30 Nov 2013

November challenges done, done and done

At the beginning of the month I decided on a couple of things. First of all I started doing Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred-exercise program, this I started on the last day of last month, but still. Second I was going to eat less or no meat for the month. And my third goal was to walk a lot more than I usually do.Today is the last day of this month and I must say I did pretty well on all three challenges.

I didn't do the 30 day shred every day and I didn't do all levels 10 times, I think I did level 1 and 2 about seven times and today was the fourth time I did level 3. I think I must've become stronger because level 3 doesn't feel as hard to do as the other levels. It is a challenge though and I have to modify some of the moves, mainly because my upper body isn't strong enough. For example push ups are still a huge challenge for me so knees in the floor it is. But I love that I start to feel I actually have some muscles. It is really the best prize I can get for this. To see the change in my body and that what I'm doing is working. Making me stronger and healthier day by day! I think I'll continue with level 3 for a couple of more times. Maybe I'll be able to do one real push up once I'm done!

The second challenge also went well. I did eat fish and seafood, not every day but a couple of times a week. So clearly not completely meatless, but still very much different from what I've normally eaten up til now. It wasn't at all difficult and even though I don't think I will go completely vegetarian, at least not yet, I will certainly continue along these lines; vegetables, egg and dairy products and seafood as the main ingredients and then perhaps some meat and chicken just every now and then.

Oh I forgot, I did eat meat last weekend. We were at Mr A.'s grand parents' 90.year birthday party and the food was meat with meat. I of course had some because it would've been rude not to. And it was very nice food too, and don't worry, there was potatoes and salad as well. A nice dinner party for the sweet couple.

Then to the walking challenge. I went out walking almost every day this month. I did have a couple of rest days and then last weekend there was the bears and wolves stopping me from walking. But I think I was quite good at taking the extra time and got company most days on my walks. I made a couple of long walks, 10 and 12 km, but usually it was about 3 - 6 km. I never logged my walk to and from work or walking to the closest supermarkets and other similar every day routines. So everything I logged was basically extra walking.

According to my gps I walked 143.22 km this month. That's an average of 4.8 km extra walking every day, also counting the rest days. Maybe not mind blowing, but I'm very pleased with myself for going out walking so much despite it being November. It's not exactly the best month in Finland for walking, weatherwise. Today it first rained and then everything froze so I had to half skate back home. I very much doubt I'll walk anywhere near as much in December, but I will definitely continue going out for walks. As long as it's not just ice on the pavements.

Now that those challenges are over and the best bits will continue as parts of my life I'll have to think of at least one new challenge for next month. I'll leave that for tomorrow though.

If anyone hasn't tried The 30 Day Shred and wants to give it a go, here's level 1:

23 Nov 2013

Bringing some light into the darkness

I love warm, sunny spring and summer. Not a big fan of cold, dark autumn and winter. But on days when the sun appears even the darkest day gets lit up and the world is beautiful.

Back home in Turku we don't have snow yet, so it's very dark after the sun sets. The days have mainly been cloudy and rainy lately so it's dark during the day too. When we drove up further north yesterday it was extremely dark until the last kilometers, when the snow appeared on the ground. It clearly helped bring some light to the many dark hours.

There's not much snow here yet, barely even covering the ground. The green grass is still easily working it's way through the thin layer. But snow nevertheless. And today the sun fought away the clouds and brought some warmth during the couple of hours of the short November day.

Sun peaking through the window and waking me up after sleeping in til after 10 am. I love Saturday mornings!

The sun never rises high up on the sky during winter

Pawprints! Maybe it's the wolf?

Or a bear? Probably not the mouse...

Might've been this little guy after all.

And so it sets again...

This post is really just me waiting for Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary Special - The Day of The Doctor. Just under an hour to go!

Wolves and mice and bears! Oh my!

This weekend I'm spending further up north with Mr A.'s family. They even have snow here already! And dark forests. I really get to feel what a spoiled city girl I am. Can't even go out for a walk since I'm too scared of meeting a wolf or bear on the forest roads. Not a completely unfounded fear since their neighbours' cow (cows even maybe?) was recently killed by something that was either a wolf or a bear or perhaps even several of these. No one here seems to think it's a good idea to go out walking right now, so must stay here and ramble on about nothing instead.

And there are mice in the attic! Mice are cute, but only when they stay in the forest. Or are pet mice. Although if I were to choose I much rather have a mouse inside the house than meet a bear in the middle of the forest, while alone, on a jog (no mice in the attic: this was NOT an invitation!). Unless I have my camera with me of course and the bear is far away enough not to be a threat. And how far would that have to be? Would my zoom manage that kind of distance, I wonder? Might be quite exciting to have a picture of a bear. Hmm... on second thought, maybe I'll leave that to others. I'd be too afraid. I can imagine how my arms would be shaking too much to take a picture.

Last summer we were supposed to go for a walk in the forest here. We walked perhaps 100 m and heard some noise in the bushes only about 10 m from us. Innocent me was thinking: oh, it must be some cute bunnies, how lovely. But those cute small bunnies were two big elk. When they heard us they started running one way, then stopped, then ran back and crossed our road and stopped. Then they stood there among the trees and stared at us. We stared back. They eventually won the staring contest and we turned back. Very curious elk. Usually they are afraid of humans but these two young ones just didn't know what to think of us. Amazing animals. Even though elk aren't exactly dangerous to humans, the young ones especially, can be unpredictable. So better show them respect and walk away.

My fingers were shaking too much to take a picture, but luckily Mr A. has a steadier hand and managed to capture the mighty kings of the forest. Or these two were probably still princes, but still.

Staring elk. Picture by Mr A.
Oh and if someone reading this isn't familiar with The Wizard of Oz, the title of the post is very much a rip off from there. With just slight alterations of course. Not many lions and tigers in the forests here in Finland. And no, we don't have polar bears either.

17 Nov 2013

Crushed and jinxed nails - textured tape manicure

I had planned doing a manicure inspired by the honey pomelo fruit from my last post. Thought I'd get some use out of my citrus fimo nail decorations. While I was going through my nail polishes I realised I didn't have any colour I wanted to use as a base for the fimo nail art. Plus even though I have lots of fimo nail art, I've very rarely used it. I'm not sure I've made a complete manicure after the first time I used them. Not really my thing, even though they can look quite impressive in the right hands (= not mine).

Anyway, I kept grabbing coral polishes, my favourites last summer. It's the middle of dark November so what's better than trying to light things up with a bright colour? I got the only Sally Hansen polish I own last summer on sale in Copenhagen, Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme wear Crushed. Another coral polish that became an instant favourite when I saw it on nail blogs is OPI's Jinx. It's a textured polish, matte glitter polish. I only have a couple of polishes with this finish and it's not usually my favourite finish, but in this colour it certainly is! Believe me, it's stunning in person. Very hard to capture the glitter in pictures.

Inspired by my flocked nails design a little while ago I wanted to play around with texture, while using polishes of very similar colours. First I used one layer of the base coat I've grown fond of lately Trind Nail Repair, then two coats of  Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme wear Crushed. On top of this one coat of top coat Seche Vite. I let this dry very very well and then used tape to make a kind of square design (although those aren't really squares, are they?). The one coat of OPI Jinx and off with the tapes.

I used this square design on my left hand but since it was quite time consuming I wanted to try something different on my right hand and went for a more traditional french tip manicure. Used tape for this as well. I very much prefer the square manicure over the french tip though.

My nails look different than in the posts recently. The reason is that yesterday I broke the nail on my left index finger which forced me to file my nails in a rounder shape instead of the square shape I usually prefer. I have rounder nails a lot of the time, since quite often one nail breaks when they are square shaped. The corners unfortunately tend to break more easily when they are sharp. I don't mind too much though, good excuse to file them well every now and then and take better care of them.

Adventures in honey pomelo-land

Some days ago while in the supermarket fruit section I was tempted by an offer for a fruit called honey pomelo. I've seen them before, but never tried them. So now that they were on offer I thought it's a perfect opportunity to make a new acquaintance.  The fruit weighed over 1 kg.

What I hadn't noticed in the supermarket was that it was packaged in not only mesh (which I obviously did notice) but also in plastic. Seem a bit of an overkill. Even the cat is wondering what is up.

Since a pomelo is a citrus fruit I thought I'd peel it the same way as an orange. By the way, I don't eat oranges very often because I'm too lazy to peel them. But peeling oranges is nothing compared to peeling a pomelo... I think it must've taken me about half an hour before I had it all peeled. So much work! But I did get a huge pile of pomelo pulp as a reward. 

Unsurprisingly the honey pomelo tastes like a citrus fruit. A little bit like a grapefruit, but a much more subtle taste and without the bitterness. Quite a gentle taste, more sweet than sour.

I had this very clever idea to bake breakfast muffins and put some pomelo in the dough. I tasted the dough before I put them in the oven and thought it tasted pretty yummy. Once they were done the taste had changed. And definitely not for the better. Such a bitter aftertaste. I couldn't eat them. Such a shame. I won't even bother writing down the recipe here. Glad that Mr A. isn't as picky and gladly (or so he said) ate them.

I will try similar muffins with blueberry or something more "safe". I think the recipe I did might otherwise be a good base for healthier, breakfasty muffins. Rolled oats, wheat bran and no sugar (honey and bananas instead). As we have no eggs left and there is a storm rising outside I'll probably have to wait to some other day before I make another experiment with the recipe. 

I still have lots of pomelo pulp in the fridge so will have some for breakfast without trying to make it into something else. As with most fruit, I have now learned it's best to eat as it is and not mess with nature!

16 Nov 2013

Yay! I'm an auntie!

Happiness is... 

Today I met a new little person. He stole my heart right away. Well, he had stolen it already when I saw the first picture of him just 1,5 hours after he was born a couple of days ago. But now he got to steal it in person. My little nephew. I'm so proud of my sister. And so happy for the whole new family!

The card at the hospital that had all the details of his birth
Due to hospital rules only the grand parents get to visit during visiting hours so I haven't been able to go to visit my sister and the baby. They are still at the hospital but today my sister had enough energy to come with the baby to the lobby so we got to meet!

We got the little boy a small bunny rabbit and also a cute hat, socks and a body. Of course I forgot to take pictures of all of those... Managed to take a picture of the cute bunny though. I was so excited to meet him and see my sister and her boyfriend, the proudest parents in the world!

Baby bunny sitting in the baby bed

I'm very much looking forward to spending more time with my nephew and watch him grow up. He is probably going to be very spoiled by his aunt and his aunt's boyfriend. We already went and bought him a new gift! Haha! But I'll try to save it for Christmas, even though I want to get him everything right now! The whole world for the cutest baby in it.

11 Nov 2013

Time to start planning for Tenerife

So excited! Next month we are going to Tenerife (note to burglars: we have both house and cat sitters). So soon it's time to start planning for the trip. Or at least have a look at what we might want to do while we are there. It's very possible that we'll end up mainly just relaxing, but it's good to know what options there are. Just in case we do want to have lots of activities every day.

My parents go to the Canary Islands a lot (a lot a lot!). So when we were over at their house for Father's Day coffee on Sunday I happened to ask if they have any guide books on Tenerife. Yep. They did. The oldest one was from the 70s and the newest ones from the 90s. And no, I didn't borrow them.

I loved looking at the pictures in the guide book from the 70s. It was an old library book so you could also see that it had been borrowed in 1977 and 1980. Probably other times as well, but these two times were marked in the book itself. Someone had also underlined things they found important. Even written notes and made remarks on the maps. So cute. (I need to add that in general I do think it's rude to write things in library books.)

Wonder how much Puerto de la Cruz has changed from the 70s? 

10 Nov 2013

Flocking French Favourite

I think it must've been sometime last year that flocked nails started popping up on nail blogs everywhere. I got several pots of flocking powder from my sister but must admit I've never gotten around trying them until now. For about a year I hardly did any nail art, so it's not (just) that I was lazy, but more that I didn't feel like it.

I'm not sure if I like the flocked nails look. It looks quite odd if you ask me. Fluffy nails. Weird. I kept thinking what I could do with the flocking powder that I'd like and that wasn't too odd looking. Then I decided to give flocked french tips a go. As I didn't want to make it too in your face, I used the same colour nail polish and flocking powder.

First I painted my nails with one of my absolute all time favourite nail polishes, OPI's Red Hot Ayers Rock. I have many many red polishes, since that's my favourite colour, and out of these OPI's Red Hot Ayers rock is my favourite bright candy red creme polish. As a base coat I used Trind's Nail Repair, the two coats of nail polish and on top my favourite top coat, Seche Vite.

I painted my nails late last night. This morning I continued and used french tip tape and did one nail at a time. First the tape, then Seche Vite on the tip and then immediately poured flocking powder on the tip. Shook off the powder that didn't stick. Ripped off the tape and TA-DAH! the nail was done. Once it was dry I brushed off all excess flocking powder with a small brush.

This is certainly no durable manicure. The flocking powder doesn't seem to stay on very well, but since I have polish in the same colour underneath, it doesn't look too bad.

9 Nov 2013

Putting some more weight on my shoulders

Today I bought some new dumbbells: 3 kg dumbbells. I only had 1 and 2 kg ones from before and after doing Jillian Michaels' 30 day shred for some days now I realised I need more weight for some of the moves. I've only been using 2 kg dumbbells doing the exercises so far, but they are a bit too heavy for some of the moves and a bit too light for some. So today was the first day that I did level 1 using all three different weights. I feel this was a very good decision because I now got more out of the strength moves when I adjusted the weight according to my ability.

I am still struggling on especially one of the strength moves, namely the side lunges with anterior raises (needless to say this was the move I used 1 kg dumbbells for). At the same time the ab moves in particular, and most of the cardio, is getting far too easy for me. I'm thinking I might take a stab at level 2 tomorrow. I've only done level 1 seven times, not 10, like the program is meant to be done. However I've also not done the shred every day, since I've for example also been going to pilates class and been walking a lot.

When it comes to walking, I had made it a goal this month to walk more, and this I have done. On a normal day with walking to and from work and then perhaps the supermarket or something similar, I would guess I walk between 2-4 kilometers during a day. Now I've been tracking all extra walks on my Sportstracker app this month. So far I've walked 50.5 km extra this month.

I've only had one complete rest day this month. I probably should have one each week so my knee won't start causing me problems. The rest day was last Thursday and it became a rest day mainly because I only had a couple of hours of sleep and had absolutely no energy. The work week was quite stressful which led to a racing mind that wouldn't shut down until closer to 5 am, leading to me not hearing my alarm at 7 am and oversleeping. Waking up and realising the time is 8.54 and the workday started 25 minutes ago isn't an ideal situation...

The reason Mr A. didn't hear the alarm go off and woke me up was that when he noticed I had finally fallen asleep, he had moved to sleep on the sofa. The reason was afraid he'd disturb me and wake me up again. How sweet of him! That is love. Anyway, restless night and oversleeping meant my head was spinning the whole day and by the time I got home again, I thought there was only one smart thing to do. Rest.

Today I didn't rest. I went out for a walk with my mother, and we ended up walking about 12 km. Let's see if my legs want to do much walking tomorrow. I hope so, I love long walks like that. Especially when the weather is quite perfect for walking. Crisp autumn air. This isn't my favourite season but I like autumn for long walks (when it's not windy and rainy). The weather forecast doesn't bode so well for tomorrow, but who knows. Plus a little rain can be refreshing, right?

6 Nov 2013

"I should be in that video!"

Today I saw this video on Youtube about children reacting to two videos of marriage proposals where the people are gay and then commenting on questions around the topic of gay people getting married. Best video I've seen in a while. Especially in some of the younger children you see the true reactions where they clearly haven't had much, if any, experience about what "gay marriage" means. And you can also see how easily parents or other grown ups can make someone think something they can't even explain but they do have a very strong opinion about it nevertheless. 

Very interesting and I am quite impressed with how intelligent these young people are. Thank you to them for at least somewhat restoring my faith in humanity. And maybe there'll be a day sometime in the future where we'll simply just call it marriage.

One of the best/cutest comments ever:  "So, if I got a box of microscopes, I'd be gay?"

Some of my other favourite quotes:

"I should be in that video!"

"He does have a nice suit, I have to say that."

"Well, this is new!"

"Gay is bad for you! - Why do you think that is bad? - Because... I don't know!"

"I don't get why ANYONE would be mad!"

"I need talk to Mr President!"

"It kind of takes away from the whole freedom thing"

"I'm afraid there's tornadoes, I don't wanna go there, but I have to because I want to marry someone I like and that's not right."

"I'm kind of ashamed that I live in this world, why can't I live on that moon that supposedly has jellyfish on it?"

"There's no completely valid reason."

"I mean, I'm a Christian, I don't think it's wrong." 

"I'm your friend! AIRHUG!"

"Even though that's not my problem, I will still fight for it, if I can."

4 Nov 2013

I would walk 500 miles

If I didn't have enough goals for this month from before (eat less meat and do the 30 day shred, was that all?), I have one more. Walking! Last night I realised I have been out walking every day (yes, three whole days) this month so far. So I decided to continue and see how many kilometres it adds up to this month. Walked today as well.

I use Sportstracker to log my walks on my phone so even though the gps on my oldish phone (good old almost reliable Nokia N8) isn't perfect it tracks the walks good enough for me.

Not counting walks to and from work, the supermarket and similar I've so far walked about 24 km this month, average of 6 km per day. Can't promise I can keep that up, but we'll see. I'll probably forget about all these goals by the end of the month, I guess it's not that serious.

And I have to add the video to one of my favourite songs at the end here, The Proclaimers - I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles). I really should watch Benny & Joon again. I was thinking it must be a pretty old film, even though it doesn't feel THAT old. But when I checked and saw it is from 1993 and counted... twenty years! Wow! Anyways...

3 Nov 2013

Sometimes you need to wait for it

*contains possible minor spoilers*

You can see who the geeks are when the end credits start to roll.

Yesterday I went to see Thor: The Dark World. This time I actually knew there'd be a scene after the end credits so I didn't stay just because. But to my surprise there was a mid-credits scene and one post-credits. Half of those who stayed during the credits left after the mid-credits scene, but I had heard that I should sit tight 'til the very end, so I did. (Mr A stood up and wanted to leave after the mid-credits scene.)

I really liked the movie, it was very entertaining: fun and exciting. A perfect film to go see on a dark and rainy Saturday night. At least for those who like action, fantasy, superhero, comic-kind of films. I absolutely love the humour in the Marvel movies. I've never read the comics, so don't know if the humour is there already, I assume so though. Of the films based on Marvel comics I've seen so far,  The Avengers is my favourite (Joss Whedon!). But I think Thor: The Dark World comes in second on that list.

When the end credits started to roll I saw the name of the actor who plays Malekith, the ruler of the Dark Elves. Christopher Eccleston! I hadn't at all noticed that it was him, nor had I given any thought to who the actor playing the character was. And then it was the Ninth Doctor. Nice!

2 Nov 2013

Doctor Who inspired nail art - Exterminate!

Exterminate! Dalek nail art. (photo taken by Mr A)
Did a stab at getting back into doing nail art after a very long break. One of my absolute favourite TV shows is Doctor Who. I blogged about it in my very first blog post back in 2008. I wanted to do a nail art inspired by the show and since the Daleks have a very unique look which it's quite easy to capture, they ended up being my choice. Once again Pinterest worked as my inspiration, I found Polish Smoothie's Dalek nail art there. Might have to replicate the design at some other time, since it's absolutely gorgeous.

Funny thing about that first blog post, where I mention I never get hooked on things like exercising, eating healthy and saving money. Now I'm kind of hooked on all those things (not the cleaning though, never the cleaning). At least for the time being. Will perhaps have to get back to the money part at some other time. Basically no more mindless shopping!

I used a dotting tool for the dots, the polish I used for dotting wasn't the best choice since it was a bit runny. I haven't got a decent thin brush so the lines got a bit (= very) wobbly, I (kind of) fixed it by putting a glitter polish on top of the wobbly black line.

Nail polishes used: OPI The Spy Who Loved Me, OPI Warm & Fozzie, OPI Designer de Better, Essence Irreplaceable, Essence Gold Fever, Zoya Raven and Seche Vite top coat

Absolutely need to get a new flash for my DSLR camera, almost impossible to get decent pictures under a desktop lamp.

Here's an idea - Meatless November?

Lots of people have been going vegetarian or at least tried to cut down on eating meat during October, Vegetarian Awareness Month. I think it is really great, and I do like eating vegetarian food but never jumped on the band wagon this month. Not really sure why, I'm afraid it might be because I'm quite lazy when it comes to food. But I got an idea this evening. I thought I might start now instead. I did however eat some tuna on a pizza we did for dinner tonight, but for lunch I had pumpkin soup and salad.

The pumpkin soup was delicious btw, as was the pizza. I really should've taken a picture of the pizza though, because we made it on this Finnish flatbread, rieska. Just because we thought we didn't want to buy ready made pizza, or even ready made pizza crust and felt too lazy to make it our selves. It turned out great and the flatbread was wholegrain so we got some extra fibers too.

The pumpkin soup at lunch was part of the lunch restaurants Halloween themed lunch today. Yes, I know, Halloween was yesterday. But try telling them, and most of the rest of Finland, that. They had fake mice around the salad bar, that was a bit interesting.

Actually I must thank the lunch restaurant for the idea of going more green this month, they have had more vegetarian options on the menu this week and there are posters saying "green days" on the walls. That combined with many talking about meatless October on Facebook and Twitter really made me think. I love salads and vegetables and do care animals and the environment. So really it is very odd that I eat quite a lot of meat.

I could blame it on Mr A who does most of the cooking. But then I'm usually with him at the supermarket and pay for most of the food, so I really should come with more meatless ideas for dinner. I might not be a great cook and I really don't care for cooking. But I'm usually they one who makes the salads.

Before I even thought about doing this, we discussed earlier that we will have tomato and mozzarella salad tomorrow, so it's going to be an easy start to my more meatless month. The only thing I'm thinking might cause a problem is my memory. I'm afraid I'll accidentally forget and take the meat option for lunch and then I'll feel bad about it later.

Oh and I haven't mentioned this to Mr A. (He'll have found out it by now. While he's reading this. Hello sweetie!) He can eat meat while I'm at work.

I might eat some fish though, but we'll see how it goes.
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