Giving up one perfect apartment three years ago, moving into a less perfect one and moving back into a more suitable place to live, I’ve been thinking about what “home” means to me. 

Well, my childhood home is gone! So, nothing to return to. But at least I was lucky to having been able to be there until the end, until every single piece of furniture was gone, boxes with the things I wanted to keep packed up and finding closure. 

During my student days, I occupied three apartments. Starting out with a very small furnished 25sqm one room apartment beneath the roof, sharing the bathroom with my neighbour. With a 7-minute walking distance to university. I still remember the first night, the first night of a new part of my life. Away from home, my own little haven not quite mine yet. And I do admit: I was a little homesick. Wondering what the next years might bring.

I call my second home-away-from-home my “back-to-the-roots” home. I moved into the same apartment building from the turn of the century – as 1900 – in which my father spent part of his childhood. The huge apartments were converted into smaller ones (I’m talking about 2 apartments per floor where one also had room for a maid in former times) and I moved into the renovated one from Aunt Do, where she used to live with her late husband, Uncle Wolfgang. Even though I was farther away from downtown, I at least was closer to my Styrian part of the family, with Aunt Do living one floor beneath me. I loved this time. It cost me some time university wise, but I wouldn’t want to miss the time I could spend with Aunt Do. She was my friend, my confidante, my teacher. And I miss her at least as much as I miss my parents. And Sundays? I hiked to my aunt and uncle a few minutes away for Sunday dinner, which consisted of either Cordon bleu or Wiener Schnitzel with French fries and vanilla pudding most Sundays. Because they knew how much I loved – and still love – Wiener Schnitzel. Oh, how I miss my uncle’s cooking skills! He too has been gone many years now.

Apartment number 3 pulled me back into downtown, one parallel street away from university and my tutoring job and seven walking minutes away from the town center. I especially loved that again it was an old building with high ceilings … I have no idea how I survived the icy cold exterior bathroom with 14-16 degrees’ Celsius max in winter.

And now, I’m in my third apartment here in Germany. And every one of my apartments was home. Because I made them home. I put my stamp on them with my unique style, my pictures, paintings, keepsakes, candles, lots of plants and throw pillows. And of course, everything has to match. Starting with the towels in the bathroom to the bed linens and the desk writing mat (which I have acquired in three different colours for now to be able to adjust to the sofa deco pillows …). My current colour? Purple. Next week it might be forest green or bright turquoise or sunny yellow or dark red or elegant black. Which is another thing I can now embrace totally again to make my home MY home, without anyone telling me, how stupid it is to have seven sets of towels, ten sets of bed linens, at least a dozen throws and too many throw pillow cases to count … that’s home. And to end this post with a kitschy note: Home is where my heart is! And my heart is with my happy memories, all the little things from my past and present … 



Eye roll! Big eye roll! Sometimes I hardly know what to say, because it’s so ridiculous! The Muppets? Really? That’s just the last straw in ridiculousness when it comes to “political correctness”. I had to roll my eyes when I read that Disney included disclaimers at the beginning of old Disney movies. And now even Kermit has to suffer the same because of stereotypes and “negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures”. Oh please! Get real! The first Disney movie “Snow White and the seven dwarves” was released in 1937 … more than 80 years ago. A completely different time! “Dumbo”, with the crows displayed as Mexicans, is from 1941. Of course, it’s wrong to stereotype … but, one can’t change the past and it’s ridiculous not to make distinctions between the present and the past. Maybe I too should be pissed off that being an Austrian I will always be stereotyped as a Dirndl wearing voluptuous woman? Where do stereotypes come from? There’s always truth in them. Austrians still wear folksy clothes at certain occasions. It’s a tradition. Just like Mexicans wear colourful ponchos and large hats. Or Germans and their stupid shooting-fair get-up (white pants, green uniform style coat, wooden rifle).

Here in Germany we have such discussions as well – as if we didn’t have enough other problems! Politicians are discussing to change names like “Zigeunerschnitzel” (gypsy schnitzel). Which is disgusting anyway! Since the red pepper sauce covers the breaded schnitzel to make it soggy! Euw! Euw euw euw!

Or an old pharmacy had to change its name because it was called “Mohrenapotheke” (blackamoor pharmacy). Hm, I wonder what’s next? Will those whose surname actually is “Mohr” have to change their names too because it’s offensive, not politically correct and racist?

“Uncle Ben’s” rice logo is also among the much-discussed products, which will have to change its name into “Ben’s Original”. I think this is in the same range in stupidity as all this feminism stuff, with women being offended because they didn’t like to be just a “student”, “mayor”, etc. Oh no, there had to be female versions, displayed on every sign. Which would then look like “Student/in” in Austria. (Male and female student!) It’s true, that women still are at a disadvantage on the job market – well, if I were a human resource person I would think carefully too of employing a woman, especially if she’s fresh from university at best age. Wanna bet as soon as she is capable of earning the company some money, oops, she’s becoming pregnant? Then returing to work for a few months and getting pregnant again? I rest my case. 

Anyway, this is one of those topics I could rant and rave about forever … which I’m totally allowed to, being a woman. And luckily one, who doesn’t want to procreate and has no time and patience for kids. A cat is more than enough … which is why I used to raise this topic myself during job interviews, “And no, I don’t want children and have no plans whatsoever to have any …”

Straying from the topic? Yeah, that happens sometimes with me … anyway, what I really wanted to point out … some things are just not important enough to even think about. The world has much bigger problems than Disney movies and the influence they might have on kids. Guys, kids don’t have the brains to interpret anything at that age. Not like the way us stupid adults do … they either like a character or not. No matter whether it’s the Mexican crow or the American elephant …


Euw! Euw, euw, euw! Recently I read an article on “The Guardian” about new habits during home office and pandemic times. With people admitting they stopped taking daily showers – more like once or twice a week, often not even after doing sports -, same with washing their hair, brushing their teeth, changing clothes regularly. Euw! I was quite disgusted with some of the reports!

Well, it’s natural to get lazier in some regards. I’m not perfect either! I don’t spruce up for home office like dressing in classy pants and a blouse. (Unless I know I have a video call with a customer, then I put on a nice top!) Like most of us working from home, I’m wearing comfy pants, T-Shirt and a cardigan. Not to mention warm socks and horrible warm fluffy slippers in winter. (Those I would never admit buying! Ever!)

But apart from that, my routine has stayed the same. I’m wearing my basic make-up every day just like on office days, I regularly wash my hair – even though I just wear it in a ponytail – and also regularly re-colour it. I paint my nails, brush my teeth after breakfast and shower every day. I could never stand to go to bed unwashed, grimy. Euw! And euw again! Clothes? The same, changing shirts and underwear daily. Everything else is just not an option … and too horrible to even contemplate. Just thinking about how I feel after a transatlantic flight, grimy and dusty, desperate to get to the hotel and take a refreshing shower … or remembering my South America trip and the overnight bus journey … I couldn’t imagine not showering for days. Add the hot summer months … and the smells accompanying someone doused in deodorants and perfume … lovely.

I love home office, I really do, and I don’t really miss anything. But the downside, of course, is that one definitely gets lazier. The trips to work are gone, the lunch outings with colleagues, the “getting up” and visiting colleagues in other offices. Instead, we are constantly on MS Teams calls and often barely have a minute in between to get a fresh cup of coffee … or get rid of it again. On the other hand, lunch is freshly cooked or at least home-cooked and taken from the freezer. And my exercise is restricted to: getting the mail (at least I’m living on the second floor without elevator), getting coffee or tea when at work (since I have a large apartment it’s at least not “next door” but on the other end), going grocery shopping (a five-minute-walk up or down the pedestrian street), cleaning my apartment in regular intervals (vacuuming daily thanks to my cat’s hair shedding and cat litter grains distributed all over the place) and my lovely home trainer I try to use daily for half an hour (while watching Netflix or reading). I’m just not in the mood to do the whole self-testing craziness, the negative tests necessary to have a cup of coffee, lunch or dinner … so, I’m biding my time until I’m fully vaccinated … and then normal life with day trips, shopping and coffee outings will resume by just throwing my yellow vaccination pass at them and … screw you all!

Have your habits changed during the pandemic? How? Cheerio, MJ


Or, let me rather rephrase that: it’s more like my fifth tea set. (Don’t worry, even though I am a little crazy, I only got sets for two, not the whole she-bang for a group of six or more!)

I love tea. I love tea time. And I love to redecorate my kitchen table tea tray with the tea set complimenting my kitchen towels, table runner, kitchen sofa pillows.

It all started when I moved into my new apartment, since I had to sell my original tea set due to space issues when I moved in with my now-ex. (Regretting it again and again!) But now, I have space. I have 20 sqm more and enjoy “pointing” my nose at him with a gleeful “Look, I got another tea set! Take that! I can do whatever I want! And if I want to have five tea sets, I will have five tea sets!” (Oh boy, Dr. Freud would have a field day with me!)

I bought the first set last spring, cheery spring design with delicate flowers, fine bone china. The next one was a more old-fashioned (and way more expensive) one with pink peonies from the Miranda Kerr collection. Followed by my advent tea pot. I just had to have a traditional red British tea pot. (And got two separate Christmas mugs with Santa as well!) As a Christmas present to myself – among others – I surprised myself with a set decorated with poppies, including cake and sandwich tray. And now, number five, which is lavender. And it’s the fault of one of my regular interior decorating magazines, where I saw it, googled it and ordered it. All done in a matter of five minutes! My excuse for the expense? My birthday coming up and since no one treats me to anything anyway, I treat myself! And I bloody deserve to spoil myself! There you have it!

I could still kick myself that my sister and I sold the complete Viennese Augarten set my parents had, getting a pitiful amount for the 8000 € worth fine china. We should at least have kept the tea set and the coffee set. Well, now it’s gone and I can’t change it. Sometimes I’m contemplating rebuying at least the tea pot, two dessert plates and two tea cups … maybe I will … but it’s just not the same. And even though our Mum told us to sell it … whenever I think of some of the things my sister and I had to give away due to space issues, I apologise to my parents in my mind that I didn’t keep them. My move-in with my now-ex and all the things I sold, souvenirs my Dad brought back from his travels, like the white-blue woven rug from Pakistan (one for me, one for my sister), the oriental dagger skewers for antipasti, cheese, finger food (why didn’t I keep at least one set?), and so much more … it still makes me incredibly sad to have parted from those items. Never again, that’s the lesson I’ve learned. Never, never again! And so here I am, enjoying my tea pots with the knowledge that I will never let anyone into my life again, who can’t appreciate me and the beauty I surround myself with. And who can see beauty in the most derelict thing …


Or: My culinary birthday weekend! Oh darn! There it was again! My bloody birthday! Not that I don’t like my birthdays – well, most of the time, when I’m not too maudlin. It’s more like the knowledge of adding one more year. One more year closer to retirement (which is not such a bad thing, even though I still have about 20 years to go). One more year closer to … well …

Nothing much has changed since my last birthday, I’m still working from home – which I enjoy very much – and I still haven’t made a shopping trip or a one-day excursion since, well, forever. And frankly, I’m not in the mood yet. I hate wearing those bloody masks and avoid them as much as possible. So, that takes the pleasure out of mostly everything. That’s not my idea of an enjoyable trip to another city to stroll from one shop to another or having a coffee break. I want my normal life back. (Guess, I’m not the only one …) Well, at least I’ve just received my vaccination, so things are slowly improving.

Oops, I guess I have strayed from the topic I wanted to write about: MY birthday. Which I celebrated Sunday one week ago. The same weekday I was born. A Sunday child. How did I spend it? Just like everything else, I had planned it out in detail. And since it so beautifully fell on a weekend, I decided to have a birthday weekend instead of just one measly day. Starting with Saturday and a nice, relaxing breakfast on my balcony. Enjoying the rest of the day the way I basically do every Saturday: some writing, some puttering around, some reading. With the one exception of going out in the evening for high-end burgers at my most hated restaurant – the one with my Austrian emperors misplaced names – with  a friend. (Even though, I would have gone out alone too, if he had cancelled!)

Sunday, I originally had planned to treat myself to an American / British style breakfast including pancakes, fried bacon, baked beans and scrambled eggs. But, well, I decided, it’s too much work on MY birthday. And since, sadly, I don’t have my very own personal cook to spoil me … I just went with cake. Plan No 1 would have been the Ikea Daim cake. But I couldn’t get it, so I had to go with the substitute: Strawberry cheese cake. (And yes, I was also too lazy to bake birthday cake for myself!) Feasting on my cake, enjoying the flowers I got for myself and opening my presents. Which I had already ordered in advance and hidden away in one of my closets just like I did for Christmas. (Sadly, even though I had not planned to … I did go a little over the board once again, just like Christmas! Bad, bad me!)

Even though I had originally planned Cordon bleu with French fries for lunch … I was still in a burger coma from the day before … and just skipped it. It was too hot anyway … and rather spent the day reading outside on the balcony, cooling down with the culinary masterpiece of a banana split. With lots of chocolate sauce, of course.

And to top things off nicely, I watched the first Vienna cabaret DVD, accompanied by a Pina Colada cocktail and nachos with cheese sauce (what a combination!) Guess, the next weeks I’ll better live on salad and grilled chicken … or something similar lean. But … I enjoyed every single minute of my birthday weekend!