Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Minimalism isn't empty.

If you had come into our home before we moved, you would not believe I am trying to minimize and rationalize consume. And even if you come into our home now, you wouldn't think "minimalism" first thing when you saw it. you would probably think "family home"with two children. :)

With the move and my intense wish to simplify things, I had the chance to really get things right this time (or at least try to). I sorted to every box, every wardrobe, the entire attic, absolutely everything. Because I had to. Probably if I didn't have to, I wouldn't have done it so thoroughly. In the end about 50% of the content of the attic went out - charity or rubbish. I feel really bad about that in a way, it is such a waste of material and ressources. But that's the way it is and i can't keep it, only because I am ashamed to admit that I don't want to have all those things. And I do hope that in the charity shop they will find a new happy owner.

Of course my natural minimalist was helping a lot. Sometimes he would just look at me when I had one of those "brillant" ideas (=stuff) and sometimes he would say "don't worry, you can keep things that are superfluous, as long as they make you happy, don't be so hard on yourself". He even suggested buying shoes (my achilles' heel, pun not intentional, but bad anyway) while I was on my Make and Mend Challenge. [I have shoes. I have lots of shoes. But that's a different topic.]

Our new home doesn't look empty. We also didn't try to make it look empty. :) But we wanted it to be simple. Practical. Easy. Where everything has its place. Which did work out. So at least for a fraction of a second our place looks exactly the way we would like it.

One of my biggest problems in the past was to designate items their own space. Possibly because I owned too much. I was a specialist in "creating space", hanging stuff from walls and the ceiling, stacking them up in piles and piles on top of piles... 

In reality of course with the kids it's a hullabaloo sometimes a lot of the times, but at least when everything has its place, we can get on top of it theoretically. 

  • We tried to make sure that everything has it's place and can be stored "away" behind doors.
  • No open storage, because it collects dust. 
  • Storage on surfaces not allowed (e.g. in the kitchen). 
  • Also planned "stuff" is not allowed. Like decoration nobody looks at and that only collects dust.  We do have a little bit decoration (and pictures on the wall), but not much. And the items mean something to us. 
  • The floor must be kept empty. No edges or weird stuff standing around. It has to be super easy to clean. 
  • We only want things in the flat we like and use.
Minimalism for me is about moderation, about the Middle Way. It's about being aware of consumerism and about living simply without chastising myself (and ourselves). We still own quite a few "nice" items, that we don't use daily but that I don't want to get rid of even though it is not exactly rational (e.g. we have a rice cooker... it can cook rice for about 10 people... in the last 3 years we've used it twice...).

Minimalism doesn't mean you are only "allowed" to own 30, 50 or 100 things, unless that is your personal challenge.You have to find your own way. You have to find out what you need in your life. You have to get to know yourself.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

OP Haube nähen - Pattern for Scrub Cap

Found this on

Hei everyone,

today I am sharing my slightly experimentasl pattern for a scrub cap (in German that's "OP Haube") with you.
I apologize for the "far from perfect" pattern, but I wanted to get it on the blog ASAP because it's been lying around here for so long and I didn't manage to publish it.

Scrub Pattern OP Haube.pdf

Print it on A4 paper (2 pages) and cut it out.

You also have to add seam allowances on all sides when cutting the fabric. I strongly recommend making a mock up, to see, whether it fits your head (I think it fits up to 56cm head circumference).

The long straight side of the headband is the bottom. You might have to add 2cm at the slimmer end (that's the center back). And don't forget to cut the center front line on the fold. Otherwise you will have a seamline right down your forehead (unless you want that as a special feature...).
If you need a longer headband, just extend it at the back.  You can also make it higher, if you like, just extend it at the bottom.

The top piece is also cut with seams allowances. The back (that's the thin side) will have to be gathered  or pleated so it fits you headband. If you've extended the head band, don't forget to enlarge the top piece slightly. (just draw it a bit wider at that slim end)

To make the whole thing fit snuggly, I have zig-zagged a slightly streteched 5mm wide elastic ribbon (about 7-10cms in length) in the center back inside.
Or you can attach ties to the outside and make a cute little bow.

Fabric recommendation: Cotton, washable at 60 degrees. Prewash at that temperature, otherwise it will shrink and not fit afterwards. And that would be SUCH a shame!

I will add a picture of it as soon as I can manage to have one taken. :)

If you have any questions, just ask! :)

Even Wikipedia has an article on Scrub caps (amazing... )

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Design and Consumerism

If you are interested in Design (in an academical way), this article might be interesting for you. The language reminded me a bit of Thomas Mann's "Die Buddenbrooks", it's quite high-brow and seems abit lenghty at times, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. :)

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

A pledge for tolerance and freedom

Many of you have probably heard about the terrible attack in Berlin of yesterday. Many have been killed, more have been injured and the whole of Germany is shaken.

We don't know yet who commited this crime, and we don't know why.

My pledge to everyone is:

Whatever happens, stick to facts, don't believe in usurpers that try to play with your emotions and the truth to gain power.

Stay tolerant. Preserve freedom.

Freedom is risk but total security is total control and the loss of freedom.

Listen to the people that have more knowlegde than you. Not the ones that only tell you what you want to hear.

Accept uncomfortable facts.

Address fears. Don't hide them. They will grow stronger and have hold of you.
Fear is not a good advisor. 

Learn from history and don't let it repeat itself.

Read. 1984. Fahrenheit 451. Brave New World. 

Reject violence as a solution. Violence and hatred only seed more violence and hatred. 

My heart is with those in fear, in pain, in hunger, in grief, in despair. In Berlin, in Aleppo and in all other places on the earth where darkness has come over them.

Missa brevis C Dur Leopold Mozart: 

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Minimalism and Overconsumption

I was looking at a pile of rubbish and "things" I had sorted out the other day and it made me think about Minimalism and its audience. 

People that are drawn to Minimalism have most likely suffered from overconsumption and realized, this isn't the way. And some will have gone into debt because of it. Which means not only have they consumed more that they needed, but also more than they could afford which makes it even more important to stop and reconsider. And save. Because if you are in debt, you are a slave to your creditors. Debts are never good. Try to get rid of them as quickly as possible. There is no "good" debt. 

If you had to go into debt to buy what you desired, it is very clear that you were overconsuming. But most of us probably consume just within our financial limits, but still overconsume.  Which means, we have too much money on our hands and don't do anything sensible with it. That's a bitter truth. 

But the question is - why do we overconsume?

I highly recommend reading this excellent article about why we sacrifice our time to making money, instead of spending it on more worthwile things. It is a must read (and very enjoyable, too!)

The article quotes Professor Juliet Schor, Sociology Department of Boston College.

I found particularly interesting, that the media play such a big role in making us believe what we need to aspire for. It reminds me of the article of Sharon Beder, on the history of consumerism.

The remarkable thing is, that we have been all manipulated for decades, if not for more than a century now. We have been educated to be consumers and overconsumers, who sacrifice their free time to work to obtain money, which we then spend. This behaviour traps us in a vicious circle of wanting more and more, spending more and more and working more and more. This behaviour enlaves us, until we decide to step of the spinning wheel and remember, there are more things to life that owning glitzy things.

Funny enough the media incessantly show us what we should own, what is aspireable. And I am just asking... who owns the media?

(this graphic is relatively old and only concerns the US, some things have changed, BUT don't worry, it's still sort of the same, and it is the same everywhere).

We are surrounded (or surround ourselves rather!) by TV an awful lot, and magazines, newspapers etc. They create a "reality" for us, that makes us believe, what is "normal", what "everybody does". And being owned by only few companies, that means we can be manipulated easily. I think we have to face the truth, that for years and years we have been bred and brainwashed to be the perfect consumer.

So, let's stop consuming just for its own sake and go out and do something worthwhile!


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Minimalism is just another word for....

I don't really like the word Minimalism (apart from that I think it looks quite nice as a word itself). I don't really consider myself a Minimalist either. It doesn't really describe what I am doing. Or does it?

I was thinking about what it is, that I am actually doing. I am trying to be "rational" when it comes to purchases and ways of life. Unfortunately the term Rationalism has already been taken. I am trying to "economise" to balance finances reasonably. Which doesn't make me an "Economist". I am trying to apply "common sense" - would that make me a common senser? ;) I am striving for a way of "Simple living". But is my life really simple? Am I living in a simple way? I doubt that. I don't want to be part of the Consumerist World. Am I an Anti-Consumerist? No, not really.

I am trying to be satisfied with what I have rather than concentrating on what I want. Contentment.

I will continue to use the word Minimalism. Because it reminds me, with how little earthly possessions we can live and what other qualities count in life.

Maybe it is best decribed as WIP. :)

Saturday, 3 December 2016

6 Months "Make and Mend Challenge"

This is not me, but I can sort of relate, when I rummage through our attic...

So, I'm 6 Months down the Make and Mend Challenge. I've been quite alright so far, only a few temptations and I resisted ok. Part of why that worked so well is because my wardrobe is so well stacked from years before of uninhibited shopping tours. And that's nothing to be proud of really.

Has something changed so far? Yes. Quite a lot. We have saved money. I should have stopped consuming for its own sake ages ago. :) Actually sometimes I looked at items and thought "this is so poor quality, I don't want it anymore, and I can't give this to charity, it's to shabby - WHY did I get this in the first place?!" and then "I could have just taken my money and put it in the bin straight away". Very annoying.

The general "Make and Mend" theme influenced our household in a way, that I didn't anticipate. Although I stated in the beginning (and I still stick to that) that the rest of the family is not active part of my 365 days consume-abstinence, it did have an influence on the family. I didn't just do "pleasure shopping" for the children, either. What they get is what they need and sometimes a little extra. Which then stands out. Sometimes that "extra" is self-made, sometimes store-bought. I choose clothes (for the whole family) far more carefully now.  I see the quality of a garment clearer and I am more willing to pay its price for it.
I also am a lot less impulsive with purchases (because even if this jacket is sold out, there will be another one that is as good, no worries). Sales and special offers don't get to me any more. In fact, bargains make me suspicious. :)

I now clearly determine whether I need something or not and then set a budget. Then I try to find the best cost/performance ratio. I even make lists of things that I think we might need. And then I sleep over it. And sleep over it again. And then usually take stuff off that list again.

Sometimes it's little things, e.g. a new perfume bottle. I love the perfume I am using at the moment. But by coincidence I found one, that smells like one that I had when I was 18 years old (just a little more grown up, it's not the same perfume after all) and as I promised to myself, that I can't buy it unless the other one is empty, I am using the other one more frequently (and love the scent) AND am looking forward to getting the new one after that. I have learnt to wait for things, e.g. save up for something that I really like instead of getting something similar or second-best immediately. 

So, that's 6 months gone and 6 months to go! Yay! :)

And here is some cookie monster wisdom "Good things come to those who wait" ::)

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

I am not vegetarian. But I like vegetables.

As a German I think I grew up thinking that meat dishes should be part of my diet several times a week, if not daily. I never once questioned my conviction until I was a mother of 2 little girls and we were on our parental time challenge

We started rethinking our cooking entirely because we wanted to save money but at the same time provide healthy food for our children (and ourselves...). We looked into lots of cookbooks and recipes, read about nutrition and obviously checked all that against our budget. So what happened was, that we ate more and more vegetarian dishes, because it was cheaper. My natural minimalist sort of told me all of the time that he had told me all of the time that it was much better to go more vegetarian for various other reasons anyway (having been vegetarian and even co-vegan for some time of his life before he was enticed to move to meat-loving Germany). 
As the cooking is mostly done by him, we took a big turn and our routine since our parental time is, that we have meat or fish once a week (I am talking about the "grown up" diet here) and the rest of the week vegetarian dishes. And I LOVE it.  

We have italian inspired dishes, "veggie  bolognese" (tomato+red lentil sauce, in fact one of our all time favourites) and more mediterranean cuisine, oriental cuisine and use recipes for indian curries or dishes from other asian countries. In fact I think our meal plan has become a lot more exciting since we started to concentrate a bit more on veggies recipes. 

So, what are the advantages? I obviously like to eat meat and fish and have no intention of going full-time vegetarian. But eating more vegetable also has an influence that can stretch beyond just eating differently. 

1. If you eat less meat, you can choose the meat you DO eat more carefully - e.g. from  local butchers/farmers and not from the supermarket discounter with meat from industrial livestock farming (I am not discussing this here, but obviously if less people buy meat from mass production farms there will be less of that). Also by reducing the amount of meat generally means, that you reduce your personal carbon footprint. 

2.  You can get vegetable/fruit from the region when it is in season and support your local producers. Also good for carbon footprint. Or if you have a garden, you can grow your own vegetable! And if it is only a tiny little bit. :)

3. You will get to know a LOT of new recipes if you start making your own veggie dishes from scratch and that means you might cut down on processed food, which is really not healthy. We know that. ;)

4. You will probably eat more vitamins. :) 

5. It is cheaper. At least in my experience.

6. It is much nice to cut a piece of pumpkin than to dice a chicken fillet (again, that is my personal opinion...)

Last but not least, I've found a picture of the food pyramid for you, that I think is good. I know, it's in German, but I am sure everybody can read pictures. :) What I also really like about is that it includes drinks and sports(!).

If you think just water or tea is a bit boring, try some of these alternatives to water:

(If you live in a country where water that comes from the tab has drinking quality, then you can also jsut drink tab water or get a little fizzy water maker, to get bubbles, instead of buying bottled water!)

You can go to your local bookshop and enquire about books on veggie dishes that might suit you. 
As a family of 4 we don't really have the time to spend hours and hours in the kitchen. But others do and love it. Try it out!

I don't really like pictures of mass food production, but these are remarkable, esthetic in a weird way and give food for thought. A lot.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Have you been Outdoors today?

Today, I just would like to share this post about spending time outdoors.
I have absolutely nothing to add. :)


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Saving electricity for freedom!

Saving money makes you free.

By saving money you free yourself from debts, from pressures, from owing sombody something.

And also you care for the environment and resources and make this planet a better place to live.

One biggy is electricity.

To save energy you can try and do the following things (and of course search the internet for more information)

  • Replace regular light bulbs with LED or special energy saving light bulbs, use the right light bulbs for the right purpose (do they have to stay on long or just quickly be turned on and off?)
  • Only switch on the  light when and where you need it (e.g. why have the bathroom light on when you are in the garden?)
  • Check which electrical appliances really have to be switched on/on standby the entire day and maybe attach some to a master/slave switch
  • invest into energy saving electrical appliances (washing machine, dishwasher,...) and assess, whether you really need all of those electrical appliances. 

 Make a difference! Be free!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Moving house!

Today we are moving house! Yes! So instead of a  big long blogpost I am giving you a simple link. :) It's a small article on "becoming minimalist" and it is just a small piece of inspiration. :)

So long!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Kira the kangaroo - Lalylala patterns

She's been carrying around the baby all night... that's why she looks tired!

 Just in time I've finished the Kira Kangaroo with baby Crochet Pattern by lalylala - a dear friend of mine had her first baby and I made a few bodies, shirts and a patchwork blanket for the little one (totally got carried away...! and of course didn't take a single picture of the things...), and then I saw the Kira pattern and though i MUST make this for her. It's so irresistably cute! :)

But you just have to cuddle them all of the time, because they are SO cute, no matter how tired you are! ;)
The pattern is really well described, good pictures, it was easy to follow the instructions. I am a real beginner with crocheting and the technique of making the "belly bag" for the baby and the ears in this bubbly pattern was really difficult... it was all about just the right tension of the thread - but after about 5 ears that didn't quite look right it suddenly worked... (the instructions are fine, it was me...)

slight counting issues on the tail... nothing to worry about though, who needs balance when they've got a baby?!

No trace of ear issues any more...

It was so fun to make this pattern and I am really pleased with the outcome. It's  a clear recommendation! (I think her pattern might me addictive additive!)

Check out her patterns on her Hompage :

Total: 20 Euros
Pattern about 5-6Euros
Wool: had to get all of the wool apart from the scarf material. About 14 Euros all in all. But I've got plenty left... Maybe I could make another Kira? Or anoher Bina? 

Things learnt: Sort of lacy, bubbly pattern. Counting. Reading a crochet chart.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

If - Rudyard Kipling

Today I would like to share with you a poem by Rudyard Kipling. The page below also has it as an audible version, very well read and also some information on Kiplings interesting biography.



Wednesday, 26 October 2016

South Korea Suicide Watch

Today I would like to share with you a video on the South Korean Suicide Watch. 

Since the Korean War South Korea has develloped rapidly economically. Society changed drastically. 
This is one side effect.

!Take care of yourself!

Monday, 24 October 2016

Dirk/Eugene the Dragon - Lalylala Crochet Pattern

New family member: Eugene Dragon. He's totally not liking having his picture taken.

I've made another Lalylala Pattern, this time it is Dirk the Dragon. Only he's called Eugene in our house. :)

The pattern is really good, good detailed descriptions, photographs and all. They are available in several languages (check out her homepage, I've used the German one.

I had slight trouble finding the yarn she recommended, so I ended up using a completely different one  (6ply instead of 4 ply) and also a lot darker, but I like him anyway, even though he is a lot bigger than planned. Also I didn't attach the hood "deep" enough in the face, but I DO like that little fellow anyway. He has a certain look about him that reminds me of my children...

For the scarf I used a big "Strickliesl" (= knitting jenny), which was good fun, loved making endless strings as a child... :)

The pattern is a CLEAR recommendation.

(Just in case you wondered why I am crocheting so much and not sewing much at the moment: In preparation of the move I had to box my sewing stuff, crocheting is a great alternative because you can store the things you need in a tiny box. I also start to enjoy the madness of crocheting (one needle and you twist and sling and pull that thread back and forth and you crochet in spirals and back and forth and up and down and all directions,... whoever invented crocheting techniques must have been so creative!)

Cost: Pattern about 6 Euros (available on several platforms, check her homepage for more details), 3  green balls of wool 6-ply tweed (12 Euros), white cotton 1 ball (2 Euros), 1 red speckled yarn I still had in my stash. Total: 20 Euros

Things learnt:
Halbes Stäbchen, Doppeltes Stäbchen, 3 fach Stäbchen, Mäusezähnchen (no idea what those are in English...)

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Shopping is NOT a hobby

Boxing day at Selfridge's.

This might sound weird, but if I look around myself, listen to the TV, the radio, look at people in town - it must be considered one. I've even googled it, and there is evidence - there are a lot of people out there that consider shopping a leisure activity. And it isn't. No. Really not.

Let me be very open with you: How empty must your life be, if you consider shopping a hobby?  -

Don't get offended - I was there once. I spend hours walking through "all" the shops in town and looking at the windows. And I didn't only spend time there. Hindsight is a marvellous thing, I consider all those hours a waste of time now, but then again that's how it turned out.

There are a lot of articles on this topic online, so I recommend a few to you here.
If you are at loss about what to do with that time that you would have usually spend shopping, why not have a look at my post about "pleasant activities"?

If you have problems with saying "no" to shopping but want to quit, I have these suggestions for you:

 - Stay away from town and do something from the "pleasant activities list".
 - Stay away from your computer. Just don't go on your "usual" shopping pages. You don't need it.
 - Only go shopping with a list and stick to that list.
 - Transfer all spare money to a savings account. Don't carry a card for that account with you.
 - Don't use the credit card. Leave it at home if you can't control pulling it out.
 - Start using cash if you are generally more of a card user. If the money's gone the money's gone. And that's that.
 - Be disciplined. You are worth so much more than that T-Shirt. Especially if you don't buy it.

If you want to know, what hobbies are, here's the link to the wikipedia definition, that can also serve as inspiration! 

And to close the circle to the above image, THIS is what you stretch out your hands for desperately. Food.

The behaviour of oversatisfied consumers in the western world seems obscene to me sometimes. A lot, actually.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Princess Leia - Amour fou crochet

Due to the fact that I have to pack all my sewing stuff (because of "the move") and still want to do something I have been looking into crocheting again. I stumbled across this lady from Buenos Aires, Argentina who is designing great stuff. 

I've made 2 Leias already (the first looks a bit different because I did something wrong with my single crochet). And somehow I am very tempted to make another, third one. 
She is standing all by herself but somehow the arm ended up casually leaning on my sewing machine.
The pattern is brilliant, very good descriptions and instructions and available in several languages.
Highly recommended!

(She's got other real characters, too!)
I don't usually link shops, but here's the etsy shop 

Things learnt: crocheting onto an figure, Noppenmasche for the Nose
Cost: Pattern about 5 Euros, Material: about 10 Euros (I made 2 Leias from it though)

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Go for "Pleasant activities"!

So, today I have something for you that will keep you from shopping. :)

It's a pleasant activities list I've made up and you can download the pdf and use it, if you wish.

Pleasant activities list

What's that about?
The list of pleasant activities comes originally from behavioural therapy to treat e.g. depression. But you don't have to suffer from depression or any other psychiatric disorder to benefit from the list. I am just telling you that to underline, how very efficient such a list can be and that it found its way into clinical practise as well.

My suggestion is you try to do one activity every day, you can just follow the list or pick random items. There are 392 suggestions on it, so you can even leave out 27 to get through an entire year! Some of the suggested activities take a lot longer than just a day, so you can expand some of the suggestions, too. Some of the activities will just not be for you. But you can "think around them", for example if the list says "play football" and you really really can't imagine playing football (not even with the kids or the dog or yourself), then replace it with another sport. Play golf. Or tennis. But it is the idea that you challenge yourself a little. :)

If you like the idea, you can fb about it, or write on it on your blog. Or take picture and publish it on instagram.And share it.  And: Have fun with it!

( I am even toying with the idea to blog about it myself... maybe one reason to get on instagram... which so far I have no idea what it is about... that should possible go on the list, too!!)

Some more lists on pleasant activities:

Monday, 10 October 2016

Favourite Shoes' 2nd life

It is Make and Mend Monday again! :)

And after three years I can finally wear my favourite shoes again.
As I was tidying through our attic, I came across a pair of shoes I had been missing for 3 years. They were (and are) my favourite "every day shoes" and I thought I had lost them or accidentally thrown them away 3 years ago when we had to move rather hastily into this flat (exactly, the flat we are moving out again now...). I don't know how and why, but they were in a wicker basket underneath some backpacks. 
The attic has a very unforgiving climate - it can be well over 40 degrees Celsius in summer and blow zero in winter. So when I put them on again and walked around, the sole broke. The leather is still fine, even after 10 years of wearing them in rain and sun and all, but the sole had it. 

So today I picked them up from the shoemaker, who resoled them and they are as good as new for 38 Euros. :) 

Here's a picture, as you can see, you can't really see anythings been done to the soles. :) 

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

I'm "stuffocating"!

Just one short post today, because it is really really bothering me (and has been for some time):

I am "stuffocatig"!!!

Why? Because I have to move house in November and go through every drawer, every single item, pack it (or not!), think about where it goes (new house, charity or other give-away, rubbish...) and it is literally hard work. I take bags of rubbish to the bin and the place seems to look exactly as it did 3 hours ago when I started tidying though those drawers. It is hard work, it is frustrating, I feel as if I wasn't moving an inch forward. Sometimes I feel I just throw everything out of the window and start from scratch. Of course that doesn't make sense. I wish I had more help. BUT: I have to go through this myself, because I have accumulated all that stuff. 

And it feels so liberating when I have finally cleared an area, given items their place. 

Outer order is inner order. 

If there is anybody out there who is feeling like giving me a thumbs up on this: feel free to comment. It will be highly appreciated. :)

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Minimalism and Sports

In my previous post on consumerism, fulfillment and "other means" I was talking about sports and how much I found out I need it in my life.

I believe we are made for physical activity and I believe our brain needs a certain amout of physical exercise. And the benefits of sports healthwise have also been very much explored and I don't think you find any doctor who would tell you that generally sports is unhealthy. :) Obviously everybody has personal preferences and needs and what is great for me isn't good for somebody else. Still I insist - doing sports is great!

Whenever I am reading online about minimalism and people sharing their ways and thoughts, there is usually sports involved. Whether it is a brisk walk in the forest, a climb, walking by the beach, sailing, skiing, going for a run, football, volleyball, cycling, kickboxing - whatever is appealing to you - go out and do sports, release endorphines that make you feel well, get fit, meet people, manage tension. And it does so much better than going shopping for the perfect tea cosy No. 20. :) Consuming does not make happy, no matter what the ads tell you. It's not a fulfilling hobby.

I personally recommend these podcasts for getting into jogging - you can use them anywhere, anytime and all you need are some comfy pants, a t-shirt and some jogging shoes. How about giving it a go?  Couch 2 5 K Podcasts

But also local sports clubs offer a variety of sports and you can meet other people, of you feel better with a group.

So - go out and exercise! 

Monday, 26 September 2016

Dress to pullover

And it is Make and Mend Monday again! :)

Some years ago (to be precise in December 2013) I bought two really nice jersey knit dresses (in fact, it is the same dress twice...). They are black, made of a nice and soft cotton + cashmere mix knit and my favourite colour: happy black. There is/was a little bit of lace around the neckline. Unfortunately, washing them several times made them shrink lengthwise I think.
Anyway - they are too short now. Or maybe my body has changed. Maybe I've grown? Or my taste in dresses (length) has changed or whatever. The thing is: I love the material, but will never wear them again as dresses. I just know that. Because they've been sitting in the wardrobe for more than a year now. I've put them on several times again and again, with different shoes and tights and over trousers and all - nope, it's not going to work. 

I have several options now:
  • I leave them in the wardrobe for another 15 years until I have the heart to throw them out/give them away. (not really sensible)
  • I give them away to charity right away. (NO! I love the material! I don't want to give them away!)
  • I cheat myself by convincing me that they look alright and I will wear them the way they are. (which I won't and I am trying not to do that any more!!)
  • I try to alter them into something I actually will wear. (a bit of a gamble, might turn out alright or just horrible. But as the case is somwhat lost if I leave them in the shape they are - I've got nothing to loose, really!) 

As I want to give them a second chance, I decided to shortem them to be longish pullovers. I've got a pullover that is sort of similar to that style and I really like wearing it.  So, here's what I did:
  1. Compare length of existing well-liked and worn pullover to dress and mark length with needles
  2. Cut and serge and then make a broadish hem with a triple needle. 
  3. I've grown out of the lace. It turned out to be attache separately at the neckline so taking it off took just 5mins.
(As I liked the outcome when I did that with the first dress, I did exactly the same with the second dress). 

Now it's a pullover. : )

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Fulfillment Curve and "other means"

So, today's post is crytically dedicated to the equally cryptical "other means" arrow from my beloved Fulfillment-Consumption curve:

See the little arrow up from the comfort zone?

The easy message from this diagram is: You can consume as much as you want, it won't take you any further in your feeling of fulfillment. 

The difficult message is: but "other means" will. 

So what IS this "other means" about??

Answering this is very personal and very individual. We are all different, we love different things, we do even the "same" things differently. 

The first question is: What is fulfillment? Simple 3 word question, that has been tried to answer for thousands of years from philosophers. So don't expect me to give you an easy answer. :) I think the most common answer to "what do you want in life" would boils down to "I want to be happy". I personally prefer the word "content" because "happy" seems just too perfect and "all smiles" to me, whereas with the word "content" I am acknowledging certain flaws and imperfections that exist in my life, but don't destroy the general feeling of contentment. But whatever term feels comfortable for you is fine for me. :) Whether you feel you have a happy, or fulfilled life or a have a feeling of contentment regarding your life now- important is the positive feeling towards it.

The second question is: How do I reach fulfillment? 
Obviously the diagram is using a short cut. I love this. "Other means". So down to earth yet so vast in its possibilities. And of course the two questions are linked. I've read and searched a lot (online, in conversations with people, in the library...) and the answer is: There is not "ONE" answer for everybody. For my personal life there is only my personal answer. 

I believe, that the key to answering the above questions is to understand who I am, what I love, what I need in life. And also to understand what I will never be (or don't want to be), what I don't want in my life. I find it takes a lot of effort to be very honest and truthful with yourself. But it is also very rewarding. 

When I was thinking about consuming and emotions I was mentionning a "void" in my life that I filled with stuff. I hadn't found my balance within myself, my way. I didn't feel I had found the right way, the right rhythm in life, my purpose seemed rather vague. (I think part of life is that you are always on that way, which is a pleasant thing, I like the thought of travelling. A static or frozen state of mind and life seems rather frightening to me).

So, what changed in my life? I found love. I found love with my husband, I experience love as a mother. I find love in friendships. And I experience the feeling of being appreciated in a community. I think humans are not made to be alone, we need others. Maybe not all of the time around us (I need quietness around me very much sometimes), but I genuinely believe in love and that it is possible to find it. Just not maybe quite where and how you expect it. We need people in our lives. We need people in our lives that are good for us, that bring us positive feelings. I would like to emphasize that.

I personally need sports and being outside. Sounds trivial, I know. But I found I really need it for my inner balance. (I am not the only one how believes so, you can find tons of stuff on the net). In fact, there is even evidence, that exercise helps efficiently against depression. I love jogging. And I have to admit, I used to hate running. Yes, totally hated it. Because whenever I started running I completely failed and felt really horrible And then, my ingenious husband suggested this NHS Couch to 5 K Program (podcasts) which is brilliant and ever since then I am running (ok, I do have breaks, but I always get back into it easily with the podcasts, which brings me back on track for 3 runs a week). I also do Yoga every week, I have a DVD (Ursula Karven "Yoga Everyday", no, I don't get any money for mentionning this, I just really like the program) and that's best for me with my weird work hours and two children. I also LOVE climbing and used to climb quite a bit before the children, but with the pregnancies I stopped (belly got too big...I did try until I was 7-8months round, but it got to difficult and possibly risky) and I am waiting  now until the children are big enough to go climbing outside.Oh, and walking, we are walking a lot. :) Nature, forests, trees, skies, the sea ... it's just wonderful to breathe fresh air while you go for a walk. Or run. :)

I like doing creative stuff. I don't always do the same things, but I am alwas doing something artsy and cratsy. I am sewing. I am sometimes knitting or crocheting. I have the plan to go to an oilcolour painting course because I desperately want to learn that. I also love going to museums ( I love the Fondation Beyeler, they have brilliant exhibitions!). Music is an important part in my life. I play the piano (I enjoy Satie and Einaudi at the moment). I have an electrical piano (25 years old and still going!) so I can use headphones and play in the evening when the children are asleep, otherwise the piano is hijacked... I also love dancing (which is a combination of creative and sports, I'd say). When I was a teenager and young adult I did a lot of dancing (couple dance), it is now changed to a less perfect but still very fun "hopping around with the children" version. We mostly dance Salsa now. I don't always do everything with the same intensity depending on what is going on in my life, but some of this is always there. 

And I am very lucky to have a job that I like. I work weird hours, but that also means I sometimes get a day off during the week which is great. I find my job purposeful and it offers challenges, which I find important. 

Have you got something that really fulfils your life? Would you like to share it with us?

Further reading (just a little bit)

Monday, 19 September 2016

The "American Neckline" Disaster

With my Make and Mend Challenge I had promised to reduce my fabric stash, so if I feel like sewing something, I have to address the stash. 
I've still had some interlock jersey knit in red and white and some dark blue single jersey (stretch) so I thought I'd make something. I've always liked the "American neckline" of the baby t-shirts and bodies of  the Little Misses. So I decided I'd come up with my own pattern. (No idea what that kind of neckline is called in America... or anywhere else... this is what we call it in Germany).

I used the Milchmonster Martha pattern as a base, because it fits quite well and I like it. I had to shorten the upper length and extend the shoulder seam line 1/2 inch (anyway, not just for this project).

And then I put it together like I usually do and ended up having lots of issues (see picture).


  1. The interlock jersey doesn't contain Elasthan, so it stretched... and didn't go back. The Shirt ended up quite really really wide (tried to fix it, now the side stripes don't match any more...)
  2. The seam underneath the bust looks really odd with the stripes.
  3. The pleats from the underbust-line look really odd with stripes
  4. The neckline is a complete disaster. I think the reason for this is the wrong edgeing technique. I just applied a strip of single jersey (with stretch) as usual (with the kids' shirts), but because the neckline ins curving in AND out, it went wrong. I stretched it the wrong way basically and the band is too wide for the neckline, making this problem worse. Additionally, this pulls the neckline the wrong direction (apart form standing away oddly), so I had to attach 2 (strawberry) buttons to keep it in place. 
  5. When I set in the sleeves I was obviously absent-minded -> the stripes and wristbands don't match at all... (not visible on picture)

HONESTLY!!! what was I doing?? I like the shirt, but don't feel comfortable wearing it due to all the above mentionned issues.

(Will try to make a shirt like this again, though... at some point... without the underbust seam and witout the curving of the neckline)

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

4 People and what car?

And then we got a car.

Now, I have to tell you, we've bought a car recently. We've been living without one for the last 5 years. But now we felt, we needed one. Yes, we came to the conclusion, we actually needed it. So we asked ourselves the magic questions:

1. What purpose does this item serve?
- It will carry the kids to kindergarten, me to work, it will carry the shopping for 4 people for a week (we've tried to carry the shopping or use the bicycle, it's getting too much and too heavy and we have to go to the shop every 2 days), we can visit friends, we can make day trips.
2. Have I got something at home that serves the same purpose?
- Well, we have bikes, but we can't carry both children on the bike at the same time and they are still too small to cycle themselves. We have (had) a public transport monthly ticket, but while it does take the kids to kindergarten, it doesn't help with the shopping (still too heavy), and it doesn't help us to see friends (too far away) and we've made day trips with public transport, it took ages and you can't get everywhere. Also my way to work will be 25kms once we've moved, there is no public transport at that time (I work odd hours...) so I would have to turn up 1 hour too early for work and also the bus takes twice as long. So, no, it's not really a feasible option.
3. How often would I use it?
- Daily. Several times. Actually all of the family will use it. 
4. If I don't get this item now, will it make my life difficult?
- Yes. in fact it makes our life a lot easier to own a car.

Decision made. Huge decision made.

Now, cars are something that is really difficult. What kind of car would be good? what size? new? used?  Diesel? Petrol? What brand?

We had the following criteria:

1. Budget. Before doing anything we set a budget.
2. Safety. BIG important criteria. You can check this site for safety and crash tests   Because I am a bit weird, I also checked the internet for pictures of cars after bad accidents. And car magazines reviews, too, of course. But as we are living in Germany, the German brands always win in our magazines.... :)
3. Economy (diesel versus petrol, average litres/100km)/maintenance/tax/insurance cost and environment (Euro 4 or 5)
4. Size (has to fit 4 people, 2 of which need children's seats and a week's shopping in the boot), will mainly carry me to work and all of us for eventual trips. So a people carrier (like a Kia Carens, fab car, but huge) is out of question as it is not exactly what we need. We need a "smallish car".
5. Life expectancy of car (We want to keep it until it eventually breaks down...) (choice based on brand, statistics of ADAC, absolute age and km/year on tachometer, a bit of a gamble though...)

As a result from these criteria new cars were out of question (budget) and big cars too. :) And I didn't want to lease a car. We did choose to go for a short term financing service for part of the price, but we hope the car will live longer than that.

Actually there were not that many cars left at all after we filtered for "budget"... Which is an advantage, because it means you have to think less. :) In the end, the choice was fairly easy.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Silk Sorbetto - Colette Patterns

About a year ago I had bought two small pieces of a vintage japanese silk, possibly remnants of a kimono. I had initially intended to make a small summer dress for little Miss No 1 from it, but when the fabric arrived I just couldn't see it as a child's dress... the silk seems to be handpainted/printed with leaves and the thought of chocolate ice cream on that made me cringe. So I let it mature.
Some months ago I stumbled over this free pattern Sorbetto by Colette Patterns. 

I made one big change - I inverted the front center pleat and only closed it up to the height of the darts to make the whole shirt nice and wide and airy for summer. 

The fabric was just enough to make the pattern (I couldn't cut the pieces on the fold though, but as the pattern is quite lively, it doesn't really show). I used french seams so the inside would look and feel nice and it was just enough fabric to make self-fabric bias tape for the neckline and the arm holes. 

I really like the outcome, although the pattern of the fabric is far more lively than what I usually wear. The silk is flowing and cool, although it is quite thick and not see-through at all. It was also very forgiving while sewing. :) 

I didn't seem to be able to put on a normal face while the picture was taken. Sorry for that. Concentrate on the shirt. 

As for the pattern: The sizing is very accurate and there is not much ease (just right) in it, so I recommend to make a mock-up from cheap fabric first to make minor changes. Apparently Colette Patterns drafts their sizes for a C-Cup, but I didn't have to make any changes that way. Possibly my wish for a very loose fit had something to do with that.
Instructions are clear, I can definitely recommend this pattern.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

How many clothes do I really need? An inventory.

After starting the Make and Mend Challenge  in June (2016) I started thinking about what kind of clothes I regularly wear and what I really need. Then when summer started I noticed how very faded my linen trousers were and redyed them (and then discovered one had got really thin and is see through in the crotch area, that's not cool... because of the overall thinness it is not really worth mending it, I am going to trace the trousers for the pattern though). I was really gutted about that. And noticed: black linen trousers is obviously something I really wear often. (2 indicators: feeling and worn thin trousers). 

Anyhow, I repeatedly thought about what kind of clothes make sense for me and of course had a look online at what other people thought about it... (288 things:  interestingly the minimalist Joshua Fields Millburn owns (according to his own list) "Casual Clothes. 79 items, including jeans, hoodies, T-shirts, button-down shirts, etc. Dress Clothes. 50 items, including suits, ties, dress shirts, etc. Clothes (Miscellaneous). 58 items, including shoes, socks, underwear, belts, gym shorts, coats, etc." - that means 65% of his possessions are clothes! WOW!)

So, a wardrobe is something very universal but at the same time something very personal. I've searched around a bit and found a lot on the "5 piece french wardrobe" Link1 and the "capsule wardrobe". (Link2Link3,   Link4)

I liked this jpg

And on the whole enjoyed the stylish pictures of the people that wrote them. 
My main problem is: Most of those wardrobes seem to assume that
  • You wear businessy-like classy stuff all of the time
  • You have the built and disposable income of a top model (Ballerina shoes for 350 Euros? Really?)
  • You have 4 seasonal wardrobes (!?!?)
  • You constantly think about fashion and how to perk up your wardrobe
  • You don't have babies or toddlers that cover you in all sorts of stuff 

None of that is me. (Although that above list is a good starting point, as ist this German link: Weltreise mit Handgepäck) And this is quite useful, too Capsule planner And considering just a basic wardrobe is a good effort, too:  Basic Wardrobe) Soo... althought the above links help to understand about style and combining clothes, they still suggest to buy a lot of clothes new. Hm. Doesn't really agree with me any more.

So obviously if I don't identify with those lists, I have to come up with my own.

  • Enough clothes for a week (we do weekly washes and due to the children I have to change everything daily (at least once, (on all of us) although sometimes I don't bother... *smile* )
  • At work I get clothes and I have my work shoes there, so I don't need much work stuff
  • At home I am with children that paint, have sticky fingers, want to move around with me a lot - clothes have to be washable (a lot) and comfortable
  • We go outside for walks (forest, hills)
  • Sometimes I need to look respectable :) Very rarely, though.
  • I mainly wear black. Tried other things. It's mainly black and it stays mainly. Or REALLY weird and childish patterns. :) But, mainly, black. But let me assure you, I am wearing only the very happiest black!
Theoretically you could argue, that I could just wear sweats at home with the children, I suppose, and then end up wearing them all of the time. The thing is: I don't like sweats, although they are comfortable. While wearing practical clothes that are easily washable I would also like to maintain a minimal amount of casual chic. If an active Mum ever has casual chic.

I was working very long on this list. And I've kept it to the absolute minimum. And I am also sure, it's not for everyone. But here we go anyway. 

This is my list

This Basic Wardrobe list is meant to be the minimum stock of my wardrobe, so if you own a few more t-shirts, it won't matter that much. Especially if you don't wash every week. Onthe spot. And everything dries immediately. :) So this list is certainly open for personal adjustments.

I admit, my actual wardrobe doesn't only contain what's on this list. I made it thinking about what I actually use regularly in my daily life and admitting, that my wardrobe is filled with WAY more clothes than I actually need. It made me realize that is wasn't just the odd "extra" T'shirt. It was way more. It's basic because it is meant to be open for small adjustments that occur. E.g. you'll find there is no "fancy stuff" on the list. We don't go out much at the moment because of the children, so I don't really need fancy stuff. But everybody has different needs, habits and lives. So, grab a pencil, think about your needs, habits and life and

Make your own list! Share it!

Monday, 5 September 2016

It's all part of my life...

I was thinking about my blog and my posts the other day and those of you who have been following my blog because of my sewing are probably surprised to find so many posts on a simpler lifestyle and consumerism there at the moment and not so many about sewing. 

Those of you who started following my writing because of what I have to say about a simpler lifestyle and consumerism are probably a little confused about the posts on random sewing - historical sewing, sewing techniques, moderns sewing, sewing for children, ... 

I was thinking about seperating those two things at first, but then decided against it. Why? I felt that if I separated the minimalism posts from the post about other things I do and think, it's a bit like setting up this "minimalist" world and living another life next to it. Which I am not. I am trying to simplify my lifestyle considerably, but I am not stopping everything else. I am still a mum, I am still sewing and doing other things. But I am also changing things. 

So, I invite you to be part of my life and enjoy the mix! :)

PS: Just a short note on the side: In a conversation it was remarked, that my historical sewing isn't exactly minimalist. Because it is silk and frills and all that. I would like to point out 2 things.
1. Sewing is my hobby and the dresses don't represent my modern lifestyle, but the time they are inspired by. I enjoy the act of sewing as much as thinking about how to make the dress, and the fitting etc. I am not making them, because I wish for a life in 18th century silk and frills.
2. There is no minimalism in that sense in the early 19th century or before. Because also the culture of consuming wasn't there, because frugality, prudence,´and thrift were values and shopping wasn't considered a hobby.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

3 Months down the Make and Mend Challenge!


It's 3 months since I started the Make and Mend Challenge and so far I've only very nearly flagged once. Shirts with stripes and dots... with bateau neck... but then again, there is a life without them and I am very proud I didn't give in. :) Apart from this one temptation it's not been really hard, it does help me to think that I could actually MAKE these shirts and funny enough I then usually find I don't really need them that desperately. :)
I have made a few small bits and bobs though (which should appear on the blog soon, whenever I manage to get a picture taken...), namely a silk shirt and a cotton t-shirt (complete fail...).

Other than that  - I'll keep going! :)

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

A Present Nightmare. Thoughts on making gifts.

One of my most dreaded moments in the year is the christmas-presents-nightmare. Presents are a really serious source of getting trapped in the net of consumerism. Because you want to show you care and then instead of concentrating on the person or making something yourself , it suddely gets really big because you are compensating for not finding the time or thought for that present. Also I find that all year round shops are trying to get us to buy and give something (expensive and superfluous) to show that we care. Starting with January "Happy New Year" Presents to wish one another a good year. Continueing with February - Valentine's Day. I'd rather get a spontanous hug during the year than a forced Valentine's Day card. Really. Next is Easter. Then Mother's Day, Father's Day, Beginning of Summer, Beginning of Spring, Autumn begins, Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, New Year's Eve, Football Championship, Wedding Day anniversaries .... and so on and so forth. 
Whatever is going on - be sure it is going to be made into a Consumer's delight. What I find worrying is that there seems to be the conception, that not buying something for your loved ones on the right occasion (as dictated by the shops) is utter neglect and proves lack of love. And it is not like that at all. Not  at  all. 

And then there is also this: - Big Bang Theory - Why Sheldon doesn't givegifts

At Christmas also, I find prices go up. I prefer to buy Christmas presents during the year (which also takes the stress of Christmas shopping away, which is mad anyway, because christmas is about love and not about the biggest presents and getting totally stressed about it and the whole thing possibly ending up in a giant argument and tears...).

If you really don't know what to give to somebody and still want to give them more than just a card - why not try a voucher for a shop they might like. It's better than giving them something they don't like that clutters their home... talking to people helps, too. Like "For your birthday I'd really like to buy you something" Or you could try "For your birthday, I would really like to spend some time with you, what do you like?"

If you like DIY and arts and crafts - why not make something yourself? The time and thought and care invested  in making the present is the most precious thing in the world. If that someone doesn't appreciate self-made gifts, then maybe it is not such a good idea. And would they notice how much you've spent? And if so, why is it important?

A gift is something that is meant to make somebody else happy. And it shouldn't be forced and it shouldn't be about money. At least as far as I am concerned. 

So how am I dealing with Christmas presents then... well, first of all - for our small family unit, it is birthday and christmas, that we definitely exchange gifts. Everything else is voluntary. We think about what each family member would appreciate. And we set budgets. And thats that. Everyone who doesn't get presents from us: It's not because we don't love you - we just don't show it through regular scheduled gift-making. But I think you all know that already. :)

And for everyone who is disappointed we didn't make a huge gift at a certain occasion: Really? That's what our relationship is about?

Some more thoughts on by wikipedia: gifts
Thoughts from Zen Habits

Monday, 29 August 2016

"Eternal" life for my favourite summer trousers...

So, it's Make and Mend Monday again. 

The other day I was posting about my summer linen trousers and that I dyed them again, only to find that one of them had a hole and was also so thin from wearing that I couldn't really wear them any more (should have checked for that in the first place before dying them...). 

I've had another pair on my desk which fit me well but was just worn and couldn't be saved any more - which isn't entirely true because there is one last thing your favourite trousers can do for you, when there is absolutely no way of mending them again - you can trace them!

Which is exactly what I did. I cut them apart by the seams, making notes and little sketches about the construction on the way and now I have 2 patterns for summer linen trousers, that will definitely fit me. 
How to trace:

  1. Piece of clothing washed and ironed, otherwise tracing will get difficult. 
  2. Cut the trousers (or whatever) apart by the seams, make sure you note how it was put together. 
  3. Lie flat on brown paper, best with weights (I used duplos...) and trace with a pencil. Make notes on the pattern to help you assemble it later when you don't know any more exactly what goes where. Maybe take pictures (I didn't, tried, but black fabric in artificial lighting didn't really make much sense). Make sure you remember that this pattern is WITHOUT seam allowances! (write that in thick letters maybe...)
  4. Cut out the pattern, sort away in safe place, say goodbye to your old (now cut apart) favourite trousers that you have just helped to gain eternal life. And make sure you tidy up after that mess you've made.