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Donnerstag, 31. Juli 2014

I am

Granny squares for a hot water bottle cover. I know, it's mid-summer and it's way too early to think about hot water bottles, but Kate over at foxs lane (great blog, by the way. If you don't know it, go over there immediately and read EVERYTHING Kate has ever written!) has startet a crochet along and so I joined in! 

gathering some left-over yarn

my first squares!

about all the preparations that need to be done for the weekend. On Saturday our little town has its annual town party (no idea how to translate Stadtfest) and my man and I will have our own bar, serving Schnitzelsemmel (a Schnitzel, ketchup, and a leaf of lettuce in a roll. Best. Snack. Ever.) and cold beer and Spritzer. We already did it last year and it was really successful. Lots of money for one night of work. So we decided to do it again this year. I already started a list. I love lists.

happy and sad at the same time. Today's my last day at work. I'm really sad to have to leave all those nice and wonderfull colleagues behind. But I won't miss the work per se. It was pretty dry technical stuff. Come Monday I will work in the book industry. Something I wanted to do all my life. An office job as well but not in the industrial district that I am working now, but in the very centre of Vienna, right behind the Stephansdom. Prepare yourself for some photo-heavy posts when I walk through the tourists part of Vienna. EVERY DAY! I'm really excited!

about the heavy rainfalls that hit our town last night. The main street was completely under water! The fire department was working all through the night because a lot of basements were flooded due to the massive amounts of water! Poor people! 

that's how the main street in our little town looked like yesterday. horrible!

the last piece of the delicious plum cake that I bake for my colleagues yesterday. I come from a part in Austria were cakes, cookies and pies are a very important part in our everyday life and in our culture. My mom is a wonderful baker, she makes the most delicious cakes and pastries and I got the recipe from her. It's a very easy one, suitable for all kind of fruit cakes.

the plums for my cake. they could have been sweeter...

...but the cake turned out fine. That's the only picture. Its life was rather short.

the ripe and juicy peaches that are right beside me and waiting to be eaten. My godfather is a fruit farmer (and he makes schnapps out of those fruits too) and he brought us some wonderful peaches. The smell is divine - it fills up the whole room. Can't wait to bite into them! 

yummy peaches.

about the little escape that my man and me (or my man and I??) talked about last night. See, August 15th is a friday and a holiday in Austria. Which means, there is a long weekend. Now, if the man will be able to have the 16th off at work, we will jump on his new bike and drive down to Croatia. Now this will mean that we will drive on day, then have one day to spend at the beach and then drive back for one day. Sounds a little crazy, but that is how we roll. Or ride.

my man's motorcycle. and himself in the background.

for a warm and sunny weekend so our bar on Saturday will be a (financial) success which will enable us to turn a dream (weekend in Croatia) into reality!

that all of you have  a lovely week yourself and a even more lovely weekend ahead of you. I'm curious: what are you planning, making, smelling, eating, hoping, wishin, dreaming? Tell me, I'd love to know! :)

Dienstag, 29. Juli 2014

10 random things about myself

as I've seen posts like this on various blogs and I always liked to read them, I thought about telling you ten random things about myself. So let's go!

From age 8 until age 14 I took piano lessons. I only stopped because my teacher wanted to force me to play only classical music which I totally disliked. I took some lessons a few years ago but never got into it again. I probably will regret the fact that I stopped those lessons for the rest of my life.

In 2012 I met my man, left university, moved back in with my parents, started to work in a library, had a long-distance-relationship for 5 months and then followed my man on his journey around the world in December. We met in Bangkok and visited the Philippines, drove 6000 kms on the West coast of Australia in a campervan, spent a week in New Zealand, were in LA on the Oscar Weekend and spend 5 weeks in Peru before we ran out of money and headed back home. Greatest adventure of my live!

I have three tattoos on my body. The sentence "stop chasing shadows, just enjoy the ride" on my right ribs, a big mandala on my back and a condor on my right ankle (the last one was made in Peru, as a memory of my journey!)

My mother wanted to name me Carmen, but my grandmother protestet against it, as "Carmen" is a prostitute in the opera. And my mother gave in!!

I collect coffee mugs. Whenever I visit a country or a city I buy a coffee mug there as a souvenir. I have mugs from Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Germany, Malta, Croatia, Peru and France. They're used every day!

I have REALLY big feet. Actually, really long toes! I was at the beach once, wearing flip-flops and a little boy, about 3 or 4 years old, was amazed at how long my toes were! He yelled it all over the beach. Embarrassing, I can tell you. But he's right. My toes are REALLY LONG. Oh my God, look at those toes. How long they are. That's what he said!

I will be getting married next year. My man proposed under the Christmas tree. Very romantic!

I read at an unusually high speed. At least that's what a friend of mine found out, when she tested me. Might be a reason, why I can finish books in one day (for example "Casual Vacancy" by J.K. Rowling. Started in the morning, finished by night. Gave me a huge headache, though!)

I started smoking when I was 13 years old. Pretty young, I know. I used to go to the club each Saturday, when I was 15. Laws in Austria aren't that strict when it comes to young people and going out. I quit smoking when I was 20. I had my very last cigarette in January 2013. I was really sick afterwards. Never wanted another cigarette again.

I once got 200 bed bug bites in just one night. That happened in a rather shabby hostel in Perth. The second night I got another 100 bites. Probably the most uncomfortable experience I've ever had. I still have some scars left.

Samstag, 26. Juli 2014

Travelling Europe: Hamburg, Germany

FINALLY I've figured out my technical difficulties and am now able to tell you about my time in Hamburg. I've written the post after I came home, two weeks ago. But what's a post about a holiday without holiday pictures? So - enjoy! :)

After two wonderful holiday weeks and 6 days in Hamburg, I'm back home in Austria and back home in my normal working life. The transition from being at home to being back at my desk in the office is never easy, but it didn't went as bad as I thought. That could be linked to my newly adapted "everything is positive" attitude towards life. I've been to an exhibition which was based around the heart and living healthy and I learned, that people who think the glass is half full tend to have healthier hearts and fewer heart-related diseases. So away with my slightly dark and negative me. Hello to all full glasses! To be honest - I have this attitude since Monday and I had to remind myself about it about a hundred times so far. But I'm trying. That has to count, hasn't it?

Anyway, I actually want to tell you about my trip to Hamburg in this post, so here we go!

It was my second visit to Hamburg. I visited my friend J, whom I met when we both studied in Vienna, four years ago. She soon quit studying and moved back to Hamburg and we promised, to visit each other every year. 2014 was my turn again. Two years ago I made my first trip to Hamburg and J made sure, that I saw every single tourist attraction that you should see when you stay in Hamburg. This time was different. I saw the Landungsbrücken, I already made a harbour cruise, we climbed the bell tower of the Michel and had a long, long evening at the famous red light district .Reeperbahn So there was no need to do all of this again and so it was possible to see Hamburg from the view of someone who lives there.

The weather in Hamburg is pretty much unpredictable. When I left Austria, I was prepared for days of rain and cold weather. When I stepped out of the plane it was warm and sunny. As we didn't know how long this nice weather would last, we started my holiday with a day trip to the Ostsee, the Baltic Sea. It is just a one and a half hour drive. It was very windy that day, so we felt rather chilly. The sea was rather cool, so we didn't dare to go into the water. But we layd around in the sun all day, drank coffee, talked, read a lot, listened to music, napped...all the things you need to do for having a successful day at the beach - at least in our account. That's the great thing about travelling with J - we are totally alike. I'm a person who's constantly hungry. That often causes difficulties when I'm out - as no one needs to eat as much as I do. Except for J. Definitely one of the reasons we like each other so much. 

The baltic sea. And my feet. 

"Strandkorb", really typical for the North of Germany and surprisingly comfortable! 

Being by the sea reminded me again of how I love to be there. It is my dream to someday live by the sea or at least have some kind of holiday home there. There's something about the crushing of the waves, the smell of the water and the reflections of the sun that never fails to make me incredibly happy and calm.

In the evening we visited Bad Segeberg, which is famous for its Karl May festival. I have never read any Karl May book or saw any of the Winnetou movies, but J goes there every year since her childhood and she really wanted to show me. Horses, fire, intrigues, drama, fights, death...everything you need for a good cowboy story. Well. Let's say it was interesting, but I'll probably never see anything like this again! ;)

the horses were pretty, tough! ;)

We did some shopping the next day, wandered around town, read a book in the park and went to a musical in the evening. No pictures of that, I'm sorry. The musical was called 49 1/2 shades of grey and it's a parody on the book 50 shades of grey. I read the book simply because I know we would go to that musical. I didn't really like the book but the musical was hilarious! They picked out everything I didn't like about the book and the music was lovely too.

On Saturday we did a little tourist-tour. We had a lovely pancake breakfast in the morning and went then to the Elbstrand. It's a beach near the harbour on the Elbe. Again - lying in the sun, reading (I did a lot of reading in those few days. I managed to finish one book and read half of another!) watching the people and the really big containerships which made their way in and out of the harbour right in front of us.

The "Elbstrand"

After that we visited a submarine. It's a former russian spy boat which was turned into a museum in 2002. It's kind of a inside tip, not even a lot of Hamburg people know that it even exists. We had a little tour throught the submarine and were really impressed. I can't imagine that people LIVED down there, under water, no windows, no fresh air, no SPACE, no privacy. Amazing what human beings can endure!

The submarine as it's laying in the harbour of Hamburg

the inside. What you can't see in this pictures are the beds that are under the floor. Scary thought, having to sleep buried under the floor while being under water...

As the weather on sunday was pretty cold and wet, we did nothing all day but hung around in J's appartment. Again, there was some reading. J reads even more books than I do, so we both were perfectly fine with hanging around on the couch and put our noses in our books.

In the evening I had to watch the world championship finale. Mind you - I hate football. It doesn't interest me the least and I of course know nothing about it. But J is a great football fanatic so she dragged me along to watch the game in a very nice bar with a lot of her football-fanatic friends. No pictures here either. I was too busy with making the most of the cocktail happy hour while J and her footbally-friends talked and talked and talked and I had nothing to contribute to the conversation! Interesting, how fast a glass can be empty if you just listen and drink without talking yourself! ;) 

Monday was my last day in Hamburg and we were a little tired from the previous night. (If you didn't hear it - Germany won the finale and is no world champion. Needless to say that the whole town (probably the whole country too, but I didn't see that of course) celebrated. It was madness all around. I'm so glad that my man hates football at least as much as I do. A match made in heaven.)

We visited the Körperwelten exhibition which wasn't as creepy and shocking as I expected it. If you haven't seen it - try to do so! It's really interesting to really see how our body looks inside and underneath our skin and how our organs work. Sounds a little dull but I promise - it isn't! 

I made my way back to the airport after that. Though I was a little sad to leave already, I was also looking forward to come back home to my man. We had our share at long distance-relationships (5 months, when he was travelling the world and I worked to have some money to follow him. A story I have to tell you sometime!) and I was glad to be back home. 

I did some crafting and a lot of reading in my holidays as well - but these will be the topics of two separate posts. For now I'll leave you with this beautiful picture of Hamburgs harbour and the famous Landungsbrücken and a few random pictures I took. You really want to go there yourself now, don't you? Do it. You won't regret! I promise!

a park where we spent the afternoon. In Hamburg you find water everywhere. That's why I love the city so much!

The Planetarium. Perfect for a rainy day! 

Dienstag, 22. Juli 2014

how come

that everytime I really (and I mean REALLY) want to go for a run the weather changes aprubtly and it's pouring outside? 

picture taken on my last run, more than one week ago. with better weather, obviously!

Way too wet to get out there. I think the universe has something against me getting in shape. 

Freitag, 18. Juli 2014

Speeding up for slowing down

Today I made it from this:

To this

In just sixty minutes. Quite nice, isn't it? 

Happy Weekend, everyone! 

Donnerstag, 17. Juli 2014

on books and reading. and some recommendations.

Stupid technology. I actually wanted to tell you about my holiday in Hamburg first, but I have problems with getting the pictures off my camera. I'm working on that. But until then, let me tell you something about books...

Have I mentioned before that I love, Love, LOVE to read? Yes? I did? Well, that's because I really, Really, REALLY love to read. Unfortunately, since being grown up means having to earn money and to take care of my own household (not even talking about the amount of energy and care it takes to keep me and my men fed! How is it that I never saw all that effort when living with my mum? The fridge was always full. Never running out of milk is a strange talent that I still have to muster!) my reading time somehow diminished as compared to living at home and going to university.

Anyway, I just finished my lovely two weeks holidays and I spent an enormous amount of time reading! It felt so good to being able again to lose yourself in a book, without having to look at the watch all times, but just to keep reading until my head or eyes hurt, or I got hungry or (which happened most of the time as I am really good in fading out any bodily functions that keep me from reading) until I finished the book. I stayed in bed every morning after waking up to do some reading. And in the afternoon I took some time to make myself comfortable on the couch, have a cup of coffee and something sweet (a MUST with my afternoon coffee - I have to have something sweet with it) and do some reading.

I taught myself how to read in kindergarden, about 4 or 5 years old. In Austria you learn reading in school, which you usually start with 6. That was too late for me. My mum read a lot to me when I was little, but she wasn't able to fulfill my constant need for books and stories (otherwise she would never have been able to keep that fridge always full with milk) so I went to my grandmother and nagged her in front of the newspaper: "Oma, what kind of letter is this? Oma, what does that word mean? Oma, how do you pronounce this?" until I had figured it out. From there on no one was stopping me. I read all the time. I borrowed books from school, from friends, I re-read everything a thousand times because my parents would never have been able to afford my reading habit (or the fridge would have stayed empty. I can't even think about that!).

And this hasn't change until this day. Give me enough time and I will spend most of it with a book in my hand, my face covered in the pages. So I'll show and describe three of the books I managed to read in the last few days.

#1: E.L. James - 50 Shades of Grey

Now this isn't easy. I always refused to read this book. I heard about it (of course - who hasn't?) and I knew some people who read it. Some of them loved it, some hated it. But I was averted to it, partly because it was such a great hit with a generation and a class of women that are totally different from me. And I heard, that the author cited the author of the Twilight series as her great literary role model. Now I haven't read the Twilight books either (again, I guess I'm not part of the target group) but I saw the first movie which was enough for me.

But J, whom I visited in Hamburg, had tickets for a parody musical - 49 1/2 shades of grey. Now if you read - and didn't like - the book, I highly recommend to go and visit that musical if it is anywhere near you.

Now here's a little summary for those of you who haven't read the book: Ana, a sexually unexperienced college graduate meets Christian Grey, a wealthy young man, who is immediately attracted to her and wants to introduce her to his sado-maso inflicted sexual lifestyle. What you wouldn't think when you read this storyline is, that the whole book is one big, fat lovestory. Two people, totally different, who shouldn't love each other do so and get confronted with all the problems such a lovestory entails. Rather predictable, rather dull writing. But as I said - it was purely for research reasons. Don't judge me, please.

#2: Donna Tartt - The Goldfinch

Here comes a book where you can talk about literature. The Goldfinch is a thick novel which tells the lifestory of Theo, a boy, whose mother gets killed in a bombing when he is only 13 years old. The father left just a year ago and the reader now accompanies Theo on his disturbing and confusing way through his life. Donna Tartt received the Pulitzer Price for this book. It's wonderfully written, rich and detailed and it's a book, that (despite it's thickness, somewhere around 750 pages in the English version) is hard to put aside. I read it in just a few sittings, being totally emerged in Theo's life that led him from New York to Las Vegas and back to New York with an unusual and slightly dangerous item that he takes with him all the time and which is the cause for the big showdown. But I don't want to give anything away. If you like good stories, beautifully written words and pages, that soak you up and leave you unaware of your surroundings and the real life - buy this book. It's one of the stories that you will come back to again and again over the years.

#3: Cheryl Strayed - Wild

I saw that book mentioned on the blog of Kate. I can't find the post anymore, but she mentioned, that she loved every word of that book and slowed down reading it because she didn't want it to end. And I have to say - I felt the same way. Wild accompanied me on my journey to Hamburg. I started reading it when I was waiting on the airport in Vienna and finished it while looking at the Hamburg harbour, on the Elbstrand. It's a book about the author, Cheryl, who loses herself after the sudden death of her mother, suddenly finding herself before the broken fragments of her life. In this state she decides to walk the Pacific Crest Trail, a trail, that reaches from Mexico through the USA all the way up to Canada. She is unexperienced and has a hard time at the beginning. But her description of that journey, of how she felt, what she saw and which people she encountered on the way left me in the desperate need for a new adventure. I had a big one, just a little over a year ago (travelling around the world for four months, one day, there will be the whole story, I promise) and ever since just strapping on a backpack and leaving, not knowing, where the path will take you and how long you will be away, is something I definitely want to do again. Just taking off on an adventure, because there is no better way to get to know yourself and to learn about what's important to you and how you want your life to be. Read that book and you will want to buy some (big enough) hiking boots for yourself and just get going. Perfect holiday book.

So what are you reading at the moment? I also started "The Cuckoo's Calling" by Robert Galbraith. It's the pen name J.K. Rowling chose for her first crime novel. I have about three quarters now and I really like it, though it's nothing special. Let's see how it ends. Only by the end can you judge a crime book. But J.K. Rowling wrote a REALLY good end to her first non-Harry-Potter-novel "the casual vacancy", so I have high expectations. Well, I'm off to read now.

P.S.: I just found this linkIt's a website that lists all 339 books referenced in the Gilmore Girls. Now if you watched Gilmore Girls as enthusiastically as I did, that's a really interesting site for you! I counted 50 books out of those 339 that I've read myself. I'm thinking about taking on a reading challenge! Anyone in? 

Dienstag, 8. Juli 2014

Travelling Austria: Mariazell

On Sunday morning I was still half asleep when I heard my man beside me move and get up. It was still very early and I thought that he as just going to the bathroom before he would come back to bed and return to sleep. We had a bottle of red wine the night before and went to bed rather late. 

As he left the door open and we live in a really small appartment I heard him rumbling around in the kitchen downstairs. He made coffee. I was still very tired and really wanted to have some more sleep, but second later he stood beside the bed with a cup of coffee in his hands, wide awake and grinnin: "The weather is beautiful outside. Let's go for a ride!"

See, my man is a biker. He loves motorcycles. They are not just his hobby. Ever since I met him (I've known him years before we fell in love) he is obsessed with them. Since a few months now he works in a motorcycle shop. It's a big store and he helps the guys who sells the bikes. He loves it. And the plus side of it is, that he can borrow whatever motorcycle he wants. So he chose this one for the weekend, as he thought it would be a comfortable bike for a day-long trip. 

So he got me out of bed, we had an enourmos breakfast, got dressed in our motorcycle gear and off we rode. 

I'm with my man for 2.5 years now and before that I never sat on a motorcycle. But after my first ride I was hooked. I'm not driving myself but I love to sit at the back and ride along. 

So we started to drive through the beautiful Austrian countryside. Austria is a raher amall country, you can cross it in a few hours. We live in the very east. The landscape is flat. There isn't a hill in sight and the view over the fields and wineyards goes for miles and miles and miles.
As we drove on, the landscape started to change. The fields weren't filled with sunflowers, corn, vegetables or grain anymore. The hills grew taller and we saw farm houses, cows chewing on grass and sheep lying around in the sunshine. 

Our destination was Mariazell. It's a famous place of pilgrimage for devouted catholics and somehow established its reputation for a great meeting point for bikers. 

I'm sorry that I haven't hot any pictures of the landscape. It's rather difficult to whip out your camera while driving 120 Km/h but I got some pictures of Mariazell. It's amazing how different this part of Austria looks, compared with the part where I live. The architecture is different. The clothes are different. People speak a really different dialect. All within a 4 hour drive. That's what I love about my country. The closeness. The variety. The beauty of all those different regions! Living in a small country really has its advantages. You should come and see for yourselves! 

Montag, 7. Juli 2014

Holiday kitchen

Hello, everyone out there!

The first week of my holiday is over and I was so occupied with doing things that I like that I only now found time to write again. It's Monday morning, my man is off to work and I'm still lying in bed and will do some reading before I'll get up and REALLY start the day. Aaaah, may the free time be blessed! 

Anyway, I (of course) had a great time so far, though I must have done something in the past to upset the weathergod. There were only three sunny and warm days so far, which meant, that I was more or less tied to my home for a while. But I made the best out of it and one of the best things in the world for me is food. 

One point of my to-do-list was to do more cooking and try out some new recipes and trying out I did. I created yummy, wonderful dishes and even managed to take a picture of some of them, before my man and I gobbled everything up. See, patience is not strong on us, so if something good looking and wonderful smelling stands on the table...well, let's just say that it won't stay there for long. I also did some baking. Again - delicious stuff. The Austrian cuisine is famous for it's sweets and bakeries. "Mehlspeisen" it's called here. My guess is, that this is strongly connected with the coffeehouse culture that goes a long way back here in Austria. I learned that from my mother: coffee in the afternoon means always something sweet to accompsny it. 

So I made my first ever carrot cake:

I made something unable to translate (Heidelbeertatscherl) with blueberries (just trust me, that it was simply delicious)

And I made some sweet apricot dumplings. There is no picture of these. They were gone in an few minutes! These recipes all come from the cook book that I got for my birthday - vegetarian Austria (Österreich vegetarisch) and I must say that I really love this book. So far everything I tried out was easy and veeery good. 

There was some more cooking, I made my first risotto ever, I made lasagne, crepes filled with spinach and ricotta, hamburgers and home made pizza. But again - no pictures. When my man and me are hungry, there's no stopping us. 

Other than cooking and baking (and cleaning up the kitchen afterwards - I didn't even know that I had that many dishes) I did a lot of reading and crocheting. I managed another row on my mario blanket (update will follow once the whole face is finished) and I finished the cushion that was ordered from me by a friend. 

I think it turned out pretty nice! We also took a little day trip yesterday, but that's material for a separate post. 

So what have you been up to this weekend? Were you trying out new recipes? Reading new books? Went out? 

I'd love to hear!