Monday, February 28, 2011

Suitcase, anyone?

On Saturday night (book club) I got back the giant suitcase I had lent to Amica for her recent trip to Scotland. She did not just give it back to me with the "magazine with goodie" I had requested in return, but got a whole load of goodies in addition to that:

S&V crisps
princess sprinkles
cupcake-shaped fridge magnets
pink oven gloves saying "kitchen princess"
lavender-scented drawer liners from PastTimes

So nice! So, if anyone wants to borrow my suitcase for, you know, a small selection of goodies from your holiday destination, we can definitely arrange that.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

...and here's the verdict

Well, you know it wouldn't take me long to satisfy my curiosity, didn't you? Yesterday when I saw my Mum off at Meidling train station (she had spent a night in Vienna after the funeral on Friday) I popped into McD there and sampled a lemon and raspberry mccaron (two of 4 flavours they had) for €0,89 each. Honestly, they are nothing to write home about and what characterises them most is that they are a) chewy and b) extremely sweet. There's none of the usual brittleness and "vulnerability" of high-quality macarons as these are very dense and also hardly taste of almonds at all. The yellow colouring is also very much in your face and more reminiscent of mango than lemon.
Nice idea, but I'll definitely stick to their cookies where the chewiness is actually a good thing.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


I could not believe my eyes when I saw the above ad online recently. The name McCarons is a good one, though, and makes you wonder they haven't been around longer. Research revealed that they already made an appearance in France last year. I definitely have to sample them soon. I quite like McCafé as a cheaper Starbucks alternative, I have to admit. There's no information on the McD website, but here's a review by someone who tested them in Vienna.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Dreaded Sentence

Later today, I am going to attend yet another funeral. Sigh. My great-aunt's husband only outlived her by a little more than a month and died in the nursing home where the two of them had spent the last few years of their lives. I visited him on Sunday, the last day he was alive and although it's easy to say this in retrospect and he had been on the edge several times these last weeks, I did feel that he had only waited for me to come and say goodbye to him before he would quietly make his exit. 

My great-aunt got married (for the first time) at the age of sixty and her husband whom she met at a spa resort was a widower who did not have any children or other living relatives. When I visited him these last weeks it struck me how utterly awful it must be to be old and alone. Needless to say there's no guarantee that your offspring will be nice and caring when you're old and gray, but chances are that they will at least turn up at your bedside with a bunch of flowers out of a sense of duty. 

Although the old couple shared a room, they did not actually interact much at all the last months of their lives. Dementia and loss of hearing are a bad combination. They both had their way of escaping into made-up dream worlds. My uncle dreamed up elaborate love-trysts involving the female nurses who allegedly were all madly in love with him and seriously considering to leave their virile husbands for an octogenarian with no teeth and a colostomy bag. He pestered Chiquita's Dad to keep him in pocket money for tipping the staff and otherwise was utterly hooked on the Nimm Zwei sweets I did not dare show up without.

Ever since he almost died the very day of his wife's funeral my heart rate quickened every time I saw my uncle's (=Chiquita's Dad, who was the couple's custodian) name on my phone's display. This Monday morning, I got to hear the dreaded sentence that inevitably is the intro to bad news and that had brought sad tidings three times already in the last 6 months, "I have to tell you something sad."

I really hope it will be a long time until I get to hear it. Black seriously does not suit me.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vintage Bag

This is a bag which my Mum emroidered for her mother in petit point technique when she was a teenager. I found it a) endearing that my granny kept it all those years and b) amazing what kind of "technically advanced" if not necessarily creative things children produced back in the 1950s and '60s. Besides, it's a pretty cool bag and I might wear it with an LBD should the occasion arise.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Heavenly Marketing

Talking about desperate measures...when I passed Vienna's Augustiner church last week I noticed this interesting poster obviously intended to attract the younger faithful:
"Gemma Kirche"? I have to admit, it's rather...unusual. For those among you who are less aquainted with Austrian dialect and popular culture - it is en vogue among (Viennese) kids of a certain social stratum and background to utterly disregard prepositions and therefore only to say "Gemma (=gehen wir=let's go)+location" when they want to encourage their peers to go somewhere. Example: "Gemma Kino" (let's go to the cinema) or, very popular, "Gemma Lugner" (let's go to Lugner City shopping mall).

"Gemma Kirche" sort of openly acknowledges that this omission of prepositions has become firmly anchored in the vernacular.

Whether it achieves the purpose of luring the kids away from their usual hangouts and enticing them to swap the mall for the pew remains to be seen.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sunday Night Baking

Milk Chocolate (I would have preferred dark chocolate but wanted to use up some Milka Nikoläuse) Coconut Brownie. The office jury pronounced it edible.

Monday, February 21, 2011


When Sporty left us last month to return to Hamburg, she gave us a parting gift: a dartboard and darts "so that you'll have something to play other than foosball". Well, I can only say that it was a brilliant idea as we've played a lot already (as the picture no doubt illustrates). One of the two German colleagues who are supporting the team this quarter introduced an addictive game: all players start with 301 and have to count backwards. It might sound easy enough, but the tricky part is that towards the end you have to throw exactly the number that's left on the paper where you keep score. Often the person who has a promising start by scoring high numbers, loses.

Last week, the scholar brought a Go board to work. I see a new addiction/teambuidling activity on the horizon...

Sunday, February 20, 2011


On Friday, I had lunch with K. from the book club who gave me the last birthday present of this season, a very original zipper bag. Well, I didn't get the finished bag, to be precise, but a long "spaghetti" of zipper that had to be assembled into a bag. I showed it at the office and the boys were intrigued. The scholar assembled it in less than a minute I guess. This is what the raw material looks like:
And this is the finished bag. I like the pink/brown colour combination.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


A Moncler store is due to open within spitting distance of my office. VERY dangerous! I've been toying with the idea of forking out an obscene amount of money for the down coat equivalent of an LV bag for quite some time. Can they read my mind? Oh, temptation...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Risky Pressie

Yesterday, I met Snow White for lunch and got a belated birthday present. She handed me a lightweight box with the disclaimer that the present had been purchased in January and she could not exchange it any more, but that she would keep if for herself if I did not like it. Okaaay. The box contained a beautiful (and very see-through!) off-white silk blouse by Tommy Hillfiger. I most certainly did like it:
Personally, I would never dare give grown-up people items of clothing other than a t-shirt, but the risk definitely paid off in this case.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hurry Up, Guys

Last night, the Mermaid and I went swimming to Amalienbad as usual. Despite our new after-swim-routine of alternatingly going for an ice-cream to TICHY when they're open (Mar-Sep) and the weather is warm enough or to the nearby McDonald's when those criteria do not apply, I'm counting the days until rennovations at our old haunt, Stadthallenbad will be completed. Not that soon, judging from a recent on-site "inspection": 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Goody Bags

On Monday, I posted an ad online saying that I wanted to give away my  tapes for free and the same day I had two responses. I promised the cassettes to the first lady who wrote and she said she was going to pick them up from the office today. It's much for gratifying to give away things for free that other people appreciate than to sell them for a symbolic "profit" and an additional fee on eBay.

Last night I met FCN/BoB and she surprised me with a goody bag containing 3 books that I had on my Amazon wishlist and that she in a similar attempt to declutter wanted to give to someone who appreciated them. Bring them on! Aaaaand I got crisps, my favourite herbal tea and a promising sounding chocolate with matcha. Who ever said Christmas comes but once a year?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

One More Mint Leaf?

On Sunday, I visited my grandmother in her nursing home and had lunch at my aunt's and uncle's house prior to the visit. As usual, my aunt did not heed my request to "not go to too much trouble" and conjured up an impressive (and VERY nutricious) three-course meal which culminated in the beautifully arranged dessert above. By the time I had eaten it, I felt fit to explode. "Oh, there's also some Sachertorte if you fancy a slice," my aunt said. Apart from the fact that there actually was not have a square millimetre of space in my stomach I was afraid of reproducing the infamous restaurant scene of Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life"...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Commercial Holiday all of you cynics who don't believe in Valentine's Day and/or (like me) don't stand any chance of being showered with romantic gifts by secret or not-so-secret admirers.

Random fact: on this very day 4 years ago I was interviewed for my current job by my present boss. Why do I remember the day? Well, I was given a pink rose (with an exam fee voucher tied to its stem, but nonetheless) on occasion of Valentine's Day.

Update: Perseverance (you might be tempted to call it relentlessness) obviously pays off. After MC and I hinted at our boss several times that we had high expectations for V-day, he got a small bouquet of flowers for MC, the Gazelle and myself. MC also got me chocolates so I can't really complain, now can I :-) 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Empirical Study

This week a very nice colleague from our Dublin office worked here in Vienna. On Wednesday, the Gazelle, said colleague and myself went to one of our usual eateries, Köstlich, for lunch, when our visitor suddenly came out with an interesting theory: "Everyone's so slim here!", her reasoning being that you saw many more overweight people around in Ireland or the U.K. Hmmm. I wasn't really convinced, but the Gazelle agreed. That same night, we had a team event at a bowling hall (my first attempt at bowling ever - mental note: choose a different "throwing" position next time unless you want a sore back for days again). The party to the right of our lanes did not quite support that theory (see the pink beauty above) and I asked her if she still supported it. She laughed and said that the theory just died.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rewind to My More Creative Past

I've wanted to sort through my huge pile of  musik tapes for years and finally got around to it. I'm only keeping shop-bought ones that I got as a gift and tapes recorded for me by friends, High-Fidelity-style that I'd feel cruel chucking out. This pile below, however, was all recorded by me and I'll put an ad on the same classifieds portal where I gave away my VHS cassettes for free. I had forgotten just how into sleeve-decorating I was back in the 1980s and 1990s. The would be the perfect prop for a film set of a teenager's bedroom in the late 20th century:

Most covers are collages out of magazines, but some are actual drawings. A bit like a memorial to my younger, much more creative self. I felt guilty and wistful at the same time.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Sometimes it helps if you read texts aloud. When I checked my VISA bill online yesterday I found a mysterious item reading "hirutonodawararizotoandos". WTF was that?!? 

When I saw that the currency was JPY, I gathered that it must be some deposit to do with my upcoming trip to Japan. As is often the case with Japanese transcriptions of foreign words, it really helps when you read it alound and...BINGO! The long word suddenly made sense when it morphed into a Japanese approximation of "Hilton (Hiruton) Odawara Resort (Rizoto) and (ando). The last word, "Spa" was cut off by the character limit obviously. Checking my inbox revealed that my reservation of the Hilton Odawara Resort and Spa indeed had a 30% deposit in the small print. Mystery resolved.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

I Was Never Promised a Rose Garden

...and yet I was surprised by a pretty Augarten  mocca set for my birthday. I got it from the old (90 years, to be precise) family friend who also had this ring made for me. I would never have bought such a coffee set for myself, but was very touched by the generous gesture, a definite sign of appreciation. I paid the old lady a visit when I was in KLU for the Christmas break and commented on the pretty cup and saucer she served me coffee in. She immediately jumped up and wrapped the little bowl above, against my protestations that I did not want to tear apart her set, never mind the fact that this type of china is obscenely expensive. I never expected her to give me what is probably her whole coffee set as a birthday present, together with the crocheted doily. I'll have to clear some space in my living-room glass cabinet now to display it adequately.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

One Last Pair

I think I might just have enough fur-lined boots for this winter (which is decidedly spring-like these days), but what with the dissapointment of the blue UGGs-esque pair I bought in December which makes me walk as if I had a severe orthopaedic problem and resulted in the heel being worn off on one side after the second outing, I wanted to have sheepskin-lined boots with decent soles. Such as this pair of BOSS boots I bought online for 50% of the original price: 

They are very comfortable and much less elephantesque than most fur-lined boots.

Monday, February 07, 2011

BKK with Chiquita

On the weekend, I was in KLU with my favourite "little" cousin Chiquita, who gave me a lift in her huge SUV. On Saturday, we went skiing to Bad Kleinkirchheim aka BKK. This is a picture of us on the slopes, taken by me, the little orange creature reflected in the goggles:

The panorama was very impressive:

The slopes were less so (a bit on the hard and almost icy side and you could tell that it was a mix of natural and artificial snow), but the weather was nice and warm if not actually sunny. We ate our lunch outside but it wasn't quite cosy enough to take advantage of the deck chairs.

Saturday, February 05, 2011


TD sent me this picture of a menu:

Item # 90 under the header "Family Deal" is a whole lamb filled with "oriental risotto" and comes with "20 salads, 10 pita breads and 10 litres of non-alcoholic drinks" on the side. Burp.

How's that for nibbles, eh?

Friday, February 04, 2011


While I'm definitely a morning person and usually don't have trouble getting up, I've recently had a love/hate relationship with the snooze button of my radio alarm clock which I hit at least twice until I get up shortly after 7. Yawn. It doesn't really seem to matter how many hours of sleep I've had either (usually a solid 7 - 7.5 hours), I just feel incredibly tired and tempted to stay in bed nonetheless. Needless to say, this only applies to weekdays so I should perhaps reconsider the gratification - other than monetary - I get out of my job. Hmmm.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Not Your Usual Lunchbreak Purchase

Thanks to a friendly insider tip, I went and bought a lampshade that should complement my other, bigger, orange lampshade. To be installed once the Big Project (i.e. painting my living room) I've been postponing for the past three years or so has been finished. By the way: does anyone know of any tried-and-tested, reliable and affordable painters in the Vienna region?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Long Time, No Bake

After the baking-overkill before Christmas and eating tonnes of sweet stuff for weeks on end, I wasn't too tempted to heat up the oven until Sunday, when I wanted to recycle some festive chocolate gifts and decided to adapt an "oatmeal and raisin cookies" recipe from Rachel Allen's "Bake" (a book club favourite), swapping the raisins for chocolate chips. Nice and easy and tasty, too.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Fog Off!

On Sunday, the PP's sis and I went skiing and as usual our choice proved lucky. Fog and grey skies in Vienna and basically the rest of "the valley" - brilliant sunshine on Unterberg. Yay! And despite our fear our extremities would freeze off, it was warm enough for a bit of àpres ski in the sun. I've posted about the retro feel of this tiny ski "resort" before, but I haven't shown you the day pass which more than illustrates the retro-ness:

The picture below is pretty representative of the lifts (which, to be fair, are quite fast for t-bar lifts):

It's hard to get lost on the slopes...

The view was postcard-perfect!

... and the snow all natural:
Slopes are short and not very challenging at all, but it's a treat to be able to ski without having to watch out for millions of other people and to be able to feel like the most elegant downhill racer in the whole wide world. Plus genuine snow has become a rare feature.
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