinois sales tax, the tennis balls in Switzerland are 7 TIMES more expensive than the U.S. tennis balls. Why is that?

We came home on Friday (Mrs. TBF had been in Singapore) to a big wet spot in the ceiling of our master bathroom. You know...the one that was repaired a few months ago!!! We're kind of taking the not-our-problem approach to it right now. The landlord can take care of it after we move (reminder: no later than October 6, 2010!) There's NO WAY I'm putting up with that mess again!

I tried to catch up on reading all the blogs in my Google reader blog roster, but there were literally hundreds of them to read. Screw it! I just marked all of them as read. Sorry about that.

Hey! People speak Swiss-German here! I forgot about that one. It sure makes life somewhat more complicated.

The elliptical trainer at my gym can be my friend, and it can be my enemy. Right now, it's my enemy!

My attention span has ceased to exist. Good bye!

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Minor Miracle...

Right now, I am sitting in the BA lounge at Heathrow Airport. After last week's diet of pizza, steak, Fritos, and Halloween candy, I thought I'd reward my discipline this morning with a breakfast consisting of a huge cappuccino, pain au chocolat, and a bacon sandwich.

It's absolutely amazing that my jeans still fit. In fact, they're not even feeling tight. Hmmmmmm....


Oops! Gotta go! I just noticed that they just replenished the hot buffet!

One Week Ago... was Halloween.

No, I didn't dress up. I thought of dressing up as Mr. Clean by putting on a really tight white t-shirt, but jet lag got the better of me and I just couldn't be bothered. Instead, I was content to just take some pictures of the nieces and nephew in their costumes.

My youngest niece, Sinead, dressed up as a fairy - or as she says it: faiwy. cute! Then, there was my nephew, Finn.

TBF: Finn, what are YOU supposed to be?

Finn: The Grim Reaper!

TBF: You look like a Swedish figure skater.

At that point, I was charged and stabbed with his plastic sword - for about the hundredth time that day.

Then there was some guy dressed up like a baby who was handing out Halloween candy with my mom. He claimed to be my dad.

I've never seen this man before in my life!

Two Weeks Ago...

...we were in Paris. I left for Chicago a couple of days after returning from Paris, so I just didn't make time to blog about it. And now, it's old news, so let me just say a couple of things.

Dear tourists: The proper pronunciation of this Metro stop is George sank and not George vee. Please make a mental note in order to avoid any further embarrassment.


This, a copy of the Statue of Liberty's torch, is a monument to French-American friendship. Yes, it is directly above the tunnel where Princess Di was killed, but it is NOT the Princess Di monument. It doesn't bother me if you continue to leave cards or flowers.

OK... THAT off my chest!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Ready And Waiting...

My rental car has been returned, the bags are packed, and I'm all set to go. Mrs. TBF is well into her flight from Singapore to Zürich: she'll be back home at some point on Friday before me. I'll be leaving for the airport in about 2.5 hours for the 7:55 p.m. flight from Chicago to London.

It's been a good trip (as evidenced by my lack of blogging). I spent a lot of time with friends and family, ate a lot (too much) good food, and enjoyed really nice Indian summer weather for most of my stay. Oh...and NOTE TO SELF: pizza and Halloween candy is not an effective diet for keeping off weight.

Yesterday, I picked up some dry cleaning (GOD BLESS American dry cleaning!!!), and the dry cleaner asked me if I wished that I was staying a little longer. My reply?

" about 50 YEARS LONGER!!!"

Of course, I'm looking forward to seeing Mrs. TBF after being apart for eight days, and I'm even looking forward to seeing the beast that is King*.'s getting harder to leave Chicago each time I come back for a visit.

I've GOT to keep a positive attitude about Switzerland.

Clean and safe! CLEAN AND SAFE!!!!

*We're coming, King!!!