Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book Club on Tour

Last weekend, 57% of the book club spent the weekend in Carinthia. The weather was mostly fine and so we went swimming. The above picture which was taken by B2, currently pregnant with her second child, shows 3 beauties posing at Strandbad Annenheim (Ossiacher See).
It was great to be able to spend time with B2 and to devote time to our two favourite pastimes - eating and bitching. Simultaneously. The only books we discussed were cook books (by Bill Granger) and reading material at the lakeside consisted mainly of more or less glossy women's mags.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Observations on Gravity

From Saturday to Friday, I went swimming in Wörther See every day, with one exception in the company of my Mum. Every day we saw the same gang of mahagony brown regulars. Aged 60+, dressed with the skimpiest of bikini bottoms and no top. Not a pretty sight. All the young, pert and pretty nubile ladies wore complete sets of mostly flattering bikinis, whereas those in the autumn of their lives chose outfits that can only be described as daring. My mother said out loud what I was thinking: no matter whether you are skinny or obese - at a certain age, it's not a bad idea to consider investing in a slightly greater percentage of textile coverage for your body. "This is exactly why I'm thinking of getting a little pool for the garden", she added.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

No Apologies

Every summer, I at least spend a couple of days in a row in KLU. For some reason, whenever people ask me where I'm off to, I always say, "Ah, nothing special, only Carinthia, you know...visiting my family, going to the lake, getting my car serviced...the usual." The moment I say it, I get angry at myself for sounding almost apologetic. Why is only a "proper" (i.e. involving a plane or at least an international car journey) vacation something worth bragging about? I've had a week of glourious sunshine in a popular tourist destination, swimming in the most beautiful Austrian lake (yes, I am biased) with drinking water, was spoilt by my parents and enjoyed their beautiful garden. Admittedly, it feels more like a vacation when you are further removed from your daily routines and are not tempted to check your e-mails because roaming costs are too expensive, when a different currency makes you believe more than usual that it's only Monopoly money and you get to see something new.
Still. Vacationing in KLU rocks!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Future is Rosy

I am obsessed with rose gold at the moment. When I was in KLU less than 2 weeks ago, I saw a chunky bracelet in the window of a shop that was closed over the August 15 weekend. I hoped it would wait for me, and it did:

It looks like normal "yellow" gold in the picture, but trust me, it's red. As it is stainless steel, it was very moderately (i.e. € 30) were these rings (silver plated with rose gold) by this Austrian company:
It's a bit of a Pandora rip-off, but I actually like it better.

Speaking of rose - after the success of the French stick-on nails, I tried another set in pastel rose. They do have a very distinct white undertone and look very much like something Samantha Fox might have worn ca 1986, but it's a nice contrast to my tanned skin anyway:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An Excursion Down Memory Lane

Yesterday, my Mum and I embarked on a little "Granny-Remembrance-Excursion", i.e. the three-countries half-day-trip we had undertaken many times as a three-generation threesome: the village where Granny lived (a visit to the cemetary and quick check if everything was o.k. at the house), followed by a drive to Slovenia via the very steep, but scenic Wurzen Pass in order to have lunch at Kranjska Gora (we should have ordered calamari like she always did, but neither of us has inherited Granny's cravings for them), before we drove to the nearby Italian border-town of Tarvisio for a bit of (grocery and window) shopping.

It was an extremely hot day, even in the ski resort that Kranjska Gora is. The town was virtually deserted:

Tarvisio wasn't exactly overcrowded, either. When we arrived, most shops were still closed for their lunch-break (a very Italian thing): 
One of the shops that was open was Max&Co. Dangerously so: 

I could not resist the pretty navy silk dress with red polka dots. You can't really tell from the picture above, but it is a really original style and flows beautifully. The size fits me perfectly, but it is definitely a bit shorter than my comfort-zone knee lenght. It's a light summer dress, but I would definitely feel more comfortable with a pair of tights to give my wobbly knee area some much-(k)needed definition. Here's a zoom-shot: 

The red shoes that were my Monday-bargain could keep it company, I suppose. Oh, the dress was 40% off and set me back a mere €77. Not bad, eh? I also tried on an original t-shirt with a stiletto-heel print and a fat red zipper at the back, but the last item (an "M" size) was very loose and I wasn't willing to fork out € 35 for it.

Granny, who as a dressmaker never lost her keen interest in all things fashion, would have approved.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Suede Shoes

Yesterday morning at the un-holiday-like hour of 8 a.m. I took Flocki for his annual check-up and while I was waiting for the garage guys to text me, I went for a haircut at the DM on the opposite side of the road, followed by several other activities to kill time. Such as the traditional visit to the Shoe4You branch next to DM. There, I bumped into a pair of posh suede flip-flops with a bow. They were reduced from € 29 to 9.95. Not only would it have been very rude not to jump at the opportunity, but they also matched my outfit so well, I decided to put them on there and then. QED:
This is me, sitting on a porch-swing which was part of KIKA's garden furniture display, still waiting for the garage to text me. The couple having a smoke on a nearby lounge chair gave me strange looks when they noticed me taking pictures of my skirt and shoes.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Spot On

Every August, I spend a few days in KLU. I usually time it around August 15, a national holiday. Several times I chose the very days summer decided to take a break and was greeted with rain. For days on end. This year, I postponed my Southern Holiday Week to this one, based on preferences by the book club for a weekend in Carinthia (more about that later). Well, it turned out to be avery good choice as this might be the best summer week this year (fingers crossed, I don't want to jinx it) and I'd rather spend it by the lake than in the office where I have to either sweat away or suffer from the Scholar's preference for arctic aircondition settings.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ode to the Mundane

This might sound strange, but sometimes I feel that certain little helpers that make daily life that much easier deserve being put on a pedestal...such as those little tissues that prevent colours from bleeding in the wash. I don't know what the English technical term is, but these Farbfangtücher are a great invention, even if, like me, you don't actually want to wash light and dark colours together anyway. This brand is the original, I believe, but I also like DM's own brand: 

I find that even whites turn out much nicer and it's surprising to see that even when you think there won't be any colour bleeding at all, your trusty tissue soaks up
If you haven't tried them, regard this as my housewifey recommendation.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Impressionist Staircase

When I walked past Albertina on Wednesday night on the way to the Mermaid's birthday party, I was very surprised by the new "stair art" to accompany the impressionist collection. Like it!

Friday, August 19, 2011

All I Needed Was a Kettle...

Last week, I decided that my leaking elecric kettle was finally posing too big a health hazard and logged on to Amazon to find an equally powerful replacement. While I was at it, I also put a universal remote control into the shopping basket, the TV in my living room (which I hardly ever watch anyway, but still) having worked on a "near control" basis, i.e. you had to adjust the volume on the actual TV, for over a year now. I was approaching checkout when a banner promoting a sale on handbags popped into my line of vision. Oh-oh.

When I saw a Sequoia bag of the same (only with a zipper) style that I had admired on Mademoiselle for about 70% off, my fate was sealed:

It looks less orangey and more tomato red in real life, but you get the idea.

Well, you're only *young* once, as they say. And payday is on the horizon...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Blood Donor

Last weekend, a(t least one) mosquito had a field day on my legs. If it weren't so hot these days, I would cover my blotchy legs in trousers, but as it is, I don't care if kids run away screaming. I hasten to add that the photo below was taken from a very unflattering angle and my calves aren't quite as massive:
What you see are only 6 of the 10 bites I have on my right leg. Are you a card-carrying member of the Mosquito-Blood-Donor-Society as well?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


After browsing through the fleamarket in KLU on Saturday morning, my Mum and I headed to the lake. On the way to the car, a shoe store jumped into our path (or something like that anyway) and waved its "SALE" sign in front of our eyes. Needless to say, it would have been rude not to at least have a peek. Well, good thing we went inside as I found the perfect replacement for my disintegrating red patent leather(ette) loafers:
Not only pretty, but also extremely comfortable and much better quality. In my opinion, every woman should own a pair of shiny red shoes. Or two. Its predecessor pair (a cheaper version and in faux leather) has been almost worn to death, despite the fact that I get compliments every time I wear them. From a distance, they don't look so bad: 

The tips look a bit worse for wear, and the heels even more so:
Definitely a candidate for my "dumping-at-the-holiday-destination-to-create-more-space-in-the-suitcase" project.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


It is because of random snapshots like the above why I never go anywhere without my camera... German (judging from their newspaper of choice) tourists sitting outside Stadtheater Klagenfurt.

Monday, August 15, 2011

La Dolce Vita

For once, the weather forecast was right and I'm about to head to the lake now, the 3rd day in a row. On Saturday afternoon, when I took this picture and the weather was so-so, there were very few people at "Strandbad", but yesterday when the shops were closed and blue skies beckoned, it was overcrowded. As long as I can find a half-shady spot to lay my mat and manage to blank out inane conversations around me, I'm happy.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It is Alive!

Although I will be on vacation in Carinthia the week after next, I seized the opportunity of a lift with the Mermaid on Friday after work. This is a long weekend (with the Monday being a holiday) after all and the weatherman had promised sunshine. Who knows - these might be the last rays of sun we might get this summer. Another decisive factor was that the annual "Altstadtzauber" including a night flea market took place. The latter was a disappointment as it was too badly lit to properly see the things on offer, but I was overwhelmed by the amount of people in town on a Friday night. Klagenfurt is known for many things, but being a lively town is not one of them. Unlike its rival Villach, the old town is mostly deserted and in summer months nightlife takes place in Pörtschach and Velden anyway. When I was a teenager, I remember some of our usual Saturday night hangouts  in KLU even closing for summer. Alter Platz looked like a huge open air banquet hall on Friday night:

Many other streets of the old town were similarly crowded as people were watching live performers. My Mum and I returned to check out the flea market on Saturday morning (and bumped into the Mermaid and her Mum again). Personally, I'm not a big fan of flea-markets from a buyer's perspective as I a) don't enjoy haggling and b) feel repulsed by old books, clothes and toys.

Teddy was beginning to feel rejected...
I do like to watch other people browse and never cease to be amazed by the stuff on offer, 98% of which I would simply have thrown away. 

Fur coat, anyone?

I did, however, buy something (yep, I know you are surprised now...). A ceramic clock face and a vintage Bohemian brooch, allegedly one of a kind:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Little Pick-Me-Ups

On Wednesday, I met Mademoiselle for lunch. In true post-Nice-French-mood-style, we went to le Bol and actually managed to get a table (random piece of information - they have stopped taking reservations by phone, you need to physically go there to book a table...hmmm). As usual, I was in honey-glazed goat cheese seventh heaven:

My mood picked up further when I got this cute embroidered shoe-bag from Fragonard saying "ballerines en voyage": 

On the way back to the office...executed veeery slowly...I accidentally on purpase walked past the New One store (I only just realised they have a webstore as well and you can get my necklace online here) and tried on the rose-gold (plated) dainty necklace with star pendant I had admired in the window last week when walking past with Snow White. Well, what can I would have been rude not to, eh?
Happy (long) weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On Hold

I'm all for daily updates of a blog, I really am, but right now, there's nothing remotely interesting to write about. Many things going on in my head and indeed my life, which I hope to be able to write about here soon. Until then, stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Branching Out

I've mentioned the funny genre of Austrian eateries that offer pretty much everything and which I therefore like to call Kebabburgerschnitzelfish, but recently, a new trend has emerged. More and more stalls have begun to sell "Asian-style" take-away noodle snacks. The example pictured above caters to the adventurous and the traditional: a marriage of noodles and Käsekrainer : original!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Pick Your Region

On Friday, MC and I were talking about daily deals when I decided to check on the Groupon and Deal LX e-mails on the off chance they were offering something exciting, eylash perm perhaps. Well, Friday's Groupon deals were downright disturbing and ranged from a botox treatment to a breast augmentation. My favourite was number 3 in the picture below, i.e. Fettabsaugung an einer Region nach Wahl (liposuction of an area of your choice). Hello?

I'm not so sure I would trust the upper eyelid tightening procedure offered by a place called "Art of the Shape", either.

Friday, August 05, 2011

There's No Such Thing as Being Too Nice

One of the things that everyone (well, Europeans anyway) always comments on after returning from a trip to the USA is that people there take small-talk and exchanging pleasantries really seriously and complements are the grease that keeps communication afloat. It's not that this is a completely alien concept on these shores, but we are downright grumpy and monosyllabic in comparison. To be honest, I much prefer the more distanced European approach when it comes to interacting with total strangers and people in the service-industry in particular, but I definitely don't object to being given the VIP-treatment by people I know and like!

I work for an American company and it has taken me some time to get used to being thanked for profusely for what is basically just my job. Well, we've had an Ambassador of American Nicety on site for the past two months (today is her last day already, unfortunately) in the form of an exceptionally nice colleague and fellow blogger from our NY office, whom I would like to call "the Duracell Bunny" because her middle name should really be Energy. Within weeks, she managed to see more of Austria than I have in 39 years, not to forget several other European countries as well. Last week, she wrote me such a nice e-mail thanking me for...what was perhaps not my job as such, but definitely did not take an effort at all, i.e. basically being myself. Yesterday, she surprised me with a big box of the Altmann&Kühne chocolates I had pointed out to her as good souvenirs for valued people you don't mind out forking out a lot of money for little net weight of (very good) chocolate. With it, a lovely and thoughtful card. As you can see, the chocolate won't go off:

Most appreciated!

PS: Duracell Bunny is the only person I've met so far who shares my habit of checking the weather forecast before going to bed and preparing the clothes for the following day according to it!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Seize the Day. And the Evening

Today, the weather is cloudy and the temperatures less than summery. On Monday morning, I left the house in (fishnet, but still) tights to brave the chill. For yesterday, however, the weather forecast was good and so the Mermaid and I decided to go swimming outdoors what with our indoor pool being closed for summer repairs anyway. She suggested the Old Danube. I left the office at 6 sharp, but noticed that the sun had gone home, too. Hmmm. By the time we were approaching "Bundesbad Alte Donau" after a brief detour to grab an ice-cream cone from Schwedenplatz, hordes of people were walking the opposite direction. The Mermaid said she remembered that the Strandbad was open until 8 if the weather was fine. So much for the theory. The two tatooed guys at the entrance eyed us wearily and just said, "Well, you won't get tickets any more." Okaaay. One of them winked and said, "Well, I haven't seen you." ??? After another repetition, we finally got it that we could sneak in for free, but that they were closing at 7:30 already.

Where has the sun gone to?

The water was incredibly refreshing and I was really glad we came, no matter if there was no opportunity to top up our tans. We were the only people in the water...

And pretty much the only ones on the lawn as well:

I loved the retro "props":
Fingers crossed that I'll be able to catch some rays of sun on the weekend...

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

DYI Goddess

Two Saturdays ago, I bought a new BILLY shelf with matching door (half glass, half wood) at the IKEA in KLU. My mother who travelled back to Vienna with me and helped me carry it up to my flat was dubious I would be able to assemble it myself and suggested I "ask some guys at the office" if they felt like some after-work DIY work. I half-jokingly asked my (new) boss, but was pretty convinced I would be able to do it myself. The pieces didn't look too daunting after all:
In the end, my mother did not even have to assist me and it took me all of 15 minutes to assemble the parts. I only needed help for lifting it up (the shelf/bookcase is 2 metres tall) and carrying it from the living room to the guest bedroom. 

I did not tackle the doors until Friday night and getting those onto the shelf,  hinges and all took the greater part of an hour. BILLY stands tall and proud now, though, and I was quite proud that I did it all on my own: 
My only previous - customised - BILLY, double the width and half the height, that used to stand in the same spot I gave away for free on as I always do with unwanted furniture. I was quite flattered that so many people wanted to have it and stressed that they particularly liked my little mosaic "artwork":
The lady who collected it on Sunday seemed to be very happy with the gift and I felt like giving away a pet to a new home.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Some Like it Cold

Despite the decidedly un-summery weather, I finally got around to checking out two of Vienna's new icy hotspots. On Saturday, I had a frozen lunch at Summer Samba on Yppenplatz in Vienna's 16th district. I had read a very favourable review and was eager to try those exotic fruits. I asked the girl behind the counter to give me two sour flavours and if I remember correctly, I had pitanga and tapereba. Both were very tasty and refreshing. The colours are all quite pale and paste-coloured, which is a good sign:

Here is the full list of flavours:
On Sunday afternoon, I finally got to check out Kurt, self-proclaimed maker of "the best frozen yoghurt in Austria" (not that there's that much competition in the field). It is actually quite close to where I work, but when MC and I wanted to go there after work two weeks ago, it was closed. A friend who's "friends" with them on Facebook said that they had some teething troubles and often had to close at short notice. They opened at 3 and when we arrived there, a queue had already formed in front of the door:
The frozen yoghurt (I had plan and mango/peach with 3 toppings) was very good and I ordered rooibos tea to defrost afterwards.
I'm not sure I have the patience to queue again when a frozen-yoghurt-craving hits me but I'd definitely go there again.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Blueberry Apricot Cake

Yesterday I baked a cake. Which reminded me that before travelling to Nice, I had taken pictures of another cake I made and that I wanted to share the recipe. It is a variation of the "Blueberry-Raspberry Pound Cake" recipe out of A Homemade Life, a truly wonderful book I got from B2. I substituted the raspberry for the apricots, added flaked almonds (you can never go wrong with those and they also prevent your cake from burning on the surface), used Cointreau instead of the "kirsch" and used part wheat, part wholewheat flour. The result tasted really good. Forgive me for not converting the American cup measurements.

Bluberry Apricot Cake

1 cup and 8 tablespoons white flour
1 cup wholewheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar (I also added some vanilla sugar)
280 g butter (room temperature)
2 tablespoons Cointreau
1 cup blueberries, rinsed and dried well
enough apricots to cover the surface, washed, dried and halved
a good handful of flaked almonds

Preheat your oven to 150°. Butter a spring form (the original recipe calles for a "Bundt pan), dust it with flour and shake out any excess.
Whisk together 2 cups plus 6 tablespoons of flour, the baking powder and salt. Blend the eggs and sugar until thick and pale yellow. Add the butter and alcohol and continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy. It doesn't matter if it looks curdled, that's o.k. Add the rest of the ingredients apart from the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour and combine until the batter is smooth. Do not overmix.
In a separate bowl, coat the berries with the remaining flour and add them to the batter. Gently fold to combine. Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Cover with the halved apricots (sliced side up) and sprinkle with almond flakes. Bake at least for an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let the finished cake cool in the pan before serving.
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