Friday, November 30, 2012

Thanks. Giving

I am sorry I have not posted much here recently, but basically I have been and will continue to be on business trips pretty much non-stop until December 14. This week I have been to Paris and Zurich and am actually writing this in Zurich. 

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about a lot of "deep" subjects such as happiness, satisfaction and what really counts in life for a variety of reasons. You could say it's the kind of reflecting you usually do around New Year's come early...

Unfortunately, certain periods of time are not good ones for everyone at the same time, just as years are not entirely good or bad for one person. An awful and upsetting thing that brought tears to my eyes happened to a good friend of mine recently and had me wondering whether life has to be a bitch occasionally before it shows its nice side and whether there actually is a "purpose" to bad experiences.

Personally, I have resigned myself to the fact that life will always be a rollercoaster and there is hardly a time when things are nice and fluffy on all fronts. When you are happy on the job front, your love-life sucks and/or someone you love falls ill or dies, or there's something else to worry about. 

Last autum, I received some (health-related) shocker news shortly before going to Sydney that made me prioritise things differently and decide to take my personal happiness more seriously and say "no" to what I was uncomfortable about. I can only recommend it, even if at times it is scary and you have to step out of your comfort zone. It took me a while to practice what I preach, though, and remind myself that life's too short to be miserable all the time.

At the beginning of this year, I felt so awful and depressed at work you have no idea. Well, even many of my best friends in fact had no idea and told me not to exaggerate when I mentioned I was thinking of quitting, telling me to think of my above-average salary and the perks that came with my job. It was only when I realised I was this close to adding to the burnout-statistics that the silver lining on the horizon turned up and I have started to realise that the impossible seemed possible. I am actually loving my (new) job. Not just bearing it, with the thought of the paycheck and perks keeping me going halfhartedly, but thanks to a different team and the best of all bosses I feel appreciated and motivated. I am loving the travelling and challenges (much as I dislike this word, actually) and the fact that I feel I am making an impact. Who would have thought.

Looking back on the months when I dreaded going to work on Sunday nights and felt strangely trapped in my own life, I am so grateful this year has decided to be nice to me at least on this front.

So if you're feeling unhappy, not appreciated enough or have just experienced a loss: hang in there!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sign of the Times?

On Monday and Tuesday, I was in Ljubljana on business and made an interesting - "shocking", even - discovery. Both my (Croatian) colleague and I were fleeced by taxi drivers on the short ride from the train-station to our hotel. I am not so much surprised by the fact that there are taxi drivers out there that rip foreigners off, but that it happened where I least suspected it. There are several cities where you have to take great care and the tips of a local in order to avoid the notorious taxi-mafia (e.g. Vilnius) and others that used to have a really bad reputation, but turn out to be ridiculously cheap (e.g. Sofia), but in Ljubljana, capital of the nation whose inhabitants tend to pride themselves of being "more German than the Germans", I definitely didn't expect it.

Both my colleague and I arrived on Sunday and we both took an official taxi that was waiting in line in front of the central railway station. Both drivers turned on the (obviously manipulated) meter and issued us with a receipt without blinking. I paid a whopping  €14.85 for a 4.5 km ride as you can see on the receipt below, but my colleague actually paid - get this - €30 for the same journey! It costs less (if you take a decent cab) to get to the airport which is quite far out and in fact I paid € 18.5 for a ride from the city to the airport yesterday in a taxi that my Slovenian colleague had arranged for me. To be honest, I was surprised my Croatian colleague was ripped off twice as badly as me. She asked at the hotel reception how much it should have been and they told her, around €6.

When we told our Slovenian colleagues the story of our daylight robbery experiences over dinner, they were surprised, but the female one said it had happened to her once as well. We concluded it must be a consequence of the dire economic situation.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Knitty Gritty

When I was in KLU in October, I bought a pair of fat bamboo knitting needles on a whim. The day after that I thought getting some wool as well might be a good idea and picked up 5 skeins in these gorgeous colours, that I wanted to go with my new Uniqlo down jacket:
I left both needles and wool in KLU as I was en route to Paris then and next time I visited finished a massive scarf (requiring the purchase of an additional ball) in one weekend:
When I arrived in KLU on Friday night, a 4-pack of structured "wool" was waiting in my room. My Mum, ever eager to support any creative tendencies of mine, no matter how short-lived they may be, had concluded from my recent burst of "power-knitting" that "you are in a knitting phase" and got it for me. At first I was rather ungrateful, telling her I only wore genuine wool and didn't really like those fancy structured yarns at all, but then I got going and finished an entire infinity scarf on Saturday evening in front of the TV. I quite like the outcome and it actually goes with 2 coats of mine:
Mum and I agreed that if I get bored of my dayjob, I could think of applying in a Chinese sweatshop specialised in knitwear, what with my good piece-work record...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This May Be My Autumn Favourite

Today I inherited an Essie nailpolish from the Gazelle, who found that it didn't suit her skintone. I know the feeling: "Sand Tropez", which looks otherworldly gorgerous on her fingers looks pretty blah on mine and I will actually give her the bottle as a backup. The colour is not new, but I hadn't tried it yet and it's perfect for autumn/winter, I think. Meet "Chinchilly":
It's slightly more purple-toned in real life, but nowhere near as purple as "Merino Cool", which I already own. Unlike many other Essie polishes I have tried, it applies super-smooth and is opaque in two coats. Thumbs up!

If you thought the hand belonged to a ninety-year old, I won't hold it against you. I was pretty shocked by the wrinkles in the picture myself (= skin crying out for moisturizer), but couldn't be bothered retaking the photo after the skin had plumped up again post-lotion.

Epic post on peel-off nailpolish base-coats coming up.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Sad Story of the Disappearing Glove...

In general, I'm not someone who misplaces or loses things. There is, however, one notable exeption: gloves. I blame my shallow coat pockets that result in them just falling out of them. This of course never happens to the cheap H&M variety, but only to nice leather or cashmere specimens. The collection pictured above is actually only the tip of the iceberg if you so will, I have used single gloves for polishing shoes or abused them for other menial tasks. 

The one on the far right was a gift from the Mermaid that I took particular care of. Last Saturday I was aware that the jacket I was wearing was a potential "glove-diminisher" and painstakingly took care to store them in my bag when indoors. However, it must have been the short walk to my my local supermarket that resulted in the loss. I was really annoyed about this and retraced my steps that evening. I was even more annoyed, when I lost one of my new grey gloves bought in Helsinki last week yesterday. Aarrrrghhhh! I have no idea when and where that happened, but when I left the restaurant after lunch I realised I had only 50% of my "glovage" left. Again, I retraced my steps and asked in the shop where I suspect I left it. 

So - let me know if you know of a museum that collects single cloves, have creative ideas for recycling them or have a personal fetish for them...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

7th Blogiversary: Feeling like a Dinosaur

Wow. Is that the time? It does not seem like seven years that I've been writing this blog at all.The picture is a nod to my ongoing nailpolish obsession. What can I say: I still love writing my random little posts as much as ever and for me this blog has become a chronicle of sorts as well: sometimes when I can't remember when exactly it was that I made a certain trip that I know I wrote about here and can't be bothered wading through the photo archives on my hard drive, I simply search for it via the nifty little search-bar here. Same for my go-to recipes. Recently, I've been posting a lot more on Instagram as it's much more convenient to do so on the go than write a proper blog-post for which you need to cut or edit a photo. If you'd like to follow me there, I'm "wastingmytalent".

Saturday, November 10, 2012


So I promised you to show you more pictures of my stopover in Helsinki than a pram parked out of a restaurant. When my colleague and I arrived late on Wednesday night, we took a(n incredibly expensive) taxi to our hotel and were more than pleasantly impressed. In fact, if you're ever in Helsinki and ideally staying on company money, I wholeheartedly recommend GLO Kluuvi. I took about 20 pictures of the rooms (yes, plural) in my "deluxe room" and all the stylish freebies that I of course packed. There is a plush tiger waiting on the bedspread, but alas with a discreet tag around his neck, informing you that you can "bail me out for € 23 at reception". They also provide you with condoms, but as my colleague found out, these are also a hefty € 10, if you want to use protection for your wild night with tiger:
It was furreeeezing when we arrived, but we still took a walk around the block and mentally bookmarked all the lovely shoportunities. To defrost, we went to find some tea, which we eventually did in a Belgian bar/restaurant, where we were the only guests drinking something non-alcoholic. In fact, if you're in Finland on a budget, I recommend ordering hot drinks, which are surprisingly cheap and our guess was that nobody ever orders these. Beer, however, is around €10 a glass..
Thursday was nice and sunny, if cold, and we basically walked around the inner city and found plenty of excuses to go into shops to warm up. Below is a picture of a harbour, where we had arrived the night before on a ferry of similar size as the one waiting there:
There's a little market by the harbour that sells souvenirs and groceries. We did not buy any reindeer hide, but it looks quite cool anyway:
In Helsinki, there's a Marimekko store at literally every other street corner and at the airport, too (for the same price, alas). I tried on a skirt and some scarves, but then only bought a modest tote bag and cool necklace, along with some napkins. I also bought a pair of grey gloves with rhinestones and a cute polar bear hat from H&M that I haven't seen here. I know I'm probably 30 years to old to waer that, but I'd been seeing similar ones on blogs and YouTube channels and wanted one:
Helsinki is the World Capital of Design this year and there are lots of stores with seriously tempting stuff. If I had been there longer and my suitcase had had more space, nothing would have stopped me. Well, apart from the limit of my credit card. Speaking of Finnish design: when I returned to the office on Friday, my Fab-order of Iittala plates had arrived. Loving them:

Friday, November 09, 2012

When in Helsinki... just leave your infants in front of the restaurants in sub-zero temperatures. In the US, you would probably be arrested and put in jail and elsewhere in Europe, you'd at least be frowned upon and fear that some psycho could actually snatch your baby away. In Finland, however, you apparently them outside in the fresh air while you dine. The restaurant where I took this picture actually had 3 prams (2 of them vacant, to be honest) in front of the door when we left. At another, there was a coughing baby in the pram in front of the window (behind which I hope the mother sat), but I guess crisp air is better than restaurant fumes...
More about the AMAZING hotel where we stayed and my shopping exploits soon.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

48 Hours in the Baltics...

Just a quick post from Helsinki, where it's currently 1:30 a.m., but I am uncharacteristically hyper... I am staying in the coolest hotel room suite I have ever had the pleasure to spend the night (complete with stuffed tiger and other interesting features).

I usually boast about the fact that MY business trips are not of the variety where you see little more than airport, hotel and conference room. The past two days, however, where more or less exactly like that due to the fact it was dark when I arrived in both Riga and Tallinn and that I was at events all day on Tuesday and Wednesday. I had a great time with my colleagues anyway and here are a few impressions. Riga by night:
Interesting presentation of the complimentary starters on the paper placemats at a restaurant in Riga...The hand belongs to the waiter:
Street in the old town of Riga (where our hotel was) in the morning:
View of Tallinn from the 6th floor of Swissotel, where I was from 8:30-18:00 on Wednesday:
And finally a picture taken while waiting to board the ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki on Wednesday night. Buying cheap booze both in Tallinn and on the ferry (dubbed the "booze cruise") is the main purpose for most Fins taking the trip. I assume the puke in the toilets on board was not only due to the rough sea...
More about Helsinki coming up.

Friday, November 02, 2012


As you might have gathered, I've travelled a lot on business over the last 5 months and will continue to do so in the near future. As airplanes are notorious germ-distributors and I've cought nasty colds in the past from a plane journey, I was intrigued when an American colleague mentioned these fizzy tablets called "Airborne" she takes before long-haul flights. Well, predictably enought these can not be found in Austria and so I was thrilled when I came across a similar drug called "Frequent Flyer" in Sydney. Let me tell you, this is a miracle cure! Neither me, nor the Mermaid or my Mum got any cold in the course of the heavily airconditioned 24-hours-journey from Australian summer to European winter.

Thankfully, the Australian replenished my supply this May and I have been popping the occasional tablet into my water on the plane in order to combat the flu-germs. Successfully! Earlier this week I met an ex-colleague in Hamburg (basically my GBF) and he surprised me with that famous Airborne in two different incarnations. I shall try it out soon and report if it can compete with its Australian relative.

As I don't usually take medication of any kind other than the occasional aspirin or lemsip, I guess these type of vitami-bombs work particularly well with me and I am taking care not to take them too often in order not to become "immune".
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