Outfit: Goth Summer

26.6.15

carerra sunglasses review 5
carerra sunglasses review 2
carerra sunglasses review 4
carerra sunglasses review 6
carerra sunglasses review 3
carerra sunglasses review 1
Top: French Connection
Jeans: New Look*
Denim Jacket: Primark
Sunglasses: Carrera at Sunglasses Shop*
Bag: Accessorize
Shoes: Primark
Necklace: Zalando

It may be the height of summer (bah, really? It's chucking it down right now!) but nothing can tear me away from my beloved black clothes. Goth life 4eva. I just pure love an all-black outfit, brightened up with some flashes of red, and summer-ified with a slouchy denim jacket. And not forgetting some sunglasses of course! Sunglasses Shop kindly offered to send me a new pair of sunspecs from the Carrera collection and I went for the 5024S frames. Iconic sunglasses brand Carrera have recently had a bit of an overhaul, tweaking some of their existing designs and adding some new frames to their collection too. I love the modern matte black finish of my new sunglasses, and the shape has just enough of a cat-eye hint to keep them from looking too round.

For someone who never, ever, ever used to wear jeans, they're all I seem to put on these days. Don't get me wrong, I'm still partial to a swishy skater dress or two, but for daytime wear jeans just seem so much easier. Especially when you're off on an adventure up Calton Hill! A couple of days ago, I put on my comfiest shoes (a bright red pair of Vans lookalikes from Primark which cost me about £3 two years or so ago), packed my bag with my camera and a bottle of Irn Bru and headed out to explore the city to do some prep for a secret project. Well, it's not so secret any more - if you follow me on Twitter you may have seen a little mention of Every Edinburgh. Laura and I have decided to set up a brand new collaborative journal/blog/magazine type thing to tell the stories of Edinburgh; from event hightlights, cultural happenings and interviews with creative Edinburgh locals, to hidden gems and itineraries of days out, we've got you covered! We'll be launching next week, so keep your eyes peeled for that (P.S. I would love it if you could give us a follow on Twitter too!).

What's your default summer outfit?

Gillian x

Edinburgh: The Blackbird

23.6.15

the blackbird edinburgh review 4
the blackbird edinburgh review 1
the blackbird edinburgh review 5
the blackbird edinburgh review 7
the blackbird edinburgh review 8
the blackbird edinburgh review 6
the blackbird edinburgh review 3
the blackbird edinburgh review 2
If you've been following my blog for more than, oh, ten minutes you'll have no doubt seen me mention The Blackbird before. Located just a hop, skip and a jump away from my flat, it quickly became my favourite "local" after opening around three years ago. Amazing cocktails, great seasonal menu and probably the best beer garden in Edinburgh - it's a winner. A couple of weeks ago The Blackbird invited me down to try out the summer menu and I couldn't say no to another visit (three days after my previous visit... see, I told you I went there all the time!).

To start, we chose a couple of cocktails from this summer's specials menu. I went for a The Adventures of Sherbet Holmes and Laura chose a Neo Tiki Punch. Both were interesting concoctions, but no match for our usual favourites - a vodka, strawberry & ginger ale Kick Ass for me and a rum & raspberry Outrigger for Laura. As we sipped our cocktails, we perused the food menu and decided to go for starters and mains. One thing I love about The Blackbird is the fact that their menu changes regularly so there's always something new to try. This time, I tried the tequila crispy chicken with lime soured cream and it was an excellent choice. The chicken was melt-in-the-mouth and the fresh citrusy soured cream matched it perfectly. The portion was huge so it would be great to share or even have as a nibble with your drinks if you didn't fancy staying for a full meal. Laura's wasabi king prawns were equally juicy and delicious, with a crispy panko breadcrumb coating and lemon aioli to go with it.

Next up were the main courses, and my duck was b-e-a-utiful - definitely not your usual "pub grub" sort of food! The duck breast was served with roasted beetroot, golden squash and mandarin with a lemon thyme dressing, and it was the perfect summer dish. Laura went for one of the burgers, a regular feature on The Blackbird's menu, and topped it with some avocado. I can vouch that the burgers are delicious too, and I usually add some haggis to mine. By the time we had wolfed all that down, we were too full for dessert but from past experience, they're definitely worth saving room for!

The Blackbird is one of my favourite bars at any time of year, but it's especially great during the summer. You can't beat a couple of ice cold fruit ciders in the beer garden on a summer evening - and don't forget to share one of the meaty sharing boards while you're at it. The atmosphere is really laid back and great for any occasion: birthday drinks with the family; a chilled Sunday listening to the live music; cocktail catch ups with friends. Essentially, if you haven't been to The Blackbird already, you need to go!

Have you tried the new summer menu at The Blackbird yet?

Gillian x

Recipe: Bourbon BBQ Chicken Burgers & Apple Slaw

17.6.15

jim beam bbq chicken burgers apple slaw recipe 1
jim beam bbq chicken burgers apple slaw recipe 6
jim beam bbq chicken burgers apple slaw recipe 4
jim beam bbq chicken burgers apple slaw recipe 2
jim beam bbq chicken burgers apple slaw recipe 3
jim beam bbq chicken burgers apple slaw recipe 5

There's nothing better than a summer barbecue, is there? But, thanks to the Scottish weather, the opportunities to actually go outside and fire up the coals can be few and far between. To make things a bit quicker and easier, all you need is some barbecue sauce and a griddle pan and you're good to go - not quite the same as the real thing but certainly just as tasty! Jim Beam are releasing their brand new Bourbon BBQ Sauce at the end of this month (available in Sainsbury's stores from the 29th June) so they kindly sent me a bottle to get creative with. With 9% bourbon added to every batch, you can really taste the iconic Jim Beam flavour in the sauce so it's perfect for adding a kick to a wide range of dishes. The first thing that came to mind when I got my hands on the sauce was a delicious BBQ chicken burger, served with a fresh and summery twist on coleslaw and some fail safe sweet potato chips.

You Will Need (Serves 2):
2 chicken breasts
4 tbsp Jim Beam Bourbon Sauce*
2 rolls
2 sweet potatoes
1 tsp chilli flakes
Olive oil & seasoning
1/4 of a white cabbage
1 carrot
1 green apple
1/2 of a red onion
2-3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp caraway seeds
2 tsp cider vinegar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Lettuce, cheese, pickles etc. to serve

Method:
1. Switch the oven on to 200°C to heat up. Take your chicken breasts and flatten them slightly so they are a relatively even thickness throughout, then add them to a dish along with the Jim Beam Bourbon Sauce and some black pepper. Set aside to marinate.
2. Cut the sweet potatoes into small wedges, leaving the skin on. Toss them in a little olive oil, chilli flakes and salt and pepper, then spread out evenly on a baking tray and put in the oven for around 30 minutes. Give them a shake every so often to make sure they crisp up evenly.
3. Shred the cabbage, carrots, apple and red onion for the coleslaw. I found a julienne peeler worked best for the carrots, and the rest I just thinly sliced with a sharp knife - but you could also use a shredder attachment for your food processor if you have one. Add these to a large bowl and mix well.
4. Mix together the Greek yoghurt, mayonnaise, caraway seeds, cider vinegar and lemon juice then add to the bowl with the shredded vegetables. Season with plenty salt and pepper to taste.
5. Once your sweet potato chips are around 10 minutes from being ready, heat up your griddle pan or grill. Once hot, add the marinated chicken and turn down to a medium heat. Cook for around 5 minutes each side, or until the chicken is cooked all the way through and starting to turn crispy and slightly charred on the outside.
6. Once your chicken is cooked, let it rest on a board for a couple of minutes whilst you assemble everything. Slice your rolls and add any accompaniments you want - I'd suggest baby gem lettuce, Mexicana cheese and an extra little glug of the Jim Beam BBQ Sauce. Add the chicken to the roll, top with a couple of spoonfuls of coleslaw and serve along with the sweet potato fries.

This is a surprisingly quick meal to make so it's perfect for a weeknight dinner when you want something tasty without putting in too much effort. Make up a big batch of the coleslaw in advance and that's half the work already done for you! I love the crisp, sweet taste of the green apples in the coleslaw and it makes it a bit lighter than your usual mayo-heavy shop bought coleslaw. It goes really well with the barbecue taste of the Jim Beam Bourbon Sauce, but it's equally great in sandwiches or as an accompaniment to salad.

What are your favourite barbecue recipes?

Gillian x

Bulgari Pour Femme: A Love Story

11.6.15

bulgari pour femme fragrance direct review 1
bulgari pour femme fragrance direct review 2
Buglari Pour Femme Eau de Parfum* · via Fragrance Direct

Things that smell nice: the air after it rains on a hot summer's day; the sweet vanilla scent of home after a long trip away; homemade bread baking in the oven; Bulgari Pour Femme. I must have been about 17 when I first fell for this perfume, back when I spent Saturday afternoons wandering the fragrance aisles of Debenhams, trying to find The One. A strange choice for a 17 year old, some might say, but there was just something about Bulgari's classic fragrance that called out to me. I liked that is was soft and feminine, but moody rather than sickly. Its floral notes are rich and green rather than fruity or sweet, and it creates a beautiful, elegant, grown-up scent on the skin.

But alas, my Bulgari supply ran out and I just never got round to replacing it. Occasionally I would catch a trace of it again - pulling out an old coat from the back of the wardrobe ready for another winter of wear, or putting on a scarf that had lain forgotten in a drawer for months - and it would remind me just how much I loved this scent. A couple of years went by and, although I never forgot about it completely, I had just kind of moved on as there were other perfumes waiting by my mirror ready to be used. Recently Fragrance Direct got in touch offering to send me a little something from their extensive collection of fragrances and beauty products, and I knew without even looking that it had to be Bulgari Pour Femme.

It is so nice to be reunited once again, and I still love the scent just as much as the first day I spritzed it on my wrist. The lovely floral notes of rose, jasmine, mimosa and orange blossom are still there, but for me the one that stands out is violet. It has that nostalgic, powdery scent of parma violets, but it's much more musky and sophisticated than that. The perfume lasts for hours on the skin, fading beautifully and evenly, leaving you with little reminders of the scent throughout the day. It's subtle enough for the daytime and strong enough to hold its own for a night out, too. Undoubtedly a classic, it's probably my all-time favourite and I know I'll be wearing it for years to come.

What's your all-time favourite perfume?

Gillian x

Edinburgh: Mademoiselle Macaron

6.6.15

mademoiselle macaron edinburgh 1
mademoiselle macaron edinburgh 8
mademoiselle macaron edinburgh 2
mademoiselle macaron edinburgh 3
mademoiselle macaron edinburgh 5
mademoiselle macaron edinburgh 7
mademoiselle macaron edinburgh 4
mademoiselle macaron edinburgh 6

If you're after sweet treats, Parisienne chic and a wee bit of Scottish banter then Mademoiselle Macaron's your gal. Nestled away down a cobbled street in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, this lovely little patisserie recently celebrated its first birthday so I headed along with some other bloggers to help mark the occasion. We spent the evening sipping wine, sampling macarons (both sweet and savoury) and admiring the super cute shop. Mademoiselle Macaron has been on my to-visit list for ages and I can't believe it has taken me a whole year to finally get round to it... but this definitely won't be my last visit!

Although there are lots of delicious things on offer, like crepes, quiches, eclairs and cakes, it is - of course - the macarons which are the star of the show. There are traditional flavours like raspberry, pistachio or rose, as well as more unique flavour combinations like Innis & Gunn beer or Hendrick's Gin. Of the flavours I tried, I think my favourites were chocolate & passionfruit and salted caramel - but there are plenty more I still need to sample on my next visit (Irn Bru being top of the list). We also tasted some savoury macarons which were something I didn't even know existed. Mini burgers with salami & rocket sandwiched between two macaron shells? Yes please.

Mademoiselle herself, aka Rachel, lived in Paris and studied at the Alain Ducasse cookery school to perfect her macaron making skills and now she's brought back all she knows to Edinburgh. The cafe is a perfect mix of the two cities, with an Eiffel Tower feature overlooking the counter and street map murals on the wall. B-e-a-utiful. If relaxing on the chaise longue and nibbling your macarons isn't enough for you, you can also book yourself a macaron making class to learn some tricks of the trade and take some recipes home with you. Mademoiselle Macaron also do catering for events like weddings and birthdays if you're looking for something a little more interesting than boring old cake.

Have you been to Mademoiselle Macaron yet?

Gillian x