Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween (Should Your Sect Celebrate it...)

I was invited for breakfast/brunch @ Frida's this morning and because they have 3 kids, the table had been laid with Halloween props. I even got my own little spider:
Not to forget the sceleton between the cereal boxes...

My personal appreciation of Halloween is non-existant as I simply grew up in the wrong country, at the wrong time, in the wrong culture to be in the habit to go trick-or-treating or make creative stuff (other than actual food) out of pumkins. I find it hard to resist chocolate in the shape of gory eyeballs, though:
I got those at M&S in Dublin and distributed them at the last book club gathering.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Some years ago, when I was still (un)gainfully employed at Coma HQ, I happened to pick up a phone-call for one of my Japanese bosses. It was her landlady who wanted me to pass on the message that there had been an attempted burglary. She assured me that nothing had been stolen as the wannabe-burglars had probably been disturbed as they were fiddling with the lock and that said lock would be exchanged the very same day. I told my boss, stressing the fact that locksmiths were on the way already and the landlady would let them in. Hearing this, she almost jumped and gave me a look of utter despair, "But I haven't cleaned up the kitchen. My flat is a mess!" I found this somewhat exaggerated and totally out of proportion, thinking I in her place would be glad that nothing had been stolen and not worried about a messy flat in the least.


I have a cleaner who comes once a fortnight while I'm at work. It's every second Wednesday and therefore not really hard to remember. On the Wednesdays when she is due, I leave money and - if needed- instructions for her. Some weeks ago, she texted me that her husband was terminally ill and she would not come for a while. She sent me another text to let me know that she would return to work on Oct. 27 and I made a note in my - electronic- calendar. As the 26th was a public holiday, I didn't switch the computer on to check my calendar entries and I only saw the reminder on my phone on Wednesday morning...when I remembered that I had left my flat in quite a state. I had come home late from KLU the night before and didn't feel like unpacking all my stuff. Needless to say, I hadn't prepared the vacuum cleaner, floor mop, pile of clothes to be ironed, etc., nor her money. I did a quick mental inventory:

bedroom (bed made, but without the cover and cushions on it), clothes on the chairs
living room (half-emptied clothes horse, magazines everywhere)
hallway (luggage, shoes and miscellaneous items all over the place)
kitchen (ok)
bathroom (ok)
spare bedroom (ok)
toilet (ok)

I realised that she would probably already be on her way to my place and called to profusely apologise for the mess and ask for her bank details.

I know what you're thinking. If this had happened to a friend, I'm sure I would have told them they should just chill and that the whole point of a cleaner was to clean and clear away messes so no need to get stressed. 

I'm officially uncool.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Getting Ready

Christmas being less than two months away, preparations for the festive light decoration are in full swing in Vienna's city centre: 

When they are done, it will look like this:

Kohlmarkt has been ticked off the list already:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


tiara (onemorehandbag)photo from 

This is the second week that that I'm without my "Schatzis", i.e. M.C. and the Empress. While the former is away on a long, but temporary (fingers crossed) project in London, the latter is giving us a taste of what will be a much longer separation: from January onwards, she will work at the Firm's French HQ in Paris.

When she confirmed our suspicions about her pending move (not all that hard to guess what with a French fiancé...) one Friday evening after work when the Scholar asked her directly, I was sincerely happy for and proud of her and wanted to know all the details. Only to start crying once I got home.

If you had told me three and a half years ago that I would be sad about her imminent leaving, I would have raised an eybrow and said "I don't think so." It definitely wasn't a case of love at first sight.

In fact, when I first met her I found her downright scary despite her angelic smile. I was convinced that this pretty little petite person 8 years my junior was actually a precocious robot who had no interests outside the company. As our intern used to say: "She's so business!" The first time we went on a client meeting by train (to Munich) I was concerned it would be quite awkward and I wouldn't know what to talk to her on the long train-journey.

It took me a while to realise that very much unlike me, the Empress has a split personality: a highly professional teflon-coated business persona and a hilarious and spontaneous private one you can laugh with until your belly hurts. At the beginning, I only got to see the business part of her and therefore suspected she was the sales world's equivalent of a Stepford wife.

In the course of 3.5 years, I discovered that we swim on the same wavelength in oh so many ways:
- we both love to discuss the same shallow subjects for hours on end, such as...nail polish, or handbags or crappy TV shows. Mind you, M.C. definitely is the third partner in crime here on all counts!
- we firmly believe that someone has to keep the economy from going bust and like the true martyrs we are, we volunteer to do the job by power-shopping.
- we are not adverse to bitching about people who are, beautiful and intelligent than ourselves.
- we both look quite innocent but know swearwords that would make your ears turn red (and like to use them on occasion).
- we start to hyperventilate when the words "macaron" or "Zaunerstollen" are mentioned.
- we are a foosball dream-team (well, most days anyway).

Some serious conference-bonding, a near-death-experience, the funniest bus-journey of my life and the privilege of having been the first person who was told about her engagement later I find it hard to imagine that there ever was a time when I eyed her with suspicion and felt like secretely poking a pin into her to check she was made of flesh and blood rather than metal.

I hope she won't forget us. And if she ever does, I'll send her some cartons of milk past its use-by date and force her to drink it. (It's a long story).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


When I was in Dublin earlier this month, I paid a visit to Brown Thomas, the city's poshest department store. There, I saw a cool pearl necklace that basically consisted of several strands of pearls that were tied in a giant not. I decided to steal the idea take inspiration and try to recreate it at home. So I did: 
necklace (onemorehandbag)
With leftover raw material, I also made some bracelets: 
bracelet (onemorehandbag)Basically, I am now armed for a rococo-themed fancy dress party. Should you be planning one, make sure to put me on the guest list. If not, I'll gate-crash.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Autumn Exercise

This morning, I woke up with sore limbs, feeling like an 80-year-old. No, make that 100.
The reason for it was the fact that I'd spent hours raking leaves in my late grandparents' house yesterday. I only say one two words: walnut tree. Big one:
walnut tree (onemorehandbag)
The half finished job

mountain of leaves (onemorehandbag) My Mum standing in front of the massive heap of dried leaves. Quite impressive, eh?

walnuts (onemorehandbag)Because her right arm is in a cake she couldn't rake herself, but picked up the walnuts that were hidden under the leaves.

Despite the inevitable after-effects, I really enjoyed physical labour in fresh air, a welcome change from my sedentary office job.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Order

Like everybody I take comfort in routine. Recently a lot has changed. When I would be in KLU (as I am now), the topmost priority would be to schedule as many visits to my maternal granny into the visit as possible. It feels really bizarre to be here and not visit her. Well, my Mum (encumbered by an arm in plaster, great timing!) will visit her grave and prepare it for All Saints later today, but needless to say that's not the kind of visit I had in mind.

In Vienna,I would drop by my great-aunt (93) every other weekend or so. Every time without fail, she would ask for my paternal grandmother (95) and I would call the latter from my mobile phone so the two of them could chat and reminisce. My great-aunt has likewise changed her adress to a permanent one at Döbling cemetary, putting a stop not only to my visits, but also to those nonagenarian con-calls.

Said granny suffered a - mild, thankfully - stroke the day before my great-aunt's funeral that left her unable to walk. She has since moved in with my parents' and now resides in the guest bedroom, nursing bed, wheelchair and all.

I sometimes find it hard to believe that it was only 6 weeks ago that I took this photo.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Schools. You Know, Those Places Where They Teach You Correct Grammar

My Japanese class is held at a school. Every time I pass the announcement board outside the porter's room, I inwardly cringe and want to grab a marker. Major case of apostrophitis here: 

Does none of the teachers ever notice and take offence?

Thursday, October 21, 2010


This morning, the Gazelle and I attended a congress where one of the partners/keynote speakers was the Austrian postal services. One of their employees looked a bit underdressed for the occasion: sexless postbox (onemorehandbag)When he realised that I was taking his picture he made a point of posing and put his hands over his - imaginary/invisible - crotch. No need to as Mr. Postman wasn't quite anatomically correct. Then again, what do I know about postal employees, eh?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Oh, Chiquita

WHY did you have to tell me that Müller was having a -25%-off-all-cosmetics-and-fragrances-sale? Guess who had to go there in their lunch-hour for a mni haul? Yep, yours truly it was:Müller haul (onemorehandbag)Unfortunately, I only realised back in the office as I was drooling over my booty that I had gotten the wrong nail polish Rose. "Insolent" instead of "Confidentiel". I've already called the shop and am hoping to be able to exchange it. Chances are high that I migh pick up something else if I return to the hub of temptation. Offer ends tomorrow, if you are in Austria and a suffer from the same addiction. Just saying...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


One big advantage of being the organiser of office events is that you are not only involved in choosing the location (not too thrilling a task, believe you me), but also get to influence the menu. If, like today, the venue is Procacci, I definitely know what to ask for, dessert-wise: panna cotta, the best (onemorehandbag)
THE best panna cotta in the whole wide world. Now panna cotta can be a really bland and or sickeningly  sweet affair and trust me, I've had my fair share of nasty p.c. experiences, but the one at Procacci manages the perfect balance of rich and delicate. Yum, yum!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Now What a Shitty Award. Literally

loo awards (onemorehandbag)
I "stole" this picture from MC's webalbum. She is currently in London on a work project (rocket science, obviously) and visited the Tower of London, where she took the above photo. I find it hilarious that they are obviously still patting themselves on the shoulder for an award they received 15 years ago. Wow. 

The idea of a "Loo of the Year" award is very laudable, though. Particularly when you are the owner of a pea-sized bladder who is as familiar with the international toilet scene as I am.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Bree in Me

...loves to bake cookies on Sundays when she has the time and the weather can be summarised as "rain", like today. I just tried out a super-easy recipe from the latest issue of Marie Claire (UK edition). The result is very tasty indeed:

fruit cookies (onemorehandbag)
This morning, the book club met at K's for a breakfast/brunch session and was treated to very authentic (shop-bought) scones with clotted cream (!) and jam.
scones (onemorehandbag)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Honestly, I'd Rather Show Off Other Talents of Mine

This afternoon I attended the funeral of one of my great-aunts who died last Wednesday, aged 93. Her son asked me if I wanted to hold the eulogy because "You did such a good job at your Granny's funeral" and so I obliged, of course. It went well, but I definitely don't want to make a habit of this! This morning, I learned that my one remaining grandmother - the one who turned 95 last month - had to be taken to hospital yesterday as she wasn't feeling too great and suddenly couldn't walk any more. What with the recent "morbid streak" I'm bracing myself for the worst, but I do hope that this has been it for this year as far as funerals are concerned. Fingers crossed.
funeral (onemorehandbag)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Ideal Inner City Dog

No nasty turds on the pavement, no need its owner to get up early in the morning to walk them. Introducing the ideal inner city dog in 2D:

I really liked this window display (seen in Vienna), so here's a bonus shoot of the reverse side: 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday Night Quickie

Last night, I decided to cook (!) some dinner just for myself, something I hadn't done in a very long time. As I still had some leftover pumpkin from the last book club meeting chez moi which I didn't want to go to waste, I decided to make a quick pumpkin risotto, largely based on my cousin's recipe here. 
pumpkin risotto (onemorehandbag)It turned out really well and the added advantage is that the leftovers are going to spare me the question "what am I going to have for lunch today?". Also, it was surprisingly quick and makes me question my habit to just cook for guests. The thing is that I have a proper, hot, lunch most work days and am not always in the mood for an actual meal as opposed to just a wedge of cheese or - very tempting - some S&V crisps. 

Another item to add to my already long "things to do when I'm grown up" list...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Project - Phase One

wardrobe (onemorehandbag)On Sunday, I completed phase one of the Semi-Annual Wardbobe Shift (SAWS). Coats, jackets and all kinds of tops as well as shoes/boots are ticked off my list (metaphorically speaking in reality I don't do lists. Ever) now. This means that summery items have been moved up on the wardbrobe shelves hierarchy or into storage units on top of the actual wardrobes and winter clothes/shoes have been unearthed from their storage place. Only skirts, trousers and dresses have yet to be subjected to the ceremony and I have a feeling it will be the weekend before I'll tackle Phase Two. It's a good opportunity to clear out stuff which I suspect I won't wear and which is not likely to come back into fashion in the next two decades or so.

If my two-tiered (there are two more piles behind the ones you can see) stash of tops doesn't look like much to you rest assured that I have just as much at my parents' place. Have I mentioned that I like clothes...and shopping?

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Wildnerness Downtown

On some days I'm more glad than on others that I always carry my camera with me. Like on Saturday when I walked through Märzpark and spotted this beautiful butterfly.
butterflyYep, that was my Universum-moment.

Non sequitur...wildlife...wilderness: at the office, people have been playing around with this interactive film called "the wilderness downtown". Have you tried it?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cryptic Sign

Spotted in Ebenau, Carinthia. The sign literally says "except castle proprietor(s) and oil customers". The ominous Ölkunden (oil customers) refers to people wanting to buy pumkinseed oil, but out of context, it makes for quite a bizarre combination.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Culture Shopping

Yesterday, the target of my lunchbreak-shopping-spree was something different for a change: a woodblock print. I had seen it in the window of Wolfrum the night before as I was on my way to the subway after the Michelangelo exhibition opening at Albertina. With its reduced aesthetic, it somehow reminded me of Japanese prints:
Aicher Print (onemorehandbag)In any case, the print was not expensive at all and I decided to buy it. When I mentioned to the gallery assistant that I had never heard of the artist, she told me that he and his family had recently died a tragic deathe when their house exploded due to a leaking gas pipe, a story that made news headlines.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Usual Suspects

Tonight I had my second Japanese language lesson. It reminded me that attending a language class always comes with a sense of déjà-vu: there's always someone who should actually be in an much more advanced class and who likes to show off by adding 2 additional sentences when asked a basic one like "How are you?" or "What's your name?", just to let the mere mortals know that he or she knows so much more.

Then there's the exact opposite of that specimen, the person who stumbles over every single word and needs to see the sentence written on the blackboard in front of them in order to be able to say anything. That person can either be excruciatingly shy and attempt to slide under the desk in the hope of becoming invisible or be in fact extremely confident and completely blind to the fact that they are a hopeless case.

There also inevitably is "teacher's pet", the person who knows the teacher from their life outside the classroom, is on first name terms with them and shares insider jokes with them.

And there's lots of people like me who start with the best of intentions, fully intending to revise and to do all the assigned homework, but then start to slack halfway through the course. Ahem.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Dublin in a Nutshell. Or rather: Chicken Basket

I'm back from Dublin and thanks to the fact that I went to bed around 3 a.m. and got up at a quarter to 8 and then spent the greater part of the day at airports (flight via Zurich), I'm feeling quite knackered and not really inspired for a substantial blog post. It's not that I have any non-conference-related pictures to share here anyway, apart from this one:
The (in)famous spicy chicken wings from Elephant & Castle, my favourite Dublin food by far. It's an obscene amount of chicken wings and legs marinaded in a very vinegary sauce and served with celery stalks and a garlicky yoghurt dip. I'm not too keen on the latter, but the chicken wings are a truly unique experience. Although this dish is officially a starter, it is humanly impossible to finish a whole basket on your own as a main course even. The Empress, the Gazelle and myself shared 2 baskets among ourselves and didn't even finish it all. The schedule of our conference was very tight, but we decided to be naughty on Monday night and skipped the "family dinner" for a threesome. In order to discuss work strategies. Obviously.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


Well, not really high or spiky ones all, but a chunky 1940s kind of heel and yet I am quite surprised by myself anyway. They will probably have their "maiden voyage" on Tuesday night at a party in Dublin. I'm away at a conference from Mon-Wed, so you probably won't hear from me until I get back.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Amateur Farming

Have you ever noticed that ginger will grow new "branches" when left to shrivel up in a dark place? The new parts are all fresh and juicy so you don't regret the wasted dry parts. I, for my part find it quite fascinating. Ok, it might be a severe case of "get a life!", but as not much grows in my flat other than dust, it almost feels like my personal achievement.

Friday, October 01, 2010


In nostalgic memory of my trip to Japan last autumn and in preparation of a future one (hopefully next spring), I registered for a beginner's Japanese language course. The first class took place last night, in a smelly school classroom in the third district and with a surprisingly high number of attendees. I was 99% sure I would know the teacher from sight due to my "Japanese past" and she duly came over to me after class, telling me she knew she had seen me before, but wasn't quite sure where to place me. It's a small world. Well, it's a small Japanese expat community in Vienna anyway.

I'm not deluding myself that I'll be able to speak (or even read or write) proper Japanese after this course, but it might be useful to stock up on some useful phrases. Having worked with Japanese colleages and bosses for 9 years, I've absorbed a teeny bit of basic knowledge of Japanese - I guess you could call it some rudimentary passive language skills. These came in handy when we did a listening exercise and I seemed to be the only person able to hear where one word started and the other began.

I wasn't overly impressed by our sensei's didactic skills, but we'll see...
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