Aglow in Advent

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I had to give you a little glimpse of Christmas Graz again this year...especially before I leave and probably neglect the blog somewhat.

Apologize for their graininess.  Of course I took these the day before the wondey snow came and really put the icing on the Christmas scene around here...literally.  If you want to see some better ones..check out Amber's.

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Deck the Halls

The blog's got a little extra Christmas flair, and I tried to give our home some too...just a little before I head off to Houston.  I never want to spend or do a lot because we don't have the storage space nor will we want to move it with us when we go.  Found some cute wreaths at the local craft store and liked that I could use them every year (and that they were cheap):

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Then nature cooperated this weekend and provided me with a wondey white backdrop!

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{not sure how well you can see it, but we got about 5 - 6 inches of snow.} {my wreaths kinda look like dangling donuts in this pic.}

the pup LOVES snow.  We had to have a family outing.
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A cute dad playing with his toddler daughter in the fresh snow.

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A Trio of Thanksgiving Tables

Missing delicious Thanksgiving back home, but received pictures of three of my favorite Thanksgiving hostesses' tables via e-mail today. 

Mom:
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{she said it may look like a cake, but it's really a dried wreath in there}

Aunt Melissa
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my sister, Amy {hosting her husband's side of the fam}
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Looking good, ladies.  

Happy Thanksgiving to all.  We have so much to be thankful for...not the least of which is people like you following along on this crazy blog!

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Prost!

Makin' a list {and some ornaments}

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Ok, I thought my list would be much longer of things I needed to snatch up when I'm back home in the States.  Just goes to show how we humans adapt.  It is, however, not possible for the human psyche to adapt to life without Target, chocolate chips or cheap makeup. 

My list really should read:

FAMILY, FRIENDS, FAJITAS & FUN

because that's what's most important.  (you think I've hammered home the 'mexican food' point enough?)

Yesterday, I was on a mission to find an ornament representative of Graz for my Mom's tree.  And for my sister who requested one as well.  You'd think it'd be easy...nein.  I even took the dang lift up to the Schloßberg to check out the tiny souvenir shop up there only to find out it's shut down at this time of year.  

You give me a mission like this, and I will accomplish it.  I searched Christmas markets, fancy schmancy Austrian decor stores, cheap, crapper stores, etc.  Yeah, lots of pretty ornaments, but nothing that really represents Graz or Austria.  Sorta shocking.  

My mom's tree has an ornament for each of our colleges (5 different ones for 6 different kids..so far)  We even have one that looks like our cockapoo, a big ole American flag one and Texas ones.  Anyways, Graz must be represented too.

I finally came across these cute little clocktower figurines in a small handmade shop.  I stood there for far too long pondering how I could make these into ornaments.  Could Art use his dremmel to drill a hole in this tiny trinket?  Then the shoplady and I discussed the matter and she gave me my solution.  She was thinking "for the love of America, lady, you better buy something after staring at my stash for hours."

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So klein.  So süß.  Just what I was looking for.

Some gold ribbon and some mega super glue and 4 sticky fingers later:
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Uhrturm Ornaments!

She only had four or I would have gotten more.  I know everyone wants a clocktower on their tree.  
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The lucky recipients will be:
- Mom
- Amy
- Marilia
- ourselves

And, now I have ruined your little surprise.  Hope you like it.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans! How I miss it so.


deep thoughts from kris kringle

You know what one of my favorite parts of the day is?  The 20 minute tram ride to and from the gym. It's the one part of the day where I'm forced to just slow down, ride and reflect (without a computer in front of my face).  

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{source}
I'm never jumping out the door around 5pm to go, especially at this time of year when it's already dark, but once I'm on my way, I'm in my zone.  In the past couple of months on most days, I've been sitting inside my house in front of my computer tweaking design details, modifying code, catching up with e-mails, etc.  Just to sit, ride and watch the little lives living in this quaint town through the window (while listening to David Gray, Counting Crows, Coldplay or something of the sort) is just wondey and sorta rejuvenating.  I feel like I'm back in the 'real world' and not living in la-la cyberworld anymore.  Seriously, I think it gets to you...I'm constantly communicating through e-mail, reading blogs, skyping...I mean..it starts to feel weird and you just need some real world time to breathe. 

Did you know that research shows that little breaks throughout the day (esp. accompanied with fresh air or a bit of exercise) help clear your mind for new ideas and better productivity?  Not shocking, but something we all forget to make ourselves do.  At least I do.  I get fixated on a minor detail in a design and can drive myself crazy trying to perfect it.  Art says he frequently wakes up in the middle of the night and an idea for his research comes to him.  My dad has said the exact same thing for years.  Why is this?  Because we've finally had a time to rest.  This could be a really good case for my once weekly afternoon snoozes from 1:30 - 3:00.  :)

My little tram rides are especially wonderful at this time of year because they are putting up all the red Christmas market stalls, lights, trees and carousels in preparation for the advent celebration all month long.  Christmas feels magical here.  And holy.  It probably feels that way to us partly because it's new and different from home, but I think anyone who's experienced Austria during Christmas time would agree.  Austria does Christmas right.   


{last Christmas}

Now, I will not be here for most of it, but I will be experiencing the magic where it's most familar.  I will get to see my mom's glorious, sparkly, perfect tree.  Nobody does a tree like my mama.  I get to see all the decor I've grown up with and that has changed over the years.  I get to have that annual discussion with the six siblings of whose stocking is the best.  I get to sit around and laugh, eat my mom's Candy Crackers, listen to my dad's Christmas CDs and be canty with all my siblings.  I won't be there for Christmas day, but it doesn't matter..it will still be Christmas time and the weeks before Christmas are really the best..in my opinion.

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I actually have a picture from several years ago of the family stockings...the collection just grows over the years with new husbands, wives and babies. (Mine has been voted 'best' year after year..it's got 3-D Santa going down the chimney and it's sprinkled perfectly with sequins.  My mom made mine and almost all the other kids'.  Around kid 6 or 7, the stockings were bought from little old ladies.  Sorry, Molly...."made with love by Granny Greta" is on the back of yours.)

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{and this doesn't do it justice bc the camera can't capture the bling sparkle bomb that is our tree, but here is the best tree in all the land.} 

'Tis the season, my friends...

An Office Outing

for Art and research friends is almost always a hike an hour or so outside of Graz.


Someone is kind and took pictures.


They had a glorious day.


And although he may look quite radiant here (literally), he comes back completely exhausted.  I guess 5 hours (and 17 km/10.5 miles) of hiking is a bit taxing.

Bespattered Bliss

I realize this blog is becoming a showcase of my latest blog designs, but that's how it's gonna have to be for now, k?

I loved doing an interior design blog! 
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And I'm loving this linen-like background.  Being a talented interior designer herself, Brooke knew the exact aesthetic she was going for: neutral, clean, and simple. 

Now, if it had gone to the dogpark with Elsie this morning to meet Meredith and her dog Tanner, we'd be having more of this:PhotobucketMy dog is a walking mud mop (that Tanner still wants to 'love on' incessantly) and both Meredith's and my shoes are probably ruined.  BUT, convo with an American girlfriend (starting a wedding planning business blog with friend!) is all worth it.

Another...

new design. check it. meghan didn't change a thing i sent her throughout the whole process. that is incredible, folks.

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peace out.

McCafé für mich

While Austria is teeming with delicious pastries, tarts and breads, they are seriously lacking in the cookie department. A chocolate chip cookie is an All-American treat. You can find Linzer Augen cookies here, you know these:

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as they are native to Austria, but that ain't cutting it für mich. They're expensy too.

Something Europe does have, that I'm not sure we have in America (at least I know we don't have them in Texas), is McDonald's McCafé. Don't judge by the 'Mc' name. It's quite nice. Check out this chic Mickey D's café:

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with Starbucks-like concoctions:

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And, look what I found here:

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You betcha. And, they are usually fresh out of the oven. Oh, they are good. Mama likes.

And, I like being able to satisfy my cookie need with just one (or two) warm, fresh ones.

Because, you know, when I bake anything myself at home like I did this weekend:

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...well, it's not good. {Arranging a cookie pyramid for the photoshoot is kinda fun.} I ate two of these Oatmeal Creme Pies within an hour and I felt a bit sugar sick. Then I ate another. Yeah, so easy to pop...can't stop.


So, McCafé it is. Dankeschön. Wiedersehen.

I'm Lovin' it!

When I designed Jill's blog header of her twin boys, she liked 'the logo' so much, she made birthday party thank you cards with it.

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And I was just perusing her blog and saw that she (or her husband? :)) carved that thing into a pumpkin for Halloween! Wondeyness, Bell Family! That is impressive.

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{images from Jill}
{Jill, surely you carved a Photobucket into the back? Pumpkin copyright infringement is serious sh!t.}

In Less Than a Month...

I will be enjoying the following things:

Most importantly:
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with a side of this:
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oh, and loving up them:
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and these bimbos:
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Riding in an actual car:
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which comes with some of this:
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sleeping in a real cozy bed higher off the ground than 5 cm:
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Hitting up some of this
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and the likes of this
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with these sistas and a mutha
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oh, and let's not forget these little people:
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and this guy. (elsie's predecessor)
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and streets full of this.
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I'm excited.