Friday, 9 December 2016

The Good Gift Guide

Well, isn't that a nice title? It does sound like I'm about to start preaching, but I promise I won't. By "good" I, first and foremost, mean to be conscious and think before you hand over your cash or credit card - or click "buy now".

During this time of the year it is especially easy to fall into the trap of numerous shops, brands and retailers. I can imagine that Christmas is probably the time of the year for them to make their biggest sales and earn the most money. Well, it's our money they get, don't forget that.

Of course, we all want to buy gifts because that's what you do on Christmas and I'm not saying we shouldn't. I do actually enjoy buying Christmas presents because I absolutely love giving gifts, especially if the person is more than happy with what I packed in festive wrapping paper (in a very noobish way because that's honestly something I'm not good at - shocking, I know).

But when I look at all the commercials and all the Christmas gift guides out there I really wonder what Christmas gift giving has become. Finding a gift for someone is supposed to be about that person. Not about the newest release of this or that. Or about the shiny and cute little nick-nack that no one actually needs.

This is why I'm writing this post - the good gift guide. I think presents should be something a person actually needs. There is always something you can think of. What did your mother, your boyfriend or whoever talk about several times, what is he or she really interested in and could need something of.

I will give you some ideas of what I think can maybe help. If you have an artistic person in your family or circle of friends, someone who likes painting, then why don't buy some art supplies? These things can come quite pricey when bought in high quality, so it's likely something they would delay in buying themselves.

The same goes with things for musicians. Do you know someone who plays an instrument? Then why don't get your guitar playing friend some good quality guitar strings? Or some nice sheets of music for piano players? There are countless of practical things to gift.

Just start out with thinking about the person. Make some notes of what they like and continue from that on. Do some brainstorming and see what you come up with. The most important thing is that you actually have an idea before you hit the shops. That way you avoid buying something that no one needs.

And think about the brand you are about to support and give money to. Is this a brand that you want to support? Do you agree with their ethics and values? Remember that nearly all well-known brands actually do not support fair trade and don't care for our environment. I think especially at this time of the year this is something to keep in mind.

I hope I could give some inspiration here and you'll buy more consciously for Christmas. It's not about how big or expensive the present is. A 5€ present can be much more valuable and appreciated than one for 100€. It always depends on the person and their actual interests and hobbies.

Happy Advent season and merry shopping - consciously!


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Why I'm Moving Abroad

This picture is from a few years ago on my first visit to the Cliffs of Moher. It was very windy.

If you've read my last post, you will know that I am moving to Ireland in a few weeks. I've lived abroad before so in a way it is not really an out of the ordinary step for me. As you might know, my university was in Sweden and during that time I also stayed in France for one year as part of the Erasmus programme. But even before studying, I have spent time abroad. After finishing school I went to England and Scotland for a short while. Then after finishing my office education, I went to France for an internship.

So in a way, I have always been restless and didn't quite know where I belong. Maybe that's because I'm half German and half Italian which means I have roots in more than one country. But I actually don't really think that's it. I never felt torn between the two countries and I never felt the need to make a decision to which one I belong. I never felt particularly German or Italian and I don't say that in a negative way. It's just not something I need to define myself. If I had to, I would say I'm European.

Already in school I never intended to live in Germany. I always wanted to live abroad. And of course, actually living abroad for quite a few years of my life has only strengthened this feeling. So when I was sitting in my old children's room at my parents these last few months, I felt quite unhappy and unsettled. But I didn't notice it at first as my mind was occupied with other things and I had my summer job every day. But when that work ended in September and I had to start looking for jobs, I felt so uninspired and trapped. I felt that now was the time to make decisions that will define the rest of my life. And I wasn't sure if I wanted this life to be in Germany.

Don't get me wrong. I love Germany, it's my home and it will always be. But I never really felt like I'm part of it. It's hard to explain and I'm not sure if I'm doing it right. I have developed so much over the last ten years, which I also owe to my experience of living abroad of course. And today, I'm very happy with who I am. Coming back to your home country after being away for a while makes you notice things that you don't necessarily see when you're surrounded by them every day. There are so many things in Germany that do not comply with my ethics, my values and my beliefs. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because there is no country in the world that "fits" you 100%. But I think it's especially painful when it's your home country. The country that has shaped and influenced you. And this country appears so alien to me in many things now.

Moving to Ireland is not only a decision for Ireland, but it's also a decision against Germany. Of course, I don't want to say that things are better in Ireland, that's not the point of this post. I'm not comparing countries to each other, as that would be stupid. Some things in Ireland are better, some things are worse, that's life. To me, what makes this country attractive is the fact that it's new. It's like starting a fresh new notebook. Nothing has been written in it so far and I can decide how the story will go on.

I don't know if I will stay there forever. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. Maybe I'll return to Germany in a few years, or I'll move to an entirely different country once again. I'm not a planner, I don't know what will happen in my life as I don't think about it. However, I do hope to stay in Ireland. I finally want to have a home, a proper home that is my base. And I hope I will find it there.


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

I Am Moving To Ireland

Last week I have been to Galway. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter (which you should, by the way, as I post there way more often than on my blog), you will already know this.

One thing I haven't told you about, however, is the reason why I went there. I wasn't going on holiday because, to be honest, I would pick a warmer time to go to Ireland. Instead I got invited for a job interview. Now you might wonder why I even applied for jobs in Ireland as this is something I have never mentioned here. But the last few months I have felt quite unhappy and stuck back here in Germany. I never intended to live here, I always enjoyed living in other countries way more. So when I only received rejections to my job applications, I thought why not go abroad? And then I thought about where I would want to live and Ireland came to my mind instantly. I have always enjoyed being there on holiday and I always wondered how it would be to live there. I will now find out soon.

The job is as a customer representative or support in a touristic company and as I said, it is in Galway. Galway has actually been my favourite city in Ireland so far. It may not be the most beautiful one (I think Cork is way more beautiful for example), but I love the vibe, the size and the people there. When I came there the first time nearly four years ago, I just felt so much at home. And now it will soon be my home.

Of course, there lies a lot of organisation ahead of me and most importantly, I need to find a place to live. But during my few days in Galway last week, I actually made some friends who also moved there and I'm sure they can help me. In the worst case, I have to live in a hostel at first but I hope I won't have to.

I still need to settle a few things with the company, but at the moment, it looks like I will start working in January so I'll probably move there right after Christmas. I'm so used to moving abroad that I'm not too scared of packing and all that stuff. But it sure feels very different this time. The last times I always knew it would be for a few months or a few years, but now I hope Ireland will become my home. My contract is for 12 months, but it can always be prolongued, so I hope it will all go well.

Sorry for this rambly post, but I just got the email and I haven't even told my parents yet (I will have by the time you are reading this), so I think I'm still a bit stuck in the excitement and shock bubble.

I hope I'll be able to write more exciting blog posts again once I'm settled there and feel (hopefully) happier with my life. Until then, I'll try my best to get posts up that you can enjoy.


Thursday, 17 November 2016

Natural Soaps From Manna

The other day I was scrolling down my Facebook page and I noticed an advert at the side. It was from Manna Seife (here is the UK site of Manna Soaps) which is a Hungarian brand. I would like to tell you some more about it but I can't load their website today, which seems to be a problem of my Internet provider, so I can't actually look up any information. But I hope you don't have the same problem and you can check out their website for further information.

The reason why I ordered from them was that they only use natural and organic material to make their products. There are no chemicals or palm oil inside and they are not tested on animals. So many of their products are also vegan which is really great too. I've always enjoyed using more natural products and I was also always intrigued by face soaps. However, the ones that Lush offers don't sound like they're right for my skin type so I never actually tried it out.

But now I've ordered two different ones to test. The first one is the "White Satin Facial Cleansing Soap" ("Elfenbein Gesichtsreinigungsseife") which is especially for dry and sensitive skin, but I think everyone could use this. I have very dehydrated and quite dry skin so I thought this would be perfect for me. I just tried it out for the first time and it's foaming up really nicely. My skin felt not as dry afterwards as with other cleansers I used so from my first impression I can say I like it. But I'll have to see how I get on with it over time.

The second soap is the "Daisy Dream Soap" ("Zaubergartenseife") which claims to make your skin more beautiful. I always struggle with hormonal breakouts but I'm scared of using anything too harsh because, like I said, my skin is quite dry. This soap apparently also works as a peeling so I might just use it once or twice a week to get rid of dead skin cells.

To go with the soaps, I also ordered a small size of one of their cream deodorants. I tried several natural deodorants before but none of them worked that well in summer. The one I chose here is the "Geranium & Ylang Ylang Cream Deodorant" ("Taufrischer Morgen Creme Deo") and it smells very fresh and floral, but not in a sweet way. I will try it out and if I like it, I will continue using it until next time summer comes around when it will be put to the real test.

Because I spent more than 15€ and it was my first order, I also got three samples. I got their well-loved Organic Shea Butter from Ghana in a small pot, and also their Shea Butter with Lavender and Tea Tree Oil. I just put a little bit of the shea butter on a small part of my face to test first if I have a reaction. I'm always quite scared of products making me break out even though it has never happened before (touch wood). I hope I will get on well with it because shea butter is so moisturising and it would be perfect for my skin, especially now in winter.

The last sample I got is a small 5ml bottle of their Sweet Orange Oil. I never really use oils like that but maybe I'll put it in a bath one day or mix it in with a boring body moisturiser. I don't think I would buy something like that myself as I know I wouldn't use them, but it's nice to get a sample.

All of the products I chose are vegan, although it doesn't say on the tub of the shea butter. But it definitely has to be vegan as it only contains shea butter. Maybe they ran out of space for the vegan logo. ;) I think the prices were not too bad, I paid around 6€ for one soap and they will last a long time. I cut off a small piece of the soap I already used and left it in the bathroom. This way, it will be easier to keep the bar clean and make it last longer.

Have you ever tried Manna or any other natural soaps?