Aaaaand She’s off!

4

They say to throw a dart and head where it lands.

Time to pack up and get moving! I’ll be blogging while I’m away, and I promise to take lots of photos!

Hands up! Come on, show them – Who’s good enough in Geography to pinpoint my upcoming destination?

-mliae

Advertisements

Winter slim-down week 6

Success!! Achieved at the hands of a situational comedy/tragedy…but success nonetheless! And this holiday week…I’ll TAKE IT!! 🙂

If you’ve been following, you know what I mean. If not, here’s the crash course version: Went on a journey, got all excited because I saw snow…lots and lots and lots of snow. Woke up to no electricity. Not just at the cabin, but spread throughout several small towns. After almost 2 days, power came back but only intermittently. 5 days later, it’s still cutting out. All the goodies I bought to feast on went to the rubbish bin. I worked like a big girl on survival mode and my mainstay has been the fresh fruit, veg, protein shake, seeds, muesli and crispy bread which have managed to stay good despite the power outages. Viola! Up to speed! Shall we move on?

So, with all of that, I managed (quite easily) to shed the weight that I had gained back in the previous week.  And then some. I must admit that it’s actually so much simpler when I am just eating what’s available instead of trying to avoid the temptation of all the snacks in cupboard. The lesson here is: Keep at it! For once, I wasn’t paying a bit of attention to my waist this week because there were so many other much more important things to do and worry about and in doing so, manage to come even closer to my goal than when I am obsessing over it all the time. So that’s the plan for this week. Of course I may have the option to sit around, but I won’t. And there’s no need to buy lots of junky food because I don’t need it. Although my brain is screaming at me for portabello burgers smothered in cheese, or for pan seared scallops and french beans drowning in bernaise sauce…My existence does not depend on these things. Apples, turnips, fresh garlic, ginger and lemon, seeds and breads are really just fine. Lets see where this goes this week. Think I can manage when I have a choice?

This year I am thankful for all the lessons I’ve learned, the experiences I’ve had and those who chose to remain close to me even though they’ve gotten to know me well enough to realize that ‘sugar, spice and everything nice’ need not apply.

What are you thankful for?

Thanks for reading!

-mliae

My party mani at Mimando

When in Finland, go to Mimando Spa! I got the whole treatment day, but I just had to start with this ready-to-party mani. Since this week is a celebration season in one way or another across the globe, I really wanted something pretty that wouldn’t just chip away as soon as I got my hands wet.

We had planned that by the time I arrived my nails would be in long beautiful shape; ready for a long lasting lacquer that would keep me set the entire journey. Sad for me, I broke one of my nails that very morning. She did a great job with what I had remaining. It’s a bit too early to go the red route, I said. So we decided that a neutral base with pearlescent gel was the way to go. Especially in light of the fact that I am oh-so hard on my hands!

I think this gel lacquer turned out really well and is classy enough to go with jeans and boots for the family dinner, and a LBD and heels for my weekend’s planned celebrations 🙂 Best part is; I can actually cook, clean, move furniture, and open Champagne without worrying about my nails. After all, that’s the LAST thing we need to thing about at the moment!

What are your worry-free zones this holiday season?

Thanks for reading!

-mliae

What I learned during 30 hours without power in the Nordics

I wake up in the Nordics, inland off the coast of Ostrobothnia, I wake to the snow gently falling on the trees. I was so excited to be able to see the first snowfall. I went to the spa appointment I had made for my manicure and facial, then planned to visit the store because there was nothing at the cottage to eat. Once I emerged from my appointment, feeling fresh and glowy as ever a girl can, I realized that the gently falling snow had turned into huge soft flakes and many centimetres of snow on the ground. Still beautiful and peaceful. I was excited about the prospect of building a snowman and drinking hot cocoa by the fire. I had been informed by my driver that the snow would continue to fall throughout the evening and into the next day. And it did. The snow fell and fell until it was up to the calves of my legs. And then, at after 5 in the evening on Friday night, it happened. I heard a *dink, dink, dink sound and Whabam! Lights out.

They flickered on and off a few times and I was starting to curse the cottage in which I’m staying. It wasn’t until friends arrived and informed me that the entire village was pitch black. So much so that even their bus drove past the stop.

Dinner that night was cheese wraps and apples. We played on our cell phones and other tech, assuming naively that the power would return ‘any minute now’. Of course, there were candles everywhere, which we lit just so we could see in the ever increasing darkness of the North. Thankfully, the cottage was stocked with candles and extra fuses.

That night, it was kind of an adventure in ‘roughing it’. A ‘welcome’ to the territory, if you will. Challenging, but almost fun in a forced romanticism kind of way where yea, its dark…but you aren’t actually worried about anything. I could’ve used one of these to spin the warm beer in the snow to chill and drink that evening.

7 in the morning Saturday. Woke up to a big bang and…light! For all of 5 minutes. Had I known then what I know now, I would have used that 5 minutes to charge my cell, make coffee, boil water and microwave food. Instead, what do I do? Shiver, roll over and close my eyes. Stupid, stupid, girl.

I dragged myself out of bed about an hour later, complaining about the cold and wondering at the lack of electricity…still. Little did I know that more than 30 000 others were enjoying the same situation as I.

Saturday went at a snails pace. Can you say hello frustration and irritability? That didn’t last long before we all realized that nothing would be accomplished by snapping at one another. Thankfully. With no coffee (that I was aware of…I found out later that an angel DID in fact use that 5 minutes to make something hot and left it in a thermos for all to enjoy), no technology, no lights, no hot water, no edible food, and cold as _____ outside , there wasn’t exactly a plethora of options to distract from the current predicament. So, we all went outside and grabbed shovels to shovel our way out of the cottage and onto the road. Afterwards, things got inventive. There was one place in which to make a fire, but not exactly a fireplace. More like an ancient bread oven. So a fire we made, and in front of it I sat until I thought I was going to melt. When the flames died out, the theory was that maybe if we put a pot of water inside the fire bake oven, that it would boil…or explode. It did neither. But it did get hot enough to make a batch of hot tea. Once it was noted how that little experiment went, on came the next one. Hot food. Seriously, is it even possible? With this being our only opportunity to even pretend to make hot food that day, there was no other option than to give it a go. Since I’d visited the market that day, there was at least a hundred euros worth of frozen goodies slowly going bad. I thought that I could bag it up and set it outside in the snow to keep it cold, but was informed that it would only attract the animals. So we grabbed the biggest (fingers crossed its pyrex) dish we could find, dumped 2 bags of frozen vegs, some olive oil and a ton of cheese in it, put the lid on, popped it in the fire oven and hoped for the best. This time, hearing an explosion was a most certainty. But…it didn’t happen. And let me tell you, hunger REALLY is the best spice. I ate like a ravenous dog and did not once care how I looked to anyone else. I am certain my cohorts felt the same.

After a quick call to the power company, I realized that it would be at least another 24 hours before they even hoped it might be fixed. Saturday evening went slow, as it gets dark so early in the North. Reading by candlelight was impossible, but someone magically whipped out games and we were able to manage it near-blind. That night, we all slept like a litter of puppies. It wasn’t intentional, but funny how things work out that way. No problem though because it was that cold inside that I’m sure we were all quite grateful for the extra body heat.

Sunday morning. My phone had been off for the most part because I was terrified that there would be an emergency and nobody would have the battery power to call out after a few days of this. I checked the news and realized that because of the…well, blizzard basically, the count of households without electricity had increased from 30 000 to almost 70 000 over night! In a country with a total populace of 5,5 million; 70 000 is an enormous number. OK, ‘we wait’ I said to myself. Although I was mad as a hornet when I woke up this morning because I’m already getting sick, the temp has dropped significantly, and the food…well, the food is going straight to the bin.

Bread breakfast. Enough, I’m calling the power company. I almost felt bad because the customer service rep was just as nice as she could be, but I had to insist that something be done somehow and an estimate given. Sure enough, within a couple of hours there were men working on every power line on the main road (as far as I could see). And then, magic happened. *Dink *dink….POWER!

image

It’s now Sunday, and the lights have just returned. I’m sick, it’s freezing in here and at least 200 euros worth of food has perished. But we can see! The radiator will warm, and the water will heat so hopefully the pipes wont burst. I can cook! I can boil water! I can SHOWER!! I’ve never been so happy to see this light on a strip outlet as I was today…ever! 😀

I have to tell you that although not having power in a snowstorm for 30 hours really is just a minor setback in the grand scheme of things, I haven’t been so happy to see lights…ever, I don’t think. It’s amazing the things we take for granted. One thing that helps enables us to cook, clean, stay warm, see, work…and without it we can do none of those things. They don’t call it a necessity for the fun of it. This morning, I would’ve traded all the shoes in my closet for it. And now I have it. YEAH! Brings that must-have desire for all things gourmet and luxurious down a notch when you realize that its just not as enjoyable in the cold and dark.

Thanks for reading!

-mliae

Coconut Ginger Tofu with mixed Vegetables

Super simple and delicious way to get dinner on the table without too much complication. This is a good recipe, which I just kind of made on the spot because it’s what I had at hand. Sometimes those things just turn out the best! Fully vegan, packed with protein (Tofu and broccoli) and enough for 3.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 large frying or stir-fry pan
  • 1 block firm or extra firm tofu
  • 1 small package coconut milk. (I used 300grams & the same container worth of water => 600 grams)
  • 1 small bag frozen mixed veggies (I used broccoli, cauliflower & carrot)
  • 1 handful fresh or frozen spinach
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger powder
  • Olive oil

What to do:

  • Pour a small amount of olive oil into the pan and heat on mid-high
  • Drain and cube tofu, put in the pot
  • Add in veggies and spinach. Stir to fry
  • Once it begins to fry, add in the coconut milk and the milk container of water also.
  • Stir frequently
  • When it begins to simmer, add in the ginger and stir well.
  • Total cooking time runs 15-20 mins, depending on heat. Once its bubbling, stir often for another few minutes only. And then it is ready
  • Spoon out and serve
  • Enjoy!

I chose to enjoy this meal as-is, without any brown rice in addition as it is quite filling. If you are looking to create a more substantial meal, then by all means, cook up a batch of brown rice and serve!

Eat and Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

-mliae

Winter Slim-down week 5

Beginning week 5 of my winter slim-down diet. I have good news…and bad news.

The good news is: I’m much happier 🙂 The bad news? Well, I wussed out on the intermittent fasting after 2 weeks and managed to gain back 1 kg (approx 2 lbs) of the weight. Honestly, not a major setback.

At the risk of sounding like one of those self-justifying dieters who changes the rules mid-game, I’m, well…changing the rules mid-game. ;P

In all my years of eating healthy and occasional dieting, I have noticed one glaring inequality. That inequality is economics. For some unexplained reason, healthy eating seems to cost more. I’m not talking about anything like restaurants. Merely on the market level. Atkins diet, cost a small fortune and weight was regained afterwords. Paleo is very particular and the fasting requires that you give your body all the nutrients it needs when you can eat. So… tons of vegs. It seems totally backwards to me that the raw ingredients, cost as much or more than the ready meal itself. Wheat, eggs & butter cost more than the equivalent amount of processed dried spaghetti…even though the spaghetti company has to pay for logistical and marketing services, as well as manufacturing staff and warehousing. How is this possible? I’ve noticed that I’m spending a fortune on fruits and vegs for smoothies, that juicing seems to waste a ton of the healthy bits and protein bars are packed with chemicals. Since this is supposed to be a lifestyle change and not just a momentary diet, I’ve decided to try to keep it realistic.

So here’s the plan: For this upcoming week (and hopefully easily continued thereafter) I will make reasonable purchases at the food market. I’ve heard that 400 calories of fruits, vegs and leafy stuff will fill an average stomach completely. I plan to stick to the fresh healthy stuff and purchase / eat a reasonable amount at a reasonable price and not let any of it waste away in the refrigerator. I will cut back on processed foodstuffs and attempt (This will be a ssssslloooowwww learning process) to learn how to make my own pastas and baked goods from scratch as opposed to purchasing at the market. (Yes, this will be blogged about….we can laugh together). So this weeks experiments are to see if it is reasonable to expect a person with modest means (such as myself) to manage a dietary lifestyle change without spending their savings on specialty foodstuffs.And also to see if yours truly can start baking without making anyone ill 😉 Wish me luck!

Thank you for reading & I look forward to your feedback!

-mliae

What to look forward to…

3

Hello peeps 🙂

I’ll try to keep this brief, since I know that time is valuable. It’s because of that, that I am writing this post. Since we only have one life (Which makes time far more valuable than money, in my opinion) I thought it might be beneficial to map out what kind of posts you can expect from me & what experiments I’m facing over the next several months. This way, you can decide if it is worth your time to read and follow, if there is something specific that you are looking for.

  • The weightloss/diet/fitness journey continues. Unless a major breakthrough occurs at some point, this will be updated on a once weekly basis until I reach my goal weight.
  • Covering the never ending quest for beauty: Facials, cosmetics, new beauty products & reviews, creams, oils, treatments & peels, nutrition, etc. These will be posted once I’ve had time to notice results. Or on the day-of facials.
  • Fashion and decor: Photos, stores, links, prices and opinions
  • Health and wellness: Home remedies, massage and I will begin the cellulite cupping treatments. (I’m so excited!) These will be posted on a same-day or day-after basis, continuing through each treatment to follow progress.
  • Home renovation. Yes, you heard me…DIY! This should be the most entertaining of all of it…especially since yours truly can barely wield a hammer. I purchased an old farmhouse this summer and well…lets just say that I can clearly see that in the next 10 years or so, this place will have had all but the bones replaced, repaired, redecorated, rerouted or modified in some other way. These posts will be sporadic at best, but will follow my progress here.
  • Recipes: OK, so I’m not the best cook…especially when I’m traveling. But occasionally, I do happen to stumble upon some super easy, seriously yummy stuff. When I do, I’ll post it…promise! Forever on the lookout 😉
  • Travel, travel, travel! I travel frequently and will be posting more about my travels in multi-part updates. At the moment, I’m kind of here, there and everywhere so you can expect updates from some of the places I’ve been going with things to do/see, and then future updates containing additional information, places, people, prices, and fun stuff when I just have a chance to get it all together, back up my research (I want you to have the same great experiences I do!) and make sure that my tourist brain doesn’t take over.

That’s what you can expect. I only post when I actually have something to say, so you don’t have to worry about your email inbox flooding over with one-liners. All of my experiences are real and from my own life, so they will not be found anywhere else on the web (except perhaps my instagram: my_life_is_an_experiment ).

Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you!

-mliae

One of my favourite things :)

Just a quickie post to say ‘Hello’ and share one of my seasonal favourites! I purchased this Tory Burch pullover at the beginning of Autumn when in Finland, at Cotton clothing and apparel store. I love this piece. I have been wearing it at least once a week. Care isn’t too bad either. Although the tag says dry clean only, it is natural fabrics, and I’ve found that it can be washed on delicate cycle at 30c or, cold water, then lay flat to dry, wear, repeat. 🙂

Although Tory Burch products are a wardrobe investment, I am more and more convinced that you really do get what you pay for. This, in my opinion, is very true with Tory Burch products. The first item I ever purchased from her product line was a green leather handbag. I was traveling light those days, so it was in fact the only handbag I owned, so the price tag did not give me much pause as I needed something of quality. (Yes, it matched everything…my ‘uniform’ was skinny jeans and a white tank or sweater.) This bag, lasted me for more than three years of daily use, and carry and extensive world travel before it actually began to show signs of wear! Ever after that, I am officially a Tory Burch fan!

According to my distorted price per use formula, I got waaaayyyyy more out of that bag then I usually would. My general formula is that if you can get the price per wear down to 1 or less, then you’ve gotten your moneys worth!

Formula: cost/wears= cost per wear. For the bag, for example, the cost per wear formula went as follows: 365 (days per year, used it daily)*3 (approximate years of use)=1095 days. 300 (approximate price) / 1095 days = 0,27 cents (Price per wear). Pretty good, if you ask me! I should be so lucky if all my wardrobe items lasted like that 😀

What are a few of your favourite things?

Thanks for reading!

-mliae

Winter slim-down week 4

Three weeks down, and embarking on the last week of a month. The mysterious ‘they’ say that any habit can be changed (or at least dramatically altered) in 21 days. Well, here we are…day 21. I’ve lost exactly 3 kg (about 7 lbs) and have 6+ kg to go yet. My starting weight was 64,1 kg, my current weight is 61,1 kg this week and my goal weight is 55 kg. (Unless I can manage another way to fit into my fabulous clothing items…in which case, the scale can say whatever it well wants!) So, 10 kg total (or the plus side of 20 lbs) which really sounds like a ton of weight.

It seems that ‘they’ must be correct, as many of my habits have changed. In the lifestyle kind of way, not the diet rules kind of way. For example; I have been lectured repeatedly about the necessity of not eating after 6 in the evening, and giving your body at least 12 hours to properly process the food and begin to burn fat. No problemo. My body starts screaming at me by 3:30 in the afternoon, so I’m done eating by 6 in the evening. 12 hours after that is before 6 in the morning, so the closest thing I’ll be getting to actual nutrition at that time of day is chugging coffee and perhaps a protein shake. It no longer seems like such a task to do some squats and handweights. Usually, I even get a bit carried away once I’ve found a corner of solitude…I mean the heart rate is already up, right?

I have apparently set a pattern regardless of what I am or am not doing properly, that I’m shedding an average of 1 kg weekly. Slow, but reliable so it works just fine for me.

Eating healthy: Yes, please! Sunday was a celebration day for us, so all food rules went straight out the window. We gorged ourselves on whatever was available…and it was AWESOME! (Especially after deciding to try a veg smoothie fast the day before…hello hungry belly) All involved knew the scale would reflect our indulgence the next day. And it did, but we expected it so there were no major meltdowns 🙂 Thanks to all the vegan food-porn instagrammers (*evil eye: you know who you are, and I’m now following you…thanks for the veg choc pancake blueberry, Dear God I cant even guess whats in it – recipe, but I want it so badly right now…*drool, drool, drool….) I have stayed hungry. Even when I’m not hungry, I really want to run to a bakery and buy just everything so I can bring it home and stare at it. Seriously, self torture but sooo worth it because it looks so good! This week I will try to continue to intermittent fasting and eating only between  4-6 in the evening. However, if my belly is rumbling, I’ve decided not to torture myself totally. Snacking on a celery or carrot stick will do like zero harm.

Exercise: I’m pretty much in the habit at this point, but I will be increasing my reps this week. And that’s basically the plan….just to stick to what I’m doing. I definitely do NOT want to pack on all the weight once I’ve invested this much time into losing it! Besides, when cravings hit – 25 squats done where you stand makes those cravings subside quickly!

No-No’s: Fast food, anything not fruit or veggie (sans cheese and maaayyyybe fish, but probably not), tea or honey. No mass produced food. (Seriously, boxed/frozen/freeze dried meals are totally NOT HEALTHY!) And no more cakes on an empty stomach! Blech!

I welcome your advice, opinions and experiences!

Thanks for reading!

-mliae

Visiting Finland; Cultural insights and things to see.

2

Ah, Finland…what a wonder this country is. Located in the Arctic North and bordering Russia, this country with a population of approximately 5,5 million has many things that work in its favour as far as a travel and life destination. I have spent much time here there and everywhere in Finland, so feel confident in sharing my experiences.

Finland prides itself on having all four seasons. This true, without a doubt.

Spring

Spring is a time of celebration for many Finns. Once the snow begins to melt, the sun is shining and temps are warming, smiles on peoples’ faces become more prominent. When the flowers begin to bloom it is truly an incredible experience. And you will not see a happier woman than when the winter boots are thrown into the closet and her heels come front and centre. The May Day celebration, known as Vappu is a huge celebration in Finland. It is generally celebrated with outdoor parties, parades, and late nights. If you are there during ‘Vappu’, do not be surprised if you see a million people all wearing the same hat. These are the hats of achievement, of scholarly success and graduation. It’s a tradition.

Summer

Summer in Finland is amazing. The sun rarely sets for more than an hour or so, the days are hot, everything is growing and Finns are out en masse. Nature is prominent in Finland and the Finns love it. If you speak to a Finn about their plans during the summer, 90% of the time you will hear it said that they are visiting a cottage. With 188,000 lakes in the country, who can blame them? Most Finns have either their own or a family summer cottage where most of the free time is spent during the season. Summer cottages are not chateau’s. They are cottages on or near a lake, always containing a sauna, access to the beach, the usual amenities and everyone loves to go there. Mid-summer festival or ‘Juhannus’ is almost always celebrated at the summer cottage. Huge bonfires are lit on the lake and the party begins!

IMG_4091

Autumn

Autumn in finland is beautiful. The foliage is changing into gorgeous, almost surreal colors, people are out and about enjoying the ever shortening days and one can almost watch the transitions of the seasons happening in the populace mindset before your very eyes. ‘Pyhäinpäivä’, or All Saints Day is celebrated on or the day following the 31st of October. This is usually celebrated by placing burning candles at the grave sites of loved ones. Halloween is also celebrated in Finland, but mostly in the larger cities and on a much smaller scale than in North America or Ireland. Also popular in late November is ‘Pikku Joulu’ or little Christmas. These parties are prominent around the country. For the Americans, these parties are much like Thanksgiving. But because Christmas is usually celebrated with immediate family only, this is when the work parties and get togethers happen before the Christmas holiday.

IMG_3992

Winter

The winters are long and with low sub zero temperatures, one would think that people would be hiding in their homes for the duration. This is untrue. The Finns have an uncanny knack to make the most out of any weather conditions (unless perhaps it is just too hot). During the winter, Finns are quite active in sports. Any school you happen to pass by with have an outdoor skating area where you can ice skate, or practice your ice hockey skills. (Be warned, the Finnish children who play like pro’s will giggle at your utter incompetence by comparison) Skiing and Snow boarding or even snow tubing are commonplace sports, as well as long distance skiing which is usually done on one of the many nature trails once it has iced over. Ice fishing is also common but must only be done in certain temperatures. House and shop fronts are adorned with what I like to call ice art (flowers or other objects frozen into an ice mould and then placed around burning candles), candles are burning and trees are lit. The winter solstice is a good day, falling on the 21st of December this year, as the daylight will begin to show itself a few minutes more each day even though the temperature will continue to drop for some time further. Christmas is the holiday of the season. Santa Klaus or ‘Joulupukki’ is said to live in Lapland, in the far North of Finland and it is a common trip to make to rent a cabin and go to Lapland to see Santa and the reindeer.

As Finnish culture goes, there are a few things that any visitor should keep in mind when visiting. Finns are used to their space. A Finns personal space is much larger than say in Asia or Italy. This is due to the immense land area per populace in the country. Hugging is not done unless you are a close friend or family member, or after a long night at the pub. Finns are quiet. This is not an attempt to be rude, it is merely a culture of few words. The good thing is, when a Finn is speaking to you, you know that what they are saying is important and genuine. Finland has unique design tastes, one of the most famous and popular being Marimekko and you will see it everywhere.

IMG_0762

Finns love coffee. Finland is said to be one of, if not the top in coffee consumption worldwide. Finns are not ignorant. Finland has the top educational system in the world…and it shows. In business, Finland is at a strategic geographic disadvantage. This has been overcoming by the many forms of R&D, higher education specialties, and social policies in place in order to encourage productivity. It works. Finland has a very high percentage of trade and tourism with Russia, Sweden and the Baltics.

IMG_1442

If a Finn invites you for coffee, or to their summer cottage, or even in health and wellness places, ALWAYS remove your shoes at the door. Walking into a Finns home with your shoes on is a social faux-pas that will in all cases annoy your host(s).

Sauna

Going to the sauna is a deeply embedded tradition. Most Finnish homes have their own sauna’s, as do summer cottages, gyms, swimming halls and many restaurants and community buildings. If a flat does not contain its own, you can bet the building has one in the basement. The sauna is considered a clean place, and there are rules. For instance, Finns attend the sauna in social settings, en masse and nude. Do not stare and never ever comment on anyones’ body! Prepare to be looked at like you have 8 heads if you arrive cheerily in a bikini. You should at the very least rinse in the shower before going in, and usually have a paper or towel on which to sit. In some cases, your host(s) will have a cold alcoholic beverage awaiting your arrival. Although I have also been told that traditionally this is seen as a no-no and that you should only consume your drink once out of the sauna. I guess it is solely determined by the company you are in. Personally, a sauna beer suits me just fine. Birch whips: Some Finns are fans, many tourists are terrified. This is something that is done only on occasion (but as many tourists know, sometimes you ARE the occasion). Birch whips are made from tying a certain kind of small birch branches with the leaves in tact, together and drying. Before use in the sauna, it is soaked in the water bucket (this water is thrown on the hot rocks to make steam and it smells so good!) and then used to kind of, well, whip yourself with. Your legs, arms, shoulders and back. The birch whips can also be used a form of soap. Using the birch to scrub your skin by bundling the leafy part in your hand and scrubbing your skin is said to have cleansing and exfoliating properties. Trust me, it’s not as horrifying as it sounds. There is something in the birch which opens your pores and once you have finished the sauna and shower, your skin will be positively glowing. Not to mention the fact that your host(s) will be proud of you for not running away screaming (which they expected that you would do). Even in the winter, if you are by a lake, sauna is followed by a dip in the lake albeit quickly (Bbbbrrrr!) and a return to the heat.

IMG_2060

There are countless things to see and do in Finland. Many have already been mentioned. If you are strictly a city person, Helsinki is the place for you. Shopping, sightseeing, upscale cafe’s, spa’s and the harbour to name a few. Parks and nature trails abound in Finland, and history is endless. Finnish history goes back a very long time, it is still fresh in the collective memory.

IMG_1766

Historical towns like Porvoo with churches, old town and many opportunities to shop hand made crafts and products.

IMG_3870

industrial cities such as Tampere have sightseeing opportunities everywhere such as Aleksanderin kirrko in Aleksanterinpuisto.

IMG_3923

If castles are your thing, visit Hämeenlinna or Savonlinna. In Savo, there is an annual opera festival held during the summer months. But if you plan to attend the opera, make sure to purchase tickets far in advance.

IMG_0892

In Finland there are also many viewing towers with which to climb and get an amazing ariel view of the area. If you’re in good shape, go for it! And while you’re at it, check out one of the local amusement parks 🙂

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoy sharing it. I would love to hear your insights and experiences, please share! I will be posting more blogs on more travels, including Finland.

Thank you for reading!

-mliae

Winter slim-down week 3

I’m back on the wagon! Thank you for your encouragement and advice 🙂

Two weeks ago, my starting weight was 64,1 kg or 141 lbs. (Eeeekkk!!) I was really hoping not to have to share my weight (as no woman wants to divulge that info) however I realize that it is a bit difficult to follow my journey unless you have all the facts. Two weeks down, and exactly 2 kg down as well. Current weight as of this morning: 62,1 kg or 136 lbs (give or take…the conversion isn’t always perfect).

Given my absolute impatience, it is frustrating not to be losing weight at a faster pace. Yes, I know, shedding 1 kg per week is actually the healthy way to diet. Still, there are some fantastic pieces hanging in my closet that I am just dying to get back into!

This week, it’s back on the exercise wagon. Seriously.

  • 100 squats daily
  • Return to the hand weights, kettle bells and resistance weights (alternated)
  • Add in some cardio to get things started. (jumping jacks, jogging, etc)

As for le diet, I’ll remain on the intermittent fast, but allow myself some protein snacks in the form of sunflower seeds, chia seeds and flax if I reach the point of ravenous before meal time. Back to the yerba mate and green tea during the day and tons of water at night.

Lessons learned from the past 2 weeks:

  • Ixnay on the Carbs
  • Pigging out during a 2 hour period doesn’t really help. Must keep it in moderation
  • Veggies keep me feeling full, longer
  • Caffeine keeps me up half the night if I’m guzzling green tea in the evening
  • Sporadic exercise does nothing

Wish me luck! Please share your thoughts, I look forward to reading and trying them 🙂

Thanks for reading!

-mliae

Update: Winter slim-down week 2

Hello and happy 1st week of November, all! Time for my weekly diet check-in. Halfway through week 2. I’ll go ahead and admit it, I have totally fallen off the exercise wagon. Totally. Shame on me.

In the past few days, my weight has been fluctuating quite a bit. I’m not entirely sure why, but I do have a theory or two. Perhaps someone reading this will have some input they’d be willing to share. I have, as of today, lost 2,3 kg or about 5 lbs. Good? Yes, absolutely. Confusing and frustrating? Yes, absolutely.

Here’s how it’s been going down: I totally bombed on the no wine rule. Two nights, I had a glass of wine. I’ve altered the diet parameters after a ton of googling and speaking to a few people in the nutrition and health fields. I’d heard about intermittent fasting (not in the religious sense) to cleanse the toxins from your system and get your body and energy back on track. By fasting, I do NOT mean starving myself. I’m speaking of  more like getting my body into survival mode by taking a relatively small chunk of time each day to eat whatever I want during that time and nothing else other than teas, vitamins and a ton of water for the rest of the day. This supposedly gets your body burning its fat reserves for additional energy after the first couple days. I don’t care if it is harsh. If I can spend an hour a day eating whatever my little heart desires while on a diet, I’m all for it!

Day one of this fasting, I paced like a caged animal for hours before I ate. My meal consisted of pasta and steamed veg. A ton of it. I was so full afterward that I slept like a baby.

Day two result: 0,5 kg down. A drastic loss in energy. I slept late, was unmotivated to manage even the lightest object on my to-do list book. When it was time to eat, I was READY. My meal consisted of leftover pasta and stir fry  tempeh and mixed veg and a glass of wine.

Day three result: 0,2 kg down. Helloooo energy! Most productive day this week. I got a ton of mundane tasks accomplished, but when it came to working out, I just felt weak. Fell in love with Netflix. Hungry. My evening meal consisted of fries. And waffles. Total carbo fest. Felt guilty immediately and my stomach was growling all night. Realized that all the carbs I’d been eating were keeping me hungry.

Day four result: 1,2 kg UP! WHAT?!?! Ok, given the junk food fest I’d had the night before it’s no big surprise. But it is frustrating to work so hard to lose every little bit and then…WHAM! Most of it gained back overnight. After a minor freak-out, I vowed to myself that would not happen again. Evening meal was tofu sausage and root veg.

Day five result: Weight down only about 200 grams. I’m unsure if my body is using fat reserves at this point, which it should be, but I’m also noticing that everything is slowing down. Even though I’m drinking tons of water, my metabolism is slower and my energy is seriously low. Occasionally I’ll get a burst of productive energy. However I’m noticing that it is usually in the evenings after I have eaten. Workouts are a thing of the past.

Yesterday I took myself for a reward facial at Mimando spa at it really helped me feel a bit better. Especially since my skin is drying out and all the toxins seem to be coming out of my body…through my face.

So here we are…now just trying to figure out if this will begin to work as well as it should if I can manage to stop sabotaging myself. Think I’ll keep it up for a few more days and actually do it properly and see what happens. I would really like to know any advice or experience anyone has to offer. So, please share.

Thank you for reading!

-mliae

Treating myself: Spa Day at Mimando!!

If you are in the Ruovesi area of Finland, while you are sightseeing and picnicking at the lake, make sure to make time to visit Mimando for some skincare indulgence 🙂 I happened upon this spa a while researching all things to do when in the area. And boy am I glad I did!

Nothing feels better than walking proudly through the streets without a drop of makeup on and feeling proud of your freshly glowing skin. I love to have facial treatments. Especially now that I’ve been dieting and my body is cleaning all the gunk out, which is all showing in my dry, blemished skin. Gee, thanks. So I made myself an appointment when I knew I would be there and I’m really happy I went. (Have planned to go every time I’m in the area). Mimando treatments are good (even my SO commented on a noticeable difference in my glowing happy skin) and…drumroll please….the prices are reasonable! Yaaaayyyyy!!

I decided on an ultrasound treatment.This particular facial, along with the diamond exfoliating treatment are both said to be ideal for skin like mine which is well cared for, but still a bit dry and beginning to age. But not so strong as when you run into a spa demanding the strongest thing they have and then your face falls off 4 days later.

This was begun with basic make-up removal and facial cleansing and then an examination of my skin. This was followed by using an ultrasonic device was used which exfoliated my facial skin and the dead skin was removed. Then an extraction tool was used to seriously open up all the gunked up pores on my face, followed by a very nice facial and neck massage and a facial mask.

My face in the lightweight masked is shown above. (I can’t believe I’m actually posting pics of myself with not a drop of makeup on!) Once the mask had done it’s thing (approx 15 min), my face was cleaned again and polished off with a delicious smelling Etre Belle energy c creme moisturizer. I fell so deeply in love with that stuff I bought some to take home for day creme. That product review will be coming up soon.

Here is an ‘after’ photo of my skin. It’s worth noting that in order to accurately portray the differences, all photos are in their original format. NO airbrushing, or filters have been used or corrections done. I only cropped the photos to better show my pores and not make anyone look up my nostrils.

image-1

Quite a difference, huh?! 😀 My blemishes were lessoned, my skin is positively GLOWING and I am now officially addicted.

Thank you Mimando! I will be back!!  Please, feel free to check out their site, it has been hyperlinked.

Please, share your thoughts in the comment section 🙂

Thank you for reading!

-mliae