Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016


2015, you've been a funny old year. I've never really believed in the whole "new year, new start" thing, but this year I'm secretly hoping it'll come true. The 1st of January is just another day but, thanks to the timing of things, it falls at a point in my life where I'm desperate for a change to roll in along with the bells. Back in October, I found out I no longer had a job. It had been a little bit unstable for more or less the whole year but I clung on because not only did I love the job itself, but I was also dreading the thought of unemployment and job hunting. I'd already done it once (an 8 month stint after graduating) and it was soul destroying enough the first time around. This time has felt even worse; I'm that little bit older and more experienced, I feel like I don't deserve to be here again but no matter how many jobs I apply for and how many interviews I go to, I don't seem to be getting any further forward. I'd like to think I'm a fairly confident person, in the sense that I know what I'm good at and I'm happy within myself, but going through this whole process again has just knocked me down completely. There's nothing like two post-interview rejections in one day to make you feel utterly useless.

But, as hard as it is to stay motivated and positive, I'm trying not to let this take over. Everything else about my life is perfect (for me, anyway) and now I just need to find a job so I can feel a little bit more secure and start saving for the future, book holidays on a whim, buy things or go on nights out without feeling guilty, and - most importantly - finally feel independent and useful and worthy. Whilst I've been waiting for that to all slot into place, I've still managed to have a wonderful year full of people I love, big adventures and new achievements.

This year, I have packed up my suitcase and caught planes and trains with my best friends to explore new cities and create new memories. Whether big, like Copenhagen in the spring, or small, like a weekend in York, they have been some of the times when I've laughed the most this year. I've dined in an old brothel, discovered secret cocktail bars, got lost along foreign streets, visited my first Sephora and chuckled at that dragon sculpture. Even when I haven't been on holiday, I have enjoyed every minute spent with friends. From catch ups in coffee shops to hosting my own Dinner Party to hungover Netflix binges with Laura on Sunday afternoons, it has all been brilliant. I know everyone says this, but I really do have the best friends.

This has been my seventh year living in Edinburgh, and I love this city just as much as the first day I set up home here as a bright eyed 17 year old. I have spent long evenings at the Fringe, drinking cider and laughing and not wanting to go home. I have sampled meal after meal and cocktail after cocktail at the new bars and restaurants springing up across the city. I have been engrossed in new museums and delighted in introducing people to old attractions. Most of all, I have been proud of the success of my pet project with Laura, Every Edinburgh. Writing about this city and the wonderful things and people in it has made me fall in love with Edinburgh even more.

And finally, 2015 was the year I fell in love with a boy. I know I don't say it enough (because I am a huge ice queen), but it's true, I love you. The one benefit of being under/unemployed is that we've had so much of that precious commodity, time, to spend getting to know each other, and for that I'm very grateful. We've spent balmy early summer evenings picnicking in the Meadows, long weekends taking advantage of blogging perks to explore new places like Newcastle, weekday evenings getting slightly tipsy when the bars are all quiet and we have the place to ourselves, and cold winter days spent tucked up in bed watching back to back Nicolas Cage films. What more could a girl ask for?

So, 2016, I hope you're good to me because I'm tired of feeling tired. I want to stop moaning about the things that are going wrong, because I really do appreciate the things that are going right.

I hope 2016 is good to you too. What have been your highlights of 2015?

Gillian x

Outfit: A Very Vintage Christmas


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Dress: Dolly & Dotty*
Shoes: Red or Dead
Belt: New Look
Earrings: Accessorize
Bow: Primark
Lipstick: MAC Russian Red

Despite not actually having any Christmas parties to go to this year, I'm not letting that stop me from breaking out the bows and sparkles and novelty earrings. Dolly & Dotty recently sent me this lovely Black & White Evelyn Dress* and I thought it would be perfect for a festive outfit. If you're the sort of person who gets dressed up for Christmas dinner (rather than lounging about all day in your pyjamas like me) this would be ideal for adding a wee bit of a vintage twist to your outfit. I had a hard time picking which dress to choose from Dolly & Dotty as they're all lovely - lots of full skirts, 50's silhouettes and polka dots. Think I need to invest in a petticoat now so I can make the most of this swishy skirt!

As it's Christmas, you have to have a little bit of glitter in your outfit somewhere. I opted for some very festive red sparkly shoes which are from Red or Dead. I borrowed them from Laura and I think I may have to invest in my own pair as I looovveeee them and they were actually quite comfy too! As for other accessories, I put on my Christmas tree earrings which I picked up from Accessorize on the way to a Christmas party about three or four years ago. They were an excellent last-minute purchase and I always dig them out around this time of year to add some festive cheer to an outfit. Particularly useful if you've been invited to a Christmas night out and don't want to go overboard with a ridiculous Christmas jumper and flashing deely boppers, but still want to be a tiny bit Christmassy. I also finished off the vintage Christmas theme with a big red bow in my hair. This was actually part of a hairband from (I think) Primark which was purchased as part of a Halloween fancy dress costume, but it has since been deconstructed and now the bow looks rather lovely on its own.

Also, note to self: iron your clothes before photographing them...

What's your favourite style of Christmas outfit?

Gillian x

How To Be Great at Secret Santa


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Looking for some inspiration for a last-minute Secret Santa gift to bring to your work Christmas party? You're in the right place! If it's done right, Secret Santas can be lots of fun and a great way to exchange gifts between a big group of people, but if they're done badly you just end up with a rubbish gift and wish you'd never bothered taking part. I participated in a blogger Secret Santa with Just My Look this year (see what I received in this vlogmas video!) and kept all these tips in mind when choosing my present to make sure my giftee was just as happy with my present as I was with theirs.

1. Stick to Your Budget
Secret Santas usually have a budget, and they're there for a good reason. You don't want to end up spending £20 on a really nice gift, then getting a £2 box of sweeties in return. If your main gift is under-budget, add in a couple of little extras like a bottle of sparkly nail polish or some Christmassy chocolates. Likewise, if your main gift is over-budget, have a shop around and see if you can find it cheaper elsewhere or maybe even a mini version of the same thing which is half the price. You should also take into account things like wrapping and postage; skip the expensive in-store gift wrapping and get your parcel sent early so you can take advantage of cheaper second class postage.

2. Choose Something Personal
It's not always possible to choose a personal gift for your Secret Santa, particularly if it's a "lucky dip" style one and you don't know who you're buying for, but always try to do a little research first. If it's someone you know well, this shouldn't be too hard - but if you get matched up with someone you don't know very well, have a quick look at their Instagram or Twitter profile to get an idea of what they like. With my Just My Look Secret Santa, I didn't know the blogger I was matched with already, but a quick look at her blog told me she loved nail polish so I opted for one of the OPI mini gift sets.

3. Wrap it Up Nicely
It's always the little touches which make a present seem extra special, even if the gift itself is just a cheapy wee token gift. So, make sure your wrapping skills are up to scratch and make the gift look lovely and festive. I've got lots of wrapping ideas over on my Christmas Pinterest Board, but this year I decided to keep it classic with brown paper and candy-cane striped string - simple, but very effective! Again, this part doesn't need to be expensive, just use wrapping paper and decorations you already have and make it look as pretty as possible.

4. Find Out What the Rules Are
You don't want to end up being that person who signs their gift tag with their own name in an anonymous Secret Santa, so make sure you know what the rules are before sending your gift. Work out what the budget is, if there's a type of present you're supposed to be buying (e.g. the Just My Look one was a makeup & beauty related Secret Santa), whether it's anonymous or not and when/where it needs to be dropped off. Little details like these can make a big difference, so it's good to know all this from the start rather than running around last minute trying to work it out.

5. Be Creative
The best gifts are usually the ones which have a bit of thought put into them and are a bit more creative than the norm. Have a look in independent shops for something different, or even have a rake round charity shops to find little antiques or trinkets which you could repurpose into a handmade gift. If you're a dab hand in the kitchen, you could even do some festive baking as part of your gift. I love the idea of these Chocolate Brownie Mix Jars!

Have you got any Secret Santa tips?

Gillian x

Christmas Gift Guide: Ace Accessories


Still on the hunt for some Christmas presents? Here's another gift guide to give you some ideas, and this time it's all about jewellery and accessories. Necklaces are my favourite type of jewellery so I've always got my eye on a few statement ones to add to my collection, and I think these three would all make great Christmas presents. First up, for someone who loves bright, fun and quirky jewellery you can't go wrong with this Watermelon Necklace. I first spotted it in Hannah Zakari during the summer and have regretted not buying it ever since! For something a bit more minimal, but still bold and a bit different, I love the Dodecahedron Coated Collar Necklace from Oliver Bonas, which is available in three different colours. Alternatively, if you're looking for something a little more classic but with a personal touch, opt for something with your giftee's starsign on it, like this lovely Zodiac Constellation Necklace by Yvonne Henderson.

I already have a couple of bits and pieces from Kate Rowland and I really love them. Perfect for fans of pop culture and cult TV shows, her handmade wooden jewellery would make a great Christmas gift; try this RV Brooch for a fan of Breaking Bad. Speaking of handmade jewellery, I'm a big fan of the minimal style of the pieces from Oh My Clumsy Heart and definitely wouldn't mind unwrapping one of these little Moon Rings on Christmas morning. If you're looking for a watch rather than jewellery, Olivia Burton is a great place to look for dainty and unusual styles. This Mini Dial Mint & Gold Watch is very pretty indeed and it doesn't break the bank either.

Now, on to some other accessories. Scarves are always appreciated as Christmas gifts to keep cosy during the festive season, so something like this Houndstooth Print Blanket Scarf from Marks & Spencer would be perfect. I have a similar one from Primark and it's super super cosy. It might not be very sunny at the moment, but a nice pair of sunglasses would be still be a nice treat to receive, and I can't recommend Iolla's Muir Sunglasses enough. They're so well made and look very swish, but they're very affordable too - plus they do fantastic regular glasses if your giftee is in need of some new frames. Is it weird to give someone a pair of shoes as a Christmas present? I'm not sure, but I certainly would love to receive these Black Glitter Ankle Boots from New Look this Christmas. If you can't have ridiculous glitter shoes at Christmas, then when can you?! Lastly, a couple of more practical accessories; a pretty metallic Darya Colour Block Leather Purse from Oliver Bonas and Rifle Paper Co's Clear Rosa iPhone Cover. I reeaaaallly want one of these, but sadly I don't think they make them for Samsung phones, SIGH.

Have you got any jewellery or accessories on your Christmas list this year?

Gillian x

What to Do in Edinburgh This Winter


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It's the most wonderful time of the year! Well, actually, it's probably the busiest time of the year, but you should definitely keep an evening free here and there to check out some of the festivities Edinburgh has to offer. Here are a few of my top picks from this season's festive programme...

Scottish Ballet's Cinderella
Scottish Ballet's productions are always beautiful and their Christmas ballets, in particular, are lovely and sparkly and perfect whether you're a seasoned professional or a ballet-watching beginner. Cinderella is on at the Festival Theatre until Hogmanay. A classic story of rags to riches, with plenty of enchanted animals, a comedy sister act and a wee bit of romance too, Cinderella is sure to get you in the festive spirit with all the sparkling costumes and dreamy set designs. If you miss out this time, Scottish Ballet will also be taking Cinderella to Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness in January.

Indie Shopping in Edinburgh
Edinburgh has loads of amazing independent shops so it's definitely worth taking a trip round town to pick up some unique Christmas gifts. There are loads that I love (check out my Christmas Shopping Itinerary on Every Edinburgh for some inspiration) including Hannah Zakari, Curiouser & Curiouser, Life Story and Godiva Boutique. If you can't be bothered going outside, why not shop online at Love From Indie Street instead for personalised gifts and vouchers for lots of different independent Edinburgh stores? You can even use my discount code elevator10 to get 10% off!

Visit the European & Scottish Christmas Markets
Every year the Christmas markets in Edinburgh seem to be getting bigger and better, and this year they're split into two markets in two locations. The European market in Princes Street Gardens features all the usual favourite stalls (think waffles smothered in Nutella, hand crafted Christmas decorations and plenty of German sausages) and over in St Andrew Square you'll find the Scottish market. In amongst local businesses with Scottish gifts, food and drink, you'll come across Mimi's Cake Cabin, which is my highlight of Edinburgh's markets so far! Their hot chocolate and tray bakes are an essential for a chilly winter evening. I've also heard rumours of a bar located in the middle of a merry-go-round somewhere in the markets, must seek that out on my next visit!

24 Doors of Advent
An advent calendar with a difference, the 24 Doors of Advent is an adventure around the city which gives you a sneak peek into some of Edinburgh's unique buildings. Similar in style to Doors Open Days which run every September in Scotland, this festive version allows you access to a different building on each day of the advent calendar. Go behind the scenes at the Playhouse on the 12th, discover some of Edinburgh's history at New Register House on the 17th or see some arts and crafts at Dovecot Gallery on the 21st - there's lots of different places to choose from!

Virgin Money Street of Light
It's hard to have missed this one if you've been anywhere near the Royal Mile during the past week or so! The giant arches are adorned with millions of twinkling lights which have been synchronised up with the Christmassy music which accompanies the light show. It's a pretty spectacular show and the music really helps you to get in the festive spirit. The Street of Light shows are on daily until Christmas Eve and are free, although you do need to reserve a ticket first. Treat yourself to an indulgent hot chocolate from Contini Cannonball's cafe to keep your hands cosy during the show.

What are you looking forward to doing in Edinburgh this winter?

Gillian x

So This Is Vlogmas


Tired of hearing the word vlogmas yet? Vlogmas vlogmas vlogmas vlogmas vlogmas vlogmas VLOGMAS. Well, I've decided to give it a go this year and I'm quite impressed that I've managed to keep it going for a whole week so far. I love making Youtube videos but never seem to stick to it for more than a couple of videos in a row, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to challenge myself and create something new every day for a whole month.

You can catch up with all my vlogmas videos so far over on my Youtube channel, and don't forget to subscribe to see the rest of this month's videos too. I've even put them in a handy vlogmas playlist for you.

My life is definitely not very exciting at the moment, but it's nice to be able to document it all and I'm sure I'll enjoy looking back on the videos even if no one else does! Here are a couple to get you in the festive spirit...

Are you attempting vlogmas this year?

Gillian x

Christmas Gift Guide: Beauty Queen


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Calling all beauty queens! Or rather, calling all people who are buying gifts for beauty queens this Christmas. Next up in my series of Christmas gift guides is one for lovers of all things beauty, makeup and skincare. Let's jump right in, shall we?

First up, let's talk about the lipsticks. For a little Christmas luxury, you can't go wrong with something from Chanel and their Chanel Rouge Coco Shine Lipstick in the shade Boy is the perfect all-rounder which will suit just about everyone. I've also got my eye on the Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipsticks, the packaging looks stunning and I've heard that the formula is just as great (bring a C Tilbz counter to Scotland for Christmas, please?!). Why not pop in a fun Glitter Lips Necklace along with the parcel too?

As for other makeup, palettes always go down well. I hardly ever wear eyeshadow, but even I am swooning over Bobbi Brown's festive Rich Caramel Eye Palette. Those rich, glittery shades are perfect for this time of year. Speaking of glitter, don't forget to stock up on a couple of sparkly nail polishes - Essie always do good ones! A browse round Space NK is always great if you need some beauty gift inspiration (although you'll probably end up leaving with loads for yourself too...). The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders and blushes are a bit of a cult product, and there are lots of different finishes and colours to suit everyone.

Now, on to fragrances and body products. Perfume gift sets are a great Christmas present as they're the sort of thing that everyone wants but no one buys for themselves. Personally, Viktor & Rolf Bon Bon is one of my favourite fragrances and the Bon Bon Gift Set in a glittery pink cracker box is just perfection. I was recently sent a wee gift from Fragrance Direct and the Gucci Guilty Perfume* is fast becoming one of my favourite scents. It's quite grown up, but still sweet and floral, so it's a great crowd pleaser that a lot of people will love. As for body products, Lush are the ultimate Christmas Gift Set Queens but sadly I don't have a bath so can't make use of their amazing sets. For people like me, their shower gels are still a treat to receive at Christmas, especially the seasonal ones like the oh-so-sweet Snow Fairy. I recently had a sniff of their Comforter shower gel and I'm in love with it too. Don't forget a wee bit of skincare, Lucky Cloud's Gift Sets are a great idea with three natural skincare products wrapped up in a makeup bag.

Finally, pick up a few wee accessories to put together in a beauty themed hamper this Christmas. Make things personal with an Alphabet Bags Letter Makeup Bag adorned with your giftee's initial, or get them a lovely little compact mirror to put in their handbag. This one from Bombus is the perfect stocking filler, and you can choose your own letter, colour combination and even have it engraved with a personalised message. Cute! A piece of beauty themed artwork is a great gift idea for the girl who already own too many lipsticks, I love this Fashion Eyes Art Print.

What's on your beauty Christmas list this year?

Gillian x