Jenni’s Corner: Apres-Ski with Janette

In terms of weather, March 9th was a perfect day for the women’s magazine Janette to organize an After-ski themed after-work event. It wasn’t too cold to stay outside and the week long rain had finally stopped.
The event took place outside Vinoteca under a huge portable roof which protected us from the cold winter wind. Under the roof, there was an outside bar that sold mainly wine but also some other drinks – they went very well together with a nice selection of different Swiss Cheese that was served on a wooden table on the other corner of the tent.

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I arrived at the venue approximately an hour after the event had started and I noticed that the place was very packed. Small bar tables were surrounded by people who chitchatted with each other while they sipped wine and dipped pieces of bread in melted cheese. Many people praised the quality of cheese fondues and also liked the easy-going music that the live DJ was playing.

I found that the event was perfectly suited for the season and was very well set up. People seemed to be having a good time by posing in front a camera and the place was full of laughter and happiness. The only improvement point would be to think about a bigger location due to the great number of people participating the after-work.

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Thanks Janette for the invitation! I met many people I knew and the alpine like atmosphere made the event very successful!

 

 

Discovering Almdudler, the new drink from Austria

At the end of January, I was invited on behalf of Barefoot in Luxembourg to Paname to discover Almdudler; a carbonated soft drink from Austria which is slowly making its way into Luxembourg.

The brand name Almdudler apparently comes from an old phrase “auf der Alm dudeln” which means singing in the alpine meadows referring to the origins of the beverage’s birth place.
This drink has a long history in Austria and competes with Coca-Cola when it comes to its popularity.

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The after-work event organized at Paname started at 18.00 and the venue was extremely crowded since the biggest part of the location was serving normal guests and only a small part of it was reserved for the private event. I was offered to taste this sugar free herbal lemonade with cremant as a cocktail as well as directly from a bottle. Personally I preferred the cocktail since I’m not a very huge fan of sodas in general. However, for someone consuming a lot of soda, Almdudler could be a great option for a change.  At Paname, Almdudler was served along with funky appetizers and there was a photographer snapping pictures while we, the guests, had a chance to mingle around, talk to each other and exchange opinions.

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The taste of the drink was very sweet and mild but it was very hard to say what Almdudler tasted like. This wasn’t because it tasted artificial or anything, it was rather the fact that it didn’t really have a flavor of any fruit or other substance that I could relate it to.  I would recommend everyone to try it out and see how they liked it. Almdudler that we enjoyed was packed in glass bottles but as far as Luxembourg is concerned, the drink is available in normal plastic bottles and available in any Delhaize supermarket around the country.

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Most bars also have it so next time you are going out, don’t forget to give your taste buds a new experience!

 

Hub Dot Christmas Party: Make Someone Happy

Make Someone Happy was the theme of the last Hub Dot event organized in Luxembourg for the year of 2016. I was very delighted to get a chance to attend to this Hub Dot event again, especially as the theme of helping others, contributing to the society or making a change through volunteering in different associations sounded very appealing to me. Each time Hub Dot events are organized around a specific theme and a handful of speakers are being invited to share their stories within that area of interest.

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This time the event took place on 23 November at the cosy home & deco store STAY – Interior & style  between 19.00 and 21.30. I arrived at the venue shortly after the official starting time and was glad to notice that the place was full of Christmas spirit with beautiful holiday time decorations and other  festive items to be admired. The venue was perfectly chosen to initiate some Christmas atmosphere. There were some cremant and snacks offered upon arrival as well as a colorful dot sticker to pun on the clothes. The dot presented a state of mind of the person choosing it: red meaning establishment in career or business, yellow (Looking for new ideas), green (getting inspiration), blue (socializing), purple (one of the story tellers). The purpose of the dots is to help breaking the ice and make a connection with the other participants in a very informal manner banishing job titles or other (in)visible barriers. The color also helps to identify to whom to talk depending on the desired outcome of the event.

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I found it very easy to mingle around, ask questions and talk to the other women. The event schedule was divided into two sessions of speakers where there was some free  mingle time in between. Each speaker had 90 seconds on the stage which was just enough for them to present themselves and their business without the audience getting to tired to pay attention. As following the theme of the night, all the speakers were somehow involved in making someone’s wish come true; through official organizations, writing a personalized stories for kids, helping refugees on their own, giving counseling in order to help someone towards a right direction in their lives or being the ones receiving help. One lady shared with us how touched she became when she received a free plane ticket for her and her child to go home and visit the family over the Christmas.  Their financial conditions wouldn’t have made it possible otherwise.

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I really enjoyed the whole evening and especially it made me think how easy it is to make someone  a bit more happier. It doesn’t need to be necessarily anything big, expensive or require a big monetary investment nor a huge amount of time. Helping those in need is always beneficial; being it a friend going through difficult times or someone needing some encouragement to change their lives to the desired direction. It makes givers happy while showing receivers that they are valued and taken care of. There are tons of ways to improve someone’s life and we all have tools for it. No magical skills are required, only right attitude, willingness to contribute and attention to the surrounding environment. Let’s make someone a bit more happier on this Christmas!

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Cineast presents Estalgia Party: the Life in the Eastern Block during the Socialist Times

CinEast is an annual film festival dedicated to present different kind of movies from Eastern and Central European countries.
The festival takes place in autumn and the program includes not only screenings but also a variety of different concerts, exhibitions and other cultural events promoting the life and traditions of the Eastern and Central Europe.

One of the events I participated in was called Estalgia party, which main idea behind was to combine a film screening with music, food and a quiz about the Eastern European history. The organizers had reserved Rotondes in Bonnevoie and the venue was already quite crowded when I came to pick up my bracelet. The cost of the event bracelet was 15 EUR at the door and besides the event program, it included some free shots of liquor and some typical Eastern European food.

I liked the theme of the party and how the staff was also dressed up accordingly. Similarly,  food could be collected with food stamps and the menu was adapted to project the poverty of socialist times. The quiz was a nice idea but unfortunately not everyone could take part of it so easily and the location and table arrangements made a bit difficult to interact with people. I would have liked the quiz to  take less time and have more time to be dedicated to the short films and the actual party with music – maybe an improvement point for next time!

Indeed, overall the atmosphere was really nice and it was easy to mingle around and talk to people. Most visitors that I talked to were either from Eastern/Central Europe or they had lived there for a period of time. A few had come due to pure interest towards movies. Generally my feedback for the event was positive and I was glad that the festival was not only about films but also had the cultural aspect very well integrated. Looking forward to next year Cineast already!

 

Jenni’s Corner: Meet the Start-Up Company Blueberry & Pie


 Today Jenni meets Tuire and Wojtek, the creators of brand new children’s book Message in a Bottle.

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Can you tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you and what are you doing here?

Tuire, 24,  and Wojtek, 39, are the founders of a  book publishing start-up company Blueberry & Pie which creates books with a customized message for children.

Finnish born Tuire, is the CEO and the Illustrator of the company while Polish Wojtek is taking care of the finance even though they both admit being equally involved in the company’s daily operations and developing and executing its business strategy.

The company was founded 1 year ago when Wojtek had made redundant at Skype and Tuire had just finished her studies in in Belgium. They both were looking for something to do and the idea of an own publishing company was born as a result of combining their skills, passion and interest towards illustration and entrepreneurship. Creating books had been on their mind already for some time and once the opportunity came, they didn’t hesitate to grip it.

Can you tell Barefoot in Luxembourg readers a bit more about your book project?

Blueberry & Pie’s first book Message in a Bottle was launched on 26th of August, 2016 and it is a story of Scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper bird Kiki who finds a message in the bottle and decides to deliver it to the intended person. She can only see the first name of the person in the beginning of her trip but on her way from Hawaii to the final destination she discovers parts of the message once it is fully revealed in the last page of the book. The adventure takes Kiki from the tropical Hawaii to cold North America all the way to sunny South America until she makes her way to Europe. During her journey she discovers local animals who help her to reach her goal: “ The story isn’t only educational from the geographical point of view but also teaches kids that everything is possible with the help of others”, Tuire summarizes. The animals that Kiki meets have been selected with the help of biologists in order to provide a realistic picture of their habitat. “I hate when polar bears are placed on South Pole or penguins in the North Pole” she adds referring to false presentation of many animals’ geographical home in some children’s books or cartoons.

The idea with the personalized message is that each person ordering the book writes the final message by themselves and thus making it very unique and fitting to the occasion no matter if it is a birthday, Christmas or a get-well present. This is possible because the books are printed only on demand and hence the buyer can really customize the message he or she wants to communicate to the child.  It could simply be a greeting from an uncle but also a special memory from last summer written down by the grandparents.

Why people in Luxembourg should be attracted by your project?

Luxembourg is full of expats and other international people who are constantly looking for unique presents for the birthday of their friends’ kids, baby showers or baptisms. Children living in Luxembourg also learn English already from very early age so this could be also one way to enhance their learning process.

What have been the biggest challenges and how have you overcome them?

The biggest challenge was just to get started. Neither Tuire nor Wojtek had any idea how to start a business and how much work it would require. They didn’t know anything about publishing nor had any contacts in the field, which made the beginning even harder: “ Publishing industry is a very closed field and without contacts or proven reputation, nobody takes you seriously” Tuire elaborates referring to the process of finding the right people to work with.

“We were also struggling to find the exact storyline that we were satisfied with” Vojtech adds.

Both agree that the most rewarding thing is just to see the book becoming true and see that the hard work has paid off.

What are your future plans?

“We want to make a series of books where Kiki goes on adventure in different continents. For example, a story where the journey starts from Australia and takes a round in Asia before finishing in Europe. In this way, a family with several kids could have same book with different stories” the business partners explain.

This is, however, a long-term goal and at the moment all focus and effort is being directed to make the first story available.

Coming back to your Luxembourg background, how long have you been living in Luxembourg?

It has been 4 years since Tuire first came to Luxembourg as an au pair and 7 years since Wojtek began his work at Skype.

What is your favorite place in the city?

Tuire and her inner child like the park in the city center where you can find the big wooden ship made for kids.  Wojtek in turn prefers the Grund area.

What is your favorite restaurant in Luxembourg?

Both of them are big fans of sushi and gladly eat out food that isn’t easy to make at home Kamakura is the favorite sushi restaurant in Wojtek’s opinion while Tuire likes Yamayu Santatsu: “the name that I can never pronounce” she admits.

What is your preferred night-life spot in Luxembourg?

As a beer fan, Wojtek enjoys BBC or the Big Beer Company due to their big selection of beer but Tuire rather stays home zipping whiskey and reading Donald Duck cartoons.They both admit not being very big night owls.

What do you like about Luxembourg life?

Tuire praises nature, especially Mullerthal region and its endless hiking paths. Wojtek follows the same truck of his colleague and likes the combination of easily accessible nature but also international atmosphere of the country.

What do you miss here and you would like to change or improve?

Tuire finds it hard to connect with Luxembourgish people: “ they have their own interesting culture but it’s really hard to get in to that”. Wojteck points out Luxembourg being rather homogeneous group of people when it comes to professionalism: “Most people are working in banking or financial industry and it would be nice to have more variety”

What is the best place you visited in a range of 200 km from the city and that you would suggest for a daily trip?

“Berdorf is definitely worth of visiting; it has beautiful cliffs, offers a possibility for climbing and they call it the Little Switzerland” Tuire recommends as a nature loving person.

How would you describe Luxembourg in three adjectives?

Luxembourg is rich, green and international for Tuire.
Wojteck finds it charming, advanced and open.

Message in a bottle is available for purchase on their website https://www.messageinabottlebook.co.uk at the price of 26 EUR.

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Jenni’s Corner: La Guinguette de Janette

As an enthusiastic dancer, I was pleased to be invited on behalf of Barefoot in Luxembourg to La Guinguette de Janette, a retro-themed Swing party taking place at Brigitte in Dommeldange, Luxembourg, and organized by the lovely girls behind Janette magazine.

It was a few hours before the sunset when ladies dressed in polka-dot pattern and gentlemen wearing hats and suspenders, started to stroll towards the event venue.

The garden was decorated with colourful lanterns and a light summer breeze provided a relief in the hot summer evening. With only 20 EUR donation (15 at pre-sale), the guests had a possibility to enjoy an open bar and  fill their stomachs with barbecue or grab something delicious from one of the food trucks bordering the garden. Besides cremant, the local sparkling wine, there was wine-tasting and the bar provided custom-made drinks, specially designed for this particular event. I mixed my own drink at Cointreau Cocktail trolley along with so many other cocktail-lovers who took the opportunity to practise their bartender skills.

While waiting for the people to arrive, I had my hair done by some professional hairdressers and there was also a chance to get guidance in make-up section. Gradually the dance floor got filled with several talented dancers and other rookies eager to learn Lindy Hop steps and Swing style bootie shaking. Live band God Save the Swing together with DJ Mr. Serge were responsible for the rhythm and both of them did an excellent job with their performances. I was also very happy about Swing Dance Luxembourg coming on the stage and holding a short introduction workshop about the basic swing and Lindy Hop moves. It was very easy to follow their example and mimic some of the basic steps that build the frame for the actual dance.

 The atmosphere at the event place was both relaxed and energetic at the same time. Some people had clearly just come to enjoy a few drinks with friends in an alternative environment while the others were dancing wildly as if they had been locked in a cage for a week. The organisers had also been very thoughtful towards the football fans the most eager fans were able to follow one of the Eurocup semi-final match on a large screen placed on the event premises. These supporters also made sure that everyone knew some team scored a goal…

Overall everyone seemed to have good time especially since approximately most of the people were still staying there when I started to head home around 23.00. I enjoyed every single minute of my time there and would definitely recommend this event not only to dancers but also to someone who likes to have a drink with friends, experience something different in Luxembourg or simply just have a reason to wear retro clothes. Looking forward for next Janette event!

Enjoy some pictures!

Jenni Laiho

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Jenni’s Corner: Hub Dot Anniversary Event

From this month on, a new series of articles written by Jenni Laiho will be published on Barefoot in Luxembourg. Struggling a bit between the blog, the events and my work, I found some needed support in Jenni, who is helping me out with my agenda. Wishing Jenni a warm welcome to Barefoot in Luxembourg! The first event she attended on my behalf was the anniversary of Hub Dot Luxembourg.

On a behalf of Barefoot in Luxembourg, I had a privilege to be part of the second Luxembourg Hubdot event which idea behind is to provide similar minded women with networking opportunities.

Upon my arrival at Bo Concept, where the event took place on Thursday 16th June, I was positively surprised to notice how  casually everybody was chatting with each other, while sipping champagne and nibbling appetizers. Many of these women were complete strangers to one another,  connected with a common interest towards personal growth and fashion; the latter being the theme of the day’s event.

As compared to many other similar events I have been, Hubdot has a distinctive element of being based on story-telling rather than just standard mingling. As I entered the venue, the event was just about to start and the host Carlotta welcomed the first speaker to climb on the stage. Each speaker had 90 seconds to shortly present their experience and tell the public what had made them to change the course of their lives and become bloggers, designers, personal shoppers or shop owners.  After nearly 18 speakers had shared their stories, I felt really inspired. It was simply amazing to hear how these ordinary women with very normal and diverse background had left their permanent jobs to pursue their dream or were working hard along the daytime work.

What I really liked about the event, was the fact that it was open for everyone without a specific social status, experience or other qualifications. I was also impressed by the idea of using “dot codes” as an ice breaker meaning that each person chose to wear a different dot colour on their clothes according to their current status. Green: ‘I’m here to be inspired’; yellow: ‘I have an idea. Can anyone help?; blue: ‘I’m here to socialize and shop’; red: ‘I’m established (in my career/business)’; and purple: ‘I want to tell you about (my story/work). It meant that other participants could see on one glance the reason why someone else was here.

In the middle of the speeches, there was a short break, which everyone could be used for mingling and exchanging different viewpoints.  I browsed around the different stands that were set up by these women who already had launched their businesses. There were a lot of beautiful jewellery, hand bags and clothes that really deserve to get more attention. Besides promoting the actual products, the event was really more about spreading the energy, enthusiasm and courage for each and every one to follow their true passion.

I had a chance to talk to some of these ladies that I could never get  hold on in a normal circumstances and I found it truly empowering. I might not change my current job just yet but it really made me think about the other possibilities through which I could better utilize my creativeness and imagination.

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