Sunday, 31 May 2015
Happy Sunday, lovelies! How are you?
Things are changing up a bit over summer, so I thought I'd start this post by giving you a wee update about my life. I arrived in Sweden last Saturday and I'll be staying until the 10th of June, when I'm heading back to Scotland. My dad is coming with me to spend a few days in Glasgow, which I'm really looking forward to. After he's gone I'll move to Stirling for the summer, since I've got an internship there. I'll be working for a company called Labels4Kids, helping with a little bit of everything, and I'm renting a room in a house owned by a very nice couple. And that's where I'll be until September, when I move back to Glasgow and University resumes. I'll be in Glasgow quite a lot over summer anyway though, since it's only a 40 minute train ride away, so I reckon this blog won't be too different from what it usually is.
Now onto what has made me happy recently -
My first blog anniversary! Tomorrow marks exactly one year since my very first post, which feels quite surreal. On the one hand, I feel like I've been blogging forever, yet at the same time it feels like I just started. I thought about making a post dedicated to this fact alone, but decided that getting the first place in my Happy Post would suffice. I still love blogging and I'm so happy I decided to start a blog, so here's to another year of blogging!
Getting to be home for a while. This is the first summer that I'm not going to spend mostly in Sweden, which is sort of odd, but I'm really happy that I had enough time in between my exams ending and my job starting to go home for at least a short while, to catch up with family and friends and enjoy Sweden when it's the prettiest, which of course brings me to my next thing...
How lovely Sweden is at this time of the year. I love all seasons and I think I would be bored if we had eternal summer, but Sweden really shows its best side in late May and the beginning of June. (As does the UK, I'm sure!) Everything is intensely green, there are wildflowers in abundance, birds are chirping wherever you go, and there is something refreshing and invigorating about the air. It makes me happy to be alive.
Spending time with my darling dog. Having our little mister around is just the best. He is wonderful company; the kindest dog on earth, always content, always happy to see you, and always up for a cuddle. I love him to bits, and I know I'll miss him so much when I leave again.
New potatoes. I'm a little bit in love with new potatoes and every summer I eat as much as I can while they're in season. There's something so wonderfully delicious about those small, sweet and seemingly simple potatoes. I love how versatile they are; boiled and tossed with fresh greens and a bit of olive oil, or roasted in the oven with lots of garlic, and so on. All the yum.
Changing up my blog design a bit. As my one year blogiversary was coming up, I felt like I wanted to switch it up a bit. The theme is still the same, but I changed the font and made myself a new header, since I was getting very bored of the minimalistic one I had earlier. I always get bored of things sooner or later, but at the moment I love my new header, and hopefully I won't grow tired of it too soon! What do you think of it?
Re-reading Harry Potter. I'm a massive potterhead and I've read the books so many times over the last ten years, but a little while ago I realised that it had actually been a couple of years since last time, so I figured it was high time to do it again. I listened to the two first ones on audio book earlier this year, so I began with the third one, and oh, it's been such a joy to delve into the world of Harry Potter again. I'm still sad that I never got to attend Hogwarts...
Finally, here are five blog posts that I've liked recently:
'Going Vegan - Am I a Fraud?' on Tea in your Twenties.
'10 Life Lessons' on Britton Loves.
'Joy of Missing Out' on The Tea Drinking English Rose.
'A Boat Trip to the Isle of May' on Elise and Life.
'Finding Focus' on Sunny Sweet Pea.
Tell me; what has made you happy recently?
Thursday, 28 May 2015
Back when my family visited we went to Edinburgh on the day of my grandma's 70th birthday. We were incredibly lucky with the weather during the whole of their visit, and Edinburgh treated us with sunshine and 17 degrees. Naturally I got a bit snap happy as Edinburgh was looking beautiful in the sunshine. After a day spent wandering around, stopping occasionally for coffee, ice cream and beer, it was time for dinner to celebrate my grandma. I had booked us a table at Howie's on Victoria Street (silly me forgot to take a photo from the outside... sorry!). My mum and I were there for Christmas Eve dinner when we spent Christmas in Edinburgh a few years ago and both loved it. It's that perfect in between restaurant; not too fancy, yet still a little bit special. The atmosphere is very relaxed and homely, the staff are lovely, and the food is delicious. The focus lies on local and seasonal Scottish food, spruced up a bit with modern flavours. Unadventurous as we are, half of us opted for a beef stew, and half of us decided on the "catch of the day" - some kind of white fish (can't remember which...) with sweet potatoes, leeks and kale. Since I don't eat meat, I have no idea how the stew tasted, but those who chose it seemed content. I very rarely eat fish, but that was the dish that appealed to me most, and it didn't disappoint. Plus, I've got a soft spot for sweet potato. For dessert, I decided on a sticky toffee pudding, and so did quite a few of the others after I had expressed my love for that particular pudding. It was amazing. Together with a few glasses of wine, this was truly one of the best dinners I've had in a while, and I think we all left feeling very content.
When was the last time you went out for dinner?
Saturday, 23 May 2015
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
A young man arrives in Ukraine, clutching in his hand a tattered photograph. He is searching for the woman who fifty years ago saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Unfortunately, he is aided in his quest by Alex, a translator with an uncanny ability to mangle English into bizarre new forms; a 'blind' old man haunted by memories of the war; and an undersexed guide dog named Sammy David Jr, Jr. What they are looking for seems elusive - a truth hidden behind veils of time, language and the horrors of war. What they find turns all their worlds upside down...
Since I really enjoyed Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close, I decided to give this one a go, and it didn't disappoint. To be honest I found it a tad slow, but not in an entirely negative way. It's remarkably imaginative, both story-wise and writing-wise. The narrative switches between past and present, slowly revealing the mystery, and little by little you get to know the characters intimately, without fully realising it. It's a beautiful, and at times bizarre, but very touching story, with some very original and distinct characters. Jonathan Safran Foer's writing style is very particular and perhaps not to everyone's taste, but personally I enjoy it.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.
Being a bestseller, Station Eleven has been everywhere since it was released. I was worried it wouldn't live up to the hype, but I loved it. It's set before and after a pandemic that killed 99% of the world's population and follows a few people who are linked to each other in various ways. It switches been pre-pandemic and post-pandemic, gradually revealing how these individuals are connected, while also presenting the new world. It's very dark, real and sorrowful, yet with moments of hope. There is no hero with a mission; there are only real people with real, complicated lives and stories. It's about people, about humans, and how they handle the situations they're thrown into. Society's collapse just happens to be one of those situations. Emily St. John Mandel is an excellent writer, and her post-pandemic America is palpably real and believable, as are her characters.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks. Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city.
Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors, who I always come back. I've read most of his books, but up until recently I hadn't read Neverwhere... shame on me. It's been in my to-read pile since my sister gave it to me for Christmas and I finally delved into it a couple of weeks ago. It's not a revolutionary novel, but it's highly enjoyable, as always with Gaiman. It feels a lot like a modern Alice in Wonderland; but a bit darker and grimier. It's a quick, easy read, perfect for loosing ourself into when you don't want too much of a challenge. The narrative is well-paced, with quite a lot of action, plenty of colourful characters, clever writing and a that particular Gaiman-humour.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky.
I'm going to be honest... I actually haven't finished this yet. I'm a little bit more than halfway through, but I wanted to include it anyway. Wow, this book is a brick. Although I am enjoying it, I feel like Catton could've condensed it quite a bit. I'm aware that her elaborate writing-style is deliberate it sometimes it feels like she's writing words just for the sake of making the novel longer. That said, her writing really is beautiful, and the story is very interesting and incredibly complex, making me want to read on. So far, everything seems to be woven together so intricately and elegantly, and I really want to find out the truth. I'm not sure if it deserves the hype surrounding it, but I'll get back to you when I've finished.
Have you read any of these novels?
Thursday, 21 May 2015
Willow Tea Rooms for afternoon tea. I had been before, but only for tea and cake and never for a full-blown afternoon tea, so I was buzzing. We had been saving ourselves all day and were starving. My mum and I were the only ones who had had afternoon tea before, so it was really fun to introduce the others to the tradition.
The Willow Tea Rooms were designed by the famous Glaswegian architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1903. There are actually two tearooms, one on Buchanan Street and one on Sauchiehall Street. The latter is the original, so of course we went to that one. The successful business woman Kate Cranston commissioned Mackintosh to design her tearoom on Sauchiehall Street back at the turn of the century, and it used to occupy the whole building, whereas today it's a bit smaller. We were seated in the "Room de Luxe," with its spectacular throne-like chairs and beautiful windows looking out onto the street below. You used to have to pay more for a seat in that room, but now it's just a matter of luck where you're seated. The other room is lovely too, but less bright and airy.
The afternoon tea itself is very classic, but delicious. You get a selection of sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, shortbread and then your choice of cake and your choice of tea. Their tea selection is extensive, so there is definitely something for everyone. I opted for lapsang souchong, which is one of my favourite types of tea. The sandwiches were delicious, and about half of them were vegetarian. The cakes, although not very extravagant in their appearance, were also delicious, but the best part was definitely the scones. Light and fluffy, with a buttery flavour, served with clotted cream (I've got so much love for clotted cream) and lovely raspberry jam. I wouldn't mind having them again right now!
When was the last time you had afternoon tea?
Sunday, 17 May 2015
A forgotten photo from my last post.
Happy Sunday! How are we already halfway through May? I feel like this spring has just flown by, in a whirl of revision, people visiting and other stuff. After more than a month of having exams and revision looming over me, I now only have until Wednesday until I'm off uni for the summer. Which of course, brings me to my first happy thing -
Almost having finished first year. I really have no idea where this year has gone and it feels almost surreal that it's almost over. I was petrified when I first moved here, but I've settled in pretty well, and although it hasn't been all sunshine and daisies, I feel like I'm in the right place, doing the right thing. So yeah, only three days of revision and a 1,5 hour long exam to go!
Re-watching Pushing Daisies. I watched it the first time a couple of years ago and loved it. The other week when I was looking for something to watch, I decided to re-watch it, and honestly it's just as good now as it was then. It's so random, weird and quirky, but very charming, funny and occasionally rather deep. But mainly it's just a bit of light-hearted fun.
Spending money on food, coffee and cake. While nights out can be fun once in a while, I feel like it's much more worthwhile spending the little money I have on visits to coffee shops and restaurants, which is what I've been prioritising over the last month or so. Love it. Plus, I have quite a few blog posts in store.
How green everything is. We haven't been treated to the best weather recently... not the worst either, to be fair. Usually, a day will offer both rain and sunshine, clouds and blue skies, and lots of wind. I guess that's just Scotland for you. It's been quite chilly, but at least everything is becoming greener by the minute, and there's something really uplifting and calming abut the lush greenery. Despite the questionable weather, it does feel like late spring.
Finally, here are five blog posts that I've enjoyed reading recently:
'Norfolk in Slow Motion' on Sunny Sweet Pea.
'Stealing Jane Austen's Clothes' on Snug.
'A Bee-utiful Tale' on Oh Hello!
'Building a Minimal Wardrobe' on Pale Lily.
'How To Live a Generous Life' on Lemon Freckles.
What has made you happy recently?
Thursday, 14 May 2015
Last Monday we were given a break from the grey, miserable weather that had been around for a while, and were treated to a wonderfully sunny day. My friend Alice and I decided to take advantage of the weather and headed to Pollok Country Park, which is located a twenty minute bus ride from Glasgow's city centre. The park is Glasgow's largest park and only country park. It used to be part of the Old Pollok estate, home to the Maxwell Family for seven centuries. From the 12th century onward there were three different castles in the park, until in 1752, when the current Pollok House was built. In 1966 the Maxwell Family gave the park and the house to the City of Glasgow. Aside from Pollok House and the beautiful gardens and woodlands, there is also the Burrell Collection, a collection of art held in a building in the middle of the park.
Alice and I arrived before lunchtime, so when we reached Pollok House, which is about a ten/fifteen minute walk from the entrance, we decided to give the restaurant a try, which is located downstairs, in the old servants quarters. Both of us opted for a sweet potato soup (which was delicious but not very photogenic, hence the lack of photo), and then shared a lovely carrot cake. To see the whole house, where the family used to live, you had to pay a fee, so we decided to skip that in favour of being outside in the lovely weather. After our lunch, we spent a couple of hours exploring the park, with its flowering gardens and green woodlands. We visited the Burrell Collection, which was very random and varied but interesting, and spotted the cutest little baby Highland cow (Highland calf...?). Once we took the bus back to Glasgow, we were both rather exhausted from walking and being out in the sun, but it was a really lovely day. It was wonderful to get a good dose of nature.
Sunday, 10 May 2015
I know it's only the beginning of May, but considering how quickly time flies June will be here in the blink of an eye, so a Summer to-read list might not be way too out of line. I'm really looking forward to getting a few months where I can read for pleasure without feeling a tiny bit stressed out for neglecting my coursework. I'm planning to take advantage of this and get through some books that I've wanted to read for quite a while. Firstly, although not shown in the wee collage above, I'm planning on re-reading Harry Potter. I've read all of the books numerous times, but it has actually been almost thee years since I last read them, which is just outrageous, so I definitely think it's about time! I listened to the two first one on audiobook a couple of months ago, so I'm just going to read number three to seven, but I'm childishly excited about stepping into the world of Harry Potter again.
Then, I'm planning on tackling the ones pictured above. Quite a few of them are classics that I've been meaning to read for ages, like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, A Clockwork Orange, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Little Women. Since I love Jane Eyre so much, I really want to give Charlotte Brontë's Villette a go, which I've heard is every bit as good. Similarly, since I adore The Great Gatsby I want to read more of Fitzgerald's works, and I think I'm going to start with Tender Is the Night. Then there are the more recently published books that I've heard so much about but haven't got around to reading; The Secret History is supposed to be fantastic, so although I thought The Goldfinch was overrated, I'm going to give it an honest chance. After watching Parks and Rec earlier this year I've become a big fan of Amy Poehler, and I really want to read her Yes Please. Finally, When God Was a Rabbit is a book that I heard so much about a couple of years ago and have been meaning to read ever since, so I'm hoping to finally get around to it this summer. Is it weird that I'm almost as excited about buying these books as I am about reading them?
Have you read any of these books? What are you planning on reading this summer?
Thursday, 7 May 2015
I'm sure a lot of you (if you're massive potterheads, like me) know about The Elephant House. For those of you who don't know, The Elephant House is famous for being the café where J.K. Rowling sat and wrote the first Harry Potter books. I think I've been to The Elephant House at least a handful times already. The first time I went mainly because I'm such a big fan of Harry Potter, but it's become a go-to place whenever I'm in Edinburgh's Old Town and want a light lunch or an afternoon treat. I've been two times over the last month - once for tea and cake with my friend, and then for lunch (focaccia with brie, mango and apple - different but very good) with my family. It's definitely worth visiting if you're a potterhead, but it's also simply a rather lovely café. It's decorated with elephants of every shape - elephant photographs, elephant sculptures and even elephant books. The inner room is the nicest, so do try and get a seat there. It's open and spacious, with wooden furniture, plenty of plants and large windows with a beautiful view of Edinburgh castle. It's almost as if you're sitting on a veranda. As for the food, they've got a large selection of sandwiches, salads, pies and other warm food, as well as plenty of cakes, and also many types of tea, coffees and other drinks. It's a good place to go if you're a vegetarian, with a good selection of veggie options. Now, the food and the cakes might not be the very best that I've tried, but they make the cut, and considering the perfect location near Royal Mile, and the nice atmosphere, it's still a place I like visiting. If you're ever there, make sure to visit the toilet - there's Harry Potter graffiti covering every single wall and you'll risk staying in there for a little longer than planned, reading every single thing.
Sunday, 3 May 2015
Happy Sunday, everyone! How has your week been? I don't know what it's like where you are, but spring seems to have called it quits. It's chucking down with rain here in Glasgow today. If it weren't for the blossom and everything becoming greener and greener, you could almost think it's the start of March with the weather we're having. But oh well, there's no point in complaining, is there? This post is a happy one, after all. I've had quite a rough time over the past week, so this post really couldn't have come at a better time. I'm all for letting yourself be sad for a time, but it's also important to cherish the good things in life, isn't it?
So, lately these things have made the everyday a bit more bearable...
My wonderful family. Firstly, I had an incredibly lovely time when a few of my closest relatives were here visiting, and it was so good to spend some quality time with them. It was difficult to say goodbye, but thankfully they're only a skype call away. I'm so thankful that my parents and my sisters are always there with wise and comforting words and support me no matter what. Okay, enough with the sap.
Getting through my first exam, namely the one for English literature. Exams really aren't my thing. I just can't think quickly enough and get too stressed out. I didn't feel like I did very well, but at least it's over and done with, and there's nothing I can do about it now. My next exam is in ten days' time, and thankfully it's not as demanding as the English lit one.
Finding a pair of sunglasses that I actually really like. This might seem like a silly thing, but it's kind of a big thing for me. I've always hated sunglasses and how I look with them on, until last week when I found a pair in Topshop that I love wearing. They're in a dark tortoise shell print and subtly cat-eyed. They're not too uncomfortable and I actually find them flattering. Score!
The comfort that is a cup of tea. With the colder weather returning, and since I've just been staying home most days, I've been drinking even more tea than usually. Instead of drinking two to three cups like I normally do, I've been drinking at least four cups. And I love it.
Avocado. When I moved into my student room and started buying my own groceries, there were certain things that I told myself I couldn't buy on a regular basis because they were too expensive. Recently, I've gone back on my words again and again. I started buying almond butter regularly a couple of months ago (can't live without it!), and over the last couple of weeks I've bought avocado quite a few times. It's just so good! Especially mashed on toast with a sprinkle of sea salt...
The new Mumford and Sons album. At first I sort of missed the banjos, but the more I listen to it, the more I like it. I love that all the songs have still got that distinct Mumford & Sons sound while simultaneously being a bit new and different. Needless to say it's been on repeat over the past couple of days.
Finally, here are five blog posts that I've enjoyed recently:
'Recipe: Dreamy Banoffee Granola' on Nouvelle Daily.
'20 More Small Things to Appreciate' on From Roses.
'Gold Dust' on Sally Tangle.
'Turning 28 // Birthday Adventures' on The Tea Drinking English Rose.
'An Ode to Breakfast' on Britton Loves.
What has made you happy recently?