Thursday, December 31, 2015

The End of the Year Ritual

I came across this concept of having an end of the year ritual on an episode of Gretchen Rubin's podcast Happier (with Drew Barrymore!) a few days ago and was instantly drawn to it. The idea is very simply just to have a ritual to finish the year, that provides a small closure, as you move into the next year. Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth provide examples of different kinds of rituals you can have, but there were a lot of good ideas in the comment section, too.

Here's what I decided to do.

1. Throw away everything excess in the kitchen.
That is, everything expired and everything we don't actually eat. For example, there were quite a few things from my low-carb phase last summer, such as coconut flour, that I'm just not going to eat. There was also porridge rice that had expired in 2014. Yikes. And also some condiments that we haven't touched in months. Bye. I would have felt bad tossing them (well, not the expired things), but somehow thinking "this is a ritual, I'm making room for the new year" made it OK.

2. Clear my email.
I cleared out everything. I thought at first I'd go through every email, and see if there were any important ones, or ones I'd like to save, or pictures people had send me. Then I decided that they couldn't be that important or I'd already saved them. And pressed delete all. It was scary before I did it and then wonderful once I did. Whatever there was, it's gone. Clean slate.

3. Take a picture of important objects from the year.
Favorites, mementos. The commenter who presented this idea called it "a yearly time capsule". I pretty much just went around the house and picked up everything that reminded me of 2015, and spread it all on the living room floor. I wont go into details, but here is my picture.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2015

New Year’s resolutions 2015

Picture chosen, because it was nice and summery, and I felt like it.

I thought I’d go through my list of New Year’s resolutions for 2015 and see how I did.

I make New Year’s resolutions, or rather goals, every year. I love them. I use them mostly as an aid for memory, if I don’t write my goals down, I forget.

I had a one little word for this year: CLEAN. So my overall theme was to simplify, to get rid of excess and instead to invest in just a few pieces that I love.

Also, at the very end of last year we bought a house, and I really wanted to make it feel like home.

I actually lost the original list when I switched computers, so this is from memory. I think I remembered most of them. I also omitted a couple of the more personal ones.

These are definitely not in the order of importance.

Crossed over – completed
Italicized – in progress
Nothing – epic fail
  1. Fill at least one drawer in the freezer with blueberries I've picked myselfI picked blueberries, but not a whole drawer, still several liters.
  2. Plant a raspberry bush under the pine – My parents brought us a sapling of theirs and planted it. They also bought us two blueberry bushes and one lingonberry.
  3. Make an advent calendar in November – I filled the fabric  calendar I bought after last Christmas with all sugar free candy and gum, yep, I’m like Hermione’s parents. Really, I just wanted the excitement without overindulging before Christmas.
  4. Paint my desk white – Took days, but done.
  5. Assemble a capsule wardrobe for every season (so I can feel at least reasonably well dressed at any weather and place!) – Work in progress. Really liking it so far, continuing next year! End of summer wardrobe here.
  6. Learn to do my make-up – 99,9% of the time I wear no make-up. I did buy a new concealer, does that count? I've used it three times.
  7. Learn to do my hair – Nope. I think I brushed my hair twice.
  8. Get a gym membership – I did, had it a couple of months and realized I really don’t like going to the gym. Canceled.
  9. Celebrate Easter – Grew ryegrass, had some eggs, candy for the kids.
  10. Celebrate midsummer – Did nothing.
  11. Celebrate birthdays – Yep, both mine and Jake’s.
  12. Celebrate independence day – We had Jake’s parents and grandparents over for coffee and blueberry quark pie. Was really nice. Hopefully it’ll turn into a tradition.
  13. Celebrate Christmas – Went all out for this this year.
  14. Decorate my home so that it is clean, simple and cozy – Work in progress, but I think it’s starting to feel cozier. Both our fathers helped a lot with odd jobs we couldn't do, like drilling. Still a lot of unnecessary crap everywhere.
  15. Travel someplaceCambridge!
  16. Learn to play ukulele better – Better, yes; good, no.
  17. Learn to type better – I got a job as a secretary where I had to type all the time, so unexpectedly really worked on this. Still room for improvement.
  18. By a really nice leather handbagJake bought it for me. Love it.
  19. Buy a new suitcase – Nope. The wheels on my old one are busted, I think I’ll go for just a carry-on next.
  20. Buy a new winter coat – Yes, a super warm water proof black parka. It was on sale and still expensive, but hopefully I’ll use it for years to come.
  21. Buy nice dinner plates – We let the word out that we wanted some nice white plates and many people bought us some as an engagement gift, now we have ten.
  22. Buy more nice drinking glasses – Didn't buy new ones and Jake broke two, so now we have even less.
  23. Get some workI spent a six month gig as a secretary.
  24. Save 1000 euros – Thanks to the job, done.
  25. Draw 365 illustrations (they don’t need to be finished or good) – This morphed in to a bit of a different project during the year, but I’m contend with it, and count this as done.
  26. Buy a DSLR camera – My first pay check went into a Nikon D5200.
  27. Take a photograph course – Yep, but I was disappointed with the content, and didn’t feel like it was that useful.
  28. Buy a nice pair of sunglasses – Foldable Ray Bans, I've been eying for ages, absolutely love those.
  29. Buy a Fitbit or similar – Done. I love my Fitbit, one of the best things I ever bought. Haven’t taken it off since I got it. It really get’s me moving.
  30. Have a yard sale and donate everything that doesn't sell – didn't have a yard sale, it felt like a hassle, instead Jake’s friend took it all to the Red Cross for me.
  31. Re-pot the plants – I did, and killed half of them. Oops. Goal for next year: buy new plants.
  32. Get plants for the porch – Never got around to doing this. In fact, I think we sat on the porch once the whole year. That’s how outdoorsy we are.
  33. Learn to cook new meals – I cooked several new ones, including a macaroni casserole, meat balls and sauce from scratch. And they were tasty! I’d like to have a stash of tried and true recipes. Working on it.

Reading through them, I realize these are probably very odd goals to have. A lot of them seem like stuff you could do anyway. Or buy. A lot of things to buy on this list. But these are the kind of resolutions I make. And it’s so satisfying to cross them off, I can’t even tell you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Small Christmas Thrift Haul

Is it too early to talk about Christmas? I hope not. These are just quick photos snapped with my phone, because I realised that if I try to take good photos, I never post at all. Dark background and bad lighting, yay!

I went to the Red Cross thrift store. They already had all their Christmas stuff out. It was mostly tacky Santa Claus figurines and old tinsel, but I found a few things.

I got these two berry manchettes (is that the correct word? things you put around candles) and a cute doily (to be used under things? I guess? I’m working on it). They weren’t prised, but when I got to the till the lady there said is 10 cents a piece ok? Sure was.


And here are the manchettes taken a part. I’m thinking of using them for decorating Christmas gifts. Like this.


I also got these two metal trees for 50 cents. They are very eighties (the black background doesn’t help), but I thought the might look good as gift tags. Maybe against white wrapping paper and some natural twine?


And lastly these pinecone ornaments. I thought they were cute. I think I’ll just keep the two silver ones and donate the yellow and the blue one back, since we have a silver-red-white theme going on with our tree.


That’s it. I’m slowly, but surely working on our holiday decor. A few bits here and there. Most of our decor so far is either from thrift stores or from after holiday sales. I like it. It feel somehow more meaningful to collect it bit by bit.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

In October

I’ve always liked October, mainly because I have my birthday then! Jake took me to dinner and bought me a cake. <3 I’ve been so obsessed with the owl mug I got at Cambridge, I bought myself another one as a birthday present. Mmmm, owls.
Jake also got me this Väska shoulder bag. He said it was my combined birthday and Christmas present. I LOVE it. I think it’s so beautiful. It’s real leather and has a sort of minimalistic design, so I hope it’ll age well and I’ll still be using it as an old lady.
I took a nature photography class and a Photoshop class. I was really looking forward to both, in the hopes that it would improve my pictures, but was a little disappointed, especially with the photography. They were both held by the same guy and while the program said it’d go through all the basics, it was very cursory and I just felt lost. Boo.
There were a few nights with northern lights. I love northern lights. And these were so vivid and pretty. I spend a good hour on our backyard, trying to get some pictures. This was the best I could do, even with my new photography skills. Clearly I still need practice.
Jake had his birthday as well. He hates fuss, but I made him this banoffee with a bat signal. He loved it. You can’t go wrong with Batman.
Jake bought the new Guitar Hero game. I tried it once and got super mad. I had to go for a walk to calm my temper, which resulted in my first 20 000 step day. Yeah! Fresh air cures everything.
The 2015 Moomin winter mug came out, and of course I had to go and grab it. I now have one from the past three years. From left to right: 2013, 2014 and 2015. In a few more years I have a nice collection to pull out every winter!
As I’ve mentioned we don't really celebrate Halloween in Finland, but that didn’t stop me from making myself a witches hat. I found this super easy tutorial and just whipped up on Halloween morning while watching Nightmare before Christmas. I also made this naked cake, with a plastic polar bear on top. A polar bear I made a little robber's mask for. Why? Because Pinterest, that’s why.
And last, but not least. We bought a new stove, microwave and toaster for the kitchen. We’re going with stainless steel theme. And, yes, the electric kettle is a rebel.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Three Halloween-ish Amigurumi Patterns

Halloween isn’t really celebrated in Finland. Yet. The shops are really trying to push it, though.

But if Halloween is celebrated where you live and you are looking some last minute Halloween crafts to make here are three Halloween appropriate amigurumis I’ve done over the years.

Voodoo Doll - I love this little guy.

018[3] 015[3]

Crocheted Eyeballs – because, why not?

091[3] 120[3]

Crochet Pumpkins – to end on a less creepy note!


Monday, October 5, 2015

In September

  • Jake bought a new sound system for the living room. It sounds good!
  • We also got two glass display cases for the living room. I looove them. But now I’ll have to figure out how to decorate them. Yellow picture, because night.
  • My work ended on the 29th. Back to being time rich and money poor. As a parting gift I got these sweet mugs.
  • We spend most nights playing Metal Gear Solid 5. It was long awaited, but we were both a bit disappointed. The plot just wasn’t that good.
  • Jake bought me a lightsaber. Yep.
  • I don’t have much else to report. Except that I’m very happy that the Big Bang Theory and Gotham are back on! Yay!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ukulele on the wall


I’ve been running into guitars hung on the wall on Pinterest. I thought they looked so cool, but when I suggested to Jake that we hang his guitars on the wall for decoration, he wanted none of it. Huh. Fine, I’ll just hang my ukulele then!

However, it turns out is very difficult to find a ukulele wall holder, and impossible to find a nice looking one. All I found were bulky plastic contraptions. And I wanted something pretty!
Pinterest had some ideas, but I couldn’t find a lot of the supplies needed, like an utility hook. I couldn’t even find a Finish word for that. What is that?


So here’s what I came up with:
  • a wooden oval from the craft section at the super market, 50% off because no one wanted it, it was fate, clearly
  • white paint to paint the oval
  • two long screws
  • white yarn for crocheting two tubes to cover the screws
  • a ton of super strong two-sided tape to fix it on the wall
I worked! And it hasn’t come down. Aaaand, I love it! It hangs on the wall right next to my computer, so I’ve found myself playing a lot more, too. Win-win.

Monday, September 21, 2015

My favorite iHerb products

This is a bit of a different post, but, hey, whatever!

Ever since I discovered iHerb last fall, I’ve been obsessed. I’ve always leaned towards natural products and when I discovered I was allergic to methylchloroisothiazolinone, most commercial products were out anyway.

However, natural products that do anything are very expensive in Finland. I’m talking 50€ a piece expensive. So when I found about iHerb I was very excited. In the beginning I went a bit crazy trying different products, but have now calmed down a bit, mainly because I’ve found which ones work for me. I suppose I’m a bit of a minimalist when it comes to cosmetics, I don’t want to have lots of products, I want to have a few that truly work for me. But new products are always a bit of a hit and miss, and especially when you can’t see them or them them out before buying.

If you are outside of the US, like me, you have to pay attention to the cost, unless you want to pay customs fees or tax. I don’t, so I try to keep the price of one order below 22€ which is the limit in Finland (and I’m guessing in EU?). This means ordering a lot of little packages. But that’s just more fun, right? The shipping costs are only around 2-4€, so it’s very affordable.

One thing you should be aware are weekly deals. Sometimes they are stuff that’s useless to me, like baby food. But sometimes they are good ones, so always look what’s on offer each week. They also seem to have 20% off all bath and beauty products regularly, maybe once a month or so. So, if I need face cream, I’ll wait for that to come around.

So, here are some product that I love and use. I’ve probably ordered dozens of products, but these are the ones that stuck. It's a pretty random selection, I admit.

J.R. Liggett's Old Fashioned Bar Shampoo Tea Tree & Hemp Oil I really like shampoo bars. Less waste! (Says the girl who orders her cosmetics via airmail) This works well for my very dry hair, I’m guessing it’s the oils? And you don’t have to use conditioner with it, which for me is a huge bonus, since I hate fuss.

Cococare  Peppermint Oil I loooove peppermint. It’s so refreshing. I put this in an essential oil diffuser and it just makes me feel better. Jake thinks it smells like a type of sweet called Marianne. I feel like it helps with headaches, too.

Tierra Mia Organics Raw Goat Milk Face Cream This is pretty expensive, but they had an promotion where everyone got a free 10 dollars to their account, so I thought, what the heck, that sounds interesting. I was a bit scared what it would be like. I mean, raw goat milk. But it’s lovely, my skin loves it. And it smells like almonds, not goat.

Everyday Minerals Jojoba Base in Rosy Fair This is a powder foundation. I’ve mentioned it on the blog already, but I recently switched to the jojoba base, and it suits my dry skin so well, I don’t have to do the mix-it-with-moisturizer-trick anymore. I brush it on with EcoTools Kabuki Brush.

Bdellium Tools Liner Brush I’m really into quit minimal make-up. I don’t use lipstick (I’d just eat it), or blush (I think it makes me look like a clown). But I really like a sort of a cat eye. I’ve tried a lot of the liquid stuff before, but it always just ended up all over my lashes. This is a very tiny brush, that’s perfect for getting a very nice flick, even if you aren’t very good at applying make-up. I use it with Everyday Minerals Powder Eyeliner. It works very well, but you really have to remember to tap all the excess powder off the brush or you’ll have black powder all over your face.

And lastly, lip balm. I’m obsessed with lip balm. I love lip balm. I can’t live without lip balm. Mmmm, lip balm. Since starting work, I haven’t made my own, but I found that Sierra Bees Organic Lip Balms are a very good alternative. I especially love the Mint Burst (did I mention I love peppermint?) and vanilla.

So, there you have it, some of my favorites! Feel free to share yours!

Monday, September 14, 2015

End of summer capsule wardrobe

I've always been fascinated with the idea of a capsule wardrobe, but have never quite managed to build one. In fact, for some years it has been one of my new years resolutions… However, I recently realized that I've actually been wearing a sort of capsule wardrobe lately quite accidentally.

Yes, it is very casual, this is just what I have been wearing on my spare time.


3 t-shirts, two gray, one black. If it looks like it’s the same shirt in all pictures, that’s because it is. Good t-shirts are surprisingly hard to find so when I did, I bought three.


One black sweater, one tribal cardigan, one light weight jacket.


Two pairs of skinny jeans, one gray, one black. These look odd in the pictures. I swear I’m not a hobbit.


One small suede handbag, one black Fjällräven Kånken backpack.


One pair of black Minnetonka moccasins.


Foldable Ray-Ban Wayfarers, fitbit, my engagement ring, one pair of bar earrings from Etsy, CK Be perfume.

I also had socks, underwear, 3 bras and sleepwear.

That’s it. I've been enjoying it immensely. It’s taken the guessing out of dressing. (Ha.)
What does the weather look like today? It’s hot. Great! Wear a t-shirt. It’s cool now, but it’ll get warmer later. Alright, add the cardigan. Looks like it’s going to be cool all day. OK, I’ll just wear my only sweater. It’s cold. Wonderful, I’ll don my one jacket.

The same shoes everyday. The same earrings. One pair of sunglasses to choose from. My only perfume. The ring and fitbit never leave me.

I've been using the backpack when I have something bigger to take with me. It’s very good for biking. The handbag when I've needed to take something small that I haven’t been able to stuff into my pockets.

That’s it. And It’s been lovely. I haven’t had to think about getting dressed almost at all, and I've still managed to look decent. Perfect.

I hope I’ll manage to build a capsule for all seasons!

Monday, August 31, 2015

in August

  • The days were warm, and the nights cool and most importantly, dark. I just find it so hard to sleep in the summer when the sun just refuses to set. August is definitely my favorite month!
  • For the first time, we really appreciated having a yard. Maybe because…
  • We got a giant trampoline! Sooo much fun. But Jake threw out his back jumping and had to stay home for a week on sick leave.
  • Jake also hurt his little finger badly (not on the trampoline), there was an audible crack. Luckily it wasn’t broken, but it was black and blue for a long time.
  • Our red currant bush made a nice amount of berries, which I picked up and froze for the winter. Also one of the blueberry bushes my parents planted in the spring made four berries!
  • I met a friend from art school I hadn't seen in about 10 years for dinner and we had a lovely catch up.
  • I went wild blueberry picking with some neighbours and was eaten alive by mosquitos. But I did get some blueberries for the winter.
  • We went to the beach for the first time since I moved here! And I swam for the first time in years. It was super cold, but so nice.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Two valets

My old valet on the left, the new one on the right.

I've been thinking a lot about getting rid of things, ever since reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpBut I wasn't thinking about it when I got a new valet. It just sort of happened.

I remember when I got my old valet, I thought it was the perfect one. So many pockets and places to put things. How I could organize all my cards and carry stuff like stamps and an extra hair tie. I loved it, so I wasn't thinking about getting a whole new one.

What I was thinking was that I’d like to get a smaller additional valet for those occasions when I don’t want to take my handbag with me, when I’m just running quickly to the store or when I want to take some money with me for a walk.

So, I got one.


It has just room for my debit cards, drivers license and some money. That’s it.

No bonus cards, no library card, no insurance card, no union card, none of the eleven cards I was carrying with me. And it turned out that was enough.

I haven’t used that new valet just when I don’t want to carry my big one. I've used it all the time.

And I love it.

Yeah, maybe occasionally I’d like to go to the library and I don’t have my card with me or maybe there is a great offer and I don’t have my bonus card with me, but actually, I've used my smaller valet for three months now, and those occasions have not yet happened. I haven’t once wished I had more with me.

So, I guess that old valet is destined to be the place where I keep all those cards, for the off change I’ll sometimes need them. But, mostly, I don’t think I will.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Reader Pictures

I thought it would be fun to share pictures of amigurumis people have done from my patterns! I really enjoy seeing how they turn up and always love when someone sends me a link!

I tried to comb up all the pictures people have send to me.
If yours is missing send me an email at riikkael (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll add you. And if you want yours to be removed shoot me an email and I'll take it out. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...