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31 December 2015

New Year's Musings

I I'm currently sitting on the train, on my way to Jyväskylä to spend New Year's Eve with the BF's sister, her husband and their friends. I've never met any of their friends, but I'm sure it'll be a really nice night. We are going to play some board games and hang out, and probably go out to watch the fireworks at midnight, I think.

The fact that I'm feeling happy and relaxed on New Year's is kind of strange. You see, I've never liked the loud bangs and whistles fireworks make and usually feel super anxious on New Year's Eve. This time I'm armed with my trusted earplugs and the BF to hold my hand. ;)

It seems to me that 2015 whizzed by incredibly quickly. I know, I know. Everybody says that. But I truly mean it: a lot happened during the last year and, suddenly, here we are. At the brink of a new year, a new start.

Last year there were lots of changes, big and small, and I had to do lots of growing up. It wasn't always easy, but I'm thankful for every moment. Every obstacle and failure, every realization and every single moment of pure joy is stored into my memory and I will cherish them for as long as I can remember or there is someone to remind me. During last year, I began to find what feels good to me and started listening to myself more. I feel stronger and healthier, both mentally and physically, than I did this time last year.



Thank you for being patient with my inconsistent bursts of blogging and my long silences. There were times when I took myself offline to concentrate on my studies and my job. But every time I took a break, I found myself missing my blog. So, even though I can't promise consistency and regular upload schedules, I'm determined to keep writing about anything, everything and nothing in particular.

What else am I going to promise this New Year's Eve? Well... A friend of mine just shared a list of resolutions on Facebook from Tikis.fi (you can read the original in Finnish here). It's a list of 5 things we should promise to ourselves. The list struck a chord with me, so I'm going to translate it here and try to stick to these resolutions:

1. I won't set unrealistic expectations towards myself.
2. I won't be so critical towards myself.
3. I won't treat myself any worse than other people.
4. I won't focus on negative thoughts.
5. I won't forget to have fun.

What are your New Year's resolutions? What are you most looking forward to in 2016?

Take care,
Anna

23 December 2015

Snowflake Decorations

(This post was published on the 23rd of December. It showed up on Bloglovin but for some weird reason has disappeared from my blog altogether. I only noticed it now on the 30th and am very sorry about it; I wanted you to have this little craft for Christmas. I hope you enjoy the post anyway!)

I was scrolling through Pinterest and ran into decorations made out of salt dough and soda dough. Since our apartment seemed a little in-Christmassy at the time (it isn't now, we've added been adding small touches during the last couple of weeks), I decided to try making my own version of ornaments. I'm pretty sure most of us can remember making salt dough creations as a kid. For that reason this made me feel a bit nostalgic, to be honest. :)

diy_ornaments

For the salt dough, I mixed 2 cups of plain flour with 1/2 cup of salt and 3/4 cup of water. You may need more or less water, just eyeball it. The important thing is that you end up with gingerbread-cookie-dough-like-consistency (what a word!). The dough needs to sit in the fridge for a couple of minutes, just so it becomes a bit further and easier to handle. Oh, and you get a lot of dough from this!

I used my trusted snowflake cookie cutter just because it seems like we're not going to have a white Christmas in southern Finland. At least there'll be snow somewhere, right? The holes were made with a wooden barbeque skewer, but you could use pretty much anything, a straw or toothpick could work nicely.

snowflake_decorationssnowflake_diy_decorations

Salt dough is super easy to make and pretty durable, to, but keep in mind that it needs to be baked in the oven for quite some time. I baked mine in 150 degrees C for an hour or so. Baking tends to color them a little (or a lot, depending on how long you leave them). I'm fine with the rustic, slightly yellow/brown look of the baked ornaments, but if you prefer pure white, I suggest you try soda dough or some sort of white clay that you can air dry.

window_decorations_diy

I think the string of decorations looks really cute on our window and I'm really happy with the end result! :)



XO, Anna




22 December 2015

Recent Knits

Here's a couple of knitting projects I've been working on recently. Small ones, the kinds you can do while sitting at lectures. First, I knitted a pair of socks for myself out of leftover yarn. (Yarn that I had used to knit a hat and mittens to replace the ones that were stolen from me at the uni...) I needed a pair of socks with longer legs, because they're so great to wear with wellies. And boy have my wellies seen some action in the past couple of months!

stripy_sock_diy



The second small project was a pair of mittens that my sister requested. She chose the stripy patterned yarn (Novita Polkka) and I think the mittens turned out really well! They're just an ordinary pair with no frills or lace or anything, but I like that kind of simple look. The red thumbs were a nice limitless detail that I'm really happy with. :) Since I had yarn left, I also knitted a quick little headband to match. I think my sister liked the set well enough!

knit_set


I have been working on other projects as well, but since it's leading up to Christmas, I'm afraid I won't be sharing them just yet! ;) I can't believe it's the 22nd already!

xo, Anna

12 December 2015

Hectic and Happy

This week has definitely been the busiest one of the year! Well, no busier than the last few weeks of the semester usually are, to be honest. I've been running around like a headless chicken trying get everything done: I've had classes, choir practice, four choir performances, a couple of deadlines and a group assignment to finish. This weekend I'm doing full shifts at work, too.

As you can tell, it's been pretty hectic. When that happens, I usually have to cut down on my extracurricular activities. This time, however, I managed to plan my time more successfully: I've made it to the gym a couple of times and had time to do little crafty things in preparation for Christmas (a blog post on that coming soon!). I even squeezed in some Christmas shopping on Tuesday!
Despite the hustle, I've been able to stay extraordinarily positive, probably because it's almost Christmas and because I enjoy everything I'm doing at the moment with my studies and with the choir. I can't deny it might also be down to the fact that I've been very good at taking my vitamins and iron supplement lately. ;)

Running to a choir gig in the rain!
I'm going to get to my studies now, since I still have one learning diary to finish by tomorrow night. I want to wish luck to all of you other students struggling out there! Try to do your best but please remember to take care of yourself while doing so. It's not long until Christmas, and I know you can do it! If all else fails, try to think about how much better all of that chocolate is going to taste like after this squeeze! :)
 
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6 December 2015

This is my home, the country where my heart is

blue_and_white

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

Happy Independence Day! There are a lot of translations and versions of the Finlandia Hymn, one of the most important Finnish national songs, but today I wanted to share this one with you. I want it to remind us all to cherish our roots and to  respect the fact that there are other countries that other people hold as dear as we do our own.

My Finland is a country with clear lakes and rivers, green forests of pine and spruce, snowy fells and vasts landscapes. I also want it to be a land of peace, feedom, equality and diversity. I don't believe Finland is for Finns only, as I way too often hear people claim. I wish for it to be a place where everyone is welcome despite their country of origin, the color of their skin and the language they speak. A little bit more compassion, understanding and respect is what I'm hoping for.



XO, Anna


5 December 2015

Making the Most of Every Minute

On Wednesday I had 20 minutes free between classes and work. Instead of sitting in the break room at my job, just waiting for my shift to begin as In usually do, I went for a walk in the park. It got me thinking: why don't I do stuff like that more often?

If ever I have a moment to myself, I take out my phone and start scrolling aimlessly. I do so without even thinking about it. When I did start to think, the habit began to annoy me. I'm way too passive and I'm letting precious moments pass me by, moments when I could be out there, seeing things, feeling things and experiencing things. I decided that I want to be present and more mindful. It's going to be difficult, let me just tell ya!

I'm thinking maybe I should start by having a digital detox (like Esteè Lalonde aka Essiebutton did). Then I could maybe learn to use the time I spend online more productively. Maybe that way I would be more mindful and present on social media as well!



What are your thoughts on "digital detox"? What are you doing to make moments count?

XO, Anna

3 December 2015

Advent Sunday: the Beginning of Christmas

Advent Sunday has always been one of my favorite days during the year. I love Christmas time in general, and the first Sunday in advent is the beginning of it. It's the day when I finally allow myself to become excited (who an I kidding, I'm excited for Christmas most of the year!)
We had a pretty traditional Advent Sunday. We woke up early(ish), had some breakfast and headed to church to seeing Hosannah, which is always sunny in the Finnish Lutheran congregations on the first Sunday in advent. I don't know about the other dominations' advent traditions, but please do let me know! I would love to hear about them. :) We don't go to service every week, but I do wish we did and I think we'll try to from now on. It's a peaceful and calming start to the following week, I think.
After church we came home, changed into something more suitable for outdoor activities and went for a long walk in the woods. We both like hiking and spending time in the great outdoors. Walking in nature gives me lot of energy and I feel so much happier after a couple of hours of wandering around. We live really close to the Näsijärvi lake, which has great scenery and loads of really good trails to follow. 

Since it was a Sunday and the weather was okay, there were lots of other people around, too. But if you dare to venture to the less used trails like we did, you rarely run into anyone. We saw about 4 people within the hour or so we spent on the smaller paths. It's one of the things I truly appreciate about living in Finland: you're never too far from nature where you can spend some time alone and recharge your batteries. I do like spending time with people, but I need time alone too. I'm a bit of an introvert, to be honest.
With our bellies grumbling and our legs tried from all the walking, we came back home to cook Sunday roast (of a kind): sweet potato fries, salad and chicken with goat's cheese, sundried tomatoes and basil. The BF is the best cook! The rest of the evening I spent knitting and watching Charmed on Netflix. Ooh, the nostalgia! I was into it in my pre-teens, so I'm really enjoying watching it again now.
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P.S  If you are looking for an advent calendar and happen to like crocheting, please head to my friend Janni's blog! It's Finnish but the instructions are usually in English. And the pictures are nice to look at, too!

2 December 2015

(Pre-)Christmas Party with the Colleagues

It's rare that all of my closest colleagues are able to be in the same place at the same; usually at least two have to be (surprise surprise) working. Customer service never ceases! Saturday was a rare exception. We had colleagues from other teams covering for us while we went out to have a Christmas celebration.

My boss had reserved tickets to the Tamper Theatre play Tiputus (literally drop or drip), a comedy/parody of a popular Finnish sketch comedy TV-show Putous (drop or fall). Not a fan of the TV-show or the type of humor it tends to present, I didn't have high expectations of Tiputus, either.

Tampere Theater main building

I have to admit I liked it even less than the e TV-show, which has some witty moments at least. If I hadn't got the ticket free of charge, I definitely wouldn't have bought one. I'm not saying it was awful and you shouldn't go see it. If you have a fondness for simple humor that derives from slapstick, crudeness, dildos and hangovers, then it's definitely for you. I just like more "sophisticated" humor, I guess.

At least I had a good seat

After the play, we went to dinner at the Trattoria which is located in the Hotel Tammer smack in the center of Tampere, right next to the Tammerkoski rapids. The restaurant had a great atmosphere, it was dimly lit and felt really cozy in the cold and windy November evening. 

The food was good, solid Italian food. Everything was tasty and simple, and there was plenty of courses to choose from. I do have to admit getting a bit envious of my neighbors choice of dessert (why did I go with the fruit platter when I could've eaten panna cotta, huh?) But that's nobody else's fault except mine! :) I've already dropped hints that it would be perfect for a date night. We'll see if the BF takes the hint!

Didn't manage to snap a good picture of my main, sorry!


The best part of the evening was actually managing to have conversations with my colleagues for once. Our jobs are hectic and this fall we've been busier than ever. It was nice to just relax and talk about stuff that is totally unrelated to our job.

P.S. Sorry for the poor quality of pictures. Again, I was using my phone. I really need to invest in a small camera!