25 January 2015

D is for DIY

I've always done little DIY projects ever since I was little. I think I get that from my parents, who have a huge DIY project called our family home. They've renovated the old villa from scratch themselves. On top of that, mum has always knitted and done crafts, while dad has spent numerous hours building and painting models as a hobby. No wonder every one of their children love doing things by hand, whether it be drawing, knitting, crocheting, carving, baking, etc.
When my sister was staying with us last weekend we did a cool DIY project using plain, cheap, white mugs and nail polish. I've seen mugs like these on Pinterest and have wanted to try to make them for a while now. That site is like a black hole, isn't it? Every time I go on there I get lost in its vortex...
What you need:
  • plain white mug(s) of your choice
  • nail polish remover
  • nail polish of your choice
  • spaghetti or toothpicks or skewers of some kind (you'll see why)
  • warm water
  • air!!! Open a window or something.
First of all you'll need to clean the mug with nail polish remover. You'll want to have a clean, oil-free surface to work with, otherwise the nail polish might not stick as well.
Fill a dish with warm water. Now, remember that you are working with nail polish and stains are inevitable. I therefore advice you to either use a plastic tub you don't need anymore or purchase some foil pans so that you won't ruin any family heirlooms.
Pour in some nail polish, watch it spread, and dip your mug in! The nail polish will form a thin film on the surface of the water. When you place your mug into the water, the film will cling to the side of your mug and make watercolour-like patterns.
You can mix colours or go with one shade. You can also dip the mug a few times if you like. Just play around with it. This is where the spaghetti/sticks/skewers come in handy; you can use it to remove the previous film from the water. 
Remember to do this in a room where there is proper ventilation! Open a window or a door, because the fumes might get quite overwhelming.

It gets pretty sticky from time to time

Here's the final mug shot (I really wanted to say that at some point of this post. So sorry!)

If you decide to try this out at home, please let me know how you got on! :) I hope you have as much fun with it as we did.

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18 January 2015

C is for Cupcakes

In last weeks post I talked about a recipe book the Boyfriend's sister-in-law and brother gave us for Christmas. The book is called Rakkaudella leivottu: Whoopiet, macaronit & kuppikakut, it has been published in English under the title Love Food by Parragon Books Ltd. Last night I decided to give one of the book's recipes a whirl: Tiger cupcakes.

These tigers were really simple to make (even though I was super nervous; my sister is over and she is a professional baker!).

First, I mixed (or actually my Kenwood did) 175 grams of butter and the same amount of sugar in a bowl and added 3 eggs and a couple of tablespoons of milk. Then I whisked together 1,5 teaspoons of baking powder and 175 grams of flour and poured it into the mix.

 I then divided the batter in two and added about 50 grams of melted dark chocolate into one of the bowls. After that it was just a matter of spooning the two batters into cases and putting the cupcakes into the oven for 20 minutes.

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11 January 2015

B is for Books

I love books. Not only do I love reading them, but I also like the feel of the thick paper in my hands and the smell of ink and paper and glue. I love new books, their backs so pristine and shiny, waiting to be opened for the first time. I love old books that have that distinct odor, that wonderful mustiness, and pages that have gone yellow or brown with time. My love for books might also have something to do with my love of stationary...
I don't have as much time to read as I'd like to. Don't get me wrong, I do read a lot, but it would be awesome to have more chances to read for fun instead of exams or essays or research papers. When I was a kid, you would rarely find me without a book (cars were an exception, I get carsick super easily). I read everything you could imagine out of curiosity and started to develop my own taste in literature. I still think, however, that the main thing is that you read; it doesn't really matter what you read as long as you do read. Read instruction manuals or poems or sci-fi, you will always learn something about the world and maybe about yourself.

 I have a lot of books I always go back to. Harry Potters, the Narnia series, Tolkien's production, Jane Austen's novels and the Brontë sisters books. I read poems and fantasy and classics, but most of all I've developed a real addiction to detective fiction. I looooove a good 'whodunnit'. I got Robert Galbraith's The Silkworm for Christmas from the Boyfriend (he also bought me Cuckoo's Calling as a Valentine's Day gift last year) and devoured it in a flash. Next on my list are Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane and after that I'll probably have to make a trip to the library.
My infinite fondness of books doesn't end in fiction. Ever since I was little I've enjoyed looking at cook books, atlases, and encyclopaedias. All of those strange places and exotic creatures and intricate machines still fascinate me. We got a recipe book for Christmas from the Boyfriend's brother and sister-in-law, and I've been gawking at all the whoopies and cupcakes for several nights in a row.
I would love to hear what you've been reading recently! Any recommendations?
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4 January 2015

A is for Acne

Welcome to the new Alphabet series! I'm going to publish a post every Sunday at 6pm GMT (8pm if you live here in Finland). Let's see how I'll do. I'm already dreading the X, Y, and Z posts I'll have to do... Well, let's cross that bridge when we get to it!

A is for acne, because I've been suffering from acne for nearly ten years now, and I can truly say I hate it. Acne is an annoying, painful, embarrassing skin disease I wish nobody had to go through or live with. When I was a teenager, I felt very self-conscious about my looks and especially my skin. I hated having my picture taken and meeting new people, because I assumed they would take one look at my skin and think I'm ugly, scarred, and even unhygienic. Stupid, I know. Your skin does not define who you are, just remember that.

Everybody's skin is different. Mine is sensitive, dry, irritable, and yet acne-prone. Balancing with products can sometimes be tricky, because I can't use anything that is too harsh or abrasive. Moisturizers can't be so thick that they'll clog up my pores, but because my skin is dry, it needs a lot of moisture as well.

I have really benefited from going on the pill. They've cleared my skin up immensly.They don't work for everyone for various reasons, but I do think they're worth giving a try.

I have also found products that have helped not only with acne but also with the scars and hyperpigmentation. After years of trial and error, might I add. I hated my skin for ages and felt like I had tried everything (you name it, I've tried it). It got to a point when I decided I wouldn't try any more products or treatments any more. Luckily, after hearing Ruth Crilly from A Model Recommends recommend (he he) La Roche-Posay, I gave their products a go and I can't tell you how happy I am that I did.

Every night I wash my face with La Roche-Posay Effaclar Foaming Cleanser. It's soap free, alcohol free, and oil free, but contains zinc, which gently cleanses the skin and helps to repair damage caused by blackheads and blemishes. When I started using it, I noticed a difference in days. My skin looked clearer and less irritated. I used to use the cleanser in the mornings as well, but during the winter I don't want to overwash my skin and lose all of its natural oils. Therefore I only use warm water and moisturizer in the mornings.

My go-to moisturizer is a recent discovery. My mum told me to try out the Himalaya Herbals Nourishing Skin Cream, which according to her was recommended by flight attendants in some women's magazine she had read. I tried it and fell head over heels for it. It's light yet moisturizing, it doesn't feel sticky but makes the skin feel soft and refreshed. The smell is fresh and mild. The Boyfriend tried it as well (he has extremely dry and flaky skin) and hasn't stopped using it. We both swear by it these days. The only down side to it is that it doesn't have SPF, but that's quite a small issue, during the Finnish winter at least...

When I want to give my skin a moisture boost (usually during the winter and at night), I use my good old Nivea Creme in the blue tub. Cheap, yet effective when my skin needs a little extra assistance. The same goes for Dermosil Deep Cleansing Night Mask, which contains salisylic acid and Vitamin B3, which controls the build up of sebum (such a disgusting word, isn't it?). It's a brilliant mask I use whenever I feel like a deep cleanse is in order.

I'd love to know if you have any go-to skincare products I might be missing out on! Oh, and please tell me what you think of this new Alphabet series of mine. :) Any feedback is much appreciated!
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1 January 2015

Goodbye 2014, welcome 2015

I can't believe it's a 2015 already. I know everyone says so, but 2014 really went past incredibly quickly! This last year was a year of growth for me. I learned a lot at uni and even more in my personal life. Let's start with the uni stuff, shall we?

At uni the biggest growing points were doing my bachelor's last spring and writing two papers this fall. The bachelor's was a huge challenge,  especially because I had zero help from the teacher who was supposed to guide me through the process. She didn't even try to remember my name or the subject of my thesis. Every time I met with her, we started from me explaining who I was and what it was that I was doing. "Keep going, you'll figure it out" was the only piece of advice I ever got from her. The process of writing something like that was totally new to me and I have to admit I didn't know what I was doing half of the time. I got it done in time, however, and got a decent grade. It was a battle I didn't enjoy but won in the end. I'm glad I saw it through, though.

The second learning experience came this fall in the form of two papers I had to write for a new teacher at our uni. She was therr every step of the way, demanded source summaries, outlines, critical commentaries, and drafts. She commented on everything, but didn't attempt to do the job for me. She told me what was good or bad and we had discussions of what it was I wanted to say and what was difficult and how to proceed with the writing process. And when I finished, after putting in so many hours and so much effort, I was extremely proud of what I had done. I had feelings of accomplishment I hadn't felt with any previous assignment during my three and a half years at the university. I grew to understand the process of writing, finally, and I found myself liking it.

The best parts of 2014 were moving in together with the Boyfriend and going on the BritRail trip together during the summer. Don't get me wrong, moving in together wasn't easy, for we both had to find our places and learn how to live with each other. We did learn, however, and there really is nothing better than coming home to someone you love. We've grown closer and it's been awsome having my best friend beside me to experience all the things life has thrown at us.

Last year was a total rollercoaster. It feels like I've stepped deeper into adulthood, taken chances, laughed and cried and basically had a total blast. I had dreamed of starting a blog for quite a while, and I'm so happy I finally had the guts to do it. Thank you for sticking round! I'm determined to be much more consistent and write more posts during 2015. Watch this space, for I have a new series coming up that I'm really excited about! :)
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