Friday, April 30, 2010

Yeah it's not broken :)

Two days later and a bit wiser I know that my sewing machine is not broken but it just don't like the thickness of the material I was working with. Anyway I somehow finished the bowl:

We received a package from a close friend of us from Spain. He sent us books to study Spanish ;). He wrapped the books in pink bubble wrap. I always wanted to try out something with bubble wrap thus I made a small and quick bag out of it.
Thank you very much for the books and the bubble wrap ;).
I don't know whether I will be crafting this weekend because I want to study a bit. The weather forecast was not very optimistic, so I probably will do a lot of indoor activities.

Take Care and leave a comment if you want to.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Life, the roller coaster, and I

God evening,

In a series of perfect days there will be one which is less perfect than the others. In my life that day is  today. I learned that people I like are not doing well at the moment. I feel helpless, confused, and worried.
After coming home from work I wanted to finish a coiled fabric bowl but my sewing machine broke down. A whole series of unfortunate events of maybe the law of attraction?
My sister kind of believes in it and I bought the book to figure out what's behind it. Maybe you heard of it, its "catchy" title is "the secret".
It's written in a weird way, a mixture between interview and explanatory text style. If I had to sum up the content, it would be: make sure you know what you want, believe in it and it will happen.
Since many educated and magnificent people believe in the law of attraction I guess it's worth a try. I started to wish for parking lots and that works somehow, although I didn't specified the type of parking lot and always end up with the more challenging ones. I already have a wish for tomorrow: I am grateful for a warm, nice, and calm day.
If your life feels not at ease at the moment don't worry I'm convinced it will get better :)

Take care. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Frugal Living - Americas Cheapest Family

Do you know about the mirroring principle? It's used in different motivation techniques. If you want to achieve something, you have to find a role model and copy the aspects you want to get better in. Or in other words basically learn from the best :).

Who would be someone to learn frugality from? It's definitively not me, but maybe the already often quoted cheapest family of America is a good example. The (used to) live on barely 26000 € a year. I guess they are earning more money now because they sold their story to the media and they wrote a book about frugality. Back in 2007 they were living on 26000 € and they were 7 people.
Let's do the math 26k is the annual income which is ca. 2166€ per month, or 309€ per month per person.

Could you live on such a basis? Please keep in mind it's not pocket money it's everything you have!

The answer is probably a no and if you live in Germany you would be better of to use our social system and collect Harz 4 (a basic income for everyone who has not worked for a specific time, there are no preconditions you just need to fill out a form, if you don't have anything you will receive the money).

Just for you to compare the monthly income of an adult living on Harz 4 receives 359€ but the flat and other costs are paid from the system as well such as: the flat's rent, heating, and other costs if your argumentation is good. In addition to that, you are allowed to earn 100€ per month without risking to loose the Harz 4 money.
The conclusion of this example is that Harz 4 equips you with more money than this family had.

So how do they do it?
Based on their website they:

  • budget their income in advance
  • only buy things when they can afford them
  • do not use credit cards at all
  • spent ca. 259€ (350$) for food
  • go grocery shopping once a month
  • buy only used cars
  • buy clothes at a thrift store
The key seems to be proper planning and a lot of discipline to keep going. They really inspired me. Maybe it's as usually not the what that matters but the how. It's amazing how little they spent for food but I would be afraid that the meals do not contain a lot of fresh vegetables in winter if they really shop only once a month. If they do, my imagination is just not bright enough.
If you want to know more about how they are dealing with life and money, visit their website. They also answer questions in a blog. They are not frequent bloggers and they don't answer their request forms but maybe the site (if it works) will inspire you.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Self made box :)

Writing about frugality I want to show you how I do recycle old magazines.  Some of you might know my small bag. I made it nearly a year ago and I still love it. It's made out of some old gothic magazines which I couldn't throw into garbage. It has a lining inside and I added a flower recently.

Yesterday I made a box to keep my sewing stuff together. The technique is the same as the one for the bag, it's just bigger and doesn't have a lining. Here is the picture of the box (middle row to the left. The one in the bottom row is made out of tetra packs but didn't turn out the way I wanted it.)

It looks like we are language learning junkies. Well, we are but that are not only my books a lot of them belong to Andreas.
I made a matching pencil holder for the desk in that room too:

Thus old magazines can turn into something nice if you are creative. ;) I planned to make some new bags soon. Since the weather is great today I will work in the garden later.
Enjoy your Sunday and take care.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Frugal Living and the American Dream

"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."
Victor Frankl

This quote seems to be true in many cases. Especially when you take a closer look at our economic situation. Somehow, I don't know how or when, the general lifestyle in the US seems to change. Last year I heard of people staring to swap cloth and re- or up-cycle things. In my opinion, the fascinating aspect of this is not that there are people doing so, they probably did so for a long time, but that it's kind of en Vogue. The media reported about it, even here in Europe. From European perspective it was like "oh my god" what happened to them?
To be honest I guess some people have to cut back and maybe the attitude changes a little bit but great changes need more than just some weeks and an event which was shocking but buffered by the government.
The upside of all this is that living frugally is a topic which is discussed publicly and isn't considered to be odd or a stigma.

I prepared a small series of post because I was fascinated of the topic and I wanted to learn more, understand better, and of course think about my own attitude (as usually).

Before we had into the topic a brief explanation what living frugally means is necessary. Thanks to Wikipedia it's an easy task:
Frugality is the practice of acquiring gods and services in a restrained manner, and it's the practice of resourcefully using already owned economic goods and services to achieve a longer term goal.
As far as I figured out the long term goal often is getting out of a debt or to save some money for the future.
The aspect to acquire gods and services in a restrained manner is probably the bigger challenge then the second one. A part of our recognition is based on the fact what we can afford thus buying is deeply linked into our behavioral patterns. The question here is wether we build up our self esteem based on the stuff we own or on other aspects.
For those who need status symbols it might be difficult to cut back spendings.

The second aspect is basically to use up the stuff we own in an efficient manner. This part is easier if you are creative but being creative is a question of practice. If you aren't creative right now or if you are searching for inspiration you will find thousand ideas on different websites.

When I came across the topic for the first time it started thinking:
  • Is there something I'm spending to much on?  Yes
  • Can I cut back spending money in some areas without lowering my standard of living? Yes
  • Do I want to cut the edges? For some the answer is yes, for others it's a no.
  • Do I own stuff which could be used better?  Yes
  • Do I want to focus on using the stuff better?  Hmm, yes and no
Start to question yourself! If one of the questions is answered with a yes the following post might be interesting for you.

In the next post we will learn from the pro's. So if you think managing a family of seven is not possible with an average income of barley 26000 € per year, you will be surprised.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Frog and the Apple Tree

Good Morning Everyone

Due to the magnificent spring weather we have, I made some pictures of my little garden. At the moment it's still looking good. I tried to get ridd of pest plants with little to no success at all, as you can see on the picture with the frog.
At least the frog is still visible. At the moment I enjoy every second beeing in one of the two gardens. The smaler one behind the house is beautiful. Both apple trees started to blosom two days ago. The left one knows how to make stakeholders happy :).
It didn't grow much but it produced lots of apples each year. The other tree has never given anything about us as his stakeholders last year we didn't reep any apples and it grew unexpectionally fast. If we will not receive any apples this year I will cut it back to an apropriate size. Enjoy a picture of the blosoms, I hope they will last a cuple of days.
I worked on a series of post about frugal living which I will release in the upcoming days. Be shure to drop by and leave a post.

Frog, Apple Tree, I wish you a wonderful week.
Take Care.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence

No, this is not a post about being jealous. Although that might be a nice topic too. The phrase is  always coming into my mind when I see the nice lawn our neighbors have.
I talked to them yesterday and they confessed, that they are not satisfied with their lawn too. This weekend I lend a scarifier and verticulated the area which was supposed to be our lawn. I'm still skeptical about the whole thing but it can only turn out better than before. Thus there is nothing to loose and everything to gain ;).
You might wonder where the updates on the sunflower's development are. It's a sad story but the little sunflower just died shortly after Easter. I tossed the remaining seeds into a flower pot in the backyard. As soon as there will be something to report I will take pictures again.
Apart from that there is not much to write at the moment. Andreas is busy learning the math behind cryptography and I am studying for my upcoming exams in fall.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hello Kitty ;)

A late easter present is now living in our bathroom. Did you experience that too, you find an object and it's so uncool that it yet has some coolness-factor? I alway feel ripped in two parts when it comes to Hello Kitty. Now, thanks to Rolf, I own one:
Take care ;)

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Easter Bunny had a lot of Work ;)

I seriously hope, that you enjoyed the easter weekend as much as I did. I studied a lot, I exercised, I juggled, and which is far more important I recharged all my batteries.
Easter Sunday had been a really lazy day with amazing food and gifts ;).

Here is what I got from Andreas. Now you can start thinking about the place we will head for our summer holidays :)

This was packed by my mother in law:

And this is the smartphone cover I made for Andreas. The material is felt:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Jippii chapter 2 finished

What a mind bobbling topic......

It was all about how to make a scientific study and how to measure issues you cannot really measure. Sounds complicated? It is ;).

The Magic of Books

Some days ago my sister asked in one of her blogposts whether books are able to change our lives or not. At first I just wanted to drop a short line but then I figured out that the topic deserves more then just s short line.

On the long run our experiences and thoughts make us who and what we are. Though reading books can influence us in different ways. If you read e.g. novels for relaxation purposes you will be a less tempted to burn out then a person who doesn't use any relaxation technique at all. On the other hand all the information that we read can also blow up our mind and make us feel uncomfortable. To cut the argumentation here: yes I believe that books can influence us as well as any other media.
I do not believe that books can change our lives that would be far too esoteric for my taste but they can inspire us or give us input to think differently then before.
I compiled a short list of books that inspired me or that made me understand certain topics better.

I learned a lot from this one. It's boring to read if you have nobody to tell you where to find the funniest laws. My biggest learning outcome: law has nothing to do with justice and there is no bigger sense behind the whole construction besides that you need to now where the boundaries are.
Thus living a law-conform life is all about knowing the most important ones and setting limits for own and creative interpretations (e.g. accepting the 15€ fine for driving 20 km/h too fast).

The four hour work week
Being successful has nothing to do with working a lot if you find a system that suits your purposes. The real challenge is to find and build that system. My biggest learning outcome of this one: take the advantage of outsourcing if you can make more money during the time you used to spend with the outsourced task or if you can use the time for more important things. I kind of outsourced two things, the first one was cleaning the second one was shopping vegetables. I hated cleaning the house after a long week at work so did Andreas, to erase the item from our weekend agenda we hired someone. The veggies are delivered once a week from an organic farmer who lives close to us. Both is definitively a win-win situation.
Outsourcing can also create stress and can be less helpful then planned. I tried to outsource information gathering to a well know personal assistant company in India but wasn't satisfied with the outcome.

Let my people go surfing
Nice book about companies that handle their business differently from what I've come to see until now.

Getting things done
When I tried to make my live more efficient that book was something like a Bible for me. It describes a technique to organize your stuff and your tasks. To be honest it works but you need to be seriously disciplined. I sometimes use techniques I learned from this book when I feel overwhelmed by projects etc.

Magnetyzm serca (Der Herzmagnet)
At the beginning I thought the book would be quite esoteric but it's just the imagery used by the author. The author is a psychologist and coach so the book is mend to be an explaining self help book. The basic principles are:

  • nothing in the world happens without a reason
  • we kind of air a part of our personality, wishes, fears and emotions constantly which attracts people and situations
  • we can change what we attract when we change our mindset/ emotions

In general the author wants us to accept and love our life and us exactly as it is to create a positive mindset. Since we alway see what we want to see life should become brighter and better by expecting the best ;).
I loved the examples in the book and could link some of the examples directly to my life, or to the lives of loved ones.

Kristendom för Ateister
When I bought the book in Sweden I thought it would explain the christian believe system to people who aren't christian but I was badly wrong about that. It basically explains that there  are no atheists in the world and that everybody believes in something. I'm proud of me that I made it half through the book although I just started learning Swedish apart from that I cannot recommend it. The structure is weird and I still don't know what the author wants to convince me of. Maybe I'll find it out in the second half of the book.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Weekly Sunflower Picture

I took the weekly sunflower picture yesterday evening in a hurry because we wanted to get going ;).

The ride was quite ok also we had challenging weather (everything from sunshine via rain to hail and snow). I tried to make some pictures using the light of the other cars but my camera is just not convinced yet that something like that could turn out well: