Sunday Summary #153

28.12.14

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1.Tiny earrings 2.Cocktails in Glasgow 3.Mulled cider at the Christmas market 4.Die Hard at the Cameo 5.Wrapping 6.Christmas party ready 7.Christmas dinner 8.Presents 9.Winter sky

So, I think it's Sunday, right? It's got to that point where days of the week have lost all meaning. I've been at home in Aberdeenshire since Christmas Eve, drinking as much wine and eating as much food as possible. I'm heading back down to Edinburgh tomorrow for Hogmanay, and then I'm sure normal blogging service will resume after that. Things have been a little quiet on here recently due to a combination of being busy and lazy, so I thought I'd do a bumper Sunday Summary post today to catch up on this month's happenings before the year ends.

There have been cocktails aplenty over the last few weeks, with a little festive masterclass courtesy of G&V Royal Mile Hotel, and a catch up with a few of the blogging ladies over French Martinis in Horton's. I can hardly believe it was around this time three years ago I went along to my first ever blogger meet up - it seems like a lifetime ago! It has been truly lovely to meet and become friends with lots of amazing ladies over the last few years, all thanks to blogging. If nothing else, they're great for ranting to about Twitter and Youtuble drama because literally no one else in my life cares about that.

Laura and I got ourselves into the festive spirit with a recent trip to the Edinburgh Christmas market, where we ate venison burgers, drank mulled cider and wandered round all the stalls. Despite the fact that Christmas markets up and down the country are filled with the exact same crap, it wouldn't quite feel like Christmas without a trip to the market, would it? Afterwards, we headed over to the Cameo cinema so I could introduce Laura to my favourite "Christmas" film, Die Hard. It was AWESOME. I really need to make more effort to go to the cinema on a regular basis, especially the Cameo - watching old films on the big screen is much more exciting than on your laptop, which is probably balanced on your pillow as you wait for Netflix to stop buffering, surrounded by empty sweetie wrappers... or is that just me?

Last weekend was Lianne's annual Christmas party so I dug out my red lipstick, a suitably sequinned Chritmas jumper and headed round with a bottle of wine. It was lovely to have one last catch up with Lynsey, Roisin, Iona and Kirsty before we all headed off home for Christmas. We filled up on mulled cider and Lianne's festive nibbles (those ham & cheese twists - aaamaazing!), and there may even have been a party game or two. The next day (surprisingly hangover-free), Laura and I had our "flat Christmas". We made a roast dinner, exchanged presents and then spent the evening napping on the sofa, wine glasses in hand.

Sine I've been home, there's not been much to report - I've spent my mornings sleeping, my afternoons reading books, and my evenings drinking wine and helping to make (read: eat) lots of food. Apart from a trip out for lunch yeterday, I haven't even left the house since I got here on Wednesday so I think my choice to pack 99% pyjamas was a good one.

Hope you've had an excellent Christmas and are looking forward to New Year.

Gillian x

Mixtape: December

18.12.14


December Mixtape · via Spotify

Sick of too much Slade and Cliff Richard on the radio? Here are some suitably indie Christmas tunes to get you in the festive spirit. This year's mixtape features a selection of covers, original Christmas songs and wintery tunes, as well as my all-time fave festive song by The Raveonettes. It has definitely featured on a past December mixtape but I couldn't help sneaking it in again this year! You can have a listen to my December 2013 and December 2012 mixtapes over on Spotify for plenty of seasonal joy to tide you over for the next week or two.

Eels · Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas
The Shins · Wonderful Christmastime
Great Lake Swimmers · Hang a String of Lights
The Raveonettes · The Christmas Song
Fruit Bats · It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas
Slow Club · Christmas TV
Fleet Foxes · White Winter Hymnal
The Civil Wars · I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Regina Spektor · My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year)
Andrew Bird · Auld Lang Syne
Listen to "December" here.

What are your favourite Christmas tunes?

Gillian x

Top 5: Things To Do In Edinburgh This Winter

15.12.14

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1. Festive Cocktail Masterclass at G&V
G&V Royal Mile Hotel, 1 George IV Bridge, EH1 1AD
Get yourself in the holiday spirit by learning how to make some wintery cocktails at one of the city's top boutique hotels. Last week I headed along to sample the masterclass for myself, and discovered the secrets behind three of G&V's most popular winter cocktails, the classic Charlie Chaplin, a festive Christmas Flip and the Old Scots Pine from the current A/W cocktail menu. We were in good hands with Bar Manager Matt and I picked up lots of new tips for making my own cocktails at home. Even if you don't fancy a masterclass, I'd definitely recommend heading to the G&V bar to enjoy some unique cocktails from the seasonal menu. More info: Mixology Masterclasses at G&V.

2. Christmas Burgers at Burger
Burger, 94a Fountainbridge, EH3 9QA
Sick of turkey dinners? For a twist on the traditional Christmas lunch, head to Burger to feast on their festive menu instead. If you're looking for somewhere for a last-minute work do, you can book yourself in for a 3 course meal - or if you fancy stopping by with your pals for a quick bite to eat, all the Christmas burgers are available on the current specials menu. Recently, I rounded up a few of my blogging babes and we had a festive catch up over burgers, hotdogs and fries. I opted for the Christmas Katsu burger which came topped with cranberry chilli sauce, stir fried sprouts, chipolatas and red wine jus. Delish! More info: Burger Christmas Specials.

3. The Nutcracker with Scottish Ballet
Edinburgh Festival Theatre, 13-29 Nicolson Street, EH8 9FT
Forget the panto this year and head to the theatre to see Scottish Ballet's production of The Nutcracker instead. As always, Scottish Ballet have done a fantastic job of putting together a beautiful production; everything is stunning from the choreography to the music to the sets to the costumes. I went along to watch the dress rehearsal on Friday and was mesmerised by the whole thing. Reimagining Peter Darrell's classic version of The Nutcracker, this production is perfect for adults and children alike, emphasising the magical escapism of childhood imagination. The Nutcracker is on at the Festival Theatre until the 3rd January and then it's doing a little tour covering Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Newcastle. More info: Peter Darrell's The Nutcracker.

4. Shop Local at Made From Scotland (& More!)
Made From Scotland Pop-Up Shop, 115-117 Rose Street, EH2 3DT
If you haven't finished off your Christmas shopping already, Edinburgh has lots of fantastic independent shops where you can pick up something a little bit different. Cheeky bit of self-promotion here, but I'd wholeheartedly recommend checking out the Made From Scotland Pop-Up on Rose Street before we close on the 23rd December, where you'll find lots of homeware, jewellery, accessories, prints and gifts from independent Scottish designers. Other great spots for Christmas shopping include the Red Door Gallery for prints & art, Black Box for jewellery, Godiva Boutique for vintage clothes & accessories, The Brotique for manly things and Paper Tiger for cards & stationery.

5. Christmas Films at the Cameo Cinema
Cameo Cinema, 8 Home Street, EH3 9LZ
Isn't there just something pretty great about watching old films in the cinema? Head along to the Cameo this winter to catch a showing of one of your favourite Christmas movies - there are lots to choose from, whether you love classic tales or something a little bit different. My top picks include Die Hard (best "Christmas" film ever, no?), Elf (a modern classic) and Home Alone (merry Christmas ya filthy animals). Just add a Christmas jumper, a bucket of popcorn and prepare yourself for a couple of hours of festive fun. More info: Christmas films at Cameo.

Any top tips for other things to do in Edinburgh this winter?

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #152

7.12.14

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1.Helter skelter 2.Neon satchels at the Cambridge Satchel Company Pop-Up 3.Roast dinner 4.Desk stuff

I'm feeling pretty festive this weekend, even though it doesn't really feel like there are only a couple of weeks left until Christmas. Yesterday afternoon Laura and I put up the Christmas tree in the flat (after only just taking down the last of the Halloween decorations last week...), followed by a festive roast dinner. I'm going to send my Christmas cards this week - all three of them - and will no doubt be doing bits and pieces of Christmas present shopping. I think it'll soon be time to break out the Christmas bed sheets too!

On Friday evening I headed along to the Cambridge Satchel Company's new pop-up shop in Edinburgh for some drinks, a catch up with my blogging pals, and a look round the new store. I had already been in a couple of weeks before, when I treated myself to a beautiful purple batchel. I've been admiring Cambridge Satchel Company bags for years online, but this was the first time I'd seen them in the flesh. As well as the George Street pop-up in Edinburgh, there's also one through in Glasgow at the moment so it's definitely worth stopping by if you've been eyeing one up and want to get a feel for them first! After the event, Laura and I wandered along George Street looking for somewhere for dinner but everywhere was fully booked so we ended up walking back to one of my faves, Passorn, for some delicious Thai food and lots of wine.

Aside from a wee midweek takeaway with some pals, the rest of this week has been fairly quiet as I've just been busy with work. I have a feeling things will be pretty hectic at the Made From Scotland Pop-Up Shop over the next couple of weeks (plus there are numerous Christmas lunches, dinners, drinks and catch ups planned) so I'm looking forward to being able to relax for a little bit once the Christmas holidays do actually arrive!

What have you been up to this week?

Gillian x

Reading Lately #4

4.12.14


1.Yes Please by Amy Poehler
I'm a big Amy Poehler fan so I was keen to get my hands on a copy of her recently released first book, Yes Please. Rather than a traditional autobiography, it's written as more of a collection of little stories and recollections interwoven with old pictures, snippets of scripts and skits, weird little poems and the occasional chapter written by friends or family. It's an easy and quick read, and felt a little bit like having a rambly conversation with one of your pals. Whilst Yes Please wasn't as hilariously funny as I thought it was going to be, I did enjoy it - although I probably wouldn't recommend it if you're not already a fan of Amy as I don't think it would come across quite as endearing and witty if you're not familiar with her (plus there are lots of stories about Saturday Night Live and Parks & Recreation).

2.Regeneration by Pat Barker
Ever since writing my MSc dissertation, I've been a little obsessed with all things to do with World War One. So, a novel which combines the war AND my fave city Edinburgh is pretty much my ideal book. Set in Craiglockhart War Hospital in 1917, the novel centres around psychiatrist Dr Rivers as he tries to deal with the strains of treating an overwhelming number of young men suffering from "shell-shock". Based on real people and real events, Regeneration weaves together fact and fiction; one thread of the story involves the poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen who were patients at Craighlockhart for part of the war. The novel describes the horrors of war and the indelible affect it had on an entire generation in a brutal, vivid and honest way. I thought Barker was particularly good at writing characters, giving each one a unique voice and emphasising the human cost of the war. There are two more books in the Regeneration Trilogy for me to read, and they are top of my reading list at the moment!

3. The Rental Heart and Other Fairy Tales by Kirsty Logan
It has been quite a few months since I read The Rental Heart, but I had to include it in this post because I LOVED it. A collection of twenty short stories based on the themes of lust and loss, this little book is enchanting, dark, ethereal and just pretty lovely. Some of the stories are more traditionally fairytale-like than others, but all have a sense of something surreal and magical about them. My favourite of the short stories was the first one, from which the book's title is taken, about a world where mechanical hearts are bought and sold. This book probably isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I would definitely recommend it if you fancy reading something beautifully written and a little bit different.

What have you been reading lately?

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #151

30.11.14

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1.Globes at Anthropologie 2.Rose Street's Christmas lights 3.Cambridge Satchel Company Pop-Up Shop 4.Dinner at Just Burgers and Beers 5.Sunset 6.Sushi at Harajuku Kitchen

This week started off with a wee bit of shopping at Anthropologie. I went in to get one of their Gold Monogram Mugs and spent pretty much my whole lunch hour wandering round sighing at how beautiful everything was. If only I had unlimited funds, those beautiful globes would definitely be mine! I also popped in to the new Cambridge Satchel Company Pop-Up Shop on George Street for a browse earlier this week. I was desperately in need of a new bag anyway, plus I had some birthday money to spend, so I treated myself to one of the Batchels in bright purple. Beaauuuutiffulllll I lovveeee ittttt.

On Wednesday evening I went along to a blogger event at Just Burgers and Beers to hear all about Dune Surfer beer. Dune Surfer is a desert beer which is designed to be refreshing, flavourful and light. At only 2% ABV and 60 calories per bottle, it's great for "urban nomads who are always up for what’s next" - it'll keep you refreshed whilst you're out on adventures or being active. Of course, if (like me) dune surfing is something that's probably never going to happen for you, I can confirm that it's a great beer to enjoy with some burgers too! It's infused with acai and goji berries so it has a really lovely unique taste, and the low alcohol percentage means you can have a few on a weeknight without worrying about the hangover the next day. I went for the spicy Anna Nicole Smith burger and Dune Surfer was the perfect refreshing accompaniment - both on its own and in the cocktail concoction we tried. Thanks to Just Burgers and Beers for having us, and I'd definitely recommend heading along for a bottle of Dune Surfer soon!

I had planned on doing absolutely nothing this weekend, but on Saturday afternoon I decided to drag myself out of my pyjamas and Laura and I had a wander round Rose & Ammi Flowers. I wanted to get some wee plants for my desk, and after much deliberation settled on a couple of cacti and succulents to add a bit of greenery to the room. Afterwards we stopped off at The Blackbird for some afternoon drinks (and chips, sshhhhh) and I spent most of the time having a breakdown as there were THREE dogs in there enjoying an afternoon pub sesh. They all made friends with each other and it was TOO CUTE. Once I'd recovered from that, we headed a couple of doors along the road for dinner at Harajuku Kitchen. We shared some sushi as a starter which was yum, but the real highlight were the main courses. I opted for the Beef Tataki which was the most beautiful seared tenderloin in a citrusy ponzu sauce. Delisssshhhh. Laura was equally impressed with her Teriyaki Chicken. After we'd finished off our wine, we headed into town to meet some of Laura's friends who were visiting for the weekend. We spent the evening at the Christmas Market sipping mulled cider, before heading for a couple of cocktails at Bar Soba to end the night. A pretty lovely Saturday considering I was planning to just lie on the sofa and watch X Factor!

What have you been up to this week?

Gillian x

Mixtape: November

29.11.14


November Mixtape · via Spotify

Ahhh, thank you Spotify Radio for existing! This month has been all about The Shins radio channel for listening to whilst I'm at work. It's great because it plays me songs I like, but I don't have to go to the effort of making playlists or choosing what I want to listen to that day. Plus, I've discovered a few new tunes this way, like When U Love Somebody by Fruit Bats which is a definite contender for current favourite song.

A week or so ago I managed to nab a couple of tickets for the Foo Fighters gig at Murrayfield in the summer. They've been a regular on my playlists ever since One by One came out (just looked this up, and that was 12 YEARS AGO?!) so I'm very much looking forward to seeing them live for the first time. I used to be such an avid gig-goer but this has fallen to the wayside over the last few years - I'm determined to make more of an effort and find out what's on rather than hearing about a gig after it's happened and thinking "aww, I should've gone to that".

Bishop Allen · Crows
Deer Tick · Twenty Miles
Foo Fighters · Long Road To Ruin
George Ezra · Budapest
The Shins · Death Cream
The Decemberists · Down By The Water
Peter, Bjorn & John · Amsterdam
Fruit Bats · When U Love Somebody
Andrew Bird · Pulaski at Night
RHODES · Darker Side
Listen to "November" here.

What have you been listening to this month?

Gillian x

Wishlist: Winter at John Lewis

26.11.14

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Sick of gift guide posts yet? Yeah, me too. Don't worry though, this isn't a gift guide - more of a "you should buy me these things because I want them but you definitely won't so I'll probably buy them myself anyway". John Lewis has always been a favourite of mine for a browse, and it's especially good at this time of year when you want to get all your Christmas shopping (or Christmas wishlisting) done at once. A few weeks ago I went along to a press night introducing this year's Christmas collection and I came away with lots of ideas (mostly for myself). Look out for the Croft collection and the Copenhagen collection - think rustic, country style and chic, simple European influences, respectively. John Lewis are also selling real Christmas trees for the first time this year which I think is a great idea for city dwellers!

Gone are the days when my wishlists would be full of sparkly dresses and shoes I'd never wear; now I dream of mint KitchenAids and pretty marble cheeseboards. Yes, a cheeseboard. I saw an aaaamazing one in Anthropologie but even I couldn't justify £80 for a cheeseboard - however, this John Lewis version is almost as good and only £20. I also love the herringbone throw because you can never have too many blankets, and this one fits in with the new (well, in-progress) colour scheme for my living room. As for other home bits and pieces, I'm in the market for a new lamp for my desk and I really like the simple design of the Whitby lantern. It would look awesome with one of those vintage style filament bulbs that seem to be the in thing at the moment. The baby deer cushion needs no explanation, other than IT'S CUTE OK BYE.

I've had my eye on the new rhubarb Edinburgh Gin ever since it came out, and I'm desperate to try it. Their raspberry version is amazing, and I lovvvveee rhubarb so this will surely be right up my alley. Speaking of drinks, I couldn't resist the very Pinterest-worthy Mason jar cocktail shaker.

I really am in need of a new daily handbag, I've been looking for months and months but haven't found anything I like that's big enough to fit all my stuff in. I've heard the Michael Kors Selma is quite roomy, so this may end up being the one I go for. I like the navy version for something a little bit different to my usual black. Might as well get a new purse whilst I'm at it, and I really like this bright pink envelope style one from Paper Thinks. And finally, couldn't make a wishlist without include some makeup. YSL Rouge Volupté, one day you'll be mine!

What's on your wishlist at the moment?

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #150

23.11.14

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1.Chimichangas 2.Steak at Kyloe 3.Stripes 4.Tapas feast

As usual, this week has been all about the food. Should probably change the name of these posts to "What I've Eaten This Week", eh? It all started off with a little trip to Chimichanga, which opened a few months ago on Queensferry Street. I always have fairly low expectations for chain restaurants, but the food here was pretty lovely. We opted for one of the sharing starters which included lots of good things like pulled pork quesadillas and tex-mex spring rolls, and then I had a steak chimichanga. The food was good, but the service left a little to be desired - the only time our waiter paid any attention to us was when he told me they had run out of Coke so I asked for water instead and he looked at me with absolute horror and tried to persuade me to have Sprite instead. Erm?!

Friday's dinner was a rather more classy affair as my flatmate Laura and I headed to Kyloe to treat ourselves to some steak and wine. Well, if we don't treat ourselves then no one else is going to, so why not? We both had sirloin steaks which were delisssssh, and the beef dripping chips were amazing - sort of a cross between chips and roast potatoes, you definitely need to order these if you're ever visiting Kyloe! It was pouring rain outside so it seemed like a wise choice to stay a little longer and order dessert whilst we waited for the rain to stop (...yes, that's my story and I'm sticking to it) so I had a lovely salted caramel banoffee sundae. Feeling very full, we made our way home and spent the rest of the evening watching I'm A Celebrity. On that note, I've been well and truly sucked into I'm A Celeb this year, and I think Foggy is definitely the middle-aged man version of me.

Yet more eating and drinking was done on Saturday, as Lynne, Kirsty, Jade and a few more pals headed out to celebrate Laura's birthday. Our first stop was Cafe Andaluz on George Street for plate after plate of delicious tapas. Ahhhh, so good! Then it was time for cocktails at one of my faves, The Blackbird, where we spent the rest of the night until it was chucking out time.

Oh and also, in some exciting news, I've been nominated in EdinBlogger's 2014 Edinburgh Blog Awards! Yay! Thanks to whichever of you cheeky devils nominated me, and if you fancy voting for me in the Lifestyle category you can do so here.

What have you been up to this week?

Gillian x

Recipe: Brioche French Toast

21.11.14

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If there's one thing I've learnt whilst writing this post, it's that breakfast foods should be present at every meal. Other things I've learnt: French toast is very difficult to photograph prettily, and I should clean my George Foreman Grill more often. Those problems aside, this idea for French toast (or the infinitely more descriptive "eggy bread" as it was always called in my house) using brioche struck me when a loaf of Brioche Pasquier Sliced Brioche Loaf arrived in my latest Degustabox* delivery. Sweet, spongy brioche - which handily comes ready sliced - loaded with crispy bacon and maple syrup... what could be better for a weekend brunch? If you fancy trying out this easy recipe, here's how.

Ingredients (Serves 2):
4 slices Brioche Pasquier Sliced Brioche Loaf
2 eggs
50ml milk
4 rashers of bacon
Maple syrup to serve

Method:
1. Switch on your grill (or use a frying pan) and begin cooking your bacon whilst you prepare the French toast.
2. Add a little bit of butter to a frying pan and melt over a medium heat.
3. In a shallow dish, whisk together the eggs and milk with a fork.
4. Dip each brioche slice in the egg mixture, coating well on both sides. Allow the egg to soak into the bread.
5. Add each slice to the frying pan (depending on the size of your pan, it's probably easiest to do two slices at a time) and cook for a couple of minutes on each side, or until golden brown and a little bit crispy on the outside.
5. Serve the French toast topped with the crispy bacon and a generous helping of maple syrup.

The brioche is great in this recipe as it adds a little bit of sweetness to the French toast and it soaks up the eggy-ness really well. Any excuse for bacon and maple syrup is good enough for me, but this would also be great served with bananas and golden syrup or some fresh berries if you prefer.

Don't forget to check out what else is in this month's Degustabox here!

Gillian x

Outfit: Winter is Coming

18.11.14

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Dress: H&M
Jacket: New Look*
Faux Fur Stole: H&M
Necklace: Kirsteen Stewart
Boots: DUO Boots*

Berry shades! Faux fur! Black lace! Gold things! All this can mean only one thing... winter is coming. Whilst daily outfits at this time of year usually consist of slouchy jumpers and old jeans, nights out in autumn and winter are the perfect excuse for a little bit of luxe. This H&M faux fur stole is a few years old and gets dug out of the wardrobe every November - it's a little bit ridiculous and I can't help but love it. With the rest of this outfit being fairly simple, I think it works well with my new Burgundy Crepe Blazer from New Look and it makes me feel a little bit faaaancy. Usually I stick to a black coat for winter, but I'm loving all the burgundies, reds, dark greens and greys from New Look's range of jackets and coats this year. Think I may need to add a couple more colourful jackets to my wardrobe ready for the cold weather!

A couple of weeks ago I went along to an event at the DUO Boots Edinburgh store. We got to find out all about DUO and get ourselves fitted to find the perfect pair of boots. Some ladies chose knee-high boots (and even a couple of over-the-knees), but I was firmly a member of the ankle boot tribe as soon as I laid eyes on these beautiful Sanna Boots. DUO offer a fantastic fitting service, with boots (and other shoes) available in narrow, regular and wide fit and up to 21 different calf sizes. No matter what style or size of boot you need, you're sure to find the perfect fit. My Sanna boots not only look nice, but they're also comfy and fairly practical too - although I'm not sure if suede was the most sensible of choices for the Scottish winter!

The black lace skater dress is another old favourite from H&M, and the necklace is a new favourite from Kirsteen Stewart. Working for madefromscotland.com and being surrounded by pretty things means I maaaay have bought quite a few new pieces of jewellery (and some homeware and gifts and cards and and and...) lately. This little Kirsteen Stewart number has quickly become my favourite everyday necklace. Unfortunately it's out of stock online at the moment, but if you're in Edinburgh head to our Pop-Up Shop at 115 Rose Street to pick one up for yourself!

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #149

16.11.14

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1.Hello 2.Book shopping in Waterstones 3.Sunset over George Street 4.Sunday morning reading

This week seems to have flown by pretty quickly, no doubt helped by the fact that I had Monday off work. Every week should be a four day week. Saying that, I didn't do anything particularly exciting with my day off and instead spent it clearing out my wardrobe and getting rid of a ridiculous amount of clothes I never wear. I've decided it's time to start being a grown up and rather than buying loads of stuff from Primark that I don't even like that much, I'm going to buy nice, fancy clothes but less often. A wee trip to French Connection and Oliver Bonas later, and I have a couple of lovely basic tops, a classic striped skater dress and some new statement jewellery. Yay!

I've been in a pretty spendy mood this week, and also ended up having a bit of a book binge in Waterstones after work on Friday. As well as a few different novels, I also bought myself Amy Poehler's new book, Yes Please. I've been favouring reading books in bed before I go to sleep rather than watching Netflix (what is happening to me?) so I think another Reading Lately post is long overdue. Have you read any good books lately which you'd recommend?

On Saturday afternoon Laura and I headed into town for a little mooch around, spending most of our time in Space NK. After wandering round the shop for the best part of an hour and swatching everything in sight, I treated myself to the NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Luxembourg. Ohhhh myyyy, it's a beauty. I've now got a £5 voucher to spend from my Space NK loyalty card, so no doubt I'll be back very soon to buy myself something else. It has to be done, right? After that, we headed over to the Angels Share for an early dinner. The food was pretty nice (mackerel & potato salad then mac & cheese for a tenner, yes please) but the service was a bit rubbish which definitely let it down. I'd been here for drinks at the bar before, but never for food in the restaurant area, and I think I'll just be sticking to cocktails at the bar from now on. On the walk home we stopped off at Frisky for some froyo, then headed back to flat to watch the Scotland v New Zealand rugby game.

Today has been a lazy day of reading, making French toast for brunch, catching up on blogs, replying to emails and lazing around on the sofa. Exciting weekend indeed! What have you been up to?

Gillian x

Today's Makeup #6: Bordeaux

11.11.14

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It seemed like I hadn't bought any new makeup in ages, then all at once my makeup bag filled itself up with lots of new goodies. My favourite of which has to be the b-e-a-u-tiful Bobbi Brown Lip Colour in Bordeaux from the new Scotch on the Rocks collection. I went to the Bobbi Brown counter in Jenners a couple of weeks ago to get some concealer and corrector, and whilst I was there the counter lady tried out the Bordeaux lipstick on me. I was going to put it on my Christmas list but, erm, I ended up loving it so much that I just bought it there and then. Couldn't resist the autumny-wintery-red winey goodness! I though this lipstick would be perfect for Friday evening's birthday meal out, and paired it with some other new makeup which I've been loving lately.

For my base, I used my new Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation in shade 3. This was another impulse beauty counter purchase but it has definitely filled a little gap in my makeup bag. It's lovely and natural looking, lightweight, glowy and perfectly pale - yay! This is perfect as an everyday foundation as it doesn't look like you're wearing loads of makeup, but it does even everything out nicely. It's quite buildable too, so you can up the coverage for the evening if you need to. To keep things looking radiant, I opted for Lush's Feeling Younger Skin Tint which is my new favourite highlighter. It's creamy, blendable and has a beautiful rose gold sheen - use it as a cheekbone highlighter, mix it with foundation or use it as a glowing primer. As the lips are quite bold, I kept my cheeks nice and subtle with just a wee bit of Feeling Younger and a swipe of Revlon Bronzilla Bronzer.

To add a little something different to my usual black cat eyes, I used the Mary Kay Emerald Noir Palette* from the Midnight Jewels collection. This palette is gorgeous and I'm looking forward to experimenting with some forest green smokey eyes for Christmas time, but for now I just smudged a wee bit of the light green shadow along my bottom lashline for a pop of colour. This is the first time I've tried Mary Kay makeup, and I'm really impressed with these eyeshadows. They're creamy and blendable, and can be sheered out or built up depending on the look you're after. Finally, I finished off with a little bit of my favourite concealer and mascara, NARS Creamy Concealer in Vanilla and Benefit They're Real Mascara.

What new makeup have you been loving lately?

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #148

9.11.14

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1.Grassmarket 2.Sparklers 3.Homemade Breaking Bad prints 4.Birthday cocktails at The Blackbird 5.Dinner at Martin Wishart 6.Rugby

After a super busy weekend, I'm very glad I've got tomorrow off work to recover - who knew celebrating your birthday was so exhausting?! It was my birthday on Friday (24 now, WEEP) so my parents came down to visit and we went out for a lovely meal at Restaurant Martin Wishart. We all opted for the tasting menu and had course after course of delicious food (not to mention a seeming endless supply of canapes, amuse bouches and palette cleansers) which included scallops, truffle risotto, halibut ceviche, langoustines and duck. Yum yum yum. If you're looking for somewhere to treat yourself for a special occasion, I would definitely recommend heading down to The Shore and eating at Restaurant Martin Wishart as the food, wine and service are all exceptional.

After many, many glasses of wine the night before, we were all feeling a bit sleepy on Saturday, but I headed in to town to meet my parents at lunchtime for a quick look at the madefromscotland.com Pop Up Shop, followed by something to eat and drink at The Kenilworth. We then meandered up the road, with a pit stop at The Hanging Bat of course, and got ourselves ready to walk over to Murrayfield for the Scotland v Argentina game. Despite the rain, I really enjoyed the game - mostly because we won. Nothing better than a wee bit of Flower of Scotland and a good game of rugby! After that, we had some dinner at Passorn which was delicious as always, then I headed off to bed for an early night.

This morning I managed to persuade my parents to take me to Ikea as I needed some new shelves for my bedroom (and about a million other things). I always love a trip to Ikea, even if it does mean getting up early on a Sunday morning. It seemed a little bit early for my usual Ikea treat of meatballs and chips, so I fueled up on a breakfast raspberry muffin instead then battled the crowds to stock up on shelves, storage boxes, wine glasses, candles, picture frames and erm, a little frog finger puppet. Why not? This afternoon was then spent building all the flatpack stuff, tidying the flat and attempting to put all the things in their new homes. I'm now crashed out on the sofa and am very much looking forward to getting into my bed tonight with a good book and some hot chocolate.

What have you been up to this weekend?

Gillian x

Edinburgh: Tempus Autumn Menu

6.11.14

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Last week, following a quick stop off at Jenners Beauty Hall after work (a couple of sneaky little purchases may have been made!), I headed along to George Street to meet up with some blogging pals and try out the new autumn menu at Tempus. You might remember Tempus from my Tempus Summer Menu post (can't believe that was a year and a half ago!) and I couldn't wait to go back. Once again, we settled in to one of the booths in the dining room and chatted away whilst we perused the menu.

First up, I chose the wild mushrooms with garlic on toasted sourdough bread. Garlic mushrooms are just the best, aren't they? Served with a wee bit of salad, and topped with parmesan shavings, this was the perfect light but tasty starter. For my main course I opted for the rump of lamb which was served with confit shallot, carrot and cumin puree and wilted spinach. Now, I must admit I was rather jealous of everyone else who chose the burger or fish and chips - my main was rather lacking in carbs! The hand cut chips looked amazing, so I would definitely recommend ordering a side of those as my poor little lamb was a bit sad and lonely on the plate by itself. The lamb was cooked really well, medium-rare as I had asked for, and I loved the confit shallot but I was still feeling hungry by the end due to the lack of tatties!

A smaller main course did, however, mean that I had plenty of room for dessert. I shared a "Taste of Scotland" dessert which consisted of chocolate fondant, honey ice cream, cranachan and fresh berries. I'm defintiely more of a starters person than a dessert person, but I really enjoyed this - especially the rich and gooey chocolate fondant with the delicately flavoured honey ice cream. Click here to see the full Tempus Dinner Menu.

Tempus is a great place for a catch up with friends as it's nice and central, the atmosphere is relaxed yet luxurious and the food is tasty. I can also vouch for the cocktails, order yourself one to sip whilst you decide what to order!

Have you been to Tempus?

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #147

2.11.14

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1.Pumpkins 2.Happy Halloween 3.Autumn in Edinburgh 4.Wayne's World 5.Party time, excellent 6.Sunday treats

These photos are all looking rather autumnal, aren't they? I am loving the dark nights, rustling leaves and the nippy chill in the air. I'm snuggled up on the sofa just now, getting ready to wrap myself in blankets and watch a few solid hours of American Horror Story Coven (thanks Netflix!). Perf. Today has been a pretty perf day in general, despite not really planning to do anything. After a wee wander through the sunny Meadows, Laura and I went for a late brunch at Heller's Kitchen. After that we headed over to the Grassmarket and meandered round a few shops. The first stop was Godiva Boutique, where I treated myself to the Runaway Fox stag necklace which I've had my eye on for months. We then went over to Red Door Gallery and spent ages admiring all the beautiful prints - we're planning to start a gallery wall soon, and I'm sure we'll be back to snap up a few of the designs. Lindsey Brown has an exhibition on at Red Door at the moment and I loved her illustrations, particularly the wee raccoons. I was very tempted to buy the big print but settled for a card to put in a frame for the moment. The next port of call was Black Box Boutique where I bought myself a shiny little necklace by Wolf & Moon, and then we got ourselves a smoothie at Hula for the walk home. Laaaverly!

Friday was Halloween (aka my favourite time of year) and Laura and I went as Wayne and Garth from Wayne's World. Party time, excellent! Although our Halloween plans didn't go exactly as planned, we all had a good night dancing away to old tunes in Citrus Club. I (as always) got a bit over enthusiastic with the baking, so we're probably going to be eating pumpkin cake pops and ghost brownies for weeks!

There's not much else to report from this week as I've just been busy working. I've got a few days off next week so that will be good - although to be honest, I'll probably be spending them catching up on sleep and Netflix. Such an exciting life I lead! It's my birthday on Friday and my parents are coming down to visit for the weekend, so I'm looking forward to a couple of fancy dinners and a trip to see the rugby at Murrayfield.

What have you been up to this week?

Gillian x

Mixtape: October

30.10.14

October Mixtape · via Spotify

It's nearly Halloweeeeen! Admittedly, this mixtape isn't actually all that Halloween-y, but I have snuck a couple of suitably spooky songs in amongst the usual sort of tunes. For similar alternative Halloween songs (i.e. normal songs with something Halloween-related in the title), have a listen to my October 2012 Mixtape and October 2013 Mixtape.

Creedence Clearwater Revival · Bad Moon Rising
Cold War Kids · Hang Me Up to Dry
Modest Mouse · Float On
Fleetwood Mac · Black Magic Woman
Stone Sour · Wicked Game
The Gaslight Anthem · National Anthem
Donovan · Season of the Witch
Bryan Ferry · I Put a Spell On You
Coconut Records · West Coast
Gregory Alan Isakov · If I Go, I'm Goin'
Listen to "October" here.

What have you been listening to this month?

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #146

26.10.14

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1.Tapas at Las Iguanas 2.Choosing my DUO Boots 3.Twinkle twinkle 4.Breakfast

Oh haaaay. What have you been up to this week? As usual I have been eating, drinking and blogger event-ing, followed by a weekend of lazing around and making the most of not having to set my alarm for work. One of the highlights of this week was a lovely evening at the Edinburgh DUO Boots store where we heard all about the concept behind the brand, chatted to the DUO ladies as we got fitted, and then got to choose our favourite pair to take home with us. I'm firmly in the ankle boot tribe this autumn/winter, and chose the beautiful Sanna black suede Chelsea boots. Expect to see them in an outfit post soon! As well as offering standard, narrow and wide fittings, DUO also do a huge range of calf fittings for the taller boots so no matter which ones you fall in love with, you'll be able to find your perfect fit. This was the first time I had been in DUO, but I'll definitely be back next time I'm in need of a new pair of boots. I love a good boot, so I do.

We had a couple of hours to kill between work finishing and the DUO event starting, so Laura and I went for some dinner at the recently opened Las Iguanas. I always have fairly low expectations when it comes to chain restaurants, but I was pleasantly surprised by Las Iguanas and we were practically licking the plates clean by the end. We opted for some tapas dishes and a couple of sides to share between us and we polished off the lot in record time. I particularly liked the mini duck tortillas with cranberry salsa and the deeeelish sweet potato fries. Washed down with some margaritas and finished off with some churros, of course.

This weekend has been a pretty quiet one which has mostly involved watching TV, making plans for our Halloween party next Friday, tidying the flat and snoozing. Literally a few days ago I was looking online for some fairy lights to hang over the windows in the living room... and lo and behold look what I found when I was tidying my room yesterday!! Such excitement. Just need to get another set for the other window now - I feel a trip to Ikea coming on as (in addition to the very important fairy lights) I want to get some new shelves for my bedroom. I've obviously been spending too much time on Pinterest as I now want to buy lots of white furniture, throw out most of my possessions, and turn my cluttered desk into a home office. The dream!

Gillian x

Top 5: Skincare Staples

23.10.14

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I'm definitely in the "less is more" camp when it comes to skincare. Firstly, because my skin definitely prefers to be left to its own devices and, secondly, because I am lazy and would rather sleep for an extra 10 minutes than do a double-triple-quadruple cleanse. My skin is, on the whole, pretty good but I have been suffering from horrible hormonal breakouts recently. These few products (and this is basically my whole routine, apart from a couple of face masks now and again and exfoliation when I need it) have been helping my combination-normal skin get back to its usual self.

1. Cleanse: Una Brennan Superfacialist Tea Flower Purifying Cleansing Wash
The Una Brennan range is well known amongst bloggers as a great, affordable selection of proucts and the Superfacialist Tea Flower Purifying Cleansing Wash is my favourite daily cleanser. Gel cleansers are my favourite kind, and this lightweight gel formula is great to use both morning and night. Just massage it in to your face, work it into a little bit of a lather then rise with warm water. Amongst other things, the Tea Flower cleanser contains salicylic acid which helps fight spots, decongests skin and leaves you feeling refreshed.

2. Tone: Lush Tea Tree Water
Another ingredient which is great for keeping spots under control is tea tree. I've been using tea tree cream for years on cuts, scrapes, spots... basically anything you want to keep free of bacteria. So, a Tea Tree Water toner seemed like a good idea to me! In the morning I usually give my face a spritz straight from the bottle for a cooling and refreshing start to the day, then at night I'll spray some on to a cotton pad and swipe it over my face to get rid of impurities and any last traces of makeup/cleanser. This product is great because it's clarifying without being too harsh and it doesn't leave skin feeling tight or drained of moisture - although I would definitely recommend following it up with a moisturiser afterwards.

3. Moisturise: Antipodes Divine Face Oil
I'm still on the hunt for my perfect moisturiser, so in this category I'm recommending the Antipodes Divine Face Oil instead. A luxurious mixture of avocado and rosehip oil, this is a real treat for parched skin. Although my skin isn't super dry, I do tend to get quite a lot of dry patches around my nose and this really helps skin repair and hydrate itself. The formula is rich and moisturising so it's best for use in the evenings and you'll wake up with plump, happy skin. It's also great for helping to reduce scarring and evening out skin in general.

4. Face Mask: REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial*
If your skin is looking a bit lacklustre (which tends to happen at this time of year), this new little gem from REN is the one for you. The REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial mask is designed to be a super quick one minute treatment, which you can use every three days, to give your skin a boost. Packed full of Vitamin C, it makes your skin feel plumped, energised and firmed - it reminds me a lot of the results you get from the REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask but in just a fraction of the time. With regular use, REN also claim the Flash Rinse mask will help to reduce fine lines and imperfections and I'm hoping it will help to fade the red marks left behind by recently departed spots. I really like how quickly this mask works and it's especially great to use on mornings when your skin is looking a little bit dull.

5. Treatment: Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion
Hormonal breakouts tend to bring more than their fair share of those horrible, painful under-the-skin spots and the Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion has been the only product I've tried so far that has made any difference to mine. Now, this isn't a miracle cure - it will still take a week or two to disappear completely - but the Buffering Lotion significantly reduces the size of the spot and makes it bearable to leave it alone to run its course. Just give the bottle a vigorous shake and apply a few drops directly to the spot, then leave it to work its magic overnight (I'd recommend applying it a couple of times throughout the day too if you're at home and not wearing makeup). After about 3 days the swelling will be reduced and it won't be so angry and painful any more.

What are your skincare staples at the moment?

Gillian x

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Granola Cookies

21.10.14

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Is there anything better than freshly baked cookies straight from the oven, still warm and gooey in the middle? Probably not. In the most recent Degustabox*, there was a big bag of Jordan's Simply Granola so I decided to try out a twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie. The granola adds an extra bit of crunch and a very subtle hint of honey-oaty flavour which works well with the chocolate chips. I very rarely eat cereal, but I do like granola now and again - and I particularly love it baked in cookies! (Would it be acceptable to have these for breakfast..?)

Ingredients (Makes 12 Cookies):
115g butter
75g light brown sugar
45g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
95g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
125g Jordan's Simply Granola*
100g chocolate chips

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Add the butter, brown sugar and caster sugar to a large bowl and beat with a handheld mixer.
3. Add the egg and vanilla extract, then beat until light and fluffy.
4. Mix in the flour, salt and baking powder, then add in the granola and chocolate chips. Mix well to evenly distribute the granola and chocolate chips throughout the cookie dough.
5. Add spoonfuls of mixture to a baking tray, leaving plenty of space between each spoonful as the cookies will spread out whilst cooking. I did the cookies in two batches of six (three cookies per tray) to make sure there was enough room for them all.
6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown but still slightly chewy in the middle.
7. Leave to cool on the trays for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

These cookies are really quick and easy to make, you can't really go wrong. Not only do they taste great, but they'll also make your kitchen smell amazing too! As well as the Jordan's Simply Granola, there were lots of other treats in the September Degustabox including Crabbie's Ginger Beer, Little Miracles juice and my new favourite Burts Lentil Waves. If you like trying new things and getting food and drink surprises through the post every month, it's definitely worth signing up for a Degustabox.

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #145

19.10.14

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1.Gin Gimlets at Heads & Tales 2.Rock Rose Gin launch 3.John Lewis Christmas 4.New College 5.Drinks at Revolution 6.New homeware things

Usually my Sundays are spent lounging around the flat, trying and failing to be productive, but today Laura and I went shopping to get some new bits and pieces for the flat. That John Lewis Map Cushion, swoooon! We also stocked up on fairy lights, lanterns, frames for our impending gallery wall and some hot chocolate from Hotel Chocolat (very important of course). Speaking of John Lewis, earlier in the week I headed along for a preview evening to see all the Christmas goodies. There were lots of things I had my eye on, watch out for a wee wishlist post coming soon! It was lovely to catch up with Alex and Lianne (and Laura, natch) whilst we tucked into delicious canapes from the Hotel Chocolat Cafe (especially the mini macaroni pies) and got into the festive spirit. Once Halloween and my birthday are out of the way, I'll be in full on Christmas mode!

Also in this week's news, I went along to the Edinburgh launch of Rock Rose Gin at Heads & Tales. I never used to be much of a gin drinker but I seem to be drinking it rather a lot these days - I'm still not a G&T fan, but it's great in cocktails like the Gin Gimlets which we tried at the launch. Rock Rose Gin is produced at the northernmost distillery in Scotland, up in Caithness, using a unique blend of botanicals - including Rhodiola rosea, where the gin gets its name from. I loved the bottle too, it's ceramic so each one is slightly different. Definitely worth a try if you're a gin drinker! This was the first time I had been to Heads & Tales, and I loved the bar too. It felt like a mix between a speakeasy and a country drawing room - dark and cosy and a bit cool with vintage style furniture, birdcages on the tables and, oh yeah, two Edinburgh Gin stills in the middle of the bar!

Apart from that, there hasn't been much to report. On Friday evening Laura and I had some dinner after work at Revolution, along with some cocktails of course. Oh and some jelly baby vodka shots. Instead of following this up with a wild night on the tiles, we came home and watched TV. Young and wild and free, so we are.

What have you been up to this week?

Gillian x