Happy Halloween weekend!

Happy Halloween, everyone! Do you have big plans for the weekend? Halloween isn't a big thing here, but we are going to a little pajama party with friends tonight. And rushing to get all our errands run today, since tomorrow is a national holiday and nothing will be open. CM has the whole weekend free(!), so we're looking forward to lots of lounging and maybe a bit of exploring as well.

Some linky goodness for the weekend:

This is me.

Good news for moms.

On the top of my wish list (in bordo).

So beautiful.

Lazy Halloween costume ideas.

Made me laugh.

My new favorite Instagram feed.

This was a big hit.

And in case you missed it on Instagram, here is Lola discovering nature:


Hope your weekend is full of hot chocolate, treats not tricks, and lazy lounging. xoxo LMB

Yes please

Today I finished (oh, and started) Amy Poehler's new book, Yes Please. I adored it. She is sassy and wise, and I defy you to read this book without wanting to become her best friend. A position that has already been taken. By Tina Fey. Sigh.

Here are a few of my favorite parts.

On writing:

"You do it because the doing of it is the thing. The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing. That is what I know. Writing the book is about writing the book."

On career:

"Too often we are told to visualize what we want and cut out pictures of it and repeat it like a mantra over and over again. Books and magazines tell us to create vision boards. Late-night commercials remind us that "anything is possible." Positive affirmations are written on our tea bags. I am introducing a new idea. Try to care less. Practice ambivalence. Learn to let go of wanting it. Treat your career like a bad boyfriend."

On work:

"You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look."

What are you reading? Anything you'd recommend?

My new favorite German word

We discovered this incredible nature program on Austrian Netflix, called Wildes Deutschland (you probably got that, Wild Germany). Each episode explores some beautiful out-of-the-way area of Germany, showing what life is like for the people who live there, as well as the many wildlife varieties. The cinematography is breathtaking, and the narrator enunciates well, so it's a good German exercise for us.

Last night we watched an episode about the Nordfriesland, which is all the way Northwest in Germany, almost in Denmark, on the North Sea coast. One village in the area, Bergenhusen, has become a home for countless storks, who fly there every spring, build nests on the rooftops, and hatch their baby storklings before flying south for the winter. It's considered good luck to have storks choose your roof for their nest (probably helps if it's a thatched roof, see above), and they even have a map showing where storks are currently nesting.

The town is so proud of the storks that they call Bergenhusen the Storchendorf (Stork Village).


Well, since watching that episode I have probably said the word Storchendorf at least a dozen times. I love it so much. Imagine my surprise when I searched a little (I may or may not have fallen down a major internet rabbit hole here...) and found out that Storchendorf is an official title granted to European towns with storks in residence. There are 13 (Bergenhusen isn't actually one of them), and there's one very close to Vienna! I'm sad we won't be here in the spring, because I'm dying to make a pilgrimage to a Storchendorf. And not only so that I have an excuse to say Storchendorf. Really.

STORCHENDORF. Okay, now I'm done.

The Great Hibernation Urge

Seemingly all of a sudden it's cold here. I was wallowing in colorful leaves, and long sleeves, and that crisp fall air, and it crept up on me. We're getting down into the 30s here at night, and because Daylight Savings Time ends a week earlier here than in the States, it's dark before 5 o'clock.

This is not me complaining. It is, however, me fighting a losing battle with the Great Hibernation Urge, that which roots me to the couch and ensconces me in blankets and gifts me with snuggly kitties keeping close for warmth. CM was gone for the weekend, and I whiled away the hours cooking chicken noodle soup and this incredible roasted applesauce which I cannot recommend highly enough, reading this fascinating book, and Netflixing endless Gilmore Girls episodes. I visited friends while wearing yoga pants (this is not normal here, FYI), essentially just transferring from our couch to theirs for the evening.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon, I dragged myself out to wander through the gardens at Schönbrunn, and the Great Urge was vanquished, at least for an hour or so, as I remembered how gorgeous this city is, and how very lucky we are to be here.

The Gloriette, from my Instagram feed

A good Monday reminder

From Adulting. Obviously I have already ignored this advice today.

Vicarious living

© Erin Snell/Thrillist

Is there anything better than watching the people you love finding success? It's definitely one of the perks of coming into your (ahem, MID-) thirties—everyone's finding their thing, that thing they can be experts in, and they've paid their dues and put in the work, and now they're really doing it. It's pretty great when the world starts noticing what you knew all along: your friends are amazing.

Take my friend Snellybean, for example. A couple years ago she moved to Salzburg without a totally concrete plan of what she would do there, because she's brave, and also she is good at lots of things. She's built a full life in the 'burg (seriously, everywhere we went together while I was visiting she ran into half a dozen people she knew), and she recently took on a new business: travel writing! She recently had an article published by Thrillist, and I just had to share it with you.

She spent a weekend shadowing a team of waitresses in the Hofbräu tent at Oktoberfest in Munich. She took all the photos and video herself, sang on the stage of the tent (like you do), and even managed to learn how to carry TEN liters of beer at once. And, I should add, the whole thing was completely her idea to do it, and when she pitched it to Thrillist it was immediately accepted. So cool. She shared a few of her photos with me.

© Erin Snell/Thrillist

© Erin Snell/Thrillist

© Erin Snell/Thrillist

© Erin Snell/Thrillist

Do reading the article and seeing the pictures make you want to go to Oktoberfest? I have to admit, even though it's on the Bossy List, hearing all about it made me wonder whether I would actually enjoy myself. Being a person who doesn't like crowds, or super drunk people, or crowds of super drunk people, potentially looking at pictures is the closest I should come? What do you think?

© Erin Snell/Thrillist

Big thanks to the lovely Snellybean!

Happy birthday weekend!

Friends, do you have big plans for the weekend? It's been a full week over here (which is why it's been a light blogging week). I'm looking forward to a lovely relaxing weekend of hanging out with CM, eating lots of yummy things, and (of course) a little Sunday excursion. Plus, tomorrow's my birthday! CM is taking me out for a special date. I'm crossing my fingers that it includes a showing of Gone Girl, hint, hint.

Some links from the week:

Two things I did to chickens this week. You really can't go wrong if you start with a whole chicken, can you?

Google street view camel. Come on.

The magazine I'm into right now, even though I'm preeeeetty sure its core demographic is post-menopausal (there are an awful lot of ads for anti-aging creams).

One of my favorite authors has a NY Times Magazine column now!

The product I swear by for a little glow.

My favorite weather app (thanks, Papa Bossy).

The show we've been catching up on.

150 wines for $15 or less.

Jennifer Garner is awesome.

Dying to do a project using this.

My favorite shot of the week (not of cats, if you can believe it):

from my Instagram feed

Hope your weekend is full of autumn leaves, flushed cheeks, and celebrations. See you back here Monday. xoxo LMB

Why our marriage is better in Europe

The weather's turning colder, have I mentioned? We've turned the heat on in the apartment and broken out all our sweaters. Also, it's now definitely comforter (duvet, if you like to be fancy) weather, which has reminded me of an amazing, marriage-saving element of living over here: separate comforters.

from the swanky 25Hours Hotel in Vienna

Why share a comforter when you can have your very own? Why bother with hospital corners when making the bed can be as easy as folding two comforters in half and plumping the pillows? If you're always cold but he's always hot, if either one of you is a covers hog or a covers thrower off, if his stabby toenails are always grazing your leg, if she insists on putting her ice cold feet on you to "warm" them, if you are not a snuggly sleeper and prefer to pretend you're alone in bed, there is but one solution, and the Northern Europeans figured it out a long time ago.

Not convinced? Try it for one week, and you just might become a convert.

First day of (online cooking) school

We've been trying to eat at home more since we got here, so I was excited to see that The Kitchn (one of my favorite online recipe resources) was launching a free online cooking course this month! It started today with a refresher on knife skills. CameraMan gave me a knife skills class at Sur La Table as a Christmas gift a couple years ago, and it was incredible how much I learned in just a few short hours. The biggest surprise for me was actually how to hold the knife, with your index finger touching the blade. I'm feeling smug today that I actually already knew what was being taught, and I'm looking forward to what's coming next.

Care to join me? The Kitchn will send you an email every weekday for the rest of the month with a new lesson and your choice of homework assignments. I can't wait to learn some new tricks!

Happy weekend!

My dears, did you have a good week? We saw friends, ran a very cool 5K, and I got to see the final dress rehearsal of the new Idomeneo at the Staatsoper. Tomorrow night we're going to the Lange Nacht der Museen (Long Night of Museums), an event all over Austria where you buy one ticket and can get into any museum from 6pm to 1am! CM went four years ago, and he said it's a great way to get to know smaller museums that you might not otherwise visit. If the weather's nice on Sunday we'll be tromping around again, and if not we'll just be snuggling up at home braising meat. What do you have planned?

A few links in the meantime:

The book I devoured this week. Even better than I imagined.

The video that had us DYING each of the eleven times we watched it.

The science I can get behind.

The article making me super proud of my awesome friends (there might be one of these every week, as it turns out).

The show I will be watching all weekend if it rains (all 154 episodes are on Netflix as of this week!).

The recipe that is just as good as I remembered.

The brilliant way I'm reading magazines overseas.

The magic that's keeping my skin from drying out as the weather changes.

The best place for fall jackets.

Also, I made pretzels from scratch yesterday, and I'm very proud.

from my Instagram feed

Here's hoping your weekend is full of successful kitchen experiments, carb consumption without guilt, and adventure! xoxo LMB

Cat update (you were too polite to ask)

We have brought our cats with us to Europe for four months. Because we are crazy people. Because two transatlantic trips with a cat were not enough for one lifetime—we needed to add two more, this time with TWO cats, just to keep things interesting. Because I have repressed most details of the first time around. (Although I do have a hazy memory of walking the mewling Bossy Cat (in her carrier) up and down the plane aisle like I'd seen mothers of fussy babies do. Possibly that was a dream?)

You may remember the Bossy Kitten from such posts as this and this (#tbt). Man, was she adorable. And still is…in her way. But also very bad. She bites with what feels like increasingly sharp teeth, she swipes at us as we walk by, we have to cover her claws so she doesn't destroy the furniture (we figured this out too late for our own stuff, but just in time for subletting, yay), she hisses at children. Also, on a road trip this summer, and I can tell you this now because we already sold our car no questions asked to a Kia dealership, she emptied her apparently very full bladder in the way back, staring panicked into my eyes as I screamed for her to stop. That was a rough day. We have grown fond of referring to the cats as The Fat One and The Bad One. My mother tells me this is not good parenting.

One thing that helps on the plane: sedatives. For the cats, too, haha. We have now mastered the art of scruffing the cats and shoving a pill down their throats. Although one thing I don't recommend, if the pill wears off and the kitten starts crying, is teaming up with your husband to take her into the tiny airplane bathroom together, letting her out of her carrier, and trying to do the whole scruff/pill shove maneuver a second time in there. Also I don't recommend flying with your cats to Europe via Istanbul, where your second flight will probably be delayed, and which is technically not even on the way to where you're going, although it is on the way to everywhere when you fly Turkish Airlines, which is the airline where they give you Turkish delight almost the minute you come on board.

After we got through the TWENTY TWO HOURS of travel time to get here, it took the cats a while to settle into their new life in Vienna. We had to try a few different kinds of food before we found one they liked, we got them a toy that has become their obsession, we invested in this magical substance, and after about ten days all was back to normal.

But in the past week, The Bad One has transformed into a whole new cat. A BED cat. In Houston she used to sometimes sleep on CM in the mornings, but now she's in bed through the entire night, often curled up on or against CM (someone's a daddy's girl...). If I sit in bed during the day (it's the warmest place in our chilly apartment—CM calls it my "office") she sits in CM's spot and falls asleep. I've taken to sending picture messages to him at work practically every day: "Look who won't stay out of bed!" "Somebody's a sleepy bed cat...." etc. I don't know if it's because she's rarely been cold in her life (Texas girl) or whether she's just enjoying being where we are, but it is the cutest thing that has ever happened since this. Sometimes we're both in bed with a cat on each of our respective chests, and we just look at each other and laugh and say THIS.

Because we are crazy.

Here is a grainy shot of the Bossy Kitten sleeping in the crook of my knees. Couldn't you just die?

On snail mail

Our mail situation is a little bizarre at the moment. We are the proud holders of not one, but TWO post office boxes, one in Houston and one in NYC. We officially forwarded our mail to the Houston box, and a lovely generous friend of ours is checking it every week and emailing us pictures of anything that looks like it might be important. It's pretty much all bills and junk. Meanwhile, in Vienna we're mostly getting mail for other people. Sometimes it's unsettling to be a homeless nomad.

Have you guys heard of Postcrossing, a service for sending and receiving postcards from all over the world?  The concept is so cool. You register for free, and you're given the name and address of another user at random. You send a postcard to that person, writing whatever you'd like on the back, and when they receive it they register it on the site. As soon as your postcard gets registered, your address goes on the list to be given to someone else, and you start receiving postcards from other users. What an awesome way to get real mail and connect with people! Would you try it? I've just registered and will send my first postcard this week. Wishing I had all our leftover vintage Vienna postcards.

And speaking of postcards, I adore these photos by Michael Hughes. He started out photographing postcards in front of the sights they showed, and then he moved on to using cheap souvenirs from those places. So creative!


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