Saturday, March 21, 2015

Instagram cake envy.

The other day, I was looking at the feed on Instagram and one of my friends there had posted a picture of an amazing cake she'd just made - all by herself. I'm a good cook and I can bake all kinds of yummy stuff but I'm not super artistic so decorating stuff is always something I struggle with a bit - especially with cakes. And I suddenly felt so bad about it. I've been planning on making my son's birthday cake myself this year (last year I ordered the Mickey Mouse cake but made everything else myself) but... I could never make anything like that! So I found myself being a bit jealous of her cake skills and thinking why am I even trying - especially because how embarrassing is it now to post pictures of my son's second birthday party on Instagram (or elsewhere) with the little cake I've made when there's those kinds of cake pictures there already that everyone's seen.


Like, seriously. Source.

People are so strange on social media - it's like this weird culture where everyone has to seem perfect. At everything they do. And everyone has to be living a really full life and telling all about it on Facebook. Because you also have to share everything. Just so no-one will think you're not doing all this stuff - and so that other people can be a bit jealous. And you are jealous because it seems no one else has bad days, they never burn dinner, they don't have bad hair days and they make perfect cakes. Because you never see the times they don't.

And I'm no better. I realized some time ago that I did that too. I would post pictures on Instagram (and before I had that on Facebook, but that I don't like to use that much anymore) of everything I did every day so that no one would doubt I was loving my life (because I genuinely do love my life) and never show if I was having a bad day. I'd post a pretty picture of myself so that no one would think I'm not pretty. And I'd show pictures of stuff I'd made (clothes, desserts, holiday decor) to somehow "prove" (I'm not sure to whom) that I did those things and that I was good at the stuff I liked to do. I would never take a picture of a sewing project gone wrong (um, which totally happens) or a selfie on a bad hair day.

But then I realized something that made me feel really bad - what if someone feels bad about my pictures and what I do? I would never want to make other people jealous, that's not nice. I also didn't want to sound like I was bragging because I hate it when people do that. Doesn't it actually say a lot about my lack of confidence if I feel the need to prove to others what I am all the time? I'm definitely not perfect, why did I need everyone to think I was? Won't that just make them feel just as bad as I feel when I think someone else is perfect at everything they do?

I had to take a break. I stopped using all social media for a while when I was thinking this through. I actually stopped blogging too because of all this - why did I need to make such a big deal about me anyway? What was my motivation for all my posts - then mainly consisting of pictures of me in different outfits (like a fashion blog - I like clothes.) and outings with my son. Was it just that I liked it, and I didn't see any harm in sharing what I liked to do and was happy about? Or was it to show off and/or make other people jealous of my style, my family, my life? I would never do that, would I? Or was I desperate for some sort of approval - because I found myself desperately hoping for comments, which proves I wasn't doing it just for my own fun.

I actually felt really sad about this and didn't know what was the right thing to do. But it's weird - since everyone else does this, you kind of feel pressured to too. Because if you don't tell everywhere what you do, they (yes, THEY.) will think you don't do anything special. Because it's the norm now that if you do something worth sharing, you share. Right? On Valentine's Day I made a cute little breakfast with a fun table decoration and I took a picture of it just for myself as a family memory with no intention to post it anywhere. But then I thought that what if people (THE PEOPLE.) will now assume I didn't do anything special for V-day because I didn't post a picture (especially since I did post a picture last year of my table) - or that I failed at something, or that I'm having a bad day? And then I just had to post it. I'm sure it's the same with people who, for instance, use one of those fitness diaries on Facebook - you have to then mark down every time you exercise because otherwise you're afraid people will think you didn't do anything today and spent the whole day eating donuts - and that might feel embarrassing. What if you just don't want to share something you did or made because you really don't feel the need right now, don't have time or you just don't want to brag .. but then everyone will think you didn't do it or that you're probably not good at what you just did because you didn't share? But who are you then doing this for? Are you really doing these things (like exercise or fun Valentine's Day tables - or blogging) for yourself (and/or your family) or just so you can show off with it? (Right now, I'm positive I'm writing this blog just for my own fun because I haven't yet told anyone about it. Except for two people. Ha. That kind of makes me feel more free to do what I want, at least for now, and not think what people might want to read.)

...But who are these "people" and "they" anyway?

Are they all just in your head and no-one really cares as much as you think they all do? Is it anyway just you who cares too much about what other people think, if they do?

I think the whole Facebook/Instagram/whathaveyou media is making us a bit narcissistic. And a bit paranoid.

But I really do like the social media for seeing how everyone is doing - especially since I spend most of my time at home and most of my friends are still studying or working and don't have any kids yet so I don't get to see them that often. And Instagram is my favorite way to share what we are doing - especially to my parents and in-laws who also see my pictures (my account is private and I've only accepted about 20 followers all of who I know personally). And I love getting ideas from other people and I genuinely feel really happy for my friends when they look super pretty in their pictures or manage to do something I know they've really dreamed of doing. I don't find myself getting jealous a lot because I have no reason to. But it might be more common for other people who are not necessarily satisfied with their lives right now and someone else is living the life they want or maybe have the sort of body they dream of having - and even I have those little moments like the cake incident. (Which obviously comes from me not being confident in my own cake-making.)

I do sometimes find myself rolling my eyes when someone is really just showing off and bragging, though, especially if it's done with the intention of making other people jealous. Because that's just never cute. I have a friend on Facebook who I know can draw one good picture she's practiced for years but not much anything else and the other day she posted it there with "Oh, just quickly sketched something", obviously hoping for lots of "Wow, you're so good!" comments (she does that a lot with other things too and also puts other people down in order to seem better herself). What I also don't like is people bragging about the good deeds they do, like how much money they put in the charity box today (epecially when it was just that one time in five years they did that but want to sound like they're saints). I think the social media makes people lack humility too. Humble people always seem even better at what they do, and prettier and generally more likeable.



But you can usually tell when someone's genuinely just excited and happy and that makes me happy for them. I also think it's really great when people share what they do, especially when they're really good at it, and even teach other people to do it too - like a baking blog where they teach you how you can decorate your cake like that too. Because it's not like if you have skills, you just need to keep them hidden in case someone feels bad about it. People can enjoy other people's skills like beautiful art, music and dance moves. What if Taylor Swift (love her music) had never shared her songs with anyone and had the guts to go out and perform them? But everyone isn't and doesn't have to be good at everything. And if you really want to be good at something, you can practice - like me decorating cakes. And you can also give credit to the ones who are good at different things - they can even teach you.

And when you think about how low someone's self confidence must be if they so desperately need other people's approval, then let them have it. Or if someone's so sad with how their life is right now that they just cry when they see other people get it right when they just don't, that truly feels bad and maybe you can try to help them, or at least give some friendly support. Definitely not rub it in their face how much better you are doing. And you, on the other hand, can try to be happy for your friends and not envy them, as hard as that may be, and love yourself for who you are.

That's the Christian thing to do.


And so what if I don't make a perfect cake - I'll learn and it'll most likely still taste good. And it will be made with love and both my son and my husband will still love me - and my effort. And I now have to post it on Instagram even if it's terrible, after this speech. Ha! I can always turn it into one of those hilarious "nailed it" photos you see on Pinterest!

Monday, March 9, 2015

About food, in general.

Those who know me will roll their eyes. Yep - Ruth and food. This will take all night.

I love food, don't get me wrong. I love cooking and baking and eating. I watch all kinds of cooking and food related shows on TV and I love trying out new recipes from Pinterest (oh, yes, I'm so one of those moms) and also making them up. I'm actually getting pretty good at coming up with my own recipes.

But I like my food to have quality. I like fresh, organically grown ingredients. I like home-made. I like to use what is as natural as possible - real butter instead of margarines, full fat unpasteurized milk, pesticide-free vegetables, organic and free-range eggs and meat. I also like to think of how people would naturally eat. Kind of like in the "paleo diet" that's very in right now. We humans only started agriculture about 10,000 years ago - here in Europe only about 5000 years ago, here in Finland, probably like two or one thousand years ago. That is a very short period of time, evolution-wise. Our bodies - our digestive system - is still the same it was in the Paleolithic era. We're not that new a species all in all. And people back then certainly didn't eat donuts, french fries or jelly beans. (Again, don't get me wrong, I love donuts just as much as the next girl.) What we did eat was meat, vegetables, berries, nuts, fruits, mushrooms, roots. We rarely ate grains or sugar. And probably didn't eat dairy products because, let's face it, it's quite difficult to milk a wild cow. However, "milk" has always been a part of the human diet, of course, because we humans produce it too, for our babies. And women breastfed a lot longer then than these days.

So it's no wonder that when we suddenly eat all this new stuff like fat-free pasteurized, homogenized yoghurt or bagels with cream cheese or chocolate brownies, we're developing these weird food-related symptoms and diseases like obesity, diabetes, celiac disease, gout, migraine... The less we seem to be eating the way we used to eat ,the sicker we seem to be. And yet, it's also no wonder we eat all that stuff that we now have instead of just apples because we're genetically programmed not to be able to resist high energy food when we see it and smell it because of the way we naturally lived, hunting and gathering our own food, not knowing if or what we were going to eat today. Imagine if they'd seen a 500 calorie hamburger lying on a tree, after not eating a good meal in a week!

People have had lots of ideas to fix it over the past few decades when all of these problems have gradually become serious global issues: let's process the food even more, let's put in all sorts of additives, let's reduce fat, replace sugar with artificial sweeteners, let's eat more whole-grain, let's exercise more... And none of it seems to be helping. In fact, I think these are all making us worse.

Here's what I think: I think we should look at what people used to eat before they were obese, sick and dying. What did we eat that made us survive tens of thousands of years? You don't even have to look as far as a thousand years ago - what did your grandparents or great grandparents eat?

Source
















I didn't always use to eat well, either, though. When I was a kid, we didn't always have home cooked meals at home and I ate a lot of microwaved TV dinners, junk food, candy and, uh-mm, lots of cereal. Like, many bowlfuls a day, with fat-free milk. And I was not healthy. I was never overweight (over-eating was never a problem for me, just what I ate) but already when I was a child, I was suffering with migraines several days a week, I had really bad stomach aches and cramps, I was lactose intolerant and generally lacked energy - all the way to adulthood. When I was about 20, I got everything in me checked because I was just so sick all the time - there actually was blood when I went to the bathroom. They checked me for celiac disease and I even had one of those bowel screenings in case I had cancer in there or something. But they didn't find anything. All they said was, well, it could be one of those irritable bowel syndromes a lot of people have and that causes unexplained pain. Don't eat a lot of rye bread.

Very common in Finland. Source Wikipedia.
















That's all the advice they had for me. And now that I think about it, it's kind of weird how they never, not once, asked me how or what I ate.

Well, they weren't doing anything for me so I decided I was going to make myself healthy. The first time I heard about the food I normally ate being processed the way it is and about additives was in this book my brother-in-law had gotten for Christmas and that was it for me!

I read more and more about it - bought and borrowed like ten more more books about food that same week - and slowly started changing my diet - I started avoiding additives instead of calories which is what I used to do and learned to cook myself with organic ingredients and started drinking a lot of water instead of everything else. I've always liked vegetables and fruits and kept up with that. I also cut down my sugar intake which was, um, lots. With a heavy heart, I slowly gave up my breakfast cereals. And surprise, surprise, all my symptoms went away! And the last thing that finally made me lose the last of the stomach aches and, um, bathroom problems, was avoiding gluten. I can eat some - like one plateful of pasta a week or some cookies, but the more I eat wheat, the worse I feel. After this discovery I read a lot about it and it made a lot of sense to it - modern "wheat" is very genetically manipulated and doesn't even resemble the kind they used to eat in, you know, Biblical times ("give us our daily bread") and most people's system just can't digest this weird new product properly (that has only been around for about 50 years). It's the same with milk. I can drink raw milk, straight from a free range, grass eating cow just fine, but I can't drink the stuff they sell at grocery stores.

So it's not wonder I like to pick what I eat. And you bet I make sure my son eats well too because he is the most precious thing in this world. And for instance, at two, he has never yet tasted candy, chocolate, juice or cookies (except one once, and even that was gluten-free, home-made and organic), he eats all the vegetables he has on his plate, no problem, and his favorite treat that he always asks for are fruits and berries. And guess what, he's healthy. He doesn't even get the flu (he did once about a year ago but it was over in like a day). When he's older and knows what candy is I know he'll taste it and all but I hope it's not that big of a thing because we never made a big deal about it at home. It's unavoidable that there will be candy and stuff at birthday parties or on other special occasions and, sure, I don't think a few times a year is that dangerous and I don't want him missing out on stuff with his friends, but I don't think it's something he needs to eat any more than that, because I do want him to be healthy. His little immune system is only just developing. We do sometimes have little treats or desserts at home but I make them myself so I know I've used good ingredients. :)

Except for soda. We don't drink sodas in this house, I find it completely useless.

(And it'll be his forbidden fruit when he's a teen and will sneak bottles of Coke in his bedroom. Ha!)

What can you do - they just make drinking it look so fabulous and fun. Source.






Sunday, March 8, 2015

Hair.

I recently cut my hair. I hate it. Aw. I sort of had in mind that I was going to look like Grace Kelly because my natural hair color is similar to hers and, let's face it, she's gorgeous, but I learned a valuable lesson: just because someone else looks good with a certain hairdo, it doesn't necessarily mean I will.

Also, I'm like a foot shorter

 than her.













I'm so keeping the long-haired picture of myself that was taken last summer as my profile picture so you'll think I always looked like that, until I do again.

But I wasn't actually going to talk about the length of my hair today (just saw this as a good opportunity to open my heart), but about hair color. In my last post I mentioned that I'm interested in finding out about all the chemicals that are around us. I used to love dyeing my hair - I first dyed my hair when I was nine. Yes, you heard me, nine. How my parents consented to this, I don't know. I wanted to look like Ariel and dyed my hair red with one of those supermarket hair colors.

That was my own hair color. The result was a lot less adorable.




















Now - already the fact that the reason for coloring my hair was to look like a Disney princess character, already suggests that I was a bit too young to dye my hair. (Although, let's face it, I still want to look like a Disney princess.) But now that I'm older and know more, I'm horrified about what I did and how badly it could have ended. Hair dyeing is not recommended for children under 15 because, I'm not kidding, a little child is still so very sensitive to high chemical exposures that s/he could die if she had an allergic reaction to the PPD in hair dye.

PPD, short for p-Phenylenediamine, is the stuff they use in pretty much all hair dyes that makes the color darker. It is highly toxic and allergenic and if you put it on your skin, it gets absorbed into your blood circulation and can cause severe swelling in your body, skin irritation, arrythmia and even, like we recently saw in England, death. Yes - she DIED because she colored her hair!

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/woman-dies-after-hair-dye-puts-her-coma-year

These cases are of course rare but the risk rises the more you color your hair and so, the more your expose your body to these chemicals, and the younger you are. Also - if you've ever had the stuff on your skin (for instance, as a "black henna" tattoo), you are in HIGH RISK and should not dye your hair.

And the reason I feel a bit horrified about all this is that not only did I dye my hair once when I was nine, I dyed it pretty much every year since. Sometimes several times a year. And always darker - red or brown. (Bleaching your hair doesn't expose you to PPD but my hair is naturally blonde so of course that was never what I wanted. And then there are women who pay a lot of money for my hair color. We women are never satisfied.) So, I could have easily gotten a reaction without even knowing what caused it (because I only heard about this about a year ago). And guess what? For the last few times I dyed my hair (the last - and I mean last - time I did was two years ago), I started feeling really bad around my scalp when the goo was on my head, itchy and burning - nooot a good sign.

Why did I dye my hair so much? I was an insecure little girl. I had a very rough childhood - both at home and school - and didn't feel like I was good enough the way I am. Sad but true. Sometimes I would keep my hair blonde for a little while after the old hair dye had faded off but most of my life, I have had artificially colored hair. However. About a year and a half ago, I started growing my own hair color back and decided I would never dye my hair again. If anything, I can take some blonde highlights (again, free from PPD) just to brighten my own color or use henna (that is 100 % natural and hasn't known to cause any allergies - quite the contrary, it's quite conditioning for your hair) but I don't think I'll ever want to be that red, anyway. It doesn't look that good with my complexion. (Again - just because Ariel looks great with bright red hair, doesn't necessarily mean I will. She's a mermaid. And drawn.)

But didn't you just love that dress? I still want it, with the big blue bow.

I have to learn to be happy with what I am. Don't we all? Just as soon as my hair is long enough again.

;)

I just really wanted to share this just in case this was new to you too. A lot of people dye their hair every day and never get allergic but it's always a risk. If you want to read more about hair dye and what is consists of in Finnish, here's a great link:  http://kemikaalikimara.blogspot.fi/2011/12/kemikaalikimaran-hiusvariopas.html

Also, on the same site, a post about the black henna I mentioned earlier and why children should never take those or dye their hair:

http://kemikaalikimara.blogspot.fi/2009/03/polttomerkityt-lapset.html

And I know a great hair salon in Helsinki that uses 100 % plant based colors in case you're interested :)

Friday, February 27, 2015

I Suppose I'm One Of Those Hippies

My husband's co-worker once said that we were "hippish". And after we laughed about it at home, we gave it a little thought and went, "Huh. I suppose we are."

That's not our car. Source.

We don't necessarily look like your typical hippies. The way I see it, "hippies" have long dreadlocks and earthily colored clothes and they're not wearing any shoes. Or then they're the hipster type (from which the word hippie originally comes from) with a black turtle neck, black trousers, a beret and glasses. And then there's the 1960's type wearing psychedelic clothes and doing drugs on the grass.

Not to put on any labels.

No, but we definitely look more like your every day people except maybe that we're a bit shorter than average and, well, I'm almost always wearing a dress. Although I just realized I am actually barefoot in the picture of me in the first post and both my son and I are wearing vintage clothes from the 1950's. Ha.

But I wouldn't go out barefoot in the snow.

However, you know, when I think about it...

We are very nature-oriented people and try to do everything as naturally as possible and that does sound pretty hippish. I'm very specific about what we eat and it's all organic, unprocessed, GMO-free, often gluten-free, and as chemical free as possible - and I make all our meals myself. I even made all of my son's baby food, which is something people tend to roll their eyes about. We're very anti-chemicals all in all - from laundry detergents to cosmetics and from toothpaste to medicine. I have nothing against medicine but I try to avoid needing any and I very much think that some are there just so that the big drug industry can make some more money in addition to the few billion they already have and won't give to the poor in the world. We're also very much against all kind of animal cruelty (fur, ew), and I'm not a big fan of the rest of the clothing industry, either, because of child labor and slavery-like conditions and the overconsumption their low prices - and low quality - creates. I love clothes and dresses and make-up just as much as the next girl but I make sure I know where it comes from (for instance, People Tree) and I want to know that whoever made something I buy has gotten a decent pay for it. Or, quite often these days, I just make things myself, such as clothes, soaps, and even deodorant because I'm uneasy about the aluminium they're always made of (which has been linked to breast cancer in women). My own works great.

I swear by this product.

We're also definitely all about love not war. I take very seriously everything Jesus said about loving your neighbor and turning the other cheek. I'm not perfect in any way but I try. You may also see my husband taking part in pacifistic protests on important matters. I wouldn't say we're particularly active in politics (I wouldn't even have the time right now!) but we have strong opinions on most matters and educate ourselves on everything we hear about by reading books and studies on the matters.

And I'm definitely all about this logo.

And so I decided that since I have so much to say about all kinds of aspects of life, I'm going to dedicate a few separate posts to our hippish ways. The same co-worker of my husband's said that we should dedicate a whole book to our ideas and that sounds fabulous but let's just keep this here for now. I know I've been a rather slow blogger so far but I try not to stress about it and rather write good texts when I have the time to concentrate than just quickly scrabble something when my son's taking a nap.

And I do think this is totally going to work out :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Redecorating.

I know the layout of the blog is quite simple and I'm trying to add a picture somewhere near the title of the blog but I just can't seem to figure out how. So we'll go with this for now. I think simple is anyway what I want.

But talking about changing and simplifying - I'm redecorating our house right now. FUN. We've lived here for about 3 years and this used to be my grandparents' house and we live here for now (and pay rent) until we buy a place of our own. Most of my grandparents' old furniture was still here when we moved and since we moved from a teeny tiny 39 square meter apartment to a 120 square meter row house we didn't have a lot of furniture, so we thought we could use the old stuff for a while. And my parents said it was ok, but they had plans for them later. It was all rather dark and heavy sort of decor - not exactly my style but pretty, and it was great because we couldn't have afforded anything new at the time when we were both still studying. Well, that while turned into three years but now - yesterday in fact - the last dark brown bookshelves found a new home and now I'm making this place all white and colorful and most importantly - I'll make it look like us! All this time, living in my grandparents' house with their furniture and all, I haven't felt like I really lived here.. It was absolutely great we got to move here but I did sort of end up feeling like I was a guest here. In my own home. And since I now have a family and all, it was sort of weird that the only home my son's ever known where we've lived his whole life didn't feel like my home.

Now, isn't this cute?. Source.




















But now I don't feel that way anymore :)

However, right now, it's kind of like having a long picnic in the living room since we have no furniture of our own there yet, ha! Our couches haven't arrived yet and, like I said, we just sold all the shelves so all we have is a mattress in the middle of the living room for some comfort and our TV, DVD's and my husband's video game stuff on the floor. And a lot of books lying around. And my son's toys. (His room is still the same, of course, since we obviously bought him a bed and other furniture when I was pregnant. And painted the walls blue. :) Luckily we did get a dining table pretty fast after the old one was taken by my uncle but for a while we didn't have that, either, and let me tell ya, it was rather tricky giving your toddler dinner with no furniture to sit on or eat at. Haha!

Cosy, eh?




















But I'm really excited about this now and even though we don't have a lot of money since, you know, I'm home, we're still going to be able to buy some cute Ikea things with the money we got from the shelves and some savings and I'm also finding lovely treasures at thrift/resale stores. Nothing has to be expensive and fancy but they will be ours. And that makes them special.

Friday, February 6, 2015

About me.

Hi.

So my name is Ruth and I think I'm going to start blogging again. I had another kind of blog before but I then decided it wasn't exactly what I wanted to do and took a break from it. But now I miss having a blog. So I went and started another! And named it Ruth Writes About Stuff. Because that's what I'm going to do here. Write. About stuff.

What is all this fabulous stuff then? Well, we'll see. On the blog itself, I'm going to write about whatever is on my mind at the moment. Maybe add some pictures too although I do feel it's better to keep some privacy these days. And then I'm going to publish my fiction here whenever I get something done or feel like I want to share some of my old stuff. I also write songs and every now and then I might share some of that - stuff - too. Without the music, they're just poems but I might get all brave and make videos of myself singing them. :)

I am not a professional writer (yet?) but a stay-at-home mom. I studied English (philology and literature) and got my Bachelor of Arts degree in 2012. A few months before that I got married to the love of my life and we now have a 22-month-old son together, the apple of my eye.

Could we have summer all year long?

I write in English as I am bilingual myself (having lived abroad when I was little and with family in the States) but we live in Finland, a beautiful country in Northern Europe, full of lakes and trees. And a lot of snow, most of the time. We currently live in the suburbs of a bigger city, but we are planning on buying a house of our own now in a year or so. I do dream of that cute picket fence somewhere in the countryside. And my own little vegetable garden. Aw, and some chickens. Totally.

In addition to being a mother and a wife, I am a Christian and God plays a big role in my life. I normally go to Lutheran or Pentecostal church but I really don't understand why there are so many different denominations and why you have to "choose one" - same God, that's all that matters.

I love everything that comes with being a mother like playing with my son and teaching him things, cooking and baking, sewing, reading silly Dr Seuss books out loud and washing a huge pile of laundry every day. :) I plan on homeschooling him which is going to be a fun experience and also when my son's a bit older and I have more time, I'm planning on writing my Book - which is something you'll hear me say a lot.

And now I'm also going to be a blogger and write about all this famous stuff you've heard so much about.