Monday, 30 November 2015

My personal Starbucks challenge

Hey everyone, nice to be out here again. It’s been a while, I know. Lots of things going on in my life and somehow I just couldn’t find the time and right mood to write a new post for a while and before I knew it several months had passed. But I’m back now, and we’ll see where my life and the blog will take me in times to come. I think I’ll tend to do some more lifestyle posts as you see right here…

I’ve been into a more ecological lifestyle lately. Not that I haven’t cared at all in the past (if you consider things like waste separation and reusable bags for grocery shopping for example) but that’s been on a relatively low level. Some months ago I started to act a bit more towards this direction using even less plastic bags by actively refusing them when shopping for stuff like clothes and bits'n'pieces and I always keep a textile bag in my handbag. Plus I take the train to work more often now. I know it’s not much but it’s at least something.

Now, when it comes to coffee or tea in the mornings I have several thermo mugs at home and usually use them to bring my own tea or coffee on the train (or in the car). However I quite like to get coffee somewhere else too because I like to get a different taste or I’m just out and about in the afternoons or weekends. So I find myself stopping by at Starbucks quite often as it is a great treat at all times of the day (plus it's fairtrade coffee). But getting my coffee in throw-away paper cups has been bugging me lately. Thinking towards acting more ecologically I don’t want this anymore.

So, looking at my small collection of thermo mugs at home I realized that they’re all too small for a size tall coffee at Starbucks which is 12 oz (355 ml). So I had to get a new mug – and which place would be better than where I usually get my coffee? So I went to my local Starbucks and they luckily had quite a selection there. I chose a nice tumbler from their German christmas collection. The red color is totally my thing and I wanted it to be stainless steel because I think it’s prettier and more durable than the acrylic ones.

Picture Source

It wasn’t until then that I knew that you even get a discount at Starbucks if you buy your coffee in a reusable mug. Did you know? I was pleasantly surprised because that’s even more reason to buy one. So I get 0,30 € off every time I buy coffee. Winner. Putting this against the price of my tumbler (17,95 €) it makes 60 coffees to drink for becoming a rewardable investment.

And this is where the CHALLENGE starts. I’ve decided to take a photo of my Starbucks coffee every time I get one in my mug because using it just makes me feel good. And sharing this challenge may cause other people to opt for a reusable mug too.  
I’m going to post my photos on my Instagram account and post a recap here on the blog from time to time. So feel free to follow me or even join in.

First use on the train

So, I already tested my mug and I’m thrilled. It keeps my drink hot for a long time (some hours), fits well into common car cup holders and into my messenger bag and it looks stylish. It would also make a great gift for anyone who likes coffee and Starbucks. Love it.

Do you use thermo mugs? Do you think we should take small steps towards living more ecologically?
Love, Kerstine.

*This post is not sponsored or supported by Starbucks in any way and the opinion given here is completely my own.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Crochet Minion Phone Case

This is just another small fun project I want to share. You can crochet it in just one day or even one evening if you're a fast crocheter. Even for beginners it's quite easy because it's crocheted in rounds and there are not many different stitches necessary.
I made this phone case for a friend who is a fan of minions and I think he really liked it. 
The free pattern I used is from Tampa Bay Crochet. I particularly like the eye being used as button to close the case and prevent the phone from sliding out. I had to modify the size of the case a bit though because my phone case was made for a Samsung S3 Mini which is a bit smaller than the given measures. That's why I made a gauge before I started on the case and decided to use a smaller crochet hook (4mm). It worked out perfectly.

I think this phone case is a great gift idea as it is quickly made and  you could easily use different colours or a different design (e. g. stripes) if you or the gifted person isn't into minions that much. I used this stripy design when I made another one for my mum.

What do you think about this phone case? Which colours and pattern would you prefer?

Monday, 25 May 2015

10 Things to see and do in Oslo - A quick guide

Oslo… I’m in love with this city. It’s maybe not that classical beauty like many of the Central and South European cities (think e. g. of  Paris, Vienna or Prague) but it has its charm.
There are nice old buildings too, there are great shopping areas and restaurants and a great nightlife (I probably wouldn’t believe that if I hadn’t experienced it). There are awesome parks and a great waterfront to walk along the fjord. Nature is not as far away as in other cities (you can use the subway to go skiing!) as Oslo is surrounded by mountains and forests and the fjord.
Oslo has a certain Skandinavian chic, it seems quite young and hip to me, with a good mix of energetic and relaxed vibes depending on where you’re heading.

When to go

Having been to Oslo quite a few times now, I think all seasons are equally great to go. I mostly visited in winter for a short city trip. There’s snow and ice flows then on the fjord and this creates a nice winter atmosphere. The advantage of winter is that there aren't that many tourists (I don't know about christmas time though) and there are still many things to do. However, in summer, you can sit outside by the sea and enjoy the green parks and forests. So if you fancy dining on the pavement and going swimming on the nearby islands you should rather visit in the warm season.

How to get there and around

There are many direct flight connections from Europe (e. g. Berlin, London, Prague) to several airports around Oslo whereas Gardermoen is the main airport and nearest to the city. There are train and bus connections to the city centre from all airports. By car or train it's a very long journey (via Denkmark and Sweden) so I wouldn't recommend that. However in my opinion, the best way to get to Oslo is by ship. There are several ferry lines from Denmark, Sweden and Germany and you can take your car with you if you need it. I particularly love taking the cruise ferry Colorline from Kiel because it's a very relaxed and a bit luxurious journey of 20 hours in which you can enjoy yourself like on a real cruise ship.
Getting around is easy in Oslo as many sights are in downtown or close enough to walk from there. For transport I would recommend using public transport (especially the tram) as the system is easy to understand and it's relatively cheap (buy tickets e. g. in front of the main station).

Colorline Ferry

Where to stay

Oslo can be really pricey so I would recommend looking for accomodation via Airbnb or choosing a budget hotel (like the Thon hotels). If you're travelling by ferry, the ferry lines (especially Colorline) are offering very good hotel deals. There are several hostels in the city too that seem nice but I haven't tried those.

10 Things to see and do

1) Karl Johans Gate 

Karl Johans Gate
This is the big main street that goes through the city centre and connects the main station with the Royal Palace. Walking along this street you're right in the heart of the action. You see some of the most important buildings like the paliament, the national theatre and the cathedral. There's a little park (where you can go ice skating in winter), lots of restaurants and shops and you should just wander and dive into the feel of the city.

Domkirke Cathedral

2) Shopping one of the main things you can do at Karl Johanns Gate, e. g. here...
Moods of Norway Shop
Besides the known brands there are some good stores of Scandinavian brands that are my favourite for shopping (be sure to check out Lindex and Moods of Norway). Despite the generally pricey city most of the stores are moderately priced and they've got great stuff. The cool thing is that they're a bit more up to date with fashion than shops in Germany. So whenever I go shopping there, I now what's coming into fashion a few months later back home.

3) The Opera House

Opera house
The Opera House lies near the city centre and main station in the fjord. Yes, you got that right -in the fjord! It's a piece of art made from Carrara marble and it's supposed to look like ice flow swimming in the fjord. I've actually never been in the opera house (that's still on my bucket list) but several times on it. Yes, this is the next great fact - you can actually take a walk on the opera house (some Norwegians even go for a run there) or sit on it and have a picnic. The view over the fjord is really nice.

View from the Opera house

4) Akershus Fortress

This medieval fortress is not far from the opera, so you can take a short walk through the old town to get there. Although I'm not that fond of history, I find it interesting to take a look around the old stone walls, the royal stables and the ancient cannons. I would also say that you have one of the best views over the fjord and towards Akerbrygge from there. 

View from Akershus Fortress

5) The waterfront

Speaking of Akerbrygge, you can take a short walk there from Akershus Fortress and you'll pass the charming little harbour, the town hall (which is open to visitors) and the Nobel Peace Center. 
Waterfront view

Oslo Town Hall
Akerbrygge itself is a seafront neighbourhood which is great for shopping and dining but very pricey and touristy. You can walk along the water, take in the modern architecture and have an ice cream - you must have Norwegian soft ice cream - it's yum! - but I wouldn't recommend dining there. Dining is rather great in...

6) Grünerløkka

Grunerlokka is probably not a secret tip anymore but the restaurants here are still much more affordable and often better than in downtown Oslo or at the waterfront. This charming little neighbourhood seems to be where students hang around and has a very relaxed atmosphere that is great for strolling along the small streets, shopping in small boutiques and having coffee in a nice little café.

Shopping in Grünerløkka
French food in Grünerløkka
Grünerløkka by night in winter

7) Walk along the Akerselva

Walking to Grunerlokka from Downtown you can take the route along the Akerselva which is a small river through the city. This was a very industrial part of the city with the river delivering water and power for industrial companies. Nowadays, it's a green escape in the city, surrounded by parks and nature trails. Walking along, you pass some old industrial buildings that are now used as museums, apartment buildings and much more.

8) All the Museums

Speaking of museums, if you're into history you'll find a great bunch of museums in Oslo. Some of the best are probably the ones at Bygdøy peninsula, where you can find 5 museums about the history of seafaring (e. g. in the Viking Ship Museum or the Fram Museum which I really liked) and about the Norwegian culture and history. I haven't visited many of Oslo's museums so far (I'm definitely planning to though) but some of the best art museums that are on my list are the Munch Museum (the famous painter) and the Vigeland Museum near Vigelandsparken.

9) Vigelandsparken

Entrance alley of Vigelandsparken
Vigelandsparken is a sculpture park that is a part of the big Frognerparken (Frogner Park). The famous artist Gustav Vigeland especially made quite true to original stone and brazen sculptures of humans in different ages and different states of mind. Vigeland tried to capture the cycle of life with these sculptures and it's really fascinating to walk along the alleys that are lined with his sculptures.

Sculpture fountain in Vigelandsparken

10) The Nightlife

Well, I haven't got many pictures of this one because I don't usually take pictures while dancing and drinking (haha). And there is definitely a lot of drinking and dancing in Oslo. Especially at the weekends, many restaurants turn into a party location at night. Besides, there are numerous pubs, bars and dance clubs around and Scandinavian people really know how to dress up and party. You can't be overdressed when going out in Norway. So, when visiting Oslo, you should't miss going out  and experiencing the bubbling nightlife.

So, these are some of the best things I have experienced in Oslo so far. I hope, this gives you a good impression of what Oslo is like. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or anything to add. Love, Kerstine

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Happy Easter!

So... happy Easter everyone! I've spent the last days doing quite a few fun things. Easter didn't come with spring weather though, well there was some sun but it's definitely too cold for spring. However I made the days colorful and cheerful by several activities. 

Painting Easter eggs is a thing I haven't done in years, I used to love it as a child. I don't know if you have this tradition in other countries but in Germany you empty the eggs by blowing out the edible stuff through little holes then clean the eggs and they're ready to get painted.
I used acrylic paint and just painted a few nice patterns that came to my mind. Here's my work in progress... 
 The green one is a flowery spring pattern, then there's the 'maritime' egg in red and blue with random white dots and the geometrical one with triangles all over.I hate wating for the colours to dry, but all in all it was really fun to do this plus they turned out very decorative.

So much of painting Easter eggs. But I've also coloured boiled eggs for us to eat. We use a special food colouring to do this and as the eggs are boiled you can keep them quite a while and have one or two (or more) each day for breakfast or as a snack.
We also spent some time outside despite the cold weather, there was some sun at least. We went for a long walk doing some Geocaching. For those of you who haven't tried - it's really fun!

Are you having nice Easter celebrations? Do you know the traditions of painting and colouring eggs? Which one of my eggs do you like best? Love, Kerstine.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Project #18: Small Crochet Basket

As you have probably seen in my previous post, I made a little basket to hold some of the bits'n'pieces I need on my desk. I don't like having too much stuff lying around on my desk and this basket helps me keep the small things together.

It is made after a really easy pattern. I used a super bulky yarn in colours matching our living room and the rest of my desk. The whole basket is made with double crochets. The base is crocheted in rounds increasing until I thought it's big enough. 
I followed (once again) the pattern from the book "Crochet with One Sheepish Girl" but made only the first 3 rounds for the bottom. Otherwise it would have become too big. 
The sides are made from 3 rounds of double crochet (changing colour inbetween) and ended with a round of back post single crochets. This finish is my own idea and makes the rim more stable.

I'm quite fond of crochet baskets and have already made few, e. g. this one. They are really handy. Have you ever made a crochet basket? What are you keeping in it?

Monday, 2 March 2015

Home Office Makover

Spending more time working at home during the last few months I became a bit dissatisfied by my desk situation. So far I used a secretary desk (or escritoire) which I thought was ok. But given the circumstances that I'm writing my phd thesis and the most intense phase just began, I now have to work at home more. Since I spread lots of books and dokuments while working, the seretary surface turned out way too small for REALLY working. 

It took us quite a while to figure out a good solution as our flat is quite small and there is only a tiny space in the living room for squeezing in a desk. So we put in this dark tabletop you see in the photo. 
In small spaces you have to see that there is as little stuff as possible on your desk. So we hung up my computer screen on the wall and installed a shelf for my laptop above. There is room for notes on the pinboard or under my clear writing pad. Books and bigger things can be kept in the shelf under the desk. However it was still a very small desk and probably not big enough for spreading all my stuff while working but we didn't want to change the furniture in our living room.

So my husband came up with the great idea to build a variable tabletop inside the cabinet on the right. The doors on the outside remained and he added a wooden panel from the inside. The doors are now linked and can't be opened the usual way but have to be folded out. You can see the result in the next photo. This way I've got a lot of desk space for spreading all my working stuff. When I'm done for the day I just fold it back up and it looks like an ordinary cabinet (with just the slit in the door but I don't mind). Isn't it fantastic?

Of course I had to add some nice little decorative things to make myself feel even more comfortable when sitting at my desk. I put some photos of my family and friends onto the walls because I like having them around. 
My pinboard became nicer by sticking washi tape all over its wooden frame and adding some pompom pushpins (see 

I made a little crochet basket to hold the little bit'sn'pieces I essentially need on my desk which is going to be in the next post. And one last thing I just had to do is pimping the handles of the cupboard hanging above my desk (just didn't like them). A super bulky yarn and a simple crochet stitch around them did the trick. 

So, how do you like the ideas of my home office makover? Any more ideas for small office spaces? Love, Kerstine.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Project #17: Scallop Stripe Cowl

Hi there, it's finally time for a new project. The first one this year. I've got several projects in my head or on the go right now but last weekend I was really inspired by this cowl. The pattern is from a crochet book I got for christmas (and which I badly wished for): Crochet with One Sheepish Girl by Meredith Crawford. I've been following Meredith's blog for a while now and I like her modern design projects. It's important to me that things I crochet don't look like they're only worn by grandmas and in my opinion she really does the magic.

So this is her Scallop Stripe Cowl (the photo is from Meredith's book). I chose different colours because I wanted to use some of my yarn stash (see my goals for 2015). I found some skeins of "Rödel Polar" in my stash which is a super bulky yarn for hook size 9 to 10 mm. 

I also think that this combination of dark blue and sunny yellow comes out really nice. It reminds me of the sea and the beach in summer holidays which combines well with the scallop stripes. I've also seen it named as shell stitch. 

The cowl is pretty easy to make if you have just a little experience with crochet (and if you don't you can learn it from Meredith's great book) plus I think it was quite fast to crochet as you' re using super bulky yarn. Despite the instructions in the book I did only 2 repetitions of the pattern as it was big enough for me as the yarn causes to cowl to stand up (and not to slip down as many cowls do). 
So all in all it's a great garment to wear now as it's still winter in Germany and I sometimes need a little reminder of summer. But don't get me wrong - I like snow - but all in good time!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

4 days in South Tyrol

My husband and I spent a few days over New Year's in beautiful South Tyrol with my family and some friends. We stayed at a nice little hotel in the mountains near the town of Bruneck. The hotel is really secluded because you have to leave your car at the carpark and walk up the valley for about 15 minutes to get there. But with the snow the little walk was rather enjoyable. The hotel was very cosy (including a spa) and they served great food. The fun part however was to get back down to the carpark as you could take a sleigh ride from the hotel back down.

We visited the nice little town of Bruneck one day. The christmas market was still going with cute little huts, crafts, mulled wine and food specialities. We also climbed up the hill to the castle where you have a wonderful view over the valley.

We had also planned to do some winter activities on this trip. There wasn't much snow in the valleys so we were a bit disappointed at first but on the mountains and near our hotel, there was enough snow to do some sleighing and cross country skiing. This is a ski trail near one of our favourite mountains in South Tyrol.

On New Year's Day we went hiking for a few hours - a great way to forget all the wine and champagne from New Year's Eve (haha). Wonderful winter sun, a stunning scenery and an awesome nature were a very relaxed way to greet the new year...

Have you been on a trip anywhere for christmas or New Year's? Hope you can feel the sun on your skin when you see these photos. Love, Kerstine