How to prepare your lips for matte lipstick

Do you love the matte trend, but have wondered many times how to prepare your lips for matte lipstick? I’ve been there. As I am preparing for my wedding, I keep trying different lipsticks. All of them are matte, most of them are liquid lipsticks. They look awesome and I love how long lasting they are. But they seriously dry out my lips! And applying matte lipstick to already dry lips – well, I am sure you know what that looks like. So I invented a little program to make sure my lipstick can look as good as possible.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Step 1 on How to prepare your lips for matte lipstick: Gentle exfoliation

How to prepare your lips for matte lipstick: Starting with a lip scrubAs a first step, I prepare a little DIY lip scrub to exfoliate my lips and make sure that all excess skin is removed. As we all know, lips are very sensitive. So not only do we want to peel, we also want to soften and nourish them at the same time. To achieve all of those goals, I use the following ingredients in my little lip scrub:

– Sea salt (for the peeling effect)

-Olive oil (for smoothing and nourishing the skin)

-Honey (for it’s moisturizing and healing properties)

You really need just a tiny little amount of everything. Just so you can imagine how little: I usually mix the ingredients together in a spoon. Afterwards just take little by little off the spoon and start rubbing it veeery gently on your lips. It doesn’t taste very good, so I recommend  keeping your mouth closed for the time being. Do this little massage for a bit and then simply leave the mixture on for a little longer, without massaging. (Make sure nothing will drip though!) Once you’ve had enough, you can simply wash everything off with some lukewarm water.

Step 2 on How to prepare your lips for matte lipstick: Creaming it Up

How to prepare your lips for matte lipstick: Use some lip creamNow that the scrub is washed off, you can gently pat your lips dry and take the next step to prepare for you beloved matte lipstick. In order to keep the softness we just created and to get a “sleek surface” for the lipstick to go on, it’s time to put on some lip balm or cream.  That can be really any lip balm you have around. In my case, it most often a very simple solution: pure Shea butter*.  As you can see in the picture, I really slather it on. Don’t worry, it will not make the lipstick bleed. We will take care of that in the next step. For now, really give your lips some lovin’!

Step 3 on How to prepare your lips for matte lipstick: Less is more

Okay, if you followed the steps so far, your lips should be kinda greasy by now. This means it’s time to find the balance between two things. Goal number one is to “oil up” our lips to protect them from drying out and creating a sleek base for our lipstick. And goal number two is to still be able to put on our matte lipstick without it bleeding. So grab that cotton pad and dab off all that excess lip cream or lip balm that has not been absorbed by your skin by now.

How to prepare your lips for matte lipstick: Gently dab off excess care productsAfterwards your lips should still be very soft, well moisturized and slightly shiny, but definitely not feel greasy anymore. And now you can get started! Whip out that lip liner and your favorite matte lipstick and enjoy the perfect lip look – no more dryness!

I hope you enjoy trying out my little program. Do you have other tips on how to prepare your lips for matte lipstick? Let me know in the comments!

You love matte lipstick? But dry lips stand in your way of proudly wearing it? I have a little program to prepare lips for matte lipstick. Not only does it stop matte lipstick from drying your lips as much, it also really pampers your lips. Read more about how to get smooth lips and prepare lips for matte lipstick! You love matte lipstick? But dry lips stand in your way of proudly wearing it? I have a little program to prepare lips for matte lipstick. Not only does it stop matte lipstick from drying your lips as much, it also really pampers your lips. Read more about how to get smooth lips and prepare lips for matte lipstick! You love matte lipstick? But dry lips stand in your way of proudly wearing it? I have a little program to prepare lips for matte lipstick. Not only does it stop matte lipstick from drying your lips as much, it also really pampers your lips. Read more about how to get smooth lips and prepare lips for matte lipstick!

*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

How to stop split ends before split ends end your hair

My winter braid after homemade hair mask for dry hairSplit ends and hair seem to be one of those unlucky pairs everyone would like to finally break up for good! But if you happen to want to grow your hair long, you will encounter the following dilemma: How to stop split ends without losing all your length? What is the best treatment for hair breakage and split ends? Luckily there is a “long hair hack” for this specific problem and today I want to tell you exactly how to do it.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

How to stop split ends

What if I told you you can cut out the split ends without sacrificing everything? And what if I also told you that it’s not even hard to do? You can stop split ends in front of the TV or while enjoying the sun on the balcony.

Hair split ends reasons

Our hair has to endure a huge amount of physical strain throughout it’s life. The longer your hair, the older and vulnerable your tips are. Just think: hair
grows on average 1-2 centimeters (0.4 to 0.8 inches) per month. That means if your hair is at waist length, your tips are several years old! You can do a lot to protect them from damage and splitting! (I will write more about that in future articles.) But it is inevitable: at some point, some hairs will give in to the stress and split.

Hair treatment for split ends

Despite of what many  shampoos and conditioners promise, there is no way to “heal” hair that has split. There are no products that can stick split hair back together. No perfect treatment for hair breakage and split ends. The only way to get rid of the damaged hair is to cut it off. And you should get rid of it! Not only for the looks, but also to protect the rest of your hair from further damage. Split hairs have a tendency to tangle easily with other hairs. This forces you to put more effort into detangling, which again is going to be more mechanical stress for your hair. More mechanical stress means more split ends. A vicious circle? Yes, but you can do something about it.

How to Stop split ends at home

So how to get rid of those mean little broken tips without losing your length? The trick is to not going to a hairdresser. Hairdressers do know a lot about hair, but their time can be pretty expensive. And what you mostly need for this approach is some time. And some hair scissors! Do yourself a favor and invest in a good pair*. They are certainly worth it. And cutting any hair with nail clippers or your good old household scissors will damage the hair tip. Guess what that means? Exactly, more split ends!

So once you have gotten your hair scissors, make yourself comfortable and detangle your hair thoroughly. Afterwards part it in smaller strands and start searching for split hairs. Ideally you have a good source of light nearby. Having sun would be perfect, but a lamp will do as well. Anytime you find a split tip, simply cut it off with your hair scissors. You will notice, that in most strands, there are only a few split hairs and the rest is okay. So by cutting off only the single “sick” hair and leaving the rest, you keep your length while also improving the overall health and look of your tresses.

Some more tips On How to stop split ends

1. Depending on your hair type the split hairs will be found best with two different techniques. You can either wrap the strand you are working on around your finger like this.

how to stop split ends: wrapping a strand of hair around my finger and then cutting them offOr you can twist the strand around it’s axis to force the ends to stand out.

how to stop split ends: twisting a strand of hair around it's axis and then cutting them off2. All this searching and cutting will take a while and you most likely will not go through all of your hair in one sitting.  So take mental note of where you start and where you leave off. This way you can do another part next time.

3. Another good idea is to do a cassia for hair treatment after doing this “split ends hunting session”. This is recommended as Cassia can seal the freshly cut tips. Would be a good idea to prevent the newly healthy tips from splitting again, right?

Thank you for reading and do let me know if you are trying this tip! Good luck!

Split ends are a major bummer when trying to grow long hair. I have been wondering how to stop split ends at home and came up with a solution. So if you are looking for a split ends remedy, check out my split end treatment! Split ends are a major bummer when trying to grow long hair. I have been wondering how to get rid of split ends and came up with a solution. So if you are looking for a split ends remedy, check out my split end treatment! Split ends are a major bummer when trying to grow long hair. I have been wondering how to stop split ends and came up with a solution. So if you are looking for a split ends remedy, check out my split end treatment!

*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

My Android Developer Scholarship from Udacity and Google – a retrospect

My Android Developer Scholarship from Udacity and Google is a love story in two parts. Why? Because the scholarship I want to write about today is not the first one I got.

Android Scholarship Love Story Part I

Last year I was one of the super lucky Udacity students to get a scholarship for the Android Basics Nanodegree. Meaning I got to do the whole Nanodegree with the help of experienced mentors and an awesome community of fellow learners. I had applied without really believing I could get in. My job has nothing to do with coding and my efforts of learning to code so far had been a lot of fun. But they were very far from being proficient. Anyways, I got in.

It was an amazing experience! The learning, the community, the feeling of accomplishing things I didn’t think I could do. Every week! It was addictive. So when I received my certificate for completing the Android Basics Nanodegree, I knew that wasn’t the end of it.

My Certificate of completion of the Android Basics Nanodegree (ABND)While my cohort was finishing the scholarship, there were rumors about a new one for the next step: The Android Developer Nanodegree! Maybe you have to be geeky like me or have gone through the experience of a Nanodegree to understand what that made me feel. Thinking to finish that degree and taking the certification to become an Associate Android Developer gave (and still gives) me butterflies! Naturally I kept my eyes peeled for any tweets, e-mails or other signs of another scholarship.

Trouble in paradise: Is my Android love story over?

When I finally got wind of where to apply for an Android Developer Scholarship, I was thrilled. And it didn’t take me long to apply. Or write my application. By now I knew what excited me about this opportunity. In the meantime I kept working on my own app and started taking the first courses for the Android Developer track on Udacity. (In case you are wondering: the courses themselves are free, you can start learning anytime! The free version just comes without the very valuable mentor support and all the other cool support functions I had the privilege to enjoy before…) And then that e-mail came. Telling me I didn’t get in…

Paper robot holding a broken heart after not getting the Android Developer ScholarshipI won’t lie. I was quite sad about that. Not necessarily because I had lost the opportunity to learn. No, as I said above, I was already learning the contents of the course. And I was determined to finish it as well. What was upsetting about this was that mean little voice inside that I had known from before. And now it came back full force: “You are probably just not good enough for this. They just know that you won’t be a proper coder anyways. You don’t have what it takes. Forget about your app, you don’t even have a Google Play Developer account yet.”

You know this voice as well, don’t you? What helped me get out of this mood was to remember what our teachers had told us in a live hangout in the Android Basics Nanodegree. They had told us about impostor syndrome, how even those among them who have coded professionally for years have it. How it’s normal to have it. And how you should never give in to this silly little voice. So I didn’t.

Reviving the romance

Without giving much more thought to not having gotten the Android Developer Scholarship, I chipped away at my own app. Funnily enough, the biggest challenge was the content creation, while the coding part went easier and was a lot of fun. It was amazing to see how many things I could do without even checking any documentation. How much I had learned about making a “real” app, by taking the “Basics” course. So obviously I also wanted to soak in all the content of the next course, getting even better. And then I saw it again: another possibility for getting a scholarship from Google and Udacity: the Google Android Dev challenge 2017! As now I knew I could survive another “No” without it impacting my morale to much, I went for it. And just a little later (Don’t be fooled, it felt like MONTHS!):

My heart still beats faster when I look at this! So happy! So grateful!

Now let me tell the next few weeks of my rekindled Android romance in tweets:

It was like the first time all over again. Amazing community on slack and in the forums, learning difficult concepts made so easy by the instructors, this feeling of getting over yourself when you think you’re not clever enough for this – and then you do it anyways!

I finished the challenge course a little ahead of time. And felt empowered enough to finally register for my Google Play Developer Console.

(FYI: It’s just a few clicks, the gravity of the registration is in my head!)

Does the Android love have a future?

Yesterday, the first part of the Android Developer Scholarship ended. And it will be one week until we get to know who advances to the next stage. Am I a little anxious about the result? Of course. Do I worry about it impacting my Android future? Not really. I will finish the course anyways, just probably much slower without the mentor help and community support. I will publish an app. And learn loads in the process. And be proud of myself for learning so much, for becoming part of that special group of people who can build a little part of our world.

Why did I tell you so much about my Android Developer Scholarship romance?

I wanted to share this so as many people as possible can take away the following three messages:

  1. If at first you don’t succeed, just try again. You got nothing to lose and so much to win!
  2. Do not ever listen to that little voice telling you you can’t learn something new! Or do something out of your comfort zone! You can do it!
  3. You don’t have to build houses anymore to be a builder. You can learn to code and make your own things! No matter your background or your gender. (Shoutout to my favorite Android scholarship slack channel #women_techmakers!)
  4. Udacity’s Android courses are awesome. Seriously. If you cannot get a scholarship and cannot afford to pay for the Nanodegree, take the free version. You will learn a new skill well enough to use it in real life.

Thank you for reading this pamphlet. If I inspired just one person to go for it, I have already reached my goal.

All about my Android developer scholarship

Why starting a bullet journal can be key to reaching your goals

How starting a bullet journal can get you closer to your goalsStarting a bullet journal was one of the best things I did last year to optimize my morning routine. Since then I have done my daily writing pretty much every day and I am not planning to stop. You might have seen bullet journal ideas on Pinterest or Instagram. And you might have gotten the impression that this is only for artsy people. But let me tell you, the basic idea and the most important part of it has nothing to do with creating fancy weekly spreads. Nor do you need Washi tape or colorful stickers.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

What is a bullet journal

So let’s start at the beginning and summarize quickly what a bullet journal is. As the name implies, it is a form of journal. With this type of journaling, you don’t write out all your thoughts in a fluent text. Instead, you only write down short notes. And this is where the “bullets” come in. The “bullet” part of the name comes from the very clever system of keys that are used.

The bullet journal key logic

The bullets you will be writing down can be divided into three categories: tasks, events and notes. To make it easy to distinguish between those categories, the symbol or “key” in front of it will look differently. Let’s go through those quickly!


As we know all too well, tasks can be in various stages on our to-do list. Either we just write them down and they are waiting for us to take care of them. Or we postpone them. (Bullet journaling calls postponing “migrating”.) Sometimes we have already scheduled when to do them. And in the best case, the task is completed.

In bullet journal key tasks can look like this:

Bullet Journal Key for tasks, super important for starting a bullet journalEvents

Events are things you have already planned in your calendar. You write events down like this:

Event Key in Bullet JournalBasically you are just using an “empty” bullet, or an “o”.


Notes can be anything that you want to write down, that doesn’t fit in the other categories. Ideas, thoughts, learnings…  The bullet journal key for them looks like this:

Bullet Journal key for NotesAnd this is pretty much the most important knowledge you need for starting a bullet journal. For more detailed information you can always check out

Why you should be starting a bullet journal

Going through these instructions above, you might be wondering why this is such a big deal. After all, it looks like just a fancy way to take notes. Honestly, you are right about this. It is simply taking notes. But take a moment and think about the following: How often do you take notes usually? And where do they end up? How great would it be to have all of your notes, to-dos and planned events in one place? Pretty great, I can tell you!

Still, the organizing part is not the best part of a bullet journal. At least in my opinion. What makes this such an integral part of my day is something else. It is the fact, that writing down my goals for the day makes me so much more likely to actually DO the stuff! While you might not take my word for granted, this is a proven fact. Just googling “writing down your goals” will provide you with a plethora of credible sources. All stating how writing down your goals is THE thing to do. Unless you don’t really want to achieve them, that is. In my opinion, this is the biggest selling point for actually starting a bullet journal.

What to do for starting a bullet journal

In my opinion, you don’t need a huge amount of supplies for starting your very first bullet journal. You will need to pick a notebook that fits your needs. A pen. (And you really don’t need a full collection of bullet journal pens to start!) And then I would very much recommend to watch this video made by the Bullet journal creator.

The best bullet journal notebook

So, which notebook to pick for your bullet journal? Many people will say that the Leuchtturm 1917* is the best bullet journal notebook. I think, the most important reason for that is the fact that Leuchtturm offers dotted lines. That gives you a lot of freedom in designing your pages and using different layouts.

And since bullet journaling has been around for quite a while and has convinced millions of people of its effectiveness, by now there are also myriads of notebook variations available.

While I see the appeal in being able to draw your own layouts and boxes, it is not necessary to start your own bullet journal. In fact, I am still using a simple black moleskine notebook*. It’s ruled, so layouts tend to look a little less cool.

A weekly spread in my bullet journalBut then again, most of the times I don’t even make a layout. Instead, I really just use the logging technique described above. And it keeps me on track!

Integrating Bullet Journaling into your day

In the morning, you can just sit down for 5 minutes, journal your tasks, events and thoughts for the day. And in the evening, you can go through them again. Checking them off, migrating and scheduling. The more you do it, the more you will become aware of what you are really doing in one day. And after one or two weeks, you will be able to read through that and see, if it aligns with your goals.

Thank you for reading my thoughts on starting a bullet journal. If you’d like, let me know about your experiences: Have you tried bullet journaling yet? If no, why not? And if yes, which benefits did you see?

*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

The KonMari method of Tidying: Getting your life in order

A single flower pot surrounded by clear space: Impression of how an apartment can look after cleaning with the KonMari methodWith the KonMari method of tidying I achieved something I never thought possible. A permanently tidier apartment and regularly some kind of weird joy when neatly folding my laundry. For your background: I didn’t even use to iron my clothes before… But let me explain a little bit first, what the KonMari method is. And why the heck everyone who tried it seems to be crazy about it.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

What is the KonMari method of tidying?

The KonMari method is named after its inventor Marie Kondo. Marie used to love tidying since she was a little kid. (Freaky, I know!) Over the years she tried and perfected different techniques for tidying. Until at some point she realized, that it would make so much more sense to just keep a place tidy continuously. Without needing to go through huge efforts every time. So she invented the KonMari method of tidying and tested it with many of her clients. It became so popular, that she actually wrote a book about her method of cleaning.

The KonMari method book

Probably the most-sold book on the topic of tidying and decluttering, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing“* has been published in more than 30 countries. Now you might wonder how a book on such an unsexy topic like cleaning can get such a huge fan base. Well, it’s simple: Her method works! Marie Kondo even goes as far as saying that none of her clients ever relapsed back into their “messy state” after having gone through her program.

In her book, Marie explains, how instead of looking for things to throw out, we should be looking for things to keep. This will make sure, we only have things around us that we actually like. And it enables us to find a place for everything, making regular tidying unnecessary.

Bedroom after using the KonMari method of tidying. So much space!
Bedroom after using the KonMari method of tidying. So much space!

The two steps of the KonMari method of tidying

To get to that blissful state where our home is effortlessly tidy and you never need to clean, there are only two steps. But those steps mean really going down to the heart of your messiness!

Step 1: Decluttering

This is not your usual “throwing out some old postcards” type of decluttering. Instead you will do this decluttering all at once. (Meaning up to 6 months.) No “I only want to declutter my closet”. Everything. You will systematically go through everything you own and only keep things “that spark joy”. That is Marie Kondos criterion for items to keep. No reasoning about how you might still need that box of cables at some point. Just taking every item into your hand and feeling your physical reaction to it.

I admit that this sounds weird at first. But after going through the first 10 to 20 objects, you will notice a clear difference between “Meh, might need it” and “I like this”. As the goal is to create the perfect environment for you, take this seriously. It does work and it is a lot of fun!

As Marie knows that it is easier to declutter some areas than others, she developed a thought-through order in which to discard of things. Starting from clothes, which are easily replaced. Going on to books, paper stuff and “Komono” or miscellanea all the way till keepsakes. I know, that’s a lot. She breaks down those big categories into way smaller, better digestible ones. (For a full checklist, scroll to the bottom of this article!)

For every category, you will take EVERYTHING in that category that you own and put it on the floor. In the same room. (Forgetting something means automatically to get rid of it.) And then you go through the items one by one. Touching them and asking yourself, if they spark joy.

All of my clothes on the floor before discarding with the KonMari method of cleaning
All of my clothes on the floor. And no, not all of them fit the frame…
Step 2: Organizing

Now that you already have everything ordered by category, things need their permanent place. One suggestion by Marie Kondo is to “keep like with like”. All clothes together, all paper clips together, all books together. This way, you will always know where to find it. And where to put it. Which brings me to her second very important tip. Make it easy to put things away. Not to get them.

Oftentimes we rather think where we need things and put them there directly. But when you want to get something, you are motivated to do so. Putting it away… not so much. So make it easy for yourself, to put things back in place. If you use something all the time, make “it’s place” somewhere easily accessible.

Another specialty of the KonMari method is her way of arranging things by “heavy” to “light”. This can mean starting with dark colors and working your way up to the lighter ones. Also it could mean going from thick winter coats up to flimsy sun dresses. Being honest, I haven’t completely followed through on this advice. Just my clothes do get ordered by color. It gives an awesome effect in the drawers!

The KonMari method folding

Ah, the KonMari method folding. As I wrote earlier in this post: I am actually weirdly enjoying folding my laundry now! Marie Kondo has a special way of folding clothing, so that you can put them in the drawer standing up. Who better to explain this than the master herself?

Some people complain that it would take them forever to do their clothes like that. Obviously I can only speak for myself, when debunking that. Anyways, it doesn’t take me longer than my old way of folding clothes. And afterwards my clothes basket looks like this:

My laundry folded after the KonMari method of tidyingI don’t know why, but it makes me feel really good about myself! And it makes it so much easier to see all the things you have! Going to my drawer I now feel like I got my life under control. Very recommended feeling!

The KonMari method checklist

As promised above, I prepared a KonMari method Checklist for you here. It lists all the categories and subcategories. And if you print it, you can have the satisfying feeling of checking off the little boxes one by one! Enjoy, share and let me know how KonMari worked for you!

KonMari method checklist*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Is tidying up always difficult for you? Do you feel like you need help to declutter and organize? Try the KonMari method of tidying. Read my experiences with it, how it works and get the tidy house you deserve! You don't need decluttering ideas, because you are already in love with the KonMari method? I got just the thing to help you with tidying up! Find my free printable KonMari checklist here. And then have fun decluttering your home! Do you know what KonMari folding is? In this blog post you will read what the KonMari method is. And how to declutter and organize your home. Additionally you can find a free printable KonMari checklist attached. Time for tidying up!

Memrise review: How I learned 2000 romanian words in 1 month for free

I am in reviewing mode this week, so today you can read my Memrise review. And how it enabled me to learn 2000 romanian words in one month, spending only 5 to 10 minutes daily and without paying one cent.  But let’s start at the beginning!

Memrise review: How to learn efficiently

Memrise review: What is Memrise?

Memrise is an online learning platform. You can either learn by using their website or by installing their app. As of today, they support Android and iOS. They use a freemium model, meaning you can use them for free or decide to buy a membership opening a few more options for you. As a paying member, you can see more statistics about your learning behavior, for example.

Like other online learning offers, they have a wide variety of courses to pick from. The topics range from languages over history and geography to professional and career. As I haven’t really used anything but the language courses, my Memrise review will focus on those.

Memrise review: What is special about Memrise?

So far, it doesn’t sound mindblowing, right? I know. And to be honest, I would’ve probably stayed with Duolingo if not for two very important factors.

1. Course variety:

Memrise enables users to make their own courses. This can be a disadvantage, as obviously the quality control is not the same as with a curated language course. For me, it was a huge advantage though, because I had decided to learn Romanian. And guess what, at that time that course had been in development on Duolingo for YEARS. The estimated release date was another few years down the line. So clearly I needed an alternative. And there was Memrise, with hundreds of Romanian courses to pick from.

2. learning efficiency through science

(Yes, I mean efficiency, not effectiveness. Even though it’s also effective, of course. Efficiency = doing something without wasting anything, like TIME. Effectiveness = good at achieving results. Rambling over.)

A lightbulb, symbolizing the science behind the Memrise learning algorithmMemrise prides itself in having a very clever learning algorithm. Do you remember learning for a test in school? Repeating everything a hundred times, till you knew everything? Well, that can be effective. It is not efficient. And Memrise has a really cool solution for that. When you start learning vocabulary, the algorithm will remember how well you do with every single word. And depending on that it will make you repeat that word sooner or later. This means not wasting any time on words that you already know very well and instead focusing on the ones where you’re still struggling.

Naturally, this was a HUGE selling point for me. I love learning and I love efficiency. This way you can combine both!

Memrise review: Learning 2000 words in 1 month

Coming back to the title of this post. Yes, I really learned 2000 romanian words in one month. And it only took me 5 to 10 minutes a day. Although I have to admit, that I played more with the app on weekends. Because it was so much fun! But the goal of 2000 words would have been reached without that, too.

In case you are wondering, 2000 words in any language means to have a pretty good basic vocabulary. So if you have been planning on getting to know a new language for a while now, listen up. (Read up? Does that work?) I will tell you how exactly I made it happen and how you can, too!

Steps to Memrise success

1. Install the app. While learning on the website works totally fine, I just don’t carry my laptop around all the time. And for making it easy for yourself to keep learning, you just want to have the material with you.

Learning with the Memrise app on the go2. I made “reviewing” part of my morning routine. Just the words that Memrise showed me as “ready to review”. That doesn’t have to mean taking extra time out of your morning for learning. Use idle time you already have. Waiting for public transport? Time to review vocabulary. Bathroom time? Learn a few words! (Come on, you have your phone with you anyways, admit it!)

3. Make sure to get a balanced mix of reviewing and learning new words. If you haven’t used Memrise yet, this might sound confusing. What I mean is this: the app will prompt you to review words regularly. Depending on your setting you will get a notification. For learning new words, that doesn’t directly happen. You will need to open the app without reminder and learn a little. At least if you want to achieve a certain number of words.

4. Keep at it for a month. As usual, consistency is important. As a result it will be easier to remember the words. Plus, you know what they say about habits. Doesn’t take an active effort to keep them. Still, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Unless you miss a whole week, your goal will still be absolutely doable.

Memrise review: Conclusion

And that’s it! You are well on your way to learning a new language! By now, I also refreshed my French with Memrise and even tried Arabic. (Unfortunately, I wasn’t very consistent with that one. The different characters threw me off my game.) Consequently I will keep recommending Memrise to everyone who asks me about language learning. Compared to the approaches and tools I have used before, this has been by far the easiest and most enjoyable way to learn new vocabulary. And I haven’t even told you abut the Mems! I guess you will have to find out all by yourself…

So tell me, are you gonna try it?

How I learned 2000 Words in a new language in 1 monthlearn a new language with Memrise

Book review: The optimized woman

Today I want to share my review of the book “The Optimized Woman: Using Your Menstrual Cycle to Achieve Success and Fulfillment*” by Miranda Gray. Unfortunately I do not remember how I stumbled upon it, but I am so glad I did! It doesn’t even matter if you have a cycle yourself or if you live or work with someone having a cycle. This book will give you a new and more positive understanding of how females and their hormones work.

The optimized woman celebrating sunriseDisclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

The author and her mission statement

According to the website Miranda Gray is a published author, artist, an alternative therapy practitioner and Company Director of a multimedia production company. “The optimized woman” is not her first book about the power of the menstrual cycle either. The first book “Red Moon*”  was published in 1994.

So why this fascination with that time of the month? Well, according to the author we have been (wrongly) casting negative judgements regarding our period far too long. She even goes to far to say that those changes we undergo each month give us “an unrealised powerhouse of tools”. This view is reflected in the books’ tagline “If you want to get ahead, get a cycle!”

Miranda is dissatisfied with personal development literature and coaching for not taking into account that we are changing throughout the month. And we are changing significantly as she details in a few chapters. Different brainwaves, for example. Hormones giving us heightened abilities in some regards and taking away skills in other areas. Reading through this was as baffling as it was enlightening. And to be honest – I felt found out more than a couple of times!

In a nutshell, Mrs. Gray wants to help women become aware of what she calls their “Optimum Times” and associated abilities. This way she wants to help us become more successful and happier in our daily lives.

So how do we become the optimized woman?

Miranda breaks down our cycle into four phases, each about 7 days long. The length of those can be adapted depending on your personal cycle. She also states clearly that everyone is unique and that this is a generalization to help women become aware of general patterns. So don’t worry if you don’t find yourself in every detail, nothing wrong with that!

For each of these phases there is a separate chapter, detailing which skills we will most likely have in that time. And also which areas of our life might be more difficult for us. While it is impossible to give all the details here, I want to roughly summarize the phases for you.

1. The Dynamic Phase

In the book the dynamic phase is regarded as the start of the cycle, even though it refers to cycle days 7 – 13. Pre-Ovulation. Why, you wonder? Well, as the name indicates, it is a phase of new energy after our period. We emerge like phoenix from the Woman feeling powerful after creating a morning routine including exercisesashes and are ready to tackle a new cycle. Accordingly, this phase is the Optimum Time for anything that requires mental or physical energy, focus and structured thinking or simply a lot of confidence.

2. The Expressive phase

The expressive phase: Two optimized women talking over a coffee Cycle days 14-20, the days around ovulation or the so-called expressive phase. In those days we will be more sociable and empathetic. So Miranda suggests to use those skills for teamwork, meetings, working on our relationships with clients or in our private lives.

3. The Creative phase

This is the phase most of us dread. The pre-menstrual phase or the phase of wildly ranging emotions and trouble with ourselves and others on cycle days 21-28. According to the book though, this can be a perfect time for The optimized woman using her creative phase to generate ideascreative solution-finding and problem solving. If we can manage to give ourselves the understanding of what is going on within us, we can use this phase to our advantage instead of fearing it. Miranda does recommend to get a lot of alone time though.

4. The Reflective Phase

And finally, the menstrual phase. The time for resting and reflecting.The reflective phase: Woman taking some time to herself, thinking. Interestingly we are almost naturally meditative in this state, so we can use this time to really think about the big picture. According to the author this is also the best time to take big decisions as we will be most in tune with ourselves. If we take the time, that is.

What I loved about “The optimized woman”

I have been reading self development literature for quite a while now. It motivates me, it teaches me, it helps me grow. And still, sometimes I felt like I am completely lacking consistency with my newly learned techniques. Like I kept discovering them not working for me after all. Imagine my relief when Miranda writes about how many women feel that way, especially when it comes to self development. And when she says that we are not inconsistent. We are cyclical!

Of course I wasn’t as easily convinced. But reading through the different chapters, I kept finding myself in the descriptions. Patterns, worries, also strengths. So even if you do not intend to work through the “Optimized Woman Daily Plan” for a whole cycle, just reading this book will give you valuable insights.

Personally, I did work through the plan for one month now and I intend on keeping doing so. I liked the actionable advice, no matter your situation. Obviously it is easy to avoid meetings if you work from home, for example. But Miranda always keeps in mind that this is not the standard lifestyle and has ideas for everyone.

Weak points of “The optimized woman”

At some point, it does get a little repetitive. Understandable, as this book is about a cyclical subject. Still, at some point I felt as if I had read certain formulations way too many times by now.

At times the choice of language. Miranda Gray writes more like an artist than a scientist – which is perfectly fine, don’t get me wrong. There were a few occasions though when the formulations were too esoteric for me. Obviously this is definitely a matter of personal preference. And I only remark it, because it sometimes made it really hard for me to understand what she was trying to say. Then again, maybe this is just my lack of educations in metaphors.

Do I recommend “The Optimized Woman”?

Absolutely. Especially if you suffer from PMS, PMDD or any other hormonal imbalance. I know how that might make you doubt if nature knew what she was doing. But also if you are “just” female, if you live or work with females. Or if you just want to admire female nature. After reading this book and consciously experiencing my cycle and the various strengths it brings, I am in awe of what the female body and mind can do. So yes, Miranda, I agree. If you want to get ahead, get a cycle!

The Optimized Woman: If you want to get ahead, get a cycle - Pin*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

My Morning Routine or How I live my life as if it’s on purpose

My morning routine has been the most powerful tool for me to go from wishful thinking to actually start making changes in my life. I have already written about how creating a morning routine will bring you closer to the life you want. Today I don’t want to go so much into the why. Rather I want to share my personal morning routine and how I developed it.

My Morning RoutineDisclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

My morning routine: How it all started

At some point last year I was fed up with my life situation. I did not like going to work. I felt stuck personally and professionally. Why did nothing ever change? I took three (!) weeks off from work to have some time to myself and figure out where this huge dissatisfaction was coming from. Or better even, how to do something about it. I had been interested in personal development before, but this was the moment I really dove in. Listening to podcasts, reading blogs, watching countless TedTalks on Youtube. Soon enough I noticed a recurring topic. Something that apparently all successful people had and every self-developing person was getting into. You guessed it, everyone stressed the importance of a morning routine.

My morning routine: Borrowing from the Magic Morning

Once you start reading about morning routines, you will inevitably come across Hal Elrods book “The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)*“. Don’t worry, the essential idea is not as bulky as the title of the book.

Hal Elrods “Miracle Morning”

Hal suggests five main ingredients for a truly success inducing morning routine. He uses the acronym (life) SAVERS, which makes them easy to remember. The letters stand for:

S ilence: Get some quiet time in. No electronic devices, no TV, no chit-chat. Just you.

A ffirmations: Enough has been written about the transformative power of affirmations. Whatever your goals and dreams are, have some affirmations for them ready.

V isualization: Now it’s time to visualize what it’s gonna look and feel like to have achieved your goals. There is this video of Tony Robbins on Youtube, where he talks about the power of visualization. (If it’s too long for you to watch, skip to 10:29 where he shows the two guys how instant the effect can be.)

E xercise: Move your body in some way. Stretch a little, do some cardio or even go for a full blown workout session. But do some kind of exercise for your physical body. Weak body, weak mind.

R eading: Read at least a few pages of a book. This is not referring to entertainment literature though. Hal talks about reading books that teach you something. Self-development books, for example. Something to educate yourself.

S cribing: Write down your thoughts, your to dos or whatever comes to mind. Basically journaling in some form.

Building my own morning routine around it

As I could clearly see the advantages of each of these six habits and as they gave me a good starting point, I built my morning routine along those letters. Luckily it is not as hard as it might sound. And does not need to take 2 hours. Actually, it usually only takes me half an hour most mornings. One hour if I have time and enjoy the process. 15 minutes if I am short on time and skip some steps.


Usually I wake up with my alarm and simply sit up in bed for a few minutes of meditation. Nothing complex, just following my breath while slowly waking up. If I feel motivated, I set a 10 minute timer. Otherwise I just do the Meditating to learn how to deal with uncertainty and as part of my morning routineexercise as the whim takes me. On those days when I feel really uninspired or have a bad case of monkey mindedness, I resort to videos of “The Honest Guys”. They are awesome!

(If you want to incorporate Meditation into your daily life while also becoming more resilient read my article about learning how to deal with uncertainty. In it I review a program that helped me so much doing this. It’s free and does not take any crazy commitment from your side.)

Looking forward to something

Another short thing I do before going any further is to find something I look forward to that day. It can be something small and insignificant like my morning porridge. Or it can be something big like an important, possibly life-changing appointment. However, I definitely find something to look forward to every single day before getting out of bed.


Afterwards I open my eyes and turn on the light. Depending on where I am in my cycle, I might opt for doing some affirmations here. Sometimes I skip it. When I do it, it takes just a couple of minutes.

Deciding for or against affirmations cycle related might sound weird to you. But if you are female with a cycle that actually might make a lot of sense for you, too. For further information let me refer you to the book “The optimized woman*“. I am planning on writing a more in depth review about it soon.


The visualization exercise happens sometimes, but I am not very consistent with it, to be honest. Definitely room for improvement there, as I can tell a huge difference in my mood when I do it. Honestly, it is worth doing it just for that. Putting yourself mentally in the situation where everything is perfect, you reached your goals, feeling what it feels like… It is like a mini vacation and huge mood booster. I am also doing visualizations with some physical goals. Difficult Yoga poses, to be specific. Simply out of curiosity, if this will get me closer to the poses without actually physically practicing them. I just like experiments.


Happens pretty much every day. I can already hear your objections. “Not enough time in the morning. I already get up super early. Don’t want to go to the gym before work.” Relax. Sometimes my exercise is just a few gentle Yoga stretches in bed. Sometimes I do a real Yoga session on the mat. Most of the times I just go on my beloved stationary bike for ten minutes. (My  bike looks similar to this* one, just not as fancy. Seems like mine is not on Amazon anymore.) Doing this wakes me up and helps me get into the shower, as even just ten short minutes on the bike can get me sweating. Because of the integrated mini-desk, I can even combine my exercise with reading, learning vocabulary on Memrise or doing some brain training with the Elevate app.


Ah, this has to be my favorite ritual of my morning routine. Most of the times I already start doing it while still on the stationary bike. (So it mostly doesn’t even add to the time for the morning routine.) This happens reliably, every day. Most of the days I will be reading some self-development book  on my kindle. Sometimes I swap it out with the “Blink of the day” from Blinkist, if that happens to be a topic interesting to me. Even less often I might be reading a blog article about a topic keeping me busy at the moment.


This one is usually quite quick, too. As I haven’t been much of a journal keeper before, I adopted bullet journaling around the time when I also built my morning Bullet journaling as part of my morning routineroutine. If there was a really inspiring or note-worthy thought during the reading session, I will write it down now. Otherwise this is mostly making a short to-do-list for the current day. Additionally I write down whatever I am looking forward to that day  and one thing I am grateful for. This helps me focus on the things I want to achieve, while approaching them with a positive mindset.


Obviously showering and  a nice and healthy breakfast are also part of my morning. However I don’t really count them as part of “my morning routine”. Should I? How do you do it? Do you have a morning routine? And has it helped you achieve your goals?

My morning routine, morning routine women, morning routine bullet journal

*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Learning how to deal with uncertainty – a self-experiment

How to deal with uncertainty when you don't know the way?“How to deal with uncertainty” is a question I have asked myself, people around me and Google a lot recently. One of the main reasons for that was my plan to leave my comfortable office job and turn to the wild and unknown world of freelancing. I have been pulled towards that for a long time for various reasons. And still, the fear of the unknown held me back. One time googling around on how to overcome my fear of uncertainty, I stumbled upon a program by Leo Babauta from Zen Habits. (In case you don’t know his blog yet, I highly recommend browsing through it!)

As it was becoming more and more clear to me that I HAD to try for my desired lifestyle, I also knew I had to learn dealing with my insecurities. No way around it. So I signed up for “The 44 Training Program: Turning Uncertainty & Discomfort into Mindful Openness”. Sounds exactly what I needed, right? I am proud to say that I stuck with the program for the whole duration of the 44 days. And even before going into the details I can already say that the 10 minutes invested every day were absolutely worth it! But let me tell you more in detail what happens in this program and how it impacted my daily life.

Program setup

The program is planned for a duration of 44 days, as the name implies. During those 44 days, you  will do a short exercise of five to ten minutes every morning, directly after waking up. (Personally, I usually just sat up in bed to not fall asleep again and started right away.) After signing up for the program, you start receiving E-mails with instructions every few days. In total you will do 11 exercises, practicing each of them for four days in a row. For me that was a good rhythm to “learn” the exercises and still not get bored. A good flow. And not knowing what the next exercise will be is a little training in how to deal with uncertainty in itself, no?

The exercises

All of the exercises are some kind of meditation. It starts out with various forms of awareness exercises and then pretty quickly goes towards the harder stuff. Training discomfort and uncertainty. Leaning intMeditating to learn how to deal with uncertaintyo it, even welcoming it. Taking it in fully and learning how much capacity for “taking in difficulty” you actually have!

In abstract words this might sound simple. But without the respective preparation exercises I am not sure I could have done meditations like the Tonglen practice. It basically makes you imagine fully breathing in whatever negative thing you are dealing with. Imagine breathing in red hot, fiery, gooey stuff. Into your nose, down your respiratory system. Believe me, this is way harder than it sounds! Accordingly, this exercise was the most challenging, but also the most rewarding for me. Effectively it felt like confrontational therapy and made me confront my fears head-on. Like they say, sometimes the only way out is through.

Effects on my life

Generally, I can distinguish between two main types of effect after having done the whole program.

One of them started happening already shortly after starting the program. That effect was a heightened awareness throughout my day. I noticed my emotional reactions to things before I acted on them. So sometimes I just decided to not act on them. Basically, I did not take all of my thoughts and emotions as reality anymore. Instead, I accepted them as being there without necessarily letting them drive me. Even my fiancé, who I did not keep posted in detail about this program, told me he noticed positive changes.

The second effect is something that took a little more time to develop. But it feels like a huge learning to me. Going through this program, doing all those exercises, I ended up being so much more courageous. Yes, that kind of was the reason to start doing this in the first place. However, to be completely honest, I did not expect such a big effect on my mindset. My view on challenges, on scary or simply unknown situations has changed so much! I no longer avoid them. Not that I am seeking them out like some kind of adrenaline junkie now. But things that I pushed away for so long out of fear – I just do them now. And I notice that rush of anxiety and I know I can deal with it. I actually learned how to deal with uncertainty.

One example for this is how I now deal with a topic that is just completely unavoidable as a self-employed person. Tax. Don’t ask. I cannot even explain to you why this has been such a scare to me for so long. Guess what. I am dealing with it now. Do I love it? Definitely not. Does it hold me back any longer? Definitely not!

Do you want to learn how to deal with uncertainty?

Then take this program. It doesn’t matter where your uncertainty is located. Those exercises and the mental tools they will equip you with will make your life better. I am convinced of this. And no, this is not a sponsored post. I have no affiliations with Zen Habits whatsoever. I am just deeply grateful for this free program and would like to share this with as many people as possible.

Learning how to deal with uncertainty, how to deal with anxiety, how to deal with stress

How creating a morning routine will bring you closer to the life you want

Creating a morning routine sounds like such a sophisticated undertaking. You probably already have a lot on your plate and might feel like you do not want to add yet another thing to do to that never ending list. However, before we dive into why creating a morning routine will get you closer to the life you want, consider this one thing.

Snoozing the alarm in the morning

Everyone has a morning routine

You already have a morning routine. A routine, after all, is only “a sequence of actions regularly followed”. If you get up every morning and brush your teeth, that is a morning routine. Even if you never get up in the morning and always sleep till noon, that is a routine.  A sleeping one, but still a routine. So why is it so important what you do in the morning? I am glad you asked.

Creating a morning routine sets the tone for the day

Do you know the expression “Waking up on the wrong side of the bed”? How you wake up and spend the first minutes of your day has a huge impact on the rest of it. If your morning routine consists of growling at your alarm and slowly doing the bare necessities, your brain learns that starting the day is a bad thing. However, everyone wants to be happy and enjoy their time, right? So beginning your day with activities that you know are good for you and put you in a good mood will positively impact your life quality immensely. By consciously choosing what to put in your mind right at the beginning of the day, you can influence your mood and be happier and more focused on the things that matter to you.

Creating a morning routine with beneficial habits like reading

Creating a morning routine brings beneficial habits into your life

Everyone has areas in their life where they want to improve in some way. Often times those plans for self-improvement go on the back-burner, because we feel like we have to do a huge effort to achieve them. What we forget in those situations is, that improvement does not happen in one single step. Instead, it comes from the things we do every day – our habits.

Imagine you want to drop some weight. (I am using a bit of a cliché here, but stay with me for a moment.) How are you gonna achieve that goal reliably? By doing a one time HUGE effort and going for a whole week without anything else but carrots? Or by repeatedly integrating small, permanent changes to your diet and activity level? It’s obvious, isn’t it?

Let me tell you, the same is true for any goal you want to achieve. You have been wanting to learn a new language for ages? Get an app like Memrise and invest only 5 minutes daily into that goal. It can be done while brushing. Or on your way to work.

By integrating those habits into your morning routine, you can make sure those things really happen. We all know how hard it is to make ourselves do something useful after a long day of work. Life happens – so make sure you are setup in the best way possible.

Woman feeling powerful after creating a morning routine including exercises

Creating a morning routine gives you power over your life

By consciously setting the tone for your day and picking the habits you want to make part of your daily life, you are taking control over your life. Creating a morning routine means deciding what you are working towards. And what you you want to make part of your life. Like Will Durant famously said “We are, what we repeatedly do”. Do you want to be grumpy and controlled by outer circumstances? Or do you want to take control and decide which direction your life should go in?

I learned the difference myself when I actually started having a morning routine. For years I had wanted to start my own business. I had tons of ideas in my notebooks, heaps of dreams and wishes. But life always got in the way, the time was never right. I seemed to never get closer to any of that. All of this, because I made the mistake of waiting for “that one big change”. I didn’t need it. What I needed was to figure out what I actually want to do and how I want to live. And then break it down into the small steps and habits that would bring me closer to that life. One day at a time.

Now, a few months later, I am healthier, happier and closer to achieving my dreams than I have ever been. And I know that every day brings me another step closer. Without any crazy efforts, because the morning routine has become a habit. And we all know that habits just happen by themselves, no more effort required. This works just as well for the good habits as well as the bad ones. So make sure to decide for yourself: Which habits do you want to cultivate?

How Creating a Morning Routine will get you closer to the life you want