29 May 2015

Gym Newbie

I went to a gym on Wednesday. Me! I went to the gym. It was, like, the first time in forever or, at least, after high school (if the Frozen song just started playing inside your head, I'm not sorry. Not in the slightest).

Gyms can be intimidating places, if you ask me. This is for two very obvious reasons: 1) I don't know what to do there and 2) there always seems to be a lot of people who do know. At least in Finland, gyms are very quiet (quiet Finns become even quieter in them), so I've always felt that every sound or move I make is noticed by everyone else in the gym.

After practising yoga all spring, I've gathered some much needed self-confidence. I decided it was time to face my fears and try something new. If I can almost do a hand-stand, I bloody well man up and give the whole gym workout thing a go! So, on Wednesday morning I put on my workout gear and headed to the gym with the BF.

It was completely deserted!

I could try things without fear of making myself look like a tool (which, let's face it, I am most of the time anyway, but let's keep that just between us ;) ). The BF was super-helpful, too. He showed me how stuff works and walked me through every move. He even stood beside me and cheered me on while I was lifting my pathetic, teeny-tiny weights. It was great!

So great, in fact, that I'm going to go again. I'm not committing to any type of regime yet, but I'll try to go twice a week for a start and see how I get on.

This blog is never going to turn into a fitness blog. There are plenty of those around, and to be honest I'm not really interested in that sort of lifestyle (But if you are, good for you! I admire you for making your own choices and choosing that path. :) ) However, if you would like me to write about my new experiences at the gym, I'd be happy to do so. If you are new to the whole gym-world like me, I'd also love to hear about your first steps. Maybe we can start a gym newbie support group?

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27 May 2015

Life isn't a competition

Why am I writing a post with a title like that, you might ask. There is a simple reason. For a long time, I've been watching two relatives making snide remarks and mean comments on each others' posts on Facebook. Now they've started commenting on other relatives' posts, too. I've grown cautious about publishing, commenting or liking anything on there. I'm not looking forward to seeing them in person either, to be completely honest. I don't want to take sides. I'm not in the least interested in what's going on between the two of them, but it really disturbs me that they are being mean to others as well.

Just to be clear: I'm not writing this post to humiliate anyone. I just felt like I needed to say something, because this type of behavior seems to be way too common. I actually almost didn't post this, and I'm truly sorry if I make anyone feel bad by anything I say.

How you treat others is a says a lot about the person you are. You paint a picture of yourself with every word you let out of your mouth. Or every word you type, for that matter (that's what makes blogging so scary sometimes ;) ). Basically, putting others down and thus drawing attention to yourself doesn't make me feel like I want to talk to you. It makes me angry, especially when this type of behavior is directed toward my friends and family.

It's sad to see an adult trying to be the center of attention by belittling another person and their experiences. It may be that the other is happy and you are spoiling things for them. It might be that the other is going through some rough times and you are making it worse. Words can hurt more than you think.

Life isn't a competition. What's the point of competing for attention? It only makes adults seem like desperate, little kids. I know that's not a nice way to put it, but there you go. I don't think belittling others paints a nice picture of a person. It definitely doesn't make anyone want to be your friend.
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25 May 2015

Stockholm in May

A week ago the Boyfriend and I went on a cruise to Stockholm with my parents and my sister. I had been looking forward to the trip since January, when mum bought the tickets. It's likely to be the only trip abroad this year, so I had decided to cherish every moment. Besides, I have always liked Stockholm and was excited to go there with the Boyfriend, since we've never been there together before.

The weather was amazing on Sunday when we departed from Helsinki. It was sunny and warm and almost felt like summer! We left at 17:00 from Helsinki and would arrive in Stockholm the next morning, so we got to spend the night on the ship. We spent the evening exploring the tax-free shops and, more importantly, eating in the buffet. What else can you do on a boat besides eat and shop? ;)

In the morning, after a great breakfast, we left the boat and took the tube to the Old Town (Gamla Stan). I love walking along the narrow and winding cobbled streets, admiring all the old buildings and squares. I could have spent even more time just wandering around, but unfortunately it started raining pretty heavily, so we had to take shelter in a quaint little café called Chocoladkoppen (I wasn't too sad about taking shelter there, trust me). We sat in the café for quite some time, enjoying our hot drinks and the atmosphere.

It was still raining when we had finished our drinks, so we headed to the center, to NK to be exact. NK is a high-end department store from which I couldn't even dream of buying anything. :D I do, however, love to look at all the pretty furniture and clothing. I especially love the store's toy section. They actually carry a lot of retro and vintage toys. All the little cars, airplanes, robots, teddy bears and dolls just look so adorable!

Before we left, my sister had looked up the address of a Sephora just around the corner from NK. My sister is a total make up junkie, unlike me. I mean, I know the names of products and what you're supposed to do with them, but I'm hopeless when it comes to actually applying the stuff. I wish I wasn't, but I'm too lazy to start learning how to paint my face. I only wear mascara a couple of times a year, and that's pretty much it! Anyway, going to Sephora was like paradise for my sister. I think she could have spent hours in there if it wasn't for me and the Boyfriend looking completely out of place and uncomfortable.

While we were in Sephora, the weather cleared up a bit and we could walk around a little more. After strolling around window shopping, we popped into Wienercaféet, a lovely, old-worldly café that serves French and Austrian cakes and pastries.

Then it was time to hop on a bus and get back to the boat! I was pretty beat, to be honest, but my mother had reserved tickets for the ship's musical, Fame. It was fun, although me and my sister would have recast every actor. I mean, what's the point of having an amazing singer in the mix if they don't get to do the title song?!

The show lasted for about an hour and a half. My dad had booked us a table on the ship's Italian restaurant, La Tavola. We had an amazing meal there. I ate a super-creamy bufala mozzarella and tomato salad and ricotta and asparagus filled ravioli. It was a lovely evening, the rain had stopped and the sun was setting while we cruised past the Swedish archipelago enjoying good food and even better company.

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10 May 2015

Spring In My Steps

It's been a really busy week. The school-year is drawing to a close, but for a change I'm not stressed about it. I'm actually enjoying the wrapping-up of classes and assignments. I've had an incredible amount of energy this week and have felt amazing: happy, strong and alive! Despite work and school, I've been able to make time for yoga practice, long walks and reading, and even a spot of baking. I feel like a Duracell bunny with batteries on my back, to be honest!

This energetic feeling, combined with the awesome weather we've been having (sunny and warm), has made me super-excited for summer. This year we are not going to go abroad but spend the summer here in Finland. We are going to go to the Boyfriend's family's summer cottage (we are going there for Midsummer) and his childhood home and spend time at my parents' place in Hanko (I'm totally looking forward to the sun, the sand, and the sea!)

I really want to go to Särkänniemi amusement park here in Tampere and to Korkeasaari zoo and Suomenlinna maritime fortress in Helsinki. I want to have picnics in the park, eat ice cream, practice yoga outside, go running early in the morning when it's not yet too hot... I have soooooo many plans! There are even two weddings to go to this summer; two of my very best friends are both getting married to their Mr. Rights, one in June and one in August. I'm so thrilled for both of them!

I'm also happy to have more time to read. To read mountains of books while listening to the rain hitting the windows or while lying in the grass or on the beach... In fact, I've started to make a list of all the books I would like to check out during the next few months. If you have any suggestions for summer reading, I would love to hear them! :) So far, my list is about 15 books long, among them Gillian Flynn's 'Gone Girl', Kate Atkinson't 'Life After Life', and Joël Dicker's 'The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair'.

The fact that I'll have more free-time and lot's of fun things to do will probably mean I'll have a lot to write about, too. I'm looking forward to writing a lot more and a lot more frequently during the summer.

What are you most looking forward to this summer? Any big plans? And don't forget to leave me those book recommendations! :)

A little collage of the stuff I've been up to this week! :)

PS. Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there and especially to my wonderful, caring, amazing mother, who celebrates her birthday tomorrow! <3 I hope you've had a lovely day!

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6 May 2015

Pallet Headboard Project

After we had moved in last summer, we noticed that our bedroom wall stays pretty cool at all times. The bedroom is in the outer corner of our building, and our bed lies against the wall, so you could really feel the coolness of it. It was no problem during the summer, but in the autumn the wall started to get freezing. That's when we started talking about getting a headboard.

We are students living on a budget (as most students are) and we both love DIY projects and crafts, so Pinterest came in handy. The Boyfriend is really into the look of reclaimed wood and soon got very excited about pallet headboards, which are all over Pinterest. The only problem was that we had no idea where to get pallets and how to get them to out apartment (we live pretty close to the center, which means there aren't a lot of big warehouses or anything around). Luckily, just before Christmas, my boss sent a message to our company e-mail list and asked if anyone had use for pallets for firewood. She looked at me pretty funnily when I told her I would take two, but only if they were in reasonably good condition, because I was going to use them for furniture purposes.

So, one (rainy, miserable, and cold) day the Boyfriend and I carried home two pallets. It was quite a workout, let me tell you! The first one we carried together, struggling, but the second one the Boyfriend actually hauled alone while I was at work. I have no idea how he managed it. At first the pallets went to storage for quite a few months until we had time to actually start working on them.

The actual project didn't take much time, money or supplies. We bought a roll of sanding paper, paintbrushes, and paint. It all came to about 20 euros (thank goodness for Ikea!). Then it was time to sand. And sand. And sand a bit more. You really don't want a headboard to have any splinters poking you in the back, so it took us a couple of evenings of careful sanding to get the pallets as smooth as we wanted them. The Boyfriend did most of the work, to be fair... ;)

We painted the pallets with two coats of Ikea BEHANDLA glazing paint in the color "antique". I love the finish! It looks matte but is actually slightly shiny when the light hits it. The painting was my favorite part of the whole project. It's pretty relaxing and calming, like meditation.

When the pallets had dried we attached some felt pads on the back of the pallets to prevent them making any marks on the walls. After that it was just a matter of lifting them to place. And ta-da! The room looked so much cosier and felt warmer too. I'm super-pleased with how the headboard turned out! :)

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3 May 2015

Party with the Hens: My Best Friend's Bachelorette Party

A week ago was the weekend I had been looking forward to and dreading all spring. It was my best friend's bachelorette party. I am the maid of honor, as most of you probably know by now, so the main responsibility for the day lay on my shoulders. I was really stressed out, to be honest, but since there were only six of us, including the bride, it was easy to get everyone involved. I got a lot of help, support, and suggestions from the other girls, and one of them even managed to get us the perfect venue for dinner and sauna.

Planning the party was quite a daunting and stressful thought at first. Since the bride is my best friend, I was scared to make decisions; what if she didn't like what we had in store? What if I failed her entirely? Would she think I didn't know her at all and begin to wonder why she had picked me to be the maid of honor? I know these kinds of thoughts may seem really childish, but there we go. I'm quite an introvert and don't really like planning parties or hosting things in the first place. I just don't like the responsibility and besides, planning things in general is not my forte. I am pretty impulsive and like to leave things to the last minute, which in this case was totally out of the question.

Because the other girls were active and participated and were as equally involved in planning things as me, everything went far more smoothly than I could've even hoped. Even the weather was great for this time of the year in Finland!

We started the day by having breakfast with the groom and the guys in the bachelor party, like the bride's sister suggested. Then the bride was whisked away to a pedicure paid by the bride's mother. She came out of the beauty parlor with feet light as feathers, or at least that's what she said. After that we took a slight detour to buy some candy from the local market (because the bride wanted to, and what the bride wants, the bride gets), after which we boarded a train and went to a pole dancing lesson that I had booked. Since none of us do pole dancing, it was quite the challenge for all of us, but great fun nevertheless! We giggled, twirled around, and climbed on the pole as best we could. (And got the bruises to show for it. At least I did!)

As I mentioned, one of the girls managed to get us a perfect venue for the evening, which I'm extremely grateful for. We drove about a half an hour to the countryside and arrived at a beautiful little place right next to a lake. We got to use the kitchen, where we cooked a three-course dinner together. Cooking together was a good idea, I think, because it got everyone involved and it's pretty rare that we get to do stuff like that together anymore.

After a lovely dinner and chitchat about the bride, the groom, their past, and their future plans, we hopped into our bikinis, and spent the rest of the evening bathing in the sauna and the outdoor hot tub that lay on the lakeside. I was pretty exhausted by that point, but I was also really pleased about how the day had gone. The bride seemed to have a nice time, and so did the other girls as well!

Here are my top tips for planning a bachelorette party (although most of them go without saying):
  1. Start planning early. It takes a lot of time to come up with things to do, not to mention to organize things. And remember, it's the early bird that catches the worm: there are a lot of other parties happening, and it sucks if everything you had wanted to do is already booked.
  2. Include everyone in the planning process (except maybe the bride). As I said, it's soooo much easier to plan things together with others than alone.
  3. Talk about the budget. It might sound cool to go pole dancing and kayaking and to a fancy dinner and out clubbing in a karaoke limousine (yep, they do stuff like that), but you need to set a budget and stick to it. Not everyone can afford a really expensive party all of a sudden. If all of you can, then that's great, of course.
  4. Don't cram too much into one day. This goes together with the last one: it might sound cool to do everything, but in reality it's much nicer to have time to chat and spend some quality time together. It also takes more time than you might think to move people from one place to the next!
  5. Have fun! If everything doesn't go according to plan, so what? The main thing is that the bride has fun and you guys enjoy your day together. :)
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