Finally the time has come for my trip to Russia! I was never interested to visit but my boyfriend wanted to see Iceland play in the World Cup for the first time ever, and so our trip to Russia was planned! Not very well I might point out. We bought the tickets for the games months ago, applied for our Fan IDs about 2 months ago, and actually booked flights and hotels 3 weeks ago. I was worried that the flights would be sold out or extremely expensive (the flights were really expensive when we looked 4 months ago!) but we managed to find return flights for about 50,000 ISK each. That's about £350 sterling. We even have a decent stopover each way in one of my favourite cities, Budapest! There was just one catch, they were carry on only.

I usually fly carry on anyway but 10 days in Russia didn't seem plausible to me for some reason. I was convinced that I'd need lots of layers and many changes of clothes. I think it's just because I'm used to short haul flights, not travelling from the most Western part of Europe to one of the most Eastern parts!

It's Summer in Russia which apparently is very hot, as I'm writing this it's currently 17°C in Moscow but it's been in the high 20's during the last week! Hungary is also hot during the Summer but I was preparing to pack for the last time I went to Budapest which was during the coldest month, January. I'd recently returned from a trip to Reykjavík and Budapest was much colder in comparison. Anyway I had to remind myself to pack Summer clothes.

What I packed:
  • Pair of black Skinny jeans (Travelled in)
  • Black floral shift dress
  • Pale blue cotton peasant blouse
  • Black and white midi skirt
  • Striped jumper
  • Blue shirt dress
  • Black leggings
  • White slogan t-shirt (used as pyjamas)
  • Central Perk shorts (used as pyjamas)
  • Burgundy hoodie (travelled in)
  • Swallow print t-shirt (travelled in)
  • Black cardigan
  • White and gold chiffon blouse
  • Butterfly print chiffon top
  • Swimsuit
  • 3 x vest tops
  • Bikini bag
  • Underwear (not pictured)
  • Pair of trainers (not pictured)
  • Pair of ballet pump style sketchers (not pictured)
  • Toiletry bag (not pictured)
  • GoPro (not pictured)

I always travel in my jeans as they're usually the heaviest item of clothing I take. Even though I probably won't need it I packed a lightweight jumper for the evenings. The blouse is lightweight and great for keeping cool. The skirt is a nice length and matches most of the tops. I usually wear skater dresses but I am officially a shift dress convert! This is one of my most worn dresses, it's surprisingly flattering and so comfortable.

All of my pyjamas have long bottoms, so I decided to just bring an oversized t-shirt and shorts instead to save space and keep cool. I bought this shirt dress on my last trip home, it's very lightweight and looks nice with leggings.

My boyfriend bought this burgundy hoodie for me from Finland, he also bought matching trainers which I'll be taking too. It's very soft and perfect for travel. The cardigan was my mom's but I sneakily packed it when I was emigrating as I needed one, sorry mom! The t-shirt was bought on a recent trip to the UK when I was meeting friends at the pub, but spilled coffee down the shirt I was wearing right before I met them! In my panic I went to the nearest shop and bought this for a fiver.

The blouse with the white polka dots was free from Hollister! There was a 3 for 2 sale and this was my free item. It's lightweight and ideal for the Summer heat. The butterfly top was from my favourite clothes shop in Whitby, North Yorkshire. It's my favourite top for nights out in the Summer. I don't think I'll need it but I packed my swimsuit just in case (another burgundy coloured gift from Biggi, do you see a pattern?). Even though we don't have that much time in Budapest I would like to squeeze in a trip to the geothermal baths if possible!

I took a few vests which I'll probably wear the most, I might even buy some more in Russia. The bikini bag is waterproof on the inside and I store my swimsuit inside it after swimming.

I usually roll my clothes but decided to pack everything flat this time as I find Summer clothes tend to crease easier than my regular clothes. I still have quite a lot of room left in my carry on case after packing! I will put my (empty) backpack inside the case and probably fill the rest of the space with snacks to save money. I've been known to fill 50% of my carry on with food for a trip before...

I actually believe that I've really over packed for this trip! I'm not really used to packing for hot holidays so I think I've over estimated this but it's a learning curve! I've heard that Russia is great for clothes shopping (and cheap!) so maybe I will pick up a couple of things there and not wear much of what I've brought with me. I'd like to bring a maxi dress but I don't own one! Hopefully I can pick one up while I'm there.

So that's what I packed for 10 days in Russia! I'd love to hear where you're heading to for a Summer holiday, let me know in the comments below!

Loppy x
Over the last year I've dealt with a lot of stress. Emigrating, surviving my first month in Reykjavík with no money, finding work, finding an apartment, moving a few times, my mom's accident, crowdfunding to raise enough money to visit my mom, learning Icelandic, moving back to South Iceland and planning a big holiday with little to no money!

Although it's been hard, I've come to find a few ways to deal with all of the stress that has come my way. The Icelandic word for 'peace of mind' is rather beautiful, hugarró has become one of my favourite words recently. It sounds a little similar to the Danish word 'hygge', and the concept of hygge ties in well with hugarró.

These are my ways of finding hugarró.

Painting is a great way to take your mind off your worries

1. Switch your morning coffee for a herbal tea.
I've been a huge coffee drinker for years but my boyfriend pointed out that the high levels of caffeine I drink throughout the day might be keeping me on edge and could be a contributing factor to my disrupted sleep, which in turn affects my mood. I decided to cut down my coffee intake drastically and started to replace it with herbal tea instead. I still struggle to sleep but I think I've been having better quality sleep since I switched.

2. Start writing!
I've been writing this blog for a while (although admittedly not as consistently as I should!), but I also had an idea for a novel around 3 years ago. I started to write it but soon abandoned the idea and the file was left unopened on my computer for most of that time. Recently I decided to open the file again and just start writing. Soon after I started writing it again I very quickly figured out a full plot and ending for the story. I'm aiming to get the first draft done within the next 3-6 months. I always found it hard to find the time to write and hard to get into the flow, but I've discovered that my commute to work is the perfect time to write and the ideas come easily now.

3. (Re)Discover your creative side.
I don't yet have a work space here that I can create jewellery in. Although I'd rather spend my days designing and creating in metal, I have to settle for other creative outputs at the moment. A few months ago I bought some polymer clay and wire. Wirework and polymer clay were always my weakest skills in jewellery making but I was determined to prove to myself that I could make something lovely from both mediums. Although my wirework left something to be desired, I was pretty proud of my polymer clay attempts.
I've started painting again. I've always loved painting in acrylics and wanted a new challenge. I love watercolour paintings but have always been intimidated by the loose paint. On my last trip to England I bought a miniature 12 colour watercolour kit. In the last few days I've been painting quite a lot. It allows me to shut the world out for a little while and I've produced a couple of nice bright floral pieces. It's a better alternative to scrolling through Facebook for hours (GUILTY!).

First attempt with watercolours

Not amazing but probably the best wirework I've ever done!

4. Hygge.
I think by now almost everyone is aware of the art of Scandinavian cosiness. Since I discovered the concept at the beginning of 2017 I've been trying to incorporate it into my lifestyle as much as I can. Sometimes the only thing that I want to do is close myself off from everyone else with a hot chocolate, a good book, a cosy blanket and some thick woolen socks. It's good and healthy to treat yourself every once in a while.

I'd love to hear your ideas, let me know in the comments below!
Loppy x
So it has been over four months now since my mom was hit by a car after leaving work. I thought it was time for an update about what's  happened since.

For anyone who didn't see the original post, it can be found here. There are four parts, links at the bottom of each post.

First of all, after I returned to Iceland it was very difficult getting back into my routine. My Icelandic classes were about to start again and I didn't feel ready to go back to work (but of course I had to in order to pay my rent). Every time a customer complained about their coffee being too cold (or worse, too hot), I wanted to scream and throw the drink over them. Seriously, never complain about minor things, you never know what it going on in someone's life. There were even people complaining that I'd put the drink in a take away cup but they wanted it in a mug, and demanded that I make the drink from scratch again. THIS. IS. NOT. A. SERIOUS. ISSUE.

I also had an email from a journalist asking to promote the Crowdfunder, I asked permission from the police liason officer as I didn't want to give any information to the press if it would interfere with the investigation. Annoyingly, the liason officer wasn't really interested in talking to me once I'd returned to Iceland. She stopped sending me updates and started to ignore me.

Not so long after I returned to Iceland, mom was no longer deemed to be in a critical condition and was moved from Intensive Care to another ward. Her memory was still fuzzy but a few weeks after that she was deemed well enough to be moved to another hospital (Sandwell and Dudley). She had seemed pretty good when she moved, but within a few days her memory deteriorated again. One time I called her and she didn't even believe that I was her daughter! Sandwell didn't know what to do and admitted that they weren't made aware of just how serious her condition was. They had to call the QE for advice, the QE suggested tilting her bed back so the fluids stay in her head. They tried it and within a few days she started to return back to the way she had been when she came to Sandwell. At some point at Sandwell she tried to get out of bed, she fell but a nurse spotted it and caught her before she hit the ground.

Helping mom to write again during my first visit. I think she did pretty good!

I visited her when she'd been in Sandwell for a few weeks and I was a little shocked. To me she actually seemed a little bit worse than she was on my last visit. She struggled to put sentences together and didn't understand some things. She seemed very dazy, especially on the first day. She looked physically different too. Last time, half of her head was very swollen where the skull had been removed, this time the skin was sunken down below where the skull should've been. It looked very scary as she only appeared to have half a head! We asked one of the nurses if her broken ribs had healed properly. She looked at us blankly and didn't know what we were talking about. She asked when had mom broken her ribs. I couldn't believe that no one knew about the extent of her injuries. The hospitals hadn't communicated well.

She is still missing half of her skull, and will be until her surgery

I returned to Iceland admittedly a little upset as I didn't feel that she was in the best place (that being said, the nurses and cleaning staff at Sandwell are fantastic! I really appreciate everything that they've done for mom). It seemed to me like she was regressing and I wanted her back in the QE as soon as possible. We were told that she couldn't return to the QE until she was having surgery to put the metal plate in her skull. It was so frustrating and I felt that no one was taking my mom's case seriously anymore (and honestly those feelings haven't changed, I still don't believe it's being taken seriously). The hardest thing was, again, returning to work in my customer service job. My lease was almost up and I had the stress of moving again to think about too. I also found out about some new changes that would be taking place at work soon, regarding new management and staff. For the first time ever, I really needed consistency but there was none.

Over the weeks mom's condition seemed to be at a stand still, no better but no worse. I was planning to visit again for a little bit longer this time. I managed to get the time off and came home for a week to visit. It was so much better this time! My mom seemed to be back to herself, just missing half of her skull. She was chatty and happy, but getting bored of being stuck in bed. She couldn't remember anything from the last few months of being in hospital and still couldn't believe what had happened. Although she told me that she was nervous, she desperately wanted her surgery so that she could start rehabilitation. Before I returned home on 17th May, she was told her surgery would be on 25th May.

The day I left she was moved back to the QE to be prepped for surgery as it had been brought forward! Then they cancelled it and rescheduled, it was cancelled again and she was told by 25th May she will have the surgery. The 25th May came and went - still no surgery. It was decided that she could learn to walk to the toilet with the help of a zinger frame and a nurse. Although I knew that mom would be happy to be able to get out of bed, I didnt like the idea of her getting up with half of her brain unprotected.
Her condition worsened, she was starting to act a little bit funny again. The doctors discovered that she'd contracted MRSA and she was put in a side room alone. She hates that, she has no one to talk to and she can't people watch. Infuriatingly, the nurses also can't keep an eye on her so well. She got out of bed to go to the bathroom, alone. She fell. No one noticed her getting out of bed.

The surgery was cancelled yet again, this time the doctor informed us that this appointment was never for the surgery, it was a visit to the neurological centre. Mom can't leave the hospital until she's had the surgery so it wasn't a good excuse.

A few days ago mom had a seizure. She hasn't had one before. The hospital says that they don't know what brought on the seizure but she should be in surgery this week.

I don't feel that I can believe them anymore.

Thank you so much to everyone who donated to the Crowdfunder, I raised £1200 to visit mom over the coming months!

Hitting £1000 on Crowdfunder!

I know that I been a pain over the last few months cancelling plans at the last minute and struggling to keep in touch. Thank you everyone for being patient with me. It really means at lot. ❤

Loppy x