Monday, January 31, 2011

A Modern Milly...


Now that word has spread about our impending return to DC this summer, the most common question that we get asked is will we return to our place in DC, or try something new...or - gasp! - move to suburbia.  Well...I don't see suburbia on the horizon just yet...but we're still on the fence whether to return to our place, a new-build condo, that despite it's spaciousness, we foolishly thought we would "grow into" with two bedrooms.  HA! We've outgrown it already, but love it nonetheless.  The big upside is that it's already been laboriously furnished by yours truly, so we would just have to pack our bags and begin living day one. 

But part of us is tempted to try something new - perhaps a new neighborhood like Capitol Hill or Georgetown, perhaps a stand-alone house? One one hand, there is the allure of a yard for diplo-baby, on the other hand, let's be honest and admit that neither diplo-husband nor I are qualified to do any kind of yard work, so perhaps a nice city park would be a better fit for the sanity of everyone involved.

In any case, as we continue with our fence-time, I always have one eye open for future design insipirations.  Below are some pics from the Elle Decor spread on Michelle Smith's apartment, which is, it should be noted also only two bedrooms despite a Milly-baby in tow.  Milly designed perhaps one of my favorite dresses that I've ever owned, which continues to give me good diplo-wear, and her living space is very much in the same vein.  Wouldn't it be fun to decorate all over again?








Apartment Photography by Elle Decor.

Friday, January 28, 2011

We are ladies and gentlemen...


In my non-diplo company, we care a lot about service.  Clients come first.  We have a whole orientation session on it when we begin at the firm, and then periodic reminders, and as the company grows, expands, and is no longer populated by the pioneer corps (the people that were there way back when), we grow a bit farther away from it but the spirit is still there.  In fact, during these sessions our fearless leaders talk about how envious we are that we didn't coin the phrase, "We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen" which is - or at least, was - the Ritz Carlton's internal motto. 

I adore the motto, I always have, and wonder why more hotels and establishments don't simply shamelessly use it anyway.  I think it embodies the way guests should be treated - meeting their needs with confidence and respect.  Not with disgruntlement, not with subservience, not with indifference, not faux concern.  There are few properties that apply this consistently, but the ones that do always leave a mark.  Which is why I'll always talk about the phenomenal time we had with And Beyond on safari.  And which is why we'll never forget our stay at Schloss Velden here in Austria.

Two weekends ago, we braved our first getaway with diplo-baby in tow, thinking it was high time we bite the bullet.  If we didn't get out then, we might never get out again! I confess, I have been (and probably still am) one of those people that develops a bit of an allergic tic if I'm poised for a getaway and see small children on the premises.  Now I became one of those people with the small child in tow, complete with stroller and a trunk full of diapers in the car.  I would run away fast if I saw me coming.  But the staff at Velden didn't even blink an eye, treating us with nothing but respect ,and even greeting DB with a stuffed bear in the lobby.

The true mark of service is to anticipate a need before the client actually has it.  Case in point: Not wanting to disrupt the fine paying patrons of Velden's two-star Michelin restaurant, we chose their more casual Seespitz restaurant.  Less formal, sure, but no less quality.  The steak for two is excellent.  How do I know? Because we actually got to eat it.  A few minutes into our main course, DB started to make her presence known with the usual evening cries.  As my husband was getting up to wheel her around in the stroller to calm her down, our waiter actually came up to him, took the stroller and said "No, let me...You came for dinner, please enjoy your meal".  And just like that, he wheeled her off around the restaurant and brought her back some minutes later, sound asleep, while we were able to actually eat in peace.  As new parents, this is something we'll never forget.  That's the mark of ladies and gentlemen.









All photography by The New Diplomat's Wife.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Diggin' Diglas...


After diplo-baby and I attended the Tiroler Mass on Sunday, we headed out to lunch - being ladies who lunch of course.  This was more so an attempt for me to convince myself that I can still be out on the town to as a mom flying solo, and it was important for me to show myself that I could still be out and about without having a major meltown.

Given that we're entering our last phase of time here in Vienna, we've been branching out more, trying places that we've always meant to go.  I first did a fly-by of Cafe Pruckl but no dice, it's still a smoking establishment and has the feel of a 1960's airline lounge.  Retro hip, sure- lung friendly for baby, not so much.  So on to Cafe Diglas.  The guidebook reported that everything is served with a mound of whipped cream, and after a quick survey of the place, I can confirm.  Either desserts are served with a mountain of whipped cream on the side, or they already contain a mountain of whipped cream in the dessert, or both.  But first I started out with a cordon bleu and salad, then a banana chocolate cream torte with a melange.  Diplo-baby opted for a bottle of milk.  She's a creature of habit.

There's a very retro feel to Diglas as well - red velour banquettes, and red leather chairs, lacquered wood paneling on the walls, and clocks on the walls with numbers in fonts that would make the Mad Men cast hang here.  I like it - made me wish I was wearing heels and a pencil skirt.

Even though I was a bit intimidated when I came in, stroller in tow - Austrians aren't exactly accomodating right off the bat, by the end of lunch, DB won over the waiters with her long, batting eyelashes and sherpa suit, and when we were leaving, they were basically shoving people out of the way so that we could get through, and even carried DB in her ride down the stairs.  How's that for service? We'll be back - note to self, wear something washable and wash immediately as there is a lingering scent of schnitzel that will follow you home. 

Cafe Diglas
Wollzeile 10
1010 Vienna, Austria
01 51257650








Photography by The New Diplomat's Wife.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ricola!


Diplo-baby and I were out on the town on Sunday, soaking in some Vienna sights.  We were off to the Cathedral for Mass and had the good fortune to stumble upon the "Tiroler Mass", which they celebrate the day after their ball.  As luck would have it, I also stumbled upon it last year and regretted that I didn't have my camera to capture some of the remarkable costumes.  Especially head-gear.  I myself love a good dirndl, but the Tirolers take it to a whole other level. 

This year I had my camera in tow - here are a few shots of our fellow Austrians from the mountains.  I especially love the otherwise disgruntled, alternative youths, complete with piecings and weird colored hair patches, living it up in traditional attire.

The Tiroler weekend is usually the third in January, if you're a resident in Vienna, I highly recommend attending their mass.  Not only are the national costumes unlike anything you've seen, the choir and band (with TWELVE tubas no less) perform gorgeously.  Alas, no one said anything about Ricola.















Photography by The New Diplomat's Wife.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Go West..Again...


This past Saturday the three of us took a little field trip, revisiting one of our favorite destinations from the summer, Mole West on Lake Neusiedl.  Now, I really wanted to go out there because I had heard that this shallow lake freezes solid in the winter time and that it's chock-full of ice skaters.  Personally, I'm not so sure ice-skating on open water sources is a great idea - seems like a recipe for a really cold bath if you ask me.  But, I'm not opposed to watching others do it, and if you throw in a toasty burger and apricot pancakes that I can eat while watching, it sounds like a good afternoon.

Speaking of the burger, for the record, the burger at Mole West is still pretty damn good, despite its ludicrous price tag of 18.30 euros.  However, I am pleased to report that they have upped the quantity of previously four "wedges potato" to now serving seven wedges potato, making this a much bigger bang for your buck.  The best burger in Vienna, for those on the red meat prowl, is at Motto Am Fluss, yummy from the grill and much more reasonably priced at 10 euros, and you still get the water view.

But I digress...I'm sad to report there were no figure skaters this weekend, which was a good thing as there were some rather obvious open water patches in the ice.  That didn't stop the winterized windsurfers though, and several were out in full spandex regalia.  As the temperature was barely above 20 degrees celcius, with a North Dakota-worthy wind chill, I thought they might benefit from wearing a bit more.  But what do I know? I was sitting inside eating burgers.  And apricot pancakes.

Here are a few pics of our steppe-tundra sunset - definitely worth a winter visit. Especially if you're homesick for North Dakota.











Photography by The New Diplomat's Wife.