Thursday, 31 December 2015

Bye 2015, Hello 2016

(My nine most popular photos on instagram from this year.... apparently people don't like food photos as much as I do, haha.)

Prior to writing this, I had a quick read-through of the post I wrote this time last year. I'm not really one for resolutions, but I like the idea of looking back at the year that has been, and looking forward to the year that is to come. It's funny how much has changed, and how much I've changed - yet there are also things that are the same. As most years, 2015 has been a year of ups and downs, but on the whole it has been a pretty good year. And it's definitely ending on a good note.

MY 2015

I've lost friends (or rather, people that I thought were friends), but I've also gained new ones, and kept the ones that really matter. And I've become more confident and happy along the road. I now know what to prioritise and what to value in friendships. I've also moved in with my sister, who is my best friend in the whole wide world, and living with her has been such a lovely experience (despite the occasional bickering).

I've had family and friends visiting several times, and it's been wonderful showing them my Glasgow while also getting to spend quality time with them. In April, one of my best friends came to visit for a week, and then a little bit later in the month, a good chunk of mum's side of the family came for a few days to celebrate my grandma's 70th. In June, dad came over. Then in July, mum came over again. Finally, my dad came over again in November, and my friend who's studying in St Andrews came for a few days in December.

While I haven't been anywhere but Scotland and Sweden, I've managed to see more of both countries. I've seen Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee, Stirling and Isle of Skye, and I've also managed to get around more in Glasgow. And when I was home in Sweden back in May/June, I visited a friend down south, where I had only been very briefly, quite a few years ago.

As for my university studies, I've continued doing my best and I still enjoy it. I have to admit I haven't enjoyed English Literature as much as I did in first year, but I do still like it, and it still feels like the right choice. Moreover, I've also really enjoyed the course in English Language I'm doing this year, and I'm hoping to continue with that alongside English Literature.

I was lucky enough to get a part-time job (as a sales assistant at Whittard) that I really enjoy. It feels good to have get some experience outside of university, and it also brings in some extra money (which is of course very welcome when you're a student). I also found a new hobby in Scottish country dancing, which is something that a couple of years ago I would've never thought of. I'm very glad I decided to start it though, and I'm excited about what the coming year will bring.

Most importantly, I feel like I've become much more at peace throughout the year. I'm happy with where I am, what I'm doing and who I am, and I'm more comfortable in my own skin than I've ever been (even though I of course still have my doubts and low moments), which is a pretty great feeling.

MY 2016

On the 2nd of January I turn 21 (when did I get so old?!?), which I'm told is an important age here in Scotland. It's not a big deal at all in Sweden, so I'm honestly not very bothered. I don't even know what I'm doing on my birthday yet! I am pretty excited about 2016 though, since I reckon it'll be a pretty good year...

Travels (and Harry Potter)
Normally, January isn't really my favourite month of the year (despite it being my birthday month, hehe), but this year January is going to be pretty great. Between the 21st and the 24th my sister and I are going to London, where we're also meeting up with two friends who are coming from Sweden. Apart from just exploring London, we're also planning on visiting the Warner Bros Studio Tour, and I cannot wait! 2016 will definitely be a good year to be a potterhead - in August, my sister and I are going to London again, to see The Cursed Child.

I haven't been home in Sweden since June, so I'm hoping to get home and visit sometime soon, hopefully during springtime. I'm also planning on going up to St Andrews to see my friend. It would be nice to go somewhere else as well (not Sweden or Scotland, that is), but we'll see if I'll have the time and the money for that.

I'm going into the second semester of my second year, I'm hoping that I will get a good enough grade to get into English Literature honours. (Honours is year three and four, during which you focus on one or two subjects and work toward your dissertation in fourth year). As mentioned, I've also decided that I'd really like to take English Language into honours as well, because I love the subject so much, so hopefully that'll be feasible! Either way, I hope that by this time in 2016, I'll be studying honours courses that I really enjoy. 

I don't really have any resolutions for 2016 - only a few general hopes and expectations. I want to continue studying hard and do my best in everything. I want to save more money and avoid being stressed. I want to be as happy and content as possible, and not put too much pressure on myself - being good enough is, well, good enough.

There is however, one change that I'm making. I'm going vegan this January, and hopefully I'll continue the habit after January is over too. I'm planning a post all about it next week where I'll go more into my reasons, but it's something that I've wanted to do more and more recently so I'm excited to finally take the step.

How was your 2015? Do you have any hopes or expectations for 2016?

Love, Mimmi.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Recently Read #6

It's been ages since I last did one of my recently read posts. With university starting again in September, I've barely had time to read anything other than my course literature, and although that did include a few novels, I just didn't feel like writing reviews for them. However, over the last few weeks I've had a bit more time to read, especially now that it's the Christmas holidays, so I figured it was time for another set of mini reviews.

THE ONE-OF-A-KIND CAT BOOK is a whimsical treat for cat lovers everywhere. Dive into its pages to meet Catalina the narcissistic movie star, Kit the steampunk genius, and Guillaume the macaron chef. Browse through letters, notes, and photos to learn about mystery cats from Svalbard and the Amazon. Follow a detective as he unravels the crimes of "Murder Kitties." The OOAK Cat Book is a grown-up picture book full of modern themes: a shameless search for fame (or infamy), an obsession with true crime, and our constant need for adventure and kawaii cats. The felines here will guide you to places like Paris, Varanasi, Woodstock, and the Great Barrier Reef.

This is unlike anything I would normally read, so when the author contacted me and wondered if I would like to review it, I was excited to do so. I'm much more of a dog person, but I do love cats too. It's such a cute, playful and original book, with really charming and wonderfully colourful pictures. I was very impressed by the range of stories and the imagination of the author. I normally love getting lost in long narratives, but dipping in and out of different short stories, all told in very different and fun ways, was a nice change. It's the perfect book to just read a bit of here and there, a story at a time. I think my favourite part was that about the murder kitties.

The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin

Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life--Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Urras, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.

This was actually the last book that I read for my English Literature course, but I decided to include it here because I loved it so much. It's Science-Fiction, but of the social rather than the more technical kind. Rather, it focuses on the clashing of two societies - the capitalist Urras and the anarchist Anarres. Shevek - a scientist from Anarres - goes to Urras to meet with other scientists, and through him we get to see how these two ideologies rely on one another. There are two overlapping narratives to the text - one that begins when Shevek is a child and continues up until he leaves for Urras, and one which begins with him going to Urras and then follows his experiences there. The narrative is really clever because as you learn more about Shevek and his motives, you also learn more about the two worlds. It might sound a bit dry, but it's really so interesting, insightful and captivating. Plus it's beautifully written.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler

In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book,Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.

I'm not normally one for autobiographies, but I'm a big fan of Parks and Rec and I love Amy Poehler, so I thought I would give this one a go, especially since I had heard it was brilliant. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed. It was funny at times and often very clever, but it felt a bit haphazard - like it wasn't thought through. I was left thinking 'was that it?' That said, I do think it is worth a read if you like Amy Poehler, because she really is brilliant and has a lot of smart and funny things to say. It's a book that leaves you feeling quite confident about yourself and about life, but I simply wish it had been a bit more substantial and structured. 

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England--until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight. Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.

This is a book that I had been meaning to read for a very long time, but just hadn't found the time for. My sister got this book a few months ago and absolutely loved it, so after hearing her raving about it, my desire to read it multiplied tenfold. I read it throughout the revision period and it was a wonderful escape from the responsibilities of uni work. The magic in it is very different from, say, the magic of Harry Potter, but it's brilliant all the same. It's so cleverly written, really witty and full of intriguing characters. And not only is it about magic - my very favourite thing - it is also set in early 19th century England, which is a time that I have a soft spot for. It's a bit of a brick, but I was never ever bored while reading it, as both the plot and the characters are very engaging, and the world just swallows you up.

What have you been reading recently?

Love, Mimmi.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Happy Post #30 - The Christmas Edition

Merry Christmas everyone! I know that for most of you, Christmas is really tomorrow, but in Sweden the big day is Christmas Eve - today! For the first time in my life I'm working on Christmas Eve (sadface), but thankfully I've only got a wee four hour shift between nine and one. It could've been worse. Then I'll be back in the flat with my sister ready for a cosy day of merriment. We plan on eating lots of good food and chocolate, catching up with the family back in Sweden on Skype, and probably watching a couple of Christmas movies. Since Christmas is the season to be jolly (falalalala...), I thought another happy post would be perfect for Christmas Eve. So here are the things that have made me happy recently...

Finishing my exams. Naturally, this is on the top of my list. I had my last important exam on the 14th, and then another smaller one on the 18th, and since then I've been FREE AS A BIRD. Free from revising, free from worrying about whether I'll be able to answer the questions or not, because now it's all over and there's nothing I can do about it. 

Having time to relax and read and just do what I want. With exams and lectures being over, I can do whatever pleases me without that nagging feel of guilt. I've worked most days since my exams finished, but only short four/five hour shifts, so I've still had plenty of free-time, and it's been really rather wonderful.

Visiting Edinburgh. My sister and I headed to Edinburgh for the day last week, as you might've seen if you read my last post. I won't go on about it, but it was really a fantastically festive day!

The trailer for Fantastic Beasts. I've watched it a fair few times now (hehe) and oh my days I'm so excited!! It looks like it'll be amazing and I don't know how I'll be able to wait for November 2016. 

My best friend visiting. In between my English Lit exam on the 14th and my final exam on the 18th, one of my closest friends came down from St Andrews to visit for a couple of days. We became friends almost ten years ago, but over the last couple of years she's been living in China, and we hadn't seen each other in almost a year and a half! It was really lovely to have her here and get to spend some quality time with her. She's bloody amazing and I'm so glad to have her in my life.

Having a festive afternoon tea. For a while I thought we wouldn't have time to go for a festive afternoon tea, but we managed to fit it in the other day before I started work in the afternoon. We went to Cup on Byres Road and had their 'mini afternoon tea', which was anything but mini. It was, however, delicious. We had Cup's Winter Blend tea, which was a gorgeous black tea with lots of Christmassy spices. As for the food, I had a lovely sandwich with butternut squash, sald and a minty dressing; two mini scones (one plain and one with almond & cranberry) with clotted cream and jam; a gingerbread cupcake and a spiced fruitcake. The latter turned out to be very big and neither me nor my sister could eat more than a tiny piece of it as we were so full from all the rest! I couldn't even finish my cupcake... 

Going to my friend Heather's home for Christmas Day. My friend Heather and her parents very kindly invited me and my sister to come over for Christmas Day, which I'm very much looking forward to! Heather and her family are such lovely and generous people, and I'm sure we'll have a great time. Plus, I'm excited to celebrate Christmas the Scottish way. 

Finally, here are a few blog posts I've loved reading recently -

'Things I love About Christmas' on Water Painted Dreams.

'The Great Indoors' on The Salty Sea Blog.

'Christmas Memories' on Daydreams of Summertime.

'Whirlow Hall Farm Christmas Fayre' on The Peppermint Pencil.

How will you celebrate Christmas? I hope you'll have a wonderful Christmas, whatever you do and wherever you are. 

Lots of love, 

Saturday, 19 December 2015

A Festive Day in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Christmas Market

Edinburgh Christmas Market

Edinburgh Christmas Market

Edinburgh Christmas Market

Edinburgh Christmas Market
EdinburghEdinburgh Royal Mile

Edinburgh Victoria Street

Edinburgh shops

Jenners Edinburgh

Prince's Street Edinburgh

Edinburgh Christmas Market

Edinburgh Christmas Market

Edinburgh Christmas Market

This Tuesday my sister and I were lucky enough to have a day off together, so we decided to head over to Edinburgh for the day. It was the day after my English Literature exam, and I was excited for a day off and not feeling guilty about not revising. Despite it being ridiculously warm for December, the atmosphere in Edinburgh was definitely festive. We started the day by visiting the Christmas market, just wandering around and buying a few treats. I've said it before, but it's honestly a little bit too commercial for my taste, but all the same it is a lovely experience. The highlight was definitely finding some candied almonds, because it's not a proper Christmas market without them!

After exploring the Christmas market, we headed to Old Town for a while, wandered up and down the Royal Mile and had lunch at Deacon Brodie's Tavern, which is a bit of a tourist stop but is still a very cosy and nice pub. We then spent some time shopping for Christmas gifts, both in independent shops and on Prince's Street.  Towards the end of the day we visited the Christmas market again, just to see it all lit up in the dark, and it was definitely much cosier later in the day (but also much more crowded...). 

The day literally flew by and before we knew it, it was time to go home! A day full of festive fun really makes you rather shattered.

Have you ever been to Edinburgh during Christmas? Or have you been to a Christmas market recently?

Love, Mimmi.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Life Lately - December So Far

Since this place has been a little bit quiet as of recently, I thought I'd do a little catch-up post. I really cannot believe we're halfway through December already. To be honest it makes me a little bit sad, since December is probably my favourite month of the year! That said, I'm so happy that the exam period is soon over! I've had my two most important exams already, and the one I've got left (Scottish Literature on Friday) is not worth much at all, plus I've already got good grades on the rest of my coursework, so honestly I feel like I'm already on Christmas break. Last Wednesday I had my English Language exam, which I think went pretty well (touch wood), and yesterday I had my exam in English Literature, which was the exam I was the most worried about. I'm so relieved that it's over and done with. I have no idea how I did, but at least I wrote words, hah!

When I haven't been revising for exams or working, I've managed to fit in quite a few coffee and lunch dates with friends. Chatting away with lovely people  has been a really nice break from being cooped up at home revising. There seems to be something about the imminent Christmas break that makes it mandatory to meet up with friends before everyone goes home for Christmas. It's safe to say that these friend dates have really brightened up my days. 

The weekend before last, on the 6th of December, Glasgow University Scottish Country Dancing Club (yup, that's a mouth-full, isn't it? We tend to just call it GUSCDC) hosted the annual ball for all Scottish universities. I've become more and more involved with GUSCDC this semester, and since we were hosting the ball this year it was an exciting night. It went really well and I had such a good night. It was the perfect end to what has been an incredibly fun semester of dancing. I'm so happy I decided to go to the club's taster session back in September, because being part of the club has become one of my favourite things about uni life. I have zero pictures from the night though - I just did not get the chance to get my phone out.

My sister and I are both Christmas lovers, and we have decorated our flat with bits and bobs to make it more festive. We bought a beautiful Christmas wreath and a poinsettia for our (otherwise very boring) kitchen, and a couple of days ago we put up our Christmas tree. To be fair, it's more of a bush, but I love it. It's tiny and wonky, but adorable. Aside from putting up decorations, we've also made sure to bake gingerbread and saffron buns - both Swedish Christmas essentials. 

On Sunday evening, my sister and I went to see Mumford & Sons at the SSE Hydro. I've been a big fan of Mumford & Sons ever since they released their first album, and seeing them was a dream come true. I had never been to a big arena concert before, and truth be told I was a bit worried it'd feel too anonymous and distant, but they really managed to make the whole audience feel included. They were simply incredible. They had so much energy, were so engaging and played the perfect selection of songs. I wish I could do it all over again!

I think that's about everything that's worth mentioning! Today we're going to Edinburgh to see the Christmas market and just wander around, so you can expect a post about that sometime soon. Then on Wednesday one of my best friends from back home, who began studying at St Andrews this year, is coming down to Glasgow to visit for a couple of days. I haven't seen her in about a year and a half, so I'm very excited!

I'm also planning to put a bit more energy into my blog over the Christmas holidays. I haven't felt truly happy with a post in a long time, but hopefully having more time on my hands for a little while will make me more inspired.

What have you been up to lately?

Love, Mimmi.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Happy Post #29

Happy Post Instagram snaps

Hello lovelies, how are you? Happy December! December is my favourite month of the year (next to October), so I'm welcoming it with open arms, even if it also brings with it my least favourite thing -- exams. But let's not dwell upon such dreary stuff. Here's what has made me happy recently...

My dad visiting. The other weekend (almost two weeks ago) my dad came to stay with my sister and me for a few days. We had the best time just wandering around, stopping at coffee shops or at pubs, talking, and just enjoying each other's company. It's safe to say I miss him already.

Seeing my favourite band, Admiral Fallow, live. One reason that my dad visited was so that we could all go and see Admiral Fallow live in Edinburgh. My dad and I have very similar music tastes, and he was the one who introduced me to Admiral Fallow about four years ago. I've wanted to see them live for ages, but despite them actually being a Glaswegian band I hadn't got the chance, up until the other week. They were wonderful live, and despite some very noisy drunk Scots it was a great night.

Getting to hold a European eagle owl. I've had a soft spot for owls for a long time. It probably all started with Harry Potter, but I also feel a sort of connection with them, as silly as that might sound. When we were in Edinburgh, a charity wildlife centre were on the streets with two owls that you were allowed to hold, so of course I had to take the chance! Holding the eagle owl was an almost surreal experience. They're such magnificent, beautiful creatures! The one I held was only nine months old, but she just radiated calm and poise, and she had the most mesmerising, piercing orange eyes. I think I fell in love a little bit.

Achieving a good grade on my English Literature essay. I've been stressing out about English Literature a lot, wondering if I'm really good enough for their high standards. Thankfully my hard work resulted in a good grade, and I couldn't have been more happy or relieved when I found out! 

Costa's gingerbread latte. I do like Starbucks, but to be honest Costa's gingerbread latte is much better - less sweet and less artificial. Plus it's cheaper and comes in a much cuter cup, so what's not to love? I've treated myself to one too many over the last couple of weeks, and that's not going to change now that Christmas is coming nearer and nearer...

Cosy leggings. Though we've put the heating on (that's another happy thing!) and our flat isn't nearly as freezing as it was before, I'm still living in my 'super cosy' leggings from Primark. They've got it right - they really are super cosy. So, so soft and warm. 

Finally seeing Mockingjay Part 2. The only bad thing about dad visiting was that I couldn't see Mockingjay the first weekend it was out (just kidding dad <3). This Saturday my sister and I finally went to see it, and it was fantastic. I was a little bit disappointed by the ending (where was the dishevelled, broken Katniss from the book?), but still loved it. Even though I knew what was happening I was on pins on needles all the way through, it was so intense. Plus Jennifer Lawrence is an incredible actress. The scene in 12 with the cat (if you've seen it, you know the one) made my weep like a baby. 

Baking gingerbread. This Sunday when I got back from work we spent a few hours baking gingerbread, true to tradition. Whilst listening to Christmas music and drinking mulled wine, of course. If there's one thing that really marks the start of the run-up to Christmas, and of December, it's gingerbread baking. 

The generous staff at Isle of Skye Candles here in Glasgow. I just popped in to have a look because I love their candles, and when one of the staff came up to chat I thought I'd tell her that the candle I'd bought from them before had tunnelled, just to see if they might have any solution to my problem. Apparently it was probably a faulty candle, and they gave me a new one for free to bring home, just like that! It really made my day, and my love for the company has grown tenfold.

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

'A Trip to Pollok Country Park' on Elise and Life.

'Harry Potter Wishlist' on tartanmouth

What has made you happy recently?

Love, Mimmi.