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