Mixtape: August

30.8.13


August Mixtape · via Spotify

I'm pretty sure I've included Alkaline Trio songs in at least half of my monthly playlists so far, but I just had to include them again because I went to see them play live on Wednesday. They've been my favourite band since I was about 14, but this was the first time I'd been to a gig so I was ssuuuupppeeerrr excited. They didn't play very many songs from the new album, but "I'm Only Here to Disappoint" was one of them - I finished putting this playlist together at the start of the week, am I psychic or do I just have good taste? WHO KNOWS.

The rest of this month's playlist is mostly old songs, I don't think my taste in music has progressed at all since about 2006. One exception is "Wake Me Up"; usually I only listen to chart songs on the music channels before a night out, but this song has managed to creep its way into my Spotify library. I have a bit of a soft spot for country music, so I love the little country twang (lol) to this song.

Poison · Nothing But a Good Time
Deep Blue Something · Breakfast at Tiffany's
Fall Out Boy · Dance, Dance
Bloc Party · The Prayer
Avicii · Wake Me Up
Alkaline Trio · I'm Only Here to Disappoint
Queens of the Stone Age · Another Love Song
Joey Cape · Alien 8
Jose Gonzalez · Heartbeats
Dave Hause · Time Will Tell
Listen to "August" here.

What have you been listening to during August?

Gillian x

Review: John Frieda Luxurious Volume Range

27.8.13

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My hair is pretty manageable in general, but the one thing it does lack is volume. It's quite thick and has plenty body towards the tips, but my roots always seem to be quite flat and lifeless. I've tried a few different volumising products over the years, but there wasn't really anything that blew me away so I couldn't wait to try the John Frieda Luxurious Volume range to see if it lived up to its claims.

First up, the Touchably Full Shampoo. The first time I used this I noticed an immediate difference; it left my hair feeling bigger and bouncier whilst still looking natural and 'everyday'. I've been using this as my daily shampoo for the last few weeks and I'm really impressed with it. It doesn't add mega-volume, but to be honest for daily life I'm not really after huge hair - I just want something to add a bit more life to my hair. It has a nice, sweet shampoo-y scent but it's not too overpowering and although it leaves the hair smelling fresh and clean, the scent itself doesn't really linger in the hair after washing. I tend to wash my hair every day when I'm leaving the house, but on days where I've just been at home so haven't bothered washing it, I have noticed that the extra volume and thickness does seem to last well and is still noticeable on second-day-hair. At around the £5-6 mark, I think it's a great price as well. It's definitely still within the affordable 'drugstore' price bracket, but has a much more upmarket, salon kind of feel than the likes of Herbal Essences.

Next is the Touchably Full Conditioner. I must admit, 99% of the time I either forget or am too lazy to use conditioner, but I have used this about 3 or 4 times now. It definitely leaves my hair feeling smooth and soft, but I'm not sure it really adds much in the way of volume. I think it works well alongside the shampoo, but I wouldn't say the conditioner was particularly volumising on its own. Although, the range is specially formulated for fine hair (which I don't have), so if that's your hair type you might see a much more obvious volumising effect than I did. I think this is probably the weakest product of the range that I've tried so far - not because it's a bad product, more just because I don't really think conditioners of any kind make much difference to my hair. I think I will keep using this once a fortnight or so though, as it does leave my hair soft and easy to manage.

I've also been trying out the Root Booster Blow Dry Lotion which I'm really impressed with, especially when used along with the shampoo and conditioner. The shampoo on its own gives a nice bit of extra lift for everyday, but if I'm going on a night out then this blow dry lotion really adds lots of extra volume to the roots. I spray this on damp hair, concentrating on the roots and roughly sectioning off my hair to make sure I get the top and underneath spritzed. Then I just blow dry as normal, and my hair instantly looks bigger and more volumised. I've tried a few volumisinng sprays before but I didn't really think they did anything at all, but I've noticed a big difference on days when I've used this. I wasn't expecting to see good results from this, so I'm pleasantly surprised that it actually works!

And finally, we've got the Volume Refresh Dry Shampoo. I don't often use dry shampoo as I prefer to wash my hair most days, but this has come in really handy on days where I've washed my hair first thing in the morning and then want to give it an extra boost in the evening before I head for a night out. It has a similar fresh scent to the shampoo and conditioner, and is really easy to spray in to the roots for a bit of extra volume. It comes out virtually clear so you don't have to worry about spending ages working it in to get rid of any white powdery residue. Even if my hair is still more or less clean, I think this is a really useful product for adding some extra volume to hair that's already been washed and blow dried.

Overall, I'm really impressed with the Luxurious Volume range and I'll definitely be replenishing these supplies once they run out. I'd never tried any John Frieda products before, but I really like this range and I think it's well priced for an everyday sort of range. The shampoo, especially, has become a new staple in my morning routine!

Have you tried any John Frieda Luxurious Volume products before?

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #87

25.8.13

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1.Hot Dub Time Machine 2&3.Ninety-nine red balloons 4.Breaking Bad 5.Dinner at Candy Bar 6.Mary's Milk Bar 7.Cocktails at The Blackbird 8.Best party ever 9.Spicy beef salad at Ting Thai

I thought that now I'm done with university, I'd get a bit of peace and quiet and time to relax, but this week seems to have been busier than ever. Luckily it has mostly been busy with good things like eating, drinking and catching up with my pals, so I can't complain too much! On Wednesday I met up with some of my favourite blogging ladies for a bit of festival fun, although as it turned out our plans to go and see a show didn't quite work out and we just spent the evening drinking cocktails and chatting, which is what we do best anyway! We went along to Candy Bar for what we thought was going to be a quick bite to eat, but the service was sssoooo ssssloooowww we ended up just staying there all evening. I usually like Candy Bar as it's nice and cheap and the cocktails are good, but almost an hour to get served our first drink was a little bit ridiculous! But we managed to survive and eventually got our food, and then another very slow round of drinks followed by an even slower dessert. Nonetheless, I had a lovely evening catching up with some of my faves and can't wait to see everyone again soon.

My best pal is up staying with me for the week, so on Thursday we had a bit of a day out. After a quick mooch around Bristo Square and collecting some festival tickets for later, our first stop was Mary's Milk Bar in the Grassmarket. I've heard quite a few people recommending this place, so couldn't wait to go and sample some of the gelato. I opted for a milk chocolate and orange milkshake, which was every bit as good as it sounds! There were lots of different, unusual flavours which change regularly, so I think I'll have to keep going back to try them all out. After heading back to the flat to finish our milkshakes and watch a bit of Pointless (of course), it was time to get ready for dinner. We met up with another friend and went to Three Birds in Bruntsfield. None of us had been before, but glad we stumbled across it whilst googling for somewhere new to go as it was lovely. The restaurant is quite small and cosy with a rustic, homely feel and the food was so good - I had scallops with spiced lentil dahl for a starter and then chicken stuffed with ham hock and cream cheese with smoky potato salad for my main. Yummmm. On the way home, we stopped off at The Blackbird for some cocktails. I've been meaning to come here for ages as it's just a couple of minutes away from the flat, and I've heard lots of good things about it. The cocktail menu was pretty big so it took me a while to decide what to order, but I finally settled on a cocktail called the Knickerbocker which was nice and fruity, and as I was reclining on a sofa sipping my drink, The Shins were playing - what's not to love?! I think The Blackbird will definitely become my new local! After that, we headed home for some very lethal homemade cocktails whilst getting ready for Hot Dub Time Machine. It's a sort of nightclub/party thing that's here for the festival and the basic idea is that the DJ plays a song from each year from 1954 to the present, and it was AMAZING. I remember getting particularly excited during the 1980s section, although I can't actually remember what any of the songs were apart from 99 Red Balloons because of the (literally) hundreds of photos of the balloons I took on my phone hahaaa. It was held in the McEwan Hall, so it was pretty surreal to be dancing away merrily in the same place I graduated from last summer and had loads of exams in throughout my time at university.

Needless to say, as none of us can remember 90% of the songs that were played on Thursday night, Friday was a complete an utter write-off. I didn't get out of bed at all, and spent the entire day feeling sorry for myself and watching virtually a whole 24-episode series of Modern Family. Quite and achievement, I'd say. We were supposed to be going out again on Saturday night, but were still feeling preeeetty fragile yesterday so had to postpone it for tonight instead. Whatever happened to the days when I used to go out 5 nights a week and be absolutely fine, I'm so oooooold! Although we didn't make it out again last night, we did manage a late lunch at the pop-up restaurant Ting Thai followed by a catch-up with another pal. We had thought about going to see a show or something in the evening, but in the end we decided it was probably safer to go home for a nap and a takeaway, how pathetic!

So, looks like I'll be off out again tonight - definitely going to avoid the very strong homemade cocktails this time. I'm shuddering at the mere thought of melon schnapps, BOKE. We're probably going to go out for dinner again tonight as I can't be bothered cooking - we were thinking of either Bar Soba or Sygn, or have you got any other recommendations? Hopefully I won't have another 2 day hangover this time, as on Tuesday I'm working through in Glasgow again, then on Wednesday Morag is coming through and we're going to a gig and then out afterwards. Phewwww, it's nice to have a busy social life again after months of being buried under dissertation notes!

What have you been up to this week?

Gillian x

Morning Skincare Essentials

20.8.13

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It's a pretty well known fact that I'm not, and probably never will be, a morning person. My skincare routine is fairly minimal at the best of times anyway, but in the mornings I like to keep things really quick and simple so I can spend more time sleeping and less time in front of the mirror. This is my current favourite morning routine; it takes less than 5 minutes to do and leaves my skin feeling refreshed and ready for the day.

1. Murad Refreshing Cleanser*
I don't feel the need for heavy-duty cleansing in the mornings because I'm not wearing any makeup (obvs) so I like to opt for something lightweight like this Murad cleanser. I got this in a goody bag from an event back in April and have been using it pretty much ever since so it's almost finished now. It's a light gel formula and foams up a little bit to help remove any last traces of overnight masks or general grime (mmm) that accumulates while you're asleep. It's got cucumber extract which helps to soothe and refresh, and it doesn't leave your skin feeling stripped. I'm not sure if I would repurchase this; I quite like using it and I think it's keeping my skin in check but it's not really improving it. Quite tempted to try out the Antipodes Juliet Cleanser next!

2. SW Basics Toner
Toners seem to be having a bit of a moment in the beauty world just now, but they've always been my favourite part of my skincare routine. A few weeks ago I spent hooouuurs googling as I was in need of a new toner, and somehow stumbled across this one from SW Basics. I hadn't really heard anything about the company or the product before, but something about it just really appealed to me and so I ordered it. It only contains 5 ingredients, all of which are natural, and is handmade by SW Basics in Brooklyn, NY. I've only been using this for a couple of weeks now but I'm pretty sure I love it. It leaves my skin feeling SO soft, it almost feels like I don't need to bother with moisturiser. It feels really refreshing and soothing, and doesn't feel stingy or drying like many toners can. The main ingredient is apple cider vinegar so it does look a little bit cloudy and smells a bit vinegary, but the scent doesn't linger at all (plus I really like vinegar, so I don't really mind!). I haven't been using this for very long so can't comment on long term benefits, but so far I'm really impressed. I think I'll definitely be trying some more products from SW Basics.

3. Origins Ginzing Moisturiser*
Origins Ginzing is the absolute perfect moisturiser to perk up your skin in the mornings. It has a light, almost gel-like texture and feels lovely and cooling when applied to the skin. Plus it smells like oranges, which is the perfect way to start the day! It contains extracts of ginseng and coffee bean to give your skin a bit of a kick-start. The moisturiser sinks in really fast so you don't have to wait about for ages before applying your makeup, and it also feels really hydrating which is the most important thing. My skin has felt so nice and soft since I started using the Ginzing moisturiser, I'm really impressed with it and I think it deserves all the buzz that's been going round! It's only £23 as well which makes it quite a bit cheaper than most of the other Origins moisturisers which come in at around the £40 mark. Definitely worth a try if you want a bit of a hydration boost and something to wake up your skin in the mornings.

4. Origins No Puffery*
And finally, we've got Origins No Puffery to make my eyes feel wide awake. I don't really suffer from puffy eyes, but I do have dark cirles and my eyes always feel really heavy and tired in the mornings. A little dab of this around the eye area and I instantly feel much more energised and awake. It's a cooling gel which comes in a rollerball tube which makes application really easy, plus the metal rollerball helps to soothe and reduce puffiness even further. I usually swipe from the inner to the outer corner and then back again, and then gently pat it in with my finger. I'm not sure if this is doing much for my dark circles in the long run, but it's definitely a bit of a saviour after nights when I haven't had quite enough sleep. It contains yeast extract which helps to reduce puffiness and some kind of fancy mushroom extract to prevent redness.

Have you tried any of these products?

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #86

18.8.13

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1.At Hotel Missoni for the Appointedd launch 2.Mexican food and margaritas at the Fringe 3.Dissertation, DONE!! 4.Presents to me, from me. 5.My Blog Design Shop is open again

I seem to have lots to talk about in this week's Sunday Summary, which makes a change! First and foremost, I handed my dissertation in this week woooohooooo. It's great to have it done and out of the way, but I must admit I felt a bit sad when I was handing it in. I can't quite believe this is the end of 5 years at university; I've absolutely loved studying and I'm not quite sure what to do with myself now. I'm actually very tempted by the idea of a PhD but I'm not sure whether it would be the best option in the long run. For the next couple of months I'll be busy with my volunteership at the Scottish Civic Trust (I start on Tuesday and I actually can't wait!), then after that I suppose I'll have to start proper job hunting. Or PhD applying. I don't know what to dooooo.

On Monday morning I headed over to Hotel Missoni for the launch of Appointedd, a website dedicated to booking salon treatments, as well as a behind-the-scenes service for the salons themselves to help improve their web presence. Most of the salons are in Glasgow at the moment, but I'm hoping lots more Edinburgh ones will start to appear now the website is officially up and running. I think the idea of being able to book appointments online is great, I can't be the only one who haaates phoning up places! It also makes it really easy to see how much everything costs and take advantage of any special offers. I had a great time at the launch hearing about how the company started and the ideas behind it, plus the Missoni cupcakes and croissants for breakfast weren't too bad either! After the launch, Iona, Lynne, Lynsey, Jade and I headed over to George Square Gardens for some chat, food and festival atmosphere. I still haven't actually had time to go to any shows at the festival yet, but I think sitting around drinking at mid-day is probably my favourite part of the festival anyway! We happened to be sitting just across from a margarita bar, so of course I had to sample a little drink along with a pulled pork burrito. Yuuum.

After finishing my dissertation, I decided that I needed a little treat so I ordered myself a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. I used to think tablets were a bit ridic (why not just use a laptop?) but there have been a few occasions lately when I've thought "oh, a tablet would be so handy right now". I've also been thinking about getting a Kindle, so I thought I may as well kill two birds with one stone and get a tablet and the Kindle app. I think I definitely still prefer reading real books, but the Kindle is good because you get your books instantly and there are a lot of pretty cheap ones if you don't mind searching around a bit. I went on a little spree the other day and now have 7 new books waiting to be read, but it's alright because most of them cost 99p. I think as a general rule, I'll buy Kindle books as long as they're no more than £3-£4, anything above that and I might as well buy the actual book.

And finally for this week's chat, a little announcement. Blog designs are back in business! I've moved the shop over to Etsy so there's plenty room for lots of different options. At the moment there are a few customisable premade templates for Blogger available, and I'll be adding more soon. If you've got any suggestions about styles of templates you'd like to see, then please do let me know! Custom made-to-order designs will be back at the end of the month, so favourite or bookmark the shop if you want to keep an eye on things and get in there quick!

What have you been up to this week?

Gillian x

Watching Lately #2

15.8.13



I was pondering whether to keep these Watching Lately posts for only things I've really liked and would recommend, but then I decided that would be no fun so it's a bit of a mixed bag for installment number two. It's also a mixture of TV and films this time, but mostly still ones that are on Netflix. Because Netflix is my liiifeeeeee at the moment (and by that I mean always).

1. S. Darko
Let's get the worst one out of the way first, shall we? I knew before I started watching this that it would be terrible, but I watched it anyway. WHY? Sometimes I watch films, knowing they'll be really bad, but I kind of enjoy them anyway. This one was just plain awful though. It's a sort-of sequel to Donnie Darko, and the basic premise is that Donnie's younger sister, Samantha, is all grown up and starts having weird time-travel related visions. Samantha herself (Daveigh Chase) is the only original cast member who makes a reappearance, which probably gives you an indication of how rubbish it is. It was almost as if the director hadn't even understood what Donnie Darko was actually about, and was just rehashing events and symbols from the original film. There was no real plot, loads of it didn't make sense (the bit at the end - boy going a bit alien, tesseracts, WTF) and most of the scenes were just weird copies of the original film with some slight alterations. Like, they burn the pastor's house instead of Patrick Swayze's; there's a 4th of July party instead of a Halloween party; Samantha gets hit by a car instead of Gretchen; there's a guy called Frank and someone makes a bunny mask for NO REASON blah blah blah. Even if you're vaguely curious about this film, I wouldn't bother, it's beyond terrible.

2. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
This is another film which I thought I wasn't going to enjoy before I started watching it (although, for different reasons - I thought this one was just going to be a bit boring). It kept coming up in my recommended section on Netflix, and Ewan McGregor is my fave, so I decided to give it a go. Traditional and uptight fisheries expert Dr Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) is roped into a project to introduce salmon fishing to the Yemen, despite his hefty reservations that the scheme will be a total failure. But he and the Yemeni Sheikh's legal representative Harriet (Emily Blunt) end up working together on the supposedly impossible project and both become gradually invested in making it a success. And, of course, they end up falling for each other. I ended up quite enjoying the story as it wasn't too much of a political drama (as I thought it might have been) or a rom-com (as it could easily have ended up). I also loved the fact that the Sheikh's country estate in Scotland was also the one from Monarch of the Glen. Hiya Glenbogle!

3. Bad Samaritans
I hadn't heard anything about this before (and it seems neither has anyone else - the IMBD page is so naked!), but it popped up on my Netflix homepage a few times so I decided to give it a go. At the moment, there only seems to be five 20 minute episodes and I'm not sure if there are more waiting to be aired or another series in the making, but I hope there is because I really liked it. Drew (Julianna Guill) and Jake (Brian Kubach) accidentally start a huge forest fire whilst in the process of breaking up with each other, and get stuck doing 2,000 hours of community service together. The series focuses on their little rag-tag group of parolees - Trainy the wannabe socialite, Haggerty the stoner and Doug the ex-biker gang member - as they get sent on various community service assignments like looking after the elderly, working at a dog pound and picking up litter. Unlike a lot of American comedies, it doesn't seem to take itself too seriously and it has a wicked, vaguely offensive sense of humour. It's not quite good enough to make it into my favourites, but a couple more seasons and a bit of character development and it might be getting there.

4. Dexter
I'm sure pretty much all of you will have heard about Dexter. I only started watching it last year, but I raced through the first six seasons and caught up with number seven in "real time" as it was being shown on TV. The eighth season started a few weeks ago so I have been hooked once again and always look forward to Monday evenings when there's a new episode for me to watch. The show focuses on Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), a blood spatter analyst at Miami Metro Police Department who also just happens to be a serial killer - but he has a special code of ethics and only kills "bad" people. I'm not even sure what it is that I like about this programme, but I LOVE it and would definitely recommend giving it a watch. This series has had a disappointingly small amount of murdering (is it weird that I've missed that haha?!) and has focused more on Dexter and sister Deb's complicated relationship. I've preferred the previous seasons which all have one main arch-villain Dexter attempts to get to before the police do, but this time there isn't really any of that (unless it turns out to be Dr Vogel...which it probably will be); I'm still enjoying it nonetheless.

5. Unbreakable
And finally, we have a real-life superhero movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan in which security guard David Dunn (Bruce Willis) becomes the sole survivor of a horrific train crash and then learns that he is "unbreakable". Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), who has a genetic defect which causes his bones to break very easily, is obsessed with comic books and becomes convinced that David is his polar opposite and tries to encourage David to fulfill his destiny as a real-life superhero. David completely dismisses the idea at first, but then starts to notice that he's never really been ill, never been injured, is super strong etc. and then it all starts to get a bit ridiculous. David's son is totally convinced he's a superhero so tries to shoot his dad to prove that he's indestructible (whaaaat, you don't just shoot your dad, especially if he's Bruce Willis!!); David begins to have visions about bad people who need sorted out using his superpowers. Eventually, David fulfills his superhero role by killing a murderer and freeing two children that had been kidnapped. But guess what his superhero costume was? Wait for it ... a rain poncho! A RAIN PONCHO!! HAHAHA. It was hilarious (although his 'kryptonite' was water, so I guess it makes sense but still - a rain poncho). I expected this film to be a standard Bruce Willis action film with lots of explosions and stuff, but it wasn't at all. It was pretty ridic but I secretly kind of loved it.

What have you been watching lately?

Gillian x

Home Sweet Home: Bedroom Tour

12.8.13

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So, months and months after posting my living room tour, I'm finally getting round to writing up a bedroom tour too. I can't lie, this is mostly to do with the fact that this is the first time my room has been remotely tidy since then. As you can probably tell from the pictures, it's pretty small and doesn't have a lot of storage so there's always stuff cluttered about everywhere. I like to think that the living room is relatively grown up looking, but my bedroom is still very "studenty" - none of the furniture matches, there's stuff blu-tacked to the walls, there are ticket stubs and wristbands and flyers everywhere, and it's always a mess. The most annoying thing about the room is that it's long and narrow so there's only one possible way all the furniture can fit in (yes, I've tried rearranging it - to no avail!). But saying that, it feels like home and it's definitely the room I spend most time in, and so I kind of love it.

The bed came with the flat and is an Ikea number (similar to this one) and despite being the squeakiest, creakiest bed in the world it's pretty comfy! There's not really much room on my desk for a laptop and books etc. so I usually end up doing all my work snuggled up in bed, it's a hard life! The duvet set is from John Lewis and my mum bought it for me when I moved out to go to university - it's done me pretty well these past 5 years. The fairy lights wrapped around the bedframe were from Ikea a couple of summers ago and they make it feel nice and cosy in the evenings. Behind the bed there's a bit of dead space between the window, but it's the perfect fit for my bedside table. I can't remember where it's from as I've had it from about 10 years (it's kind of similar to this one). It's really ugly and I keep meaning to buy something nicer, but as it's behind the bed no one can see it anyway so there's probably not much point. Can't wait to have my own flat one day so I can buy furniture that actually matches! On top of the bedside table, there's always a stack of books and notebooks: the novel I'm reading, my Moleskine sketchbook, my notebook for dissertation stuff, my Q&A 5 Year Journal, and a cute little Finest Imaginary printed Moleskine which I bought from Ginger Pickle and am using as my blogging notebook. There's also my phone, lip balm, a little box for earrings, my owl speaker* in case I'm watching a film and want extra volume, and the most boring lamp in the world that was intended as a quick fix whilst I had time to look for something better, but it seems to still be here 4 years later.

On the wall beside the bed, I started an attempt at a bit of a collage kinda thing, but I stuck up four things and gave up on the idea and just left them there. This baroque mirror from Out There Interiors* makes a nice addition to the wall though, I got it in the "Petrol" colour and it's lovely. It's got a bit of that shabby chic/distressed kinda thang going on which I really like. Out There Interiors is a shop I only came across recently but they have so many gorgeous homewares; how dreamy is this mirrored glass furniture, and some rattan furniture would be perfect if I had a garden. They have pretty much every kind of homeware you could want, I've got so many things bookmarked that I want! At the bottom of my bed is the wardrobe, it came with the flat too so I've got no idea where it's from. It's usually overflowing and most of the time neither the doors or the drawer close properly, really need to have a good clear out soon!

Next to that is the desk, not sure where it's from either, but it's a fairly standard wooden desk which houses my printer and computery stuff on the bottom shelf, and on top there's all my makeup, skincare and hair things. Have a look at my makeup storage post from last year for a bit more detail - everything is pretty much the same, but I seem to have collected a lot more stuff since then! The acrylic drawers are from Amazon and hold makep that gets used fairly regularly. The acrylic caddy is from Zalando but sadly they don't seem to sell it anymore (this one looks pretty similar though), and I use it to hold my makeup brushes, my daily skincare and a few makeup bits. I've also got two Ikea plant pots - one for skincare and one for haircare. The purple table lamp is from Next and the folding chair is from Ikea. On the wall above the desk is my noticeboard/whiteboard that is covered in all sorts of tickets, flyers, event invites, and other little bits and pieces (including, for some reason, a huge bunch of ribbons?!). The whiteboard is pretty handy for jotting things down before I write them in my diary, or reminding me to do stuff.

I bought the white chest of drawers from Homebase last year as I was running out of storage space, and they mostly hold yet more clothes. On top, there's a box full of body beauty bits which there isn't room for in the bathroom, along with some extra skincare and makeup things. Next to that, I've got a couple of folding crates stacked up: the bottom one has yet more extra beauty things; the middle one has shoes; and the top one has clothes that have been worn but aren't quite ready for the washing machine yet. They're not very pretty but they do the job! In the opposite corner I've got some shoe boxes stacked up, and there are more shoes lined up underneath the heater. My favourite ever sparkly heels are currently living on top of the heater (which never gets switched on, btw!) as they're too pretty to stay in a box but I hardly ever get the chance to wear them. Next to that is a mirror which my dad made for me and it's covered in more studenty paraphernalia. Tucked behind it, and peeking out the side, are a couple of hessian shopping bags filled with belts and handbags. So glamorous! There's also a big stack of beauty boxes living on the floor; I unsubscribed about 2 years ago but have still got hundreds and hundreds of samples! My vintage dress from last year's grad ball seems to permanently stay on the back of my door, I've been meaning to put it away somewhere for the past year but I don't want it to get squished in my wardrobe so it just hangs out here. (Usually with a little dust bag though!)

I think my favourite part of my room is the ceiling. I bought some of those glow in the dark stars and stuck them to the roof above the bed in the proper constellations (although, I managed to do them upside down!). The ceiling is pretty high in here so it was no easy task, especially as I couldn't move the bed out of the way. There was a lot of precarious leaning from the top of a ladder - but I got there eventually with a little help from my flatmate! I also love my little purple plastic chandelier from B&Q, I think it was the very first thing I bought for moving into this flat.

Please tell me all your rooms are as full of clutter as mine?!

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #85

11.8.13

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1.Tea cups 2.Edinburgh festival 3.Flowers

Well, this week has been well and truly boring. My dissertation is due on Friday so my life has pretty much been revolving around that (I promise I'll stop banging on about it after next week!). I had more or less written the whole thing by last weekend, but I ended up being a couple of thousand words over the word limit so have had to spend this week trying to whittle it down. Which, by the way, is SO much more difficult than actually writing it - having to delete entire paragraphs that you've just written is heartbreaking! I'm almost there now though, so it'll be another couple of days of editing then on to the exciting task of formatting, adding appendices and images/tables/maps, and printing. Printing stuff is my most hated task of all, it takes forever and something always seems to go wrong. Fingers crossed there are no major disasters this time!

I'm afraid I have absolutely nothing else to report on this week; I haven't even left the flat since Tuesday! What a loser. You might think from the photo above that I was relaxing in a pop-up festival beer garden, but that would be a huge lie. I went in to the university for a meeting about my dissertation earlier in the week and there was a cute wee outdoor bar in the quad. It would have been great if this was here all the time - cheeky pint in between lectures anyone? - but sadly it's only here for the festival. I still haven't done anything festival related, but next week I'll start making a big list of all the things I want to see and get roping in as many people as possible to come with me. Has anyone got any recommendations of shows to go to? I haven't even looked at the Fringe guide yet this year, so I've got no idea where to start!

Please tell me some exciting tales of what you've been up to this week, I don't think I can force myself to stare at Microsoft Word for much longer!

Gillian x

Review: Origins Drink Up Hydrating Lip Balm

9.8.13

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Drink Up Hydrating Lip Balm in Pink Guava · £16*

I'm already a huge fan of Origin's Drink Up Intensive Mask for giving my skin a bit of TLC if it's feeling dry, so when I heard that there was a new lip balm version of this cult product I couldn't wait to give it a go. The lovely Origins team sent me the shade Pink Guava to review and I've been using it daily for the last couple of weeks - it's love! It helps to make your lips feel soft and smooth whilst you're using it, but I also think it's helping my lips feel a bit nicer in the long run too. It contains aloe vera to soothe, apricot kernel and avocado oil to nourish and hydrate, and orange peel, barley and wheat germ to protect against future dryness.

It comes in a traditional squeezy lip gloss style tube which is easy to use and is practical for throwing in your bag and taking out and about with you. When I think of "lip balm", I usually think of little pots or twist-up sticks, rather than something more akin to lip gloss. When first applied, the Drink Up Lip Balm does feel pretty similar to lip gloss, with a slightly tacky feeling, but it quickly settles in to your lips and begins to feel a bit more balmy rather than sticky. The hydrating qualities of this seem to be quite long-lasting too; it doesn't immediately rub off as soon as you eat or drink something, and I only feel the need to reapply it a couple of times during the day instead of every hour or so. When first applied, you get a slight tingly feeling and a lovely fresh scent of mint (although, it always confuses me when fruity-looking things are mint flavoured!), but this isn't overpowering at all and gradually fades away.

Origins claim the Drink Up Lip Balm "deeply hydrates with a hint of tint", and whilst I definitely agree with the first part I'm not so sure about the second. The shade I have, Pink Guava, looks like a fairly light pink in the tube but once applied it may as well be clear as there's not much hint of pink at all. I think this is probably quite a lot to do with the fact that a) Pink Guava is one of the more nude shades in the range and b) my lips are naturally quite dark anyway. I'd definitely love to try out some of the other shades as I think they might give off a little more colour. Cherry Pop and Berry Splash both look loooovely. I'm not hugely worried about the lack of tint, however, as it works well along with a dab of lip stain or lightly applied lipstick to get maximum hydration and maximum colour.

I think lip-care is one aspect of skincare that often gets overlooked, so I love that Origins have come up with something that's both makeup and skincare combined in one handy little package. This might not be the most exciting lip product I've ever used, but it's certainly one of the most useful and a great everyday makeup bag staple which I'll be using all the time from now on.

Have you tried the Drink Up Hydrating Lip Balms?

Gillian x

July Beauty Favourites

5.8.13

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Monthly favourites tend to be a fairly irregular rather than an actual monthly thing for me. Contrary to popular belief, my makeup/beauty collection isn't that big and I usually use pretty much the same products on a day to day basis. But for some strange reason, I always seem to get round to doing a Beauty Favourites post in July. Spooky. Anyway, these are a few things I've been using lots during the past month.

1. Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream
Since it has been really hot this month, I haven't wanted anything too heavy for a base. My skin has been pretty rubbish lately though, so I still wanted something that would do a bit of covering up and evening out. I bought this towards the end of June and have used it pretty much solidly ever since then. It is amazing, really need to get round to doing a full review soon! It's definitely quite a light coverage, but with a touch of concealer here and there it creates a really nice, natural looking base. Not one for nights out or if you're after heavy coverage, but it's perfect for daytime summer makeup if you want something a little more than a tinted moisturiser. Also love that it comes in the shade Extra Light, as usually BB creams et al come in "one shade fits all" which isn't very useful.

2. La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo
I've had this for ages now but had stopped using it as I didn't really feel it was doing anything for my skin, and I just didn't really get what it was for. The instructions on the back of the tube suggest applying it all over your face, but I didn't really think this did much. I dug it out again recently and instead I've been using it as more of a targeted spot treatment, only applying it directly to blemishes. I've had a couple of those horrible under the skin ones recently, and after a couple of days of applying this the spot was no longer sore and red, but starting to shrink and heal up. Definitely much more effective than the way I was using it before! I'm hoping this will also help to prevent, or at least lessen, the red marks I always get left with after spots have faded away.

3. Q The Fine Fragrance Body Spray*
During the summer, it's always nice to have some kind of spray to keep you feeling fresh and cool in the hot weather. I have been loving the body sprays from Q this month as they have really nice "grown up" scents which are a far cry from the Charlie sprays of yesteryear. They smell like proper perfume, but are much lighter and less cloying, which I definitely prefer for summer. They're also a lot cheaper than perfume too, currently on offer in Boots for only £1.14! The Q sprays come in three scents, Balance, Awe and Radiance, and although I like them all, Balance is definitely my favourite. It has floral notes of Iris and Mimosa, and reminds me a lot of my all-time favourite perfume, Bvlgari Pour Femme. The cans are nice and small too, so are perfect for chucking in your bag.

4. Benefit Fake Up Concealer*
To go with my lighter Clinique CC Cream base, I've also been opting for a slightly lighter concealer recently. Fake Up is great at covering up under-eye circles and illuminating the area without looking too heavy or cakey. A quick swipe of this patted in with my finger is all I need to make my eyes look wide awake. It's so light and moisturising that it just looks like second skin, not like you've caked lots of makeup on to your face. I find that it's not as great for covering up blemishes or spots on the rest of my face, but for under-eyes it works like a dream. Full review of Benefit Fake Up here.

5. Korres Pomegranate Lip Butter
I bought this a couple of months ago and it has become a firm makeup bag staple since then. The formula is super moisturising without being too heavy or sticky, and it leaves your lips feeling lovely and soft. I love that it has a subtle hint of colour to it as well, which means I don't need to bother with any sort of lipstick/stain etc. when I just want simple, natural makeup. It has a nice faintly fruity scent too, but nothing overpowering. I've used up quite a bit of this already so will definitely be repurchasing once it inevitably gets finished, and I might have to buy myself some of the other flavours/colours too! Full review of Korres Pomegranate Lip Butter here.

Which products have you been loving this month?

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #84

4.8.13

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1.Glasgow 2.Cake at Lovecrumbs 3.Throwback Thursday 4.Saturday Night 5.Calamari at Vittoria 6.Le Monde

I was expecting to be writing this post huddled up in my bed with several cans of Irn Bru and a very sore head, but I'm actually feeling pretty chipper today all things considered. It was my first 'proper' night out in ages; one of my friends is moving down to London to start a new job, so she had a a bit of a leaving do last night. First, we went for dinner at Vitorria and I had calamari for a starter followed by a huuuuge pizza. It was so good but I was stuffed by the time I got half way through - really wishing I had that other half of the pizza to nibble on right now! After dinner, we all taxied over to George Street for a few drinks at Le Monde before going out dancing. I had a great night with a few of my favourite pals, and I'm rather pleased that I'm not feeling the effects of it today!

I've mentioned a couple of times about a volunteership I'll be starting soon, and I had a meeting about it on Monday so now that it's all official I can tell you a little bit more about it. I'll be working for the Scottish Civic Trust on the social media, website management and PR for Doors Open Days. I'll mostly be involved in the social media side of things, and I'll also get to create a 'behind the scenes' blog about Doors Open Days and my experiences volunteering with the Trust. I don't start until the 19th August, but in a couple of weeks I will definitely be inundating you with links to go and follow the new blog, as well as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest! I would love to work for a heritage organisation when I'm grown up (which is, ermm, now) and since I've started blogging I've had more of an interest in the digital media side of things, so this will hopefully be a great opportunity to get some experience in the field I want to work in. I can't wait to start, just need to get this dissertation out of the way first!

On Friday I met up with Lianne for lunch. We've been meaning to have a "cake lunch" at Lovecrumbs for a while now but we both seem to have been busy bees lately. It was lovely to finally get round to it - plus this was my first visit to Lovecrumbs which was even more exciting! It has been on my to-visit list pretty much ever since it opened, but for some reason I've just never got round to it. It's only a couple of minutes away from my flat though, and the cakes were deeeelish, so I'll definitely have to go back soon. I had carrot cake with the creamiest cream cheese icing, plus a raspberry lemonade to wash it down with. Would definitely recommend it if you're in Edinburgh and in need of some refreshments. After we'd finished our cakes and had a bit of a catch up, we had a quick browse of the new Just G Boutique which is just down the road from Lovecrumbs. I maaay have bought myself a lovely new floral skirt (it was in the sale, so it doesn't count right?) which I'm sure will be making an appearance on the blog soon. There are so many nice little boutiques and vintage/antiques shops around the Grassmarket and West Port, I really need to make the effort to visit them more often.

What have you been up to this week?

Gillian x

Top 5: Edinburgh Fringe Festival Tips

2.8.13

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Ahh, that time of year again already. I love and hate the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in equal measure. August has such an amazing atmosphere, and it's so great having it all on my doorstep. But on the other hand, sometimes I would just like to be able to walk to Sainsbury's without it taking three times as long as usual and getting weighed down by a hundred flyers in the process. Nonetheless, I do enjoy a bit of festival fun and over the last few summers I've come to learn which bits to embrace and which bits to avoid altogether.

1. Do Some Planning
Grab yourself one of the huge festival programmes before you visit (often available in Waterstones stores or local theatres, or can be ordered online), and arm yourself with some of those sticky note tabs. Some people like to just go with the flow but I think at least a little bit of advanced planning is always a good idea. I like to colour co-ordinate my sticky tabs into three categories. Firstly, things I definitely want to see - these are shows I want to book tickets for in advance to make sure I'll definitely be there. Next are the things I'd quite like to see, but I wouldn't be heartbroken if I didn't get round to it - I probably wouldn't book these until the day of/day before the show (see next tip). Finally, I'd put a tab on a few things that sound interesting and I'd go to see if I had a spare hour and was in the right place - again, I wouldn't bother booking these as there's only a small chance I'd ever get round to seeing them. This system always gives me a good idea of what's on that interests me, but I'm not too tied down and am free to see things as and when I'm able to. It also means you won't miss anything you'd really love to see, but leaves you plenty of time to see additional things which have been recommended to you etc. Although, if you're only here for a day or two, it might be easier to have a quick browse of the Fringe website instead!

2. Be Selective With Bookings
Some of the more famous acts and hyped-up shows can sell out fast, so if you want to see any of those definitely book your tickets in advance. But for everything else, you can usually get good deals by waiting until the last minute. People handing out flyers in the street are usually the bane of my life, but they actually can be quite useful sometimes with half price or 2-for-1 deals on tickets an hour or two before the show. They often hang out near to the venue they're flyering for before the show, so have a wander round there before making your way to the box office to buy tickets. Most acts do 20+ shows over the festival, so if it does happen to be sold out that night, there's a good chance you'll be able to get tickets for another night instead! Tickets also tend to be quite a bit cheaper on the first few days of the festival and slightly cheaper on weekdays, plus most offer concession prices if you're a student.

3. Go to a Variety of Shows
Whilst it is good to see famous comedians (you'll probably already know what they're like, so will know that you'll enjoy the show), don't forget about the lesser-known acts. One of my favourite shows from last year was a musical about Dracula with songs set to the tune of Lady Gaga and Barry Manilow; the venue only held about 30 people, and three actors played all the parts. It was completely bizarre but totally appealed to my sense of humour and I enjoyed it so much more than some of the bigger acts I'd seen. I'd never heard of the show or the actors before, but just went because I loved the sound of the blurb in the programme, and I'm so glad I did! Keep an eye out on Twitter for word-of-mouth recommendations, and make sure you're following @edfringe to stay up to date. There are always a few shows that start off the festival being completely unknown, and by the end they're a roaring success with sold-out shows and rave reviews. I would, however, tend to avoid free shows. There can be the occasional good one, but on the whole I'm of the opinion that they're free for a reason, having sat through my fair share of cringe-inducing freebies. If you happen to be in the pub whilst there's a free show going on, by all means stick around and you might enjoy it, but I wouldn't bother going out of my way to go to one.

4.Make the Most of Edinburgh
You could quite easily come to the festival, not go to a single show, and still have an amazing time. Obviously I would recommend seeing at least one or two shows, but make the most of the rest of Edinburgh too. The atmosphere is completely unique and the whole place feels like it's constantly on the go, it really does become a city that never sleeps for four weeks of the year. Most of the clubs stay open until 5am, and a lot of pubs stay open later than usual too. Beer gardens seem to pop up everywhere, and you could quite easily spend the whole day nibbling food from street vendors and sipping cider in the sunshine. You can't walk anywhere in the city centre without seeing a street performer or spontaneous outdoor show, so even a trip to the shops has a festival-y feel. Speaking of walking, definitely take some comfortable shoes with you as you'll no doubt be using them a lot. Edinburgh is a fairly small city and most of the festival venues are pretty close together, so walking is the easiest way to get around. The buses are pretty great (£1.50 for a single journey anywhere, £3.50 for unlimited all day travel on Lothian Buses), especially if you're staying further out of the centre, but you'll probably end up walking everywhere anyway. P.S. check out my City Guide posts for more things to do and see in Edinburgh.

5. Check Out the Other Festivals
When I say "festival", I'm usually referring to the Fringe, which is the most well-known festival and includes mostly comedy and theatre events. But there are plenty of other festivals going on in Edinburgh during August too. Have a look at the Edinburgh Festivals website for a list of different festivals throughout the year. During the summer you can catch events at the likes of the Film Festival, Art Festival, International Festival, Fashion Festival, Book Festival, and the Military Tattoo as well. The dates for these festivals are usually different to the Fringe, so make sure to check in advance if they'll be on whilst you're visiting.

Are you going to the festival this year? Any top tips to share?

Gillian x