Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Domestic Goddess's little helpers

kitchenfriends(onemorehandbag)I thought I'd show you some of the cool kitchen utensils I recently got. Snow White gave me the grater with the bossy-looking lady for Christmas and last Saturday at my book club meeting I received a belated birthday gift from the same series. A vegetable peeler called "Samurai" (obviously). Ah, it's so much more fun attacking hapless ingredients with those gadgets, let me tell you.

Lunch-break-purchases: Lunch date at one of my favourite haunts when I was a student, hence only food.

Monday, February 27, 2006

I didn't mean YOU of course...

If I tell you that 95% of Austrians are xenophobic and highly prejudiced against foreigners that would be a pretty accurate estimate. About half of them openly admit it and are amazed when you don't agree with them that it "gives you a headache when you can't hear a German word on the tram, doesn't it?" or you can't understand what exactly is so threatening about plans to build a refugee shelter in their village. ("But just imagine how much more crime there is going to be!"). I won't even mention the older generation's irrational fear of dark-skinned people. The other half maintain that they have nothing against foreigners as such, BUT you know...

There's always been the "good" (read: rich) foreigners whose manners and traditions (Italians: "so noisy!", Americans: "no table manners, no dress-sense", Japanese: "taking pictures of everything", etc.) we might find ridiculous but who at least have the decency to bring lots of money into our country. Our German neighbours, from whom we are divided by a common language, are of course a completely different story, but we grudgingly admit that although they "have no sense of humour and leave miserable tips" we can't seem to get rid of them, no matter how hard we try and they're at least not as bad as the penniless immigrants.
In spite of the fact that we love holidaying in (tourist ghettos) anywhere nice and hot between Turkey and Thailand, go on Nile cruises and photo safaris in Africa and hoard half the supermarket stocks in Hungary and Slovakia every Saturday, we can only just about tolerate the natives of those countries in their natural habitat. Now, please don't get the wrong idea, of course we have nothing against them as such, it's just that, well... we'd much prefer if they stayed at home, thank you very much. If they must come, let it be as package-tourists, doing touristy things, staying in hotels and buying as many souvenirs as they can.
I'm not claiming I'm holier than thou and entirely free of prejudices myself, which I am not, but at least I recognise a prejudice when I see one and willingly let myself convince just how unfounded it is. What I don't get is perfectly nice people - even friends and family, in fact - who roll their eyes and complain about Turks ("religious fundamentalists and wife-beaters" as we all know) in TD's presence, blissfully unaware that this might be insulting to him. It's mostly me who reminds them that he's Turkish as well. Cue: bewildered look and a mildly apologetic "Well, obviously, I didn't mean YOU. You're different". Right.

Yesterday we were visiting my great-aunt and uncle, both in their eighties. Great-uncle suddenly asked me if it was true that so many Turks lived in our district. I jokingly replied "Mhm, it's in fact so bad one of them even invaded my flat." At least he was honest enough to mumble something along the lines of "Well, I suppose that can't be helped" which was not exactly reassuring, either...

rt in full swing (onemorehandbag)

That's me playing Jane (as in Tarzan) on a playground round the corner from my relatives' yesterday. Childish? Me?

Weekend-purchase: I bought a really nice off-white (spring/summer) jacket with detachable hood on Saturday. No lunch-break indulgences today.

Friday, February 24, 2006

blogging alla turca

I have the feeling that I know some of my favourite bloggers (see sidebar) and their lives quite intimately by now, depending on how much they write about personal things. Some of them use their actual names, most have pseudonyms. In some cases I know their real names but still think of them in terms of their blogsphere-alter-ego. I see Novala once a week and TD every day of course, but other than that I don't actually have a very strong urge to communicate with my blogging friends outside the confines of our respective comment boxes or by exchanging the odd e-mail.

Not so TD and what I have come to call his "harem" of Turkish blogettes. He spends most nights talking over Skype with his new-found soulmate in Istanbul for hours on end, simultaneously chatting with a London-based Turkish blogger. Don't get me wrong - I'm not jealous at all, only somewhat bemused that for TD and the girls blogs seems to be more of a database or meeting point for pen-pals than an actual medium for communication . Interesting, that.

Lunch-break purchases: A cool (and rather summery) skirt from H&M, perfectly matching the bright green shirt, cardie and tights I'm wearing today. FCN agreed that it would have been an offense not to buy it...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

running commentary

On Tuesday night, I went to see Walk the Line with A., my new "cinema-friend". I met her at a party last summer and we immediately hit it off. Apart from being very funny and intelligent (PhD, impressive job, the works) she's one of those long-limbed, effortlessly stylish creatures with pale skin and naturally ginger hair that others (read: me) will never become. On top of all, she loves going to the cinema as much as I do, if not more.

As usual, I had to overcome my initial prejudices before I reluctantly agreed to see the film, rave reviews notwithstanding. I just had a feeling that I'd hate the music and it wouldn't be quite my kettle of fish. Again as usual I was proved wrong and found both the story (in particular the message that no matter how old or famous you are, you always remain the child of your parents and try hard to impress them) and the music very good. The protagonists, Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Whiterspoon sang surprisingly well. Professional qualities aside, I'm such a sucker for those slightly "mad" speckled green-brownish-greyish eyes of the triumvirate of Joaquin, Jonathan (Rheys Meyers) and Robbie (Williams). Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Next to us, or rather me, sat two elderly ladies. My guess is that they either aren't let out much or else were completely oblivious of their audible comments and sharp intakes of breaths. When Johnny Cash/Joaquin Phoenix got offered drugs for the first time, the lady to my right loudly exclaimed "Drugs!" in utter indignation. When (at that stage still married to someone else) Johnny makes advances to (equally married) June/Reese, they both went "Oh. NO!". When Johnny unexpectedly hits his head against a wall (I admit, it was neither a pretty sight, nor sound), my trusty commenter to the right let out a squeak worthy of a pig at the slaughterhouse. Somebody should have warned the biddies about the explicit content as in: there's going to be just a tiny bit more sex, drugs and rock'n roll in that film than in your average wildlife documentary.
It could have been worse, though. Those ladies could have been the smelly, mobile-phone-fiddling, noisily munching hat-wearing giants (2 metres tall with shoulders like a wardrobe) that usuall sit right in front of me but strangely enough didn't this time...

Lunch-break purchases: I made up for my slackness, expenditure-wise, by dragging FCN to ZARA where we bought a white blouse each and I also grabbed a long-sleeved black shirt and a tight-fitting black cardigan. Yep, basics, all of them so entirely justified.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

birds of a feather...

shaggy(onemorehandbag)flock dog together, don't they? I'm still rather busy at work and in a dangerous mood so I'll just share this photo - taken by TD in the Body Shop on VD when I went to claim my free perfume (for store-card holders) - with you. I'm not sure if you can see it that well but the lady is wearing a coat that seems to have been made out of close relatives of her four-legged friend. Very close ones.

Lunch-break purchases: Only food (a bagel and coffee) as I had a lunch-date proper.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


flowery bag (onemorehandbag)

This is the bag I got from Snow White last Friday. Cool, eh?

That's all from me for today - am in a nasty self-pitying mood, the less I write the better.

Lunch-break purchases: None. Walked around with FCN in the nice "spring-sneak-preview weather" with a little detour to MANGO, just for looking.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Weekend in KLU or: Gorillas in the Mist

I was too late. The skaters' paradise a.k.a. the frozen Wörther See had already thawed and all you could see yesterday was red and white tape and the odd suicidal person tiptoeing around on the lake. (Potentially bird-flu-infested) swans didn't seem to care, though. TD and I basically spent the weekend as lazy as my parents' cat whom I'll call "the Beast" to protect his identity in the blogsphere ;-)FebinKLU(onemorehandbag)

On Saturday, while TD and my Dad were cheering on our Olympic heroes (that was pre drug scandal) from the sofa, Mum and I engaged in winter sports somewhat more actively and went skiing on Gerlitzen, one of our usual haunts. The weather didn't look too promising but as I knew I wouldn't be back to Carinthia before Easter (which is very late this year so skiing excursions are rather unlikely) I wanted to go skiing quite badly and decided to brave the elements. Gorillas in the Mist is what came to my mind when we disembarked from the chair lift. Just as well I wasn't wearing a white ski suit or I'd have been completely invisible. I've never seen fog as dense and as white as that. I actually got really nauseous as skiing into an unknown direction on invisible ground and with gale-force winds to boot is a somewhat unsettling experience. It got better though the closer we got to the valley which is why all people stuck to the one slope out of 10 or so where you could see your own skis as well as the person skiing right in front of you.

Lunch-break purchases: Only groceries and toiletries (cellulite-cream season has been declared open, more about that obsession of mine another time). On Saturday, Mum waited in the car while I hopped out in "downtown" Klagenfurt in all my ski-gear glory to bulk-buy what was left of beads in an arts and crafts store which is closing down and selling all its merchandise for 50% of the original price.

Friday, February 17, 2006

it's to boots what Viagra is to...*beep*

(airmici)onemorehandbagOn Saturday I told you I'd bought something interesting at the MAK shop. Ta-dah, here it is, my pair of airmici. Sayonara, sad, flaccid boots. Hello-oh, erm...erect boots. No more clumsy shoe tree but clever inflatable boot-supports available in different designs. I only bought one pair (at EUR 9 they're not exactly a bargain), see above, but it's worked wonders on my knee-high suede boots.

I'm off to the (not so) Sunny South for the weekend. The original plan was to go skating on the Wörther See once more but alas, that's probably not going to happen given the comparatively high temperatures. Ah well, at least skiing is more fun when you don't freeze solid on the chair lift.

Lunch-break-purchases: None. But this doesn't mean I did not return to the office with something new. A bag, to be precise. I had a lunch-date with a good friend. I was tempted to call her "Balkan Babe" because of the great alliteration and in allusion to her origin but the she's actually no babe but the most effortlessly elegant person I know. I'll call her "Snow White" - dark hair, fair skin - instead. We finally got round to exchange birthday presents (hers is a week before mine). I gave her a handbag (BREE, from my bulk-buying spree at the designer outlet last month) and so did she (BRIC'S). I love it and have decided to post a photo of it next week. Until then: have a great weekend and don't do anything I wouldn't do.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


just a few bags(onemorehandbag)

You know I have a bit of a "thing" for bags and I've shown you my most recent acquisitions but you might have wondered how many exactly we're talking about. In the picture above you can see a good 70% of the collection, count them if you want - I won't. The rest is stored away in IKEA-boxes on top of my wardrobe (too summery) or at my parents' place (too old-fashioned, but might come back in fashion, you never know).

That's not that many, is it? See, I don't think so either and there's always space for some more. On the floor.

No lunch-break purchases. You wouldn't believe how boring wandering around in the city center can get at times. I wish some new shop would open. Any shop. Yawn.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A letter from God. No, really!

When I took my filofax, mobile phone and lunch out of my bag at the office this morning, I also unearthed an elegant burgundy envelope. Where did that come from? I dimly remembered getting it from a frumpish-looking middle-aged lady yesterday when I got off my bus at "Volkstheater". She handed it to me with a beatific smile and a meaningful "it's a Valentine's Day gift". After having fingered the envelope and ascertained that no actual gift was in it I'd assumed that it must be some voucher for a boring new restaurant or something and dumped it in my bag. Mind you, the envelope did look quite upmarket and promising but in all the drama and excitement yesterday morning I complete forgot about the omnious gift.

This morning I opened the envelope. Out came an invitation saying "time for a rendezvous?" and, in smaller, cursive print "let's take time to talk to one another again" and the details for a "rendezvous with God" at Stiftskirche church on Mariahilfer Straße. Furthermore enclosed was a "letter" written in dark red italics on transparent paper. The header read "to the best idea I've ever had" and it was dated " 14 February 2006, Feast of St. Valentine". After some excerpts from psalms (which I know thanks to the helpful little footnote) along the lines of "I'm there for you if you're looking for me" it closed with "Lots of love and see you soon! God"

Gee, it's not every day you get a letter from God Himself.

I'm guessing the parish of "Stiftskirche" on Mariahilfer Str. wanted to protest against pagan consumerism taking over the sacred Feast of St. Valentine's and to stop doomed lapsed Catholics on their way to work to remind them of the true meaning of February 14. Fair enough. One or two of the recipients might actually have been impressed enough by God (nice handwriting by the way, I must say) making the effort to write to take him up on that rendezvous at Stiftskirche but personally I would have been far more impressed if all the money that must have gone into purchasing the expensive stationery had been used for, say, a donation to "die Gruft", a daycare facility for homeless people in walking distance from Stiftskirche. But then, that's just me...

Lunch-break-purchases: A new (white) bin for my bathroom. Sorry, I can't just buy glamourous things like bags and clothes every day...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


source:http://www.meish.orgI began today's Valentine's Day in true retailtherapist-style: leaving the house in a sulk (me, I like my exits dramatic), accusing an unshaven (hatehatehate it) TD, who'd neglected to produce a card or bunch of flowers first thing in the morning and uncharacteristically not been near his desk so he could discover my present of being unromantic, which he isn't at all, actually. His post today which could be renamed "ode to retailtherapist with a bit of self-flaggelation sprinkled over it" (and which is not in Turkish, for a change) is proof of that. I am so not worthy of it!Really.

Anyway, an hour later he turned up at the office with cheeks as soft as a baby's bum, brandishing 11 absolutely beautiful loooooooong-stemmed roses (prompting another super-bitch comment from yours truly along the lines of "Great. And where do you suppose I'll find a big enough vase for these here at the office?") which you can see as background-motif at his blog today, a card and a box of Valrhona's "Carré de Cuanaja" chocolates. He'd planned all along to buy them at Lederleitner, Vienna's most prestigious flower shop paradise, which is round the corner from where I work. I was adaquately contrite and apologised for offending his honour as romantic hero #1.

The strange thing is - I don't actually give a shit about Valentine's Day at all and find that like Mother's Day it is one big conspiracy of florists, chocolate manufacturers and the greeting-card-industry. Until recently, it was no big deal here in Austria and husbands or boyfriends could get away without turning up with a red rose or some potted lilacs for the Missus. Thanks to my "foreign affair" I've since found out that Valentine's Day (or "lovers' day" as it is actually called in Turkish) is as big a deal in Turkey as it is in the U.K. or the U.S.A. where both parties buy gifts for their loved ones. I actually found out both about the Turkish and the Irish passion for it when I was (pretending to be) doing research for my thesis in Dublin in February 1996 and was staying with a friend of mine. Contrary to my hostess, her flatmate had a boyfriend and she was going on and on about what she was getting him for VD, what she was expecting to get from him. You get the picture. In the end, she got a small teddy bear and a huge one "to mind the small one" (no comment). Everyone was asking me what I had got for himself, as the Irish call their significant other. "Erm, I sent him a card", I replied. Shock! What, they have been going out for less than a year (i.e. should be madly in love still) and all she gets him is a card? Well, I actually thought a card and a phone-call was what I'd get from TD as well. Wrong, so wrong. First, a little book of love poetry arrived. Then, with DHL no less, a heart-shaped bouquet of dried roses. This sent my temporary flatmates and all their friends over the edge. The corner of the living-room where I stored my personal belongings more or less became an altar to TD's love and affection and whoever would come to visit would be dragged there immediately ( "Look what she got from her boyfriend, isn't that gooorgeous!") and they'd stand there, admiring his offerings for half an hour with me trying to escape to the kitchen where I'd pretend not to have heard the inevitable "And, what did she get him?" from the visitors. They'd be filled in in low tones by the flatmates anyway, tutting about this Austrian ice-queen who obviously refused to play by the VD rules.

Basically this is why I have certain expectations, you know. TD brought it on himself by setting such a high standard the first year. And I'm still a heartless bitch all the same...
Lunch-break purchases: Only groceries. Went to take the chef's torch (leaking valve) back to the shop...

Monday, February 13, 2006

my first ever meme: 4 things

I've never liked those chain-mails people send you by e-mail, urging you to send them on to 3.500 other people like, immediately, or else you'll die sad and lonely. I've lost count of how many times I've gambled with my (sad) fate and pressed the "delete" button but getting tagged different story altogether! Here, I have a confession to make - when I first came across the expression "tagged with a meme" (@ Petite Anglaise's) months ago, I had no clue what that was about and googled like mad. I asked my resident native speaker of English, FCN, who as a non-blogger didn't speak "blogspeak" either and therefore couldn't enlighten me. Well, I've long since found out- it's more or less a little questionnaire and Novala tagged me for my first one yesterday.

4 jobs that I had
*working at the meat-counter at a SPAR supermarket in Pörtschach (I was 17 and it was such a horrible summer-job nightmare that I didn't take another summer-job for years and couldn't eat anything containing meat for weeks. Yuck!)
*sales assitant in a dodgy clothes shop in a dodgy shopping mall in Vienna's dodgiest district (Saturday-job in my first year in Vienna)
*working part-time at a translation bureau (mad boss, messy office!)
*teaching English at a summer-school for studens who had to re-take their exams (none of them passed, ahem)

4 films I could watch again and again
Beautiful Thing
Love Actually
La Boum (Part One)
Monsoon Wedding

4 places I have lived at
Klagenfurt (for the first 18 years of my life)
Dublin (1993/94)
Vienna (23rd district, 1990-94)
Vienna (15th district, 1994-now, moved to my present flat in '98)

4 TV-series I like(d) to watch
Desperate Housewives
Sex and the City
the Wonder Years
Northern Exposure

4 places I have been on vacation to
(more or less recently:)
Hong Kong (most exciting city-break ever)
Istanbul (never gets boring)
Riga (beautiful city, rather hostile locals)
Alexandria, VA (very picturesque, liked it in spite of myself)

4 websites I visit every day
see "shopping list" in the sidebar

4 books
Among the books I read last year, these 4 have impressed me most:
The Kite Runner,Khaled Hosseini
Case Histories, Kate Atkinson
Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
Nowhere Man, Aleksandar Hemon

4 favorite dishes
any kind of salad that contains rucola and lots of vinegar
spicy chicken wings from the Elephant & Castle in Dublin
(really fresh) sushi or maki
überbackene Schinkenfleckerln prepared by my Mum

4 places where I'd like to be right now
London (visiting the Tate Modern and shopping)
Klagenfurt (ice-skating on the Wörther See)
in the cinema, watching a good film
at home on the sofa, reading a good book

I'm tagging those 4 people (no problem if you don't feel like it):
Turkish Delight

Breaking News! U.F.O. runway in Schönbrunn

Yesterday afternoon TD, the Mermaid and I went for a walk in the palatial gardens of Schönbrunn. It had more or less snowed all weekend and so it was once more a winter wonderland of sorts. No, the Mermaid and I are not childish, whatever gave you that idea?schoenbrunn(onemorehandbag) That's the view from the "Gloriette" down to the imperial palace, by the way. From there, the Gloriette looks like that (see photo on the right below - dramatic clouds, eh?). On the left you can see an interesting U.F.O. airstrip with a jogger running past it, unfazed. Alien abduction? That might explain why our Empress Sisi is said to have indulged in some rather strange pastimes...
pending doom (onemorehandbag)Sadly, no little green aliens tried to abduct us or even offered to give us a lift back up the hill where we had parked our car. Even so, it was a lovely walk through the park where TD and I had our first romantic date last century. (On a sunny day in May 1995 to be precise).

Lunch-break-purchases: A magazine for me and a little surprise for TD. Sorry, can't tell you (yet).

Sunday, February 12, 2006

introducing Jamie Öztürk

When I came home on Thursday night, TD was busy preparing a light Mediterranean-Balkan-fusion dinner: instant Turkish tomato soup seasoned with ajvar sauce for some extra kick, served with feta cheese crumbled into it and fresh bread from a Turkish bakery I bought on the way home. When I walked into the kitchen I remarked "Wo-hey, Jamie Öztürk's at it again". He found it hilarious (note: Öztürk is a typical Turkish surname - and no, it's not TD's real one - a bit like Smith in the anglo-saxon world) and promptly donned the sexy sixpack-apron I'd bought at a market in Florence a couple of years ago. I took a photo and he has already published it on his site together with a post about Jamie Oliver's Turkish cousin. The title of the post translates to "Jamie Öztürk, stark naked chef" and the phonetic Turkish transcription of Jamie as Çeymi is actually not acurate as it should be "Ceymi". With the "Ç" it would be pronounced"Chamie", which is his way of slagging off the typical Austrian (not mine, I hasten to add) mispronounciation of voiced consonants in any language whatsoever. The cheek of him! Do check out the hot photo, though...

PS: My better half just read my post and urged me not to mislead my 2.5 readers. So. Mr. TD does not only make instant soup but his erm...fascinating culinary repertoire also includes various non-instant soups which are de-lish-ous. Ok. You may take the gun away from the back of my head now, darling.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

ready, steady, cake

I did not bake a cake on Thursday night as I said I would, indulging in "extreme-couching" instead. This morning I finally got down to it. It's a really simple cake and so delicious that I guarantee you everyone who tries it will want the recipe. I got it from the Mermaid and therefore decided to call it "Mermaid Cake" for the purpose of this blog. I initially christened it "Heidrun-Torte" as the Mermaid got the recipe from a mutual friend's mother whose first name is Heidrun. It's actually a kind of cheese-cake with a twist and you don't even need a mixer to whisk the ingredients together. You do , however, need an ingredient which might be hard to come by in your part of the world, Topfen (in Austrian German, which is the same as Quark in German German), an integral part of Austrian cuisine. It's often translated as curd or curd cheese but you can use either ricotta cheese, sour cream or creme fraiche as substitutes if you can get any of those. So, if you want to impress your friends with a cheesecake but don't have the time or energy (it really is as easy as the Christmas cookies for dummies recipe) to spend ages in the kitchen, here goes:
mermaidcake(onemorehandbag)Mermaid Cake
6 tablespoons semolina
1 teaspoon baking powder
100 g sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
500g curd (see above)
2 large or 3 small eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
grated zest of a lemon
2 tablespoons fruit juice (I used mango juice)
130g melted butter at room temperature

+ fruit of your choice for decoration - I used (half of a fresh) mango and have also tried it with blueberries. You could also use canned peaches for example

+ almond shavings (optional, but it's a good trick from preventing the top from browning too much too soon)

Preheat your oven to 180°. Just whisk together all ingredients in a bowl and pour into a buttered (springform) pan. Decorate with fruits and cover with almond shavings. Bake for about 55 minutes (until firm).

Let cool (it tastes nice hot, too, by the way) and serve chilled.

Good luck!

I bought something really interesting at the MAK design shop this afternoon. Stay tuned.

Friday, February 10, 2006

when I said the other day that I bought tights with a "really wild print" I wasn't exaggerating.

wildtights(onemorehandbag)Or was I? [Foot fetishists or hosiery perverts who might have crash-landed here thanks to the "next blog" button and imagine lots of hot leg pics hiding in old posts- I am very boring and unadventurous really. And I categorically don't "do" high heels. Sorry. Not that the flattering elephant-with-club-legs-view really makes you drool but you never know...].

Needless to say, I'm wearing the tights (and the MD bag which is the same shade of turquoise) today and have had all kinds of interesting comments by co-workers.

Thankfully (no, really) I'm inundated with work I got in addition to the homepage project and actually need to get back to translating the report I was given this morning. It's amazing how time flies when you have something to do for a change! I didn't even have time for eating the usual obscene quantities of chocolate and biscuits this morning and only noticed when my stomach was growling angrily in my lunch-break.

From which, by the way, I have just returned without having spent any money. Miracles do happen.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

keeping things in perspective

Yesterday afternoon, some hours after my little emotional outburst, Amica called me on my mobile, crying. In all the 16 years I've known her, I've not once seen her loose her countenance. She, on the other hand, has had the dubious privilege of experiencing some of my trademark drama queen moments first hand. One spring day back in 1994 when we spent a year in Dublin together I accused her of being really cold and brutal (she'd criticised me for something I felt wasn't my fault) and stormed off in a huff worthy of a five-year old, sobbing inconsolably. In my defense I have to say that my nerves were somewhat on edge after having been dumped by an Irish fellow student not that long before. Anyway, the good girl spontaneously raided the tulip and daffodil beds in front of the Arts block of UCD and turned up on my door-step (we both lived on campus, but in different flats) with a bunch big enough to supply Fleurop for a week. Anyone observing the scene probably thought we were lovers what with all the passion and grand gestures involved. Later she apologized for having been mean to me and told me it was the first anniversary of her father's death. I was shocked that she hadn't told me what was bugging her, but that's Amica for you - not given to showing weakness, not even vis-à-vis her closest friends.
When I heard her sob into the phone, I immediately knew that something horrible must have happened and I also immediately suspected it was because of "the sick one" of her 5-month-old twins, knowing they'd gone to Linz (where apparently the best cardio unit for children is) for a check-up after C.'s open-heart surgery in November. Well, it turned out that there will have to be another one and although doctors told her it would only be a minor corrective operation, she was distraught, thinking about the last time when they were supposed to stay there for 2 weeks and in fact had to stay for a month. This is no piece of cake when you need to find someone to look after your firstborn (toddler) back in Vienna and when your husband has already used up all the nursing leave he had got. Logistic nightmare, never mind fears about possible complications. I did my best to comfort her and felt super stupid for having let hormones get the better of me and started blubbing at the next best stimulus.
Well, here at Drama Queen Ltd. things look much brighter anyway. Yesterday afternoon my boss successfully downloaded the Japanese sofware I needed which means that I can work on the website from my computer while the other one is now officially on its deathbed. When I got home last night I found that TD had ironed the pile of clothes and duvet covers that had been gathering dust already in a dark corner of the spare bedroom and had also made me (really yummy) toasted sandwiches. The sweetie! Thus fortified, I went out to meet a former colleague whom I hadn't seen since FCN's wedding last September.

Speaking of colleagues: my crazy extra-terrestrial roommate unceremoniously handed me my birthday present (remember - birthday was on January 29) earlier today. The Monday after my birthday when I was being spoilt with pressies from my other colleagues she hadn't even congratulated me. Today she handed me a bag of ground coffeee (unwrapped) and a heated stainless steel coffee mug which you plug into the cigarette lighter socket in your car. She'd already given the same gadget to another colleague some weeks ago and it sort of made sense as the latter at least commutes to work by car. Whereas I do not and in fact basically only use my car on weekends when I am well-fortified by my moring coffee and don't usually get caffeine withdrawal symptoms on the road. Never mind, it's the thought that counts. The real gem came when she told me she went to the trouble to order it for me as "you said you wanted one as well". Must have been one of those voices in her head.

Lunch-break purchases: Only groceries (am planning to bake a cake tonight) and a magazine (Jolie, very convenient handbag-compatible A5 size...). I'm wearing the trousers I bought yesterday, by the way.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

cinematic repression therapy

Even though these days I feel like strangling my boss and attacking the dying computer I have to work on with a machete between 9 and 5:30, I have vowed not to let THEM get me down in my well-deserved me-time. What always does the job to get my mind off the futility of my job is watching a good film. Last night I went to see a Swedish film called Sa som i himmelen (As It Is in Heaven) which once more convinced me that there must be something in the water in Sweden which makes films of Swedish provenance so damn good. I can't actually remember having ever seen a bad or boring film by a Swedish director. Fucking Amal, Together , Kopps and above all, Jalla!Jalla! come to my mind, which were all brilliant.

I found As It Is in Heaven very moving and even the protagonist who seemed outright repulsive at the beginning really grew on me. I readily admit that it doesn't take much for me to cry my eyes out. In fact, if you tell me a sad story, I have to make an effort not to weep in sympathy. Despite that, I don't cry at all at most of the supposedly "romantic" or "tragic" things in typical Hollywood blockbusters, maybe because they're all so predictable. Same with their in-built thigh-slappers. Doesn't work for me. Give me a melodramatic, nostalgic, wickedly funny European/Asian film however and I feel almost drained from emotions when I come out of the cinema. Mind you, I don't like European films just by virture of their origin. Certain Austrian directors for example are more of a hazard for dislocating your jaw from excessive yawning.

*contemplates* After having outed myself as a crybaby will I admit that I was more than just close to tears of frustration this morning? I was holding the fort while crazy roommate was on her lunch-break and busy thinking positive non-office things when a colleague dropped by. He is known to park himself in my room for hours on end, obviously not completely adverse to my company. As I pretty much listed all the things I hate about working at Coma HQ in minute detail to him yesterday he asked me how the homepage-project was coming along. Wrong cue, very wrong. I advised him to better leave me alone which of course had him intrigued all the more and made him stay to watch me avert my tear-streaked face in speechless fascination. This is completely at odds with my office persona, the always cheerful (if cynical) and friendly colleague. Two minutes or so later I managed to snap back into chirpy mode and talked to him for 40 minutes until crazy colleague came back. Great, I'd violated unwritten office rule #2, Avoid Public Displays of Emotion at Work at all Cost (rule #1 is Never Fuck the Office in case you were wondering) Bummer, but here we go. I did not tell him but PMS does seem to have a lot to answer for...

Lunch-break purchases: The morning I had obviously called for what we call Frustshoppen (frustration shopping = retail therapy) in German. I bought a pair of trousers and tights with a really wild print at H&M before I hit Meinl am Graben for some overpriced imported goodies, including yummy French creme brulée (comes in little glass dishes with the brown sugar in extra sachets) for trying out the chef's torch I bought earlier this week.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit?

Before you think I'm in a suicidal mood, that's the title of the book I just finished. Its subtitle is "The Encyclopedia of Modern Life" and it's basically just one long rant of its two authors, Alan McArthur and Steve Lowe. After I had read a favourable review in a magazine (I believe it was in one of TD's lad's mags) I knew I just had to order it straight away.

Well, I was not disappoined as I totally agree that the majority of the phenomena and protagonists of "modern life" the authors so mercilessly bitch about are pretty ridiculous. Ok, there was no need really for them to slag off MY Robbie, the one for whom I risked frostbite but then again they do have a point. Sort of. Some of the A- and B-list celebs they dismantle are not well-known outside the British isles but that didn't spoil the superbly written rant-fest for me. Loved it.
If I were to write a similar book right now, the title would go something like "Is it Just Me or Are Japanese Bureaucrats Worse Than Any Other?" Alternatively "If there Were an Offense Called Japonicide, I'd Be Very Tempted Indeed to Commit it. With My Bare Hands".

One of the wonderful new tasks yours truly recently was made in charge of is the revamping of our website. In spite of the fact that I have the web-designing skills of a (broken) vacuum cleaner I'm pretty confident that I can manage with MS Frontpage and the templates we got from Big Brother in Japan. My boss asked me to tell him how long the revamping process would approximately take so he could report that back to Japan. Well, not actually that long if I bloody had a computer that doesn't bloody crash in 5-minute intervals. Data for our website is on a "special" computer conveniently not located in my room but upstairs, right next to boss's desk. He's aware that said computer is on the fast track to the happy hunting grounds of tech-waste and has wisely applied for the budget to buy a new one. It's just not sure when and IF Big Brother in Japan will o.k. the frivolous purchase. And no, we don't have any other spare computers in the house so if anybody's workstation dies, they better acquaint themselves with the retro charm of the common typewriter. I wouldn't mind working from my computer either, but, alas, I don't have Japanese software installed. As I don't understand Japanese, that tragic lack has not worried me too much up to now but it means that I wouldn't be able to open/work with the Japanese templates which contain Japanese source-code. Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. So far, none of our in-house erm...experts (computer skills, vacuum cleaner, broke, see above) has been able to tell me where I could download/obtain it.

The ironic thing is that before my mysterious upgrade some weeks ago, one could actually switch to Japanese on my computer. Yeah, I know, never ask "why".

No lunch-break purchases apart from a watch battery and a Subway sub (6" veggie, for the record). What was a veritable winter wonderland this morning has since turned into the usual snow-in-the-city nightmare with passing cars spraying you in brown slush and I therefore decided to abort my rambling and return to Coma HQ earlier than usual.

Monday, February 06, 2006



I've decided not to bore you with more ice-skating trivia after all. If you do feel like some pictures of yesterday's excursion to lake Neusiedl and can't be bothered with the text anyway, you might want to pop over to TD.

Instead, I think I'll torture you a little with my latest culinary exploits. On Saturday, we had the first dinner guests of 2006, FCN and hubby, "Mr. FCN". Another of my nice colleagues gave me Jamie's Italy for my birthday and I decided to make the starter and dessert out of that book. This is what I conjured up:

Aperitif: champagne (also nice with prosecco or other bubbly stuff) with pomegranate seeds and (Turkish) pomegranate syrup.

Starter: fried ricotta and tomato salad (I made the ricotta patties according to Jamie but had to add some extra flour as the first batch disintegrated in the frying pan. They were also a bit on the bland side so if I make them again I'll add some more seasoning)

Main-course: a tried and tested wintery dish (non-Jamie) I love: slow-roasted (in soy sauce, rice wine, star anise and cinnamon bark) pork with Asian mushrooms and rice. I also made a salad of Chinese cabbage, carrot shavings and spring onion, marinated with a (shop-bought) Japanese sauce made of fruit and vegetables, salt and pepper and lemon juice.

Dessert: lemon sorbet. This was really nice, if a bit too acidic for TD's taste. Tonight (to be devoured after swimming with the Mermaid) I'm going to try the same with half orange, half lemon juice. Ever since I bought an ice-maker this summer, I'm really into DIY ice-creams.

I love pretending to be a domestic goddess every now and then but much prefer cooking for guests to slaving over the stove just for the two of us. In my student days, pre cohabiting with TD, I lived on pizza slices and the only things that ever got produced in my kitchen were salads, pasta, sausages (as in heating up, not as in actually making them...) and Kaiserschmarren.

Lunch-break purchase: Hofer got chef torches (you know, those butane torches you use for caramelising the sugar on creme brulées) today and I needed one. Urgently, like.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

green-eyed monster

greeneyedmonster(onemorehandbag)At last! Due to technical problems @ Blogger I couldn't upload photos, nor publish a post all day. Just wanted to show you my new eye-shadow and wish you a good weekend which comes a bit late now. Don't do anythig I wouldn't do either because "big sister" is watching you. Well, with one eye anyway.

Friday, February 03, 2006

cramping my style

Just in case you ever wondered why I comment on other (non-blogspot) blogs under the pseudonym of "retailtherapist" but always use the name of my blog, i.e. "one more handbag" as my identity on blogger - well, blogspot didn't let me officially call myself retailtherapist, nor retail therapist, nor retail_therapist &c because someone else had obviously been quicker. I wouldn't have minded "shopaholic" either but yet again, someone seems to have reserved that name back in 2002. And not have have written anything apart from test test. Believe you me, it's hard to be adressed as "Hi, handbag" by everyone apart from my dear 2.5 readers who, incidentally, are all either related to me or bribed with sexual favours or bling jewellery. Ah, well...
This morning, I received a parcel from Amazon.co.uk which contained a book (belated birthday gift from English friend) with the title How to be a complete and utter failure in life, work and everything. 39 1/2 steps to lasting underachievement. Erm, do I really need a book to tell me how to underachieve? As far as I know that's my special field of expertise, no?

Last night I went to see The Constant Gardener with FCN. It was a really good and "intense" (sorry about that clichéd adjective) film, definitely not the kind you'd want to munch popcorn to. Both Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz were absolutely brilliant. Strangely enough, the constant-gardening motif was not actually explored in depth at all, it occured to me on the way home. As far as topic and subject matter are concerned it reminded me a bit of the Interpreter minus the somewhat annoying Nicole Kidman (not exactly my favourite actress) and with infinitely more impressive and shocking scenes shot in Africa.

Lunch-break-purchases: None, apart from bagels and tea/coffee for my favourite little cousin and myself. My dear cousin, known to commenters as "chiquita" (=the artist formerly known as "austrian chick") really stretched her student budget to get me things for my birthday which I love, being a bar of dark Valrhona chocolate and a divine Clinique eyeshadow-duo. I haven't mentioned this here yet, but I am very much an eyeshadow person and I think Clinique's are best. Mind you, I don't own nearly as many as Anne does...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

dream? nightmare, more like!

wiener eistraum (onemorehandbag)

I'm sure it will only be a matter of time until my 2.5 faithful readers want me to pay them for their service. I've realised that I might be the perfect embodiment of a sad "seasonal bore", someone who tortures perfectly nice and unsuspecting people with trite stories about Christmas baking for weeks on end before smoothly morphing into a monster who zealously loads up photos from frozen lakes and ice-rinks all across Austria. Sad. Does it come with age, I wonder?

Now. After this brief self-flaggelating break...here we go again.

Last night, the Pampered Princess and I decided to grace the (allegedly) new-and-improved ice-rink in front of Vienna's city hall. Austria's answer to the rink in front of the Rockefeller Center is called "Wiener Eistraum" (Viennese ice-dream). It might indeed be a dream for those who are raking in the hefty entrance-fees (EUR 5 for adults) but last night it was a nightmare for skaters who actually wanted to skate, as in: expecting there to be enough space for occasionally moving your legs. I was convinced some hooligan juvenile skater would crash into me/slice off my gloved fingers/ram an elbow into my eye-socket any second. It was about as relaxed and pleasant as swimming in a murky crocodile-infested pond. Make that very hungry crocodiles. The photos are actually very misleading as it doesn't look all that overcrowded at all plus you can't see the horribly rough and dull ice. I guess the icy nightmare won't see me again this season.

After 40 minutes or so, the PP and I gave our tickets to two girls and went back to her place palace for some tea and two Krapfen each.

Warning - more skating trivia coming up soon as I'm going to Neusiedler See again with colleagues on Sunday...

PS: I'm not joking you, it's 16:40 now and the crazy colleague I share a room with is asleep at/on her desk. She's snoring. Very loudly. Earlier today she asked me "**-chan, is my costume [sic!]strange today? People have been giving me strange looks" Erm, today? Every day, more like. FCN can vouch for the accuracy: she's wearing a harlequin-style marquee-size tartan-patterned monstrosity of a dress over leggings which have three (!) very visible holes in the left leg. Underneath the navy leggings (I didn't know such things even still existed) she is wearing what I call "prosthesis-coloured" beige tights.

Lunch-break purchases: I didn't have a date today so I decided to go to Interio to redeem my birthday gift (a boring black faux-leather frame I gave to a colleague) and 10 % discount voucher (I have their store-card). The sale was still on and so I bought an orange fleece blanket for snuggling up on the sofa with and a blue towel. On my way back to Coma HQ I briefly toyed with the idea of buying a French Connection t-shirt (50% off!) but then in an almost superhuman effort reasoned that I don't actually need FCUK-shirt-with-funny-print-that-you-can-only-wear-on-weekends-anyway number 15 or so. Must come with age too, these sudden flashes of reason and sensibility.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

the Czechs are at it like rabbits

Hah! I knew I could get your attention with that title. Little perverts, you.

Last night I finally got to see Bored in Brno, or Sex in Brno, as it is called for the German market which usually gets all films with horribly unimaginative titles. In this case, however, the title is apt as the film is in fact mainly about sex. Its central characters around whose "first time" the story evolves are a bit challenged on the looks and intelligence front with the female protagonist having really scary teeth that would give Austin Powers a run for his money. Despite all orthodontic and intellectual obstacles, the pair does get laid (sorry for the spoiler) in the end, as does basically everybody else who appears in the film. I don't know if you could call it an example of "Slavic humour", but I quite like that kind of laconic narration. Plus it was funny to see a film set in Brno which is more or less round the corner from Vienna. I'm not sure I like the fact that it was in black and white as it wasn't like the old-school black and white films - as in pre-technicolour - at all when all the contrasts were really sharp. It somehow looked quite fuzzy (then again that might have been deliberate), a bit like when you get black and white prints developed from a colour film. Not bad, but different. It took my eyes a good 30 minutes to adapt to the blurredness.

Tomorrow I'm going to see the Constant Gardener. Ralph Fiennes: drool.

Yet another purchase-free lunch-break as I had a lunch-date which included reveiving some more belated birthday presents. I got two Hello Kitty! bags (one I already had so it will be exchanged. Before you fear for my sanity, it's a kind of for-grown-ups range) and a set of anti-aging creams. They were supposed to be a joke but are very welcome all the same. No need for Polyfilla yet but you can't start too early, now can you?
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