Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Edinburgh Festivals: week three!

Week three of the Edinburgh Festivals is over, and it's been a surprisingly quiet one for me. I've got LOADS on this week (am out every night this week, ahh), so it was nice to chill and actually eat dinner that required a knife AND fork. Who'd have thought plates were a luxury?

Anyway, I still had fun and saw a few things! Here's what it was like for me (you can catch up on week one and week two here).


THE GOOD
  • Hot Dub Time Machine: If you can get yourself a ticket you HAVE to go! I had such ridiculously high hopes for Hot Dub, and it did not disappoint at all! You go on a musical journey from 1954 to the present day, and it's just so much fun! It's also quite surreal dancing in the McEwan Hall - a beautiful and very, very grand building that I did loads of exams and graduated in!  
  • Pajama Men: I'm a huge fan of the Pajama Men, and was super excited to see their show (although it was tinged with the pressure of recommending them to 35 workpals, who all came along). They are a bit surreal, a bit daft, and it might take you a minute to work out what is actually happening in the show, but they are SO likeable and very much worth seeing. 
  • James Kakalios: Possibly one of my very favourite events I've been to this month! James Kakalios is a very hilarious, super lovely physics professor that uses comic book superheroes to illustrate physics theory. We learned about why lasers are AWESOME, how comic books use real science quite a lot of the time, and that physics professors are all gifted pipes after 25 years of research (ahem, probably true). 
  • Sleep: Sometimes during the festival, sleeping is cheating. But other times it's actually AMAZING to be in bed by 11pm. Does this mean I'm turning into a grown up?

THE ALRIGHT
  • Beardyman: Without a doubt, Beardyman is very, very talented and incredible at what he does (which is beatboxing and using live looping technology to build up really amazing tracks). It is amazing. It's really impressive. But after about half an hour, I got a bit bored? I also felt very old as I didn't know what trap music was. Still, worth seeing if you fancy something different & are more appreciative than I of awesome sounds!

THE UGLY
  • Grump: I've lost that initial festival shine of "Welcome tourists! Enjoy my fine city!", and now feel a bit tired, cross and scowly whenever anyone stops immediately in front of me, walks slowly and takes up the whole pavement, can't obey proper queue etiquette, doesn't immediately understand how buses work. Sorry tourists. I like you really.  

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Lion girl painting

Sometimes inspiration strikes from the most unexpected places. I've got another painting on the go at the moment (the next person in my illustrated blogger series), but when I heard - wait for it - the new Katy Perry song, it got me thinking.

I'd fancied doing a follow up to my fox girl painting for a while now, and so when I heard the chorus ("louder than a lion") a super-cool, fierce lion girl appeared in my head and wouldn't go away. 


& here she is! It's the first time that I've illustrated a painting with lyrics too - I have really weird handwriting (I don't join up my letters, so annoyingly I've never learned how to do pretty, swooping writing), so I was a bit apprehensive about writing on it and ruining it. I think it works though!


While I was painting I took photos along the way and posted them on my instagram feed (you can follow me @eversojuliet if you like!). I follow a few arty folk and I really like when they post in-progress photos, I think it's really interesting to see how things come together - so hopefully you all agree, and it's not spammy!

I actually find it really helpful to take photos of things when I paint - it helps you distance yourself from what you're working on, and it makes it easier to spot when things are going wrong!


Overall with this painting I was trying really hard to keep it soft and a bit more natural than my usual style. A very talented pal of mine gave me some very good painting advice (mainly to try and not be so heavy handed!), and so I've really tried to take this on board.

Roooooar!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

bebaroque

I think I've finally got to admit defeat and come to terms with the fact I've lost my very favourite, very loved pair of bebaroque tights. I lucked upon them in an Urban Outfitters sale a few years ago, thought that they were perhaps a ridiculous price for one pair of tights, but decided that I liked ridiculous things and bought them anyway.

They looked like this this, I got complimented on them whenever I wore them out (which I did, so frequently that a few people thought I'd actually got my leg tattoed), and they seem to now be out of stock everywhere. Sob.

So maybe it's time to give up the search and buy another pair?



bebaroque was set up in 2007 by two graduates from Glasgow School of Art, Mhairi McNicol and Chloe Patience (what a lovely name!). Combining their skills of hand embroidery and drawing, bebaroque was born, producing beautiful tights, leggings and body wear.

They are beautiful, but they aren't cheap (not a surprise really, considering they are still hand embroidered and printed in Scotland). Tights start at around £40 going up to £150 (eek), and for body wear you could spend well over £600 on a dress (eeeek). But the tights are amazing quality (my tights - RIP - were in brilliant nick, even after many, many, many washes!) and I think they are absolutely worth it.

So. A new pair (I'm thinking the Natalia heart tights above) are going firmly on my wishlist. I want hearts on my knees!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Edinburgh Festivals: week two!

Okay, week two of the Edinburgh Festivals has been and gone. We've reached the point in the month when posters are covered in snippets of reviews, flyerers are getting a slightly glazed, desperate look in their eye, and locals are getting a wee bit fed up of the whole thing, and wondering when it'll end. 

I am still very much in my happy place though (hooray), and despite being on the verge of a summer cold, I've had a really brilliant week, filled with some of my very favourite people.

Here's what week two was like for me! (Week one can be read here). 


THE GOOD
  • Seann Walsh: I wasn't sure what to expect from Seann Walsh. I like that he looks like a lion (that's a valid reason for liking someone, yeah?), but I hadn't heard anything about him except that he was popular with students. Is that a good thing? A bit weird? Turns out it's good! He tells very funny stories about being a bit lazy and a bit rubbish at being an adult, and the last ten minutes of his set had everyone in fits of laughter (including him). Fun! 
  • Puppet Up!: It's the muppets, but not like you've seen them before. They are a wee bit mucky, the sketches are a bit ridiculous (it's improv, so you can probably imagine the suggestions), but it's really fascinating seeing the puppeteers at work! Tickets are £25 so it's one of the pricier shows on the fringe, but they do pick someone from the audience to be a puppeteer, which is pretty cool. 
  • Iain Stirling: I have such a soft spot for Iain Stirling, he is just so very likeable. He didn't have the easiest set... there was a powercut five minutes in, meaning we got kicked out & he had to restart the show (with a sweet offer to give people a heads up before the end so they wouldn't miss later shows), & various phones rang or spontaneously played music, interrupting the set. Despite this, he was lovely and funny, and didn't seem phased at all. 
  • Book Festival: My very favourite festival (shh, don't tell the others) has started! I started the first day of edbookfest watching the very wonderful Patrick Ness, who is funny and witty and very inspirational. Twelve hours later I was back in Charlotte Square Gardens for their opening party, where we celebrated books with gin, music and making shadow shapes across the lawn. 
  • Late n Live: How many times do I need to say? Buy a ticket, have a disco nap beforehand, and don't be scared if you have to sit in the front row (we did, and survived!).

THE ALRIGHT
  • David O'Doherty: I am a big fan of D O'D, nobody can sing slightly awkward songs on a slightly too small keyboard like he can! This was the happiest he's ever looked performing, he was obviously having a great time (and he's been selling out this festival, so you can't blame him), but it felt like it knocked the edge off a little. If you haven't seen him before, definitely go! If you have, it might be a little weaker than previous years...
  • Festival food: Oh festival food. Why are you always so unreliable? Gold Star Award goes to Assembly Festival for their amazing food stands in George Square Gardens (loads of veggie-friendly options, huge portions, and quick service) and Total Baddie Prize goes to the Book Festival for charging me three pounds for a bacon roll that contained half a piece of bacon. Sob.

THE UGLY
  • Reviews: I'm a sucker for festival politics, and this has been an entertaining week! The Evening News announced that five star review systems (aka what every reviewer in the world uses) were too complicated for readers... and seven stars were the way to go. The List then went one better, with seventeen stars (this made me almost cry with laughter when I saw it). Obviously The List are joking, but weirdly the EN aren't! It's all a bit bonkers. I think star ratings should be taken with a pinch of salt, but if you want to use them to guide you then this top rated page (which compares reviews from loads of publications) is the way to go. 

Friday, 9 August 2013

Hendrick's Carnival of Knowledge

Do you like gin? Curiosities? Peculiar events?


Well, if so, Hendrick's Carnival of Knowledge is for you. Pop-up venues are two a penny in Edinburgh over August, but this is one with a difference. Hendrick's have taken over a very fancy boutique hotel, One Royal Circus, which sits just off the lovely streets of Stockbridge, creating a place to celebrate the unusual and curious.

When you walk in it first feels like you've somehow been given an invitation to a very quirky and exclusive supper party - you are greeted by dapper gents (most with moustaches of course) and invited to "Open your mind and step inside".

Downstairs there's the Parlour Bar, a small space that feels like the very best type of library (one with a bar and very intelligent conversation, obviously). It's free to get into, although I imagine it'll get busy very quickly once the secret gets out!

Upstairs there's a variety of events - many of which have already sold out, but there's still tickets left for A Genteel Tipple Through Gin in LiteratureGrim Tales from the Brothers Grimm, and the Menagerie of Creepy Crawlies and Vegetable Animals, which all sound fantastic.


I have to admit that I am a sucker for anything that's a bit quirky and delightful, and makes me feel like I've somehow stumbled into the staff room at Hogwarts. On arrival you are handed a copy of a paper called the "Unusual Times" which is full of stories of magic and science and curiosities, alongside an events guide and cocktail menu. The attention to detail is just SO spot on - it's just so easy to get lost in their wondrous world (and spend a small fortune on cocktails).

I would very much like to live here, and it was pretty easy to get carried away & imagine what my new gin-centric life would be like. Personally I would insist on swanning around like an heiress in a country manor - dressing only in ballgowns and diamonds, or tea dresses layered with vintage-looking knitwear (like perhaps this one from Fat Face), and absolutely no jeans in sight.

Alas, I did eventually have to return to the real world, but I plan to be back. The Hendrick's Carnival of Knowledge is only open until August 11th, so you have THREE DAYS Edinburgh people to get along and get delightfully lost too.

If you can't get to Edinburgh in time, never fear... the wonderful gin celebration of curiosities will be in London in October for London Cocktail Week (watch this space...).

Disclaimer: This post contains a sponsored Fat Face link. I really, really, really fell in love with the venue and would definitely like to live there (um, when can I move in?).

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Jitterball

Ooh fun things are happening this month! As well as the ongoing Festival (sorry if you are already bored of me banging on about it), I've got a ticket to a toe-tapping, tea-sipping, cocktail supping, afternoon vintage tea party, run by the wonders from Jelly & Gin (who are the brains behind Burgher Burger too).


Jitterball promises an afternoon of vintage delights. There will be cake, scones, tarts, craft beer and cocktails (for you to dantily sip, whilst making eyes at boys with moustaches). There will be tremendous tunes from the grandmaster of the gramophone, DJ Henry Swank (I don't know who he is, but that's quite a title); swing dancers; chap-hop superstar, Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer (I've seen him, he is very, very good); vintage styling from Miss Dixiebelle's Vintage Hair and Beauty Parlour; AND a photobooth (perhaps the most important part of all).

Oh, and it's also going to be held in one of Edinburgh's most beautiful buildings, Mansfield Traquair. Say hello to my future house...


It's a beautiful old church, and it's covered in old murals. It's pretty much the perfect place for a fancy party.

I'm normally quite wimpy in heels, but if there's ever a time to dress up & brave the highest shoes (like these from New Look - special hello to the leopard platforms!) then this is it. There's a prize of magnum champagne for the most "swellegant" gal, so I am going to have to spend my next week watching vintage hair tutorials on youtube to see if I can master victory rolls.

I'm so excited! There's still a few tickets left (but be quick!) for Saturday 17th August (which can be bought here). They cost £35 which includes afternoon tea, a welcome cocktail, AND the chance to swan around town in your finest vintage outfit, pretending that's the way you ALWAYS dress, thank-you-very-much.

Disclaimer: This post contains a sponsored link.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Summer music

I think I got the travel bug from my dad. When I was a teenager my parents took me on epic road trips across America, travelling around the country for weeks. One year we drove across Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Colorado - I galloped a horse through Monument Valley, and sat on the edge of the Grand Canyon. Another year we flew into Tennessee, explored Elvis' house, then drove down the east coast, through North and South Carolina, Georgia and into Florida.

So when I became a bit of a grown up I guess it wasn't a surprise that I wasn't that fussed about beach holidays and just sunning myself. I wanted to explore. So for years most of my spending money has gone towards adventure. And there's nothing quite like a road trip to do just that.

Driving around the beautiful Waiheke island a few years ago
Money Supermarket have been asking bloggers to put together a driving playlist that makes them think of summer, so here's mine. It's a bit of an eclectic mix tape, but reminds me of holidays, long roads, and foreign soil.



Seriously, if you are ever driving somewhere that is breath-takingly beautiful - put on the last track (Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros), stop talking, and just take it in. Even years later, listening to it reminds me of driving along Big Sur with my best friends and the most beautiful ocean views.

Disclaimer: This post is part of Money Supermarket's 'Ultimate Summer Driving Playlist' blogger competition. I was given £20 to purchase music (thanks guys!).

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Edinburgh Festivals: week one!

As my month is pretty much going to revolve around the Edinburgh Festivals, I thought it would be fun to post a wee weekly update on what I've been up to and seen. This will hopefully help inspire Scottish readers looking to do something festivally, or persuade the rest of you to come and visit my favourite city.

So, week one. It begins....


This was the week of the press launch (the fringe didn't actually officially start until Friday!), so I got to tag along with a whole heap of journalists & watch lots of acts do tiny slots in super clean (and very newly opened) venues.

THE GOOD 
  • Hot Dub Time Machine: opened the Underbelly press party and was everything I wanted it to be. It promises to be the Best Party Ever and I am practically counting down the minutes until I get to go!
  • Abandoman: was very, very funny, in an improv rap sort of way.
  • Drum Struck: Assembly Festival opened their gala show by giving us drums (what a joy!), as the whole audience gets to drum along to this show. I reckon if I ever get bored of science, I've found my other calling. 
  • Pajama Men: I HEART THEM, and would quite like to be their pal. I can't believe you haven't bought tickets yet.
  • Puppet Up!: I thought this had lots of potential to be super cheesy and boring, but it was very, very funny indeed. If slighty-sweary muppets doing improv sounds like your thing (or at least, not your idea of hell) then they look well worth a ticket!
  • Michael Che: This is his first year on the fringe, & he's already standing out as one to watch. 
  • Late n Live: You HAVE to go. You just have to. It's on 1am - 5am, and it's ridiculous, and brilliant and a Fringe institution. 

THE ALRIGHT
  • Knee Deep: I find circus/physical theatre quite a strange thing to watch at a festival. I get exhausted clapping all the time (I know, what woe), and find the performers SO impressive that it then seems too easy, and I think I don't appreciate what they are doing. That makes no sense, does it? Anyway, I don't think I could last the whole show, but if amazing circus performance is your cup of tea, then say hi to Knee Deep. 
  • Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra: A nice combination of excellent mullets, enthusiastic ukelele strumming and New Zealanders. 
  • Fosters beer: There are so many better drinks out there, but I can't quite resist a warmish pint of watery Fosters if I'm at a fringe venue. It just feels right. 

    THE UGLY
    • Akmal: Oh dear. When you are dying on stage, announcing to the audience "I'm really funny back home" is never ever going to win them over.
    • Howard Read: To be fair, he only performed a snippet of his show at the Gilded Balloon launch, but it was a bit awkward and hardly anyone laughed. Hm.
    • Saturday afternoon: After Late n Live finished at 5am on Saturday morning, I ended up going to a very early morning party & then had to navigate my way home through happy, cheery, awake festival crowds a few hours later. Perhaps not my finest moment, but late nights (that turn into early mornings) are all part of August's rugged charm. 

    Now onto week two! Wish me luck...

    Saturday, 3 August 2013

    Music Magpie

    Here are some things that are fun:

    Here are some things that are not fun:
    • realising how skint you are, after having all that fun

    Oh.


    It's rubbish being skint, but it can be a good excuse for a clear out! Music Magpie UK (who you've probably heard of as a place to sell old CDs) have started a site called Cash for Clothes, where you can clear out your wardrobe, declutter your life, and make your wallet a little happier (I guess the clue's in the name, really).

    All you've got to do is tell them what brand of clothing it is, what type (dress, jumper, etc) and then a few details about the size, colour and material. They'll give you a price, and that's it! You can keep adding items you want to sell - they buy about a billion things (from hoodies to hair straighteners), and you can scan barcodes of CDs, DVDs and other techy items if you are feeling a wee bit lazy.

    Once you've added everything you want to sell, you can either leave the items at one of their nominated Send Shops (there's 5,000 across the country, so there should be one pretty near you), or get them to come to you by using their free fully insured courier service. I would choose the latter, but I am lazy and hate carrying parcels across town. Other people are more proactive than me, I know.

    Then they pay you (hooray). You can pick bank transfer, cheque, Marks & Spencer vouchers (think of all the sandwiches you could buy!), or you can be a very nice person and donate the money to one of Music Magpie's chosen charities. You'll have a tidier house, less stuff kicking about, and you get to avoid the faff of waiting on ebay buyers who take ages to pay. Sounds like a good idea to me.

    Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. It is a good idea though!

    Friday, 2 August 2013

    Camping in Glen Etive

    Back in June (which feels like a strangely long time ago), I went on a totally impromptu camping trip. I'd booked a week off work without much reason (I wasn't planning to go anywhere, it was just such a novelty to get time off in the summer in my new job), and apart from a few nights out, I had no plans.

    Step in my pal Joshua, who had a camper van, a map of Scotland, and quite fancied a spot of adventure.


    So we drove North West - about three hours from Edinburgh, up to the edge of the Highlands. Pals had recommended Loch Etive, which sits close to Glencoe, and is reached through a long, rambling glen, surrounded by mountains. 



    We drove down a long, narrow road passing deer, the occasional tent, and the even more occasional farmhouse. 

    I grew up on the edge of a wee Scottish town, near fields and farms and a country park, so I've been lucky enough to live near pretty beautiful scenery my whole life. But it's something else to be standing in a glen that's so, so quiet. All you could hear was the gentle sound of the river that ran down to the loch, and the crackle of our campfire. 


    We had to battle off about a million midgies when we first set up camp (for future campers: Avon Skin So Soft is apparently a necessity if you're camping in West Scotland!), but luckily the weather was on our side... it was just drizzley enough to keep the wee terrors away, but still warm and not too soggy to sit outside.



    It had been years since I last went camping, and I don't know why I don't do it more often! Scotland is a ridiculous, rugged beaut of a country, and it's so easy and quick to travel from a busy city bypass to a land that feels a little forgotten, and ready to be discovered.

    AND I saw a red squirrel. 

    Well done, camping trip. You were fun. 

    Thursday, 1 August 2013

    How to: make a mini dinosaur planter

    What do you get when you combine a cactus and a dinosaur?


    A cactusaur! This is a ridiculously easy (and cheap!) DIY to put together, and it's so much fun to do!

    Here's how to make your own herd of cactusaurs.


    You need:
    • hollow plastic dinosaurs*
    • spray paint
    • mini succulents (mine are from a garden centre)
    • a power drill
    • scissors/art scalpel 

    * Now, plastic dinosaurs might seem like an easy enough thing to buy, but good lord, it is hard to track down a dinosaur that is hollow AND large enough to fit a plant. After trekking to every toy shop/corner store/museum in Edinburgh, I finally found the perfect fellows in Hawkins Bazaar (presumably you can get them online too, but I found it really hard to tell if they were solid plastic or not! Who would have thought dinosaurs were so tricky?!).


    Start by CAREFULLY drilling a hole in the back of your dinosaur. I got the fear about doing this part (I was a bit concerned I'd drill my hand off) so roped in a glamorous assistant to help out. On reflection, it wasn't hard, I totally could have done it, and I probably shouldn't have been such a wimp. Ah well!

    Anyway, keep the hole small at first, and gradually make it bigger, until you can comfortably fit the plant roots in (but haven't hacked away too much of your dinosaur). Use scissors or a scalpel to neaten up the edges.


    Spray paint your dinosaur! I hung them up with very thin wire from a washing line, which made it super easy to cover the whole thing at once. Leave until it's dry to the touch, then carefully touch up any smudges or bits you might have missed. Then leave for a bit longer until it's completely dry (go have a reward cup of tea, or gin, or something).


    Now, the sort of fiddly part. Take your succulent and VERY GENTLY start to remove the soil from its roots (you can do this by gently teasing them with your fingers, and shaking the plant). Don't rush this bit - you don't want to damage them.

    Start to fill your dinosaur with soil, making sure it gets into all the little spaces (tail, neck, legs, etc). Then make a hollow spot for your plant, put it in, and pack soil around it so it sits firmly in your dinosaur. Using a chopstick or pencil can help press the soil in, and stop you getting spiked by your plants!


    Tadaaaa! Aren't they beautiful? Give your new plants a soak in water (succulents need very little water, but will benefit from a bath after getting repotted!) and gaze at them lovingly.

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