Mixtape: October


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


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


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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


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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

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


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

Etsy Picks #3: Halloween


I LOVE HALLOWEEN. The way most people feel about Christmas is how I feel about Halloween. Black cats, spells and curses, moon-worshipping... all of my favourite things. We've started putting up decorations in the flat already, and I can't wait to get baking in time for the annual Halloween party extravaganza. To get in the spirit (ha HA, see what I did there?) I've been browsing through Etsy for some suitably supernatural homewares, accessories and decorations for Halloween this year.

I will be going overboard as usual and baking far too many Halloween cakes and sweet treats, but if you can't be bothered spending hours with a piping bag these Zombie Apocalypse Cupcake Toppers are perfect. Just make your favourite cupcakes and stick them on top for instant Halloween treats! I also really want the Rolling Pin with Bats which would make amazing cookies covered in teeny tiny bats, or super simple embossed fondant icing. Yum! And of course I'd need a Beetlejuice Handbook for the Recently Deceased Blank Journal to scribble down all my Halloween recipes in.

As for jewellery, I already own more than my fair share of skull necklaces so I steered myself away from those and towards a couple of cute brooches instead. If you're between the ages of 21 and 30 and claim you've never once wished you could be Sabrina the Teenage Witch then you're LYING. Salem and his sassiness was always one of my favourite parts of the show, so a glittery Salem Brooch would be the perfect way to show my appreciation. Bats are one of my top five favourite animals (fun fact) so I would wear this lovely little Bat Pin Brooch any time of year, but it's perfect for Halloween too.

If sending Halloween cards was a thing in this country, I would definitely be sending all my pals one of these Trick or Treat Typography Cards. One thing that is a little more suited to this country is the Weegie Board (for contacting dead Weegies), which definitely made me chuckle. Aye, Naw, Yer Maw. Usually my Halloween decorations are pretty temporary but when I finally make a start on my Pinterest-worthy gallery wall one day, I'd love to include some spooky prints to have a wee bit of Halloween in my home all year round. I love this inkblot test style Rorschach Wolf Print which looks super cooooool. I want it! I need it! (Wolves also make it into my favourite animals top five). And finally, Halloween wouldn't be Halloween without some skulls. I love these Life Size Skull Candles which look amazing, although I'm not sure I could ever bring myself to actually burn them.

Gillian x

Cocktail Hour: The Singularity


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A couple of weeks ago I headed along to The Caves after work for an event with Fentimans. Drinking cocktails in a spooky underground vault? Yes please. Fentimans had organised the evening to celebrate the launch of their new mixer range which is the perfect size for a single serve in a cocktail or mixed drink. We spent the evening learning about the history of Fentimans, discovering which ingredients went into some of the most popular flavours and - of course - sampling plenty of Fentimans cocktails! Mixologists Kieron Hall and Allan Beaton were on hand to whip up some of the cocktails they had created using the new Fentimans mixer range, and my favourite of the night was definitely The Singularity. As much as I'd like to take credit for this cocktail recipe, it's all down to Allan who was the runner up in this year's Mixologist of the Year competition. I had a couple of bottles of the deeeelicious Rose Lemonade in my goody bag, so decided to recreate The Singularity at home.

You Will Need (Serves 1):
37.5ml vodka
12.5ml Chambord
25ml lime juice
6 mint leaves
Fentimans Rose Lemonade
Crushed ice
Mint & lime wedges for decoration

1. Add the freshly squeezed lime juice to a highball glass along with 6 mint leaves. Muddle together to release the flavours.
2. Add in the vodka and Chambord along with a scoop of crushed ice.
3. Top up with the Fentimans Rose Lemonade and give it a quick stir.
4. Finish off with another scoop of crushed ice, a sprig of mint and a lime wedge to decorate.

And there you have it! This cocktail is really simple to make and is lovely and refreshing. The Rose Lemonade and Chambord give it a hint of fruity sweetness, but the lime juice makes sure it doesn't taste too sickly. I love the Fentimans range as a soft drink treat, but they work equally well as mixers to add something different to your favourite cocktails.

What's your favourite Fentimans flavour?

Gillian x

Sunday Summary #144


1.Sunday roast 2.Pizza Express 3.Cocktails at The Caves with Fentimans 4.Saturday night 5.Dinner & drinks at Amicus Apple 6.New earrings from the madefromscotland.com Pop-Up Shop 7.Moomin pyjamas

I didn't quite get time to write last week's Sunday Summary, so this week's post is a bumper edition. And by "get time" what I really mean is I was too hungover to move and spent all day lying in my bed whimpering and trying not to be sick. FUN. Last Saturday night I went out with some of my babein' blogging pals and we drank many cocktails (followed by less classy drinks like "Haggis Bombs", basically Jaegerbombs but with Irn Bru) which was the reason for my sorry state the next day. We started off the night at Amicus Apple for dinner and cocktails, followed by some cheap vodkas (seriously, £2.50 for a vodka in Edinburgh on a Saturday night is unheard of!) at the International Vodka & Beer Bar. The Glasgow ladies had to head off for their train home after that, but Laura, Lynne, Kirsty and I continued on along Rose Street until we came to an empty "old man pub" which I've forgotten the name of - but it had seats to rest our weary feet, quiet music so we could hear each other talk and relatively cheap drinks which kept us happy (errm, starting to think that maybe we are more at home in old man pubs than cool bars?). We finished off the night by going to Castle Clvb which none of us had been to before. And to be honest, it was pretty rubbish. Weird music which you couldn't dance/sing along to, bizarre mix of completely packed in one room and mostly empty in another, lack of dancefloor in the only bit that was playing songs I recognised... NAW. Staying loyal to my beloved Hive from now on!

The last couple of weeks have also been filled with lots more eating and drinking. Laura and I cooked up a storm a couple of weekends ago and made a deeelicious Sunday roast. If only they didn't take so long, I would totes make one of these every week. Roast potatoes and graaavyyyyy yum. I've had a Pizza Express voucher sitting in my purse for ages, so one evening after work Laura and I headed to the Morningside restaurant to treat ourselves to some pizza and wine. Because we're worth it. We also had some cocktails at The Caves last week courtesy of Fentimans. We were there to hear all about the new mini-size bottles of Fentimans which are the perfect size for cocktail mixers, so of course we had to sample some cocktails just to make sure! Keep your eyes peeled for a post in a day or two sharing one of my favourite Fentimans cocktails from the evening.

This weekend has mostly been a relaxing and organising weekend - lots of catching up on sleep, followed by washing dishes, doing laundry, planning our upcoming Halloween party and writing blog posts.

What have you been up to lately?

Gillian x

Watching Lately #11


1. American Horror Story
I'm not sure why it took me so long to get round to watching American Horror Story because it is, on paper, exactly my sort of thing. Spooky? Check. Weird? Check. On Netflix? Check. I think AHS is the kind of show that definitely benefits from binge watching as you quickly start to get sucked in and even though it's not scary (well, not for me anyway) it definitely does have you on the edge of your seat. Of the two seasons I've watched so far (hurry up and add the third please Netflix!) I definitely preferred the first "Murder House" series rather than the second "Asylum". I like the fact that each season is a completely seaparate story, yet many of the actors are the same - something a bit different and I can't really think of any other TV shows which do something similar. I've heard that season three isn't that great (which is a shame as Covens are definitely my kinda thaaang) but I'm looking forward to watching it soon anyway.

2. The Other Guys
I went to see The Other Guys at the cinema when it came out a few years ago, and from what I remember I enjoyed it. When looking for something to watch the other night, I came across this again and gave it another watch - and in fact it was quite funny, better than I had been expecting! Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg play a couple of mismatched police officers in the NYPD who, for various reasons, are the laughing stock of their department. They accidentally become involved in a big case and have to try and work together to prove to the rest of the cops that they're not completely useless. It's not the best film I've ever seen, but great for a Sunday evening comedy when you want something easy to watch.

3. The IT Crowd
I used to be a big fan of The IT Crowd back in the day and so I decided to watch it all again from the start. I had kind of forgotten just how good it was, there were several occasions where I found myself cackling away on my own. If you've never watched it before, the show centers on Roy (Chris O'Dowd) and Moss (Richard Ayoade), two nerdy employees of the IT department of Reynholm Industries, as they are joined by new department head Jen (Katherine Parkinson) who knows absolutely nothing about comp-u-ters. As you would expect, there are plenty of geeky references, awkward situations and general comedy in and out of the workplace. It's hard to choose a favourite bit, however the episode where they go to see the gay musical and Roy has to pretend to be disabled is a personal highlight.

4. Whitechapel
Whitechapel is another one I watched years ago, however I had no idea there was more than one series of this. I spotted it on Netflix a couple of weeks ago so gave the first series a rewatch, and then started on the second (and there's another one waiting to be watched soon). The first series focuses on a copycat killer recreating the murders of Jack the Ripper in modern day Whitechapel and it's up to DI Joseph Chandler (Rupert Penry-Jones) and his new team of policemen, headed up by DS Ray Miles (Philip Davis), to catch the killer. I'm fascinated by all things to do with serial killers, as well as things with historical references, so I loved this. Although I wasn't quite so keen on the second series, which was based on a re-doing of the Krays' crimes, I still thought it was well done and pretty gripping for an ITV drama.

5. Breaking Bad
If you know me at all, you'll know that I LOVE Breaking Bad. I had been thinking about rewatching it soon anyway, so when Laura mentioned she hadn't made it past the first couple of episodes I knew it was time to educate her in the ways of Walter White. I won't say too much as I've already mentioned Breaking Bad in a previous Watching Lately post, but I think it was even better the second time around. I like slow-burning shows which focus on character progression, but even if you're more into fast paced things it's worth persevering with the earlier episodes as by the final couple of seasons you'll be unable to step away from the "play next episode button". SO TENSE. SO BRILLIANT.

6. I'm Alan Partidge
I've caught a few episodes of Alan Partidge things here and there over the years, but I'd never properly sat down and watched it all. I'm Alan Partridge kept coming up in my Netflix recommendations so I thought this was as good a time as any to give it a go. There's definitely a reason this is a cult classic and you just can't help but laugh at Steve Coogan's disgraced TV presenter character and his painfully awkward attempts to get back on TV, all the while insulting and annoying just about everyone. Definitely worth a watch if you're a fan of classic British comedy, and I'll just leave you with this scene with had me crying with laughter the other day.

What have you been watching lately?

Gillian x