Sunday Summary #53

30.12.12

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1.Chocolate reindeer 2.Sunset 3.Roast dinner 4.Listening to The Shins records 5.Christmas breakfast of bucks fizz and bacon & maple syrup waffles 6.Alternative Christmas dinner - sirloin steak and all the trimmings 7.Quesadillas at Giraffe 8.Home

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you've all been enjoying the holidays. Things have been rather quiet on the blog/Twitter front this week as I've been busy eating, drinking and generally just being merry. I was back at my parents' house for Christmas and my grandparents were visiting too, so we just had a pretty relaxed Christmas and didn't really do anything remotely exciting. It has been so nice to sit and do absolutely nothing for a few days, and catch up on sleep, reading books and my backlog of blog designs. I'm going back down to Edinburgh this afternoon for New Year celebrations - not entirely sure what the plans are yet, but as long as there are plenty of drinks and some lovely chums then I'm sure it will be a successful Hogmanay.

Apart from various friends and family visiting and eating a disgusting amount of food, I really haven't done much since last week's Sunday Summary. On Friday afternoon I went into Aberdeen with Morag and had a look round the shops, but I didn't buy anything apart from napkins and some Christmas decorations in the Paperchase sale for next year (HOW BORING). We were both hoping to find a new dress for Hogmanay but there was absolutely nothing worth buying. I quite fancied something with sparkles and sequins but couldn't find any nice party dresses, so I suppose I'll just have to dig something out of my wardrobe instead! As there were no bargains to be had, we consoled ourselves with lunch in Giraffe, yum yum yum.

Hope you've all had a great Christmas, what are your plans for New Year?

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #52

23.12.12

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1.Decorations 2.Christmas 3.Star light 4.Steak teriyaki soba at Wagamama 5.Train to London 6.Dinner at The Diner 7.Burritos at Chipotle 8.Watching Die Hard 9.Birmingham Christmas Market 10.Flying home

Can you believe this is my 52nd Sunday Summary post? That's a whole year since my first one! Time really does fly. I feel like I've done loads of stuff this year but looking back, apart from graduating, nothing very momentous has happened!

This week has been pretty busy, I was down in London and Birmingham at the start of the week, which you can read all about here, then had a bit of socialising to do in Edinburgh, and then on Friday I travelled up to my parents' house in Aberdeenshire for Christmas. With essays and uni work deadlines, and then all this travelling around, it seems like I've been going non-stop for the last couple of weeks, so it's nice to be able to sit around all day in my pyjamas reading books and watching TV. I always usually over-pack for coming home during the holidays, but this year I've admitted to myself that I won't be doing anything and so have only packed pyjamas and one proper outfit in case I need to go outside!

I wasn't feeling particularly Christmassy until I came home, but now I'm in total holiday mode. My mum's Christmas tree beats the sad little fake one in my flat any day, tasteful Christmas decorations are definitely her strong point! There's nothing like walking into the house and getting the smell of pine needles. I've also been doing my fair share of eating since I got home (although to be fair, some of it has been healthy - clementines are always a festive fave). We're not actually having a roast dinner on Christmas Day but we are having one tonight for some reason - no idea why, my family are insaniacs - so I'm looking forward to that. I do like roast chicken, but my favourite part is definitely all the stuff that goes with it. Especially roast parsnips, aahhh I could live off those!

My family don't really do presents in a big way as we never know what to buy each other. I like buying presents for people if I know exactly what to buy them, but if I don't it's just so stressful - so not having to do Christmas shopping suits me just fine. As long as I get a packet of Percy Pigs in my stocking, like I have done for the last twenty years, then I'll be happy! Have you finished all your Christmas shopping?

What have you been up to this week?

Gillian x

Adventures: London and Birmingham

21.12.12

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London Eye // mango margaritas and churros // at the Reebok Bar for BBloggersXmas // strawberry milkshake at The Diner // jellyfish tank at Chaophraya // Birmingham Christmas Market // sweeties stall // mulled apple wine // Pimm's o'clock

This time last week I got the train down south for a mini-holiday to eat lots, drink lots and spend some time with a couple of my favourite people. I had never been to London before (I KNOW, right) or Birmingham, for that matter, so I was really excited to have a little break and be able to celebrate being finished with coursework for this semester. I'm pretty much the worst blogger ever though, and only took about 10 photos during the whole trip. Oops! Obviously I was too busy stuffing my face to remember to take photos of everything around me.

On Friday evening I arrived in London and managed to navigate the tube system all by myself to go and meet up with my babestation of a host for the weekend, Lauren. We then met up with Lauren's friend Jara and sister Megan (who has a blog too!) and after a bit of wandering around trying to find somewhere that wasn't ridiculously busy, we ended up at Chipotle for some burritos and a Corona or two. After dinner we headed to a bar in Soho called Garlic & Shots for a few drinks, although we ended up leaving there early as they wouldn't accept my Scottish money :( - it's legal tender, you know!! Not to fear, as we walked over to Chiquito in Leicester Square and had a pitcher of cocktails (or three) and some churros before getting the train home.

On Saturday afternoon Lauren and I headed to the Reebok Bar in Canary Wharf for the BBloggers Xmas event. It was nice to say hi to a few London-based bloggers and find out about some beauty brands I'd never heard of before. And the goody bags were insane, so much stuff! Sadly, as I was getting the plane home, I couldn't manage to take all the goodies home with me, but I tried to fit as many of the products into my bag as possible! After the event, I tasked Lauren with taking me to one of the ~popular~ restaurants I always see bloggers instagramming, and so we went to The Diner for some amazing burgers and milkshakes. So full afterwards, but we still managed to fit in a wee cup of mulled wine as we wandered through the South Bank Christmas Market before heading home to watch Crossroads snuggled up in bed with a cup of tea (or in my case, a cup of hot chocolate as I, shocking though it is, don't like tea!).

On Sunday I hopped on yet another train and headed up to Birmingham to visit my old flatmate who is now doing a PhD there. After a late lunch at Ed's Easy Diner in Selfridges and a wander round the shops in the Bullring, we stopped in past Tesco to get some essential supplies (Kopparberg and croissants, natch) and headed back to my hotel room for a couple of drinks and a much needed rest. Later on, we went back out for dinner at Chaophraya. I was particularly enjoying the giant tank of jellyfish right next to our table! I had the spicy beef salad which was really nice, although I don't think it quite beats my all time favourite Thai beef salad from my all time favourite Thai restaurant, Passorn.

After an early night watching Die Hard in bed and a lie-in the next morning, on Monday afternoon we went for a wander round the Birmingham Christmas Market and once again just spent the day eating and drinking. I don't really want to think about how much money I spent on sausages and mulled drinks, but it was all worth it. As we were up early to get the plane back to Edinburgh the next day we didn't want to stay out too late, so in the evening we went to the pub for a quick drink before going to see The Hobbit at the cinema, which was really good.

So, all in all, I've had a very busy but great few days and really enjoyed exploring London and Birmingham. Although, I'm not sure "adventures" is an accurate title for this post as I failed to do anything remotely touristy, I think it would be better off as "places I have been eating and drinking this week" haha.

Gillian x

Review: 17 Mirror Shine Lipstick in Beehive

19.12.12

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I have been looking for a nude lipstick that actually suits me for what seems like forever, and I think I have finally found a possible contender. Because my skin is so pale and my lips are naturally quite dark, it seems to be really difficult to find a flattering nude lipstick. I'm still not entirely convinced I like the look of nude lips on me, but this 17 Mirror Shine Lipstick in the shade Beehive is certainly the best one I've tried so far. I had seen quite a few bloggers comparing it to MAC's Hue, which I was tempted to order, but decided the much cheaper 17 version would probably be a better idea as I'm still not completely sold on nude lipsticks.

The formula of the lipstick is very light and sheer, it's almost more like a tinted lipbalm but it does give a fair amount of colour. As the 'Mirror Shine' name suggests, it has quite a glossy finish but it doesn't end up feeling sticky like lipgloss does. As the colour is somewhat sheer, it allows my natural lip colour to shine through a little bit which helps prevent it from making my lips too pale and washing me out. The lipstick does look like quite a deep pink in the bullet, but when applied it gives a very light wash of colour.

Because of the consistency of this lipstick, it doesn't last a particularly long time, but reapplication is easy to do without a mirror so it's perfect for simple daytime makeup as long as you don't mind reapplying a few times throughout the day. The shade Beehive is a really nice light pinky nude which would probably suit a lot of people, but I'm still a little wary that it might be slightly too nude for me. I really like the finish of it though, so I think I'll definitely be purchasing some of the other shades in the range. I bought this a couple of months ago and I believe the range now has new packaging, but the original shades are still available.

What's your favourite nude lipstick?

Gillian x

Recipe: Christmas Tree Shortbread

17.12.12

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I hate to admit it, but I'm definitely turning in to my mother. For the last I-don't-know-how-many years my mum has given people homemade shortbread as part of their Christmas presents. We're not really big on gift-giving in my family (which makes us sound really Grinchy, but I promise we're not) but we do believe in food and drink, so my mum always makes little food hampers as presents which I think is much nicer than getting something you don't really want or need. Anyway, this year I'm doing the same and have been (and will be doing more!) baking presents for everyone. This also means I haven't had to do any Christmas shopping, which I HATE, apart from nipping to the Co-op for butter and sugar. Even if you don't want to give them as proper "presents", it's always nice to have something homemade to bring round when you're visiting people over the festive period, or even just to have in your cupboard to enjoy with your hot chocolate! So, without further ado, here is mama's tried and tested Scottish shortbread recipe...

You Will Need (makes approx 24):
225g unsalted butter
115g caster sugar
225g plain flour
115g cornflour

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl or freestanding mixer until light and fluffy.
2. Add in the flour and cornflour through a sieve, and mix until it forms a soft dough. This will take at least 5 minutes using an electic mixer - first the mixture will turn to a breadcrumb consistency, then it will start to come together into a dough.
3. On a well floured surface, roll out the mixture to approximately half a centimetre thick and cut out the shapes. I used a Christmas tree cutter, but you could use any festive shape you like or just go for a classic round shortbread.
4. Place the shapes on a baking tray and prick each one a couple of times with a fork.
5. Put in the oven and cook for approximately 10 minutes. They are ready once the edges start to turn ever so slightly golden - don't worry if they look quite pale when you take them out of the oven as they will continue to cook slightly once you remove them.
6. As soon as you have removed them from the oven, sprinkle some caster sugar over the shortbread along with any decorations you like - I used some edible gold stars. Leave them to cool on the trays for at least 5-10 minutes to allow them to harden, otherwise they will just crumble when you try to move them. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Probably one of the simplest recipes ever, but you can't beat a good bit of shortbread! It's buttery and sugary and wonderfully crumbly and always reminds me of my childhood. You could ice your shortbread if you're handy with a piping bag, but personally I think they're best left simple with just a sprinkling of sugar on top.

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #51

16.12.12

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1.Russian Red 2.Christmas tree earrings 3.Primark winter supplies

The eagle-eyed among you may notice that this looks like only half a week's worth of photos, and that's because it is. I'm actually writing this on Thursday night but have scheduled it to go up on Sunday. I've made it almost a whole year without missing a single Sunday Summary post, so didn't want to fail on the second last one! As you're reading this, I'll probably be somewhere between London and Birmingham. Once I'm back I'll do a proper post about my adventures, but it's basically just a mini holiday to visit some chums and an excuse to eat and drink a lot. Remember to follow me on Instagram if you want to have a sneaky look at what I've been doing the past few days. I'm going to be in Birmingham for the next couple of days so if you have any suggestions of restaurants, pubs, shops or just general fun things to do then please let me know!

As for the rest of my week, on Monday I got all dolled up to go the the Scottish Bloggers Christmas Party which was lots of fun, but sadly I couldn't get properly in the Christmas spirit until Thursday as I had my final essay to hand in. Usually I'm quite organised with essays but this year things just seemed to keep piling up and I didn't get started writing this one until the day before it was due. Despite what everyone says about students, in my whole four and a bit years of education I've never done that before and I can certainly say I'll never be doing it again. So unbelievably stressful. But it's out of the way now which is the main thing, and I can now concentrate on fun things. I'm quite excited for a few nights out soon as it has been SO long, in fact Halloween was the last time I went on a night out. CRAZY.

I've got a couple of post scheduled for next week, including a recipe for festive baking and a lipstick review, so there will be plenty to read while I'm off adventuring around England!

What have you been up to this week?

Gillian x

Scottish Bloggers Christmas Party

13.12.12

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Crackers from Next // Me and Lynne // Raffle // Gemma and Jenn // French martini // Me and Morag

On Monday evening I headed through to Glasgow with Jenn for the the Scottish Bloggers Christmas Party which was held at Monkey Bar on Bath Street. I love that these meet-ups have become quite a regular thing, it's always great to catch up 'in real life' with bloggers you chat to all the time, as well as discover some lovely new blogs to follow. Huge thanks to Roisin, Gill and Claire for putting it all together - I had such a good night and can only imagine how much hard work it took to organise everything!

As well as festive crackers, free glasses of bubbly, lovely goody bags and of course lots of chatting about blog-related topics, there was an amazing raffle in aid of Glasgow Women's Aid. I never usually win anything but I ended up having the lucky tickets for two prizes - a spirit tasting with The Good Spirits Co. (and I think we all know how much I like a good drink), and some lovely bath and body things from the Scottish Fine Soaps Company which I can't wait to try out. There was also a wee Secret Santa and I got a lovely lip balm set from the Body Shop - thank you, whoever my mystery gift-giver was!

I went for a bit of a primary school Christmas party theme with my outfit, and chose a glittery velvet dress from Topshop which I bought last winter, along with some Christmas tree earrings from Accessorize and my favourite studded boots from Ebay. I also had a Christmas jumper but was roasting so had to take it off shortly after arriving, everyone else made a much better effort with their Christmassy jumpers though! As always seems to happen, I didn't quite make it round to speak to everyone, so please leave a comment so I can follow you!

On the train over, Jenn and I started hatching some plans for an Edinburgh meet-up, and we've already roped in Juliet and Lianne to help - we think it's definitely time we showed you Glasgow girls how it's done! We won't start properly making plans until after New Year, but we're thinking some time in February so keep an eye out on the #scottishbloggers hashtag for more information soon. So excited to start planning, I really hope lots of you will be able to come through for it!

Gillian x

Mixtape: December

10.12.12


December mixtape // via Spotify

I usually post my monthly mixtapes at the end of the month, but I thought I would do this one a little early as a festive treat to help you get into the Christmas spirit. It's basically impossible to put up a Christmas tree or wrestle with trying to wrap up circular presents (I mean seriously, HOW is it done?) without a suitable soundtrack - plenty of classic cheese and jingle bells aplenty, but with a sprinkling of ~alternative~ tunes too. I'm off to the Scottish Bloggers Christmas Party this evening so I will definitely be putting this on in the background whilst I adorn myself with glitter and red lipstick. What's your favourite Christmas song?

The Raveonettes // The Christmas Song
The Waitresses // Christmas Wrapping
Hall & Oates // Jingle Bell Rock
Johnny Cash // White Christmas
She & Him // Sleigh Ride
The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl // Fairytale of New York
Sufjan Stevens // Holly Jolly Christmas
Elvis Presley // Blue Christmas
Frankie Goes To Hollywood // The Power of Love
Hurts // All I Want for Christmas is New Year's Day
Listen to "December" here.

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #50

9.12.12

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1.Christmas tree discoballs 2.Candles 3.Afternoon sunset 4.Cosy jumpers 5.Christmas tree

Apologies for another rather boring Sunday Summary, but I promise this will be the last one for a while. I've had mountains of uni work to do lately, but I've got two essays to hand in this week and then I will be done for the holidays on Thursday. YAAAY. I've almost finished tomorrow's essay, but I haven't really made much of a start on Thursday's one so the rest of this week is going to be super fun. Not.

All my festive plans are starting to come together though, which is much more exciting than doing essay research. It's the Scottish bloggers Christmas party in Glasgow on Monday, then on Friday I'm off down to London for a few days to visit my favourite blogging babe Lauren (and I believe we will be making an appearance at the BBloggersXmas event which sounds like it will be super fun party times). Then I'll be heading to Birmingham to visit my BFF for a couple of days, before coming back to Edinburgh for a couple of nights out and such to see my friends before everyone heads home for Christmas. I'm really looking forward to going home to my parents' house to relax in a house with the central heating turned on full blast and eat as much food as I humanly can - but I've got a busy couple of weeks before that!

I'm afraid I don't really have much else to report, this week has been very uneventful. Apart from going to the opening of the Lush Spa on Wednesday and putting up my little Christmas tree at the start of this week, I haven't done anything apart from uni work. I'm drowning in a sea of books right now - and not the good kind of books, but the bad kind which smell like wet dog and make you want to fall asleep half way down the first page. MUST. POWER. THROUGH.

How has your week been?

Gillian x

Lush Spa Edinburgh

7.12.12

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Validation Facial // fresh face masks // bath ballistics // The Comforter treatment room // Lush makeup // Stardust gift box // candyfloss cocktails // Euphoria perfume // Angel's Delight soap // Lush Spa

Earlier this week I was invited along to the opening of Lush's newest spa, which is located right in the middle of Edinburgh city centre at 115 Princes Street. As well as having a relaxing spa with several different treatment rooms, the new store also has a lovely shop (which is much bigger and brighter than the old Edinburgh store) stocked to the brim with all the trusty Lush favourites. I met up with Iona and we headed along together for a look around the shop, some drinks and festive nibbles, and a tour of the new spa.

The spa itself is in the basement and has been kitted out with special soundproofing and insulation to create a very cosy, relaxed atmosphere - you'd have no idea you were right next to the busiest street in Edinburgh! The spa is designed to have a 'country cottage' feel to help create a peaceful setting and put you in a relaxed frame of mind before your treatment. There are several different treatments available at the spa, all of which aim to cleanse mind, body and spirit. Some of the treatments sound a bit too hippyish for me, like The Sound Bath which uses tuning forks to clear your mind and let you listen to your 'inner voice' - hmm, I'm a bit cynical. But I guess that sort of thing does work for some people, so I can't really pass judgement if I haven't tried the treatment for myself!

Lots of the treatments do, however, sound amazing. The Synaesthesia Massage is a massage which is tailored for you using different essential oils and massage techniques according to which word you pick (peace, energised, confidence etc.), and then you are given a bubble bar with the same essential oils to take with you and relive the experience at home. The Comforter also sounded really nice, and I loved the way the treatment room was decorated with glowing pink lights, stars on the ceiling and rose-scented bubbles filling the room. The Comforter uses a hot chocolate body scrub and a 'marshmallow mattress' and cosy duvet to help you feel - as the name of the treatment would suggest - comforted and relaxed.

I'm not really a spa/massage-y sort of peson, so if I was to treat myself to something at the spa, I think I'd start off with something 'safe' like the Validation Facial. Along with your spa therapist, you get to choose any Lush products from the shop you'd like to use during the facial so the whole thing is tailor-made to suit your skin type. As well as a facial, the treatment also includes a shoulder and neck massage, and there is a rather exciting cauldron full of fruit and dry ice which you get to drink at the end.

The Lush Spa Edinburgh is now open, and there are also spas in London, Kingston-Upon-Thames, Leeds, Poole and Liverpool (opens 15th December).

Have you ever been to a Lush Spa before? Which of the treatments would you like to try?

Gillian x

Outfit: Bejeweled

5.12.12

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Dress: Chi Chi*
Shoes: Schuh
Lipstick: MAC Rebel

Ahhh how amazing is this dress?! I'm actually like a magpie, so when Chi Chi offered to send me a dress my eyes were instantly drawn to the Zita. According to the Chi Chi website, the dress has been worn by celebs - but I will be completely honest, I have absolutely no idea who those two "celebs" are! But anyway, it's a gorgeous bodycon dress covered in sparkly jewels so it will be perfect for wearing over the festive season.

Usually I avoid dresses with cut out backs as they're a nightmare to find appropriate underwear for, but the cut out section on the Zita is well placed and not too big which means I can just wear a normal bra without any of the straps showing. Perfect! I absolutely love the jewel details around the collar and shoulders, they're even more pretty in real life. It's times like this I wish my hair wasn't so long so it didn't get in the way! I think this might be my New Years Eve outfit, so I'll have to get practising an easy updo that will let the dress stand out. Any suggestions or tutorials? I'm completely rubbish with hair styling!

As this dress is quite a statement piece, I haven't added any accessories apart from some glittery heels and some bright pink lipstick. The lipstick is Rebel by MAC which I bought a couple of weeks ago, and I love it. I was just having a browse on the Debenhams website and they've got 15% off beauty at the moment, including MAC if you fancy treating yourself to a new lipstick or two!

What party dresses will you be wearing this festive season?

Gillian x