Friday, December 31, 2010


I don't know what your 2010 was like. In case it didn't live up to your expectations you can take solace in this free card which I found at a café in Vienna. I like its simple and erm...subtle message: 
I gave one to S2 from my book club buddies as her year included a rather traumatic break-up and she was feeling rather low before Christmas.

The end of the year traditionally is the time to look back and reminisce and newspapers are full of Jahresrückblicke here.  Magazines all include horoscopes for the coming year and I decided to keep the 2010 edition to compare it with what actually happened.

What were aquarii promised? Brigitte's horoscope is very vague and leaves much open for interpretation. There's a lot of talk of "new impulses" and "challenges". If I "examine my expectations (...) nothing stands in the way of passion between January and summer." Okay...where was I when that happened, I wonder?! Jolie, on the other hand mentions that my love-life will be uneventful until the end of July, promising a hot date with "the twin Brad Pitt was separated from at birth" in August. Just as well Brad Pitt's not my type as - surprise - I did not bump into his twin. Maxima hints at "a hot summer flirt with a libra which might end in a longer liaison". Nope. It also said that "a lively gemini" will bring a new boost to my life at the end of April. Hmmm. I'm trying to remember if the gemini in my life (my Mum, the Pampered Princess, Mademoiselle, MC...) boosted me in any particular way. All three horoscopes say something along the lines of 2010 setting the course for great career chances. That, at least was true as I got a promotion.

My verdict - just as hit-and-miss as I've always thought and I'm sure there is some aquarius out there for whom one of these horoscopes was 100% accurate.

In reality, 2010 was quite an eventful year, not necessarily only with the kind of events I'd wished for, such as the death of one of my grandmothers and great-aunts only 2 weeks apart. These sad events actually did bring about a "challenge". By speaking at my grandmother's funeral (and later at my aunt's - "a vocation late in life", as Chiquita called it), I had created my own private go-to moment to remember later on whenever something seems daunting and impossible.

It was also a year of minor discoveries, such as that of my blood type (0+) after 38 years and the epiphany that someone appreciated me a lot more than I had till then assumed.

Bring on 2011 (never mind the horoscopes)!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

5 Sentences'll probably never hear from me:

  1. "But I already have a black (grey/red/blue/yellow/taupe/beige/green...) handbag -why would I buy another one?"

  2. "No, thanks. I don't eat chocolate/crisps."

  3. "You can find me on Facebook."

  4. "What a pity that I don't have my camera with me."

  5. "Men with facial hair are sexy."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Film or Finger

Yesterday, my Mum and I went skiing to Verditz, a small "resort" with a charming retro feel and ex-tre-me-ly slow chair lifts. The upside is that even when the parking lot seems full, the slopes are empty and you have them to yourself. Not bad! I wanted to shoot some short videos with my phone, but it was so freezing, I was afraid my finger(s) would drop off instantly if I took off my gloves for longer than it takes to press the shutter for a photo. So, photos it is:

The slopes were crisp and crunchy rather than icy as we had feared and when you were lucky enough to catch a ray of sunlight, it felt almost warm. We had originally planned to go skiing on Monday, but when we watched the weather forecast on Sunday night and the weatherman mentioned that temperatures in the mountains were -13° which because of the wind "felt like -27° we though "umm, not really" and postponed skiing to Tuesday. 

When we were frozen semi-solid, we went to a cabin to warm ourselves with sausages and a (fancy looking, but artificial-tasting) fruit-infusion for lack of our usual hot lemonade: 

Tea Amo. I hope the creative agency got a big bonus for that...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

KLU on Ice

Just as every self-respecting city strives to put up a giant ferris wheel, a downtown mini ice-rink has become a must. Klagenfurt is no exception and boasts a new attraction on Alter Platz. Rockefeller Plaza, it ain't, but I suppose it's ok for small kids: 
Tangent: The pharmacy you can see in the background is where I buy the cough potion I swear by and supply half of Vienna with: Asthmo Liquid.

For some reason, the mini-ice-rink reminds me of those cheaper types of swimming-pools that you can just place in your garden without having to dig a hole first and it looks a bit out of place there, in my opinion. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Southern Style

Now that the holidays proper are over and many people had to rouse themselves from their sugar-induced semi-comatose state and go back to work, normality is gradually taking over. People exchange their presents for something they actually like or that fits better or try to hoard discounted Christmas decorations for next year. Here are some Christmassy pics I took in Carinthia and wanted to share with you: 

Santa on the gallows as a punishment for delivering the wrong presents (again)?

Baubles and stars are, like, so yesterday...

Well, there was no place for the tree inside, what with all the presents. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Vanillekipferln (onemorehandbag)
If you live in Austria, you'll probably have eaten more Christmas cookies than you intended to at this stage. Most people's favourite are Vanillekipferln and most people try to make them as tiny and melt-in-your-mouth-able as possible. I am no exception. Can you guess which of the above I made? Yep, the one on the right. The other one was made by a (Japanese) friend of mine and was exceptionally big. I can definitely see the temptation of making bigger crescents as Vanillekipferln are among the most time-consuming beasts of all the traditional cookies. In order to finish 3 baking sheets worth of Kipferln, I worked through an episode of Desperate Housewives and 1.5 of Mad Men, a DVD set I wisely purchased before the baking season.

Why is it important to make tiny crescents then apart from them being more aestheticically pleasing? Well, Vanillekipferln are basically made of butter, nuts (there are different family recipes and heated discussions, I use roasted hazelnuts only) and sugar and even if most people end up eating 5 VK one after the other, it makes them feel better and less piggish if they eat several smaller ones than 1 or two giant ones. Personally, I also think small cookies taste better than huge ones, unless it's gingerbread which I quite like being big.

In case you get tempted, here's a link to my family recipe. Good luck!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Day After

So. Christmas Day. Last night was quite a subdued affair as after many years of celebrating in a larger group, it was just the 3 of us. It felt strange not to have Granny sit next to the tree, reminisce in Christmases past and volunteer to roll up all the ribbons while Mum sorts out torn wrapping paper from intact one.

Yesterday morning, I stopped by the Pampered Princess in her KLU residence. They had a stunning Christmas tree of almost White-House-proportions, with really pretty baubles:

It was heartwarming to see her eldest so excited about Christmas, listening at the door to the living room (where the decorated tree and all the presents where waiting) with his aunt to find out if he could hear Christkind rustling in there.

Christmas is all about traditions and so we had our usual fondue, a Christmas Eve staple in our household: 

The weather obliged by being traditionally miserably with half of the snow having thawed away and so Mum and I tried to avoid puddles on the way to Midnight Mass. 

I got lots of nice presents from friends and my cousins which I unwrapped and left in Vienna. Thus, there weren't that many presents, nor surprises, left, but I definitely can't complain. Months ago, I had chosen a drawing by an artist whose pseudonym is NN. My Mum had bought another of his works at a gallery in Salzburg and I picked another one from their website. Here is a detail:
I also got several pieces of jewellery of different materials (e.g. made by my Dad, picked when Mum and I were in MUC)  and other lovely things.  

I hope your Christkind/Santa was good to you, too!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Christmas card 2010 (onemorehandbag)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Escher Was Here...

When I went to pick up my artwork on Saturday, I noticed an interesting architectural feature in the courtyard of the gallery: 

A fire-"escape" leading, well...nowhere, unless you are a reptile or have suction on your hands and feet. Interesting. Is this perhaps the height where the fire brigade's ladders reach and you are supposed to calmly stand there and wait for them? (And I know for a fact that it's not some piece of art. I asked).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Art

I made myself an(other) early Christmas present, a piece of art:

It's an enamel "painting" by a Slovak artist. Frida has the same image in red and when I found out that there was an orange version as well - perfect for the orange theme of my living room - I had one custom made for me. I really like it a lot.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Right on Track

I recently stumbled upon some pictures on my SD card that I had meant to share with you ages ago and which are both train-related. One of them is a picture of the "Museum of Revolution", the former 20er Haus right behind the temporary Ostbahnhof "building". When I passed it early morning in my taxi to the airport (when I was flying to Manchester last month) it looked like a socio-realist postcard in the dawn:Ostbahnhof (onemorehandbag)
Also last month, the Book Club convened in Krems, where we were served a delicious Thanksgiving dinner by B1, and where we travelled by train. We were treated to snippets of invaluable local information by S1, such as that Tulln is famous for its sugar beets. Yay, there's whole wagonfuls of the big tubers:
Tulln (onemorehandbag)

Friday, December 17, 2010


Nexus S (onemorehandbag)New phone, new luck, hopefully. Since Wednesday, I have been playing with the brand new Nexus S and been very impressed indeed by Gingerbread's speed. You almost get dizzy, it's that fast. Let's hope it lasts longer than its predecessor.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Last night on my way to the office Christmas party, I passed this window display: 
animal shoes (onemorehandbag)What comes to mind here is basically..."RRrrrrrr". (And the title of this post is ironic, just in case you were wondering).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Urban Forest

Many parts of Vienna have been transformed into forests lately and Graben pedestrian zone is no exception. It looks almost enchanted in the snow: 
forest (onemorehandbag)In case you were wondering what that is all about, it's basically pick-your-own-Christmas-tree "markets" all over town. After Christmas or by January 6, the (un)official day when everyone takes down the decorations from their trees, which by then will be pitifully dry and devoid of needles anyway, the trees are collected at the same spots which then become "Christbaumsammelstellen". In Vienna, the trees go to the zoo where apparently elephants snack on them.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This Tea Self-Destructs in 5 Minutes

I have a feeling I've posted a similar picture before, but couldn't find it in the archives, so forvive me should this look familiar...Yesterday I ordered tea which arrived with a digital timer, making it look a bit suspicious. "Oooh, comes with its own little time-bomb", I said to the waiter when he put it on the table.
tea timer (onemorehandbag)
Speaking of potentially repetitive posts: not sure if I'll have the time and material over the next few days to keep up the usual frequency, so bear with me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Imperial Wedding

On Saturday the Empress got married in true style. The church and dinner venue were incredible and despite the less than picture-perfect weather conditions it really was a dream wedding. Not to mention the bride who was breathtakingly beautiful and glamourous:
Because of the French groom, hereinafter to be referred to as "the Emperor", about half of the guests were French. They got to see Viennese imperial glory at its best:
As a parting gift and little "thank you", guests got a Sacherwürfel on on their way out to round up the "Austria-at-its-best" experience, which I found a lovely idea. I had mine for breakfast yesterday, yum!

In the days before the wedding, the Empress, who was already on vacation would stop by at the office for 5-minute-visits to either borrow the office bike for last-minute-errands, to print out something or other organisational matters. She did not exactly seem the picture of calm and tranquility. I didn't have any doubts that the wedding would be anything less than perfect and it was. My personal little contribution was bringing The Book into work. This basically is my compilation of wedding invitations, menus, thank you cards etc. of all the weddings I've ever been invited to, all neatly organised in transparent envelopes. My colleagues couldn't believe that people actually kept all that, but yep, I'm the type of person who does just that.

Back to the wedding: There were more than 10 (!) speeches and we all liked the ones by immediate family best, in particular the one by the Empress's father who welcomed his son-in-law into the family with such kind words I had tears in my eyes and the one by the Empress's sister who gave the Emperor 5 rules for living harmoniously with her sister.

The DJ's playlist included the Empress's, MC's and my office party classic: Katy Perry's I Kissed A Girl to which the three of us duly jumped around like the crazy chicks we are.

This is the Emperor with his shiny new wedding ring.

I managed to drop my camera on the marble floor from a 1,5 m height at the agape, but thankfully it is still in working condition apart from the shutter which won't close anymore.

When I said "goodbye" to the newlyweds at 2:30 in the morning, the Emperor said "I'm sorry I'm taking her away from you". Well, I've graciously forgiven him. After all, her new reign is only a short flight away. Paris, watch out!

PS: Ever since Saturday I haven't been able to get the wedding's "theme song" out of my head:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hail to Amazonia

When I was in Munich recently, it was furrreeezing cold. When I left Vienna the previous day, it was much warmer and so I felt slightly chilly in the clothes I had brought. Perhaps that's why I ended up buying a cashmere blend sweater just was so warm and soft. A little later that day, I tried on a pair of (faux) sheepskin-lined boots by Esprit at a Salamander branch. They were a dusty pinkish beige and looked really great with my favourite pair of skinny jeans. And they were so warm.  The pair I tried on had a stain on the right shoe. The nice shop assistant brought me the other remaining size 38, but for some reason that one was too large. Hmm. She offered me a discout of € 5 for the slightly stained pair, but I wrongly assumed I would be able to find the same style at Salamander in Vienna where I could also get 10% off with my ÖAMTC memebership card. Only they didn't have the same range of Esprit boots. Neither were they available at any of the Esprit stores, nor on their website. Damn! After some research, I finally found them on Amazon. I decided to go for the black instead of the so-called "beige":
esprit boots (onemorehandbag)
They look less stunted in real life (the perspective is somewhat distorted) and I'm wearing them without the top folded down today. That way, they almost touch my knees and are more elegant.

I still remember the days when Amazon was only for books and CDs. I have since bought lots of technical equipment, a kitchen aid, a watch and now boots there.

Speaking of which - I won't say "no" if you decide to shop there using the referrer link on my site, hint, hint.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


On Wednesday (which was a holiday in Austria) I invited "the Girls" for a little Advent party. Food-wise, it was very relaxed and low-key and I had prepared puff pastry with 3 different savoury fillings, a gratin, cheese and smokes salmon. I composed a wintery aperitif - infuse cranberry juice with cinnamon rind, cloves, vanilla seeds for 3 days, sieve and poured into another container and add fresh orange and pineapple juice. Pour into a champagne flute (about half full) and top up with prosecco: really tasty and with a hint of spice, like a posh punch or molled wine.
I also assembled what I had baked so far - plus 2 varieties of biscuits my Mum had made, but not much got eaten after the savoury part.

The white things in the centre are snow-capped fairy cakes which I had sprinkled with  (edible) glitter I bought in Manchester. Very pretty and thanks to a fluffy and lemony base not nearly as rich as you would expect. Recipe here. 

Click to get the full glittery benefit. 

I don't know which I love more: decorating the table/room or preparing the dishes, but I tend to go into Bree-mode when I'm entertaining and love the feeling of contentment when everything is finished before the first guest rings the bell.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Bag Full of Goodies

advent calendar (onemorehandbag)Now that we're "through" half of Advent, it's about time to show you the super-cool advent calendar I got from Mademoiselle. It's a pretty paper bag filled with 24 goodies (imported from Copenhagen, no less) on which she painstakingly stuck a tiny sticker with the respective number. I like! I felt transported back to my childhood when my Dad made a wooden house with 24 drawers in which my Mum then put tiny presents.

Escaping the Hordes

Last Sunday, I wanted to catch some fresh air in between two sessions of my baking orgy. I decided to go to Schönbrunn. When I arrived there, there was almost a stampede heading for the Christmas market. Not really my kettle of fish: 
Schönbrunn (onemorehandbag)
I elbowed my way past the mulled-wine-drinking-crowds and went for a walk in the snow-capped gardens. The sky was overcast and conditions weren't really perfect for filming, but I was in a Hollywood mood nonetheless. The outcome of my amateurish attempts can be seen here:

Thursday, December 09, 2010

It's all Noodles to Me

On Sunday, I passed the following billboard at Westbahnhof subway station: 

Huh? "Wird hier Nudeln gekocht"? That was the wrong - singular - form for "noodles will be cooked/prepared". I was in good company, though, as upon closer inspection of the advertisement it turned out someone else was a stickler for correct grammar:

I like the "Danke!" after the underlined correction.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


I've told you before that I was an ardent Beatles fan in my youth and in fact had my musical epiphany the day John Lennon was shot on December 8, 1980. I still remember the atmosphere of this day very vividly, jus as I remember other historically significant days, such as the day that GDR citizens were allowed to leave their country, when the Ceauscescus' execution was broadcast on TV, when Princess Diana died or the planes hit the N.Y. Twin Towers.

Until this November I had never been to Liverpool. It's actually a surprisingly (for me at least) beautiful town, or at least the parts I saw on my daytrip- the UNESCO listed Albert Dock housing the Tate Liverpool among other museums or Liverpool Cathedral, allegedly the largest Protestant cathedral in the world). The city even has a shiny new ferris wheel on which Cleo, her boys and I took a ride/flight. Because people from the rest of England and Mancunions which have a rivalry going on with Liverpudlians believe it's an incredibly rough and dangerous place, we parked in the poshest carpark we could find. I don't know if Cleo's SUV would have been stolen otherwise.

Needless to say, I had to pay the Beatles Story a visit. It's actually two museums, but I only visited the part in Albert Dock. I have to say, I wasn't terribly impressed despite the many authentic exhibits and Beatles-themed on-site Starbucks. Even so, the city to me spelt "Beatles" at every corner (the local airport is called John Lennon Airport, after all) and I really feel like returning to Liverpool for a weekend or so.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Going Green

matcha goodies (onemorehandbag)Did you really think my matcha phase was over and there would be no green biscuits in my collection this year. Hah! Introducing this year's matcha delights:

Matcha cookies (using Bella's recipe), black sesame cookies with matcha icing and chocolate-and-pistachio-covered "matchipan"

Monday, December 06, 2010

One From the Archives...

I took this picture some weeks ago (pre-snow, obviously) when I passed a travel agency in Vienna with the promising name Luli. Hmmm.
I don't know if Luli is the proprietor's nickname or the owner hails from a country where the native language knows no negative associations with the word, but for an establishment situated in Vienna, the name is most unfortunate. Lulu, or luli is the colloquial Austrian German term for "pee" (both verb and noun) and a travel agency of that name evokes mental images of endles bus journeys with crossed legs where you are praying for the driver to stop at the next service station before it's too late.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Just in Case You Were Bored

Here are some of MY favourite things to do when it's cold outside.

Soak in a hot spa. The picture below was taken on the first weekend of November at St. Martin's Spa in Burgenland. When the Pampered Princess, her sister and I were there, the weather was almost too mild for the ultimate spa experience, but now it would be perfect.
Have a hot drink with nice company. And when you live in Vienna and feel like a real (hot chocolate as in: not just cocao, but the dense type where the spoon can almost "stand" on its own) have it at Haas&Haas tea house. It's simply di-vine!

Take a walk in fresh snow (if available...)
Bake Christmas cookies to get in the mood and fill your house/flat with festive smells. Gingerbread is particularly gratifying as the dough is easy to work with and won't stick to your worktop or fingers.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Slippery When Cold

How very considerate. Wiener Linien are warning their customers of icy pavements.
ice (onemorehandbag)I'm not sure if this is a strategy to counteract class action or mere customer service, but it definitely stands out in the usual Austrian "customer service desert" (Dienstleistungswüste) as we like to call it. In fact, it reminds me of American stickers where your microwave reminds you not to heat pets or your rearview mirror tells you that objects may appear farther away than they are in real life. In Japan, riding an escalator is regarded really dangerous and complicated business judging from the omnipresent recorded voices reminding you where and how to stand and what to do with your bags while on your potentially perilous journey to the next floor.

Friday, December 03, 2010


For some reason all sorts of companies seem to believe that it is very original indeed to give their advertising campaigns the functionality of advent calendars in the weeks before Christmas. Not good. I love advent calendars like the next person, but only real ones, i.e. either time-consuming DIY projects where parents put small gifts into little drawers or felt bags or just plain old chocolate-filled ones or even old-fashioned calendars with pretty pictures. It is very anticlimactic to get a calendar which either contains pictures of poor deprived children in need of your donation - if I want to donate money to charity, this definitely won't add to my motivation - or coupons for 10% off something. Yawn. Once you know the coupons work along the lines of different-discouts-on-different-products-each-day you're inevitably going to open up the whole thing right away in order to know which is the most worthwhile offer of them all. Which sort of defeats the purpose, right? I bought ground coffee beans at the Tchibo near the office yesterday and was given a huge coupon-filled paper advent calendar, which I immediately "gutted" in order to throw the rest into the paper recycling bin.

So, dear CMOs or MOAS (Masters of Advent Strategy): either give customers decent advent calendars with your company logo, filled with quality chocolate and just regard it as a branding campaign or DON'T BOTHER. 

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Rudolph Loves Snow

It snowed pretty much all day in Vienna yesterday. It does not come out all that well on photos (click for a larger and more detailed version), but I documented what Graben looked like in the morning, at lunchtime and in the early afternoon when the Christmas lights had already "kicked in". The little fellow in the foreground is one of those supposedly draught-catching "toys" you can put under doors or on your window sill. Sporty's mother had donated it to the office last year.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Speaking Opp

A few months ago, I was contacted by the coordinator of the alumni association of the Department of English of my alma mater. They hold a series of talks where alumni tell students about their job(s) after graduation and answer questions on whether their degree in English proved helpful or not, what the challenges and benefits of the respective job are, etc. It's a good idea and something a naive graduate like myself would definitely have benefited from had it already existed back in the days. My presentation was last night and went quite well, not only because I came bearing goodies. I was pleasantly surprised when I received a present, too:

I expected the contents to be chocolates, but was wrong. I got a collapsible umbrella and fleece scarf (which I am going to use for skiing) with the University of Vienna logo. I'm quite a sucker for merchandising products of brands, towns, institutions I like and as I don't actually own anything with the uni logo - and probably would not have bought it myself-  felt quite nostalgic.

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