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.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Postcards from St Andrews

Saint Adrews

Saint Adrews harbour

Saint Adrews

Saint Adrews beach

Saint Adrews beach

Last weekend I went up to St Andrews to visit one of my best friends, Märit. I took the bus up from Glasgow on Saturday morning and stayed until Sunday afternoon, so it wasn't the longest visit, but I had a lovely time. I've been wanting to visit St Andrews for ages and was happy to finally get the chance! Moreover, I hadn't seen Märit since she came to visit me in Glasgow in December, and catching up with her was absolutely lovely. 

We really didn't do anything special, apart from wandering around town, visiting the beach, the cathedral and the castle, and enjoying each other's company. We also had lunch in town both days, and even got the chance to sit outside in the sunshine on the Sunday! St Andrews definitely lived up to my expectations. It's a tiny town, but it's incredibly picturesque. The sunny, warm weather definitely helped make it look even prettier.

Unfortunately I'm still being horribly lazy and didn't use my camera at all. I did take a few snaps with my iPhone though, and thought I would share some of them with you. I'm already itching to go back! There's not an awful lot to see, but the atmosphere is just lovely, and it's the perfect place for a lazy weekend.

Love, Mimmi

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Recently Read #7

I haven't had much time to read this year, since I've been swamped with assignments and commitments. When lectures finished before Easter, I found myself with a lot of more free-time than I'd had before. Naturally I still have to revise, work a few hours a week, and do my dancing stuff, but I've actually had time to read for pleasure over the last few weeks! So I thought I would share my thoughts on the the three last books I read...

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Run away, one drowsy summer's afternoon, with Holly Sykes: wayward teenager, broken-hearted rebel and unwitting pawn in a titanic, hidden conflict. Over six decades, the consequences of a moment's impulse unfold, drawing an ordinary woman into a world far beyond her imagining. And as life in the near future turns perilous, the pledge she made to a stranger may become the key to her family's survival...

David Mitchell's most famous work is probably Cloud Atlas, but for some reason I decided to start with The Bone Clocks. I wanted badly to like it, and considering the great reviews I'm almost embarrassed to say I wasn't a massive fan! The start was most definitely promising, but the more I read the less I found myself drawn to the story. The supernatural elements seem to be randomly thrown in and not fully thought-out. Mitchell uses a whole bundle of random, fancy-sounding science words that seem to only have the purpose to hide the fact that the novel is really just all over the place. I normally love the idea of several characters whose stories connect in different ways, but The Bone Clocks didn't do it for me. It's as if Mitchell had a few different ideas and haphazardly strung them together while convincing himself that they did fit. That said, I did enjoy it enough to power through. Mitchell is a really good writer, his characters are interesting and he clearly has a lot of imagination. However, it left me feeling like I had been promised something wonderful and magical, but then had been deprived of it.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

In 1956, Stevens, a long-serving butler at Darlington Hall, decides to take a motoring trip through the West Country. The six-day excursion becomes a journey into the past of Stevens and England, a past that takes in fascism, two world wars, and an unrealised love between the butler and his housekeeper. Ishiguro's dazzling novel is a sad and humorous love story, a meditation on the condition of modern man, and an elegy for England at a time of acute change.

This is a beautiful little story. When I started reading it I found myself waiting for something to happen, but I soon realised that it wasn't that kind of story. It's not a novel with an intricate plot and with a lot of action, but it's engaging and entertaining all the same. It's the sort of novel that is perfect to read if you want to just relax - before bed or on a lazy Sunday. If you're not in the right mood, I think there is a risk that you'd find it a little bit dull, but thankfully I must've been in the right mood as I really enjoyed it. The characters are portrayed in a really evocative way and there is a sort of mellow humour running right throughout the novel, which makes it a very enjoyable read.

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

North lives on a circus boat with her beloved bear, keeping a secret that could capsize her life. Callanish lives alone in her house in the middle of the ocean, tending the graves of those who die at sea. As penance for a terrible mistake, she has become a gracekeeper. A chance meeting between the two draws them magnetically to one another - and to the promise of a new life. But the waters are treacherous, and the tide is against them. 

I am still a bit unsure about this book. I absolutely love the setting, the characters and the language, but I'm simultaneously a bit disappointed by the undeveloped plot and the rushed ending. The world is described beautifully, with evocative descriptions and dream-like language. The mix of fairy-tale and dystopian future works so well, and the start of the book was promising. There is also an interesting mix of characters, and I enjoyed that you got to read more than one point of view, while still keeping the focus on Callanish and North. My only complaint is that I was left wanting more. I didn't mind the slow build-up, but the ending felt a bit rushed, and I would've liked to see the characters develop more. I enjoyed it for the wonderful setting and the mesmerising language, but I would've loved a longer story, with a more intricate plot.

What have you read recently?

Love, Mimmi.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Happy Post #34

We're already halfway through April, and I'm thoroughly enjoying the arrival of Spring. Sure, Glasgow is generally really rather rainy, but the temperatures are rising, the days are lighter, trees are starting to bloom, and the sun is actually showing itself more and more. I'm also feeling refreshed and revitalised after my two week Easter break at home. Spring is a lovely season, isn't it?

Anyhow, here's what's made me happy recently....

Family time. The worst thing about living abroad is being so far away from your family. Getting to spend some quality time with them when I was home was truly needed. I don't normally get homesick much, but when I got back home I realised how much I had missed them all. Thankfully mum is coming to visit in June, and dad might come in July, and then I'm seeing my sister in August! 

Dog cuddles. I had plenty of time for walks and cuddles with my little Nisse when I was home, which was really wonderful. He makes me instantly happier - there is really something special about dogs.

Early mornings. I've always been a lover of morning time, but over Winter I was rarely up earlier than 7.30. When I was home in Sweden, my dog woke me up around seven every day, and my body seems to have got into a really good rhythm. Scotland is one hour behind Sweden, so ever since I got back I've been waking up at six, without an alarm, feeling all refreshed and full of energy. Here's hoping I'll be able to keep it up..!

Exercising. I've really not had time for any exercising at all since September, since I was so busy with everything else. Thankfully I've had dancing to keep me moving a bit, but for a long time now I've felt like I want to get a bit stronger. So earlier this week I bought a yoga mat and started doing some yoga (though because of my scoliosis I can only do certain poses), and I've also joined the gym! I've only been twice so far, but so far so good. I'll never be a gym junkie, but I do like the feeling afterwards, and I'm excited to build up some strength.

New spring clothes. Oh, how materialistic of me. I haven't bought an awful lot, because that's just not my thing, but I have acquired a few new bits and pieces. I got a couple of skirts here in Glasgow before I went home, and then in Stockholm I bought a few basic (but lovely) tops. As much as I love wearing jeans and jumpers, it does get a bit old and boring after a few months, and at the moment I'm looking forward to warmer weather and Spring clothes. 

My new wooden bowl. I love wooden things and have been wanting a wooden bowl for ages. A few days ago I went on a hunt and found a lovely one in John Lewis. For some reason it makes every meal just a little bit more enjoyable. 

Having more free time. Lectures are finished and my hours at work have been reduced, so I've got more free time at the moment than I've had in ages. Sure, I have revision to do and exams looming over me, but it's still pretty wonderful to feel like I have time to read more, blog more and just chill out.

Finally, here are my favourite blog posts as of recently:

'Cloud Watching and Weather Lore' on The Salty Sea Blog.

'Lake District | A Day At Tarn Hows' on Alphabeth.

'Spring Break in Paris Pt. 1' on Croisette Chic.

'Why It's Ok to Say NO' on Sweet Serendipity Blog.

'10 Things Every 20-Something Should Know' on Imogen Scribbles.

'Being Vegan | Three Months On' on Shifting Tales.

'London Haunts | The Secret Garden in Spring' on Beside the Danube.

What has made you happy recently?

Love, Mimmi

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Vegan Food & Shopping in Stockholm

Gamla Stan Stockholm
Last week, I hopped on the train to Stockholm to visit my friend Alice over a couple of days. We became friends during my first year in Glasgow, as we were both doing the same course and also lived in the same building. Sadly, she decided to not come back for the second year, and instead moved to Stockholm to study at the Stockholm School of Economics. We hadn't seen each other since June, so it was lovely to get the chance to catch up and spend some time together again. It was also the perfect excuse to visit Stockholm, which has a special place in my heart. So let's have a look at what we got up to during those couple of days!

Saturday, 9 April 2016

A Month of Meals #1

Since becoming vegan, I've started enjoying being in the kitchen more and more again. I've been loving trying out new recipes as well as adapting old favourites. Since I love talking and reading about food, I thought I'd start a new series of What I Eat in a Day. My plan is to either do it monthly or bi-weekly - sharing some examples of what I ate during the previous weeks. This first post is a mix of meals from February and March

My go-to breakfast is porridge, which I probably have nine days out of ten. My favourite topping all throughout winter has been almond milk, maple syrup, almond butter, goji berries and cinnamon. It's such a wonderful combination and keeps me full right up until lunch time! Once in a while I change it up a bit, and two examples from March are this banana, cacao and date smoothie, and then toasted bagels with almond butter, banana coins and goji berries.

I used to be really unimaginative with my lunches, but I've started changing it up a bit more recently. Clockwise from the top: roasted butternut squash, chickpea and kale with sundried tomatoes and buckwheat; sweet potato and coconut soup; sesame-miso brown rice, roasted butternut squash, sesame kale and avocado; avocado on rye bread. I always want lunch to be quick, so I'll either have leftovers from dinner (like the soup was), or I'll make sure to prepare something one night that will last in the fridge for a few days. I also regularly go back to avocado on rye bread or on toast - it's just so simple, quick and delicious!

Dinner is when I'll spend a bit more time on my food. I've been really enjoying Deliciously Ella's second book since I got it at the end of January, and all of the above meals are actually from that book! Clockwise; pasta arrabbiata with spinach; baked sweet potato with black beans, mushrooms, avocado and kale; mashed potato bowl with sweetcorn, asparagus and kale; turmeric quinoa curry. Sometimes I'll make just one portion, like I did with the pasta arrabbiata, but most of the time I'll make bigger batches and freeze them in portions, or have them for lunch the next day. I don't cook dinner every single evening, but usually eat the same thing a few days in the week, which saves me both money and time!

I hope you found that interesting! My plan for the future is to find something other than my crinkled bedsheets to take photos on, and to try recipes that aren't from Deliciously Ella... 

Love, Mimmi

Monday, 4 April 2016

Sweden So Far

It's already the last week of my stay here in Sweden. I'm loving being home for a while and time has really flown by so far! I haven't had as much time just doing nothing as I thought I would have, but to be fair the balance has probably been quite good. The weekend that I arrived I mostly spent time with my family, and I really didn't document anything as I just enjoyed being in the present. On the first evening - which was Friday - my sister and I had waffles for dinner with mum and her man, after I had been picked up at the airport by my grandparents. Easter isn't a big deal in my family, but on Saturday we went to the grandparents for a casual Easter dinner. The following day, my sister and I went to my dad and his fiancée, and I made vegan sweet potato and bean burgers with potato wedges and guacamole for dinner, which was happily a success!

Monday was a quiet affair - my sister, our mum and I went to the nearby town Västerås for a couple of hours, where we wandered around and had lunch (or a bagel with jam, in my case). Then Tuesday came around and people went back to work, while I spent quality time with this little one. Nisse turned seven last week, which I really can't believe. It seems like just yesterday that we brought him home as a teeny tiny pup! He's a real weirdo, but also the sweetest dog you'll ever meet. 

I've enjoyed being so close to the forest, and I've gone on quite a few long walks with Nisse, which we both absolutely love. Few things make me feel as content as wandering through the forest (regardless of season!), breathing in the fresh air, with a little fur ball for company. 

Last Wednesday, after being treated to lunch at the grandparents', I took the bus to Uppsala to meet up with two old friends from high school for a fika. We hadn't seen each other for almost two years, so it was lovely to catch up! I also had a wander through Uppsala, and found an abundance of crocuses. I wish I'd had more time in Uppsala, as it's one of my favourite towns. It has featured on the blog before, when I visited it with my mum a little over a year ago and it was all white and frosty.

All of last week the weather was lovely - sunny and spring-like, although a bit chilly in the mornings. One such sunny day I really fancied some ice cream, and since I knew that there was a new vegan ice cream cone made from rice milk on the market, I walked past the local supermarket and picked one up. It was so good. 

Speaking of vegan food - this Sunday I went to the Swedish burger chain Max with my dad and sister, and tried their vegan BBQ burger made from 'Oumph' - a kind of soy protein. I very rarely eat meat substitutes, but I actually really enjoyed this one! Even though small towns here in Sweden aren't very vegan-friendly, there are quite a lot of products on the market and the chains seem to be catching on.

As you can tell, I've spent my days either at home (alternating sofa-time with dog-walk time) or being sociable with family. And of course, when you live abroad it's essential to squeeze in some catch-up time with friends. Two of my best friends are out of the country, but as mentioned I met two of my high school friends last Wednesday. Also, on Saturday, my sister and I first met up with a family friend for fika in the afternoon, and then went to one of my sister's friends for dinner, which was lovely. 

Tomorrow I'm heading off to Stockholm to see my friend Alice for a couple of days. I'm so looking forward to catching up with her, and I'm very excited about exploring all of Stockholm's vegan-friendly places! 

What have you been up to lately? How was your Easter?

Love, Mimmi.