Ein Gutes Wochenende

...a good weekend.
(and an exciting month coming up!)


Art left us for 8 days on Thursday night to head on over to the motherland (his first time since we moved here) for a work conference at Penn State. I have to admit I was a little sad and nervous to be alone for over a week..kinda pathetic, let's buck up bimbo, but so far, so good. Had a more eventful weekend than usual and will say I partied it up..at least in my sad, lowly standards.

Friday night I had drinks and went to a movie (the first one in over a year) with some Canadian girlfriends I met in the English Club and Saturday night I went over to friends' Thomas and Ania's place for a little grilled Swedish fare.

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They live behind a huge house really close to us in an old stable-converted-to-apartment. They cooked up a typical Swedish meal complete with grilled salmon (on the mini grill), herring, potatoes, special Swedish sauce and lots of Swedish alcohol (straight from the local Ikea). It was delicious.

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We sat outside, had access to the big, pretty backyard of the mansion and the nice night. We were there from 7pm til 2 am chatting and havin' a grand ole time. Thomas was trying to serve me 'old fashioneds' around 1:45 am. I took them....like a fool.

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Ania and David (the other American at Art's institute..Amber's husband.)

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probably time to wrap it up

Now, we've already skyped with Art (5am his time) and we're back to regular weekday life. We've got boatloads of visitors* coming shortly after Art gets back and I'll be travelin' some with Mom, Pops and sista...really looking forward to it!

* Come one, come all! for some reason, it seems to happen that our visitors come within the same couple of weeks staggered. Bring it on...

july 5th - 9th : Art's old buddies will be coming to his university for a summer conference. Luca from Trieste (who studied at Texas A&M for a year) and Ryan, bestie from PhD days at A&M, currently postdocking at Imperial in London.

july 7th - 9th : my brother Chris and his wife, Lindsay, stay in Graz for 2 nights after heading to Paris, Provence, Switz and stuff. We fine dine and have a grand ole time (as Lindsay is my age and a friend before she married the old brutha!)

july 10 - 19 : Dad, Mom and Molly arrive in Graz after Paris..we go to Salzburg, Prague and Vienna too! (Molly comes armed with three suitcases, a teenager's drama and sisterly fun fo' me!)


Suitors at our Door

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I always knew Elsie was a fine lookin' pup, but this is ridiculous. Those of you that roll your eyes when I do yet another post about Elsie, go along your merry way. But, this involves some romance and lust, so you may want to stay.

About two weeks ago, Elsie 'became a woman'. I won't go into details, but it was a first in the life of me and Artie-poo. The vet had told us to be careful with her when this happens, as we can't get her spayed until she's gone through a cycle or two. I would always laugh and say, "She's always with us..it's not like she can sneak out to go meet up with boys. How can anything happen?". After asking the price of a spaying, Art and I considered just not getting it done...maybe ever...400 Euros is freaking ridic!

Well, the time has come and I have learned, my friends, quite well why they call men "dogs" when they are canty nasties.

We really haven't had too many problems in the past couple of weeks (it lasts 3...yay). We just don't ever let her off of the leash at the park and when we see another dog and ask if he's a "rüde" or "männlich", owners are smart and we go our separate ways.

We can't just stop taking Elsie outside. That would be like taking away her air. She lives to go outside and explore and pull me down the street with her extreme strength. (I'm totally hookin' up a sled to her this winter so she can take me 'round town.) So, I just take her on smaller walks around our apartment.

Last week was our first suitor encounter. (I can't leave her at home for other reasons that will not be discussed and shall be solved in the near future...damnit.) It wasn't too bad. The rogue Jack Russell terrier followed us over 10 blocks and waited outside the entrance to the courtyard where we were sitting, occasionally coming in to try his luck again. Male persistence. It was humorous and Amber and I laughed it off as "Jack" waited at the exit like a guy would do...hoping to catch her on her way out...maybe she had some drinks and her inhibitions were down? Elsie only had two Guinness beers and her tolerance is high, so no such luck, Jack.

Well, TODAY...
we were at the park around the corner and ole "Limpy" (limps on his back hind leg) comes over. (He lives at the restaurant and always comes to greet Elsie...which now I know what he is doing..seeing what 'state' she is in..nasty basty.) Today he came out of nowhere...I went no where near his pad. He was aggressive. I was slightly kicking him and giving him firm commands to get the hell out. He kept following us...I started running. He ran. Limpy don't got no limp when he's got lovin' fever. Limpy fast. Coco running like a loser back home (we weren't far) and finally get to the big steel door to our building and lock Limpy out. Phew. Safe.

Not so much. Limpy ain't givin' up. Elsie's excited because there's action. I go sit down at the computer and hear his jinglin' collar outside. Then I hear him paw at the front door. Then I hear his jingling. I look out my window and he is liftin' his leg and peeing in our garden! How the hell'd you get in there? I closed the window thinking maybe he could still 'sense' Elsie in the air. He remains out there for 2 HOURS pacing from the door to the garden. I went outside once to shoo him off and found out how he was getting into our gated garden...a slightly bigger opening near the door. Limpy's a clever little dirtball.

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Limpy's home. A pub..how fitting.

Then...the doorbell buzzes..Elsie goes berserk. It's these kids that randomly showed up at our door one day asking to walk Elsie. I'd never seen them in my life. They never ended up walking her because that had to go on a family outing, but now they are here to tell me, "Timmy's fallen in love with Elsie!!". I'm pretty sure they are wanting to bring ole Timmy the town stalker inside to 'play' with Elsie.

Not knowing whether these kids (one is about 13) have any idea what all of this means I just say, "Yeah, he wants to have babies with her and he needs to go away." They ask if I have two leashes...they would like to walk them together. "Um...NEIN. Can you please take little Timmy home?" "Sure!"

Ahh..goodbye. The last thing I need is Elsie and her separation anxiety multiplying before my eyes. Art comes home for lunch, I tell him the story, he cracks up while he mows down his mozzy sandwich. Fifteen minutes later when he leaves to walk back to work, guess who is back at the front door? He said he chased him all the way home.

So, now, as I type..Elsie and I are holed up. The vet had told me long ago when she was "läufig", she would seek male attention. Not ok. Elsie, you are 10 months old, which means you aren't even 7 human years yet! what if i catch her trying to sneak out in a studded collar?

I didn't think I'd be dealing with these adolescent issues so soon. Or writing about them on a blog...especially when it's just a dog!

But you know it's kinda funny.

Update: When I went to the grocery store hours later he is still lurking around...geez.

In Defense of Austria

I received some comments (that I totally expected to receive) from Europeans defending their way on my post last week. I was a little feisty about ole Österreich's grocery system and was a bit of an Ugly American. All you Americans would probably experience it the same way and have the same shocks and reactions I did, BUT, it IS actually BETTER.
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I've come across this book several times now on the internet and would like to read it, but kinda got the main point down, which he states in the opening:

"Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants."

That's what people do here in Austria. What our grocery stores are mainly missing over here is not the produce or essentials...it's the crap, packaged and processed foods. American grocery stores fill aisles and aisles with it. Yes, they have some of it here too, but not nearly as much and people don't seem to care too much about it.
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An aisle in Ameri (source)

"America's a society obsessed with eating healthily while its eaters are growing unhealthier."

In Austria, there aren't sections of PowerBars, weird drinks with soy, cholesterol reducers AND omega 3, 6, 45 and 68. In fact, this author claims that if an item has any health claims slapped across it, stay away from it. It has to compensate for the fact that it's not real food. (I don't think a lot of these foods are necessarily harmful (some possibly), but that they are expensive and you don't need them if you are eating enough real food.)

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Stick with "real food"...the kind that your grandmother would have eaten as a child...more fruits and vegetables and whole grains, less meat (especially beef) and you're doin' good. And make it colorful...it's prettier and vitamin-ier.

Now, I ain't saying I eat like a perfect little bimbo...I don't, but we eat A LOT better over here and we don't even think about it. It's just how it is. We can't afford to go out very much, so we almost always eat at home and cook. We know what we're eating and with the help of our wondey cookbook, most sauces and things are homemade and not processed.

When I went to a restaurant in Houston, which was frequent, I almost always left feeling so full it was a bit uncomfortable. You have so much food on your plate and you're talking and eating and it's all so good (that queso, those salty chips and delish enchiladas) and you don't realize you need to stop before you feel full because it takes your body about 15-20 minutes to let you know you're done, dude.

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(sometimes, a little velveeta processed love needs to be shipped on over and devoured. this is all in moderation. if you consider 2 logs consumed in 4 days moderate.)

We barely eat any beef because it's just not very good or readily available here. Austria is one of the only countries in the EU that doesn't allow genetically modified crops (or at least gen. mod. corn). Our chickens are raised on real farms in the area and a lot of the produce comes from less than an hour away.

A comment I almost always hear from visitors: "There are barely any fat people here". And it's true. It's a huge difference coming from a city that annually ranks in the Top Ten Fattest in the U.S.: Houston, Texas.
Houston: you do have some of the best restaurants in the world..and I do miss you sometimes..xoxo.

When Art goes to work, he walks. Elsie and I usually go meet him halfway at lunchtime, which isn't a huge distance, but every little bit like this during the day adds up. I walk to the bus stop, walk to the grocery store, walk to the eye doctor... When I lived in Houston, I lived caddie-corner to my office building and I still DROVE MY CAR! What a fatty. The main reason being that Houston drivers aren't used to looking out for walkers and I would have to cross a busy intersection where the street curves and cars can't see you until they are very close. That and wearing heels and I needed my car real close...I had a reserved parking spot that just
had to be used.

I do have Eis about an average of EVERY DAY...but even that is one small scoop of gelato that has way less fat (you can tell..it's not as rich as ice cream) and you have to walk yo' buns to get it, so you're basically burning half of that scoop-de-scoop off anyways.


Oh, and we eat more 'real food' here too, because I go to the grocery store almost every day (because that's about all I can carry or that the Austrian glares will allow for) and that keeps us buying fresh food and eating more of it. I feel like when you go to the grocery store once a week, which I did in the States, you buy a lot of food...eat some that day...forget about the rest during the week when it rots and have to resort to more processed foods that don't spoil. Maybe this isn't how it is with other people who are possibly more disciplined...who buy the fruit and eat it and don't forget about it...who plan their meals and don't opt to just go out to lunch cause it's easier and totally more fun.

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Freshly cut Speck (bacon) is real food...right?..and YUM in my tum.


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(Source)
So, there you go. A little Austrian livin' pride. Happy with our new way of life here. Think more people in America should be able to experience the same. It seems to be changing some. It takes awhile to 'detox', but it feels oh so much better.


note: And I know there are a lot of healthy Americans...it's just harder with the lifestyle and temptations. Let's just say I'm not Willpower Wilma. More like "Cave-in Coco".

Life in Austria. Part 4b. Shopping: Goin' to the Grocery

One of the biggest shocks when moving abroad is the first trip to the grocery store.
{Note to fellow Austrians reading..this is meant for fun, and although it is true, I mean no disrespect. We lead healthier, less complicated, wurstier lives here and we like it.)

What happened to the land of milk and honey and Cheetos and endless variety with wide aisles and 24-hour service??!

To be fair, they do have big supermarkets, the kind that we're used to, but they aren't close or convenient. (And, they still don't have Cheetos, Tiny Tarts or regular, shredded Cheddar.)

So, 99 times out of 100, we frequent the regular size grocery store..meaning the size of a Subway sandwich shop. (minus the turkey lunch meat..only ham)

One of my biggest pet peeves about how the stores operate is actually not even that they are only open Mon-Sat 8 - 7pm and CLOSED/SHUT UP SHOP on Sundays, but that they do their cleaning and stocking during the busiest hours and in the tiniest lanes you've ever moseyed your a$$ down.

Not kidding. Almost every time I saunter on over to the Billa, I am followed by someone cleaning the floor with a machine that looks quite similar to the one they used to clean the Houston Galleria ice skating rink following me around! on my tail...like I'm leaving some trail of grime. Can't you do this when you close at 7pm every freaking day? Why must you do it at 6 when the whole world is here scurrying to get their wurst before Austria has its 7pm grocery black out?

It's not like we've got loads of room here. I can barely fit down this aisle without my red basket crunching into the pasta bags or slammin' into someone around the wee corner.

And, can you stop following me? When was the last time you put on some deodie? I'm already nervous about checking out at lightning speed and getting glares from those behind me when I say "bankomat" (meaning...not usin' cash..it might take 2 seconds longer).

Look. I'm about as impatient as they come..and I'm quick as hell..but you people need to calm down. Mama needs a bit more time and not to feel stressed at the sto'.

And can you get a conveyor belt longer than my forearm? My bunch of broccoli and maybe my loaf of bread fits on there...there's not even room to use the little dividers because fitting more than one person's loot is out of hte question. And how come everyone buys 5 items max?

Do you people not eat or what? Or do you go to the grocery store several times a day? Why am I always the only one with a full bag? What am I missing here? And stop rolling your eyes. We are fatties..yes. And it's heavy. Maybe that's why you only get rolls and beer.

And for those of you at the grocery store at the train station (that is open late and on Sundays!), stop putting your scaffolding sh!t in the aisles and stocking stuff during mad rush hour (that would be 7pm since it's the only store open in the hemisphere).

I've literally moved your rolling scaffolding with my own rock-hard muscles just to get a thing of Q-Tips. Yeah, I saw you look at me like..um, don't be movin' our stocking ladders, but what's a girl to do? WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO DO THIS NOW? It's not like your overloaded with inventory (you're a freaking Exxon Tiger Mart for crying out loud..how long does it take to stock some gummi bears?)

Ugh..and don't get me started on how you can't even make it down the aisle without stopping 80 times to let people smudge past and how one time my red baskey knocked over some Pina Colada mixer. I looked for those ladies on their ladders on the next aisle over (to tell about my mess) and, of course, they were nowhere to be found. Surely the guy with the ice-rink cleaner will be around the corner in no time.

All this being said (ranted), I've adapted quite nicely. I know how to maneuver my way through and have learned that niceness and patience is not the name of the game around here. It's every man for himself. You need to butt someone out of the way with your cart? Have at it. Wanting to cut? Why not.

Just be sure to LOAD YOUR GROCERIES in your paid-for plastic bag FAST. Don't mess around. This ain't Texas.

And some crappy iPhone pics for a visual:

Be careful of innocent-seeming bottles of water...most are full of gas:
(be it mild or be it Prickelnd (extra gassy))
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Hope you like paprika (bbq) or salted potato chips because you aren't gonna find another flavor:
(and 3,49 is considered Billiger! (cheaper))
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Haribo has a monopoly on the candy market..hope you like gummi:
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And, Milka's got a monop. on the choc.
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but, you can find Mars brand choc. bars
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Mayo comes in toothpaste tubes:
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Regular, sliced bread is called American Toast:
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This picture doesn't do it justice and this is a sub-par one, but the bread sections are outstanding. No wonder they don't want to take credit for our kinda crap Mrs. Baird's.
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Again, terrible representation, but the meat sections are usually pretty delishy too. Except for those jelly rolls with stuff in them..eww. (Which I now know, thanks to my sister, is called 'Sulz')
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Produce is always top-notch too and last, but not least:

Mexican section
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I was stoked to find out they carried tortillas!

And that's all for my tirade today.

America's Test Kitchen Comes to Europa

A couple of months ago, we were surprised with a lovely brown paper package on our doorstep.

Contents:
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My brother and his wife ordered this cookbook off of Amazon for us and had it sent all the way over here. Knowing my older brother likes to cook, I had asked him via e-mail where he finds his recipes.

I had been using recipezaar.com and supercook.com (where you type in your ingredients to get recipes...handy) a lot and was wondering what sites he used. He said that they have some great cookbooks, but said his best was a book called America's Test Kitchen. "It has recipes for any meal you can think of." And that was that.

Little did I know that by asking a simple question I would receive a gift!

Of course you can probably find any recipe imaginable on the internet, but there's something nice about actually having the cookbook in your hands. I don't have to lug my laptop to the kitchen and worry about spills or accidental drops off the windowsill. Whoops.

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And this one comes with lots of great pictures, step-by-step guides and useful tips on almost every recipe on how exactly to cook a certain dish, why buttermilk is better than eggs in this dressing or why you should chunk your wok. (It's not meant for household stoves and the heat mostly stays on the bottom...a skillet works better on home stoves, silly.)

And, one of the biggest reasons I love it:

Because most of it you make yourself and it relies very little on store bought dressings or sauces...things I can't get here!

And guess what? Homemade stuff tastes better. And most of the time it's not even that much extra work. I will never use a store bought dressing again. Enchilada sauce? Easy peasy. Garlic croutons? Crank up the oven lover! Tortillas? Ok, so we buy those even though the book says they're easy.

I thought I'd share some simple recipes that we've found delish.

These are probably the least exciting ones we've made..but classic and enjoyed by most. (And the ones we happened to photograph.)

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I love a good caesar and you can't get them over here. Add some grilled chicken and you've got yourself a healthy dinner - easy caesey that's nice and pleasey..and quite cheesy.
Caesar Salad
Serves 6
Parmesan cheese is a main ingredient in this salad, so be sure to use authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano and grate it yourself. Since this dressing is so flavorful, mild olive oil (or even vegetable oil), rather than extra-virgin olive oil, works well.

DRESSING
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry (i leave these out)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

SALAD
3 romaine lettuce hearts, torn into bite-sized pieces
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
1 recipe Garlic Croutons (below)

GARLIC CROUTONS (crucial for your life)
Makes 4 cups
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups (1/2-inch) bread cubes

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{some of these were a bit too browned, but devoured nonetheless}

Crouton directions:

Adjust an oven rack to the center position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the oil, garlic and salt together in a large bowl. Add the bread cubes and toss until thoroughly coated. Spread the bread onto a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 20 mins. Allow the croutons to cool to room temp. before serving. Eat a handful before Art comes into the kitchen.

Salad directions:
Blend all of the dressing ingredients except the oil in a blender (or food processor) (or with whisk in a bowl if you live in Graz and own no kitchen gadgets) until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. With the motor running, add the oil in a steady stream. Toss the salad ingredients with about 1/2 cup of the dressing. Serve, passing the extra dressing separately. Bossy about how to disperse dressing apparently.

-I added some grilled chicky to mine.
(Season with salt and pep, throw in shimmering hot veggie oiled (1 tbsp.) skillet. Cook until that chick is lightly browned on both sides. Cut and throw in salad.)
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No-Cook Tomato Sauce (w/ pasta)
Makes 4 cups
Called "salsa cruda" in Italy, this raw sauce depends solely on the sweet, ripe flavor of good summer tomatoes. When serving, toss the sauce with the hot drained pasta and let the tomatoes wilt slightly for a minute or two. This sauce works well with short, stubby pastas (or women) such as penne, farfalle and fusilli.


4 large ripe tomatoes (2 lbs.), halved, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch chunks
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1 garlic clove, minced
(I threw some freshly grated Parmesan into the mix)
Salt and pepper

Combine the tomatoes, oil, basil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When tossing the sauce with pasta, add some of the pasta cooking water as needed to loosen the consistency of the sauce.
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And, if you are still reading, #3:

Another salad because well, while the salads here are good, they are always THE SAME Styrian style with lettuce, tomatoes, potato salad at the bottom, possibly some carrot slivers or big Styrian beans and pumpkin seed oil dressing. Variety is seriously lacking. And, our American salads are better. There..I said it.

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{I need to work on my 'food styling'..this looks like a big mush of lettuce and ingredients, which it mostly is. The kitchen lighting is horrific and I usually call to Art when the meal's done, "Come and get dinner..and take a picture, honey!" He is usually snap happy and hungry and takes a picture far too soon... before the dressing has been poured or the croutons are placed ever-so-gingerly on top...oh, just terri.}

Arugula, Grapefruit & Feta Salad w/ Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette

DRESSING
Makes about 1 cup
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional) (not optional in this household)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 shallot, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Shake all of the ingredients together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; bring to room temp., then shake vigorously to recombine before using.

Why Shallots?
Shallots look and are used much like onions, but have a more delicate, almost sweet flavor. The mild flavor of shallots is perfect for vinaigrettes and sauces, where the pungency of yellow onions would be over powering. And, most importantly, they are called "Schalotten" in Austria, which makes it an easy item to find (and translate) for Carolyn.

SALAD
2 bunches arugula
1 red grapefruit, peeled with a knife, sectioned and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or basil
1/2 cup Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (3/4 cup)

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And there you have it. Thanks Chris and Linds. We LOVE our book.
Maybe I'll post some more exciting (Mexican!) dishes soon.

No, America's Test Kitchen isn't paying me to write this. But, you know that I don't have enough readers for that kinda thing anyways. About 15,000 more per day and we'd be good to go. Now, each of you tell 1,000 of your friends about 'ole LIG, you hear?

Savoring Summer

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It's here! The days are long, skies are blue and lots of Eis for me and you. Abundant rose bushes line every garden on our daily stroll to the park...the coraly orange ones always calling my name.


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Everyone was outside yesterday..laying out on blankets in the park, reading, drawing and sippin' beer at the outdoor cafés and on park benches.

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Never to be left out, we grabbed some burgers (not the same as home) and parked our buns in the sun too.

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Curious as to how much longer our days are here than back home in Texas, I did some quick research. Yesterday, dawn was at 4:26am and dusk 9:28 pm here in Graz. That's a 17-hour day. It's two hours more than Houston with 15 hours (dawn: 5:54 am; dusk: 8:47 pm). You can feel it.

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Yep, the dog days of summer are here.

{photos mine with the help of the Pioneer Woman's 'seventies' filter..a trendy look in the photo world.}

Blog Beautifying


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In between looking for jobs and forcing myself through another unit in Rosetta Stone while being holed up more than usual due to rain, rain, rain, I have been giving two blogs a mini-makeover.

1. My friend, Kim's blog: Das Hyndman Haus
She's a fellow expat living in Australia with her husband Marc and their cutie, Chloe.


Before


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After

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2. And my sister Molly's blog: Bridget's Own Diary.
Don't read it...her writing is better than mine and I was already in 7th grade when she was born.


Only got an After. {Trust: it's better than the blank template blogger gives you}

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When I'm bored and it's rainy, I feel the need to create.

Now, if only I could profit off of this endeavor... Will people pay for blog designs? Are these even really good enough? Do I need to learn more html? Is that better than learning German? It is English..with lots of periods and brackets..which I love. Am I still talking? k, bye.



Life in Austria. Part 4a. Shopping: Sticker Shock

Back with some more of the Life in Austria series. It's been awhile.

This time, ladies, we're talking shopping. I've been wanting to tell you about this for awhile now, but without photos..it ain't so fun (or even believable). So, I finally bit the bullet and have been risking my residence status snapping crappy iPhone pictures in the stores.

They don't like it. They think you're trying to copy their displays or possibly show people outside of Austria (who know better) how ridiculous their prices really are (which is exactly what I was doing!). I was caught only once in my sneaky endeavors with a mere scolding. And if any of you own an iPhone (I'm guessing half of you do) you know how long you have to hold that thing still after you snap or else the whole things a blur. Makes for harder snap and go's.

Ok, so back to the topic at hand. I will sum it up with this statement:

EVERYTHING IS MORE EXPENSIVE HERE.
except olive oil, ice cream and flowers

Ok, so some things are about the same, but I would venture to say that 80% of things are more...and not even a little more, but at least 35% more...sometimes double, sometimes triple. The Euro has been declining in the past 6 months, so the conversions to dollars aren't quite as appalling as they used to be. (Today we're at $1.23 for every 1,00...they use commas as decimals and decimals where we use commas...just to be canty.)

When Art's dad was over here, he almost fell over when he saw a flashlight at a mom and pop store marked at 85 . He owns the same flashlight in the States that he bought for $25. (Believe me..it was the same..he and Art know their gadgets.) That's an extreme case, although not rare...welcome to our life!

So, without further ado...a glimpse of hell:

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Kitchen stuff kills me. Especially since all of our nice wedding gifts are sitting in my mom's closet at home! (At least they better be..Mom..are you usin' my All-Clad?) Williams-Sonoma is Bed, Bath & Beyond (in prices) compared to what we got here.
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I used to read my American magazines at the store (look at pictures really), but I don't even bother anymore. Occasionally I can read about these celeb bimbos in the gym in the German versions...and it's more entertaining in German.
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Cosmetics are one of the worst offenders. I've been having my visitors bring over a Laura Mercier concealer here, some econo-size Biosilk for my hair there.
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And, I believe Oil of Wizard of Olaz runs about the same. Stash up on that sh!t and lather your life in it.
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And, I'll be back later this week with a trip to the grocery store and some other stuff...

In the meantime, go to Target and give it a kiss and hug for me.