Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Unfinished Business

My only window of opportunity to go powershopping in Dublin was on Monday night, when I hopped into a cab with a colleague at 5:30. Shops close at 7 on most days, so we split up for maximum efficiency. I only went to few shops, but remembered to hunt for the one pair of shoes that got away and that I couldn't find online (and shippable to AT) anywhere. I had fallen in love with a pair of Clarks shoes in London and when idling around at Heathrow airport (and ultimately buying a pair of blue suede shoes) tried them on and was annoyed that they didn't have my size. The 5 1/2 was slightly too big and the 5 only came in the other (uni-coloured) styles that weren't halfway as cool. I wanted these babies:
Since we don't have a Clarks store in Vienna and usually just a small collection in shoe-stores, I wanted to try my luck in Dublin and BINGO! They didn't have my size in the first outlet I tried, either, but I got the sales person to call another branch, where a size 5 was waiting to be snatched up by yours truly. I love the combination of the 3 colours and they are really comfortable, too. Mission completed.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hanseatic Haul

Last week I was in Hamburg and more or less had my whole day planned out from 8:30 to 22:30 or so. Thankfully, both hotel and office are right in the city center so it is possible to squeeze in a leetel bit of power shopping after lunch or before dinner. On the first night, I left the office a bit earlier and went to my two must-visit-shops in Hamburg, Habitat and Massimo Dutti, none of which we have in Austria. At Massimo Dutti, I picked up two very nice sleeveless tops. The one on the right is actually much brighter in real life, the same green in fact as my beloved "dog jumper":
At Habitat, I bought a set of 4 patterned espresso cups and saucers as well as a desk lamp (not pictured). Without the carton, the lamp just fit into my suitcase, phew.  Well, I needed a lamp, I love Habitat, and it was inexpensive. Deal! I did definitely not need either of the things below, but I loved them too much to leave behind....
My little powershopping session finished, I took a shortcut through the chic department store Alsterhaus, entering through the rear doorsand exiting through the front entrance. Well, this is what I was telling myself anyway, fully aware of the fact that this shortcut would lead me past the leather goods. As in handbag. As in really NICE handbags. Raise your hand if you think that there was nothing to catch my eyes. Really? Go and stand in the corner and when you're back at your desk write down the name of this blog 100 times in your neatest handwriting. The inevitable happened and I spied a BREE bag in the craziest retina-piercing blue I had ever seen. I briefly fondled it, then snapped back into reality and told myself I would only purchase it if my Macbook Air fit into it since then I could rationalise it as a business travel accessory. You don't follow my train of thought? Well, then you are obviously not nearly as sad and addicted to bags as I am. Two days later, secretly afraid someone had snatched the beauty away from me, I returned in my lunch-break (boss in tow, who, it turned out, went to school with the CEO of BREE, Mr. Bree himself) with my Macbook (actually my colleague's one by accident, who panicked at the office while I was gone and she found her laptop missing, but that's another story...) and whipped out my credit card faster than I could spell "Toledo 3 in ocean" (the name, size and colour of the bag). The shop assistant would have given Rowan Atkinson in that famous scene in Love, Actually a run for his money as she painstakingly wiped the bag with a water-repellant foam, etc., twice telling me how EXCITED! she was that I had bought this bag in her favourite colour of all. Well, here it is, say "hi" to Toledo, sitting on my guest desk at the HAM office:
The picture doesn't do it justice, nor does the one on BREE's website - it is such a vivid blue with a high percentage of white in the mix.
Off to Dublin tomorrow, with a stopover in FRA where I bought another of those business travel bags last time. Wish me luck.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

In the Dark

I've been in Hamburg since Monday with a tightly packed agenda. My manager, who is an amazing host and always eager to entertain his team, made sure the evenings didn't get boring either and also organised a "Dialogue in the Dark" session for the 5 of us. Even though I had heard of this activity when it was popular in Vienna a few years ago, I had never given it too much thought. It really is some experience to walk around in the PITCH DARK when all you have to guide you is sound, smell and your hands and feet. I was always concerned I'd end up groping somebody in their private parts or something, but thankfully that didn't happen and we are still talking to one another. 
Despite said tight agenda, I still managed to squeeze in a bit of retail therapy. More on that coming up. 
Speaking of darkness, I love how well the Speicherstadt  (warehouse district) came out in the night shot above!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


If you are as allergic to "charger-cable-salads" in your living space, you might want to consider what I got for my birthday from my parents. It also comes in a dark (fake) wood, which I find looks even more stylish, but goes less well with my existing bedroom furniture. Meet the Bluelounge cable bin (available on Amazon and other places as well), a stylish "reversed bucket" that now houses the chargers for my tablets, phone and Clarisonic:

Friday, February 14, 2014


Valentine's Day. Not very much on my radar when I was in a relationship. Even less so now that I am old and single. However, who am I to say no to nice goodies that come in hot pink wrapping paper, even if I pay for them myself? When Niche Beauty sent me a newsletter offering a "free" goodie box worth 150 EUR if you spend 150 (I know, I know), I was of course lured in by the promise of full-sized baume de rose, Deborah Lippman and many more:
I justified my order that I just stocked up on stuff I *needed*. Ultimately, it turned out cheaper, as one of the items wasn't in stock and EUR 49 was refunded to my PayPal account. I was anxious that this meant the loss of the precious goodie box, but it didn't and I got it for "only" 101. Yay! When I returned to the office this morning, my Niche Beauty order was waiting for me together with the Valentine's Day themed February glossybox. Hello, pink overload!

So this is the content of the "free" box. I was particularly curious about the much-hyped baume de rose. It really is lovely even though I would never fork out € 46 for a 10 ml pot in real life. (Other than than being the easy marketing prey I am and ordering 3 times as much, but let's just pretend I'm good at calculating, for a change). Tadaaaah:
I can't wait until I've played around with every single item. Entertainment on Valentine's Day = check!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Something(s) Blue

Hello from Zagreb, where my nice hotel welcomed me with a warm chocolate chip cookie and "sweet dreams" embroidered pillow. I arrived tonight and was at the airport pretty early so for the first time ever checked out the (Star Alliance) lounge near G-gates. Pretty much all the men were glued to the flatscreen tv, watching some broadcast from the Winter Olympics, while I opened my computer and pretended to be busy, simultaneously testing both cakes that were on offer (yum, yum, both)...The reason why I retraced my steps one level down to the lounge was because I already did some damage at Duty Free 2 minutes after entering the non-Schengen departure area. I seriously was not planning to buy anything, but when this beautiful Codello scarf (90% wool, 10% silk) in exactly the same blue (darker in real life than in the picture) as the Tommy Hilfiger bargain I made at P&C in KLU on Saturday caught my eyes, I had to stop. Thanks to the lovely lady at the counter offering me a Heinemann loyalty card, I got it for a further 10% off the sales price, eventually paying 27 EUR instead of 79. Not bad! The trousers, by the way were originally 99 EUR, but I bagged them for 39. They are seriously lovely and even my Mum, who is only too aware of my overflowing wardrobe(s) and often tries to curb my enthusiasm when it comes to pouncing on bargains, agreed that they are a great fit and I had to get them.
I'll try to be good at least until my return.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Queen of Upcycling

Before upcycling even became a recognised phenomenon, my Mum was already at the forefront of it. Every time I visit my parents, she shows me new projects where she combined old clothes into new ones, or made jewellery out of random materials that are not traditionally "beading supplies". I had already forgotten that she asked my permission to use old jumpers of mine that I had forgotten were still around anyway. Well, she took two old baggy woollen jumpers I wore in the 1990s and made a really nice dress out of them, further pimping it with white yarn:
Here's a shot of the dress without "the model":
...and here's a close-up:
I am pretty impressed with the outcome and love the fit as well. She reasoned that probably not even charities would be delighted about a donation of bobbly jumpers and it was better to cut them up and make something out of it that actually gets worn, if only at home.
Speaking of DIY-jewellery. Mum recently started putting used oxygen tubes (my Dad has a chronic respiratory condition and occasionally needs some oxygen) to good use, cutting them up and combining them with beads. The result is a lightweight and pretty stylish necklace:
I always feel a bit guilty when she shows me her new creations as it is a reminder of all MY many DIY projects that never go beyond the idea stage...

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Happy Birthday (and Easter and Christmas) to Me

On top of the nice things I got from my friends (and I am looking forward to opening more pressies when I go to KLU on the weekend), I also found some things to treat myself. Because, you know, I'm worth it. Some of them were on sale, others not. 
If you read UK glossy mags, you might know the random compilation of classifieds on the last pages. Among ads for nose jobs and sex toys marketed as massage devices (wink, wink) I saw an ad for the "Travelling Cashmere Wrap" that folds into a square. I mean, hello?!, I obvsiously needed this for all my travelling. I chose grey:
 Looking a bit strange because of my camera-hand lifting it up, but you get the idea:
On Monday, I popped into Steffl to buy some makeup brush cleanser from MAC. Which I did. But then these Marc Jacobs mouse flats (50% off!) called out to me. They found a new happy home:
 Last Friday, I picked up my Robbie Williams concert tickets from the ticket counter in MQ and then walked towards Westbahnhof via Mariahilfer Str. Dangerous, as I decided to take a look at the Peak Performance sale to see if they had any interesting skiing anoraks. I picked up this beauty in bright green and pink which will be just the perfect lightweight material for our office ski trip in late March. Absolute necessity, you'll agree. It was 30% off, but still nowhere near "cheap":
 Loving the green in particular:
Cocosa is always really tempting, which is why I chose to not even look on most days. Well, last week I did and found out they had the Rebekka Minkoff Mac (as opposed to the Mini Mac) for a seriously attractive price, in a seriously nice champagne colour. Signed, sealed, delivered:
On other online-shopping news: I fell in love at first sight with this Sonia Rykiel silk blouse that was offered for 50% off (again, still not exactly cheapo) at Zalando Privé. The silk feels really luxurious and the pattern is so "me":
Here's a close-up of the beauty I have yet to wear:
I am not planning on any more splurges in the near future, but then again I have business trips to potentially dangerous places lined up.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Girly Gifts

I really can't complain about the presents I got for my birthday this year, and I haven't even met all potential gift-bearers... On my actual birthday, I went for an age (and killer cold) appropriate dinner with some friends and my favourite cousin and here's a highlight of the lovely gifts I got then plus from 2 other friends on the weekend. Can you see a theme to the "girly gifts" in the still life below?
I love the dainty ring I got from my cousins and the lovely Iittala glasses Mademoiselle gave me:
The day before my birthday, I got a surprise pressie in Sofia from my Bulgarian colleagues. It's an infinity scarf from a Bulgarian designer label and one of a kind. I really like the retro pattern:
When I last saw Snow White, I admired her Swarovski wrap bracelet, or "slake" as they call it. Her being the thoughtful and generous friend she is, she got me one plus wrote some of the nicest things I have ever received in writing on the card (that came with a CD) in the background: 
So as I said: not complaining here!

Saturday, February 01, 2014

London Retail and a Hotel NON-Recommendation

Hi, my petals. I am feeling semi-human again and my cough is not quite as fierce as it was the past few days when I was this close to Googling "symptoms of pneumonia". Enough of being sick, old and decrepit, let's move on to London where I spent last Wed. - Sat. I would have stayed until Sunday night had it not been for the fact that I had an early flight to Sofia to catch (from Vienna) on Monday morning. Unlike Vienna, London was warm and sunny most of the time I was there. Here's a view towards the river from right outside the Tate Modern, my #1 must-visit place every time I'm in London. 
Even though I squeezed in quite a bit of "station shopping" on the short way across Victoria Station between my hotel for the first 2 nights and the office, such as tidbits from Paperchase, on of my favourite UK chains and a Sleek palette from Superdrug, I did most of my (bargain) shopping on Friday night. Before I show you said bargains, let me introduce my new trusty travel companion to you: a Lipault carry-on bag that came in very handy for my LHR airport shopping:
It opens up like a doctor's bag and you can stuff a lot into it. It's one of those bags that are designed to fit onto your suitcase as well. I ordered it online shortly after Christmas and it was 30% off if I remember correctly. Now for the bargains. I popped into Banana Republic, one of my favourite highstreet chains for clothes ever and didn't even look at the full-prized range, focusing on the sales racks only. They had a great offer of an extra 30% off all already discounted items so it would have been rude not to. I managed to score a lovely navy jersey blazer and super bright (the flash washes it out in the picture) stretchy trousers that would originally have been GBP 134 for an amazing GBP 24. Yes, this is the total I paid for both of these:
I also found incredible bargains at GAP and Uniqlo, picking up a striped lightweight cotton jumper at GAP for 5.90 and LE shirts at Uniqlo for less than 10 GBP for both:
I mentioned airport shopping. I was at LHR extremely early and therefore had plenty of time to check out the shops at Terminal 1. While this definitely isn't the most exciting terminal, I can't complain and found these two gems:
Let's just step back to admire this cool t-shirt that is SO me! It is from French Connection, a brand that I used to adore when I was younger. Lately, I haven't been paying it too much attention, but they are instantly back in my good books with the #selfie t-shirt that I already wore to work last Friday. With it, I bought a pair of blue suede shoes (hah! song!) from Clarks that are really comfortable with a bit of a heel. I had been looking for a pair like these for quite some time.
While the Tate Modern is my cultural must-see in London, Liberty is the highlight of my shopping pilgrimage. I was very excited indeed when I discovered that &Other Stories was practically next to it and practically jumped in before I made it to Liberty. They also had a sale going on and since there were long queues in front of the changing rooms, I didn't feel like trying on anything and focused on the "instant gratification" range, i.e. accessories and nailpolish:
I have worn the bracelet (also featured in the previous post) several times already and also tested the nailpolish. It's a pity you need to destroy the paper banderole round the bottle when opening it. The quality was good, but I'm not a massive fan of the brush. I also bought another colour that was planning to give away and then decided I wanted it for myself as it will be a great summer colour:
At Liberty's, I bought some small gifts and a cute patchwork pear made out of their signature patterned material that is pretty decorative on itself, but actually intended for sticking needles in:
Pretty successful on the shopping front, all in all. I spent the last night in London in a hotel near Paddington for strategic reasons (proximity to the Heathrow Express) and since I paid for it out of my own money, did put thought into it and, knowing that London hotels can be pretty shitty, decided not to be too stingy. Well, for EUR 150 a night my "deluxe room" at the Park Grand Paddington turned out everything but "grand" and one of those claustrophobic prison cells that London hotels are "famous" for. I shall give them the benefit of the doubt that there are bigger rooms in the place, but my "deluxe" abode was on the basement floor and really felt like some slave's quarters. I opened the door and saw a room that basically only consisted of a queen-sized bed, with a narrow "walkway" around it. So narrow, my suitcase just about fit into the gap: 
I was wondering where the wardrobe was and others obviously had before me as there was a little plate on the panelling above the bed saying "wardrobe and hairdryer" and lo and behold, when you open it, there is a hairdryer and a tiny space with hangers and a mirror. Fancy. Not. Needless to say, there was no desk or chair in that cell.
The bathroom was generously stocked with toiletries, but that was the only thing nice and "deluxe" about it. Apart from the loo-roll-holder at ankle height, it was one of those "water-park" experiences where the shower is not physically partitioned off and you end up setting the whole room plus half the bedroom under water. Sigh:
It was raining and I was tired when I checked in so I couldn't be bothered going back to reception and demanding a better room. It was only for one night, but it really was NOT value for money. You guessed right, I will not be a returning customer there...
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