spruced by marlene

By Marlene | Published: 17. October 2014


I’m cleaning up my closet. Or rather: cleaning out. It wasn’t what I was aiming for. Quite the opposite. After a year of wearing the same ten pieces over and over and over again, I wanted something fresh. To spend some money and get a whole new wardrobe. I just wanted to check first what I actually had in my closet (pregnancy = forgetfulness). Turns out I really had forgotten about quite a few pieces I own. Embarrassingly, some of them even had the price tag still attached. Second surprise, more impactful: the pieces I really still wanted to wear made for only a neat little pile of clothes. So I started asking myself: What do I really need? What still fits (and not just in the sense of: over my butt)? Who the hell is the woman who bought ten grey sweatshirts for me?

And I asked myself how I shop. Sometimes the answer is simply because I like how something looks on me and makes me feel. Which explains my inability to walk past a grey sweatshirt (three of which I honestly really needed. Fine, four). But not always. One dress was a treat for a tough week in the hospital, a pair of heels came from London, because who goes to London without shopping, a pair of flared jeans looked so good on someone else that I needed them too. More often than not the reason was that I just wanted something new. Perhaps unsurprisingly I don’t wear any of those pieces very much or even at all, despite the fact that they’re nice.

And so I’ve made a resolution. Once I’ve sold and given away the excess stuff, and before the pile can get big again, I want to think more about why I spend my money.

That’s one reason why I’m excited by what journalist Alex Bohn is doing on Fair-a-porter. The blog is devoted to fair fashion, of which there isn’t just more than I expected, but some truly beautiful and affordable labels. Fair-a-porter is also about how we consume and what we can change (or even should) – without sacrificing the love for fashion.

But she’s much better at explaining the project herself.


luxsit hydrating serum

By Marlene | Published: 13. October 2014


Every compliment I got for how well my skin looked in the last nine months, was forwarded straight to this bottle of „Hydrating Serum“ from Luxsit. I discovered it when I was out to buy a present for someone else. A what-the-hell-why-not-also-give-myself-a-present purchase. One that I haven’t regretted for a minute. I wear just a few drops of it over my regular moisturizer and it makes my skin look dewy and rosy, even on days when I’ve only slept a few hours the night before. Such magic has a price. But as it’s worked for nine months, I think it’s worth it.

„Hydrating Serum“ from Luxsit, via Wheadon, a favourite beauty shop in Berlin.

the bread exchange

By Marlene | Published: 10. October 2014


When I met up with Malin to take a first look at her book, she showed me a little video she had filmed with her phone on a trip to Kabul. In it, a couple of older Afghan women are sitting together in a female-only bakery, preparing bread in a tandoor oven from the dough that Malin had made for them. They’re concentrated on their task, you can hear them chatting and, once in a while, there’s Malin’s excited voice in the background.

„The Bread Exchange“ is like that moment: curious, intimate, loving. A pure celebration of food. Yes, food, not just bread. Although that’s how it all started for Malin.

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studio visit: originol

By Marlene | Published: 6. October 2014


„When can I move in?“

…was my first question to Julie when I visited her at Originol in Hamburg. Unfortunately, neither I nor anyone else can move into her beautiful showroom. But what you can do is find nice things for your own home there. Julie sells living accessories from South Africa that she discovered while studying there and on her many visits since. The design of these mostly small labels is delightfully non-stereotypical, while still, as Julie says, „proudly South African“, such as the use of typical prints or locally grown cotton. I fell for the fine porcelain vases from FH Porcelain during my visit. A throw from Mungo is also on my wish list.

The other half of Originol is vintage furniture that Julie spruces up together with her better half, Pascal, who conveniently has his workshop next door to her showroom. The pieces are mostly from the mid-century era, but with a modern look. A bulky phone bench gets a new neon colour coat, a teak sideboard is dressed up in mint vinyl, a dusty wing chair dressed up in a kelim cover. It all looks so fresh and perfect, and is so well executed, that I feel it’s worth saving the money for. Although it’s also possible to invest in something custom-made. How? Just bring your own furniture to Julie and Pascal and they’ll work with you on giving it a new look – for a true, ahem, originol.

Those of you who don’t live in Hamburg, and even those of you who do, can order the accessories in Julie’s online shop here. You can see more of their furniture here. And here is the contact if you’re interested in having something custome-made.




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okka’s book

By Marlene | Published: 1. October 2014


I got the chance to read Okka’s book „Völlig fertig und irre glücklich: Meine ersten Jahre als Mutter“ in advance when I was still heavily pregnant. I’m not sure she knows what a treat that was for me. I locked myself into our living room for a couple of days and didn’t really move, except to get more salted licorice. And tissues. Oh my, how this book made me cry, because what she writes is so true. It also made me laugh a lot, because what she writes is so true. When James would come into the room, I kept blurting out: „I’m not the only one feeling like this!“ Of all of the books I bought or got given on pregnancy and child rearing, Okka’s is the only one I read cover to cover. She doesn’t give a single tip on what foods are good when you’re expecting, or how to get your baby to sleep, or what toys will turn your child into a nuclear physicist. She just writes how it is, with all of the questions, all of the joy, all of the absurd things you want to eat during pregnancy (I repeat: salted licorice). Which made me feel more prepared for motherhood than any help book ever could’ve done. This book is thoughtful and smart, it comforts and cheers you up, and it tells you: it’s alright not to know everything and to feel overwhelmed, to be in a bad mood sometimes and still always be able to enjoy the happiness of having a child. It made me think that I was less alone with it all. And that’s a great good gift of a book. Thank you, Okka.

„Völlig fertig und irre glücklich: Meine ersten Jahre als Mutter“ is out today (in German) and you can get it here.