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.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Happy Post #35

I have a bad habit of forgetting to write these posts, and then I realise it's been almost a month since last time I wrote one. Either way, here I am with another little list of things that are making me happy at the moment. Let's get cracking!

The end of second year. Yesterday morning I had my final exam for this year, and with that, second year is suddenly over! I'm so relieved and happy that the exam period is over (because it makes me into a stressed, grumpy hermit), and I'm excited for what summer has to bring. I can't quite believe that I'm halfway through my degree though!

Summer weather. So, Glasgow has been incredibly lovely over the last week. We've been treated to plenty of sunshine and warmer temperatures, and even though I've had to spend a lot of time indoors revising, it's still done a lot of good to my mood! It looks like it'll be nice for a few more days at least, so I'm going to enjoy it while I can...

Signing the lease for a new flat. This actually happened the day after my last happy post (so, a few weeks ago...), but I was too paranoid to include it then, haha. Either way, it's still something that makes me happy! I'm going to share with a friend from July onwards, and we finally found a flat and signed the lease a few weeks ago. It feels really good to have it sorted and I'm really looking forward to moving. The new flat has a bigger kitchen and a separate living room, plus double-glazed windows! 

Smoothie bowls. I've been a bit obsessed with smoothie bowls lately. I still have porridge for breakfast a lot of the time, but I've been changing it up with smoothie bowls a few times a week. There are so many different combinations and toppings that it never gets boring! Unfortunately the blade on my food processor snapped a few days ago, so I've had to send it back for a replacement... and I'm already missing my smoothie bowls! 

Booking London and Bath. At the end of July/beginning of August, my sister and I are meeting up in London, where we'll be staying for almost a week, and then we're going to Bath for two nights. We booked the hotel nights when I was home in Sweden, and I'm so excited for it to happen! We had a difficult time deciding on where to go apart from London, but in the end we opted for Bath as it seems to be a really lovely summer city.

Reading. I've had a little bit more time for reading recently, which I've really enjoyed. I've read some really good books so far, and I'm looking forward to reading a lot more over summer. I'm also hoping to post some more of my mini-reviews over summer!

TV-series. Firstly, Game of Thrones is back, which is great! I'm a big fan of the books, and although the tv-version isn't as good, I still love it. There are some plot lines that I'm a bit unsure about, but in general it's just such an enjoyable show. I've also started watching Vikings, which I'm really enjoying. I especially love the historical references (even though they're not always historically accurate), the occasional use of Old Norse and Old English (the language nerd in me loves that kind of stuff), and the funny Scandinavian accents! Plus it's just a generally enjoyable show. 

Almighty Foods Pecan & Maple Pie nut butter. I picked this wonderful concoction up the other week in Quality Vitamins & Herbs, and oh my, it is out of this world. I've had chocolate from Almighty Foods before (which are also amazing!) but never had their nut butters until now. I have my eye on the Cashew Caramello one next...

Instagram. I have phases where I barely post anything on instagram, and phases where I'm really active. Recently I've been thoroughly enjoying it! I've started posting more food photos, and although some people might not like them, I really do - which is the main thing!

Finally, here are a few blog posts I've enjoyed reading recently...

'4 Easy Habits to Help Improve Everyday Life' on Jasmin Charlotte.

'Going Cruelty-Free' on Bethan Likes.

'Lessons Learnt From Being an Introvert and a Homebody' on From Roses.

'Ode to the Outdoors' on Snug.

'Learning to Love My Body' on Britton Loves.

What has made you happy recently?

Love, Mimmi

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Dinner at Nippon Kitchen

Vegetarian Sushi Nippon Kitchen

Nippon Kitchen Glasgow

Nippon Kitchen Glasgow

Vegetarian Sushi Nippon Kitchen
Last Friday I met up with my friend Heather to catch up over dinner. Since she works full time and travels a lot with her work, and I'm busy with university and my part-time job, we only see each other about once a month, but it's always really lovely to meet up and chat about what's going on in our lives. Moreover, it's a great chance to go out and treat ourselves to dinner, and this time we decided to go to Nippon Kitchen, which is one of Glasgow's most popular Japanese restaurants.

We arrived at about quarter to six and luckily got a table as the restaurant still wasn't too busy. It was soon filled with people though, and it seemed like most tables were booked, because we were only given an hour and a half at our table. Booking a table seems like a good idea if you're going to Nippon Kitchen on a weekend, especially if you're going later in the evening and you're more than two people. An hour and a half was plenty of time for us though.

To start, we shared some edamame and then we both got sushi for our main. I opted for the veggie selection, which is vegan! Just to be on the safe side I asked them to make sure not to put any mayonnaise on, but I don't think there would've been any either way. The sushi was really delicious, even though I would've preferred more of the inari sushi (the sweet tofu thing). I could probably eat a whole plate of only the inari sushi, because it's my favourite. 

The restaurant itself is a lovely mix of Japanese-inspired and old-fashioned Glasgow style, which works really well together. The staff were lovely and the service was really quick and efficient. There really wasn't anything that wasn't up to scratch, and I'm already looking forward to going back to Nippon Kitchen.

After our meal we went for a walk along the riverside, as it happened to be a really lovely evening.

Do you have a favourite Japanese/sushi restaurant where you live?

Love, Mimmi.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

By The Book

Daunt Books London

I came across this tag on Bethan's blog a little while ago, and immediately thought I would like to do it too. I'm not normally one for tags, but this one was right up my street. I will never tire of talking about books! So here we go...

Is there a book on your nightstand right now?

'Cider With Rosie' by Laurie Lee. I picked this up randomly at the airport a few weeks ago, but it is actually a book that I've been meaning to read for ages. I'm only about a third into it, so I can't really tell what I think of it yet!

What was the last truly great book you read?

I finished 'I Capture the Castle' by Dodie Smith a little while ago, and it really stayed with me. It was absolutely beautiful, in all its simplicity. I'll probably write up a mini-review for it sometime soon! 

If you could meet a writer, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you want to know?

Definitely J.K. Rowling. She has shaped my childhood and I cannot thank her enough. There are tons of things I would like to ask her, so I would probably just sit and question her forever! Mainly about details about how Hogwarts was run, about other wizarding schools, and how different spells work... 

What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

Oh I don't know! I think most books on my shelves are very me, but perhaps some of the books I've had to read for English Literature are a bit unexpected, like Heart of Darkness or The Communist Manifesto.

How do you organise your personal library?

Currently by colour, but I'm thinking about changing it up. My Hunger Games books aren't next to each other, and that sort of annoys me! I'll probably leave it for when I move in a couple of months though, so until then I'll have to make my mind up about how I want to organise them...

Is there a book you have always meant to read but haven't got around to yet? Anything you feel embarrassed not to have read?

Oh, tons! Mostly classics like War and Peace, Gone With the Wind, Animal Farm, 1984 and A Clockwork Orange, to name a few. My to-read list is never-ending... I don't really feel embarrassed for not having read any books though. It's just natural to not have had time to read every single classic. 

Disappointing, overrated, just not good; name a book you feel you were supposed to have liked but just didn't? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?

I recently read The Bone Clocks and really didn't think it was anything special, but I did finish it. I remember trying to read Catch 22 a few years ago, but I got so frustrated with it that I stopped.

What kinds of stories are you drawn to? Any you steer clear of?

I'm always drawn to magical stories that allow you escape reality for a bit. They don't have to feature actual magic, but as long as there's something magical about them, I'm all for it. As for what I don't read, I never really go for crime novels - they're just not my thing!

If you could choose a book the President (/Prime Minister) had to read, which would it be?

This is an incredibly hard question. Like Bethan said, I don't think anything could make him a better person. I honestly don't know. Perhaps 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood.

What do you plan to read next?

I'm actually not sure! I'm thinking of maybe re-reading Harry Potter, but then I should maybe take the chance and read something new instead... I'm also planning on re-reading His Dark Materials sometime soon, so perhaps those! 

Let me know if you do this tag as well! I'd love to read your answers.

Love, Mimmi.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

What I Eat in a Day #2

What I Eat in a Day Muted Mornings

Because I enjoyed putting together my first What I Eat in a Day so much, and because you seemed to enjoy it, I've decided to make these posts a regular sort of series on this blog. My last post was mostly based on February and March, and this post is all things I ate in April. Let's have a look!

Smoothie bowls
Matcha smoothie bowl with muesli, chia seeds and goji berries // A├žai bowl with muesli, shredded coconut and chia seeds. 

For breakfast I've been absolutely loving making smoothie bowls. The weather was lovely for the first bit of April, making smoothie bowl perfect, but even now that it's cold and dreary again I've made them quite a lot. That said, I still have porridge over 50% of the time, but completely forgot to take a photo of any of my porridge bowls... 

Avocado on rye bread, courgetti, pasta
Avocado and tomatoes on rye bread // courgetti with avocado pesto sauce and pine nuts // pasta with broccoli, chickpeas, sundried tomatoes and various herbs.

Lunch has mostly been either left-overs or avocado on rye bread, because I like when lunch is quick and easy. I brought some rye bread from Sweden and put in the freezer, which is so handy! A few times, when I've had a little bit more time, I've rustled up some courgetti or some pasta with veggies. I've also used my food processor to make my own pesto sauces, which is so quick and easy!

Vegan dinners

Sweet potato and chickpea buddha bowl (adapted from Minimalist Baker) // Buddha bowl with basmati rice, avocado, and spinach & black beans fried in miso and garlic, topped with chilli flakes (from Deliciously Ella's second book) // Almond stir fry (from Deliciously Ella's app) // Coconut brown rice with peas, mint and cashes (from The Kitchy Kitchen) with a side of kale.

I really need to work on being more creative with how I photograph my meals, don't I? That's my goal for next month. I've made a few more meals than these, but these were definitely my favourites. I also made a really scrummy sweet potato crust pizza (using this recipe from Blissful Basil) which I didn't photograph. I'd also like to note that not all my dinners are this put together. For example, the other day I had Tesco's sweet potato falafel with mashed potato and broccoli, which was yummy but didn't deserve a photo. 

I'm a big snacker. Especially now that it's exam season and I'm stuck inside revising all the time, I snack a lot. Dates and nuts are a favourite, as are sliced bananas or apples with some sort of nut butter. I'm also loving matcha right now, and have made my own matcha lattes a couple of times. I've used both rice milk and almond milk (both from Rude Health), but must say I prefer it with almond milk! And for an evening treat I've made chocolate mug cakes a few times, because sometimes you really need something chocolatey... 

What have you been eating in April?

Love, Mimmi

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Taking Stock: April

Muted Mornings Taking Stock April - anemones

My life is fairly uninteresting at the moment and basically consists of me sitting around revising. Sure, I've been doing other things - like working away in the shop, going to the gym and taking care of my dance teacher duties, but revision is my main occupation. I've got my second exam today (this is a sneaky scheduled post hehe) and then my final one in two weeks, and then I'll be free. Meanwhile, here is what April has largely looked like...

Reading: Lots of notes, books and articles for revision purposes, but before going to bed I've been reading 'I Capture the Castle' by Dodie Smith, which is just lovely.

Watching: Youtube videos, mainly vegan What I Eat In a Day videos (I'm obsessed). And Game of Thrones, obviously!

Buying: Food, as always. Plus new glasses and a couple of new cookbooks. Other than that I'm trying to be good because I spent too much when I was in Sweden...

Listening: To classical music when revising (I don't know why, but it works really well), Taylor Swift's 1989 album when at the gym (if anyone has suggestions for good work-out music, please share!) and otherwise Frightened Rabbit's new album.

Feeling: A weird mix of exam stress and general contentedness plus excitement that spring is here.

Planning: What to eat for dinner during the week. I'm really into meal planning at the moment!

Wishing: For a nice, warm and sunny summer. Come on, Scotland!

Enjoying: The longer, brighter days. Waking up early. The promise of spring.

Eating: Smoothie bowls, buddha bowls and lots of avocado on rye bread.

Hoping: That I'll do well in my exams. Cross your fingers for me, please! 

Thinking: Of what-ifs and the future. 

Lacking: Time and motivation to revise for English Literature. 

Trying: To get stronger! I'm actually rather enjoying going to the gym. I know, who have I become?

Drinking: Lemon water, green tea and matcha lattes.

Wanting: More books, a pair of Superga flats, the Naked Basics palette, a beautiful summer.

Cooking: Lots of courgetti, sweet potato in every form, and various buddha bowls. All the vegetables, basically!

Deciding: What to eat next... 

Wearing: Jammies when I'm at home (always), my work uniform when I'm at work, but otherwise shirts and jeans or striped t-shirts and button-up skirts.

Needing: A break from revision.

What has your April looked like?

Love, Mimmi.