Brigitta – Adalbert Stifter

Title: Brigitta

Author: Adalbert Stifter (1805-1868)

Genre: German literature

Having been born in Austria and also going to school there, I naturally discovered German literature over the course of the years and certainly came to enjoy it.

The german language is often described as harsh and hard, not even to close to the beauty of romantic languages like Spanish and French. Which is right, neither Austrians nor Germans sound particularly nice, the written german language however, is a bit different.

Especially in the epoch of Sturm and Drang, when German authors flourished, the language is beautiful to read and made me kind of fall back in love with my mother-tongue after having slipped off into English (I still prefer to write in English though). For that reason I decided to occasionally upload a German-literature-post on here, for those of you who are studying German or are generally interested in that topic.

The first book I would like to review is “Brigitta” by Adalbert Stifter.

The book has first been published in 1843 but reappeared as an edited version in 1847. Compared to other pieces of German literature, Brigitta is a fairly easy read, which makes it the perfect book to get started with in this genre.

I first read the book in High School and for some reason loved it straight away. Something about the protagonist just resonated with me and I’ve been rereading it every once in a while.

Now, what’s the book about. 

The short novel Brigitta is separated into four parts or chapters. In the first chapter we follow the first-person narrater on his journey through Hungary, where he is visiting an old friend and fellow traveler.

In the second part, we get to know that friend who is called the Major, and his surroundings a bit better. The reader also gets a very good picture about one of the neighbours of the Major, whose name is Brigitta.

The third chapter makes it clear that the Major and Brigitta share a very special history and the story of how they met and what happened between them is unfold.

In the fourth chapter there’s an accident, tears and finding back home.

What makes this story so appealing is Stifter’s incredible talent of describing landscapes. His style of writing is so accurate and precise, it feels as if he were painting with words. And in Brigitta it also becomes clear that Stifter was very much in favour of emancipation which wasn’t the norm during the 19thcentury.

The main characters of the book are:

  • The Major, who even as a middle-aged man has the looks and the brains to make women swoon
  • Brigitta, who is so ugly even her own mother repelled her, but has a huge heart and works hard
  • The first person narrator of whom we know nothing more than how much he used to love travelling, but starts to long for a settled home

To conclude this review, in my opinion Brigitta is a great book to get started in German-literature but also for those of you who want to increase their ability of describing landscapes and scenes.

Looking For Alaska – John Green

John Green’s „Looking For Alaska” is probably my favourite work of his. Published seven years before his most famous piece “The Fault In Our Stars” (2012) captured millions of readers all over the world, Looking for Alaska showed the mysterious, dark side of growing-up, mixed with mental health issues, trauma and loss.

As I mentioned in my review of “Turtles All The Way Down” I adore John Green’s style of writing in all of his books, but in Alaska he has certainly outdone himself. He speaks the language of teenagers like no one else, which is why John Green is the master of Y/A literature (in my eyes at least). Looking for Alaska is for the lack of a better word, more “indie” than the rest of his books and I love the mystery and the companionship between the main characters. Also, establishing a protagonist who quotes the last words of dead people is so unusual, and at the same time the perfect match to the story.

Anyway, enough about the author, let me give you a quick overview of the plot (spoiler-alert!).

The book starts with young, friendless Miles deciding to go to boarding school in, as he puts it, the search for the great perhaps.

Shortly after his arrival at Culver Creek Boarding School he is named “Pudge” and has made the first three friends of his life. Chip, Pudges roommate, and his friends Takumi and Alaska. Those four aren’t the cool-kids at Culver Creek, but they are extremely smart and, especially in Alaska’s case, really good in pranking. So the first few months of the school year go by, but it wouldn’t be High School if there weren’t some sort of romantic drama involved. Miles has been falling for Alaska, the only female in their group, ever since he stepped into her dorm-room filled with books. The stunning girl is as beautiful on the outside as she is screwed-up and lonely on the inside. With her near, it never boring and historic pranks are pulled off. Yet despite the fun there’s that dark cloud that follows Alaska everywhere she goes. She literally goes from being all bubbly and seemingly happy to making cryptic comments like “Y’all smoke to enjoy is, I smoke to die.”and so the girl with the childhood-trauma and thousands of books, slowly wins Miles’ heart. She is enchanted by him as well, but just when they seem to hit it off, she dies in a car-accident, which could have been suicide but we never find out whether Alaska really killed herself or if it was a terrible accident. Miles and his friends are left in a deep hole of guilt and grief and have to fight against the tidal wave of life and remember to keep going. 

In the end, it’s Alaska who puts Miles in a miserable place in the middle of the story, yet she also teaches him and all the readers one important lesson for life: The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.

Clear Improvement Mask – Origins UK

The well-known UK-based beauty and skincare brand Origins have added a new skincare-member to their product-family, which I’ve been testing the last few months. Here is what I think of it.

Let me introduce you to the new Clear Improvement Charcoal Honey Mask! 🙂

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This mask is literally everything you could wish for in a mask.

  • It consists of solely organic ingredients, such as honey, charcoal and goldenrod.
  • It smells incredible.
  • It leaves your skin feeling super soft, nourished and cleansed.
  • It’s been made cruelty-free and vegan.
  • The packaging is made of recyclable cardboard

When you apply the mask to your face, you can actually feel the charcoal cleansing your pores. My face usually gets kinda tingly shortly after I put the mask on.

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How to use it:

The Clear Improvement Mask should be used about once a week. Before applying the mask, I would strongly suggest you remove your makeup and cleanse your face thoroughly. Only then will the mask be able to get into your pores and work its magic. For the ultimate results, you could also cover your face with a wet towel (using warm water), before applying the mask, that will open up your pores even more.

Leave the mask on for about 15 to 20 minutes, before taking it off with some warm water. Afterwards, you’d apply some moisturizer and you’re ready to go.

I’ve been using this mask for about half a year now and I honestly couldn’t love it more. It’s such a great product, feels incredibly good on my skin and the results are amazing. To be honest, I personally have never had a big issue with having bad skin and such, but especially a few days before my period is due, I do get some break-outs. And since during this time of the month, I do really focus on pampering and looking after myself, a nice face-mask comes in very handy.

Anyway, I’d definitely recommend this mask to everybody (the mask is suitable for all skin types) and would love to know your thoughts and experiences with this product, so leave a comment down below.

See you soon

Kristina x

Dracula – Bram Stoker

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Well, I don’t even know where to start with this book. Dracula is obviously a classic and I don’t have clue why it took me 21 years to finally read it.

But let me tell you, that book is astonishing and so incredibly gripping I basically lived one-handed for two days because I just couldn’t put it down.

Apparently, it took Bram Stoker ten years to finish his masterpiece, which is understandable once you see the thought-through structure of Dracula. Also, he did such a good job in researching all those tales about Vampires and spinning together an amazing plot I’m honestly quite impressed he could finish it in that time-frame.

What makes Dracula so gripping is probably the fact that the book consists solely of diary-entries written by various characters. That gives the reader the feeling of actually having been there. The whole story starts when the protagonist Jonathan Harker sets out to Transylvania to visit Count Dracula who has bought an establishment in London and wants to go over the details with Harker in person.

At first, everything seems rather normal to Jonathan, but as the days go on he realizes that the Count is quite odd. He never seems to eat, is pale as death and never shows himself during the daytime. Slowly but surely Harker comes to the conclusion that the count has to be a vampire and tries to flee from the castle. Even though he eventually succeeds in doing so, he is in a grave condition when other people find him and pamper him back to health.

Meanwhile, his fiancé Mina is visiting her friend Lucy, who establishes an odd sort of illness and sadly dies after having battled for her well-being for weeks. Dr Seward, who is a former admirer of Lucy and his friend Van Helsing have, alongside Mina and Arthur, Lucy’s husband, tried to cure Lucy. But instead of a common illness, they discover something way more demonic has happened to their friend. Lucy had been bitten by a vampire and thus has become one herself. After her death, Mina, who had by then been joined by her now-husband Jonathan, and the rest of the group set out to free Lucy of her existence and to kill the vampire, who brought that misfortune to them all.

With dread, Jonathan realizes that his acquaintance with Count Dracula reaches way deeper than he ever feared since the count is, of course, responsible for the death of Lucy. But his journals about his time in Transylvania are crucial for the success of the hunt, and slowly the friends understand the plan of the count.

But the closer they come to kill the beast the more dangerous their quest becomes and so Mina Harker is bitten by the Count. Afraid for the life of his beloved wife, Jonathan tries everything in his might to rescue her from the fangs of death.

Well, to find out more please read the book for yourself. But please make sure to not be alone in a big house when reading it at night, because it really does get quite spooky.

Five easy, sustainable swaps

I’ve learnt from my own experience that trying to live a more conscious and sustainable lifestyle can be quite overwhelming at first. What’s important here is to slowly incorporate more and more sustainable option in your day-to-do life, rather than trying to go vegan, be entirely plastic-free and a minimalist all at once. For some of you this radical change will work, but me and maybe a few others rather take it slow. My point being that we should all make changes, in whether way is most suitable for us, as long as we are in for the long run. Veganism, sustainability and consciously living aren’t just trends right now. In order to act against climate change, plastic-pollution and the extinction of various sea-animals and mammals we have to be consistent with our choices, which means that we have to consciously decide ourselves for the plastic-free option every single day.

In this post I’m focusing on reducing plastic-waste with just five easy and affordable swaps that won’t have a huge impact on your personal life, but will make a huge difference for our planet.

Bamboo toothbrushes

More than 1 billion toothbrushes are thrown away per year in the US alone, a huge amount of which lands in the ocean, where it endangers turtles, dolphins and many other sea-animals. Plastic toothbrushes are technically undestroyable, since they aren’t biodegradable, cannot be burnt and are hardly ever recycled.

This problem can be solved quite easily, though. Many companies now offer toothbrushes made of bamboo. Those are vegan, cruelty-free and come in 100% recycled and recyclable packaging. The alternative brushes also come in various colors and offer a variety of different bristles.

Packages of two bamboo toothbrushes.
That’s what the packages look like.

At the moment I’m using the Humble Brush from The Humble, a Swedish company that produces eco-friendly and socially responsible toothbrushes, toothpastes, chewing gum and cotton buds. I leave a link for you to check them out here.

Bamboo toothbrushes unpacked.
And those are the brushes (obviously).

Another brand I would highly recommend is Hydrophil. The company is based in Germany and offers vegan, sustainable and water-neutral hygiene products. Here is the link to their website.

Reusable water bottles

We all know the struggle of being out and about and once again having to buy some water in a bottle, which we quickly empty and then dispose in one of those bins on the street (or even throw into landfill).

Not only is that a rather expensive habit, it’s also very dangerous for the environment. Plastic water bottles are usually only used once and since they are mostly thrown away on the go their recycling rate is rather low.

To work against that you could get yourself a pretty reusable water bottle made of stainless steal.

Chilly’s Bottles offers such bottles in various seizes and designs along with coffee-cups and food pots.

My bottle was gifted to me and is from a brand called savedbygrace.

Purple water bottle.
That’s my water bottle.

Once you got hold of such a bottle just make sure to always bring it with you. In order to not forget to fill it up before you leave the house you could place it somewhere you’re bound to come across in the morning, for example next to your car-keys, your coffee-machine,…

Keep-cups and thermos bottles

A coffee-to-go is often a life-saver in between meetings or long car-rides. The cups it is served in are one of the trickiest products to recycle. Most coffee-to-go cups are made of some kind of foam or cardboard which is lined with plastic on the inside to prevent the cup from soaking up the liquid. That is obviously convenient, yet impossible to recycle, which means the most sustainable option is to just stop using these cups althogehter. Which of course doesn’t mean you can’t have your coffee-to-go anymore, because that would be really rough. All you need to do is to invest in a biodegradable, reusable keep-cup made of bamboo or glas. Those cups work just as well as the traditional coffee-to-go cups, only you can use them time and time again. And they mostly are dishwasher-save so that’s a plus as well.

Once you got such a cup, e.g. from Chilly’s Bottles or KeepCup, all you have to do is to bring your cup along with your to your preferred coffee-shop and ask the barista to kindly put your order in your reusable cup. Apparently, some coffee-shops in the UK even offer discounts for those who bring their own cup, which allows you to actually save money, while saving the planet. 

Thermos bottle with keep cup.
The keep cup says: Take time for the things that make you happy.

But if you want to take it one step further and save even more money, you could always fill up one of those thermos bottles at home and take it with you. Good thermos bottles will keep your drink warm for up to 12 hours, so that should have you covered as well. You can grab your’s.

Recyclable, unbleached toilet paper and kitchen roll

The production of hygiene-paper requires a lot of chemicals, which cause pollution in water and landfill as well as deforestation in a lot of areas. Therefore, using recycled, recyclable and unbleached hygiene-paper is the more eco-friendly option here. I leave links to brands that offer those brands here for you: Seventhgeneration, Sustainablesupply

Sustainable toilet paper
The toilet paper really isn’t any different to the standard one.

Reusable cutlery

Last but not least, please use reusable cutlery. Many of us need to grab some food on the go and a daily or weekly basis, which is more often than not served with plastic cutlery. You can reduce the plastic-waste caused by that easily by investing in one or two sets of stainless steel or bamboo cutlery, which you carry around with you.

Metal cutlery.
The holes you see here is for keeping them together.

If you like to drink with a straw, please get a metal or bamboo one. Plastic straws are super dangerous for sea-animal and since there are great alternatives, not really necessary.

And then, there are those plastic containers in which take-away food is served in. That waste can be prevented if you simply bring your own, reusable container and ask to put the food in there.

Here are the links where you can get: reusable cutlery, sustainable straws, plastic-free containers.

So there you have it, those are five sustainable swaps for starting your journey into sustainability and consciously living.

Please make sure to not be too hard on yourself. We still live in a world where plastic-consumption is the norm and sometimes a lot more convenient than plastic-free alternatives. It is therefore totally fine to make some mistakes, just don’t beat yourself up about it. Acknowledge the mistake and try to come up with a way to make it better next time. That way you’ll slowly get better and better in reducing your plastic-waste.

I hope you found this post informative and helpful and if you have any recommendations for me please leave them in the comments down below.

Love

Kristina x

Don’t Worry – Be Grumpy | Ajahn Brahm


When life shovels shit on you, shrug it off, tread it in, and you will always stand higher in life. – Ajahn Brahm

All you booklovers out there probably know the struggle of getting asked what your favourite book is. I’ve kinda always feared that question, because not only do I find it super hard to pick only one book out of thousands (they are all my babies after all) I also used to forget the titles of every book I’ve ever read. Long story short, that question usually lead to very awkward stammering and a loss for words. However, when I first read Ajahn Brahm’s “Don’t Worry Be Grumpy” my life changed for the better, because I’ve finally found the book I would take on a deserted island with me.

Let me show you why.

The Australian Buddhist monk Ajahn Brahm wrote his first book “Don’t Worry Be Grumpy: Inspiring stories of making the most of each moment” in 2014 and has since then sold millions of copies all over the world. We can therefore say that his book was a huge success and he has continued to write a couple more books, the most famous one being “Who ordered this truckload of dung?”.

“Don’t worry be grumpy” consists of 108 individual short stories, each of which tells about an unfortunate event that happened to someone and shows how to see the bright side of that incident, using a hell lot humour. That makes it the perfect book to read in the morning because it’s such a boost for your mood and motivation. Also, the messages Brahm delivers through his writing make you rethink the way you see your daily life, which causes you to become more laid-back and therefore less stressed-out. Furthermore, I always find that reading “Don’t Worry Be Grumpy” makes me feel reconnected with nature, that’s why my favourite place to read it is somewhere in the woods, preferably close to a river.

One of my favourite stories.

Make sure to give this book a go. You can grab your copy here and if you want to find out more about the author I’ve linked his profile on the Buddhist Society of Western Australia here.

See you soon

Kristina x

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored in any kind.

How I Got Into Sustainability

Living a sustainable and conscious lifestyle has become big in 2018, hasn’t it? And it was about time as well. When I was still in school we already learned about climate change, ocean plastic and how, if we don’t act soon, our planet will not exist much longer, so it’s amazing to see that people are actively making a difference.

But let me tell you about how I got into sustainability in the first place.

I grew up living in the country-side in Upper-Austria, surrounded by farmers and all their amazing animals. My parents have always been very conscious about our plastic and energy consummation. I therefore learned from a very young age, to turn the light off whenever I’m not actively using it, to never let the tap run while brushing my teeth, and only to use plastic whenever there’s no other option available.

And although we did try to be sustainable the usage of plastic has been very high at my parent’s house, so we weren’t perfect, but I definitely can say that I grew up being very well aware of the fact that a low carbon footprint can make a difference.

As I grew older it became clear to me that we have to do more and start to actively start protecting the environment from our lifestyle. With that I made small changes in my life, nothing really big and I wasn’t really focusing on being plastic-free, until in September 2018 I suddenly found myself buying bamboo-toothbrushes, keep-cups and reusable water bottles.

Also, I started doing a hell lot of research on sustainability and how to achieve that plastic-free lifestyle (which turns out to be way harder than it ought to be).

Since then, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve made mistakes and I still have to sometimes talk myself out of choosing the more convenient plastic-option and go for the sometimes slightly more complicated plastic-free choice.

As I’ve only recently started this journey and still got so, so much to learn and figure out, I’d like to share my progress and experiences with you.

Hopefully, you’ll find some tips to incorporate in your daily life and if you have any advice for me, please write them in the comments down below.

Best

Kristina x