Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Waiting for something makes it more exciting.

http://www.warholstore.com/sites/warholstore.com/files/imagecache/product_full/products/39755.jpg


Maybe not everything, but he's got a point.

If you can't (or decide not to) buy everything immediately but waiting a set amount of time (1 week, 1 month) or maybe though sheer self-discipline or by setting a budget. And then you know - is it really that important to you? Is it worth wainting for? Does it get even more valuable for you?

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Update on "Make and Mend" II



A word on the "making" side of the make and mend project. 

I noticed that  I like to try things out and sometimes I tend to get lost in new projects. While it is not wrong to like to learn new DIY things, it is not great to always start something new and then somehow you are stuck with it. Because it costs a lot of money on material and it usually uses up space. :) Also it is very rewarding to actually finish a project or acquire more skills than just starting one thing and the next and the next and so on.

So, to avoid more UFOs (unfinished objects) and make myself to revisit said UFOs and get more into things I've already started, I have limited my monthly "hobby" expenses. I have 20 Euros per month now for hobby projects (I transfer them to a separate account), so if I want to do something DIY, I can't just start something new, I have a set budget. Or I revisit projects and material I already have. :) 

A list of  projects to revisit:

I still have material and tools for making silk flowers. (But the instruments are so hot, I am a little scared of working with them, so I am wearing leather gloves while using them now. Also I have to wait until the kids are out of the house or in bed, because it would be so dangerous if they touched the instruments. I did enjoy it though, so I am defintely going to revisit.

Another example is the hat making. I have a lot of ideas and all the materials for it - only we've switched to an induction hob now, so my kettle for the water steam (essential) won't work on it, because it is made from aluminium. That's a bit unfortunate. I can now either buy a new kettle or a single electrical hob. I am probably going to go with the latter, because the kettle is perfect, and I can move a single hob around and also work outside. Again, the steam is really really hot and the kids shouldn't be around.

I recently discovered, how much fun dollmaking is.

And of course there is still my sewing and pattern drafting, a plan for an embroidery project (whitework), ... so much to discover ...

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

"And what if I don't?"

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

So imagine, if you are one shopping trip or in the supermarket and you pass shops and windows and - you don't. You don't buy anything one the list. You don't buy anything impulsively.

"And what if I don't?!"

Effectively, I dare to say, nothing bad will happen. Unlike advertisements make you believe, you won't start having depression or look any worse if you don't buy the product. It also won't make you less attractive. You will stay who you are. No joke. :)
On the other hand, not buying impulsively, will have a lot of positive effects:
You will save money
You will have less clutter in your house
You will save the environment more rubbish
You will find, that after maybe a few hours or days, you'll most likely have forgotten about ever wanting that "thing".

Why not try it out - just buy what's on your shopping list of "needs" and leave everything else where it is - in the shelves. And see how you feel about owning it in a week.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Nora - My first attempt at dollmaking

I think she looks a lot cuter in real.






Because I always need something to do and create, I ventured into dollmaking. I can't exactly remember how that happened, but I thought I'd try out to make a Waldorf-style doll for Little Miss No 1 myself.
Anyway, I found this lovely homepage (in English and German)
http://www.mariengold.net/
http://www.mariengold.net/english-2/

And as it happens this lady not only makes dolls, but she is generously sharing her knowledge. She's teaching dollmaking and you can purchase pdf patterns and material kits online (on etsy and dawanda).

I got the instructions for "Baby Twink" and a set with material and then set of and enjoyed every second of making Nora. And Little Miss No 1 absolutely loves her, too. Which is great, because she usually doesn't go for toys...

The instructions are clear, very precise, with a lot of helpful pictures and graphics. It was no problem to follow them step by step. And there are a lot of useful tipps and techniques in it, too. The pattern includes 5 different dolls: 2 babies (30cm and 45cms) and 3 children (30,40,50cms).

The material kit was great, enough of everything available, more on the generous side (much appreciated here).

I also got the "Oh girl" dolls clothes ebook, so we could dress Nora immediately. Plenty of knitting, crocheting and sewing projects. What I particularly enjoyed was the fact, that Little Miss No 1 actually helped making the dolls clothes. She cut AND machinesewed the entire shirt.

Oh and the colours are a choice of Little Miss No 1, too.

If you ever toy with the idea of making a doll like this - these are brilliant instructions.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The Diderot Effect


https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/63/Denis_Diderot_111.PNG


I thought this was a very good read!

http://jamesclear.com/diderot-effect

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Best girls' summer dress ever!!!

the bias tape is not neon orange. it's a nice warm orange. never mind what the camera saw.


Summer has finally arrived and it's superhot (35°C in the shade). The girls go through their summer dresses so fast I decided they need some more (I am always amazed with what speed and ease the children soil their clothes...). I used a supereasy pattern (basically a square with armholes) and the children love the dresses. I've made nearly all of them in 2-year old and 5 year old version. So the can go "hers and hers". For a bout 30seconds. Apart from the one pictured above (made from two old pillowcases) I made 4 white ones from a remnant of my regency Blitz-dress, 2 light yellow dresses from linen fabric I had in the stash (no idea what I intended to make from that originally...) and 1 for litte Miss No 1 from an old shirt from my natural minimalist. Apart from the one pictured (which I happened to finish today), they are ALL in the wash basket or drying on the line.

The dresses are quite wide at the top (with an elastic) and have big armholes and are nicely adjustable with the bias tape straps, so I just assumed they will fit for quite a while. I made them all as long as possible and added an extra wide hem and a few folds above it to let out length when the children grow.

The pattern has simple instructions and 3 variations for the straps. There is not much more you need  in a summer dress for superheat.  You can get the pattern here  (German):
https://de.dawanda.com/product/30464413-haengerchen-lotte-ebook-anleitung-schnitt

____________________________________________
Time: about 4 hours for 9 dresses (done on several days...)
Cost: Nothing additional. Had all in the house. Some of the material was given to me. Fabric requirements are minimal, 1 pillowcase (80x80cm) is enough for a dress for a 5-8 year old.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Everything is relative.


I originally wanted to write this article about how we consume. and then i stumbled across a homepage which was all about frugal living. Or so it said. The thing is: The way I understand frugality, they didn't really seem especially frugal to me.

And then i suddenly dawned on me, how very different our perspectives are (the one in the blog was a north-east American one, mine is a southern German one). Our lives are so different, our surroundings are different, what we consider normal or luxurious is influenced by our upbringing, by the views we acquired during our lives, on circumstances of living, income, culture, where we live, if we have maybe seen and/or understood other ways of living ... it's amazing. 

Just to give you one example: One comment on the blog was that electricity was rather expensive - per kWh about 9 cents. The going rate for a normal household in our region is about 20 cents. (Both come with a monthly meter rate that is comparable, at least something....). To me those "expensive" 9 cents seem ridiculously cheap. nevertheless, what is important is not only the price of the energy, because obviously there is not much you can do about hat, but how much you use on a regular base. We are a family of 4 and we use about 3000kWh a year. That is about average. 
"The national average monthly consumption in the US is 903 kWh/month, monthly residential electricity consumption in the U.S. ranges from approximately 531 kWh/mo. to 1,254 kWh/mo." (source U.S. Energy Information Administration (2012))." 

Now, that is a difference and that is also normality. We have a homepage in Germany called "initiative for saving electricity" that is aiming at private households. If you speak German, here is the link: http://www.die-stromsparinitiative.de/   It gives really good advice on how to save electricity. 

And saving electricity means saving funds AND using resources responsibly. 

But this was just an example. Everything we do, we see from our own context, from our own way of living. But everything can be seen with different eyes and with a different mind. 

I did a litle experiment today,  it is called "What if I don't?" and it is meant to make me (and anyone who wants to rethink their everyday routine) think about what I could do differently.The rule is very simple. With everything you do, you ask yourself "and what if I don't?" an evaluate the consequences. I found it very liberating. But I will tell you about that another day. until then - try it out yourself and switch of the light in the rooms you are no using. :) 

Monday, 26 June 2017

one happy oven glove




Today's small DIY is one happy oven glove. I still had so much thermolam (link to company) left, that I though I'd make some oven gloves. Yes, I did make an pot holder just last week or so but to be honest: we don't use potholders. We use this kind of oven glove.

So I sat down and made a quick pattern, which you can download (including short instructions) here (it's a pdf). The pattern has added seam allowance (the thick black line), about 1/2 inch.

https://goo.gl/Mab4IK

It took about 2 hours to make them and I've had all th necessary material at hand. The green "grip area" is made from wool felt, about 2,5mm thickness.

Here are some pictures from the "making of"

inside cotton layer quickly quilted on one side of thermolam

all layers pinned, right sides together.





Alternative usage for the pattern:

A hand puppet (just add eyes on the top and maybe some wool as hair and if you want a tongue hanging from the mouth).

this is not my arm. :)
_________________
Cost:
No additional cost, I had all the material at hand.
If you can get the exact quantities, it would be about 5 Euros, I guess.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Satsuki dress (Victory patterns)



Quite a while ago I was given this wonderfully mad fabric as a present (thank you Rebecca!) and although I usually don't go for tie-dye (had a very intense phase when I was about 12 or so...), I immediately loved it. I shortly after stumbled across this blogpost with Victory Pattern's "Satsuki Dress" http://sallieoh.blogspot.de/2013/02/stargazer.html (she's made another one in black, also awesome!) and knew immediately: It's going to me totally mad, but that's the pattern for the fabric. It took me a while to get the pattern (because I always thought I'd suss the pattern out myself and then I thought I'd wait until summer, but then it disappeared from the homepage and I thought I better get it before it is unavailable... they probably just made an update, it is back on their homepage at the time of writing...). Anyhow, this is the company that made the pattern https://www.victorypatterns.com/ and this is where I purchased and downloaded it https://oliverands.com/product/OLV-VP-Satsu-D.html
They have other really cool brands with super great patterns. Just look at waffle patterns... but I digress. Back to Satsuki.For whatever reason it was called that. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satsuki)

The fabric I had was just enough for a blouse length version and that's fine for me. The pattern is very easy and quick to assemble (did it in one evening) and the description is very clear. I can definitely recommend the pattern.
The blouse turned out as wild as I imagined and it is not something I would normally buy or make, but I somehow like it. It is perfect for a hot summer day in the garden.


Monday, 12 June 2017

My machines



Today I want to tell you about my sewing machines. :) I've been asked quite a few times in the past what machine I can recommend to beginners and what I find important. 

The thing about buying a sewing machine is, you have to know what you need. As always.

Are you sure sewing is your thing?
What are you going to sew? Jeans? Jerseys? just mending here and there? Do you want to do machine embroidery?
How often are you going to sew? Every day? Every weekend? Every 6 months?
How much do you want to spend?

I can't help you answering these questions, because only you know what exactly you do and need. 
But I can tell you about my experiences with my sewing machines. 
I own a Brother innovis 950 and a Singer Professional 5 (combined over- and coverlock machine)


Brother Innovis 950

I love this little machine. It hasn't failed my but once in 8 years (and that's really because I didn't take it to the inspection and cleaning and it was all dusty inside). I have tons of different stitches and it also has a small embroidery frame (10x10cm) for machine embroidery. 
Now, to be honest with you: I hardly do any machine embroidery. Very rarely. Usually I make something for the kids and then I think - oh, that pocket would suit a little bit of stitching, but then the garment is made and I missed the right time to add the embroidery. So, to be honest that was a bit of an extravagance, as I don't really use it. 
What I absolutely LOVE is the threading automat (or whatever that's called in English). It's SO good! I wouldn't want to miss it if I ever have to get another machine. 
I also really like the auto "restitch and cut thread" button, so I don't have to manually go backwards/forwards and then cut the long threads, it is a real help. Another thing I wouldn't want to miss. 
I strongly recommend a walking foot though, it has no differential presser foot, so sewing stretch fabrics or thick quilts might be a problem. It has a special "stretch" stitch, so sewing jersey shirts is not a problem, I do tend to use the overlock for that, though. 
I like to use the double needle to achieve a "coverlock"-look when sewing with the overlock.
Also very thick fabric (jeans, 2-4 layers) can be a problem, but you can "walk" over the thick bits with the hand wheel. 
Something I do miss is a longer "arm" of the machine to have more workspace. It's not a huge thing, I am doing fine with my machine, but sometimes I would appreciate a bit more space on the right. So that's something I might look out for next time. But only if it doesn't up the price ridiculously.  (I do hope my little machine will last me a lot longer, though!). 


Singer Professional 5

Buying the overlock machine was one of the best ideas, ever. I love sewing with it, it is fast, things look really tidy and sewing stretch material works a treat. It is also very strong, thicker layers of jeans fabric  didn't impress it much. Sewing thicker layered fabric (e.g. a quilt with a thick inlay) was a but fiddley, but also possible. 
I have to admit though: Buying a combined overlock/coverlock machine was a mistake. I hardly ever use the coverlock function (I am using my normal sewing machine with a double needle for the "coverlock look finish"), because it takes so long to thread from overlock to coverlock and then back again. And getting the tension right. And you can't keep all the coverlock things until the end and then do them.
So I would recommend getting a good sturdy overlock machine if you plan to sew a lot of shirts or stretchy trousers. You can maybe get a coverlock machine if you find you are really doing an awful lot of coverlock sewing. 

You don't get the huge variety of  stitches with an overlock machine. It's more like industrial sewing, no nonsense, efficient, strong, fast.

Be warned though: You need to start a very close relationship with your overlock machine. Threading it can be tricky (I use plyers to thread mine) and you have to get the tension of the several spools just right. Once it is installed, it works absolutely perfect, though. I suppose there are now automatic threaders out there, but mine requires patient threading. 


I can definitely recommend the machines I've got, but there are plenty of companies that produce superb sewing machines that last long. 
If you are a beginner, you could start with a cheap machine of a good company and then trade it in when you see you want to have more gadgets. But by that time you might just love that machine. :) 

If you want to purely sew, just get a "workhorse" no frills no gadgets machine, sometimes shops have second-hand ones that work a treat (more metal parts...!). Getting fabrics can be a bit of a nightmare, but consider bedlinen, tablecloths and alike a super fabric source and  also huuuuuge second hand shop finds a really good source.

Monday, 5 June 2017

pot leaves - Topfblätter


I had seen a pot holder like this somewhere on the net ages ago (unfortunately I don't have the source any more, so if you know whose original idea it was, let me know!). And today I managed to make one. I used thermolam ( padding made for this purpose) and some cotton scraps I've had and a piece of wool felt - so none of it should melt. :)

This is what the other side looks like:

We usually use oven mitts, but it was a nice little project to do and I've had all the material there. I might try oven mitts next, because that's what we actually use. :)

Anyway, if you want to try, here is the pattern (A4 paper)

goo.gl/hEeynX

Print twice so you can cut top and bottom leaf.
Then cut the fabric (for the bigger bottom leaf with seam allowance, for the top leaf without) and one thermolam padding the size of the bottom leaf.
Applique top leaf onto bottom leaf for each side of the pot holder.
Then attach the first bottom leave by folding the seam allowance around and topstitching.
Attach the top band where indicated. 
The other side is attached by folding the seam allowances under and then putting it on top of the other side of the thermolam padding.

 ____________________________
Cost

Material: Thermolam 6,50 Euros (this is the price for the 1 meter, I only needed 1/10th of it, but as I had the entire meter here... so that piece would have been 0,65 Euros), 3 scraps of leftover fabric, 1 piece of wool felt (1,50 Euro), a bit of yarn in black cotton.
Time: 2 hours (including drawing the pattern).

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Make and Mend Challenge - The End



So, it's June again and a year ago I started the Make and Mend Challenge - No New Clothes for a year.



How did it go?

One of the most remarkable things was the reaction of people when we were talking about my challenge. Most of my friends were like "ok, that's a good idea". And some people said: "That's a bit extreme, isn't it?" Maybe, but a good way of learning about yourself. And some said "what? WHY??" or "Oh, i could NEVER do that!" and it really made me wonder, why it's difficult not to buy anything - if you don't need it.
Part of the challenge was, that I had my own rules (you can read about them in my original post). And it wasn't about not buying anything at all, it was about only buying something, if I really needed it (and couldn't make it myself). So all I did, was not to overconsume. Only to buy what i needed. And I find it worrying, that this kind of thinking and self-discipline is looked at as something special. I think a bit of self-discipline helps you in every situation. :) 

I also found it made me free. I didn't think about fashion in the first place, I thought about usefulness. Also I didn't spend time just "shopping around", but did things that were much more fulfulling. Because going shopping just for it's own sake, let's admit that, is rather hollow. So I consciously played the piano more, did more crafts stuff, appreciated what I had more.

During this year we also moved house, which gave me opportunity to thoroughly go through all of our possessions. It was a real eye opener. Because I found I owned so many things that I didn't really need, want or like. And it was difficult. It was extremely difficult for me to get rid of some things. Even if I didn't like them at all. And it made me sad. Because a lot of the things stood for my loneliness at the time. And ashamed of myself, because it was SO MUCH STUFF. When I brought things to charity I felt like apologizing the whole time because I had so obviously overconsumed. And in the end I am also proud of myself. A little bit at least. Because I changed. I started looking at the world in a different way, I started looking at myself in a different way and most important: I acted in a different way. I wouldn't say I have changed my charactre entirely, I rather see it as finally having arrived at who I really am, being freed of the weight of consumerism and stuff. It feels a little like shedding an old skin.

To sum up the last year, my "purchase" list:

This is what I bought for myself:
- 3 bras and one pair of undies
- 1 hawaii dancer (uttlery useless, but she is standing and wiggling in the kitchen window and it makes me smile every time, yes, every time)
-  1 bottle of perfume (to replace the empty one)
-  1 eyeshadow set (that was a bit of an extravagance...)
-  1 swimsuit (long story, I needed it quickly, like "same day", impossible to make one!)
-  1 pair of shoes (that was a bit of luxury again...)
- 1 digital pattern (it disappeared from the company's homepage and I suddenly realized I really would like to sew it, especially as I had a matching fabric for it already given to me...)

What I made
- American neckline stripey shirt (disaster..., didn't wear it, recycled it)
- taken pattern from old favourite linen trousers
- Sorbetto top
- several crochet dolls


What I (had) mended
- dress to pullover (and children's hats)
- 2 paits of shoes resoled
- spotty blouse
- dyed linen trousers



And how will it continue?

I am not sure. This year was so relatively easy, that I will just continue, I think. I will sort through my wardrobe again to see if there is more I can give to charity.
I started not replacing things that broke or were damaged beyond repair immediately, just to see whether I actually felt the impact. Mostly I noticed it went very well without it.
I am also shopping by the "one comes, one goes" rule now, which means that if I actually DO buy something, it has to replace an item that serves the same purpose (sort of like an "update" to the home, not additional).
What really helped was that I was trying not to be too strict. I kept a few things in the wardrobe that will probably go out later. I also noticed that if I packed a box for charity and let it sit for a few days, sometimes it would "mature". Some more things (that I hadn't been sure about) went in, but occasionally I also took something out again. And really enjoyed that. :)
We still have a lot of things in the cellar that I have kept because they are generally useful (e.g. folders) but have no use for them yet. Which I find a bit annoying, because I prefer to just get things now when I need them and then get them exactly and 100% suitable for that purpose.

I also have the feeling that because of the fact we moved and had to get lots of things (e.g. lamps and shelves) for the new place, my shopping urge had possibly shifted to that, but as that has a definite deadline I am not too worried about it. We had made a list of things to get for the new place and after that that's that.  

My personal little reward:

While I was on the Make and Mend Challenge I stumbled of this absolutely great hanging chair, which I saw at a friend's house. So I decided if I manage the MaM Challenge ok, then I can pat myself on the shoulder and get a chair like that, if I still want it. And I Do. Hanging chairs are absolutely brilliant!

So, let's see how the next year goes. On to 3rd June 2018! Are you in? :)

PS: I think i am going to go with the "extended version" which means i will extend the "non shopping" to household things, too.  :)

Monday, 29 May 2017

DIY Mobile recharging holder thingy.

Don't get distracted by the many switches. It's about the felt pocket.


As you can see from the picture, it is a good thing, I'm not in advertising. I don't even know what to call this. Mobile recharging pocket from felt?
Anyway, I've been a bit fed up with the cable-mobile-lying around thing and stumbled over a box with felt in the cellar and remembered I actually had seen something like this for sale (for about 5 Euros... but why buy something when you can make it yourself?!). So I made this. I found out there are lots of tutorials to make these online, but here you go, this is my pattern. 







The entire piece is 38,7cm x 10,5 cm big, the felt is about 3mm thick. (15,23" x 4,13", thickness 0,12"). The width is exactly half of an A4 sheet, it's a bit longer, though. 
If your piece of felt is big enough you can cut and fold the pattern on the dotted lines. If not, you can make up to 3 pieces (cutting and extra "pocket piece" and an extra "enforcement piece" for the top). Don't forget to cut a small hole at the bottom (or if you don't fold the bottom over, just leave the seam open about 2cm for the cable). Then just stitch around everything - fini. 

This prototype (which is fully functional, so I doubt I will make more of them, unless asked) is just plain, but you could add a label on the front pocket, or insert it into the side seam. You can use different colour felt or pieces in different colours. You could use contrast coloured yarn (maybe extra thick?) or paint it, or embroider something on it. Or do some appliqué. You can add an extra pocket for the cable (on the front or the back or both) and you could add a press-stud at the very top and the very bottom to take it with you and not loose the cables. You can lengthen it if you want to include your mobile in that pocket. You can widen it or make it smaller if your mobile is smaller than mine (it fits a Samsung Galaxy S3 fine). Ahh, the possibilities!


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Irregular posts


Oh my gosh and golly, we are right in the middle of May already!
Temperatures are rising (as hig as 29degrees Celsius this week) an while spring is definitely here, we even get a glimpse of summer. 

Apart from working all sorts of funny hours, i did have a week of holiday and a few days off - and didn't write a single blog post. 

We have been busy in the garden and just spending time outside with the kids so I didn't do much sewing, or other DIY stuff (apart from painting our tiny shed, which isn't really worth a post...) and I also think i am going to spare you pictures of emtpy plantbeds where we are impatiently waiting for things to grow. We've got quite a few tiny first leaves of carrots, radices, basil, koriander, parsley, courgette, pumpkin and nasterium, and a few where I have completely forgotten what it was... 

I've started growing a teepee but so far it is not ready yet so the blogpost will have to wait. We are also trying to make the lawn look better (quite a few bald patches...) but again, I don't think posting pictures of grass growing (or not) is majorly interesting. 

I have 3 sewing project waiting (for months) and some more sewing ideas but the joy of gardening has completely got me. :) 

So, coming up next, soon(ish):
- the end of my make and mend challenge - 365 days no shopping (including a few confessions)
- growing a teepee
- hopefully sewing projects for kids and myself (yay!)

Thursday, 27 April 2017

What do we really want?

Oh my goodness, I have had so many posts in the pipeline and then all of a sudden with the move and a change of workplace and a new garden and summer coming I completely forgot to finish them.
Anyhow, my husband the natural minimalis has brought this interview to my attention and I though I'd share it with you. Noam Chomsky has an awful lot of very interesting things to say, there are more videos on youtube where you can see and hear him talk. But here's one on what we really want for now:


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Minimalism and time



Hei everybody!

I've been posting on minimalism and things related to minimalism for the past few months quite regularly, which was great fun and still is great, because I am still enjoying the minimalism journey. Anyway, I've started a new job , which is really exciting and but also comes with a lot of workload. I was talking about time and time management before and have emphazised, that I want to have more time to relax and more time for my family. 
You might say that that will kind of result in  a bit of a conflict - working more. And you are right in a way. But the result is, that I have to change some of my routines and prioritise more. Which means that possibly the blogpost won't come as regularly as they did. I will be out with my kids and do some gardening with them and in the evening I might not always find the time to write because I am - working... 

It is definitely a good exercise for me to practise efficient time management and to focus on my priorities. In a year from now (latest), I will know how it worked out. 

But if I have to say something about minimalism or consumerism or gardening or sewing - don't worry, I won't hold back - I might just take a little longer. :) 

The joys of Gardening



Spring has hit us with full force and nature seems to be exploding all around us.
I have felt something I've never ever felt in my entire life - a strong desire to do gardening. I am probably getting old and something like that, but I find it incredibly peace full to dig and weed, to assess the growth (or non-growth) of our lawn (which doesn't even deserve the name...), to seed, and water and wait for things to grow.

I am not the only one. I've noticed quite a lot of people interested in miminalism also seem to grow things. Maybe it is the joy of creating somethings and seeing the results quickly, but I find it incredibly satisfying.

So, why not try it out yourself - if you don't have a garden, you can still grow some basil or parsley on the window sill. If you have a balcony, why not try a "wild balcony" -> pile up a few twigs with leaves and maybe even a but of scattered soil alltogether in a corner of the balcony in spring and then do not tidy it up. Just leave it there and watch, what with wind brings. Will something start to grow between the leaves? Will you have little visitors like birds? You can also try to grow some tomatoes or herbs or just a few flowers to brighten up the day. Start growing the seeds in egg cartons on the windowsill and then put them outside in a pot.

Maybe in a few weeks you can eat your own home grown tomatoes with your own basil and a bit of mozzarella and oil. With a fresh loaf of baguette. Yum! 

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Sustainability - too good to be true.


Everybody is talking about sustainability. So I am thinking about it, too.
The thing is: We are talking about it as if we had not made an enourmously destructive impact on our planet already. As if it was just a precaution. Or taking care. Let's be honest: We've destroyed so much of our planet that it is a farce to talk about sustainability. We can start talking about that when we've reached a point where the damage is repaired (if that is possible at all) and we are truly protecting nature. 
I've read an article the other day about conscious consumerism and about how it doesn't exist (and I quite agree). 
To tell you the truth, I am quite annoyed with this whole sustainability-talk. We are all pretending how much we are trying to save the planet. We buy organic food, organic clothes, energy saving light bulbs, ... and we buy on and on and on... more than ever.
But there is no sustainability in consume. The only way to preserve or save resources is not to use them. I don't make an impact on companies when I buy organic. I make an impact on companies when I don't buy certain things at all.



Wednesday, 5 April 2017

A Word about "Conscious Consumerism".

found this on the net, don't know where it's from though...


I admit it, it is nearly impossible to stop consuming altogether.
I couldn't just go out and live in a hut in a forest and grow my own salads and nuts, because the land belongs to someone and you can't just go an live there (no, doesn't work, people try it again and again, doesn't lead anywhere here...). Authorities would just have you. And that's that.
So as "back to the roots" isn't quite possible I would argue the best thing to do is to make most out of the existing system. And I don't mean that in a "consume as much as you can" way, but in a "consume as little and consciously and carefully as you can" way. Consider the true cost of items (clothes, food, pots, pans, furniture etc). Buy locally. Not just apples. And only buy what adds lasting value to your life. The big danger is to "lighten" your purse and your conscience by falling into the "conscious consumerism" "LOVAS" or whatever other trap. The main thing is to consume less and to create more.

The idea of conscious consumerism is spread much further in english sources and (although it seems it only really caught on around 2012 or a tad earlier) and I've found this American Homepage which I think has some interesting articles.


https://www.newdream.org/programs/beyond-consumerism/rethinking-stuff/conscious-consumerism

Also an interesting read - to remind you that FIRST you must stop unnecessary consume and THEN think about where the rest you own should come from
https://qz.com/920561/conscious-consumerism-is-a-lie-heres-a-better-way-to-help-save-the-world/?utm_source=atlfb 

In a way conscious consumerism does and does not exist at the same time. :) Depending on the point of view. A bit like Schrödingers cat. Just totally different. :) 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Emotional blackmail




Consumerism as opiate of the masses (Sharon Beder)

Today I would like to talk to you about Emotional Blackmail.
Emotional Blackmail is an extremely interesting topic. What makes it so difficult to describe is the fact that it works on the emotional side of relationships and also sometimes is rather well disguised.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_blackmail


How does this link to consumerism? 

Through advertising.

A lot of ads try to make us buy the product by making us believe, that we will get better, more successful, more beautiful, faster or whatever else by buying their product. Automatically we are told all of the time that the way we are, we are not good enough and that instead of ameliorating our own skills, we are told that buying things will get us where we want to be. Which of course doesn't really work but starts a spiral of buying more and more to feel and be better.
It also numbs us to what is really going on around us, because we are so busy in the whole consumerism circus, that we don't notice other things. No interest in politics. No time for friends. No interest in reading or writing, in paining or dancing. Making shopping our world because we think it will make us better.
Also TV and films show us that way of life - going shopping as a pasttime. Purchasing items as a hobby. Comparing what you own and gaining status by having the newest, lightest, fastest or whatever automatic whatsit.

If people don't see who I am and respect me for the person I am, they won't like me more if I wear a golden rolex.



You can't just buy elegance or taste. You either have it, or you don't. (And IMHO this watch is not elegant. It is a lot of things, but not elegant.)


 

Monday, 27 March 2017

DIY Plans for 2017



Apart from the crocheting I've not done much sewing lately. Mainly that had to do with the fact of moving house and a lot of time was just spent on unpacking things, trying to get order into the place (don't mention the cellar...) and installing lamps and shelves and wardrobes ... it took us 4 months to install the shower curtain rail thingy...

But I've got plans. My Make and Mend challenge of course influences a bit what I am doing.

So, here's a list:

material at hand
-trousers for Little Miss no 1
-dungarees for Little Miss no 1
-comfy pants for Litte Miss no 2
-another Frida or Leia doll
-little curtain for bathroom window
-pillow case for sofa cushion (old cover not nice anymore and inner pillow still superb)



material partly/mainly at hand
-ruffling up the Walpole Francaise (black taffetta silk needed)
-cloche hat (a single hob needed, as the new kitchen has an induction field and the aluminium tea pot won't work on that)


ideas
-tweed sailer trousers light beige
-possibly jeans, if mine don't make it until June 2017
-maybe a 1950s inspired swimsuit
-maybe a 19th century day dress
- t shirt with giant cowl neck, long sleeves, from merino jersey or cotton jersey or so, dyed myself with plant dyes. 




Another Plan:
go through fabric stash and make something from whatever is there. :)

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Finding the balance...



I've just read an article about how human hair is "harvested" in china for extensions (for those interested: here is the link http://www.nzherald.co.nz/indepth/national/black-gold/?#_=_)
and it made me think a lot about Western "civilisation" and our goals and values and of course I felt really bad about all the consumerism around me and the big part I play in it. Because let's be honest, even if you don't have hair extensions, you will be, like myself, a small cog in the big machinery of consumerism. It really tormented me, especially as I am really trying not to be part of it. Which sometimes just doesn't seem to work. And then I stopped and looked around myself (because I happened to be on a walk with my oldest daughter today, too).

Today is a really cold and quiet day. We have about -1°Celsius and it is really foggy. The fog crystallized on leaves, gras, bushes, cobwebs and everything was encrusted in this layer of ice crystals. It looked as if somebody had put a thick layer of castor sugar over everything. It is beautiful and full of magic.

I feel grateful that I was there that moment with my daughter and we enjoyed that magical weather together. Through all the pressure of everyday life and work (and still trying to  move in properly...) I could feel that no matter what is happening around the world, the only real impact on life I can make is right here where I am with my family. Where we live, how we live and how we treat each other. And that's what really counts.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Learning to wait and I am still tidying up...



We've moved into our new home 4 months ago and I am still tidying up. I am fascinated (and also quite shocked) how long it takes to settle into a new home. But I've also noticed, I am approaching things a lot different this time.
While I am still unpacking boxes (most of our possessions went into the cellar upon moving in, only the most necessary items went into the actual room), I am again sorting through. And I get annoyed and grumpy. And I am sometimes surprised about what I find.

The amount of stuff we also had to get rid of after moving in, is shocking. Why did we take it wih us alltogether? Well, the answer is because I am becoming more picky in what we own.

I also noticed I am becoming more patient when it comes to purchasing something - unless it is perfect, I am not buying it. And that's it.

Of course the term "perfect" is meant in a relative way. It is always the balance of what we need (and making the difference between want and need is difficult enough sometimes...), what we like and what we can afford.

Apart from the fact that we need surprisingly little and have surprisingly lot of stuff even AFTER I thought I sorted through the attic thoroughly (you live and learn...), I also noticed that the few things we eventually DO buy, really contribute to our daily life. It's great to see and use the stuff you have daily. Rather than getting a bargain here and there just because it is cheap, I am determining strictly what we actually use (e.g. kitchen utensils) and then get just that in good quality. I actually have the impression that we own less and spend less and what we've got is of far better quality than before. And it is so much easier to live like that.

One sore spot is still the cellar, but I'll go with that now. It's always good to have a project. :)

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Has everything been said?



Now after about 6 months of regular (and sometimes quite long) posts about miminalism, about how I understand it and what it means to me, I find I've come to a point where I've covered the "basics" of what I think it is.

I've changed and am still changing, and every week it is the small things that I notice, not the big fundamental theories behind it.

Sombody saying "I get sick of my pillow covers regularly, then I just go to a shop and get new ones. That's just the way I am."  And somebody else remarking "So you are not shopping anymore for fun? How strange, I really enjoy consuming."

And I wonder. 


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Jeans - Make and Mend

from google picture http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0131/6922/files/patch-camera-web.jpg?307


It is such a sad thing when your favourite pair of jeans has a hole at the knee (or wherever...), isn't it.
I've come across this blogpost and I just love what she's done to the jeans.

http://mymakedoandmendlife.com/2016/05/23/mend-it-may-how-to-sashiko/

You can also search the internet for sashiko and find a lot more inspiration!

Another option would be to cut them apart and take the pattern in order to make your own jeans from them. And use the rest as cleaning cloth...


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A life with meaning or the pure pursuit of happiness



I stumbled across this article in the internet. It is about the difference of a life with meaning and the pure pursuit of happiness. I thought it was really interesting. I hope you enjoy it!

http://www.businessinsider.com/a-lesson-about-happiness-from-a-holocaust-survivor-2014-10?IR=T

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

"Green Growth" or "Degrowth"


For those of you who understand German this speech by Nico Paech is really intersting.
He is talking about which direction we might be going in the future.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeb3h9sBm0Y

Those of you who don't understand German -> there is video on Youtube in English.


Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Get a hobby! - Hobbies and Minimalism



As you might have seen from my blogposts and pages, my hobbies include making things. I am sewing, crocheting, and other DIY... I like to make things with my hands.

Other things I really enjoy doing is listening to classical music, going for walks, climbing, reading, talking to my husband (as in "discussing an interesting topic" not as in "have you put the rubbish out yet, darling?"), listening to the radio (I particularly enjoy this on my way to and from work), ...

Having a hobby has a lot of positive effects:

You learn a skill that you otherwise possibly wouldn't use (e.g. I don't do any sewing at work), and you might even preserve techniques that otherwise might get lost because traditional crafts play only a minor role in modern production (e.g. old handstitches).
You meet people or get in touch with people with the same interest online and expand your circle of friends. Or just have a bit more social life. ;)
If you create something you get the incredible feeling of satisfaction when you have achieved your goal. Same with sports - challenge yourself and you will get gratification. Not instantly, but even more so when you get there. Try it!

Wikepedia offers a list of hobbies (interesting in itself), maybe it can serve as inspiration  (it does contain a few things I will definitely try in the future!!)?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hobbies

And some more on the topic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobby

Beware: Shopping and surfing aimlessley on the internet as well as watching tv are NOT really good hobbies. No. Not really. Honest. Scrap that.


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Pack your bag! - The suitcase game.

The Suitcase Game.
 
As I've mentionned a few times before, we have moved to a new home in November 2016. Because we were really busy we didn't find time to put up our wardrobe in the first 2 months really and lived out of a suitcase for that time. (At least it was a suitcase each...) :)

I found it was really really good and a great lesson in seeing how well you can actually live from only a limited amount of clothes. It was super easy after all, the hardest bit being how to choose the clothes.

I invite you to join "The Suitcase Game". 

What you need:

  • 1 suitcase - the size should be small enough so you are actually able to carry it around on your own.  My suitcase had about 90litres. (Vaude Tobago)
  • Only a fraction of the content of your usual wardrobe :)

How to do it:

  1. Imagine you are going on a 2 week trip. You will go to a place that has the same climate that awaits you in your home in the next 8 weeks. You will have washing and drying facilities. And you will also have to do the same stuff you do at home. So you will be away and home at the same time, sort of. :)
  2. Choose things from your wardrobe that coordinate well and that you really like. 
  3. Close your wardrobe and put the suitcase in front of it (or in any other suitable place)
  4. Ignore your wardrobe for the next 8 weeks. 
  5. Yes. Really. Be drastic. 
(you can include bathroom stuff if you have issues with excessive quantities there and include that). 

You can try the list in the blogpost https://hertzwerk-freiburg.blogspot.de/2016/09/how-many-clothes-do-i-really-need.html for inspiration on what to pack. :)

Go for it! :)  

If you like the idea, share it! 

Why not blog about it? (Feel free to share the above image with it)

Have fun!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

True Cost - Documentary




I've stumbled across this link to a film more or less by coincidence and although I've only watched the trailer, the images are haunting me (I am still wondering about the child in min 1:32 - I hope it is just asleep or so ...).

http://truecostmovie.com/

With every bargain we make, every cheap piece of clothing, we should know, that somebody else is paying for it.



https://aeon.co/videos/this-is-the-final-resting-place-of-your-cast-off-clothing

I remember from years ago an ad with a woman running after a shoelace from a shoe she so wanted and finding the other end in a slum in India. I can't seem to find it at the moment, but it also was meant to remind us under which circumstances clothes, shoes etc are made. Also fabrics.

What can we do?

Buy only what you need.
Buy locally from local producers.
Pay the price it is worth.

You will probably ask: Are you doing that? 100%? All of the time? No. I am not. I am not a superhuman. But I am really trying. And the more I try, the better I get.

It also reminded me of my trip to India in 2009 (work experience thing) and that trip was a real shock to my system. Not only was I reminded daily of how little women are worth there (I was ignored or not served or transported in a riksha, on a daily basis really, sometimes I didn't know whether it was because I was white or a woman or both). But you see on a daily basis around you how little a humans life is worth in India. The contrasts are overpowering and hard to understand for a person that grew up in a sheltered middle class household in Germany. - In the parallel street to a superposh hotel - people dying in the street. People living under bridges near a river that is really a big open sewer.  Children begging, living in the dirt. And nobody cares. On the contrary, it seems the people in power want to maintain the conditions the way they are. And then the images of the film - they are not exaggerated. This is real. It is happening. And not just in one place, but in an entire subcontinent. And more.




Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Magic and Minimalism and Kondo. Tidying up.


If you have trouble with "having" things and tidying up (like I have), you probably have read pages on minimalism and you've read or heard about the new best selling "Kondo" Method. Which apparently is magic (...I've heard...). You want to sort thought your things and get them in a nice order. For a decluttered life and mind. For more breathing space.

So do I.

Because I am interested in Magic and tidying up, I've had a look at Marie Kondo and just as an example, here's a video of her folding underwear to make it "more tidy" or so. (from youtube.com)




Let me be very clear about this. I don't like it. I find her joy of having folded these items this way weird. I wouldn't want my underwear and socks in a box like that, I don't like it, I don't like them rolled and folded like that. And I don't believe it is the only way.

I do understand that the idea behind folding them away like that is to be able to see everything you have. And I think it is absolutely right, if you open your drawers or your closet you should see all of your clothes easily. But do they have to be folded up like that? if you live in a 8m2 flat in Tokyo, maybe. Because even for the littlest amount of clothes you have hardly any space there. But I dare to say, that most of us have wardrobes of a reasonable size and we just tend to... overfill them. And then we are so decadent, we forget about the clothing we don't see. (And if you think about it, that's just another way of saying "I don't need this" and "I don't really like this, it's out of my mind" - so I dare ask: why do you own it?).

First of all, I would like to underline: I understand all of you out there that hear the word "Minimalism" and cringe. Because it sounds more like "asceticism"  and not like "enjoying life". It sounds like an awful lot of "NO". And no leeway. And that's not right. It scares us away, because it seems so unforgiving and harsh. I personally don't like the word minimalism at all. Not at all.

The Kondo magic is a lot kinder that way in allowing us to keep everything we truly love. Even if that would mean throwing away sensible things (like a hammer). And keeping 101 little cuddly teddybears and storing them in an ingenious way. Because we have an inner connection with them. And that's not right, either. Because  while it is perfectly fine to love what we own, it allows us to continue overconsumption if we just say we love things enough (like "I really NEED this, because I LOVE it - although it has absolutely NO purpose, I am NOT going to use it and it's going to collect dust and although I already have the same thing already"). And it encourages a disposable society ("I don't LOVE this anymore. This item serves its purpose perfectly well, it is not broken - I will throw it away and get a new similar item that I feel more love for now"). No trace of thoughts about sustainability here.

So, what to do? 
As usual, the middle way is best. With a bit of common sense. Knowing, that sometimes one clear "NO" can be more honest and better than 100 hypocritical "yes". 

What does this mean in the world of tidying up? 
Before I start, let me say: It's a great thing you are going through your possessions and get order into them. That's so good! Now let's get started, here's what I try to stick to:
  • Be honest with yourself.
  • Think about what you want to achieve - do you want to keep everything and just sort it through because it is higgeldy-piggeldy? Or do you want to size down your wardrobe and declutter? Do you want to concentrate on what you really like and just keep that? Or a bit of it all? There is no wrong or right. Just focus on what you want. 
  • Be persistent. Nothing that´s worth something is easy. Tidying up is an awful lot of work
  • Before you are sorting through your possessions, have 3 boxes ready labelled "keep", "donate" and "rubbish".
  • Choose only a small and manageable area to go through per day. Maybe one shelf.  Or one drawer at the time.
  • Take each item out of the cupboard, drawer, wardrobe, shelf - whatever you are sorting through. Look at it, touch it, turn it. Feel it.
  • Ask yourself these questions:  
  • 1. What purpose does this item serve?
    2. How often do I use it?
    3. Have I got something at home that serves the same purpose?
    4. Do I really like this item?
    5. If I get rid of this item, will it make my life difficult? 
  • 6. Will it make my life difficult if I keep it?  
  • Don't loose a sense of humour
I found sorting through and out incredibly difficult, especially in the beginning. I just wanted to keep everything. Because I felt so emotionally attached to so many things. Or because one day I might use it, maybe... But let's be serious: If you've not used something in 3 years, wouldn't you agree it is rather unlikely you will use it in the next 3 years? And that's 6 years of useless standing around, collecting dust and taking up space. And if this item is in good condition: why not donate it and somebody else can really get some use out of it?! And if you love it so much - ask yourself why. 

It's okay to keep sentimental things - just not a truckload full of it. Because that doesn't help anybody. You could take a picture of it. Or you make a painting. Or you hand it on to somebody who you really like and who can get some use out of it. And would that someone you are linking it with think any less of you if you don't keep the item? If you own a lot of things that are emotionally attached to feelings, people, situations - and they start cluttering your life... try to find out why. 

When I tidied up before we moved house last year, I had days where I just felt like ordering a skip and throwing nearly everything away. But that's also not the right way to go. Because in between so many weird things I also own useful things. I was trying to go the Middle Way - keeping what makes sense and getting rid of what is just cluttering my life. Because I didn't want to overdo it, when in doubt I kept it. Which filled quite a few boxes. Which didn't make me feel particularly happy. So when I unpacked the boxes again in the new place, I gave a away a lot of things again. If somethings doesn't have a designated purpose and I don't know when I will use it and I don't have positive feelings about it - why keep it? 

Another thing that really helps is "Assign every thing a place". No matter whether you prefer open storage (that can be so decorative, but is also hard to keep clean and tidy) or storage behind closed doors - everything has to have its place. If you can't find a place for an item, that is a clear indicator that there is no inner order. If you don't know what to do with it - why have it? If you have something else that serves the same purpose - why have both? I believe that outer order reflects inner order. Everything must have its place. And the floor, surfaces and the ceiling do not count. Otherwise space will be cluttered and taken over by things, that creep about and mess things up (ok, this sounds very much like my children, children are obviously excluded here, because they are not things, I'm talking about things only, like thing one and thing two in The Cat in the Hat, no, sorry, that's more like my children again...).

I'm trying not to loose my sense of humour over all this stuff and tidying up, but sometimes it's hard. :)

So anyway, accumulating stuff feels a bit like this, just different:

Der Süsse Brei, Brüder Grimm

And this is what my children feel like. :)

The Cat in the Hat


Back to the topic: Things and stuff aren't your life, YOU lead your life. Teapots don't reflect who you are, they are items that have to do their job. Own only what you need, love what you own and assign everything its place. Sometimes it helps to make mental "tags" on shelves. I made real ones with sellotape for the first few weeks in the new flat. That really helped, too. :)

Oh, and tidying up is not magic no matter with what method I've tried it. It is hard work, it's about being honest with yourself and also about self-discipline. To get to where you want to be.

Oh, and this is magic. And the way to go:




Maybe you'd like to read a bit more about what Minimalism is for me and why I don't consider myself a minimalist 

Or have a look at your wardrobe and think about how many clothes you really need?

Monday, 16 January 2017

Lupo the Lamb - Lalylala patterns

I've done some crocheting again (only took me about 6 months...), but I think the result is quite cute. :)  Here's Lupo the Lamb by lalylala.com patterns. (she's got other great stuff on her homepage...)

The instructions were very clear (they are available in several languages) and she also adds good pictures to the instructions to illustrate how to do things.

Somehow the head of my Lupo turned out too big for the hat, or the hat was to small for he head, whatever way you want it. My suspicion is that my bobbles are tighter that intended. Anyway, I added 2 more rows of bobbles on the hat and that solved the problem. 




_________________

Things learnt: Bobbles. Plenty of bobbles. Still working on the counting (in general)
Cost estimate: pattern 5Euros, wool about 12 Euros (still have some rests...) - total about 17 Euros.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Amour Fou Crochet - Mini Frida



Mini - Frida



I've finished another crochet doll by Amour Fou Crochet http://www.amourfou-crochet.com/ and I really enjoyed it. :)

I made Princess Leia last time - see blogpost here - and I couldn't resist her Mini Frida.
There were a few little mistakes in the pattern (maybe from the translation, but noting too serious) and like with princess Leia my hairhat-piece turned out a tiny bit too short (which I could have avoided by checking...).

Overall the pattern is really well made, lots of pictures, clear instructions, easy to follow. She also makes recommendations for simple and quick alterations (e.g. an alternative hairstyle or style for the shawl) which I find really nice.

The pattern is a clear recommendation. 

It was snowing last night and I managed to take these pictures of Frida going for a walk in the snow before the children took over the peaceful picture.


cosy walk
 
slightly high front here, ...

girls united

----------------------------------
Things learnt: making flowers, triangle shawl, should have measured better with the size of the hair though...
Cost: Pattern 6 Euros, cotton yarn (black, skin, red, green, blue)  12 Euros

.