2017, April 7

Finding your awesome

Today I want to take a second to talk about a very cool, illustrated creative journal, FIND YOUR AWESOME, by my friend Judy Clement Wall.

It seems to me that everyone lately is only thinking about themselves, and it makes me sad.
I think when people are dealing with some things in their lives, they tend to forget that everyone else also has stuff to deal with – more or less difficult then they themselves are. This is where it’d be great to also focus on others, because it really doesn’t take much time or effort to be attentive, and if one can, why not make someone’s day better? Even by simply smiling at them, by saying hello and asking how they are, it’s already a step in the right direction.
We need to be better, to be humans and care. Thinking about others will always make you a better person.

That said, it also seems to me that among family and friends, many people rarely put themselves first, or do, or buy things for themselves.
Yes, doing things with others will help make them be/feel special in your life.
But on the other hand, I believe that we need to take care of ourselves in order to fully be able to be the better people I described above. For people to truly be able to love other people and be kind, it all starts with self-love.

This is the message my friend j transmits through her creative journal. Go read her blog post about it, and watch her very cool animated book trailer!

In her own words, she wrote and illustrated FIND YOUR AWESOME not to help people become someone new, but to help them uncover the imaginative, openhearted, amazing selves they already are. She truly believes that if one completes this book, committing oneself to just 30 days of self-discovery and celebration, it will change how they move in the world and infuse their life with love, fun, connection, and creativity.

I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of the journal! I believe that it’ll be, like everything j creates, a beautiful piece of art as well as a very useful tool for people to well… find their awesome.

J also has a challenge in store for her readers and friends – 30 days of self-love! Here’s the excerpt from her website:

“On May 15th, I’ll be embarking on my own 30-day self-love challenge using FIND YOUR AWESOME, and I’d love for you to join me. There will be a Facebook group, short daily emails of encouragement, and more animated videos to inspire you. It’ll be free, fun, and good for your soul, plus if you sign up, you’ll be automatically entered to win a signed copy of FIND YOUR AWESOME. (Even if you’ve already purchased my book , sign up. These little journals make wonderful gifts.)
I’ll be posting more about the book and the challenge over the next several weeks.”

Haven’t done a self-love challenge in a while, so I’ve already signed up, and I think I’ll post a little summary blog post every week on Fridays while the challenge lasts. They were fun to do during my year of following the 52/52 e-guide‘s assignments every week, so I’m looking forward to it!

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!

2017, March 17

A successful ice skating season

The ice skating season here in my city of Cluj-Napoca has closed on the 28th of February. I realized I never really talked about it while it was ongoing, so given I’m also at a loss for any other blog post idea, well, here we go ;)

I have my own skates, bought them a few years ago when I started going to the rink. They’re 10 Lei to rent, so when I was sure I’d be going more than three times during that winter, I decided to buy my own. A pair of ice skates cost 100 Lei back then (they’re about 75 Lei now, prices have dropped a bit), so it was and still is better/cheaper, and to me more reliable since I have small feet, to buy them.

The season opened on the 18th of November 2016. At first, it was a bit hard to convince myself to go all by myself.
The plan I stuck to was to go every Wednesday evening, because my BF works until 7pm that day every week.
If he also had soccer games, I’d just walk through the parking lot and get on a bus toward home,or if soccer falls through, he could come pick me up from the rink without having to wait a lot until I got out at 7:30pm.
I am proud to say I stuck to that schedule! There were only three or four times I missed due to being on holiday, and when it was -3 F or lower over here.

After asking a friend if she wanted to come with me on a Wednesday and she replied with “I’m going skating tomorrow with colleagues from 4pm”, I was pretty annoyed and forced myself to dress accordingly in the morning, and take my skates with me to work, so I wouldn’t chicken out of going alone.
(The reply above annoyed me because of its phrasing, not because of my invitation being turned down.)

So that first Wednesday, I got off work at 5pm, my fingers felt like they were about to freeze off because I forgot my gloves so I stopped to buy new gloves and then I was on my way to the rink!
The admission was in between 6-7:30pm, but I only arrived around 6:20 due to my little detour.
The rink wasn’t packed, so there was more than enough room to skate and there were many kids, but 80% of them knew how to skate better than I do, so I didn’t have to keep avoiding possible accidents.

I wasn’t even too sore the following day! (Probably helps that since the summer I started walking more again, then running, and going to the gym once it got chilly outside.) I didn’t have to stop too many times. I also didn’t have to keep the same pace as anyone I would’ve gone with, which was cool. By the time the hours were up, I even picked up more speed.

The important thing is that the above mentioned rejection forced me to go alone, and I had an awesome time. I didn’t even think to ask anyone if they wanted to come with me, for the rest of the season.
Definitely a lesson learned: stop waiting for other people when you want to do something you love!

Here’s to many more ice skating outings next season!!!

2017, March 13

Chopper parking only!

Last Friday, over on Milliver’s Travels, I talked about this funky sign I saw and had the good idea to photograph.

Head on over to read my story, Funky Signs: Chopper Parking Only!, and see picture proof of one of the coolest knights in existence in my hometown of Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

 

2017, March 3

I once dreamed of…

I once dreamed of a big white wedding. Continue reading

2017, February 24

From ruins to beautiful, functioning museum

Remember those days when we didn’t have digital cameras? One would go visit a beautiful place, and take a mere ten or so photographs, half of which turned out blurry after developing them, and we were still content?
Well, I am infinitely happier now with my digital camera, than I was in 2005 with the old one.

Because this way, I could take those few old photographs of the Castle of Diósgyőr and compare them to the times I visited again in 2010 and 2015! The castle’s restoration during this time period makes these pictures even more precious to me.

Want to see the difference? Head on over to Milliver’s Travels, where my travel article “The Castle of Diósgyőr’s road to restoration” is ready for your viewing pleasure.

2017, February 17

Recipe of the Month: Chili with a hint of Carne

While still on holiday in the first week of January, aside from catching up with doing laundry, I started cleaning out the fridge and pantry with the purpose of using up everything that was more or less about to go off.
I made tuna salad with left-over veggies, oven-baked Falafel since I found chickpeas and wanted to try the recipe, diced some red peppers and thinly sliced a leek popping them in the freezer for some future stir fry I’ll be making, and cut up some overripe bananas to freeze for smoothies.

I also found a can of white beans in tomato sauce, and thought about later going out and buying ground meat to cook Chili. Most Chili recipes I’ve seen, require the same amount of beans and meat. However, that is not something I’d eat, so I always cook the dish for my boyfriend alone.
Given I was in cleaning-mode and rummaged more through the freezer, I found some left-over meat paddies I’ve thrown in there from the previous week when we’ve made homemade cheese burgers, and I decided to only use those in the recipe and see what comes out of it. Well, the finished dish tasted wonderful, so that is how Chili with a hint of Carne was born.

 page-chilli-with-a-hint-of-carne

Chili with a hint of Carne

pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 vegetable cube
1 beef cube
2-3 garlic cloves
1 tsp oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion
100-150 grams ground beef meat
1 can white beans in tomato sauce (415 grams)

Add the olive oil, the seasonings, the vegetable and beef cubes (I used Knorr), together with the diced onion and minced garlic into a pan, and saute them until the onion is translucent.

Stir in the meat, and let it cook through, stirring every once in a while to that the meat doesn’t stick to your pan.

Once the meat is cooked, add in the can of beans, and cook for another ten to fifteen minutes (depends on the beans, so check the instructions on the can), until all the flavors come together.

When it was done, I added some of it into small jars to serve over pasta as you would a sauce, and into the rest of it, I stirred some steamed rice. Both versions tasted great!

Bon appétit! ;)

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