Colorful Minimalist Apartment Tour

Welcome to my budget-friendly, minimalist home. For a little bit of background, I moved into this apartment in March 2017. We are almost done furnishing it but still plan to buy a couple of rugs before winter and add a few art pieces that my husband currently has in storage in California. The total cost of furniture/housewares so far is less than 2000 EUR, with the main costs being the sofa, mattress, and washing machine.

Entering the apartment, you walk directly into the living room. We don’t have a genkan (which I believe the western world needs to adopt asap) but we have a mounted shoe closet by the door. On top, we keep an umbrella, sunglasses, keys and any important letters we need to take care of.

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In the center of the room is this HUGE green Ikea sofa. It’s where I read, watch Netflix and cuddle with my husband. It’s also big enough for a guest to sleep comfortably on.

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In front of the sofa is our DIY Club-Mate coffee table. The great thing about using drink crates is that when we move we can just take these back to the supermarket across the road and they will be reused or recycled! The top of the table slides off and stores our tools and cables. To watch movies and documentaries, I simply pop my Lenovo Insta – Share Projector on the table and watch on the large white wall opposite. 

On the right side of the coffee table is my husbands record player, again using drinks crates as furniture! Music is really important to my husband so I wanted to give this a prominent spot.

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To the left of the coffee table is the desk area. This is the least organized area so far, we need to find a storage solution for some of our equipment. We (and when I say ‘we’ I mostly mean my husband) have minimized a lot, but there is still stuff we need for work and play.

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On the other side of the room is the cat corner, where they have a fountain, auto-feeder, and some cat grass. The auto-feeder is great for regulating their food and making sure they get fed and the same time every day. We also have a fire extinguisher mounted on the wall, because SAFETY!

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To the right of the cat corner, you enter our kitchen. The kitchen came pre-installed in this apartment, personally, I would not have chosen white but I don’t really mind it either.

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We also have a little nook in the kitchen that is perfect for a two person table. I got this from IKEA and upgraded it with a poster and some plexiglass to add a little color to the space.

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Moving onto the balcony, you can see the windows that made me fall in love with this place. With a feature like this you really don’t need anything on the walls.

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Our little balcony garden is one of my favorite spaces. We are still learning a lot, but it’s a fun process! So far we have tomatoes, mint, basil, carrots, courgettes, potatoes, Hokkaido squash and lemon thyme. Everything on the balcony can be eaten, and tending to the garden is relaxing. The cats also love hanging out here, taking in all the scents on the breeze!

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Moving into the bedroom, probably our most ‘cluttered’ room of the apartment. On the right wall we have three large green dressers which contain our clothing, bedsheets, towels and anything else we need to store. Jake has a little cardboard bed to the side.

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You might not have noticed but there are NO closets in our home. No secret little rooms to stuff full of unsightly things. Our suitcases and coat rack are behind the door to the left, but that’s about as hidden as it gets!

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Across from the dressers are two metal shelves that I picked up for 10 EUR each. The top shelf houses a bunch of plants (8 to be exact), a poster from one of my favorite Godzilla movies, and a little figure of Mothra. (Side note, we name our plants after people we love. This one is named after Alan Rickman.)

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On the second shelf is my #crew. Well, the only crew I really want to be a part of! Star Trek TNG was a huge part of my childhood and some of the ideas presented there helped me form my own beliefs. Gene Roddenberry didn’t just make a TV show, he told a story about how to be better people. He made the future of humanity look bright and beautiful rather than dark and scary. I wanted to be Deanna Troi, a character who was smart, gorgeous, but most importantly kind (and Marina Sirtis is pretty badass too).

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The other shelves are filled with camera equipment, books that are not available on Kindle, and a blanket that serves as our cat Fionna’s bed. We plan to add some more plants in the near future.

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Our bed is just a memory foam twin size mattress, again from IKEA (delivery is expensive here, so we got the basics from IKEA so that we would only have one delivery charge). Above it hangs the biggest map of Berlin I have ever seen. My husband got this from BVG which runs all the trains and trams in Berlin. We like picking out spots on here for day trips.

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Our bedside tables are (again!) made out of drink crates, and mine has a little Chewbacca who holds my iPad and Kindle, as well as my Natural Cycles thermometer and phone charger.  There is also a little Bowie doll, because Bowie.

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As you can see the apartment is mostly minimalist, with a few geeky touches here and there. We would like to add more color, but don’t really want to buy more stuff, so I suspect it will just continue to get greener as we add more plants.

I haven’t included the bathroom because I am planning to do a zero-waste bathroom story soon. Thanks for reading, and let me know if you have any questions in the comments!

 

 

Colorful Minimalist Apartment Tour

Keep Talking

I wanted to stop and share a quick post about Hannah from lifestylejustice. Hannah is an American living in the Philippines and has a fabulous blog about ethical consumerism, fashion, garment workers rights, and environmentalism. It’s not the blog that resonates most with me personally, but I fully respect what she is doing.

Yesterday she wrote a post on her blog, and shared it on Instagram, talking about the need for white people to be better allies. To speak out against the actions in Charlottesville, Virginia and to address the racism they find in their own communities (or even households!) It was a long and well-written post, and I am just summarizing, so please feel free to read it yourself.

Today, Hannah shared that she had woken up to some thank you’s and constructive responses, but also ‘fuck yous’ and long personal attacks. Just to be clear, she is being personally attacked for saying that we should talk about racism.

Many white people (sadly I know too many) simply don’t want to be involved. They feel that this is not their fight, and after all ‘I’m NOT a racist!’ They want to keep their content ‘light’ and not offend anyone.

The problem is that if you are white in America you are benefiting from generations of white privilege and systematic advantages whether you want to or not. You can’t opt out. We inherited a mess from the generations before us, and we can either start cleaning up or ignore it and leave it to the next generation, but one thing is for certain, it’s not just going to disappear by itself.

Bloggers like Hannah talk openly about human rights and the environment to the cheers and admirations of their audiences. She is praised for her kindness and compassion. However, it seems some of her audience prefers their human rights violations on the other side of the world. As soon as the action hits too close to home, they feel threatened and attacked. It makes me wonder if they really take these issues seriously if the death of our oceans and the 500 million people who rely on them directly for food is ‘light’, but racism in the US is too sensitive. How can you talk about ethical fashion, and ethical eating, but not….ethics?

Let’s keep talking about it. Let’s keep addressing it. Not by shaming others but by starting a conversation when you hear a racist joke or remark. Let people know that you do not condone their words or behavior. You might get called sensitive, as SJW, or any other number of insults, but if equality really is important to you, keep talking.

Keep Talking

Brush Collection – Zero Waste

I apologize for my long absence from blogging! I took a week long camping trip with my husband in the Netherlands and planned to have a ton of beautiful stories and photos to share, but sadly the actions of a few cast an ugly shadow over our trip and I didn’t feel like getting out the camera or writing. Happily, we still met up with some good friends and once again I was amazed by the strength and support my husband gives me. I am almost rested and recovered, and I have a bunch of blog posts planned in the next two weeks!

First up, I would like to share our brush collection. I am kind of a ‘clean freak’ and it was important to me to be able to keep my home tidy and body healthy in a sustainable way.

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  1. Redecker rubber brush. This is fantastic for removing cat fur and dust from my sofa, friction creates a static charge which sticks the hair to the brush. Water breaks this charge, releasing it when you rinse. I love cleaning with science 🙂
  2. Bamboo body brush. I have heard that brushing your skin increases circulation and will naturally moisturize it. I haven’t been using this long enough to recommend it, but I will be sure to post results when I feel ready.
  3. Bamboo comb. I don’t brush my hair but will give it the occasional comb through when dry.
  4. Brush cleaning brush, this is literally just to clean other brushes, but it gets a lot of use!
  5. Dirty brush, we use this in the bathroom to brush away stray litter in between vacuuming. We will also use it in the garden or to brush off camping supplies and boots.
  6. Bamboo comb (2). my husband prefers this size, and I will use it if I have a particularly naughty knot in my hair.
  7. Bamboo toothbrush. I have been using bamboo toothbrushes for about 2 years, and I love them.
  8. Vegetable brush, we use this to clean off veggies. This is useful for store bought veg, but vital if you grow your own. Potatoes and carrots, in particular, come out very muddy!

This is what works for us, and I can think of anything else we would need to add at the moment. I dust with a cloth and use a vacuum to clean the floors. For the kitchen and surfaces, I use a cloth and homemade antibacterial spray. We do have a mop which is plastic, and I am planning to use that until it breaks down.

An important thing to remember is that I moved into a new home with almost nothing. I do not advocate throwing away your plastic items in favor of sustainable ones. Use what you have and replace it with a sustainable option when you need to. Although I find a lineup of bamboo brushes aesthetically pleasing, the real goal is to be kinder to the environment, not to take trendy Instagram photos (that’s just a bonus!).

Brush Collection – Zero Waste

Blogger Awards

I am sitting at a coffee shop in Amersfoort, Netherlands with 2.5 hours until my train back to Berlin arrives, so I decided it is finally time to do some of the blogger awards and thank the lovely people who nominated me!

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I was nominated by lovelyandgrateful for the liebster award, I love her blogging style and the values she shares with others. Also, adorable cat pictures!  Liebster is a German word meaning dearest, sweetheart or beloved, and the Liebster Award is a virtual honor passed from blogger to blogger as a way of supporting and promoting each other.

The rules of the Liebster Award are:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog
  • Answer the questions your nominator asked you
  • Nominate 5-11 other blogs (and don’t forget to let them know)
  • Ask your nominations up to 11 questions or facts about themselves.

Here are the answers to the questions I was asked:

  1. What advice would you give to other bloggers? Simplfy! Make your blog readable and easy to navigate. My favorite posts are 3 – 5 minute reads with clear content and good images. Sometimes people use crazy colors and fonts which distract from the writing rather than complimenting to it.
  2. Other than blogging, what are your hobbies? Urban gardening, reading, video games, walking/hiking, and eating. I’m a big foodie!
  3. Do you have any pets? I have two adopted cats that are like little pieces of my heart.
  4. Tea or coffee? Tea always, coffee messes with my stomach and mood.
  5. What’s your favorite book and why? I am not sure I have a favorite so much as favorites in categories, like Small is Beautiful by E F Schumacher is my favorite book on how to improve society. The Truth by Terry Pratchett is my favorite satire, Miss Minimalist by Francine Jay is my favorite book on minimalism. I post my recommended books here. I like books that help me understand people and culture better.
  6. Where in the world would you most like to visit? The painted mountains in China, Japan, and New Zealand.
  7. What’s your favorite quote or personal mantra? Choose the kindest option available to you. There is no one way to live that will work for everyone, but if everyone makes the kindest choice for their personal circumstances the world would be a better place.
  8. Have you ever won any awards or trophies offline? Yes, but I just prefer an individual person to say thanks, or give me a hug, or tell me they appreciate something I have done. I don’t really like trophies, they seem flashy and silly.
  9. What’s your favorite weather? Autumn/Fall because I can wear the clothing that I feel most comfortable in and my health tends to be better when the temperatures are 8 – 18 C (47 – 65 F).
  10. Are you an early bird or a night owl? I was born to be wild…until about 9 pm or so 🙂

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Zheng Fan Minimalist nominated me for the Mystery Blogger Award, I love his simple messages and ideas and that he always has kind words for everyone! Thank you for the nomination!

Rules of Award:

  1. Put the award/logo image on your blog
  2. List the rules
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate 10-20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

 

Here are the questions:

  • Who is your one favorite public person (in the history of mankind)? Why? I really can’t pick and commit to one, because different people inspire me for different reasons! I would say someone who is alive today and very inspirational is Naomi Klein. She has been campaigning for a wide variety of rights for decades and wrote No Logo which I believe is still the best book about fast fashion, human rights and the environment out there. All of her books are incredible and she is really out the on the streets as well as behind her computer fighting for human and climate justice.
  • What is your one favorite song? Why? Haha, again I can’t pick one because (thankfully) the world is full of wonderful music and artists who share their skill with all of us. I suppose Nostolgia by Wim Statius Muller is probably my favorite because he is my grandfather. I feel so blessed that no matter what the future may bring I can listen to his music and feel like he is talking to me.
  • Define yourself in less than 15 words? Complex simplicity.
  • What is the one most important trait you look for in a partner? Compassion, I knew my life partner had to be a vegan and human rights defender, and he is!
  • What is life to you? Marveling at the awesome and beautiful world we have been given, the mysterious and intreguing universe, and the diverse beings we share it with.

Three things about me:

  1. I drink more Earl Grey tea than Jean Luc Picard.
  2. In case you didn’t notice from the last fact, I am a HUGE trekkie.
  3. I once had tea with the former Queen of the Netherlands.

Here is where I am supposed to nominate people but I am running out of laptop battery and most of the people in my blogging sphere have already been nominated. So I am going to leave nominations for now but may come back to them in the next couple weeks! (When I am home with reliable power!)

Blogger Awards

Habits

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Habits really are wonderful things. The habit of brushing your teeth twice a day. The habit of going to the gym. The habit of cleaning your home.

Once an action has become a habit you can do it in a state of flow, your body performs the action but your mind is free to wander. This is why we have so many deep thoughts in the shower. We are engaged in a task that keeps us from other distractions, but we still have room for mental processing without the disturbance of facebook or twitter.

Once an action has become a habit all anxiety disappears. I have a habit of shopping zero waste, a habit of eating vegan, a habit of not over consuming. All of these things were nerve wracking to start, but in time they became a natural part of my life.

Every hard thing you are afraid to try now could be a habit in a few weeks time. You just need to take the first step.

 

 

Habits

A Plastic Ocean (Netflix Documentry)

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There is no away – because plastic is so permanent and so indestructible. When you cast it into the ocean, it does not go away.

Sir David Attenborough

I really appreciate the trend of videographers teaming up with scientists and passionate members of the community to create ‘global movement’ films.

A plastic ocean is another documentary that seeks to give people the tools they need to make better choices. I’m already committed to being plastic free so you would think a film like this is preaching to the choir in my case, but I still found fresh information and inspiration to take away.

I knew that ocean plastic was entering the human food supply, but I did not realize to what extent this was already happening. I might be a vegan, but I still care about the millions of people who rely on fishing for their primary source of protein (not to mention my fish loving kitties!).

The biggest concern I hear about using reusable bags, cups, etc is that it’s hard. People are already struggling to juggle work, social commitments, health, kids and a million other little things and they just want to convenience of a plastic bag. Being passionate about a cause removes that mental hurdle, once you incorporate reusables into your life, this ‘new way’ to shop and enjoy your coffee becomes a habit, and it does not feel hard. I compare this to going vegetarian or vegan, the first month is the most difficult, but in time you can’t imagine doing it any other way.

Zero-waste options and alternatives are exploding right now, in my home city of Berlin I have seen two grocery chains introduce a zero waste section in just the past two months. You can’t have missed all the plastic-free July posts on social media. I’m not normally into trends, but this is one that I encourage all people to jump into head first!

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.

Abraham Lincoln

A Plastic Ocean (Netflix Documentry)

Schloss Charlottenburg – Berlin

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This weekends green trip was to Schloss Charlottenburg. I had been avoiding this as it is a major tourist attraction, but I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of peace and space we had when visiting.

Charlottenburg Palace was built at the end of the 17th century, commissioned by Sophie Charlotte who was the wife of the Elector of Brandenburg. It was heavily damaged during WWII, but has been renovated and now functions as a public space. Although entrance to the palace is 12 euro, anyone can enjoy the extensive gardens for free. Honestly, I recommend skipping the palace and saving yourself some money.

The gardens are split into formal and informal, the informal being much larger. You can easily walk around for 2 hours in this huge wild space, and although you will see joggers and sunbathers lounging around there are plenty of private nooks for those who need to escape the busy city.

For vegans making the trip, I highly recommend stopping at nearby Attila Hildmann on Schillerstraße 71 for incredible burgers and the best vegan ice cream I have ever had!

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Schloss Charlottenburg – Berlin