Thursday, February 26, 2015

Shopping U.S.A.

Another post that you should go live as I am travelling, i.e. on my way back to Vienna. As I am writing this, I am in Athens, GA, where it is freezing cold and where it even snowed a bit. Fingers crossed that I won't get stuck at Atlanta airport tomorrow.
The main purpose of this short trip was to visit my friend, not to do sightseeing. Well, partly was, as I was supposed to accompany her husband on a business trip to Savannah, only that one got cancelled as the poor guy got stuck in Washington, DC due to a snow storm and only returned to Athens a day later. I didn't mind too much since Plan B for Sunday involved shopping. We made a trip to an outlet center nearby and even though there weren't too many exciting shops, the usual suspects were there (J. Crew, Banana Republic, Gap) and there also was a Coach, where we agreed to meet again as it was on the edge of the center and close to our car. Well, predictably enough, I found something there. Or rather two somethings. I initially spotted this small cross-body bag with a cute pink pattern and since it was below USD 100 convinced myself I "needed" it:
After another round, I gave the more classic bags a closer look and settled on a black one in a smaller size than I usually carry (my chain of thought being: "smaller means less stuff I can put in, means friendlier to my back, means necessary"), that was not that much OVER USD 100 and hence also got adopted. I have already worn it twice here and am quite pleased with it:
I know, I know, I did so NOT need another bag, least of all two, but Coach is a brand that I only owned a small clutch of (that I never use, ahem) and have had my eyes on for a while. Like the Philipp Lim bag I got in Kazakhstan it is a brand you can't find in Austria, so entirely justified. Do you like my new American babes?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Things that Made Me Happy Last Week: Week 8

1. Flying business class on a long-distance flight for the first time. OMG, I feel there is no going back. Never mind the food (pic of the starter above), but the seat or rather BED. So comfortable that you actually arrive refreshed and feeling like a human being as opposed to a piece of cargo.
2. Visiting my friend (B1 from the book club, who has 4 kids now) in Athens, GA (hence the flight) and getting to stay in her mansion (I am not exaggerating, their home is about 400 m2!).
3. Having my picture taken with the Coca-Cola bear in the World of Coca-Cola. I'm a kid at heart and it came out really cute, so there you go...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

In Shopping News...2 Highlights

It's not that I have stopped buying way more stuff than I actually need. Oh, no. It's rather that Instagram has become my most updated channel and due to my very frequent travelling (I am actually off to Atlanta the day this post goes live) simply don't have the time to regularly post about recent purchases. Here are 2 highlights, one of which I have already worn several times and one that has "spring" written all over it. The former is a pair of UGG boots that are not as "elephantesque" as the classic Uggs, but have a proper winter sole and are are water/snow repellant too. I really love them as they are not only incredibly warm and comfortable, but look decent with both trousers and skirts. I bought them on Zalando Lounge for a decent price.
On my recent business trip to London I added on an extra day and bought a few bits and pieces. My favourite is a cotton jumper with flamingoes from M&S. I think it is super cool and am looking forward to wearing it:

Here's a selfie from the changing room:
Let's see what my trip to the States yields, retail therapy wise. My friend mentioned a GAP outlet in her town...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Things that Made Me Happy Last Week: Week 7

1. Attending a fancy ball after, literally, decades. The ball turned out to be rather lame, but I loved getting dressed up and dolled up and bitching about dresses or rather the horrible tattoos that ruined the look on about one third of female attendees. The lady in the picture above was one of the young debutantes opening the ball and wore a tasteful dress, obviously.
2. Seeing the Australian if only for a few hours on the weekend. Now I am really looking forward to my (as yet unbooked) trip to AUS in September and hope to meet her again then, if not earlier.
3. A gorgeous sunny ski day on Sunday with snow just the way I like it.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The One from Almaty

I told you before that I was pleasantly surprised by Almaty. Truth be told, I was shockingly uninformed about Kazakhstan and only mildly alarmed when I read the travel advisory or rather, warning, entry on our Ministry of Foreign Affair's website, as my Dad had done. It sounded pretty scary, in case you were wondering. I knew that there were quite some oil oligarchs and the hood around our hotel seemed to cater for their tastes and budgets. Right next to the hotel was a shopping mall with a Saks Fifth Avenue branch. Yep. I also thought I had a hallucination. Moreover, there was a sale at Saks. Oh-oh.
To cut a long story short, I ended up with a Phillip Lim Pashli bag and a rather unusual one at that:
Most signature Pashlis l have a flap, but I really liked the open-top version, which you can marvel at in more detail here. It is not as heavy as I thought it would be and holds a lot. I would not have minded a loud colour, but this dove-grey is not bad either and looks good in all seasons. My colleague tried to deter me by saying it looked like a "40 Euro fake leather H&M bag", but after paying it a visit 3 times I had fallen in love and decided the Pashli would come home with me. 
I have never seen Phillip Lim bags sold anyway in Austria and could of course have waited until my upcoming visit to the U.S., but I decided it was particularly cool to buy it in the nouveau riche mall in Almaty. C'est moi...

Monday, February 09, 2015

Things that Made Me Happy Last Week: Week 6

1. Being back in London after a year. I had missed the city.
2. I had one of the most interesting and inspiring work-days (with startups) in my 8 years at the Firm.
3. Meeting my oldest English friend (both in years and in terms of acquaintance) for dinner: we are still on the same wavelength and both laughed so much about each other's best worst-of-online-dating anecdotes.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Long and Rambly Post with Completely Random and Non-Scientifically Proven Tips on How to Stay a Spring Chicken, Inside and Outside.

Last Thursday was my birthday. As I have already mentioned, I LOVE birthdays! And, no, I won't fall into a deep depression despite the fact that I am now 43. Oh, an unmarried and childless 43 to be exact. So what? No reason to kill myself, nor hide in a corner and mope. Unlike many other women, I am definitely a late bloomer and am liking myself more the older I get, both inside and outside.
I definitely don't live under the delusion that I could be mistaken for a student (unless by an old granny with impaired vision or a seriously drunk person of any age) or might have to show my ID to get into clubs, but I am genuinely content to be in pretty good shape for my age and know that I definitely look on the younger side of the spectrum despite the odd wrinkle and cellulite bump. Part of this is genetics, but part of this is something I/you have under control and can influence. Here's what I personally believe keeps you young at heart and in appearance:

Move your ass. I am not a sporty person AT ALL. At PE at school I was so clumsy and untalented (all my classmates can certify that!) that I mainly got good marks for making an effort and not skipping classes, which my teacher parents would never allow me to do. I do, however, love being on the move and really enjoy open-air activities such as winter sports (skiing and ice-skating are my favourites). I love swimming and try to do it regularly. I also try to walk as much as I can. I recommend you skip that last subway stop and walk to work (unless you really are in a hurry)! For some strange reason I actually like walking up stairs and the fact that my office is on the 4th floor is a welcome mini-exercise and circulation boost each morning.

Make an effort and emphasise your assets.
Don't leave the house looking like a scarecrow, you will end up feeling like one and be treated like one. Me, I love putting on make-up and putting together outfits. I feel good and ready for the day if I make a bit of an effort and that's what I do every day. I firmly believe that looking your best whatever you're up to is a favour you are doing yourself above all. Yes, it also helps to prepare you for an unexpected encounter with your ex or whoever else you would like to impress, but that's a secondary benefit. Hopefully, you know what are your best features. If not, ask your best friend or partner and they should give you an honest answer. Emphasise those assets, be it long, shiny hair, beautiful eyes or a slim waist and remind yourself that hardly anybody is perfect in every respect and there are so many women out there who envy at least part of you.

Slap it on!
Make-up for purely "decorative" purposes is one thing and unlike me, you might be so beautiful you don't need it at all. Creams/lotions, etc. as protection are another. Again, genetic disposition plays a big role whether you get premature wrinkles or hyper-pigmentation, but it is definitely a good idea to start thinking about SPF and anti-aging creams before it is too late, i.e. you see the first signs. There is only so much foundation can over... It is also a good idea to shun the sun as we all know that (drugs, alcohol, or nicotine aside) nothing ages you as much as exposure to the sun. Yes, your skin needs vitamin D, but it doesn't need wrinkles or skin cancer. And don't forget your neck and hands, either ;-)

Listen to your cravings and stop the guilt-trips.
Sometimes, wisdom comes with age. Until I was in my early twenties, I used to always put sugar into my tea and coffee because, well, that's what everybody (apart from my Mum) seemed to do. Once I happened to catch a quote by some doctor on TV who said that people aren't aware that sugar is a spice like salt and pepper and they should pay attention to the quantities. It really made me think and I skipped sugar from hot beverages ever since, not missing it at all. I went to school with a bunch of girls who had anorectic and/or bulimic tendencies even before these were a known phenomenon and there was a lot of pressure if you were chubby like I was. I constantly felt I was over-indulging and in the need to count calories. The fact that my best friend was always skinny didn't help to boost my confidence. There was a lot of binge-eating with the associated guilt.
Now, I eat what I feel like eating and this happens to be healthy things in moderate portions most of the time. Then I turn into a beast if you put salt & vinegar crisps in front of me... I usually crave a chocolate fix and an espresso after lunch, but I won't stuff my face with a whole chocolate bar. If I did, it would be o.k., though, as I know I don't feel like a chocolate orgy every day so it all evens out. From March to September, when the ice-cream parlours are open in Vienna, I have ice-cream almost every single day, enjoying every scoop of it.
As you can see, I am by no means a beacon of healthy eating plus I know I should eat about 5 times more slowly as I do (blink and you miss the food that was on my plate a second ago), but I try to eat what I actually crave and enjoy and remind myself to stop and think if I really feel like eating something or it is just out of boredom/social obligation. It is o.k. if you don't order a dessert just because everybody else does, even at a business dinner. 

Weight is just a number. As are clothes labels. I was a fat child and chubby teenager (of slim parents) and thus I got so used to thinking of myself as "the fat one" in any group that when I wasn't fat any more it literally took me months to get used to that fact. It wasn't until I was in my mid-twenties that I stopped thinking about food obsessively and miraculously all that "baby fat" dropped off then. Ever since I have fluctuated between 2 dress sizes and been more or less the same weight, plus or minus 5 kgs. Not that I weigh myself more than twice a year on average.  I also have stopped caring what the label in my clothes says. Most of the time I am a European 36/38, but I would also try something on if the label read 54. I don't care. I am happy with my body shape and don't mind if some designer decides I fall into the "elephant" category. People who judge others based on how fat or slim they are or feel superior if they are slimmer are insecure themselves, trust me.

Be Kind and generous. To others and to yourself.
It really is true that pet-owners start to look like their animals after years in each other's company and old couples begin to look alike. Similarly, a grumpy or depressed atmosphere in the place where you live can rub off. Just look at (old) people in public transport in Vienna and you know what I am talking about. There are lines in my face, oh, yes, but they are not frown or anger lines. They are from laughing, mostly. To me, personally, bitterness and envy are are the worst you can do to yourself besides jealousy and none of them make you any prettier. I know, I know, it's hard to control these emotions, but try to counteract them at least by being kind and generous to the people around you without expecting anything in return. There's nothing more gratifying than making somebody else happy now and again. Don't forget yourself, too, though. Treat yourself and spoil yourself, regardless of the zeros in your pay-check. Enjoying food without guilt, see above, is a good start.

Forgive or forget
I have spent a lot of time thinking about this topic as 2014 was definitely the year of shall I put idiots complicated characters and crying over them. Deep down I knew of course that the rude and insulting behaviour of somebody with more issues than Vogue should not bring me down and I could always walk away, but, hey, I'm better at the theory than practice part of adult behaviour and thus I had my share of "learning the hard way". Again. New year, new start and there only two ways of dealing with disappointment, be the other party a friend, colleague or lover: if you still value the person and want to have them in your life, forgive and move on and don't bring up their "offence" every time you meet them. If you don't want to have them in your life for whatever reason, move on. If not, bitterness>wrinkles, see above.

Don't give a sh**
With this I don't mean behaving as if you were alone on this planet, quite the contrary. I mean stop being so self-conscious and a slave to what others tell you. Wear bright red even if it is not in fashion this season, wear your granny's fur jacket if it suits you (the poor mink won't come alive if it stays in the wardrobe), jump up and down in the club and embarrass your friends. Nobody gets hurt, nobody dies from seeing a mildly embarrassing performance.

Don't wait for tomorrow
Now that I am - eeeeeeeek - officially "middle-aged", whether I like it or feel like that, or not, and have had friends and relatives die young or have something unexpected happen to them that prevents them from ever ticking off all those items on their bucket list, I am a firmer believer than before that you should not wait for tomorrow to do what you want to do. Unhappy in your job? Change it! Unhappy in your relationship? Change it! Bored? Do something. Myself, I am starting by taking 3 months off work, something that I am really looking forward to and that puts a happy smile on my face every time I think about it.

What are your secrets to staying a spring chicken?

Monday, February 02, 2015

Things that Made Me Happy Last Week: Week 5

1. My birthday itself.  I love birthdays! I had dinner with friends, then went out dancing and even an unplanned encounter with - literally- a Ghost of Christmas Past could not ruin my good mood.
2. All the lovely people who gave me the Royal Treatment on my b-day, spent time with me and gave me thoughtful presents. In the picture you can see not one but TWO surprise parcels I got from my lovely colleague in Munich!
3. The fact that my BFF, the Empress, (who also sent me a super stylish gift all the way from Paris, by the way) will soon be returning live and in colour to Vienna. Not just for a visit, but relocating. Happy days!
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