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64 – 70 out of 101 – Making things

Cardboard Vases


And here are my vases out of thin and thick cardboard.


It is true, that we grow with the challenges.

When, I first when I read this week is about making vases I was not so excited about the task. My problem is to reinvent things, to be creative and innovative. I know that is not always possible, but I don’t want to simply copy ideas . However, that is quite tricky. I was greatly amazed to see e.g. on Google image search or on Pinterest how many vase designs out of cardboard you can find. So how to come up with something different?

The organic design from  Alvar Aalto’s Iittala vase reminded me on the report about dynamic design I once watched on TV.  David Fisher dynamic skyscrapers inspired my to my first vase out of thin cardboard.

Green-skyscrapers-Dynamic-006  small_1

The next vase was even tougher. Let me tell you why. The day before, I just came up with one design and now I had to design a complete different vase. I really wonder how designer accomplish that – creativity at the touch of a bottom. Designers all over the world you have my full respect.

Coming back to the second vase. Design101 told us that we have to work under pressure and to tackle challenges and it worked (at least this time ;-))

I thought about my skills and came up with weaving. It’s quite a while ago since I did that the last time, but I also remembered that it can be done with different materials, e.g. cardboard. I thought give it a try. And here you can see my process.

small_2   small_3

Looking forward for next weeks design challenges.


Sylvia’s 2013 blogging year in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Oh no, not another New Year resolution article!

New Year Resolution

The year is almost over and since weeks you can read or watch reviews of the year’s events and you find  lots of articles, like the one from CNN or Forbes,  with tips and advise “How to achieve your goals in 2014”. You even find books about New Years resolutions which promise you not to fail.

So why should I write about New Years Resolution when the market is already glutted and according to the author S. J. Scott of the “Resolutions that stick! How 12 habits can transform your New Year” 9 out of 10 people fail to achieve their goals. Who am I, presuming that I can advise anybody. No, I don’t presume anything –  this post is designed as a personal review and preview for 2014.

Image by bykst via Pixabay

Image by bykst via Pixabay

Actually, I gave up on New Years resolution quite a couple of years ago. Probably I belonged to the 9 out of 10 who did not achieve their resolutions and gave up, probably because I find it ridiculous to make resolutions at a time for a whole year or I already achieved all my goals 😉

Looking back

Approaching the 50 I have definitely achieved some goals. Originally I am a trained home economist. Yet, my first job was in a hotel as a assistant  housekeeper for a year, before switching back to my original profession. I also worked in a boarding schools for adolescents with special needs as instructor and home economist, responsible for all economist concerns of the whole school. Out of an instructor became a vocational teacher for home economy. Since that I acquired 3 different teaching licences, including special education, computer science and nursing, including geriatric nursing since this school year. Alongside my teacher job I acquired a BA in Health and my MAODE (Master of Online and Distance Education) degree with the Open University. This blog was originally my study blog and developed into my personal “diary” reporting about all kind of e-learning topics, including MOOCs and more.

Well, one might say, that I got somewhere, but there are so many new and interesting things to explore and/or bad habits to change, thus there is always room for new resolutions and goals.

My personal resolutions

Ok, what do I want to achieve next year, what are my resolutions for 2014?

I found in my calendar today a good quote.

All resolution are already made, we just have to apply them. ~Vernacular

Indeed, my resolutions sound pretty commonplace. To work out on a more regular basis, to learn a new language, to be more creative and become a DIY’er and so on. One wish would be to give e-learning a greater emphasis in my life, but so far teaching and e-learning are not really compatible, at least not on my school. So just ordinary resolutions that I need to put into action, keep track of it and not abandon them. Sounds easy, but you remember that most people dropout and are back to normal already after a couple of weeks.

How not to become a dropout

Making resolutions are one thing, but keeping them is a different matter. Here the bottom line derived from own common sense, several articles and the book I talked about in the beginning of the article that I finally bought, because I found the sample quite convincing.

  • don’t go overboard with your resolutions, i.e. make them achievable and
  • don’t make to many resolutions at a time
  • be realistic with what you want to achieve
  • your resolutions should be well-considered and planned, not made five minutes before midnight
  • don’t be to vague, but precise what you want to achieve and break it down
  • you truly want to achieve this goal, don’t make a resolution to please somebody else
  • Involve family and friends to support you achieving your goals

I am sure you know most of these tips and could probably add some more, but the year is almost over and I have to come to an end 😉

It only remains for me wishing you a  Happy New Year and that you may be successful in achieving the resolutions you made for 2014.

Image from Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

Image from Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

57 to 63 out of 101 – Christmas greetings

This week was pretty relaxed with no real homework, just questions to think about and an introduction to a lot of games, like Go, Chess, Mahjong, Tangram, Pairs or Snakes and Ladders and no quiz 😉

Monday started with our Wish List

You might have seen this video from an airline who answered all the wishes from their passengers. A great idea and an airplane ticket to a lovely, warm destination would be on my list as well.

Tuesday – Christmas Eve

It’s indeed true that Mahjong is like organizing a Christmas Eve dinner, which requires skill, strategy, calculation and a certain degree of chance. Well, everything went smooth, meaning that I could be a good Mahjong player. I used to play this game and loved it very much. I  should find an app for my smart phone to play it again, a wonderful diversion.

Wednesday – Buzz! Buzz! Blink! Blink!

explorer-KSCGreetings from Outer Space and something to remember:

Design enlarges our horizon and is not restricted to earth alone but infinitely 😉

Thursday – How are things these days?

After all the feastings during the holidays, I do not only need some brain-teasers, but some good physical exercises to get rid of all the additional calories. However, if you prefer the brain-teasers try Tangram or the Magic cube I suggested.

2013-12-27 13.16.11  2013-12-27 13.28.41

Friday – How good is your memory

Let me tell you, when playing pairs with a child I always lose big time. At the beginning you think give the child a chance, but actually they do not need any consideration, because they have an excellent memory. But, what does that tell me about my memory?

A special course instructor remember me game.


Saturday – A journey with a tent? How would your own tent be?


Cacoon-hanging-tree-houseYou have to love these tents, They are like hammocks just with a roof to protect you from too much sun and/or rain. Plus, they are easy to set up. I would just need to grow a tree in my garden, big enough to hold a tree tent 😉

You might want to take a look at some other well designed tents.

Sunday – What is your absolute gift?

Similar to the wish list from Monday I can only say “That money cannot buy love” respectively friendship. Therefore, people who care for you are the absolute gift and probably my statement of participation I received today 😉

I wish you a healthy, joyful and prosperous

Image by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

Merry Christmas

Season’s Greetings

and best wishes for the New Year 2014


May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through.

~Author Unknown



36 to 40 out of 101 Design Basics – It’s alive

Homework no. 36 – 40

Did you know that design is alive and helps you to grow food. No, then continue reading and find out what design and gardening has in common 😉

36 37 38 39 40

It’s alive

This, well last week was labelled “It’s alive”.  Actually a very interesting challenge to grow your own food in an indoor garden.


Sure, I did grow herbs in my kitchen, but mainly I bought the herbs e.g. basil, parsley or chives in a small pot and put them on the window sill. A couple of years ago I did grow sprouts and had a special container where you could rinse them. And not to forget the avocado seed, but I never had them long enough to actually grow an avocado.  That’s about all that I tried to grow indoor so far, because traditionally gardening takes place outdoor. Well, I guess that might be an outdated opinion viewing that images from micro-garden.

It’s amazing how easy you can actually design a home garden. My personal favorite are the plastic bottles and they would nicely fit on the window sill. I consider growing some herbs, probably lettuce and/or chard. I read that kale should grow indoors as well, but as far as I know does kale need the cold, similar to Brussel sprout to develop the full flavor. Growing stevia would be interesting, though I am not sure whether I will get some stevia seeds here in Germany. Remembering the following statement, I think that a little bottle garden should be achievable, not too much, but also not too little.


Getting seeds during the winter time is in general difficult as the garden season normally runs from spring until fall. With a couple of exceptions, like corn salad or mache, the sprouts or kale nothing really grows in the cold and it seems that indoor garden are not so common. That’s one reason why I might not be possible to achieve this weeks objectives, but another other reason is my limited time last week. However, probably we’ll have another week off, which given I’ll get some seeds, I would be able to catch up and grow my own food. A nice idea hearing about all the herbicides and fungicides polluted vegetables. And one thing is for sure, homegrown vegetables are a lot tastier than purchased ones.


A good advice, especially the last part “keeping them alive” 😉

29 – 33 out of 101 Design Basics – What did I learn from the other students?

Not a single Homework no. 29 – 33

29    30     31    32     33

I always find it funny how quick I adopt the role of a student. Instead of being totally disappointed that I have no specific task to accomplish this week, hence no chance to enhance mit limited knowledge about design, I am quite happy to have a week off . Shame on me 😉 But, it’s good to put myself in the shoes of my students to understand them a lot better. Well, lesson learned.



  • I learned a lot of good recipes29a
  • I learned a lot of innovative ways to translate the same homework into so many creative outcomes
  • I learned not to compare myself with others (well I am still working on that 😉
  •  and I hope to learn a lot more from my peers

However, I still wish for more communication which I experienced with other MOOCs. But, probably on Facebook or other SNS more is going on. Compliments to the wonderful course team, which work miracles and design so awesome videos and letters XXXOOO


More things I learned from my peers:30

  • To be kind when commenting on other people’s design
  • to appreciate all comments and feedbacks from peers, because they help me to improve
  • to stand to the own design, although it might be far from perfect
  • to be honest, only passing of the own design
  • to take the time and visit the last page to see the hidden treasures from others


I am getting so used to our weekly cooking/baking day, that I decided to bake a Christmas Stollen today. The Christmas season begins on Sunday with the first Advent and the Stollen should let rest for about two or three weeks, hence they will be ready for Christmas.


Today we are asked to remember that a designer questions everything. Well, I actually don’t want to add more fuel to the fire, but I cannot help myself wondering how quick, with a sophisticated design some of my peers finished their daily work. But didn’t we learn that design is organizing time and things 😉 I guess I can learn that from my peers.

Thursday iron_flower-bird

I learned from my peers that nobody has to hide in this course with her/his design. All off them are beautiful, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Todays motto is Flower Power and here my iron Flower-bird watching over my dandelions.


That I need to make greater use of my sketchbook, though I use my blog here as a diary to document my experience and homework for Design 101.
I also learned that arts and crafts is great fun and that not everything can be done with a technical device, e.g. a computer. Therefore I started to design my own DIY wooden Christmas tree. I found the idea on pinterest and when I recently cut my bushes in my backyard I kept a couple of branches and linked them today to Christmas tree. It’s not finished yet, it still needs some decoration. I’ll keep you posted.

Wooden_Christmas     Neon_Christmas

PS. Always worth watching it – the great Design 101 videos, but you also might want to take a look at Belinha Fernandes “Celebrating one month of Design” slideshow.

27 out of 101 Design Basics or how to Design a Service

Homework no. 27

27        27a

Saturdays video about the DabbaWalas – Amazing Meal Delivery in India let me thought about service and what you can learn from the dabbawalas. It is really amazing how successful they manage. We were asked to think about service design and reflect back what we did during our Kitchen Stories’ week. We were asked:


I loved to bake since I was very young and though I learned to cook and I also too love it, my specialty is still baking. During my work in a boarding school we had an open day each year where the students demonstrated their skills. The picture below is when I did the backing for a branch office.

Cake Parade


For a while I could imagine running a coffee shop and offering homemade cakes. I did and still bake the birthday cakes for my god childs and friends and where often asked by the other guest if I would be willing to offer that as a service. Maybe I should have offered that service, but it’s still possible, you never know 😉


26 out of 101 Design Basics or the Design of a Sacher Torte

Homework no. 26

Design 101,
Design 101,


Todays task is to bake a Sacher Torte. A cake that consists of two layers of dense chocolate sponge with a thin layer of apricot jam in the middle, coated with dark chocolate icing. I searched my cook books until I came up with a recipe, actually I came up with about five recipes and decided for the one you see below.

26aDid you know who and how the Sacher Torte was invented? No, then you might want to read the story from Franz Sacher and how he ended up to design a desert for Prince Metternich.

Sometimes pressure can open undreamt-of possibilities, but sometimes it blocks good ideas. Well, considering the unbroken worldwide success from the Sacher Torte it seems that in Franz Sacher case pressure worked fine for him.

Fortunately, I had less pressure, though I messed up the recipe a couple of times and it came out far to dense, less than a sponge more like a stone. I definitely wanted to avoid this, but it came out pretty good. The little people on top of the cake, my pandas are less creative, but you cannot be good in everything 😉

Sacher Torte Presentation

Sacher     P1020766     Sacher_people1

To remember


23 – 25 out of 101 Design Basics – More Kitchen Stories

Homework no. 23 – 25

23_101     24_101     25_101

This week is devoted to the kitchen and we are asked to cook a meal three times.

  1. for myself
  2. for three guest
  3. for my Mom or a very close friend

I’ll have to admit that my guest will come next week and I did not cooked my meal three times in a row, though I cooked at least three times and had guest at my house. Design 101 is a pretty demanding course, though the most interesting I ever joined, and it’s not easy to complete each days task. Although we are asked to spent just on hour on each homework, it is almost impossible to achieve, considering that you not only accomplish the task, but also connect with others which is a very important part. Regognizable is the fact, that the number of activie participants greatly dropped. I’ll give you some numbers. Each day you have a homework page where we are asked to upload our homework. During the first week we had more than 90 pages full of posts from participants, each page containing about 10 posts. That would mean 900 active participants, but still about 26.000 lurkers, considering that we started with 27.000 participants. Since week three numbers decreased and depending on the homework less than 10 pages, hence less than 100 people actively post their homework, confirming somehow the high MOOC dropout rates. Well, so far I am following my own advise not to become a MOOC dropout 😉

Kitchen Ingredients

On Thursday we were asked to present the ingredients we need to cook our meal. Inspired by the great ideas from my peers I came up with this idea.


Kitchen tools

Same recipe, different task this time to present the kitchen tools. I wanted to follow the idea I had with the ingredients, but the pot was a little to heavy to achieve that.



Food arranging


I like to please my Mum and she likes especially my baking. Hence I changed the task a little and served her the Sacher Torte with coffee.


More Kitchen Stories


In my last post I announced to tell you why you’ll always find me in the kitchen at parties, for several reasons.

  • because of my cooking skills I am often asked to help out in the kitchen which I don’t mind
  • in the kitchen you are at the source, so why give that up 😉
  • I’m not what you call a party animal and I love to retreat in the kitchen.
    I still remember that I voluntary put my hands up to do the dishes, simply because I had problems to follow the conversation of my American friends and hence escaped in the kitchen. I still help out in the kitchen, not because of communication problems, but for the reasons above. Funnily I made a real impression with my (in)voluntary work in the kitchen at my American friends house. It’s always a funny (kitchen) story to tell and to see how things started more than 14 years ago.