Lifestyle

Out with the old – and Happy New Year 2015!

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Wow… another year has gone by so quickly! I cannot believe that 2014 is over already. The last few months have been extremely stressful but also very exciting. 2014 brought a lot of changes for me, it was the first year without going to university (I work on my PhD individually at home in consultation with my supervisor). I’ve also worked part-time for a publishing house for seven months and subsequently started my first full-time employment in September. I have visited amazing places – The Netherlands, America and Croatia – and I have met amazing new friends as well as read some really good (and some really bad) books. I hope everyone can look back on 2014 with at least a few good memories. Every year has its catastrophpes, personal and social ones, but one should try not to forget the happy moments – even if they are just small ones.

On a yearly basis I’m clearing out my stuff in December, no matter if it’s books, magazines, clothes, old technical devices or paperwork. I have sold so much stuff on ebay and momox or donated it. I love getting rid of stuff that I don’t really need any more but usually it’s too good to just throw away. It’s also environmentally friendly to donate or resell the things one doesn’t need any more. It is easy to forget what’s exactly in the depths of one’s basement or attic.

I’ve found so many things in my basement that I kept because I thought I might need them at some later point in my life. An example are two DVD players that I have not used in over two years which still worked perfectly fine. I decided to sell them because I seldomly watch DVDs and if I do I watch them on my laptop. Coincidentally I found an ad that day that advertised a flat-screen Smart TV with an included DVD-player. I have to admit that I don’t own a flat-screen yet, my TV is ten years old but since it still works fine I didn’t have a reason to buy a new one. I really am intrigued by that flat-screen TV though because my apartment is very small and, in addition, its energy efficience is much better than that of my recent TV. So I am definitely thinking about buying it in 2015 although it will be a slightly bigger one than the one advertised: 27,5″ instead of 23,6″. Long story short, I will sell or donate my old TV before I get a new one so that I can keep enjoying my clutter-free basement. 🙂

German edition of ‘Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui’ by Karen Kingston

I know this is nothing new, especially since Karen Kingston published her book Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui in 1998. It is an amazing book, I have read and reread it many times and gave it as present to my family and friends. It helps you to analyse and decide if you need the things you are hesitant to get rid of. It suggests that everything you surround yourself with affects your life and I have to say I found some tips truly helpful and inspiring. Years after I first read this book I interned at a Feng Shui institute to learn more about this way of life. Feng Shui means “wind-water” and it means that one should live in harmony with one’s environment.  The book’s main purpose is to help you get rid of the things you do not need any more and to keep your things organised.

I have to say my yearly “end of the year decluttering” makes me feel much better even though it is sad that there always seems to be stuff that I don’t really need but still accumulated. We will see how long this organised feeling  lasts but for now I am really happy about it.

I wish you all a very happy New Year’s Eve or a happy New Year if you are already in 2015!

See you on the other side (hopefully clutter-free)! 😉

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Life Update #1: Life without take-away coffee & a data plan – it is possible!

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It’s been over a month now that I’ve written the blog post on being a coffeeholic and I have to say my coffee-addiction has changed quite a bit. I haven’t bought one take-away coffee since publishing that post! Instead I’m silently judging the people who pass me with those little plastic cups of coffee every day at the train station on my way to work. Adding to that, I also haven’t taken a coffee with me to work or anywhere else I went. It turns out that life without coffee on the go is possible – who would have thought?! Instead I drink one (admittedly huge) cup of coffee every morning and the second one when I get to my workplace. I might not be saving the environment but I feel a lot better about not wasting as much paper and plastic as I’ve used to.

There has been another addiction in connection with commuting to work: my smart phone. I have had a data plan for three years which I cancelled this month (there are much cheaper ones available by now) but I haven’t yet gotten a new one because I’m waiting for the new iPhone to come out which will be (hopefully) in September. I don’t yet own a lot of Apple products, I only have a 2nd generation iPod (it turns 8 years old in November and is still working perfectly *knocks on wood*), but having an iPhone has its advantages – especially if you have lots of American friends who all have iPhones and/or iPads. I’m not sure if I can afford the newest one but even buying a 5S right now seems silly as they are probably a lot cheaper when the new generation comes out.

WiFi only – for now at least…

This gives me about 3 to 4 months without having a data plan and I have to say it was horrible during the first week! While I would still prefer having a data plan, I now seem to only send messages when they’re really important. Like the other day when I finally got offered a job interview after sending out tons of applications – I sent an international text message to my best friend as I wanted her to know about it immediately because she has been so supportive whenever I complained about my job hunt. Before, I used to spam my friends just because I could. Now that I had to stop doing it, me spamming less might save a lot of my friendships. I hope my internet addiction (especially to facebook and whatsapp) will get a bit less intensive so that I will not start all over again once I have a new data plan…

Enjoy your take-away coffee (hopefully in a tumbler) while you read this post on your smart phone! 🙂

The end of Strawberry Summer

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Here we are again, for me the best time of the year is over: strawberry summer! It has been wonderful to buy fresh strawberries from local farmers on every street corner for at least six weeks straight. I’m quite obsessed with strawberries, I love the smell, the taste and the looks of them. Additionally, strawberries contain lots of vitamin C and manganese along with several other vitamins and dietary minerals which makes them the perfect summer fruit for me.

Which is why my mum and I decided to celebrate the season’s end with going to a local farmer where there’s a strawberry café throughout the strawberry season. We bought the final strawberries of this summer (I know there are still some around here and there but in my area they have already been replaced by cherries) and enjoy some delicious treats.

Strawberry cake, sparkling strawberry wine, strawberry waffles and strawberry milk – delicious!

Since there won’t be any fresh local strawberries until next year, I did buy lots of strawberry-things recently to help me get through the rest of summer. It is helpful that strawberries – in some form or another – are still everywhere. Firstly, I went to a gardening store where they sold a bucket with a strawberry print – on sale for 1,99€! I couldn’t resist even though I don’t really need it but I’m sure I’ll find something to do with it sooner or later and until then it’ll just look cute. 😉 Secondly, I went grocery shopping and I found a sparkling strawberry wine that I also couldn’t resist buying. I had that one before so I know it tastes really good – much sweeter than the one from the local farmer though. Thirdly, I went to a drugstore where I picked up a shower cream called ‘iced strawberry dream’ – how could I say no? It’s by treaclemoon – an English brand now also available in Germany and since recently in Austria as well – and they offer a variety of odours: lemonade, ginger, raspberry and coconut and the best thing about them is that they’re vegan! I’m in love already!

All things strawberry!

The eos lip balm in strawberry sorbet pictured above is from my trip to America in May. I got obsessed with eos lip balms and bought all available colours as presents and for myself to enjoy. I keep one in my car (mint), one in my handbag (summer berries), got my sister one as a souvenir (strawberry sorbet) and will give her another one for her birthday (lemon drop) which still leaves me with blueberry acaí and honeysuckle honeydew. They are 95% organic and 100% natural, paraben and petrolatum free and packed with antioxidant-rich vitamin E, soothing shea butter and jojoba oil it says on the packaging. Adding another obsession to a very long list of ones I already have (e.g. coffee).

I hope everyone is enjoying summer even though the weather here in Germany is really bad at the moment. All the more reason to stock up on summery things methinks! But right now it’s time for football/soccer. Good luck Germany!!! 🙂

Germany solar light 🙂

 

I’m a coffeeholic!

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I’m really sorry it took me a while to write a post, again, I read some really good books and whenever that happens I’m not able to do anything else until I’m done reading. 😉

To give you an update on my reading: I should be reading Daniel Defoe’s Roxana (1724) for my PhD right now – don’t get me wrong, I just made myself a reading schedule to finally finish it but it’ll still take a while. However, when I got home from my vacation and after I did a lot of work for a meeting with my supervisor I thought I’d reward myself with something fun to read. I ended up choosing Christopher Paolini’s Eragon (2003) which has been on my bookshelf for far too long (along with 116 other unread books – oh well I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a bookaholic!). I really, really liked it! I read it in a week and really want to read the second, third and fourth book of the series now. But I should really be reading Roxana right now. I just can’t read for my PhD while I’m on the train and since I spend approximately 2 to 3 hours on the train per week I need something light to read on the side. For this I chose Helen Fielding’s Cause Caleb (1994) and I didn’t expect to like it so I thought it wouldn’t cause a reading marathon as Eragon did. Man was I wrong! I didn’t read it as quickly but once I started I couldn’t really stop thinking about it even while I did PhD stuff. It’s about a women called Rosie who lives in London with her TV-presenter boyfriend Oliver. After a bad break-up she decides to go to Africa and runs a refugee camp for four years. When an overwhelming catastrophe is about to happen she returns to London to ask her former friends in the showbiz for help.

Reading material (German versions of Eragon & Cause Caleb)

It’s really good – read it if you didn’t do so already! I have not (yet) read the Bridget Jones series but based on the movies I can tell you that Cause Caleb is very different so don’t let your dislike of the Bridget Jones novels stop you from reading Helen Fielding’s first novel!

When Rosie gets back to London after she spent four years in Africa, she realises how different our lifestyle is. We enjoy so many conveniences that are bad for the environment. This got me thinking about what I can do on a daily basis to help. I’m a huge coffee drinker and I drink at least one coffee every morning. I have a machine that works with capsules and each coffee means one capsule that’s thrown away just so that I can enjoy my coffee. (The same is true for pad machines.) I also drink at least one coffee in the afternoon. But then there are these days when I’m late or lazy and I just get a take-away coffee at my local coffee shop to take it with me on the train. That’s even more waste, paper and plastic! That’s not okay! In fact I’ve thought about this for a while already but the book gave me the final nudge. The long and the short of it, we put our old coffee machine in the basement (in case the new one breaks – let’s hope not though!) and got a new one which can be filled with real coffee beans or coffee powder. That was an investment but in the long run it will produce less waste and I think it will save us money, too. 16 capsules cost about 4,50€ and we drink about two to eight coffees per day. As you can see it added up – thankfully I can get coffee at work so it rarely happened that we had to use eight capsules a day but there are always those lazy Sundays…

There’s also a solution for the take-away coffee lovers. I only get them in emergencies and if I do I at least separate the plastic top from the paper bottom before I toss them. Instead I try to use reusable mugs and tumblers that aren’t only environmentally friendly but also look super cute! (I’m such a girl here but you got to admit that it’s true!)

My tumbler collection

I try to not forget my tumbler whenever I think I might need coffee on the go but sometimes it does happen. For this, Starbucks provides reusable and recyclable cups which look like their normal take-away cups. These are cheaper than the real tumblers because they’re not as sturdy and long-lasting but better for the environment than the normal take-away cups. While I haven’t reused mine since I bought it, I now use it as decoration in my room, I use the tumblers which you can see in the picture above instead.

Starbucks reusable & recyclable take-away cup

So I think it’s a great improvement, I already noticed the effect of the new coffee machine – and not only because the coffee tastes better! – there’s really less waste to carry outside and I feel much better about being a coffeeholic now. 🙂