Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Underestimate the Importance of a Full Length Mirror

On Easter Saturday, the Pampered Princess, her sister and I have a tradition of meeting for a coffee in downtown KLU. Now that the PP is a mother of two beautiful boys, we tend to meet at at "Neuer Platz" at a café right next to a little "rabbit hutch" where kids can pet real Easter bunnies. From our coffee table, we had the best view of kids and parents alike and as it took ages for our orders to arrive we amused ourselves by bitching about passers-by. This lady with her faux Louis Vuitton bag and equally faux animal hide flats gave us plenty of fodder for our bitch-fest:

Being dressed in allover fire-engine red like an Austrian Airlines flight attendant is a matter of personal taste, but come on, squeezing your perfectly fine and attractive shape that would look great in well-cut clothes into a most unflattering outfit simply cannot be a deliberate choice. And if you think it was just a (very common) matter of lacking a mirror for rearview inspection, I think the lady only owns a bathroom cabinet mirror that just reaches as far as her - admittedly rather impressive - cleavage:
Perhaps she thought tight = sexy? It really almost causes me physical pain to see people dress their worst, no matter what shape they are and this is NOT in any way to imply that I consider myself perfect. Far, far from it, but I do believe that I try my best not to force myself upon the public in an outfit that makes me look like a 170cm long sausage.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Lingerie for Aliens

Last week at the spa, Mademoiselle and I enjoyed a "parallel" treatment, i.e. were being pampered simultaneously by two beauty professionals.  Before they began, one of them explained the various procedures and asked if we wanted disposable knickers. I could not be bothered, but Mademoiselle wanted one and as I was curious so I said "yes", too. We each received a sealed transparent package and took out...THIS: 
You could almost see the huge cartoon-type question marks above our heads. Huh? How on earth were we supposed to put on this "underwear" which was only an elasticated tissue-band. When she could hear our stifled giggles, the beautician called to ask if everything was o.k. "Erm, we're obviously too stupid to understand how these knickers work", I replied, pointing at mine. "Ooops, I gave you two headbands instead", she apologised. Aaaaah, this explains it. I prefered to stay naked while M. got a sexy blue Tarzan-style specimen that actually fit her nether regions.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


As I've already mentioned, I got lots of things done during my Easter vacation. Here's another one... getting an eyelash perm. Months ago, I made my first ever purchase on Groupon. I blame our intern. "Are you registered with Groupon?" he asked. "Yes, but only out of professional interest. I've immediately filtered those daily e-mails to bypass my inbox ." As we were talking, I idly clicked on the "shopping" label of my GMail account to check what deals I'd been missing out on. Only to discover that one of the two day's specials was an eyelash perm. How cool! I'd always wanted to look into a method of having my ugly superstraight "pigs' yelashes" stay curled for a longer time than my Shu Uemura eylash curlers achieve. For a mere € 12,90 it was worth giving it a try. I bought a voucher and printed it out. Last week, the time had come to redeem it. In order to show the success, I've made some before and after pictures - close-ups in relentless details, so please forgive unplucked eyebrows, huge pores, oily skin and crow's feet reminiscent of a 90-year old. On all of these pictures I'm wearing no make-up whatsoever and of course no mascara either:
See what I mean with pigs' eylashes?

Nicely curled now.
And again from the other side.

The curl lasts one natural life-cycle of an eyelash. The procedure is completely painless if not exactly easy on impatient people like me. I've never had a real (as in: for the hair on my head) perm, nor my hair professionally died, so I don't know how long this takes, but it is definitely not the most pleasant of sensations to be told to keep your eyes firmly shut for more than 45 minutes. The two 20-minute intervals for the different potions to work their miracle seemed like an eternity and it is strange to have to wait without being able to look at a watch. It was definitely worth it and I'm happy with the result and the fact that for once I wake up with curled eyelashes.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Baking

When I moved out from my parents' at the age of 18, I took a ring binder with me to Vienna that I filled with a best-of of popular tried-and-tested family recipes and some more that I copied from cook books and magazines. I had previously discovered a recipe for brioche which was printed on a packet of dried yeast of the Dr. Oetker brand. It was easy to make and really delicious and so I used to make little yeasty crescents quite frequently. I had used the recipe for probably 10 years when suddenly I remembered it and decided to make "Easter nests". I

have to admit this was the only culinary activity I indulged in at my parents' this holiday - I mainly let myself be spoilt...

Now for the recipe, which I'm sure you'll find as gratifying as I do. Dried yeast is much easier to work with than fresh one, yielding just as great results in my personal opinion.


400 g flour
1 pinch of salt
3/16 l milk
80 g sugar
100 g butter
2 egg yolks
1 sachet of vanilla sugar
grated zest of 1 organic lemon
1 sachet of dried yeast (21 g)

decorating sugar (optional)

Combine flour, salt, sugar, lemon rind, yeast and vanilla sugar. Heat butter and milk to 37° approx. and add to the other ingredients. Add one egg yolk and knead to a (sticky) dough. Form a ball and leave to proof in a warm place for half an hour or so. I like to leave the dough in the bowl I use for mixing and cover it with a clean dishcloth which I tuck under the bowl.

Knead once more and cut the dough to whatever size you need for your crescents, braids or wreaths. Whisk the other egg yolk with some milk and brush your creations with it. Add the decorating sugar if you want. Leave to proof in a warm place for another 30 minutes.

The midday sun was perfect for proofing the dough:
Preheat the oven to 180° and bake for 15 - 30 minutes, depending on the size of the shapes you formed.

It tastes best on the same day but keeps well for 2 days or so. I recommend freezing some of it if you don't intend to eat all within the next few days.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I really enjoyed my holiday and also my - sort of - internet fast. My only regrets are that it is over already and I am not exactly looking forward to what my (work) inbox has in store for me. So, what was I up to? I first spent 3 nights at Linsberg Asia spa with Mademoiselle as a sort of "consolation prize" for the trip to Japan which was not meant to be. We even had a "cherry blossom treatment" called hanakazumi to put in some cherry blossom element as well. This was the view from our hotel room:
The weather was very summery and we were mostly outside, reading magazines by the pool, exposing our pale winter skin to the impressively strong April sun and looking forward to dinner. Despite all the relaxation and luxury, we both agreed that we would probably freak out if we had to stay for an entire week and made an excursion to nearby Wiener Neustadt to pre-empt cabin-fever.

Back in Vienna, I got some things done that I don't have time for when at work, such as replacing the broken glass pane of a picture frame, getting a quote for the plan I'd drafted for my new and improved hall, driving to the Parndorf outlet center in the mistaken assumption there would be fewer people on a "normal" Wednesday (not so during a school holiday!), etc., etc. On Thursday I drove to KLU, stopping at my Granny's in Styria on the way. In KLU, more organisation matters followed such as having Flocki's tyres changed, shopping for a new bathroom cabinet (which in the end turned out to be a generous Easter present by my Dad), but mostly I enjoyed more glorious sunshine in the hammock in my parents' garden, reading and studying kana. The smell of lilac was gorgeous:
On Sunday, we had the traditional Osterjause, of course, consisting of ham, boiled eggs and horseradish. The cheese next to the eggs is not traditional, but a "souvenir" my Mum brought back from Montenegro, where she and a friend of hers had been during Holy Week. I don't know its name, but it is made out of sheep's milk and is smoked.
I also baked, but more about that in a separate post.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


As of today I am on vacation and I have decided to spend it mostly offline, i.e. without synchronysing my work e-mails on my mobile and with as little exposure to the internet as I can master without withdrawal symptoms. Until Tuesday I'll be soaking in hot water anyway. See you around!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Graz Is Also Stylish

The same night in Graz, I spotted some pairs of truly fancy wellies in a shop window. And you thought Hunter's were fancy, did you? Introducing the "stag and Edelweiss on a chequered tablecloth backdrop" style: 

If you're not so traditional and rustic in your style, there's also the "denim cowgirl" version. Wo-hey!
These funky wellies almost make you long for rain.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Graz is Colour-Blind

I spent a night in Graz (staying at this very nice hotel , by the way) on business earlier this week. On our way through the city centre, we passed this store next to Kunsthaus Graz which is either a good example of irony or a sad example of CI gone wrong:
The word "grün" (=green) written in red. Profound!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

And Yet More Pink

On my way to Frida's on Sunday afternoon, I noticed the beautiful Japanese cherry tree in full bloom on the opposide side of the square where she lives (and right in front of Mademoiselle's house, as it happens). As I won't be able to enjoy hanami in Japan this year, I have to take what I get, cherry-blossom-wise.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Let them Eat Glitter

I spent the greater part of my weekend returning my living room to its previous state, only cleaner. In between, I got a haircut and manicure, attended a 40th birthday party and finally delivered my birthday present (the computer engineer Barbie, as seen here) to my godchild. As promised, I also made "princess cakes" aka fairy cakes. The recipe * is dead easy and they are nowhere near as calorific or sickeningly sweet as they look. Highly recommended if you don't have much time but want to impress your guests.

With my muffin moulds I got 16 cakes out of the dough and it's always like a chemistry lesson to get a huge bowl of icing just with one single egg white beaten over simmering water. This time, I did not have enough icing sugar and so used one third caster sugar. It still turned out perfectly:
This is what the cakes look like before the icing has dried (takes about 4 hours at least).
Frida, my goddaughter's mother, liked the cakes so much I promised to make them for her birthday in May as well. Perhaps with a more grown-up decoration.

* instead of self-raising flour I use plain flour and one teaspoon of baking powder.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Paying for Kangaroos

When I mentioned I was flying to Dublin at last Saturday's Tupperware party, Amica and her husband sighed wistfully and said they were looking forward to revisiting Dublin for their tenth wedding anniversary (they got married in Dublin). On a whim, I packed a padded envelope with her address and decided to send a symbolic "CARE package" to Amica. There's a little post office counter in the SPAR supermarket right next to the office and I dashed out on Tuesday morning to drop it there. Remembering the postage in Ireland being slightly lower than in Austria, I found the amount rather hefty and thought that raised postage fees must obviously put another strain on the recession-hit Irish. It was not until yesterday, when I emptied my wallet of receipts that gave the An Post receipt a closer look. I had paid for postage to AustrALia. Had I been in the U.S. or anywhere else outside Europe this would have been expected behaviour and I would have added "EUROPE" underneath. Mental note: always check your receipts on the spot. The good thing is that Amica got the envelope yesterday so I definitely can't complain about slow delivery. 

Well, happy to have helped the Irish economy anyway :-)

Friday, April 08, 2011

Public Transport Adventures

Last night on my way home from work, I discovered a new shoportunity right in the middle of the two U3 platforms in Herrengasse station: on the occasion of the U3's 20th anniversary, a guy was selling books on "subway art". I didn't stop to take a look at the book, but it was a rather unusual sight.

Some minutes later, I got on tram number 9 and was glad to have found a seat near the doors where I could park the suitcase from my Dublin trip. I was idly looking from the big tatooed guy in combat gear with an incongruously small dog on a leash to the approximately 6-year-old boy he was talking to when I noticed something...disturbing. The boy had a real (as in: LIVING) snake wrapped around his neck and shoulders. Don't ask me what type it was, I don't want to know, but it was a rusty brown and as wide as the boy's arms. Now I noticed why there wasn't exactly a crowd in the rear part of the tram where the boy was sitting. Most passengers had taken a seat in a safe distance and were eying the animal with suspicion. A guy with a slavic accent sitting behind me asked if it was dangerous. The man replied it wasn't. His reply to the question whether it had teeth was, "it doesn't have teeth, it's a constrictor snake, you know." Gulp. How comforting to know. He also showed the guy another, smaller, snake he had in one of the pockets of his jacket and when they got off at my station, he casually picked up the animal from the boy's shoulder and stuffed it into another pocket.

I don't even want to know what other lovely "pets" people take for an excursion on public transport. For the record, I've seen a pig and rats on the subway. I just hope that the owners of furry spiders stick to their own cars. 

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Sleeping with Thomas. And William

I got up at 4:30 a.m. this morning and am feeling duly zombified. Yawn. Thankfully, the few hours I slept were spent on an extremely comfortable mattress. In fact, I can wholeheartedly recommend the hotel we stayed in, the Schoolhouse Hotel. If you are looking for a quirky alternative to the usual business-hotel-chains, this might be the answer. As the name implies, it used to be a school: 

There are only two floors and all rooms are named after famous Irish authors. I stayed in the Thomas Moore room on the ground floor: 

Each room has a different colour-scheme and is decorated with matching wallpaper and bedspread, such as the pretty William Morris fabric chez Thomas:

I also liked the bathroom, which unlike the room itself still looked very primary-school-ish:

Last night I went for after-work drinks to the Schoolhouse pub and had spicy chicken wings that almost gave those of Temple Bar's Elephant & Castle a run for their money. Do try, if you like vinegar!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Law of Nature?

I'm still in Dublin and haven't had time for longer posts, nor for downloading and editing photos taken with my new (!) camera, so this will just be a quickie. My outbound flight made me wonder whether it was inevitable to share a plane with hordes of shrieking teenagers on their way to a "language holiday" whenever I fly to Ireland.
Aer Lingus = headache-inducing school-kids, it seems. At times like that I marvel at my many teacher-friends' patience! Last time I flew to Dublin, an Irish man remarked to one of the teachers when disembarking "I hope you've got enough Valium on you".

Monday, April 04, 2011

They Never Asked Me!

I'm in Dublin at the moment. When I arrived yesterday afternoon, I immediately headed into town to get the most out of the fact that unlike in Austria, shops are open on Sundays in Dublin. For nostalgic reasons, my first mission was a visit to my favourite bookstore of all times, Waterstones on Dawson street, only to discover... 

Shock! Horror! Thankfully, everything was still in its place across the street and Hodges Figgis seemed its good old self:
A friend whom I met last night explained that Waterstones was owned by the same company as HF (or vice versa) so when recession struck, it was decided that it didn't make sense economically to keep up two big bookstores in the same street. She also said that Waterstones was going to shut down its branches in the UK as well. Whether this is true or just a rumour, I have no idea, but it certainly makes me said. Having said that, I am fully aware that it's hypocrytical of me to bemoan the demise of brick&mortar bookstores and at the same time buy almost 100% of my book purchases online.

Sunday, April 03, 2011


Yesterday, I was idly leafing through BILLA's freebie magazine Frisch Gekocht, when something caught my attention in the ingredient list of various Easter-themed pastries:  a recommendation to get food colour etc. from Huh? I did not realise my favourite store in KLU that I've raved about here several times before now had a webshop, but it does - brilliant!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Life in Plastic, it's Fantastic.

Last night I fled the dirt and chaos in my flat (in my naiveté I had assumed the painter would be finished in a day, but he bid good-bye at 2 p.m. and returned this morning to finish his masterpiece) to attend my first ever Tupperware Party @ Amica's! She had invited lots of - surprise! - female friends to participate and there were 9 of us plus the hostess and "Ms. Tupper", Amica's extremely nice neighbour from their summer/weekend house. As you can see above, the lady brought a big part of the current "collection".

We also got to see the various tools and containers in action, here's Amica expertly grating a carrot for the salad, one of her twins watching eagerly:

Ms. Tupper demonstrating how to make little pizza-pies in a gadget that looks like a set of false teeth:
Chocolate-souffles with liquid center pre-oven:


...after having been steamed in the oven. The cream was whipped in an energy-saving gadget where you do a few turns with a crank handle and, hey presto! have whipped cream. You can see my order sheet next to the plate. More about my wonderful plastic spree when I receive the goodies from the hostess of the mostest.

Friday, April 01, 2011

D-Day. Or Should I say P-Day?

The painter arrived at 7 sharp and is already busy covering the parquet floor. Yay, one step closer to normality in my flat which currently consists of 2 more or less empty rooms and 4 rooms (including the toilet where I've also temporarily parked two shelves) crammed full with the stuff of those two. Shudder.
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