Sunday, 31 January 2016

Veganuary in Review

The Mae Deli brownies and smoothies

Today is the last day of Veganuary, and I can't quite believe it's gone by so quickly. The verdict? It's easier than one would think, but it's still difficult at times. It's gone relatively well, however, and I feel like it gets easier with every day.

Eating at home has been incredibly easy. I already made quite a lot of vegan meals and just had to make a few adjustment, like getting vegan pesto and vegan vegetable stock. And of course, I cut out the small amount of cheese I was eating before. Watching out for hidden ingredients was a bit daunting at first, but I've become more and more used to scrutinising ingredient lists when grocery shopping.

I've also become much better at avoiding chocolate, cake and the likes. Somehow it's so much easier to say no when it's for ethical reasons! And I know that there are still vegan cakes and chocolate out there, if I really want them, so it's a win-win situation. Plus, I honestly find vegan treats more delicious most of the time. I had the most delicious raw and vegan chocolate brownie at The Mae Deli in London last week, for example (as pictured above). 

Eating out has gone okay. It's been surprisingly easy to just tweak dishes a little and make them vegan - like asking them to leave the cheese off the pizza. Internet has also been a blessing, as it's so easy to find out how to eat vegan at restaurants, especially bigger chains. London went really smoothly for the most part, except for once when I tried and failed to find a vegan sandwich in M&S and thus made an exception and picked the one with the least dairy in it, hah. I also made an exception when we were at the WB Studio Tour, since I really wanted to try butterbeer. As for the food, I had the falafel burger and asked them to leave the cheese off, but I think there was still some kind of mayo/cream cheese in there. Ah well.

So, the big question - will I continue with veganism after January? Yes. I've realised that it's not too complicated, and it's completely worth it that it sometimes is a wee bit tricky. I've also realised that I definitely won't miss anything, and I no longer see a reason to eat dairy. I will, however, be more lenient when eating out since I've realised that it's impossible to always find something that's 100% vegan-friendly. I might also make exceptions in certain situations, like when going over to someone's place for dinner. Like I said in my last post, it's the over-all effort that counts, and the occasional exception or mistake is not a massive deal.

My goals for the rest of the year are to try out more vegan meals and be more adventurous with my cooking, instead of just sticking to my favourites. I recently got Deliciously Ella's new book, which is full of amazing recipes, so I'm excited to try some of those out. Plus Pinterest is a great source of inspiration! I also want to try out more vegan baking, because that's something I haven't done much of at all!

If you've participated in Veganuary, how did it go for you?

Love, Mimmi

Thursday, 28 January 2016

London Diaries - WB Harry Potter Studio Tour

Warner Bros Studio Tour The Making of Harry Potter
A week ago, on Thursday morning, my sister and I went down to London, and stayed until Sunday evening. We also met two friends there, who came over from Sweden. The four of us had a fantastic time exploring London, and the weekend just flew by! I've struggled with figuring out how to blog about the London trip, since I have way too many photos to fit into one post. I've decided I'll dedicate a post to each day, and I'm starting off with the most exciting day - Friday, when we went to the Warner Bros Studio Tour! I apologise for the overload of photos. I tried to narrow them down as much as possible, but there were just too many to begin with!

The tour is located just outside London, and you get there by taking the train to Leavesden and then a special Harry Potter bus from the station to the actual tour. We arrived after ten in the morning and stayed until after four in the afternoon, although honestly I could've stayed for longer! We're massive nerds, my sister and I, so we were both dressed in our uniforms (she's a Gryffindor and I'm a Ravenclaw). I don't think our friends were too embarrassed by us, thankfully!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Happy Post #31

Sunrise Glasgow

The Christmas holidays seemed to just vanish in a puff of smoke, and a week ago it was suddenly time to go back to University. Everything has come back full force, so I'm suspecting the blog will be taking the backseat over the next couple of months. I have got something on everyday up until the 21st of February, so there really isn't much time for rest on the horizon! Not only do I have lectures, reading and assignments for uni - I've also got my part-time job and on top of that I'm training to become a teacher for the Scottish Country Dancing society. I've spent the past couple of weekends at the house of one of our teachers, along with quite a few other people, being trained in both dancing and teaching techniques. It's all been very fun, but also a bit intense! 

I haven't written a happy post since Christmas, so I thought it would be a good idea to write another one before I'm completely swamped by all my commitments. So, here are the things that have made me happy recently...

Snow! I'm used to long, cold winters with lots of snow, and the rainy Scottish winters aren't really my cup of tea. So when the snow started to fall yesterday, I was over the moon. Sadly it's already melting, but I had time for a long walk in the snow yesterday evening, which was really lovely. 

A few days of sunshine. As mentioned, this winter has been very rainy, gloomy and grey. But this week brought a surprising amount of sunny days, which was very welcome. It was actually so bright that I was almost blinded on the way to work on Friday! Though that's probably just because my eyes aren't used to the sun....

Beautiful new books. As you might've seen from my last post, I recently got quite a few new books. Few things make me as happy as pretty books. I love adding new ones to my collection.

Veganuary. I'm almost three weeks into Veganuary now and I'm loving it. It's gone really well so far, even when eating out and during the training weekends (when cooking was a communal affair). Also, seeing other people's Veganuary adventures on instagram and twitter has been so inspiring. I was also really happy about the lovely response I got from you guys on my Going Vegan-post, especially since I was a bit worried about it before I hit publish! So thank you for that!

Booking a tattoo appointment. I've been thinking of getting a tattoo for ages and I'm so excited to finally take the leap. On the 5th of February, my sister and I are both getting the Deathly Hallows symbol on the back of our necks. Eep! 

Going to London. This Thursday, my sister and I are jetting off to London for the weekend, and we're meeting two friends who are coming over from Sweden there as well. We'll be staying until Sunday, and I suspect the weekend will involve a lot of exploring and eating. It'll be so lovely to get away for a few days and just have fun. Plus, we're going to the Warner Bros Studio Tour on Friday!! 

Listening to The Beatles on Spotify. Around Christmas time, all of The Beatles' music was made available on Spotify, and since then I've been listening to their music constantly. Sometimes I wish I were young in the 60s...! Though most of the time I don't...

Getting back into dancing. As mentioned, I've spent two weekends training to become a teacher, and on top of that the regular classes came back last week. Although the last couple of weeks have been intense in terms of dancing, I've really enjoyed doing Scottish country dancing again. It has also been a great way to get exercising again after my lazy Christmas holidays.

I also feel like I should mention David Bowie and Alan Rickman, not that their passings are happy events. They are both people that I admire a lot, and seeing them both leave within the same week was horrendous. I love Bowie's music, and moreover he was a truly brilliant and very inspiring person. I went to the David Bowie exhibition in Berlin a couple of years ago, and was truly in awe of the amazing things he'd done during his life! And Alan Rickman was, and still is, one of my favourite actors ever. Mainly because of his incredible portrayal of Snape, of course, but I also loved him in Sense and Sensibility. And Love Actually, of course! Although I'm sad they're gone, I'm also happy that I got to live in the same age as they did, and that I got to see their amazing work.

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

Learning to live 'lagom' on tartanmouth

Learning to Be on Writing Possibility

A 'P-update'! on Cider With Rosie.

Home on The Cup and Saucer.

Rethinking my Wardrobe on On Serpentine Shores.

City Slicker - Guide to Glasgow on Beside the Danube.

And do check out Nicole's new blog Ginger Kitchen, which looks like it's going to be amazing!

What has made you happy recently?

Love, Mimmi

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Book Haul #4

Book Haul

His Dark Materials 20th Anniversary Edition Hardback

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Illustrated Edition

Hogwarts Library - Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and where to find them, The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Hogwarts Library - Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and where to find them, THe Tales of Beedle the Bard

The Bone Clocks, The Good Soldier, Geek Love, The Rainbow, Poor Things

It's been quite a while since I last posted a book haul (so long that I had to look back to remember the number of this one), but since I got quite a few books over Christmas (most of them I got myself, though quite a few using Christmas and Birthday money) I thought it would be fun to show you what I've got recently.

Poor Things by Alasdair Gray
The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence
Geek Love by Katherine Dunne
The Good Soldier by For Madox Ford
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
His Dark Materials (Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) by Philip Pullman
Hogwarts Library (Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Tales of Beedle the Bard)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay

The first four are on my reading list for the new semester. I've already read Geek Love (which I loved) and The Good Soldier (which I wasn't sure about), and I'm currently reading The Rainbow. I picked up The Bone Clocks together with Yes Please (which I reviewed here) and How to Be Both by Ali Smith, which I completely forgot to include in this photo, oops. I haven't had time to read it yet though, but it looks like a good one.

The His Dark Materials trilogy is one of my favourites, but I haven't read it in years. When I heard that the BBC were planning a tv adaption I suddenly got a strong urge to read them again, so I decided to buy them in pretty hardback copies, since I didn't own them previously. With university starting again soon, I doubt I'll get the chance to read them before summer, but oh well. 

I finally got myself a copy of the Hogwarts Library box set. I've read my sister's books before, but I wanted my own set. It looks very pretty next to my Harry Potter Signature Edition Book Set. Finally, I got the illustrated edition of The Philosopher's Stone from my sister for Christmas. I had admired it several times in Waterstones, but hadn't quite been able to justify it, so it was the perfect Christmas gift. If you want to see more of it, Charlene over at Tartanmouth wrote a wonderful review along with photos of the beautiful illustrations of it here.

Have you bought or been gifted any books recently?

Love, Mimmi

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Going Vegan

Vegan burgers at Handmade Burger Co

More and more throughout 2015, I've been thinking about going vegan. Although I'm generally not too fussed about the start of a new year, it feels like a good time to start - especially because of Veganuary, which is an excellent incentive that encourages people to try veganism for the month of January. 

First things first, I want to stress that the purpose of this post is not to moralise. I know that this can be a sensitive subject to some and I also know that some vegans can be preachy and didactic. However, my aim is really not to make anyone feel bad. I simply want to express my personal thoughts and my reflections, and my blog is a place where I do exactly that. Going vegan is a personal decision of mine, and I respect everyone who doesn't want to do the same. The majority of my friends and family eat meat, and they are people that I love, respect and value highly. It wasn't that long ago that I ate meat too. It's all about personal choices and decisions.

Back in June, I wrote this post about my thoughts on vegetarianism and veganism. Back then, I ate a lot of vegan food, but also regularly ate dairy and eggs and I didn't think I could give up dairy. Since then I've discovered so many brilliant alternatives to the few foods that I thought I'd really miss (cake and chocolate mainly), and going vegan no longer seems like such an impossible task. 

My reasons for going vegan are first and foremost ethical, but the health benefits of a plant-based diet are of course a brilliant bonus. Over the last year I've read more and more about both climate issues and the animal welfare with regards to the meat and dairy industry, and I've watched a few documentaries - namely Cowspiracy, 101 Reasons to Go Vegan and Earthlings. The first two had a couple of debatable points and arguments, but on the whole they were very informative and eye-opening. The best one of the three was definitely Earthlings, which had me bawling my eyes out and was probably the final drop that made me want to try veganism. I don't want to go on too much about this (I don't want to risk being preachy), but if it's something you want to know more about, I highly recommend the documentaries I mentioned. 

A change of diet is one of the easiest changes for me personally, but I'm also going to try and make changes in other areas. I already use a lot of cruelty-free beauty products, but I still own and use a lot of stuff that isn't. I'm going to continue using what I've got (because throwing things away is just wasteful in my opinion), but I'll make an effort to only buy cruelty-free and vegan products in the future. As for leather, I own both leather shoes and leather bags, and I plan to keep them. Like with beauty products, throwing them away feels horribly wrong and wasteful, so I'll continue using those things until they fall apart. In the future, however, I'm not buying any more leather.

I'm going to try and be as strict as I can throughout January, but depending on how I feel by the end of the month I might be more lenient after that. I know eating out and eating at other people's homes can be complicated as a vegan, and I don't want to make too much of a fuss. Similarly, I won't be too bothered if I accidentally eat something that has got, say, dairy in it. It's the over-all effort that matters to me.

Phew, that was rambly. This is a difficult subject to write about, but I hope I managed to do it in an okay way. One of the best posts I've ever read on the subject is this post that Gemma wrote on her blog not too long ago. She writes so well about the subject, and her post was actually one reason why I decided to read up and watch documentaries, so I definitely recommend reading her post as well. Plus her blog is full of vegan recipes and vegan/cruelty-free beauty tips! I also recommend which is really helpful and full of information. 

I'm probably going to write more about my experience of Veganuary later on, but for now, this waffle-y post will do. I hope you enjoyed reading, if you made it all the way through.

Love, Mimmi.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Birthday Dinner at Mother India

Dinner at Mother India

Mother India Glasgow

Dinner at Mother India

Dinner at Mother India

Dinner at Mother India

Dinner at Mother India

Mother India is probably my favourite restaurant in Glasgow, and I've been there a few times already. I first visited with my mum when she came with me for a few days when I moved to Glasgow back in September 2014, and then I went again with my sister last summer. We both love the place, so to celebrate our birthdays (hers was on the 30th of December, mine was yesterday) we decided to treat ourselves to a meal there.

Mother India is one of the most popular restaurants in Glasgow, and it's easy to understand why. Not only is the food incredible, the staff is also really lovely and attentive, and the restaurant itself is both beautiful and cosy. Last time we were sat in the cellar, which is really nice, but this time we got a table upstairs, which is definitely the most beautiful room. The walls and the furniture are all a dark, red-brown wood and there are candles on the tables. The effect is just really lovely. 

Indian food is my favourite (along with Italian), and Mother India is probably the best I've had. Even though I'm normally a dessert person, we decided to go for starters as they looked much more exciting. They still had their Christmas Menu when we were there, but I can't find it on their website any longer, so you'll have to excuse my vague descriptions of what we had. To start we shared some vegetable pakora and some sort of rice pancake roll filled with spinach and other deliciousness. Although it looked a bit odd, the pancake roll thing was definitely the highlight. We also had some mango chutney and raita on the side.

For our main course we both opted for a vegetable masala, which was just incredible. The flavours were so complex and gorgeous (do I sound like a snob now?). We also had some peshwari naan and lemon and cashew rice. Despite everything being incredibly delicious we couldn't finish it all. There was just too much of everything! Delicious food, good wine and lovely company made for a perfect evening, and we walked home very full and content.

Do you like Indian food?

Love, Mimmi.

P.S. I apologise for the crappy iPhone photos. I simply couldn't bother bringing my camera and just wanted to enjoy the evening, hehe.