Thursday, 9 June 2016

Recently Read #8



University being over for the year means I've been able to really get back into reading, and while I maybe haven't read as much as I would've liked, I've still managed to get through a few books recently. I don't have a summer to-read list this year as I did last summer, but rather I am just reading whatever I have on my bedside table and whatever I feel like at the moment. So, let's get on with some mini reviews, shall we?

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith


Through six turbulent months of 1934, 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain keeps a journal, filling three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries about her home, a ruined Suffolk castle, and her eccentric and penniless family. By the time the last diary shuts, there have been great changes in the Mortmain household, not the least of which is that Cassandra is deeply, hopelessly, in love.

I was recommended this book by Melissa, and it proved to be a real treasure. Reading this book is like escaping into a more magical and vibrant version of our own world. It's set in 1930s England, but something about the story is quite timeless. Despite it being neither fast-paced nor action-filled, the story really grips you, and I was constantly longing to get back to reading it. The language is wonderfully poetic and vivid, the characters are very real, and following Cassandra and her family is so so enjoyable. It's a coming-of-age story of real depth, and without any of the predictability of most books in a similar genre. 
5/5

Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee


Cider with Rosie is a wonderfully vivid memoir of childhood in a remote Cotswold village, a village before electricity or cars, a timeless place on the verge of change. Growing up amongst the fields and woods and characters of the place, Laurie Lee depicts a world that is both immediate and real and belongs to a now-distant past.

Cider With Rosie has been on my to-read list for ages, and I randomly picked it up a little while ago. I don't know what I expected, but I did think I would enjoy it more than I did, seeing as it's such a celebrated classic. Laurie Lee jumps back and forth in time, dedicating each chapter to a new 'theme', like 'The Kitchen' or 'Winter and Summer.' He does write beautifully, and some scenes are really enjoyable to read, but on the whole the novel didn't quite do it for me. I had to force myself to get through it in the end. If a collection of quite nice anecdotes from the past is your thing, then this is definitely for you though.
2.5/5

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Lyra Belacqua is content to run wild among the scholars of Jodan College, with her daemon familiar always by her side. But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle—a struggle born of Gobblers and stolen children, witch clans and armored bears. And as she hurtles toward danger in the cold far North, Lyra never suspects the shocking truth: she alone is destined to win, or to lose, this more-than-mortal battle. 

I read these books a few times when I was younger, but the last time was years and years ago. When I heard that BBC are going to make a series out of it, I felt really eager to re-read them again, so when my exams finished I started re-reading them all. Although they're all brilliant, I would say they get better and better as the story progresses, and my favourite is definitely the final one. Pullman really is incredible at telling captivating stories, and the plot has a depth that is rarely seen in young adult fantasy series. I loved following Lyra's story again, rediscovering all the details I had forgotten. And yep, the end of the series broke my heart just as much as it did back when I first read it. 
5/5

What have you been reading recently?

Love, Mimmi.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Taking Stock: May


May was a month of two halves. Or rather, one third and then two thirds. The first ten days I was still knee-deep in revision, preparing for my final and most important exam. By lunchtime on the 11th however, I was free of revision and officially on summer break! The start of May was, naturally, very different from the last bit of it, so putting together this post proved really quite tricky.

Reading: For the first ten days, lots and lots of revision notes. After that I was able to properly immerse myself in re-reading His Dark Materials. I'm halfway through The Amber Spyglass at the moment, and I had almost forgotten how much I love Lyra and Will. 

Watching: Same as April, really. I finished Vikings yesterday. Series four took me forever to get through, because it really wasn't very good, unfortunately. I've loved the new episodes of Game of Thrones though, and I also went to the cinema to see X-Men, which I really enjoyed!

Buying: A new snazzy Magimix food processor (eek). I had so much trouble with the one I got earlier in the year that I decided to return it and invest in a really high quality one. And I love it. 

Listening: To birds chirping outside when I wake up in the morning. 

Feeling: A lot of stress and anxiety during the first ten days, and then a lot of relief and happiness after that. 

Planning: What to get up to when mum visits, and then when my sis visits. Soon I'll probably start planning for London too! 

Wishing: That the nice weather will stay! 

Enjoying: Dancing. I took a break from it when revision got too much, so it's been a lot of fun to really get into it again. Plus my dancing pals are pretty great.

Eating: Everything pictured here, plus a whole lot more. 

Hoping: That I'll get good enough grades to get into third year... 

Thinking: About how much life can change over a couple of years, and how much happier I am now than I was two years ago. 

Lacking: Motivation to actually do something productive now that revision is out of the way. 

Trying: To save money. I'm really not the best at it. 

Drinking: Lots and lots of water. And a few pints of beer while at the pub.

Wanting: Clearer skin, please and thank you. 

Deciding: What modules to take next year, eek. I've basically made my mind up about my English Language modules, but still trying to figure out what to do for English Literature.

Wearing: Striped t-shirts with jeans skirts or high-waisted jeans, or workout leggings (so comfy!) when at home. And my all-black work uniform in 20 degrees and sunshine, phew. 

Needing: To figure out how to move all my stuff to the new flat in a month.

What was your May like?

Love, Mimmi

Thursday, 2 June 2016

A Month of Meals #3

I've decided to rename this little series to A Month of Meals, because that's essentially what it is, as opposed to what I eat in a single day! I really can't believe this is already the third one though. I mean, where did May go? Since my exams finished on the 11th, I've been able to put a bit more time into my breakfasts and lunches, which has been really nice. As usual, this is only a small selection of all the breakfasts, lunches and dinners I've had.

Breakfast

Matcha pancakes with fruit and maple syrup / Coconut porridge with mango & banana / Overnight oats & chia pudding / Buckwheat pancakes with fruit & maple syrup.

I had to take an involuntary break from my smoothie bowls because my food processor broke at the start of the month. I have a new one now, but I was without one for most of May, and so I returned to my trusty old porridge, only making it more summery with different toppings. A favourite has been the mango, banana and coconut porridge from Nicole's blog, and I've also made a sort of cross between bircher muesli and chia pudding a few times, which is great when the weather is a bit warmer! 

Pancakes have also been a favourite, when I've wanted a change from porridge. My favourites were definitely the matcha pancakes, but I've made regular ones most of the time. They're such a nice treat when I've got a lazy morning. Apparently I've chosen to take photos on the days that I've had fresh strawberries, but I honestly I haven't had them that much!

Lunch

Rye bread with cashew cheese and carrot / Burrito with roasted broccoli & chickpeas (from Thug Kitchen) / Pasta with asparagus, broccoli and homemade pesto / Potato scones with avocado and rocket.

At the start of the month I made a batch of cashew cream cheese, which turned out really well and was a fun change from avocado as a bread topping. Burritos are a re-discovered favourite, and something I think I'll be eating a lot more of throughout the summer. It's so easy to throw together whatever vegetables you have with some spices, and then roll them up in a burrito! And of course, I will always come back to pesto pasta for a quick meal. Finally, I randomly discovered that tattie scones and avocados actually go really well together, especially drizzled with a bit of olive oil and chilli flakes. Yum.

Dinner

Quinoa, roasted sweet potato, broccoli, red peppers & asparagus, with tahini / Green lentil & spinach curry (from The New Vegan) / Stir-fry with soba noodles, mushrooms, bell peppers, kale and cashew nuts / Roasted vegetables with red pepper hummus. 

I've tried out a few new recipes this month, and the lentil and spinach curry is definitely a new favourite. I've also been loving throwing any assortment of vegetables and potatoes into the oven, and eating that with either hummus or avocado, and sometimes with quinoa or rice to bulk it up if I haven't got enough veggies. So simple, yet so delicious. Stir-fry is another favourite that I've had quite a lot throughout May, in different variations. I base it on Deliciously Ella's almond butter stir-fry, but switch it up with the vegetables and sometimes don't add in the almond butter. 

Snacks
Strawberries and blueberries were favourites this month, along with my usual fruit and nut butter snack. But don't worry, I've also had quite a bit of chocolate, and crumpets with jam every now and then. It's all about the balance, after all. 

Did you have any favourite meals that you ate a lot of throughout May?

Love, Mimmi

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Happy Post #36

Bluebells / Muted Mornings Happy Post

Time for another happy post! I can't believe it's already more than two weeks since my exams finished, and that June is just around the corner. How? When? Where did those weeks go? This time of the year is probably my favourite (next to Christmas, and October), so I'd love for time to slow down a little bit, but that's not how it works, is it? Here is what's made me happy recently...

The response to my post about scoliosis. I was a little bit scared before publishing that post, but I'm so happy I did it, as the response was more than I could've asked for. I received so many lovely comments, both from the blogging community on the actual post, and from friends and family through other means, and they all left me feeling very touched and happy!

Getting the Yelp Elite badge. I've been getting more and more into Yelp lately, and earlier this week I became part of Glasgow's Elite squad! If you're not sure what Yelp is, essentially it's a website and an app where you can review restaurants, caf├ęs, and other places, as well as chat with other Yelpers about what is going on in your city. It's great fun!

Re-reading His Dark Materials. I adored this trilogy when I was younger and I've read it a few times, but the last time was probably more than five years ago, so I thought it was high time to give it another read. Epecially since the BBC are making an adaption in the near future! It's been wonderful returning to the Lyra's world, rediscovering the story, getting to know the characters again, and just reading for fun. 

Using my camera again. As mentioned in my last post I've been neglecting using my camera so far this year, until last week when I finally took it with me outside. I had nearly forgotten how much I enjoy photographing, and I'm already itching to go out and take more photos. Sure, the iPhone works well enough for everyday use, but sometimes it's wonderful to take some more time and use a proper camera.

This season, right here and now. It's really rather magical outside at the moment, isn't it? Everything is green and lush, flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and the sun is out more than usual. I love this time of the year - the final weeks of spring and the very first weeks of summer. 

New cookbooks. A couple of weeks ago I bought two new vegan cookbooks - The New Vegan by Aine Carlin, and The Thug Kitchen. Before, I found myself relying very much on Deliciously Ella's recipes since I've got both of her books as well as her app, and while I love everything she does it has been really fun to branch out a bit. The other day I made some really yummy roasted chickpea and broccoli burritos, which have definitely become a new favourite. 

Pancakes. My food processor broke down a few weeks ago (sobs), and while I've been waiting for a replacement, I've had to give up smoothie bowls for a while (sad times). To change it up a little bit from my usual porridge, I've been making pancakes quite a lot, trying out different flavour combinations. So quick, easy and delicious! My favourite version so far is probably the matcha pancakes I made the other week. 

Summer plans. I'm staying in Glasgow and working for most of the summer, but that doesn't mean summer will be boring! My mum is coming to visit later in June and we've booked a day tour up to Glen Coe, which I'm so excited about! Then one of my sisters is visiting in July, and I've already started making a list of all the vegan places I'm going to take her too. And of course, my trip to London and Bath with my other sister is also on the horizon! Moreover, even though dance classes are almost all finished (the last one before summer is on Tuesday), there is still summer dancing on most weeks. I think it's going to be a good summer!

Finally, here are eight blog posts that I've really enjoyed reading recently...

'I failed. I quit. And that's OK.' on Little Miss Katy.

'Bright Spots | Week Twenty'  on Beside the Danube.


'Edinburgh Antics' on Alphabeth. 

'Healthy food, healthy mind?' on What I Know Now.

'Why I'm Going Vegan' on Ginger Kitchen.



What has made you happy recently?

Love, Mimmi.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

May in Glasgow

Kelvingrove Park

The other day I dusted off my camera for the first time since January. It was a lovely sunny morning, so I decided to head out for a walk with my camera in tow. I went on my usual walk, through Kelvingrove Park, along the Kelvin walkway and up through the Botanics, and snapped away to my heart's content. I had forgotten how fun it is to capture the world through a lens and experiment with focus and perspective (although I'm still very much an amateur!). Glasgow is looking quite marvellous at the moment, all green and lush, with flowers blooming everywhere. 

Let's have a look...

Sunday, 22 May 2016

My Experience with Scoliosis

Illustration: Shanna Murray

This is something that I've been thinking of writing about for a long time, but I was never quite sure. I actually wrote the first draft for this post back in August last year, but sort of put off posting it. I guess I've been a bit worried. Would anyone want to read about it? Would it be too personal? What would I even say? But you know,  here goes. 

If you don't know what scoliosis is, basically it means that your spine curves sideways. A lot of the time it'll shape itself like an S, with a smaller curve to make up for the larger, original curve. It is much more common than you would think, with about 1-2% of adolescents suffering from it. Most people only get mild scoliosis, however, and can live well without having to do anything drastic about it. For some, the curve can get too big and cause problems with pain, physical limitations and even heart and lung problems. Usually it develops during the teenage years, and if discovered early there are preventive treatments. 

My scoliosis was discovered when I was fourteen, during a health check at school. I was referred to a specialist, and then to another specialist, who suggested that I should try a back brace. I was still growing, so chances were they could stop the curve from developing further. So for about a year, I had to wear a back brace for 22-23 hours a day. A back brace is a sort of plastic corset that holds you upright and presses the spine together, forcing it to straighten. Honestly, that was quite possibly the worst year of my life. It was uncomfortable, especially during summer when it got hot and sweaty, and I got blisters that I still have scarring from today. It also made my breathing limited and made me really clumsy and stiff. This was also during my most awkward teenage years, so having to wear a back brace that made me walk funny and looked strange underneath my clothes wasn't only physically painful, but also mentally exhausting. My heart really goes out to all the teenagers out there who have to go through the same thing. 

After about a year and a half (which is a relatively short time - I know a lot of people wear back braces for several years), the specialist decided that the back brace wasn't helping enough. Sure, without it my curve might have been even worse, but it was still pretty bad. I had a spinal curvature of around 40 degrees (I can't remember exactly), which is quite serious, so my doctor suggested I go through surgery. When you're fifteen, the prospect of going through a massive surgery is incredibly frightening. Especially when the alternative is a spinal curve that would gradually get worse, causing a lot of pain, deformity, limitations, and so on. I'm just so thankful I have such a wonderful, supportive family. I don't think I could've done it without them. 

I had to wait quite a few months for the surgery, and meanwhile I wore a back brace only at night time. Then, in the spring of 2011, I had spinal fusion, which essentially it means they inserted metal rods along my spine to straighten it. I had to stay in the hospital for a week afterward, and then spent a couple of weeks at home, slowly recovering. Thankfully, I had no complications to speak of. I do have a long scar down my back though, but I honestly don't mind it much. It's sort of like a sign of what I've been through.

Although having surgery was really scary, I'm so glad I did it. My doctor, who I visited a few times during the years following the surgery, was absolutely fantastic. He was understanding, supportive and professional. Being lucky enough to get him as a doctor, and to have a fantastic supportive family, did make things easier.

Today, I barely have any issues with pain at all. I do have to be careful with carrying heavy things, I can't really bend down properly (I always have to squat awkwardly), there are certain exercises I can't do, and in general I'm the least flexible person on Earth. I've also had some light problems with sciatica recently, which might be related to my Scoliosis, but it's manageable. But in general, it's all good. My spine is more or less straight, I have a great posture (hehe), and in everyday life my Scoliosis isn't anything that really bothers me. So even though it was initially quite bad, I've been relatively lucky. 

Well, that ended up being quite a long and rambly post, didn't it? I really hope you found it interesting to read if you persevered through to the end.

Do you have any experience with Scoliosis, directly or indirectly?

Love, Mimmi

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Summer Goals



Since I finished exams earlier this week, I'm now officially on summer break, which is really rather lovely! I spent last summer mainly in Stirling, which was okay, but I'm happy to be staying in Glasgow this year. I'm not going home to Sweden at all over summer as I'll be working, but luckily various family members are coming to visit at various times, which will be lovely! Plus I've got a trip to London and Bath planned! I reckon it's going to be a pretty good summer. 

I've kept up my seasonal goals for over a year now, and it's a habit that I really enjoy, so now that summer is approaching I thought it was high time to write down my goals for the new season. I did quite well with my spring goals - the only one I can't say I achieved was photographing more, because I haven't used my camera once since I wrote that post! Shame on me... As for how well I did in my exams, I really don't know yet, but I gave it my best, and that will have to be good enough. 

Anyhow, here are my goals for the coming few months...

1. Be frugal. I don't get my grant over summer, like I do during term time, and since I'm only going to be working part time, money will be very tight... So I'll have to do my best and not spend any unnecessary money! I'm not the best at being frugal, though I'm not the worst either, so I'll think I'll manage. I'll just have to! 

2. Read a lot. With university responsibilities out of the way, I now have much more free time, and I'm going to make the most of it and read whatever I like. I have quite a few books on my to-read list, and I know I'll only get through a fraction of them, but I'm excited nevertheless.

3. Start learning to drive and hopefully pass the theory test. I got my provisional driving licence a little while ago, so now I'm all ready to start learning to drive! I would love to get everything done before the end of the summer, but I realise that's not very realistic, so my plan is to try and pass the theory test before September, and just start taking a few lessons. Since I won't have a lot of money and lessons are expensive, I'm not sure how far I'll get with actually driving, but we'll see. 

4. Keep it up with exercising. I've been really quite good over the past month. I'm hitting 10,000 steps most days and I've been going to the gym two or three times a week. I really want to keep up these good habits over summer, and since I'll have more time on my hands I reckon I should be able to. As long as I don't become too lazy! 

5. Explore Glasgow. I've lived in Glasgow for almost two years now, but there are still places in and around the city I haven't seen, which needs to change! There are museums and parks, as well as coffee and lunch places, and places outside of Glasgow that would be good for day trips. Let's just hope the weather will behave!

6. Spend more time and energy on blogging. My blog always takes the backseat during term time, and I've missed spending time and energy on my blog. I've also noticed that it hasn't grown at all over the past few months, and although that's definitely not the most important part of blogging, it does make me a bit gutted! I do like having my little space, so I'm hoping to put in more time, energy and thought into it over the next few months!

7. Be confident and love myself. Even though I'm in a much, much better place now than I was a few years ago, I still have moments where I struggle with body confidence. And now that it's bare limb season, those feelings can pop up so much more easily. I'm not going to give in to those evil thoughts though, and I'm going to try my best to be confident and happy in my own skin. We're all perfect as we are. 

Do you have any plans or goals for the summer?

Love, Mimmi.