Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lunchbreak Retreat

When the sun is out and I want to pretend I'm in a far more southern country where the thing to do in your lunch hour is sit on a bench at the "Piazza", I go to Minoritenplatz with a sandwich and a book and feel far, far away.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Profit Margin

Sometimes (very rarely, of course) I buy things that I do not absolutely need. Such as overpriced bottles of mineral water, apparently. Well, a while ago, I saw a picture of a limited edition Evian bottle*  designed by Issey Miyake in an Austrian magazine which claimed that you could get it at two supermarkets in Vienna, Meinl am Graben and the new(ish) BILLA corso (where I get a Henry takeaway lunch at least once a week) at Herrnhuterhaus. I ended up buying it for, cough, € 4,99 at BILLA as it cost - hold on tight - € 9,99 at Meinl. Yes, double the already extravagant price. Talking about profit margins!

* Before you think I have gone completely gaga - I am not in the habit of buying bottled water in the EUR 5 price range, but I really coveted the bottle as a vase substitute

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


This is what my walls look like, sans pictures. Just to illustrate the fact that my living-room does indeed need to be painted despite visitors' comments to the contrary. Well, the orange lampshade does cast a somewhat benign light on the cracks and discoloured patches.

I am still sore from heaving all the stuff around and will finish tonight, after I treated myself to a "night out", i.e. humble cinema visit last night. On Sunday afternoon I was frustrated enough about my work-weekend to soak my tense muscles in the sulphurous steam of Baden's Römertherme. Aaaaah.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Preparing for D-Day

ALL my muscles are sore and I feel absolutely knackered. I've spent the greater part of today clearing out my bookshelves, dusting the paperbacks in the process. I also disovered 19 (!) books I haven't read yet. Ooops. Remind me when I'm tempted to hit Amazon next time. Tomorrow I'm tackling the tableware and clear away the shoes in the hall. Something tells me the painter will have to run an obstacle course next Friday as I won't be able to put all the furniture into the other rooms unless I take it apart and return it to its original IKEA flat pack state, which I'm so not going to do. Yep there's definitely a reason why I've waited so long (I moved into my flat in 1998) to give the rooms a much-needed lick of paint.

Living-room with empty bookshelf.
Bedroom with parts of the books (some are also in suitcases and bags under my bed), some in their boxes that go on top of the white bookcase:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bespoke Bag

Yesterday, I checked out a sample sale very close to my office and ended up buying 3 items (2 t-shirs with prints, one scarf in my favourite shade of lime-green) I, erm, absolutely needed. I really liked the paper bag, not because of the stylish pink cord, but because it has my age on it. 
Admittedly, I would think differently if it was 2012 and the bag read "couture 40", but that's another story altogether...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Each to Their Own

Personally, I couldn't think of a worse time to visit London than during the upcoming royal wedding, but there must be people who would love to participate: 
Kronen Zeitung, our #1 tabloid is advertising the chance to "win a trip to London to Kate & William".

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cultural Heritage

As a preparatory (you might say, desperate) for the upcoming painting of my living room and hall, I've begun to clear out the shelves a bit so as to allow myself a tiny bit of breathing space in the other rooms where the furniture and its contents will have to be temporarily stored.

On Monday night, I chucked out old magazines and 20 years (no exaggeration) worth of exhibition leaflets and information of cultural monuments and museums. It was a mini-journey back in time when I remembered exhibitions in Austria and abroad I have seen and enjoyed. Some of them were more memorable than other and it might be a pity to throw everything away, but then again, I'd never once looked at any of those things, which goes to show that I don't really "need" to keep it at all. 

I might apply the same approach to clothes, but you never know whether - in retrospct - something has vintage potential, see yesterday's post.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Swinging Sixties

I recently unearthed another vintage bag which my mother wore in the 1960s, I believe. It still looks pretty trendy and is in good condition:
Modelled by yours truly:

Monday, March 21, 2011

If I Can't Get to the Cherry Blossoms...

...I invite the cherry blossoms into my home! Taking the beginning of spring as a cue, I decided to "re-upholster" the pinboard in my hallway which was blue with a wooden frame:
In order to balance out the diffence in height, I cut a polystyrene board into the right size and stuck it onto the blue surface:
I then stapled a pretty fabric I bought in Tokyo onto the reverse side of the frame, pulling tightly so as to achieve a super-flat surface. Here's the new pinboard:
DIY success!

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Over the past week, I've marvelled at the incredible calm and resilience of the Japanese people. This picture has been published in many media and every Westerner (probably with the exception of the British, who are known to be patient queuers) was amazed that people would stay within the serpent drawn on the ground. This would NEVER EVER work in Austria, not even in the most peaceful of times. In fact, nobody would even think of drawing such a line for fear of being ridiculed.

Having worked with "the Japanese" for almost a decade, I've had plenty of opportunity to experience this tendency to patiently wait for instructions from an authority and not to question them once issued. A good example was the emergency drill we regularly had at Coma HQ. The idea was that in the event of fire or a terrorist attack we should all immediately come to Boss-san's office on the third floor where we would be briefed on the next steps. As my office was located on the ground floor in close proximity of the exit, I did not see the point of running up the staircase if the building was on fire and also voiced my objection. The "official" reply was to convene at Boss-san's office no matter what.

Poise is often paired with an almost shocking matter-of-fact-ness. In my Japanese class on Thursday, we talked about the recent events in Japan and learned technical terms such as "nuclear power plant", "disaster", "earthquake" and the like. We also discussed cancelled travel plans (one man who is married to a Japanese lady said they were still planning to travel later this month!) and whether everyone's family and friends in Japan were o.k. Our teacher said that her husband had some family in relative proximity of the disaster zone, adding "He's a nuclear scientist so we are able to supply them with valuable information. His relatives are old anyway, so it's not a big deal if they die of cancer in 20 years time." I exchanged looks with the married couple sitting next to me and after the lesson we agreed that even if people had such thoughts here, they would never dare express them in public.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friend or Foe?

On Tuesday night, I met an ex-colleague from Coma HQ, who has since had a dozen of jobs and has been franchise-partner of a gym for over a year now. We met at the gym and then caught up with her husband in the city centre.  There was piece of paper and something crumpled stuck under her windshield wipers. Sighing, she removed it, assuming it was a parking fine. Not so. Somebody had left her a message and some chocolates. The handwritten message next to a drawing of an angel was this:
Translation: "Heavenly present. Wings (if you can't tell). I've already eaten half of it."

Hmmm. Remembering the cautionary tale of a mayor in Lower Austria who ate a poisoned "Mon Cherie" sweet he found on top of his car, she decided not eat them and we both speculated if the message and chocolates had been left by a secret admirer, a disgruntled client or scheming competitor. 

I only ever find lamiated pieces of paper on my car, offering to take it off me.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Tall Order...

When the huuuuge parcel arrived in the office on Monday I had a déjà vu of the logistic struggles with my Kitchen Aid. You guessed correctly, the taxi drivers of Vienna were in a win-win situation and I hauled the mini-beanbag I had ordered online home in the boot of a taxi. "It's not a dead body or anything like that", I assured the driver as I lifted the big red blob wrapped in plastic. We have two adult-sized beanbags (of the Fat Boy brand, mine is a Sitting Bull make) in the office and they are very comfortable so I seized the opportunity when BuyVIP had them on sale. It goes perfectly with the colour-scheme of my spare bedroom/study.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Silver Lining

Yesss! Austrian airlines extended the cancellation period from March 20 to April 30 yesterday afternoon and I immediately cancelled our flights. Phew! I have to admit this somewhat relieves my misgivings about whether my decision was correct.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Cherry Blossoms Will Have to Wait

After much consideration and news-watching, I've decided to cancel my trip to Japan. Sigh. To be honest, I'm still not sure if I won't have serious doubts in a month's time, when all might be back to "normal" and I'll have second thoughts whether my decision was fuelled by media-hysteria rather than common sense. For everyone (except one person) around me, there was no doubt that I should not go. My parents would probably not be able to sleep if they knew I could be exposed to radiation and/or some natural disaster any time. For MM, the decision was clear already after the earthquake, her reasoning being that it is morally questionable to travel around in a disaster-stricken country. I have to say that I only partially agree as it feels like punishing tourism as well.
photo taken from here

Again, these are idle thoughts and non-existant problems compared to people actually affected by the disaster, but I'm glad my friends admit to being just as politically incorrect as I tend to be in matters where the personal seems to outweigh the global: many called to say "I know I should think of the poor people in Japan first and foremost, but my first thoughts were, poor *me* who was looking forward to that trip so much." That's what friends are for, eh?

I am going to donate a substantial amount of the "pocket money" I had allocated for shopping sprees in Japan and otherwise hope to get back some of the non-refundable parts of my travel arrangements, such as the €1000 flight-ticket I already paid for.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Have I Jinxed It?

I had planned a post on March 16, a month before my planned two-week-trip to Japan, on how I was counting the days. What with yesterday's massive earthquate and tsunami, it's a different story and several people asked me yesterday if my travel plans were affected. In fact, I got an e-mail yesterday by where I ordered (and already received from) my Japan Rail Pass voucher a month or so ago, asking whether I wanted to cancel my order:
At that stage it had not even occurred to me to cancel my holiday, only to modify the planned route, depending on the condition of train tracks in the North. Having worked with "the Japanese" for 9 years, I know how stubbornly efficient they can be and so my trust in immediate rebuilding of infrastructure was not shaken a bit. I'm a lightening-doesn't-strike-twice kind of person and don't really see a point of being afraid of something that happened in the past.

What with news of an explosion and pending nuclear meltdown in the Fukushima nuclear power plant I'm not so sure anymore. I definitely do not want to spend my vacation in a radioactive environment, thanks, but no thanks.

I have not talked to MM, my travel companion, yet, but decided that Japan won't run away after all and cherries will probably blossom next year as well, so whatever happens, it's hardly a catastrophe for us, whereas those poor people immediately affected would be more than happy to have nothint more to worry about than disrupted holiday plans.

It may sound stupid, but I've had a foreboding that something was bound to happen to burst my bubble of giddy excitement. I've been looking forward to this holiday SO much ever since I booked my flight and literally been counting the days. What with the recent death-streak in my family, I'd rather been afraid of health-related issues and not really thought of natural disasters. Believe it or not, I've even packed (!) half of my suitcase, although I should explain that these items are all clothes I decided to leave in Japan after wearing them in order to create space in my baggage for items purchased there.

"There's more than a month yet" has become my mantra.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Before Winter is Over

...I thought I'd share this photo which I took when I walked past MQ in mid-December, but never got around to posting. It shows MQ's friendly Enzi furniture hibernating in the snow. 
Speaking of snow: I'm going to KLU this weekend and might venture onto some slopes or other, provided there is snow left.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Like Me. Only Slightly More Pink

Next week, my goddaughter is celebrating her 4th birthday. I asked Frida, her mother, if she would like a Barbie doll (a coveted item when I was that age but my mother disapproved of Barbies...until she gave in, later). After some online research and persusal of the many bride and princess reincarnations of our favourite peroxide-blond friend, I decided to promote an image of the self-sufficient career woman and order "computer engineer Barbie" instead. Apart from glittery leggins and pink glasses, she comes with a bluetooth headset, a laptop and smartphone. She looks business, eh?
I showed her to my boss (known to be quite partial to blonde women of a Barbie BMI) and he was impressed. Well, I guess it's the kind of present not only girls of all ages covet...

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


Today is the first day of Lent. Enough of Faschingskrapfen and balls with or without costumes, such as the "Maschkara-Treiben" I saw advertised in Garmisch-Partenkirchen: 
I've never given up anything for Lent and been quite impressed by people who don't eat sweets for 40 days,  like the Empress did last year. I'm afraid I lack the religious conviction to see that through, never mind the fact that I would really pity the people around me who would have to endure the sugar-withdrawal-symptoms-induced bad mood. I'm sure that Easter chocolate tastes all the sweeter when you've been craving it for weeks, but I have a good excuse this year: I won't be home for Easter, but in far-away Japan, where I definitely will not fast!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Just to Make You Jealous...

...I'll show you where I had the privilege to ski last week:

Isn't that a gorgeous sight? All pictures were taken with my mobile phone, but I think they suffice to illustrate just how perfect the (all natural) snow and weather were. Who knew that a German mountain would turn out to be skiing paradise. Austrians tend to be very arrogant and patriotic when it comes to their national slopes and with the exception of Swiss and French ski resorts assume that all other slopes can only be inferior. There aren't that many lifts, nor super-challenging slopes, but I can wholeheartedly recommend Zugspitze. The great snow and the good rental skis made me feel like a skiing goddess. We (=the Gazelle, her boss, Karel and I ) took the very last lift up to the top as we all wanted to enjoy it until the last minute. By then, we were truly knackered and I, who had claimed that she didn't understand how people could get sore muscles from skiing, only after the lunch-break felt like a 90-year-old when she climbed down the stairs to the dining room the morning afterwards.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Before I Show the Snow are some impressions of my lunch-break on top of Zugspitze. What's the perfect food to be had on a German mountain? Well, Currywurst with fries, of course! It was almost as tasty as it was huge:
What had me puzzled was this sign:
I've experienced Japanese, Italian and Indian toilets, but what are toilets "especially equipped for Arab guests?" Any ideas?

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Offline Therapy

Before I share my alpine adventures and make you all jealous with my tales of snow and sunshine, let me just say how therapeutic I found almost 3 days with no internet access (the hotel wifi was hopelessly overloaded and we had all just taken our macbooks with us for a change of air as it turned out) and not automatically checking for the envelope symbol on my mobile phone every time I looked at it. Once I had made sure upon my return that, strangely enough, the world had not left its orbit without me checking my business e-mails, I realised that the latent guilt and apprehension had been less strong than the blissful feeling of being far, far away "from it all".

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

On the Slopes...

...with the Firm until Friday.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Things You Can Do with Marzipan

Working round the corner from a store that sells hot dogs, breasts(!) and all kinds of fruits and animals made of marzipan in addition to decidedly...well, phallic, nougat-filled stalks of chocolate asparagus , I thought I had seen it all. Until I walked past the window display of a shop on Wollzeile where I spotted these "revue legs". Very fancy, if not exactly appetizing:

eXTReMe Tracker

words and photos (unless otherwise indicated) and banner-design by retailtherapist