Nov 16, 2012

A Fangirl Moment

This is kind of a weird, unsponsored, "squee-I'm-so-in-love-with-this" -kind of post, so bear with me fir this once.

Picture from Lisa's blog, day 313 of her 
365 days of handlettering -series illustrations.

I stumbled upon the work of Lisa Congdon the other day, and it was love at first sight.

I just wish I had heaps of money, because I would probably buy anything (and everything!) from her etsy-shop. I've always been a fan of pretty prints, and this definitely fits the bill.

(So if you have any extra money laying around, you know what to get me for my birthday which is in two weeks or so.)

But yeah, I just love all these beautiful and fun things made by her and I hope you will too. :D

Oct 21, 2012

All these conversations we have with ourselves

This is a very much unrelated picture of a beautiful flower I photographed in Istanbul last spring. 
Flowers are pretty and remind us of the frivolity of time and how change is constant though, 
and those are always good lessons to keep in mind. 

I've been doing a lot of self-reflection and trying to figure out what all kinds of things mean to me and how to deal with the life I have now. In addition to that I've also been crazy busy actually living that life, seizing the moment and living it to the fullest.

So, I was very happy when I stumbled upon the Conversation - Honest Talk with Amanda de Cadenet the other day, through a blog I'm sorry I can't remember just now. (That often happens if I'm busy, I just open the interesting links to a new tab and then go through them when I have time, sometimes even days later.)

Anyway, the thing that amazed me about the show/videos was how very refreshing and inspiring watching through the episodes was (and yes, you can watch them overseas like me!) and how interesting conversations Amanda was able to have with these super celebrities that often say nothing for wanting to protect their privacy (and there's nothing wrong with that!). But anyway, I was tremendously interested and inspired to see what people like Olivia Wilde and Gwyneth Paltrow had to say about relationships and getting through tough times. So if you're interested in hearing (and seeing) some very thought-provoking and honest(!) conversations, check all the episodes out here. There's actually a whole community built upon this, which I also find very interesting and inspiring.

Interesting and inspiring, my two key words for today it seems.

Well, I also happen to think that those (interest and inspiration) are the two driving forces behind many beautiful things, together with passion and wonder. Combine all of these and you're set for life.

One of the questions Amanda asked her guests/interviewees/conversation partners (as well random people on the street) was what advice they would give to their 14-year-old selves. I find that a very good and thought-provoking question; I think I'll try to answer that in my next post!

Listening to: Regina Spektor - Patron Saint (Though the whole 'What We Saw From the High Seats' album is very, very good.)

Aug 14, 2012

People are weird, but fascinatingly wonderful.

This following video was definitely one of the more fascinating online experiences lately.

PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death and God from Frank Warren on Vimeo.

Basically, it's based on PostSecret idea, except it's all in front of a video camera, which takes takes the anonymity away, except it doesn't, when you share the experience with a big bunch of other people. Still at the same time, each secret is so unique, so full of wonder and shame and secrecy and... all kinds of feelings, really.

It's so interesting to see the play of feelings and thought on these people's faces and wonder, what would I say? What would I feel?

Because we all do have secrets. Sometimes we keep them secret even from ourselves.

Aug 1, 2012

Where did all that time and money go? - No Spend Month

Read all my posts on No Spend Month here.

So, yesterday was the last day of July, so the last day of No Spend Month too! I'd like to say I grew up as a person and now I'm ready to move into the forest to live on mushrooms and berries, but nope, that's not the case. In fact, I think I thought about consuming and consumerism more than ever during this month! I also learned a few lessons, which are pretty obvious to anyone, but I hope I'll keep them in mind in my everyday from now on and actually see something change in the way I spend money in the future.

The things that for me really made all the difference:

1. Budgeting

Well, duh. This is the basis of all things money, and it's so basic that you'd think everyone does this every month. Nooot so. Well, of course I haven't purposefully tried to live beyond my means, but I've always had this (mostly hazy) idea of how much money I have, and then gone from there. It didn't usually go so well. :P

During July, I had a very specific amount of money, which limited my impulse buying a lot. I still bought candy, went out to eat, enjoyed an ice cream every now and then, but I didn't buy something I didn't really need. (And yes, a candy bar can be indeed be a NEED). I didn't buy books, yarn, clothes or basically anything I didn't have a very specific reason and need for. I know I can't stay in my "not-buying-anything"-mode for ever (in fact, I might splurge on an iTunes gift card for myself this very afternoon as a thanks for a job pretty well done), but I am going to budget for those expenses.

We'll see how this things goes. I just made a budget for this month, and while it's not quite as strict as July's, it's still pretty tight. Dirt-poor university student, you know.

2. Meal-planning

I know I said this before, but it's huuuge! I didn't really appreciate it before (and I'm still not very good at it), but it's so freeing to have dinner options, to know what you have in your fridge/freezer/pantry, to know what you need to buy. No stress!

The down-side of  meal planning was, for me, that I really get bored of my cooking preeettty fast. Even in July, i just had to eat out because I was too hungry and tired and moody to cook. Cooking takes time, initiative and creativeness that I just don't have every day. What helps, though, is to have enough space (or "grace" as most blogs seem to call it) for the occasional eating-out, as long as it stays occasional. Easier said than done, but I know this helped for me. "Meal-pooling" (like car-pooling?), I mean getting together with friends and cooking a huge batch of something and sharing it is great too. Especially if you're easily bored by your own cooking, like certain people here.

3. Attitude

This is not so easily explained, but I think it belongs here anyway. One of the reasons why I started No Spend Month in the first place was that I was tired of not knowing where I stand, financially. But as the month progressed, I kind of realized that I had no idea where I stood, not only money-wise but also emotionally and spiritually. I hope you don't take this as some kind of an I've-found-God-coming-out-of-the-proverbial-closet thing, because FYI, I'm still agnostic. It's rather that I've had time and space to ponder on the meanings different things have for me.

One of these "realizations" is that I really don't care for money that much. Yes, I wish I had more of it, I wish I could spend more freely without thought to what my bank account says, but at the moment that's just not realistic at all. With that I also realized that I want to spend my days doing things I enjoy, and if I make money out of them, that's a plus. Of course I hope to be creative and energetic and amazingly brilliant at everything I do, and that all that effort will make me rich one day, but honestly? I just want to live my life in a way that makes me happy. This may sound trite and superficial (because there are just about million blogs out there claiming these very things and sometimes it feels like I read them all), but I've had enough of being sad and depressed and miserable and ashamed to last me a life time. I'm ready to move forward to finding what really inspires and uplifts me to do amazing, wonderful, awe-inspiring things. Wouldn't you want that in your life too?

Oh, and the No Spend Month?  The final sum was 102,05€, so a bit over the budget. To my defense the extra was mainly from the bottle deposits and such, so I really didn't have to use any extra money to cover that over-spending. Let's just say that very tight budgeting and extreme exam stress don't go well together. A girl just had to have some chocolate, and chocolate is expensive.

Älä Osta Mitään (Turhaa) -kuukausi on (vihdoin!) ohi, ja vähän mentiin miinukselle. Pankkitili näyttää silti plussaa, mikä on hämmentävää sinänsä. Kuun aikana tuli mietittyä paljon omia kulutustottumuksia ja -asenteita, ja toivottavasti myös muutettua niitä parempaan suuntaan. Budjetin vääntäminen ja seuraaminen on ollut yllättävän hauskaa ja samalla haastavaa. Omiin ruokiin kyllästyin muutamassa viikossa, opinpahan senkin, että budjettiin pitää jättää jonkin verran ilmaa mm. ulkona syömiselle. Tässä elämänvaiheessa se tuntuu elintärkeältä harrastukselta. Kaikista suurin muutos on kuitenkin tapahtunut ajatusmalleissa ja -asenteissa. Vaikka ÄOM(T) -kuukausi on varsinaisesti vain rahaan liittyvä, on se kannustanut miettimään elämäntapoja ja -arvoja laajemminkin. Toivottavasti kuun opit kantavat pitkälle tulevaisuuteen. 

Jul 29, 2012

Looking forward to it

Last night, I had a trouble sleeping, because ... well, I'm not even sure why exactly, but I knew one of the sources of the can't-sleep-angst was the upcoming fall and all the choices I have to make and live with. So, I took my beautiful little notebook, just perfect for the lists, really; and wrote some goals down.

The timeframe varied from one day up to a year - even though I was tempted to write a five-year-plan, because I'm a sucker for long-term plans, but I also know it's much harder to actually stick to those promises in such a long timeframe. Because life, you know, happens.

But I thought I would share the lists in all their crypticness (that's what you get for writing lists at 2 am.!), ad maybe they'll inspire you to think about where you're planning on going with your life in the next day/week/twelvemonth or so.

Things I want from my life (gotta love a pompous title, yes?):

Tomorrow (this being TODAY) I want to...
- go aqua jogging with Paula (done!)
- study for the stupid exam for at least 4 hours (I still have about three to go...)
- visit my parents'  house (I decided I didn't want it after all, they're on a trip so they wouldn't have been there anyway) 
In August I want to...
- write at least 10 blog posts (for either TT or PV)
- make some decisions concerning the blogs and get started on that homesite
- finish and pass the communications exams and the language course
- make a timetable for the school year and register to courses (I actually made the timetable today (totally procrastinating on that exam studying))
-actively started on producing things for my Etsy shop, if that's still what I want (this includes some plan-making and number-crunching too
During the coming 12 months I want to...
- finish my B.Soc.Sci and get started on my Master's thesis
- apply for the exchange program early next year
- have reached and happily passed the 20,000 views on my blogs (only those of my own count!)
- have finished at least one (no matter how awful) manuscript (I get to choose which one)

Do you think these sound un-/reasonable?

I've been thinking a lot lately about the direction where I want to go, what I want to do and how I want to spend my life. At the same time I really want to succeed on those things I've started or am about to start, so I found this exercise helpful for giving some time perspective as well. None of those things are something I believe to be beyond my skills or abilities at the moment, but of course shi life happens and then I'll just have to reassess.

For the visual entertainment value you get an oldie OOTC picture of a rose. Not sure how it's connected with this theme, but I've been assured that everything is connected. Maybe even a rose and life plans. 

Täällä on tehty suunnitelmia tulavaisuuden varalle; huomiseksi, ensi kuuksi, tulevaksi vuodeksi. Jos edes jotain saan aikaan, voin olla itseeni tyytyväinen. Toisaalta tuntuu hyvältä, että minulla on jo iso lista asioita, jotka oikeasti palavasti haluan päästä totetuttamaan (jos ei tenttiin lukua lasketa - mutta sekin palvelee suurempia päämääriä).

Jul 21, 2012

Foodie Friday: Baking Experiences

Okay, so I KNOW it's not Friday and I'm a day late, but I'm starting a new feature concentrating of food and baking and funny stuff I do in the kitchen. And yes, it's called Foodie Friday (I just love a good alliteration) and I'll try my best to actually publish those posts on Fridays. But for this one time, you'll get a Foodie Saturday instead. :D

Anyway, I've been cooking and baking a lot this month, thanks to the No Spend Month challenge I'm participating in. It's just so much easier and cheaper(!) to cook for yourself, and since I made the decision to bake all the goodies (more or less, anyway), my kitchen has seen surprisingly lot of action this month.

For some reason, there has been two things on my brain for weeks; bread buns and mocha cakes. Those are both something that every Finnish mother has baked at some point for their children and their friends, and also, one of the certain recipes to learn at home education on seventh grade.

Still, for some reason I haven't made either since I moved out from my parents' and I thought it was about time to change that. It didn't help that every time I had a craving for something sweet, my brain would start chanting "mocha cakes, mocha cakeeees..." and whenever I felt like eating a little something that same brain would go and shout "bread buuuns, bread buns...". And really, I don't even like coffee/mocha or eat bread at home!

But still, something HAD to be done.

I thought to myself, "If just start with the bread buns, they're almost like proper food... I'm sure I don't have the energy for the mocha cakes afterwards." Yeah, right. The bread dough was still raising when I started looking for the perfect mocha cake recipe.

The bread looks yummy, doesn't it? Let me tell you, fresh bread straight from the oven tasted just as good as I remembered, if not even better. I also made some home made ice tea to go with all these treats. I'm still looking for the perfect recipe, but I also believe in "practice makes perfect" adage! One thing that really helps though, is that I try to remember to freeze some fresh sliced lemons and lemon juice to put into the tea. It makes the whole drink feel so special (and cold!) and takes no time at all.

And the mocha cakes? Well, they were delicious. The operative word being were. I can't believe I ate all that sugar in just a couple of days. I'll have to share with you the story about the frosting, though. I learned (among other things), that boiling sugar sticks to your fingers like nothing else... 

But darn, they were deliciooous. Even if I really don't like coffee. 

Recipes to come, tomorrow maybe!

Leivontahiiri puraisi, ja tempasinpa sitten uuniin paitsi pari pellillistä kaurasämpylöitä, myös aina niin ihania mokkapaloja. Ja enhän siis edes syö leipää (ainakaan kotona), saati sitten juo tai edes tykkää kahvista. Oli kyllä vaan niin hirmu hyviä kaikki taas kerran, en varmasti pääse laihtumaan. Nimenomaan siis oli. 

Jul 15, 2012

No Spend Month - Halfway there!

I promised an update on my No Spend Month and here it comes.

So far I have been pretty surprised how well it's been going. There has been good days, bad days, and everything in between. At the same time I've realized that a week or two weeks or even a month is not really that much time. I have started dreaming bigger dreams.

What has made all the difference, is that I finally have some kind of a grasp as to where I am, financially. I know when my bills are due, how much money I can expect each month and how much I'll have to put aside for compulsory expenses only. And even for the rest, I have made some hatchling plans. Let's see how well I'll stick to those.

Besides just money, I have been inspired. I have been inspired to consider how I really want to spend my time at this point of my life, and what I can do about it so that my days are filled with things that I find joyful, inspiring, and empowering. Even though I still have a lot of steps to take, I have planned a some kind of a path for myself, and that has helped tremendously. So, in just a few weeks, days really,  I have been inspired to take grasp of my life. Finally, some could say.

Besides these very thoughtful feelings, I have also made some very practical things inspired by the No Spend Month. Things that are going to save me lots of money in the long run, and just finally making time for these things has been very motivating as well. The biggest things so far has been:

1. Budgeting. Needless to say, writing all my purchases down is a very eye-opening exercise. Even though I know this is far from my "usual month" (spending-wise), it has made me think how much I have been depending on shopping as a recreational habit. And how much money that habit has cost me over the years.

2. Meal-planning. All mothers with families to feed know this already, but planning my meals in advance has made a huge difference in my eating habits. I haven't planned something for each day (as is usual, I guess), but rather I have a list of meals I have all the ingredients ready in my fridge and pantry, so whenever I feel hungry I consult my list and decide what to cook next. And then I eat the left-overs (and not throw them away when they get forgotten and eventually turn bad) because I'm really a rather lazy cook. Now, whenever I feel hungry, I have no excuse for grabbing some ready-made stuff at the grocery store just because I'm hungry and feel like eating just something. Instead, I recognize the impulse for what it is - laziness.

3. Resisting My Sweet Tooth. Very much related to meal-planning, I made myself a promise: if I want something sweet and sugary, I have to make/bake it myself (instead of running to grasp some chocolate bars so I can eat them all in one go). So far I haven't quite succeeded every time, but for the most part my candy/chocolate etc. eating is down by about 70%. Once again, most of the time I'm just too lazy, to first plan what I want to bake, then baking it, and then still washing up all the dishes. On the other hand, it's been marvelous to try out all the wonderful recipes for the stuff I have had in my pantry and freezer for ages. I'll have to make a post about my successful (and not-so-successful) baking attempts at some point, so stay tuned.

4. Getting Rid of Useless Expenses. I finally got around to quitting my internet connection. Now that sounds pretty drastic, but the truth is, I have been paying this year for internet I didn't need! Since early this year, internet through cable has been included in the rent, so my paying for the other internet has been a total waste of money. Now that that's handled, it's 24 euros saved, every month. Inspired by that,  I also switched my electricity company to one that charges less. That's about 5-10 euros saved every month. These things put together, I'm going to have smaller and fewer bills to pay every month. Sweeeet.

5. Finding Out Where My Money Goes. This has been a huge thing, I tell you. Of course I had a pretty good idea, but seeing it written down has a way of making one consider if eating out that many times a month is that good an idea. That is not to say, that I don't want to eat out at all, but all in all, this whole project has made a lot more conscious about my spending.

Considering these things, and my previous musings, I'm pretty happy about where I am in my 100€ budget. So far I have used 55,75€, so it's a bit more than half of all the money, but still pretty good. I should be able to stay within the limits, but it will be a close thing. But that's okay, too!

Sorry for the super-long post (by my usual standards), but I hope it's been helpful! I'll keep you updated, and let you know about my feelings when the whole things is (finally) over.

Pientä päivitystä budjetti-tietoiseen kuukauteeni. Suurin muutos on tapahtunut päässä, asiat ja ideat ja tunnelmat on myllänneet ympäriinsä, ja uskoisin kokeilulla olevan yllättävän pitkäkantoisia seurauksia. Käytännön puolellakin olen saanut konkreettisia asioita aikaiseksi, ihana vaan tietoisemmalla shoppailulla ja ruoanlaitolla ja ennen kaikkea turhien menojen karsimisella. Jo sen ymmärtäminen, mihin kaikki raha katoaa kuukauden aikana on ollut kiinnostavaa sinänsä. Kokeilu jatkuu, siitä myöhemmin vielä lisää. 

Jul 4, 2012

The Fourth of July

Today is the birthday of one of my favorite persons in the world - my little brother, that is.

In fact, my brother is the kind of awesome that just a few nights ago, he came to visit me in the middle of the night as I was just taking a batch of some cheese-cake swirled brownies out of the oven, then he fixed my wireless internet (that I wasn't even sure was broken), fixed my camera (so I could take picture of the brownies) and wanted only a brownie in thanks (claiming that they tasted like heaven, while I'm still trying to figure out what went wrong with them and what I should do better next time).

Yes, he's that awesome. And of course I am biased, he's my baby brother!

Just to show you how amazing he is (and how very important he is to me) I wrote this post to him, using his wonderful photographs to relay the message. They're some of his older pictures, these days he's even better at it. Simply blows my mind.

Small things are big things...

(like strawberries and champagne!)

I love you, Miika. <3

More of his pictures are here, though like I said, he hasn't updated them lately.

Pikkuveljen synttärit tänään. Ihana pikkuveli, osaa kuvata ja korjata nettiasioita ja kamera-asioita ja tulla käymään pyytämättä kun sellaista veljellistä seuraa tarvitaan. Ihan isosiskon oikeudella käytin sen omia kuvia, kun halusin sanoa sille, että se on mulle tosi tärkeä. 

Jun 30, 2012

Suuta soukemmalle - No Spend Month

As you all probably know by now, I'm a dirt poor university student. If you've been where I am now, you know that as much as we all love the freedom and inspiration the amazing education university gives to us, it doesn't really bring any food on the table. The situation is made even more dire by the fact that I'm one of those masses of European youth who for one reason or another doesn't have job. So yes, for now I'm living on only the student allowance which is some hundred euros a month (A LOT more than in almost any country in the world, but still, this is Finland we're talking about here).

To fight against the constant struggle and resentment against my financial status, I have decided to spend a No Spend Month in July. I stumbled upon the idea on Pinterest, and after thinking about it for about a second, I decided that this is something I would love to try as well. I'm not trying to cut my spending down to zero as such, but I am trying to limit myself to only the necessary things and only one or two inexpensive treats in July. I'm going to put aside money separately for things like rent, utilities, basic public transport and medications, since those are things that are really hard to save any money in only a month, but maybe I'll try to get something done with my internet and electricity bills too, that would probably help me a lot in the long term.

So, my goal is to manage to cover all other my expenses (groceries, other transport, hobbies and such) with only a hundred euros in July.

That's not very much, but I definitely think it's doable considering how much food and such I have in my cupboards ready to be eaten and I have to admit, I kind of cheated. I went grocery shopping today and bought just about everything I could think of that I've run out lately. Still, because I had planned my grocery shopping list in advance, and I didn't buy much processed food, the total sum was much lower than I expected. I really should stop going to the store hungry and cranky.

Anyway, I'll keep you updated how this thing goes!

Päätin kyllästyä ainaiseen köyhyyteni ja yrittää kerrankin elää varojeni mukaan (ja vähän alikin) heinäkuun ajan. Asetin itselleni satasen budjetin pakollisten menojen jälkeen (ei jää opintotuesta kovin paljon enempää edes käteen kaiken kaikkiaan) ja nyt sitten katsellaan miten pitkälle moinen riittää. Huijasin sen verran, että kävin kaupassa täydentämässä varastoja, mutta siltikin kiitos suunnitelmallisuuden, loppusumma oli paljon odotettua pienempi. Pitääpä lopettaa kaupassa käyminen nälkäisenä. 

Mar 31, 2012

lemon-cake cheese-cups

(A post started a long, long time ago; here's the finished and updated version! Nice to see you after all this time, btw. ;) )

These are the kind of pastry that really won't ever win the Miss Pretty Cupcake competition, rather they're the cupcake-next-door that you try because you're waiting for the cupcake of your dreams to appear. And then one day you realized you're seriously committed to this one cupcake and can't really see why you ever wanted to try anything else, ever. Yeah, they're sneaky that way.

In fact, when I took my first try-out batch to a meeting we had a fight over who's allowed the last one. If I remember right, the girl with the crappiest day won, since the pick-me-up-properties of this cupcake are pretty marvelous.

Now that I'm over gushing the awesomeness-that-is-this-cupcake-recipe, we can finally move on to the actual recipe part (and possibly pictures too, right?)!

I originally find the recipe from Pinterest, followed to a blog and from there to another and yeah. We all know how these things go. The recipe I ended up using is pretty close to this lemon tassies recipe by the always lovely, always industrious Martha Stewart (well, it's on her website anyway). I like the way it's simple enough even for me to understand. :D

Anyway, here's what I did. (The recipe makes about 20.)

75g butter or margarine
2,5 dl flour
0,5 dl sugar
1 egg
a pinch of vanilla (or vanilla sugar)
a pinch of salt
a bit (about 1/4 of a lemon) grated lemon zest

-> Mix everything into a batter and cover muffin pan hole-thingies with crust (see picture) to make cups. Bake at 175°C for about 10 min.

200g cream cheese (natural/original flavor)
3/4 - 1 dl sugar
1 egg
the rest of the grated lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
a pinch of vanilla

-> Mix all together and fill the cups with the cheese-mix. Bake 15-20 minutes until the color is lovely golden. Let them cool and gobble up!

Btw, I wouldn't recommend putting your stick of butter to wait on top of your gas oven (it really gets hot!). I don't think there's any reason to ask me how I know.

These are lovely for a spring afternoon with a friend and a pot of tea. And Easter is coming too! Maybe I should try these for my Easter treat instead (or rather, in addition to) my never-ending diet of chocolate in all forms...

Löysin Pinterestin kautta ihanan sitruuna-juustokakkusien ohjeen, nämä veivät paitsi minut myös kaikki muut mennessään! Todellakin sopivat oikeastaan jokaiseen makuun (ehkei sitrus-allergisille kuitenkaan...). Joka tapauksessa ohje oli suhteellisen helppo, ja lopputulos vähintäänkin odotusten mukainen. Ulkonäöllisesti ei ehkä kaikkein kaunein ja näyttävin leivos, mutta maku kyllä korvaa senkin edestä. Näitä kannattaa maistella vaikkapa hedelmäisen teen kanssa, tietenkin hyvän ystävän kanssa, ja haaveilla auringosta ja kesästä... Kyllä se sieltä jossain vaiheessa taas ilmestyy!