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.