Saturday, March 31, 2012

Repeat Offender

I'm in KLU for the weekend and as usual, I went into town on Saturday morning. As soon as I set foot into the Peek & Cloppenburg branch at City Arkaden, I knew that I would walk out with something. The store is about one tenth in floorspace of their Vienna flagship store and yet I prefer it for its compact size and less "Communist Collective" store concept than P&C's bigger branches. I immediately headed towards the racks with a discreet SALE label and zoomed in on the two items pictured above: a pretty polka-dotted viscose scarf (reduced to €14,90 from € 29,90 originally) which Mum insisted on buying as a little Easter pressie and the checkered navy and white GANT blouse which I would not have looked at for the original price of € 99. For € 29,95 it was reasonable and looked damn good with the white jeans I was wearing (incidentally also from the KLU P&C...).

I officially declare this store my private "danger zone"...

Friday, March 30, 2012


On Wednesday, I worked from home, as did my team-mates. This is - theoretically (sometimes there are important appointments that require you to be at the office or elsewhere - a bi-weekly initiative started by our manager. Unlike some colleagues, I never actually had the urge to work from home, preferring to separate my work life from my private one.

However, I have to say that WFH-ing has grown on me and rather than being distracted by piles of laundry or books and magazines, I am actually more productive chez moi than I would be at the office. Interesting.

The only downside is the fact that at home I lack an external monitor and, more importantly, the 3 items listed on the fridge magnet FCN once gave me. So true!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Looking forward to the REAL Thing

On Tuesday afternoon, I got a text-message from Amica with the following breaking news: the famous Schwedenplatz ice-cream parlour had matcha ice-cream that day. Yay! I immediately planned in a detour on my way home and checked it out, together with "variegato cardamom". I was not impressed: like all their flavours it was overly creamy and tasted of little else but sugar and cream. Ah, well. Nice try, anyway.

If everything goes according to plan I'm flying to Tokyo on Easter Sunday. Very unlike last year, preparations have been almost non-existant. No advance packing and little talk about my upcoming two-week-holiday. In other words, I've been super paranoid and superstitious, afraid to jinx it. A colleague has just returned from Japan and reported that the cherries were not in bloom yet, which means that it's likely that they're waiting for us. *Crosses fingers*

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Weekend Kaleidoscope V

1.) A nice detail on a not so nice occasion. Reflection of the stained glass windows on the carpet in the mortuary at my grandmother's funeral on Friday afternoon.
2.) Easter decorations at my flat
3.) "Patriotic window" seen in Lower Austria on Sunday
4.) Divine dessert at Sunday's book club meeting chez S1
5.) Spring is in town!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fashion Statement or Desperation?

On Saturday, I walked behind this pair on Rotenturmstraße. Now black tights in flip-flops is not something you see everyday and had me wonder whether this was a budding fashion trend I had yet to discover or whether the lady had just got rid of shoes that had been causing her pain and popped into the next shoe store to grab the cheapest pair of comfortable shoes she could find. The fact that the guy carries a camera let me to the assumption that they were tourists so I have sympathy for "feet of flames" after a day of sightseeing.

It was an interesting sight in any case and I wondered why she didn't just take off the tights as well (it was really warm that day) if it really was a case of painful feet. Then again, you never know if she had got rid of her winter fur in time...

Sometimes I like to think I would make quite a decent detective...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pineapple and Cranberry Chocolate Mini-Cakes

Last Sunday, I felt like a little baking experiment for several reasons. After what turned out to be my last visit to my granny the day before I was quite sad and baking always calms me when I'm upset. There was also a more mundane reason - I wanted to use up some chocolate that was nowhere near its best-before date yet, but wrapped in Christmassy or New Years-y foil and now that Easter is approaching I wanted to get rid of. I also wanted to use those pretty paper baking cups I bought in Australia. In the Australian's favourite knick knacks shop in Brisbane, to be precise:
In my "recycling" ambition I also ended up including some dried pineaple that I had got in Bangkok airport on my flight home from Sydney. Here's what I came up with. As these are neither muffins, nor cupcakes, I've decided to call them mini-cakes for lack of a better name.

Pineapple and Cranberry Chocolate Mini-Cakes


100g softened butter
70g caster sugar

225g flour
2-3 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
70g chocolate, melted (I wanted to use up milk chocolate, if you use dark, which would always be my first choice, you might want to add more sugar)
3 dried pineapple slices, finely chopped
a handful of dried cranberries
2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of Cointreau or other flavourful liquor of your choice
a pinch of salt
a handful of shaved almonds
optional: vanilla pulp to taste


Preheat your oven (convection setting) to 180°. Put 12 paper baking cups into a muffin tray (if you don't own one, you'll have to put two cups together unless you want the dough to spread in all directions.

Mix butter, sugar, baking powder, eggs, cocoa, a pinch of salt and vanilla pulp together until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and the dried fruits. Note: in order to prevent the pineaple chunks from sticking together I recommend putting them into a little bowl, then dusting them with flour and working through it with your fingers to have the chunks nicely separated.

Fill the paper cups to about 3/4s and sprinkle with the shaved almonds. I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but I love shaved almonds. Not only do they look nice, they prevent the top of cakes from burning. Clever, eh?

Bake for about 20 minutes. Don't overbake, they should still be soft to the touch when you take them out of the oven.

A citrusy or chocolate icing might add a nice touch, or simply dust your mini-cakes with some icing sugar if you are so inclined (I wasn't).

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Grammar is Overrated...

Sprayers is Illiterates!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Mysterious Case of the Ubiquitous Chucks

I don't know if they've been around for a while, but I first noticed them yesterday all over Vienna's first district where someone obviously had been very active with a stencil. Does it *mean* anything? Does it *lead* somewhere special? I haven't found out (yet)...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sunlight and Shadows

On Saturday, I visited my paternal grandmother in Styria. I had planned to visit her before Easter anyway, but my parents also decided to visit her that day as she had taken a turn for the worse in the days before and my father had not been able in the past two weeks when he had the flu.

It was a day of blue skies and glorious sunshine and while the view was most spectacular from the road, I could not just stop to take a picture there and therefore had to stand on my toes and take a peek over the rooftops in the residential area where my aunt and uncle live. A truly lovely early spring day and even though the weather almost seemed to mock us in view of our gloomy moods, it was probably just as well as rain would not exactly have lifted our spirits, either.
My Mum and me walking to the nearby nursing home rather than taking the car

Even though I overcompensated my sadness with forced chirpiness in view of my poor little granny lying in her bed in a state of restless semi-sleep, I knew deep down that this would probably be last time I would see her alive. I was almost surprised at myself how calm and detached I was and thought the condensed dose of visits to nursing homes and geriatric wards of hospitals I have experienced in recent years had made me almost immune. Not really.

Every time my phone rang in the past two days, I was relieved when it wasn't my parents' number, until early this morning, it was and I intercepted my Dad with "Bad news, right?" in order not to have to hear the dreaded sentence out loud.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Calls for Bold Colours!

Just like the crocuses that are bursting through the sparsly grass-covered soil, I feel like wearing bolder colours than my winter wardrobe has to offer when the sun comes out. (Then again, I also often feel like bold colours when it rains, just for the sake of it. Let's just say I like bold colours, full stop).
Some recent purchases, a blue watch (COSMO) and a brightly-coloured silk foulard (DvF).

Oh, and let's not forget my winter bargain, the "wild" Tory Burch flats who got their first outing last week, paired with fire-engine-red tights: rrrRRRRRRRR!

Friday, March 16, 2012


Earlier this week, I went to buy some things at BIPA. Their till girls are obviously encouraged to attempt to upsell patrons, trying to push whatever is strategically placed in the little box next to the conveyor belt in a given week. I have had them try to sell me mascara, hairspray, toothpaste, etc. None of which has ever been what I felt I should not leave the shop without and it's actually one of the reasons why I favour DM if I have a choice.

This time, shaving gel and razors were in the magic upsell box. "Perhaps you might want to get some razors or shaving gel for your boyfriend or husband...?" the lady behind the till said. "Nope", I replied. "If you had offered me the actual boyfriend or husband now, that might have been a different story altogether." To my surprise, the girl found that quite funny.

Then again, you never know whether this has given her an idea. I should try to shop there more often...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

This Time Last Week

...I was queing in the cold for 40 minutes in order to fight with a bunch of desperate housewives of the first batch of H&M's Marni collection. I blame Milan. I probably would not have found out about this designer collection on time if it hadn't been for the huge billboard right next to the cathedral and the ad I then saw in a magazine I bought here. I liked the sneak-peek and made an entry in my calendar. As you can see, there were few people queuing in front of me:
Well, what can I was the first time I was out of an H&M branch that quickly while spending so much money (almost € 300!) in one go. This is the booty in the stylish limited edition bags. They actually also gave me a free cotton travel clothes bag.
You to be very quick and literally grab the things off the shelves, at the same time trying not to be trampled by women on a mission. The Gazelle briefly peeked in, but immediately fled, not feeling up to the brutality of the hunt before breakfast...

I got two sets of chunky melamine bracelets. One in ivory/black:
and one in grey/ivory/orange and red. Yes, the one on the left is actually bright red in real life. I did not like/need it that much and therefore gave it to a colleague:
My favourite piece is probably the silk blouse with different fabrics on the front on back side:

The skirt is really pretty and fits me perfectly, too. It's not lined and a rather wintery fabric, I have to say, but I'll definitely get some more wear out of it in the coming months:
They also had sequinned collars in black and white and I decided to snatch up the white version:
The cardigan I wasn't too enamoured with once I tried it on at home even though I liked the snug fit and the quality (merino wool). I found it too "ruffly" and went back to the shop to return it on Saturday, reasoning that spending €70 on something that would probably never see the light of day was not the wisest of investments:
When I was at H&M to return the cardie, I noticed some Marni items lying arounds so am assuming that they got another batch later on and only decided to hold it back on Thursday in order not to make the people who queued feel stupid.

In case you were wondering why I did not just order online: there was a "queue" on Thursday morning as well and the H&M where I got the stuff is practically a stone's throw from my office so I could just pop in on my way to work for a bit of early morning adrenaline rush...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Fashion. Been There Done That

Admittedly, I'm not as starved for spring fashion this year as my winter in the Northern Hemisphere has been shorter than usual thanks to my Australian adventure. Even so, I'm appreciating the explosion of spring colours and lighter fabrics in the shops. Gradually, Vienna is copping on to more original window displays, too, such as the Swarovski Crystallized one on Kärtner Str. that is really well-made.
"Flower-heads" at Steffl - not bad, either:
What I actually wanted to talk about here is the somewhat disturbing revival of 80s knits with the type of wobbly yarn I already found extremely ugly first time round. I won't go as far as saying that I'll never ever wear it, but right now, I'm rather appalled. The jumper in the picture here is part of MANGO's S/S collection and I seriously doubt that Kate Moss, who is a child of the 1980s as well, would wear it if she wasn't a testimonial for the company.
Just looking at it makes me imagine horrible poodle perms and songs by Sandra on endless repeat...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Brownie With a Twist

On Sunday (the day I'm actually writing this) I was in a baking mood. I had been itching to try out this obscene-looking brownie-recipe by a Sydney foodblogger I read regularly, Chocolate Suze. I'm equally intrigued by her recipe for "super easy lemonade scones", by the way. I liked the idea of adding Reese's peanut butter cups to the chocolate dough. In general, I'm no big fan of brownies. Like cheesecake and cupcakes it is something I like the idea and the look of, but rarely find up to my expectations, taste-wise. this doesn't mean that I don't like baking those things! I slightly adapted the recipe. For once, I didn't have access to mini peanut butter cups, but only regular sized ones. In hindesight, I cold have done with a 5th pack of three (I halved them) for the size of my baking tray, but 4 was ok, too. I also substituted the caster sugar for brown sugar and only used 1 1/3 cups as opposed to the 2 cups in the recipe of it.
LinkThis is what the finished brownie looks like.
I couldn't resist trying it warm with some vanilla ice-cream. Yum, yum!
I should add that I'm actually not wildly crazy about peanuts, either, but I occasionally quite enjoy the taste of peanut butter when it only plays a supporting role and adds a bit of grown-up saltiness.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Say Goodbye to Cracked Fingertips

In the last few winters, the super-dry skin on my hands that I always get in the cold months was joined by another, far more unpleasant, phenomenon: tiny cracks/cuts in the tips of my fingers that didn't look like much, but truly hurt like hell when they came in touch with anything acidic or containing alcohol. I did research online and asked dermatologists (who shrugged and said that "those things just occur"...erm, right, so I noticed) what could have caused it, willing to take supplements to make up for a seasonal deficiency in whatever I might be lacking or to purchase some miracle salve. This winter I was determined to keep those nasty cuts at bay and ta-dah! managed to get through the winter cold without them. How did I manage to do that?

First of all, I made sure to wear (cashmere) gloves whenever I was out in the cold, making no exception for the brief distance to the next shop or subway station where I would have just put my finges into the pocket of my coatn sans gloves before. Also, I tried to rather let my phone ring than take off my gloves to answer it. Sounds simple enough, but it really made a difference.

Second, I covered my hands in a thick blob of Vaseline every night before going to bed and put on cotton gloves on top. I had tried that on and off in the past, too, but this time didn't wash the gloves as often, accepting greasy smudges on my bedlinen for the added benefit of soaked-through gloves that allowed me to wear them without extra Vaseline every other night. It worked like a treat and if you are a sufferer of cracked fingertips as well, I really recommed that you try this.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Milan in More Detail

I had been looking forward to the (work) week being over and finding the time to sit down and write this post, but now it's Sunday again and I'm already feeling that familiar frustrating feeling creeping in that tomorrow is Monday. Eeeek. Next week's highlight is a short business-trip to Hamburg, which I'm looking forward to. The last weekend in Milan already seems quite long away, but it was a most welcome break. The weather on Saturday was very sunny and spring-y to the point that I was beginning to fear my face would end up sunburnt at the end of the day (it didn't). Unlike my Mum, I had never been to Milan and had quite high expectations on this fashion capital. Given that there was a lot to offer, fashion-wise, I exercised remarkable restraint and did not buy much. To be honest, said restraint is always boosted by the presence of my Mum who has not give up yet on trying to get me to invest in more grown-up and longer lasting things than handbags and make-up...

Speaking of handbags. On Sunday morning, we shared our breakfast-table at the hotel with a lady from Salzburg who asked if we were there for business or pleasure. When we explained that the weekend-trip was a Christmas present, she said, "Well, you've picked a bad time, haven't you?" We asked her what she meant and she said that what with the Bag and Shoe Fair going on and all hotels being outrageously overpriced (I had booked well in advance and got a decent price)...It turned out that she was a wholesaler in bags whose client portfolio included Steffl depatment store where I raid the sale more often than I should. Soon, we were talking bags and swapping notes on our favourite designers. In hindesight, I guess I should have asked her if she needed a business partner.

So here are some pictures...

in front of the "mother of all shopping malls": Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele

even the - very elegant and cathedral-like- central railway station offers plenty of shopportunities.
artsy manhole cover in the famous Via Montenapoleone

kitschy blue skies on Saturday

I love browsing through markets when abroad and I love Italian artichokes above all vegetables!

the famous Duomo

on the rooftop on fhe Duomo, wondering if the terrace on the building opposite is James Bond's Milan patch

a top I picked up at Banana Republic

tiny umbrella (next to my even lighter Japanese brolly - the best you can find, and I did literally find that one) I bought at a cool store inside the central railway station mall, which also has a Sephora...

mini-haul at Kiko Milano. That BB cream is really amazing, I wish I had bought another tube.

we had the best paninis I ever tasted outside the Castello. I also really liked the originial names such as "Berlusconi" and even "Bunga Bunga"...

you can export the machines and roast beans, but somehow espressi never taste half as good and hot outside Italy, don't you agree?

Monday, March 05, 2012

Milan Teaser

I am quite busy this week so you'll have to wait for a longer update on my (very nice!) weekend in Milan. As a little teaser, here are two rather representative pictures of the weekend:
Gelato in front of the Duomo in glorious spring weather.

Leather boots I bought for an incredible €39 (it was the last pair and hence dramatically reduced) at Aerosoles. They also symbolise all the walking we did despite the fact that we made good use of our day ticket on Saturday. Other than these boughts I didn't buy much and we both returned home with cabbin baggage only.

Stay tuned.
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