Monday, December 31, 2012

And Where's the Snow?

It's a conspiracy. Every winter, in most parts of Austria it snows well before Christmas and also when you are already in full spring mode and have put your ski gear away. Predictably enough, Tauwetter (literally "thawing weather") sets in a few days before Christmas and it's bye-bye snow, hello fog and headaches. Some parts of Austria experienced crazy spring temperatures this Christmas, but this did not apply to the South, where it was freezing as usual, just minus the snow. Due to its geographical situation Klagenfurt is (in)famous for its fog during the autumn and winter months and the town has pretty much been covered in fog every day between Chritmas and New Year's Eve. In order to escape the fog and in particular to let Dad, who is suffering from a chronic respiratory condition, get some fresh air into his lungs, we took a digestive walk on Radsberg almost every day. There, it still did not look remotely wintery, but at least it was sunny. Here's the shadow of me (in the middle) and my parents:
There's a spot up there where you can see all of Klagenfurt covered in that big down blanket of fog. The smaller source of cloudy fog that sticks out of the blanket is the refuse incinerator's chimney:
On the one day when it was not foggy in the valley, we took a walk by the lake, which likewise did not exactly provide a wintery scenery and was not covered in the tiniest sliver of ice:
If I had not been skiing twice with my Mum, I would not have seen any snow other than tiny heaps nearby houses. However, we managed to get our dose of snow (partly artificial, but let's not nitpick) and fresh mountain air. How about that picture?
Wishing all of you a great New Year's Eve and Happy and Healthy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Rags

Hi, everyone. I hope you're enjoying some (quiet) days off, overindulging in sweet and greasy things like you're supposed to at this time of the year. Myself, I've read on average one book a day, eaten my fair share of said things, been skiing twice (sunshine and hardly anybody on the slopes: that's the way I like it!) and done some DIY projects. I've also made two shortish trips downtown to check out the sales and come back with two things. More on that later. First of all, I wanted to show you the surprise things I got by my Mum. My parents and I agreed to only exchange "small" gifts this year. Quotation marks as the definition obviously varies, but pretty much along the lines of books, CDs and other not really costly items because none of us had any ideas and or needs this year. My Dad ordered some things from my Amazon wishlist, both parents gave me lovely calendars they made and Mum got me some clothes that I didn't expect. First of all, a cool pair of patterned trousers from Gerry Weber (! surprisingly stylish for that brand) and a matching jumper from Jackpot. I really like both and have already worn them separately.
She sewed me a skirt out of a beautiful tweed/tartan material and made a matching scarf (lined with Indian silk, self-imported). As she definitely beats me when it comes to overaccessorising, she also went ahead and made a matching necklace and crochet hat. Below is the full set:
And now for my bargains. The wool/angora blend jumper is from Benetton (EUR 22 on sale) and is more like the colour of the blanket on the topmost two photos in real life. I only realised back at my parents' place that it is the same red as the one in the GW trousers and have already worn that combination.
At Peek&Cloppenburg I got a basic/conservative grey wool cardigan (reduced to EUR 49) that I really like and which will come in handy on business travels.
I'm happy with both my presents and sale finds and will get plenty of wear out of all of them.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Same Same, But Different

Whereas there are many countries which seem to have ONE particular traditional Christmas meal every family eats, this is not the case in Austria. I just looked up the number of households in our country (3.65 Mio), approximately 79% of which are either Catholic (75%) or Protestant (4%). So those 2.9 Mio. Christmas-celebrating households probably have about 2 Million different traditional Christmas meals.

Well, at least this is what I assume based on surveys among the people I know. The "traditional" meals range from cold cuts to fish to sausage and sauerkraut (which my Dad's sister and family always eat, apparently a nod to the Holy Family's humble beginnings in the manger to turkey or "something different every year". In my family, we always have fondue (the chinoise type with meat cooked in broth, not oil) on Christmas Eve. Meat fondue is acutally the traditional New Year's Eve family meal in some of my friends' houses. The Mermaid's clan also eats it on Christmas Eve, like we do. We did not always eat fondue, but have had it pretty much as long as I can remember. I really love it and look forward to it every year. In case you are wondering why there are chopped sausages on those meat plates, this is a special family tradition as we are all greedy and have perfected the art of putting at least 2 pieces of meat on the skewer. The little piece of frankfurter sausage acts like a great stopper that prevents your meat from dropping into the "lake". Needless to say the broth that we have with noodles on either Christmas Day or the 26th (called Stefanitag after St. Stephen in Austria) tastes great. Christmas Day is the only time of the yaer those old-fashioned but cool special fondue-plates with their sauce compartments get an airing. Some years ago, we switched to an electric fondue heater, but other than that, we're traditional...
What's your family's tradition?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas to All My Readers

...most of whom I know in person anyway and who most likely received a variation of the picture below in hard copy form. The Christmas lights on Vienna's Graben and Kohlmarkt never lose their fascination and the latter in particular never fail to instantly fill me with happiness whenever I walk underneath that elegant canopy of subtly flickering LEDs. 

Driving southwards on Saturday I listened to the radio and heard somebody from our National Tourist Board talk about the recent increase in tourists around Christmas time as Vienna apparently has succesfully established itself as one of the top cities to be for Advent, Christmas and New Year's Eve. I can't really report about New Year's as I generally try to avoid the crowds in the city then, but it definitely is a very, very christmassy city and having seen decorations (or the lack thereof) in many foreign cities, I feel very privileged indeed to live in such a tastefully decorated city and to get to see the view below every (work) day from November to January. I don't know what it is with the UK and electric blue lights, but these are just plain COLD in my book and don't stir the least festive feelings in me. I'm a sucker for soft whites that are reminiscent of candlelight and this is why I think the masterminds behind Vienna's inner city's pedestrian zones got it just right.

Maybe I should talk to Wien Tourismus to use me as their testimonial as I'm so enthusiastic, but I'm really not exaggerating. Look!
(If you're reading this and don't celebrate Christmas: Wishing you a PC Happy Holidays!)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Santa Brings Glitter!

So if the world hasn't ended yet, you'll be seing this post I wrote on December 20 and programmed to appear on the 21st. If it has in fact ended...well, I suppose we're all in this together.

While some of my colleagues have been receiving various little gifts from clients, all the parcels I got where the ones I'd ordered (and paid for) myself. Ahem. My enthusiasm was just as big, mind you. On Wednesday, I received both the November (top) and December (bottom) glossyboxes. Yay! I was pretty happy with them although it gets a bit inflational if you get two on the same day (which actually only happened as they had messed up the regular November delivery):
As if that was not beauty products overkill enough for one day, I also received the Butter London Christmas LE trio I had ordered on Amazon when it was on offer in their advent calendar. I already played around with them and all the pink and silver glitters in particular are very pretty:
I also got a J Crew delivery that day but won't bore you with a picture of basic long-sleeved shirts I bought in the Sale.

I hope you've been getting nice parcels as well, be they presents from other people or yourself...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Not Bad, Considering

Last year I didn't bake any Christmas cookies as I was in Sydney. This year, I thought I wouldn't really have time what with all the travelling. In the end, I did make quite a few. Well, actually my normal "quota". I like to give little cellophane bags filled with my offerings to friends and it's just boring if you only have 3 different varieties in there, don't you agree?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


So I have been travelling for business quite a bit recently. I recently discovered this interesting data visualisation provided by Miles & More. The below data refers to all Star Alliance flights (which make up about 70% of my flights, I would estimate) I took since January 2011. Apparently I've spent 5 days and 3 hours up in the air. Quite impressive. I like the way they also list the equivalent of a flight to the moon and tell me that I almost flew round the earth twice. Click to enlarge the screenshot below:

Monday, December 17, 2012

It's Not You, it's Me

Hello, pretty people of the internets. When Mademoiselle asked me yesterday if I was still updating my blog or whether it was her computer that was playing tricks on her by showing the last post from December 6, I knew it was time for an update. Your computers are fine, it was me who was travelling again (last business trip before Christmas, to snowy and cold Sofia) and didn't have time for an update. 

Well, I am back in town and am going to chill as much as I can be before heading to KLU on Saturday.  Depending on whether anything remotely interesting happens to me this week, you'll see some more action before Christmas here. Don't hold your breath, though...

For now, I'm leaving you with some impressions from the weekend, the first picture being from tea lights (and their reflection) at Frida's annual advent get-together last night and the second from matcha snowflakes I made on a whim yesterday afternoon.

Talk to you soon(ish).

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Epic Nailpolish Post I Promised

Do you remember when I posted that I'd ordered the magic peel-off basecoat from "Ugly Duckling" aka Amelia in South Korea? Actually only afterwards did I find out that good old Essence sold a version as well that was readily available in drugstores in Europe. This blog (which I really like, by the way) has a really good explanaiton of how those peel-off coats work and how they are actually glorified glue. Interesting! Anyhow, I knew I needed to try both. Here's what they look (Essence came in a box, but the bottle is not really exciting and you can find other pictures online):
I actually tried out both of them and they are pretty similar. I did a test where I applied each on one hand. The application and staying power are pretty comparable and so it really depends on where you live and which product is cheaper and more readily available. In my case, this would be Essence, which I actually prefer the conststency of and the fact that it dries quicker. In any case, the more you pile up on top, the easier you get the stuff off again. Here's another great post by Labmuffin aka Michelle to explain it all. I really only use it when I wear glitter nailpolish as this is a pain to get off your nails with regular basecoat and nailpolish remover. This is what I wore some weeks ago (Essence glitter polish on top of a "breathable" Inglot polish):
What really does NOT agree with your peel-off base coat is hot water, even if it is already completely dry. I don't recommend things like soaking in a hot tub with your hands immersed (mine usually aren't as I'm reading when taking a bath) or a dishwashing orgy. If dried properly, it should come off in more or less one big slice:
I recommend doing it on top of a towel or the wastebin. In any case, it's not quite a pretty sight, right?
Depending on how adept you are in prepping and applying, you'll get it all off or be left with a rim of nailpolish that you can easily get off with regular polish remover.
As with normal base coat, nailpolish obviously stays much longer if you have smooth and healthy nails. Mine are thin and brittle and so nailpolish tends to desert me on day two usually. I notice that there's some shrinking going on at the tips with the peel-off base coat. Still, that is a small price to pay if you can get rid of all the lovely glitter so quickly.

So, now to the essential question: is it really life-changing. Nah, not really, but pretty damn great all the same.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012


Let's play a little guessing game. Why do you think yours truly went into the office on Saturday afternoon after a week on the road, other than to admire the lovely view of Christmas lights? Oh, I can see you know me so well... It was to pick up an online purchase that arrived while I was away: my own little humongous bespoke Longchamp bag. It's perfect for travelling and I really like the colour combo I chose and the fact that it has a) my initials embossed on the flap an b) I could order it with the long handles, which is rare for the largest size of the le Pliage line. Loving it!
I'm writing this in Zagreb and am happy to report it both performed well on its maiden voyage and provoked the envy of my female colleagues here...

Sunday, December 02, 2012

En passant...

As I mentioned, I was in Paris and Zurich last week. Well, I did not even look at any shops in Zurich, nor plan to do so as the prices there bring tears to your eyes, but I managed to do the power-shopping I had planned for Paris. Oh, yes! A brief visit to Uniqlo, Sephora, Gap and a pharmacy (for Bioderma and La Roche Posay products, not pictured) was very successful and fruitful indeed. I was hoping they still had those superduper lightweight down jackets and managed to grab a grey one for me and a turquoise/petrol coloured one for my Mum, together with some other things, such as a white merino jumper. The blue square thing you see above is a mini leather pouch/clutch from Gap. They had it in several colours and I really liked the simple style.

In my last post, I mentioned I had a really nice boss. Case in point: we arrived in Paris for our meeting on Tuesday at around the same time on Monday morning and when he called me to ask whether we would meet at the office I casually mentioned that I was not planning to drop in until the afternoon because I needed to squeeze in some retail therapy. His answer, "Okay, see you at dinner then". Definitely not a likely dialogue with my previous bosses at the Firm!

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