Archive for ‘Green Lifestyle’

2017, March 24

For the longest time, I avoided the gym

Yes. For the longest time I avoided going to the gym. Come to think of it I avoided gym classes as much as possible back in school as well, even before getting a medical slip excusing me from the class for the last two years of high school.
By now, the medical issues sort of cleared up, or at least, I know how to handle stuff.

Image from Cheri Cope’s blog post, Run with Your Heart

Last Summer, I decided that I wanted to run, and maybe even exercise more. Okay, truth is, I started running to lose a little bit of weight and fit into the dress a friend let me borrow to wear to a wedding last Fall.
However, after I started running during the second half of the Summer, luckily I liked it so much that I wanted to keep going. (Here are some great tips for someone just starting out with running.)
I even signed up and ran two cross events so far, one last Fall and one this month. And, I am signed up for two other cross events this Spring, and am interested in a third in the Summer also if the admission fee won’t be too steep!

For those who choose to go, my firm offers the benefit of a gym membership to the gym close by the office. I wouldn’t want to go there though… I’d hate having to wake up early to go before work, or during my lunch break, or after work. Honestly, I don’t want to use the shower there, which I would definitely need to in either of these scenarios. So even though it’s free, I don’t go there.

I signed up for the gym close to our flat when the weather was too cold for me to run outside. I couldn’t risk getting a cold every time I wanted to run. I found a good deal at the gym – it’s 30% off if I go in between 7am-3pm!
So my very optimistic plan throughout the Winter was:
– going to the gym on Mondays and Fridays before 3pm since I work from home anyway,
– maybe a gym running-session on Saturday depending on my schedule,
– and ice skating on Wednesdays after work as soon as the ice rink opened. I am proud to say that I managed to stick to the schedule pretty well!

That said, please note that you don’t have to have a gym membership if you can’t afford it, don’t have time to find one near you, don’t want to go alone, etc. I honestly only signed up, because I wanted to continue running, and didn’t have a treadmill at home.
There are many YouTube channels out there with great workouts, which you can follow at home. Two of my favorites are FitnessBlender and XHIT Daily. I used these resources for home workouts when I couldn’t get to the gym.

Here are just a few pointers I can give someone who is starting out with regular exercising:

  • Check with your doctor in case you have any sort of physical restrictions so they can advise if it is safe to work out.
  • Eat well (and healthy), at least one meal, before heading to the gym.
  • Based on the previous point, do give the meal some time before actually walking out the door.
  • Keep hydrated. Take a water bottle with you and sip sip sip while you work out.
  • Talk with the trainers there. Tell them about any physical restrictions you might have. Ask which machine does what and how/in what order to use them. Ask for suggestions as they can provide you with a lot of helpful advice depending on what your goal is.
  • If a certain workout or machine doesn’t work for you, do something else. (For example, I get dizzy/motion sick if I try doing abs workouts on a balance ball.)
  • Do what feels good. If you have the elliptical set for 20 minutes for example, but you’re feeling too tired after 10 minutes, adjust the time or hit the “cool down” button and move onto the following exercise.
  • Take your time. No need to rush through the exercise routines. Allow at least a minute or two between sets, to rest.
  • If you feel faint or dizzy, stop immediately what ever exercise you are doing.
  • Don’t over do it with cardio, as cardio alone will not help much. Do some cardio to get warmed up, but then some kind of strength training, and finish with some more cardio if you want.
  • You don’t need to go to the gym every single day. It is a good idea to let your muscles rest between gym sessions.
  • Try to walk more (to/from work, when you go shopping, walk up the stairs instead of using the elevator, take on walking the dog three times a day or more, etc.) and take regular breaks to stretch and move around a minute or two during your everyday life, especially if you work at a desk all day.
  • If you like such things, go cycling, hiking, ice skating, dancing or include other forms of exercise into your free time.

Workout clothes and shoes can be colorful, and fun to shop for. Apparently the people who invented exercise clothes actually knew what they were doing. After buying a pair of warm tights to ice skate in (which are basically running tights, so I used them for that, too), I am never looking back!
However, I simply had spare comfy clothes I used before now.
I didn’t want to be that person who said she’s going to exercise, buys a ton of specific clothes for it, uses them three times total, then never looks at them again because she didn’t stick with exercising!

I’d suggest buying what you need as you go – more budget-friendly, and kind of like a reward system for sticking with it. Sneaky, right?

Hope you found my post helpful if you’re just starting to exercise more, or if you’ve been doing it for a longer period, please leave me a few tips you can think of, in the comment section below :) I’m always open to suggestions!

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2016, November 4

Fall in a jar

So, last year around Halloween, I bought some pasta. But not just any kind of pasta, Halloween-themed pasta! It is in three different colors and they’re shaped like pumpkins, spiders and bats. So very cute!

I’ve only tried cooking them once, and albeit still cute after done, they are so awful-tasting I had to throw them away.
I kept the left over pasta in the bag though, figuring I might try to use it for some kind of DIY project. And that day has come!

It’s a bit difficult to decorate the apartment with a way-too-curious and mischievous kitty underfoot, so for Christmas two years ago, I made a jar ornament (I’ll write about that one in December.) And it was perfect – no kitty attack whatsoever!
Two days ago, I remembered that little DIY project when rescuing the chestnut and acorn bowl from falling off the shelf due to curious paws, and decided to try the same for a fall-themed decoration. Here’s how I did it.

fall-in-a-jar page-fall-in-a-jar

Fall in a jar

jar with a lid, to your liking in size
Halloween-themed pasta
chestnuts
acorns
tea candle
crafting paper

Wash your jar out well, and remove any labels from its side. Mine was a huge pickle jar which I wrapped in a wet towel to soften the labels, then ran it under the tap and used a kitchen brush to rub the labels and adhesive off.
Let it dry thoroughly.

Add the pasta as a first layer, then place the chestnuts and acorns on top. Place the tea candle in the middle. I love that you can even burn the candle if you want, and then put it out by screwing the lid on.

Screw on the jar’s lid.
Mine wasn’t a single color, so I cut out and glued on a round piece of crafting paper to cover up the pickle brand’s name on the jar lid. It just so happens that it’s a Halloween poem, so it adds even more to the Fall feel of the decoration.

Place your jar on a side table or where ever you like, and enjoy the Fall decor.

PS: of course, you can skip adding pasta or any of the above mentioned and use what ever Fall things you have laying around. The possibilities are endless.

Happy crafting ;)

2016, June 3

Bedtime Yoga!

I know at the time this blog post goes live it’s currently morning where most of my readers reside and the word “bedtime” in the title is funny to read, but I really wanted to talk to you about Yoga today. And about Bedtime Yoga!

After an awesome afternoon spent with my friend Stephany, lots of laughs and her little nudge “Have you tried Yoga? Knowing you, I think you’d love it!”, I bought myself a Yoga mat and the next day went online trying to find a Yoga class. I figured I’d go to class once a week, and do it at home, too, when I had the time to.
Unfortunately there are literally only four places in my city which have Yoga classes (two of which I suspect have actually closed and haven’t updated their website), and none at the gym near where I live.
Good thing I had the mat already, so, I started looking around on Youtube instead. I kept finding videos like yoga for weight loss, total body yoga, power yoga and anywhere from 10 to 45 minute yoga sessions. But which one to choose?

Since I’ve never even tried it before, I was happy to find the Yoga with Adriene channel with so many great playlists for everyone’s different needs. There are also two 30-Day Yoga Challenge playlists with sessions of different lengths, and something new or different for every day. I think that is awesome for someone just starting out!
This is the playlist I started with. I didn’t get bored of the pose sequences, as opposed to if they were the same every day, and even though before doing it myself I thought of Yoga as something which looked oh-so-simple, I realized it’s actually harder than it looks. I can feel every single muscle get the workout!

It has been a blast! After the first two days, I even woke up early to do Yoga before getting ready/leaving for work when I knew I’d get home too late in the evening. When I get home early enough, I do Yoga then and maybe include Bedtime Yoga into the mix. Or, if I know I’m not able to do Yoga every day, I compensate with two consecutive sessions every other day.

I really love the Bedtime Yoga! If all else fails and I only end up doing this, I still consider it a great day, because I did show up on the mat, I did take that 20 minutes just for myself. To unwind, and let go of the day and any stress or anxiety I might be feeling. It has slowly become one of my favorite moments of the day, something I truly look forward to.

I noticed that my back doesn’t hurt as much as it did before starting Yoga, I am slowly becoming more bendy, and I started breathing deeper.
That was definitely one of the challenges – breathing. It’s funny how for the duration of the 30-day challenge, every time Adriene said her little reminder to breathe, I realized I was holding my breath… and I’m not even sure why I did that.
unnamedThe other challenge? Corpse Pose. It’s such a challenge to quiet my mind and just relax (and I know I’m not alone, friends of mine have also said this numerous times). But I do love Adriene’s approach to this. She advises to allow ourselves to acknowledge what we feel then release everything, choose to let go of the stress, of the tension, and to connect to a sensation of peace from within. I think that if we allow ourselves to feel what/how we feel, and let the emotions run though us/past us, by the time we are done with Corpse Pose we might just notice that we’ve let go of all that anxiety and unnecessary feelings, and it won’t build up, evolve and amplify into something worse.
It feels so good when I manage to achieve it all!

Are you a Yoga practitioner? What are your favorite moments of Yoga? Any advice for a beginner like myself? Or have you tried it and it didn’t work for you? What do you do instead, to clear your mind and include some kind of exercise into your days?

2014, April 28

A couple of natural air freshener ideas

Nothing beats being able to open a window in the morning and only close it before going to bed at night. However, that can’t happen every day just yet as the weather’s still a bit sassy. Here are a couple of ideas for natural air fresheners for those days when you’re stuck at home during bad weather.

To freshen the smell in a room we can use an aromatherapy lamp and natural essential oils or simply prepare ourselves a spray by mixing up some water and our favorite essential oil in a spray bottle.

Depending on the mood we want to set we can change the essential oils to benefit from their different properties: for a peaceful sleep we should use a lavender spray, sprayed around the room and even onto the sheets; or if we’re working on a project and we need to concentrate, rosemary will help; and to provide a cheerful disposition we should give citrus essential oils a try.
Another solution is to use cinnamon, cloves, citrus and other aromatic spices to freshen the air as these release their scents quite well if you add hot water.

IMG_0394

One of my very favorites methods is slicing limes in half and sticking cloves into them. They look cute enough, and as a bonus also act as a mosquito repellant.

On the other hand, we mustn’t forget that during Spring-Autumn, fresh flower bouquets, aside from being very beautiful and decorating the room, can smell very good; and we can replace fresh flowers with pine twigs during winter. Another idea is to use small satchels filled with sawdust which you can drip scented oils onto – they will keep the scent fresh for a few weeks.

If we want to remove various unpleasant odors, especially from smaller places, like the pantry or the fridge, a bowl with a little bit of baking soda in it will do the job.

Year-round air purifiers can be found in the form of plants as well. Among the recommended species are the Ivy, Ficus, Philodendron, and Azalea. 

What methods do you use for air fresheners around your house?

2014, February 24

Mason Jar Matchbox

Mainly, I don’t camp out.
Sure, one-day trips with outdoor cooking are fine, but as far as a stay overnight in a tent goes – Estrella doesn’t do that.

Even though a few hours looking at the stars would be romantic, and sitting around a camp fire with friends is fun, I am way too crept out by an array of bugs and spiders, etc., wild animals and such pitch blackness being around me to actually sleep outdoors.

The few times I went to summer camp, we stayed indoors overnight. I still recall way-too-accurately the time when, flashlight in hand and all senses in overdrive, I ventured out in the middle of the night for a visit to the outhouse.
I couldn’t see anything past the weak light stream of the flashlight, it had rained earlier so the grass was all slippery, three things happened nearly all at once: in the exact moment a raindrop reached my nose from the tree leaves above me, I reacted (like I assume everyone would) by shining my flashlight above my head and spotting a HUGE spider in its web, just as a friend reached out and touched my shoulder.
Honestly, I’m surprised I didn’t jump out of my skin then and there! You know, like they do in some cartoons (“Tom & Jerry” comes to mind).

Anyway. My urge to make a mason jar matchbox is only slightly related to camping; it is much more related to the fact that our matches absorb too much humid air whenever we have clothes air dry in the bathroom and/or kitchen, thus not igniting when we need them.
Plus, I also have this fear of fire that keeps me from wanting to strike matches to ignite too many times in a row, for they ignite unpredictably.

Hmm… I’m coming off very scared-bunnyish today, aren’t I? Oh well. Being perfect is overrated ;) Here’s how I decided to fix the problem of not having dry matches.

page mason jar matchbox

Mason Jar Matchbox

Wash one small mason jar, peel off labels and leave aside to dry well.

Once it’s dry, take your strike-on-the-box matches and fill up the mason jar.

Cut off and affix a piece from the side of the matchbox onto the mason jar lid. That way you’ll have a secure surface to light the match.
I only had small boxes around the house, so I cut off a few and used double sided tape to affix them onto the lid, but I’ll buy a larger box next time we need matches, and will cut out a circle from its side and change it. Which is a good thing, as these things do get worn over time, so you can just replace when ever you buy more matches.

Add some embellishments on the jar, if you want to, like a ribbon, tag, label, etc., secure the lid onto the mason jar and you’re done.

Happy crafting! ;)

2014, February 10

Wintertime Sore Throat Tea Base

I have recently seen this older article on the a little life blog, and have immediately decided to make it myself. It was the perfect thing to add to my War Plan Against the Sniffles.

We had two jars of honey nearly finished, and as always, had an extra lemon in the house that I could use. Plus, it’s a seriously easy recipe that goes a long way when battling the sniffles!

page wintertime tea base

Wintertime Sore Throat Tea Base

Cut up one lemon into thin slices into a jar, then add about one and a half cups of honey (I used half Acacia, and half Floral Honey to empty two nearly-finished jars). Stir gently.

Refrigerate until a sore throat asks for some soothing, hot tea or for when ever you’re craving a fragrant and yummy drink on cold nights.

Add 2-4 teaspoonfuls of the tea base into a cup, pour boiling water over it, then get all warm and cozy in bed so you can bounce back from the sniffles!

If you want to, you can add a few mint leaves, or some ginger for extra flavor, and as an extra measure against your cold.

Stay healthy! ;)

2013, December 23

Deep Conditioner for Winter Hair – #12DaysOfDIY

12 days of xmas blogging-1 I have to come clean and admit to the fact that when I’m in a hurry or tired, I skip a lot of beauty steps. These include, but are not limited to: applying make-up, looking into a mirror before leaving the house, straightening my hair, actual hairdo aside from simply pulling it into a half-up or a ponytail, and so on. Seriously, I have no issue whatsoever to walk around or go to work without, for example, any make-up, not even eyeliner applied. I only regret it later, after running into people to whom I look like I haven’t slept in three weeks ;) But then promptly forget and repeat in a few days.

This is fine generally; during winter however, my hair demands attention. It likes being pampered just as much as I like to be when the weather’s all chilly and staying indoors with a cup of delicious S’mores Hot Chocolate seems like the best plan of all time.

My usual hair washing routine consists of:

  • brushing my hair well before washing
  • shampoo, rinse
  • applying a hair mask when I have time to (I’ve tried many, but most of all love the Mediterranean Olive Oil Conditioning Hair Mask from Avon)
  • pulling my hair into a bun atop my head and leaving the hair mask in for 15 minutes
  • rinse off hair mask
  • wrapping hair in a towel and waiting another 15-20 minutes
  • drying with a hair dryer (since I’d get a cold if I don’t)

(Now that you can see this takes the better part of an hour without the actual drying, I think you “get” why I end up skipping the hair mask step.)

Watching MissGlamorazzi’s YouTube channel more often this December, I noticed she posted the recipe for a deep conditioner she uses. It sounds perfect for Winter, and especially for the weather we’ve been having this month!

It sounded super easy, so I gave it a try, and my hair thanked me. This conditioner really moisturized my hair, it looks nice, is all soft and silky to the touch. In her styling tips at the end of her video, Ingrid suggested straightening one’s hair, but I’m leaving that until tomorrow and for New Year’s when I’ll actually style my hair more interestingly – probably one of these two hairdos.

page deep winter conditioner

Deep Conditioner for Winter Hair

-3-4 tbsp olive oil
-2 tbsp regular milk (or you can use half & half for a creamier texture)
-Half a banana

Measure ingredients into a microwave safe bowl – don’t worry about the separation of the oil and milk. Add the banana in small chunks.

Warm in the microwave (do NOT cook!) for about 30 seconds, then break up the banana pieces really well.

Bring to the shower with you, apply on wet hair and leave in for 5-10 minutes while you wash your body.

When rinsing, make sure you don’t get any of it in your eyes, and that you’ve rinsed out all the banana pieces from your hair.

My hair tends to get oily fast, especially during Winter from having to wear hats.
So I applied this conditioner mainly to the ends of my hair, and only combed through my hair near the scalp with my conditioner-covered fingers once or twice.

Happy beautifying! ;)

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