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" ::)