Friday, October 24, 2014

Oh, Yay!

Sometimes I tend to forget that there are good things to be happy about, small and big, focusing only on the little dramas of my life that make me feel as if I am swimming in tiny circles in my little goldfish bowl. I am probably the world's most impatient creature and if I don't have something to look forward to, the proverbial carrot, I get frustrated and cynical. I do love a certain routine in my life as much as I like excitement, if that makes sense, so I suppose finding the right balance is what I am struggling with.
After a rather "stationary" greater part of October, I have exciting business trip destinations lined up, taking me to Hamburg, Sylt, Sofia, Minsk, Zagreb and Ljubljana by mid-November. Sylt and Minsk, where I have never been, I am particularly looking forward to.
My BIG carrot is the fact that I finally plucked up the courage to ask my manager about a "sabbatical" next summer, i.e. (ideally) 3 months away from work. Since 1997 I have not had a vacation longer than 2 weeks in a row, which of course does not mean I could not have done so. These past months I increasingly felt the need to step back, switch off, unplug and have something like a proper summer break like in my school and university days. I still need to get sign-off from HR, but the first hurdle has been taken and it turned out not to have been a hurdle at all. Dreaming about all the things I'll do or won't do makes me feel happy already.
I had a little health scare (remember my smartphone thumb last year? Scarier, this time, but at least not painful) that I attribute to staring at small screens waaaaay too much and too obsessively and even before that took measures to minimise distractions by switching off any visual or acoustic notifications for incoming messages, e-mails or calendar appointments on my phone. Small step, but better than nothing.
In other news, I am looking forward to Christmas baking and the Christmas offerings at Starbucks. Will report on any successful customising experiments!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Modern Classic

On Saturday, I was at the Parndorf outlet. The intention was to find a replacement for my faded sporty Adidas bikini that I use for indoor swimming (mission: completed!) and, possibly, some early Christmas presents (mission: completed). I was this close to buying a dramatically reduced Burberry jacket (or, actually, there were 2 styles that tempted me) with a detachable inner lining-jacket, but then decided to give it a think and instead ended up buying a camel coat at Escada. It is a modern take on this ultimate classic with a knitted "belt", i.e. detailing in the waist-area and a hood. It was on the "samples" rack that were all in size 36, which happens to be my size. It was meant to be:
Here's a picture in daylight - the actual colour is somewhere in between, closer to the above picture. Love! Half the thrill of outlet shopping is seeing the original retail price on the tag. In this case, it was a whopping EUR 1,989 and I got it for, tadaaah, a mere EUR 339. Not exactly super duper cheap, but quite a steal for this quality:
Not that I needed to convince myself or have to find ways to justify this purchase, but I was happy nonetheless to find the camel coat being one of the One Hundred:

I don't agree with all items listed in that boo, but am definitely not disputing the camel coat!
Now, I am almost looking forward to this unseasonably warm weather to move over for more coat-appropriate temperatures...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Out of Time

Yesterday, the PP's Sis and I went on a boat-trip to the beautiful Wachau region. We got A LOT of quality time on the water for our money, but it was a gloriously sunny day and we enjoyed just relaxing and having plenty of time for exploring our weekly sushi-date subject (the refusal of certain egomaniac men in our lives to realise that we're the most amazing creatures a nutshell) in more depth and from as yet neglected angles. In Dürnstein, we enjoyed overpriced cake with overpriced coffee (but with a view!) on the terrace of Schloss Dürnstein, then took a stroll around the village and bought the obligatory apricot-themed souvenirs. I hadn't been there in quite some time and always feel beamed back into the heyday of Austrian heimatfilms, that frequently used the Wachau valley as a backdrop. Old-fashioned in the nicest possible way. What's more, I always feel that time runs slower and it's so incredibly quiet in a way that you will never find in big cities. I actually quite like urban white noise and live on a busy street, but there is something very reassuring and calming in this type of tranquility. It made me realise I should try and get away from my daily routine and gazillions of acoustic distractions more often. Never mind the electronic ones...says the person who took a portable mobile phone charger with her in order to be able to take and share plenty of photos on the go. Getting there. Some day.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

A Customised Solution

Let me get this out of the way first: I am a Starbucks junkie. Despite the fact that we have an expensive coffee grinder and barista machine at our office kitchen, I get my caffeine fix from one of the 2 Starbucks branches within spitting distance from said office almost every day. Their matcha latte (with soy milk, no syrup, extra matcha) remains my alltime favourite and despite the fact that I don't add sugar to my coffee or like super sweet beverages, I also love seasonal offerings like Pumpkin Spice Lattes or Gingerbread Lattes. Until recently, I didn't want to be that kind of stereotypical bimbo who orders overcustomised drinks (in particular low calorie ones...eeek!), BUT then I had a brainwave and discovered my perfect "comfort drink": a (skinny...yes, sorry, but it tastes less rich with the syrup and I prefer it that way) Melange with 2 pumps of pumpkin spice syrup. Genius! Plus: cheaper since flavours are free if you have their loyalty card and cost slightly less than if you order the regular PSL. If you like a higher coffee to frothed milk ratio and just a little kick of flavour, I can highly recommend it. I don't know if Starbucks has always offered "melange" in Austria (and nowhere else, I am sure), but I only discovered it about half a year ago and it's my favourite coffee there.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Making Lemonade

It is fair to say that last week won't make it to my all-time-favourites-list of best days ever. Long story. Old story. I had high hopes for this week, but in fact I received really disappointing news this morning when I found out that my trip to the States in November that I'd been looking forward to so much won't happen. It was a much anticipated and needed silver lining on the horizon and my immediate reaction was anger and frustration. After some venting, my usual favourite sushi and a breather of fresh air, I sprang into action and did what I do best: make spontaneous decisions and give myself something to look forward to: I booked a (business class, yay!) return flight to Atlanta with the frequent flyer miles I had accumulated for February, sincere there was a promotion on the Miles&More website for that period. Yesss! Silver lining reclaimed!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Disgruntled (Ex-) Customer or: #palmersbetrug

As all my friends will attest to, I am as willing a marketing prey as they come. So when I spotted a big poster in the Palmers branch close to the office, announcing that because of their 100st anniversary they are offering everybody who spends EUR 100 or more a free flight to a European city (info in German here), I got excited, posted it on G+ and Instagram and of course rushed there to stock up on lingerie. I am not the biggest fan of their stuff to be honest as I find them a bit on the old-fashioned and overpriced side, but o.k.  I sent off the original receipt as instructed and selected my two dates (one in December, one in March) and destinations, Kopenhagen and Madrid. According to the small print, they, or rather the travel agency in charge, should offer me a flight to one of the destinations on one of the selected dates. About 2 weeks after I had submitted everything by registered mail, I get an e-mail from said agency (with a e-mail address) informing me that unfortunately there were no available flights for these destinations on my dates of choice, but they could offer me a flight to Madrid on January 9 and I should reply within 72 THAT (not IF) I accept this offer. This date did not work for me so I wrote back, explaining that I was on a business trip at that time and could they please find me something to either Madrid, or alternatively, Lisbon in February or March. A day later they reply telling me that this was the best they can do and I should reply within 48 hours if I want to accept it. WTF? I wrote a friendly reply asking them to please reconsider since I had sent in my entry in the very first week of September, etc, etc. and was hoping they found an alternative. No reply. VERY bad service and definitely the last time I will shop there. I have plenty of miles accumulated with my Lufthansa Miles&More card, but this is not the point - it is a matter of principle and I feel cheated. I am pretty certain that what did me in was the fact that I did not enter a second (paying) person, which obviously is how they monetise the whole offer: one passenger travels for "free", the second is a paying one. Did you participate as well and if so, what was your experience?
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