Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Frightfully Giftable - Etsy Halloween

   There are so many great Halloween gifts on Etsy this year - for you or for someone else - so for today's Halloween Etsy Finds post I thought I'd gather these up. I've covered costumes, sweets and decor already so gifts were next on the list! And is that ghost pumpkin charm not the cutest thing ever?

   My Christmas sock exchange is still accepting participants! If you've not signed up, head over and do so! It's open worldwide and is similar to a Secret Santa and a blogger gift exchange, but it's much simpler - just fill a Christmas sock with some goodies and send it to your assigned partner like a tiny stocking!
   Sign-ups are open until October 24th, after which point there will be a 1 week drop-out opportunity for those who have changed their minds for one reason or another, and partner details will be emailed to each participant on November 1st.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Frightful Decor - Etsy Halloween

   Decor can really set an atmosphere - though I suppose that goes without saying. And when it comes to Halloween, there are so many ways to go: cute, scary, serious, Oz. While I like romantic and old-fashioned for Valentine's Day and Nordic/red & white for Christmas (or perhaps silvers, whites and greys), when it comes to Halloween I don't have a preference. So rather than try to theme the decorations in this post, I sort of just let it happen. So much jumps out at me but it's never cohesive. Christmas is cohesive; Halloween tends to be chaotic. Either way, these are the things that jumped out at me this year!

   My Christmas sock exchange is still open to new participants! If you've not signed yourself up, head over to the sign-up page and do so! It's open to anyone worldwide, all you have to do is fill a Christmas sock with goodies like a tiny stocking and send it to your assigned partner, spreading some simple Christmas cheer across the world (or within your own country; it's your choice!)
   Sign-ups are open until October 24th, after which point there will be a 1 week drop-out opportunity for those who have changed their minds for one reason or another, and partner details will be emailed to each participant on November 1st.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Inktober 2015 - Week 2

   For my second Inktober drawing I decided to go the fangirl route and draw Lindsey Stirling. I love music, but I'm not really interested in much on the radio - that's not me trying to be hipster, it's just that music appeals to me more than songs. Don't get me wrong, I love a good sing-along, and with my mum's MS the radio is always on because it seems to stimulate her mind more than pretty much anything else, so I am in touch with the current mainstream music scene (what a terribly uncool thing to say). But anyone who knows me knows that it's mostly the music I'm interested in. Whenever I have anything else playing it's usually soundtracks - Naruto has some of the richest music, and the soundtrack of The Witcher is one of the best game soundtracks I've found. If I want something lighter I tend to turn towards World of Warcraft soundtracks, and, in particular, Taverns of Azeroth is one of my favourites.
   So it's difficult for me to name a musician I like. As a result, when I first heard Lindsey Stirling, I fell in love. The first I heard of her was actually her Dragon Age Inquisition video. It was around the game's release so I was really excited about it all, so the video and music really caught my attention. Unfortunately, while the game itself was possibly the best of the three, this music video was the highlight of the release.
   But since then I've bought both of her albums and, if I'm not listening to a soundtrack, I'm listening to her. I absolutely adore her skill and I've always loved violins, but her work is incredible.
   As a result I decided to draw a still from the Dragon Age Inquisition video. It's difficult to draw real people, there's always something to get wrong, but I think this is the closest I was going to get. If I tried to draw her face again I think it would have been worse. Either way, I'm quite pleased with the outcome. I'm far from amazing when it comes to drawing, I put in too much effort and take it all too seriously. I envy people who can just do an amazing drawing without thought or planning. It doesn't work that way for me, and while I'm proud of the outcome of most of the drawings I show, they're the result of a lot of time.
Lines: Faber-Castell PITT super-fine black pen
Body: ZIG Art and Graphic Twin Tip Markers in black & warm grey
Violin & Hair: ZIG Art and Graphin Twin Tip Marker in sand
Corset: Winsor & Newton drawing ink in gold
300gsm paper

Week 1

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Craving For Sweets and Keeping Healthy This Halloween

   Perhaps it's because it's almost Halloween and Christmas isn't far beyond it, leading to tubs of sweets, boxes of chocolates and biscuit tins pretty much lining the shelves when you walk into a shop, but I've been having some major sugar cravings. I might be low on chromium, who knows, but it could just as easily be due to exposure to such beautiful sights.
   So it shouldn't come as a surprise when I say that I've already been stocking up, both for Christmas and Halloween - no, not for me specifically, it's always nice to be given some chocolate or biscuits along with your gifts and, whether I'm obsessed with fitness or not, I won't have anyone tell me I can't eat give these kinds of things at this time of the year. But I admit that some of them are for me. I rather love some of the limited edition things like Cadbury's snow bites, little balls of chocolate covered in icing sugar. Yum.
   But when it comes to Halloween, tastes differ.
   Christmas is all about expensive boxes and tins of chocolate and biscuits, collections and selections to "share". But Halloween is about the smaller bits, the individual bars and sweets to give to kids at the door. We always used to buy one of the Haribo tubs in supermarkets in case we got any trick or treaters, but the kids in the area have all grown up and we've not seen trick or treaters in years. We buy through habit and just in case - we've been egged before - but we always end up eating them ourselves. So, instead, we buy things we actually want to eat now. And that's not tubs of the same old rubbish.
   We still get the simple things, the little things, little bags of gummy sweets and small kid-sized chocolate bars, like Freddos, not Double Deckers, in case kids do come to the door, but half of it has mysteriously disappeared before any kids were likely to knock.

   This is a fitness blog, I've not forgotten that, but there's no way anyone can live their life happily by cutting chocolate or sweets out entirely. It's true that not everyone likes sugary things, some people do prefer more wholesome foods, and that's great, but I'm not one of them. I need sugar, or I'll go crazy. I've tried cutting it out on many, many occasions and it's always led to me breaking within about 3 days at best and then eating more sugar in the following hour than I would have spread over the previous few days even if I wasn't being particularly mindful. There's a terrible condition of feeling like the world 'owes' you food if you deny yourself constantly, so it's best not to. Tell yourself you 'shouldn't' rather than 'can't'. At least you give yourself a choice that way and keep the door of possibility open a crack, and you'll feel proud of yourself each time you say 'no' because you made the active choice.
   But, at times like Halloween and Christmas, you simply must allow yourself to indulge and not feel guilty for it. It is not at all impossible to eat healthily over Christmas and Halloween while allowing yourself to indulge a little.

   So, like I said, we buy the things we do want to eat, so we have something if kids do come and knock at the door, and it's worthwhile to eat ourselves if we're stuck with it at the end of the night.
   I prefer chocolate over sweets. Sweets are made mostly of sugar, but at least chocolate has other ingredients, so chocolate usually tops our lists. But because they're meant for kids, we don't buy much and what we do buy are individually wrapped and small. By being individually wrapped they're much easier to hand out, as well as pace yourself on without feeling the need to eat all you see because it's open or because it might go bad if left alone too long. It's quite simple psychology.
   But I choose to go to online sweet shops like A Quarter Of because they have a much broader range of individually wrapped kid's sweets than most shops, which usually stock little under mars bars which are quite decadent at the end of the day. Plus, if we do decide we want to do something for Halloween ourselves we can buy 250g bags of things like cinder toffee, flying saucers, peanut clusters and other retro sweets you just can't find in most shops.
   But, when it comes to my choices, I usually go for curly wurly (my favourite), Freddo, Cadbury's fudge and so on, small little bars that still taste good but don't pack as hefty a punch as a noughat-filled caramel bar, but don't leave you feeling like you've missed out, which is the most important part when it comes to trying to stay healthy while indulging at Halloween. Plus curly wurlys look big because they're flat and full of holes, so that's an extra boost, tricking you into thinking you've had more than you have.

   So, suffice it to say that I won't be going without this Halloween. Yes, I'll still be exercising and maybe doing a little extra cardio just in case, but I won't be missing out. I advise you all to do the same. Shop smart; buy things you like but don't go crazy. You don't want to feel like you've missed out, but you don't have to eat loads to feel that way. Keep it simple so you don't cross the line and enter the guilt-zone.

Tips To Keep Healthy This Halloween
without denying yourself a treat

Don't buy things you don't actually like, and say 'no' to offers from others if you don't like it, either. If it's not worth the calories, don't touch it. That's just a one-way trip to guilt and regret.
• Go for chocolate, which has less sugar than sweets and candy because it has other ingredients instead. Be wary of anything that lists 'sugar' as the first ingredient; the first listed ingredient is always the one that makes up the bulk of the product, and hard-boiled sweets are almost pure sugar.
• Caramel is also mostly sugar, so if you choose caramels and toffees, don't eat too many.
• Go for things that look big but aren't. Curly wurlys are caramels that have been drizzled in a 'curly wurly' pattern and then covered in chocolate. They're flat, they're thin, and there's lots of gaps. All screwed up and compacted, it doesn't come to much. So, if you're like me and love caramel regardless of it being mostly sugar, curly wurlys are the way to go. Aero is also another great option because these bars are full of air bubbles that make up most of the bulk, making them look bigger than they truly are. The same can also be said for maltesers, which are honeycomb which is also half-air.
• Lots of people will tell you to make a list of your top 10 sweets and allow yourself something from the bottom of that list. I say 'don't waste your time'. That's just eating for the sake of eating and, I don't know about you, but I'd struggle to make a list of 10 sweets so whatever was at the bottom would probably be there just to get it to number '10', and I probably wouldn't like it all that much.
Look into healthy alternatives. I know I'm telling you not to deny yourself, but if you can find some tasty and healthy alternatives, or something healthy that will complement the sweets and chocolate, filling you up so you don't eat too many bad things, then do it. Be it fruit and nuts arranged in a Halloween theme, or some kind of trail mix with a bit of cinder toffee thrown in, then be sure to do it - you'll think yourself later.
Drink water. This will help your body to metabolise the sugar (water is needed for every chemical reaction in the body), it will also fill you up and it has 0 calories so it does no damage at all. Make sure to drink about 8 glasses of water a day in general, but drinking a little extra water if you feel you've over-indulged will certainly help.

   Now then, regardless of calories, sugar and 'behaving yourself', what's your favourite Halloween treat?

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Frightfully Visual - Etsy Halloween

   I love dressing up. In general, not just for Halloween, but I never do it. I always come up with elaborate costumes and always far too late, and then there's the fact that I don't do a thing for Halloween anyway. I see no problem with sitting at home in a costume and just watching TV, to be honest, though it is a little sad, but like I said, I always get my ideas too late.
   I saw a load of wonderful things on Etsy this year for Halloween, things I'd love to own in general, but Halloween is really the only real excuse since I don't cosplay. Given the time of the year, I thought I'd share them in another effort to make Etsy features a more frequent part of my blog again.

   By the way, my Christmas sock exchange is still open to new participants! If you haven't signed up yet, head over and do so! It's open worldwide and is a great way to spread a little simple Christmas cheer, as well as receive some, all across the world! And it's simpler than a Secret Santa - just fill a pair of Christmas socks with some goodies and send it to your assigned partner like a tiny stocking!
   Sign-ups are open until October 24th, after which point there will be a 1 week drop-out opportunity for those who have changed their minds for one reason or another, and partner details will be emailed to each participant on November 1st.

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