Thursday, 31 January 2013

Book love

Each month I chat about what books I've been reading in my monthly Book Love feature.


World War Z - Max Brooks
This feels a little like cheating as I first read WWZ a few years ago, but I thought a reread was in order before the movie comes out this year! (Fun fact - part of it was filmed in Scotland AND my best pal worked on it). I really love this book - it's written as a series of reports by survivors of the zombie war and parts are seriously scary! It also made me realise just how hopeless I'd be in a zombie apocalypse...

The Children of Men - P. D. James
Oh, I loved this book! Children of Men is set in the near-future, at a time when infertility has swept the human race, leaving an aging population to struggle in a childless world. I saw the film & assumed the book would have an identical plot, but no! It's a very clever book, and quite disturbing in places. I absolutely raced through it. Definitely recommended!

Contact - Carl Sagan
I knew that Carl Sagan was an eloquent fellow (have you seen this? Love love love it), but I hadn't expected him to be such a good fiction writer. This is a pretty good sci fi novel, but I did find that every now and again the science got pretty intense & a bit difficult to read (meaning I had to battle to power through the technical theory parts, without giving in and skimming over those pages!).

The Last Song - Nicholas Sparks
After the intense astrophysics chat in Contact I fancied something a bit lighter & went for this sugary book by The Notebook author Nicholas Sparks. I don't normally read chick-lit as I find it all a bit cringey, but this was an easy, sweet novel. Good if you're looking for something simple to get lost in.


The Percy Jackson Collection - Rick Riordan
I've mentioned a few times before that I'm reading quite a lot of young adult fiction these days to help inspire my writing, and I'd fancied Rick Riordan's books for a while. I wasn't prepared for how much I would LOVE them though, or how fast I'd speed through them! They are based on Greek mythology and are wonderfully epic and lovely and funny and sweet. Hand them to the closest 12 year old you know & insist they read them (or if you are a child like me, get on it!).

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

January sponsors!

Here's a little round up of the lovely folk who have been sponsoring Ever So Juliet this month! If you are looking for a new read or a nice place to shop, then this should hopefully provide some inspiration....



What Peggy Said
I love Kim's blog so much - it's almost a perfect mix of everything I like to read about (just a wee side-note  Kim is the blogger & Peggy is her gorgeous pup!). What Peggy Said is full of DIYs, colourful photos & super cute outfits. Kim also offers custom illustrations on her etsy shop.

www.whatpeggysaid.com



Studio 336 
Studio 336 is a blog with a passion for supporting handmade goods, sharing DIY ideas, a little everyday life, and the inner workings of the maker's mind. 

www.studio336.com



Freya in Space!
Something a little bit different - I work with Freya, and she is DESPERATE to win the Lynx competition to get a trip to space (so much so, she got our work designer to make a fancy flashing advert for her!). So if you'd like to vote for her, you can do so here...

www.freyatheastronaut.com


If you would like to sponsor Ever So Juliet then you can do so here! This site reaches 10,000 unique users per month (which is very exciting!), so it's an ace & very affordable way to show off what you do. Adverts start at only $5 (which is £3!) for a month on site & a spot in my monthly sponsor feature.

I am also always up for a button swap, so please feel free to send me an email (thisisjuliet @ gmail.com) or comment below if you fancy it. Thanks!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

How to: make a rolo chocolate brownie cake

Let's talk Valentine's Day. I fall very firmly into the do-something-nice or make-something-yourself camp of Valentine's day presents - it's a day for celebrating love, not celebrating presents after all!

So I reckon it's the perfect excuse to bake something nice. Here's the key to any chocolate lover's heart - how to make a ridiculously decadent rolo chocolate brownie cake! The valentines day recipe is from Baking Mad.


You'll need the following ingredients:

  • 125g self raising flour
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 185g butter
  • 225g dark muscovado sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 100ml milk
  • 3 packets of rolos (roughly 150g)
  • 50g dark chocolate chips
  • 50g white chocolate chips

& to start, heat your oven to 180 degrees (C). 


As this is a valentine's treat, I made the cake in a heart shaped pan (mine is from Ikea, but there's loads on amazon too). Grease the pan with butter (this means it'll come out smoothly and not stick to the sides).

Measure out the flour, cocoa powder & butter into a bowl and mix together until it forms a bread crumb consistency (I used a food processor, but you can mix it together with your fingers). Then stir in the sugar (mine looked a bit clumpy at this point, but that's okay!).

In another bowl beat the eggs and milk together, then add this into the dry mixture. Stir all together until you have a smoothish batter).


Pour the brownie mixture into the tin, smooth it over so it's pretty even (try not to splatter it everywhere like I did!) and add the rolos on top. Bake for 30 minutes (keep the oven closed while it's baking), then check to see if it's firm in the centre. If it's not, pop it back in for another ten minutes and check again.


When it's out, leave it to cool for a while, so you can take it out of the cake pan without burning yourself / the cake falling apart!

Then melt your chocolate chips (either in the microwave or in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water) and drizzle this across the cake.


I went a bit mental when drizzling - a less is more approach may have been a bit classier! But I challenge you to try and control yourself with gooey chocolate - it's so much fun!


I surprised Craig with this (his eyes lit up when he saw it), and we both were so pleased with how good it was! The sponge is super moist & chocolatey, the little caramel splodges of melted rolo are brilliant & it's just so good! Yum. There's also more valentines day baking recipes here if you fancy giving it a go.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Outfit: One dress - three styles

I've been meaning to do an outfit post like this for a little while. Partly because I love reading them on other blogs, but mainly because despite all the MILLIONS of dresses in my wardrobe, I tend to wear the same ones over and over and over and over again (I really need to do a clear out!). So here's how I wear my very favourite dress - a black skater-style number from H&M.

Look 1: Night out
Dress - H&M
Shrug - From New Zealand (can't remember the shop name, sorry!)
Necklace - Hannah Zakari
ShoesBuffalo glitter flats*
My idea of a night out is a bit more grown up than when I was a daft student - so it's normally dinner, the theatre, work parties or the pub with pals. I've never been a glitzy dress & heels gal, I'm pretty scruffy in most walks on life, so this is my take on dressing up. I think the shoes add a welcome bit of sparkle though!

Look 2: Work wear
Dress - H&M
Cardigan - New Look
Belt - New Look 
Necklace - Hannah Zakari
Boots - Dr Martens*
I work at an events magazine, so there's no strict dress code in my office (thankfully! I couldn't imagine working in proper business dress...). This is a pretty typical outfit for me - a dress, cardigan & stompy boots (my favourite boots ever!).

If I don't have time in the morning to style my hair properly, I normally stick it up in a big bun (you can use a hair doughnut to make a top knot if your hair isn't quite thick enough).

Look 3: Lunch with mum
Dress - H&M
Shirt - H&M
Belt - New Look
Shoes - Primark
This is my take on smart/casual - I'm not very good at being smart! I'm wearing a super cute sheer polka dot shirt, which I've tucked into a leopard print belt. It's really comfy, but makes me feel like I'm making at least a little bit of an effort - so perfect for going out for lunch with my mum.

I've just tied my hair in a very loose plait, which is another super speedy style to do. I also like that it shows off the blonde stripe in my hair!


For fun, I thought I'd also share this sketch I made when planning the post! I couldn't get my hands on a Frankie diary, but I reckon I've got the next best thing - the Little Otsu annual planner by the very talented Lizzy Stewart. It's full of Lizzy's illustrations (which I feel a bit guilty for doodling all over), but is proving perfect as a work AND blog planner!

This has been my first time taking outfit photos with a remote & tripod - hence the slightly awkward poses (I am still learning!), so thanks for bearing with me!

p.s. If you liked this sort of post then head over to Bee Waits - Claire is taking part in "One Month One Dress" to raise money for charity - awesome!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Watercolours

This year one of my new year's resolutions was to be much more creative. I started out a little shakily, digging out ancient art supplies that hadn't been touched in almost ten years (tsk tsk tsk), and drawing a few terrible pencil sketches until I found my stride again.


I've basically claimed the kitchen table as my new art space - there's loads of space for me to spread out everywhere, I've got a lovely view into the back garden & Riley perches on one of the kitchen chairs, keeping me company as I paint (aw!). I've also nicked Craig's ipad so I can watch movies as I draw - it's brilliant!


I've always really loved birds (even more so now that I have a garden that attracts them!), so without much thought they were the first things I painted. This is a step by step simple watercolour of a chaffinch - it's a bit blocky, but it was really satisfying to do!

I love using watercolours - they are so easy to use, and it's really nice seeing the layers of colour come together. 


I also painted a person for the first time - myself! It's based on the pencil sketch I made at the start of the year (which is in turn based on photo booth photos from #tachebooth). I have never painted a person before so I am fairly pleased with it... but it was hard!

My next goal is to try and paint a few of my favourite bloggers for an illustrated series I hope to have on the blog soon. I just hope you'll be able to recognise who they are meant to be, ha! Still, practice makes perfect...

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Galaxy wishlist

I am trying to be very good with money (it's January, I'm poor, I don't need new things, etc etc) so I am going to put all of my shopping energy into wishlists - window shopping, internet style. I've had a couple of these items pinned for what feels like forever, so I thought I'd share them with you lovely lot.


Top row

Bottom row 


It's space themed. I like space. And I REALLY like that wooden brooch... Oh, one little thing wouldn't hurt, would it?

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Benefit Fine One One

Oooh I do like being a blogger. Last night I was invited along to the launch of Benefit's newest product, Fine One One - a brightening cheek & lip colour. Excitingly this event was held in Edinburgh (hooray for Edinburgh events!), which was pretty exciting, as usually it's the London bloggers that get all of the fun!

Fine One One - £23.50*
So myself and a group of glamorous (but slightly soggy) Scottish bloggers braved the snow & headed along to the ace Hard Rock Cafe for cocktails, mini burgers, beauty demonstrations & chats with the lovely ladies of Benefit.


First we were given a demonstration of Benefit's brow shaping & tinting technique (something I'm a massive fan of!) & then we were shown Fine One One in action. It's made up of three colours - a soft coral, a sheer watermelon & a pink champagne highlighter, which combine as you sweep it across the cheek into a really nice soft corally blush.

Claire (the very lovely events co-ordinator) showed us how you can either use it for a natural glow or build it into a pop of colour - so there's a style to suit everyone! You can also use it to highlight different bits of the face & as a lip product too, so it's super versatile.


I couldn't resist trying it as soon as I got home, so here's what it looks like on me! I think I'm in love. I had been a bit worried about applying it (obviously it looked very easy in the demonstration, but they're all professional make up artists!), but I really shouldn't have - the colour goes on so subtly that you can build it up without worrying about having a big streaky face!

Fine One One will be available to buy from January 26th. Get thee to a Benefit counter, stat!

Monday, 21 January 2013

GHD Style & Protect gift set

I'm a big fan of ghd & have been for many, many years, since their straighteners appeared in my life & changed my frizzy hair days for good (anyone who remembers the HELL of steam powered straighteners will understand the wonder of using ceramic ones for the first time!).

So when I was offered the Style & Protect gift set to try out I was pretty keen to see how it matched up to my (massively high) expectations of the brand.

ghd Style & Protect gift set - £39*

In the gift set you receive a large paddle brush, their Straight & Smooth sprayFinal Shine spray & two sectioning clips (all can be purchased individually from the ghd products page).

I thought I'd show you my normal blowdrying routine, using these products. I received the set just before Christmas so I've had a couple of weeks to try them out, and see how they face the horrible winter weather (a pretty tough challenge!).


I started out by spraying the straight & smooth spray (which contains heat protection - which you must, must use!), on towel-dried hair, brushed it through & blasted it with a hair dryer.

My hair is naturally very thick, quite frizzy and turns into a mane at the slightest bit of heat or water. So whenever I blow dry it (no matter how careful I am), this happens. I reckon I'd give Hermione a run for her money. Massive massive hair that needs to be tamed.


I then put it into sections using the clips (usually I just use a bobble - I always thought clips would slide out, but these ones have serious grip!) and went over each section with my ghds. I know that normal people can get smooth hair with just a brush and a hairdryer, but I am a bit lazy and just go to straighteners. Sorry hair.

After I worked through each section I sprayed my hair with the final shine spray (and a bit of hairspray) to keep it all neat and tidy. The spray was nice and light on my hair, but I had to resist the urge to use it enthusiastically - it can go from silky to looking-a-bit-oily in mere seconds! It does tell you to only use a wee bit though, so that's more my fault for being a shine addict.


And here's the final look! Definitely an improvement on my alter-ego, Captain Frizz. 

Overall I really liked the set - I have never owned a fancy hair brush before & whilst I am rubbish at blow-drying (which I think uses the brush to best effect), it definitely felt like it tugged my hair less than my normal one. I'm a HUGE fan of shine products in general & I thought the ghd ones had a really lovely fresh scent, which made me feel like I'd just stepped out of the hairdressers! 

It is a bit pricey at £39 (although shh, I found it on amazon for a little cheaper), but I think it would be a really lovely gift - it feels really indulgent and expensive (in a nice way!) and the products do what they promise without weighing down your hair. 

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Cosy boots wishlist

I feel like I've been tricked by winter. It's the same every January - as soon as Christmas and New Year are over, I assume that spring is just around the corner & then am surprised (and depressed) by the long, long, LONG cold dark weeks that follow.

I'm typing this with a hot water bottle on my knees, so getting cosy is definitely on my mind! Even though I'm counting down the days until Spring starts (or the temperature at least rises above freezing, I'm not picky), I couldn't resist putting together a wishlist of the cosiest looking boots I could see.


Shoes - Spartoo

1. Buffalo Mac Queen I am in love with these boots! They are cosy, they have buckles & they are studded. Love love love.

2. Blink - Foutra Sorry for only ever blogging about shoes with buckles, but I like them! I love how fuzzy these boots are - totally unappropriate for wintery countryside walks (or anything with danger of muddly puddles), but perfect for city days.

3. Blink - Blouk Ignoring the ridiculous name of these boots (sorry, but Blink Blouk? Hm!) I really like them. I think they would be really lovely with thick grey tights and a floral dress OR with jeans tucked in. And they have buckles. Obviously.

4. UGG - Brooks I have never been an UGG fan. I can't understand why people spend £££ on what just looks like big expensive slippers. But they seem to be branching out from just the classic style & are making boots that look a bit more sturdy. For over £250 you would hope they would last you FOREVER though!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Geeky posters

I've posted before about how I'm on the lookout for cool prints and posters for my new house (can I call it new anymore? Probably not!) but I haven't really got much further, other than adding more and more to my pinterest board.

But the new year always brings a nice bit of new motivation, so I'm determined to put some of my decorating plans in action, and I reckon I'll start by buying this Luke Skywalker print - it's AMAZING. It also opened my eyes up to the huge world of geeky posters out there - I'm a huge sci fi/fantasy fan & love love love all of these! 


Top row
Star Wars - Luke Skywalker 
Star Wars - R2D2 minimalist poster 
Game of Thrones - The Night's Watch Oath 
Lost - Textbook

Middle row
Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back 
Star Trek - Enterprise
Jurassic Park - Isla Nublar map 
Harry Potter - Wizarding subway sign

Bottom row
Lord of the Rings - The Hobbit
The Princess Bride - Vintage movie poster
Legend of Zelda - Kokiri Forest
Star Wars - Obi-Wan Kenobi

All posters are from etsy, which is an absolute treasure trove of unique & handmade items (as well as some horrors, ha ha!). I know I've gone a bit Star Wars heavy in this wishlist, but come on, it's Star Wars. A totally valid homeware choice. 

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

How to: make a pavlova

I know it's January & everyone is trying to be super healthy, but I couldn't resist sharing this recipe (it's worth breaking your resolutions for!).


I made a pavlova for the first time at Christmas & was quite nervous about it - I know how tricky meringues can be! But my mum gave me the recipe she's been using for years & it was so quick (& easy!) that I made it again two weeks later when my lovely pals came round for tea. I think it might even become my new pudding-of-choice for dinner parties!

You can put basically anything on top, but I think it tastes best with loads of berries. Here's what you need:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 level tsps cornflour
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1/2 pint of double cream
  • fruit to go on top

First, start by heating your oven to 150 degrees (C) & measure out the sugar into a bowl.


Then seperate the eggs and whisk the egg whites in a large clean bowl. Egg whites can be very temperamental  so it's important that the bowl is spotless & no yolk has snuck in. 

 
Keep whisking until the egg whites are stiff and standing in peaks (see photo above) - as soon as they look like this stop mixing (otherwise you risk over-mixing, and having the egg whites collapse in on themselves).

Now start to slowly add the sugar and whisk until it's all mixed in, and then add in the vanilla, cornflour and vinegar. 


Once all of your ingredients are stirred in, start to spoon the meringue onto a dish. To make things easy I used a round oven dish  which was also going to double up as the serving dish (you can bake it on a piece of non-stick baking paper, but it's a faff to get off!). 

This is a really fun bit - spread the meringue all over your dish and pile it up around the edge to form a case. Pop in the oven for 60 minutes (and DO NOT open the oven door during this time).


Once it's finished prop open the oven door slightly, and allow the pavlova to cool for at least an hour without taking it out of the oven. This will help prevent the pavlova cracking in cold air, which makes for a very impressive pudding (it'll crack a little bit, but that's okay!).

When it's cool whip your cream, pile on fruit (I used strawberries, brambles and raspberries which were delicious) and enjoy!

Friday, 4 January 2013

December instagram

Even though we're only on day four of January living, it feels quite strange looking back on the excesses of December! As with everyone else, I am back at work, choked up with a cold & struggling trying to get my body out of holiday-mode and back on a normal sleep pattern! Still, December is one of my very, very favourite months, so I'll forgive it.

Here's what mine looked like...

Instagram username: @eversojuliet
1. And the December diet begins! We were in London for the first weekend of the month to celebrate Craig's exam being over, party for his birthday AND see my wonderful pal Steph (phew!) and I tried my first Krispy Kreme at the airport. I am generally a fan of doughnuts, but was pleased to see that they lived up to the hype.

2. When I was waiting on Craig to finish his exam I went for a wander round London & found the nicest little  Japanese takeaway, itsu. Super tasty.

3. Back in Edinburgh & out for dinner to celebrate Craig's birthday. I normally don't get pudding in restaurants, but strange things happen in December. This was sticky toffee pudding & it was delightful!

4. It was Craig's birthday! Happy birthday darling!

5. This is where I work - a very old building in a lovely courtyard in Edinburgh. We share the building with a book publisher who had a Christmas tree with very sparkly lights in their window, which made walking into work on freezing cold mornings that little bit nicer.

6. My new necklace by my very talented pal Lucy, who also designed my blog header.

7. Riley being adorable. He has been loving the holidays as it means he's been allowed out to play everyday (he's only allowed out when it's light, so usually just gets out at the weekend).

8. Presents! These days my favourite part of Christmas is getting gifts for my pals & family & wrapping it up all fancy! This year I used paper from Paperchase, candy canes & tiny baubles tied to each present.

9. Muzz, Amy & I at my work's Christmas lunch. Each year I organise the Secret Santa (with military-like gusto, ha) which gives me a good excuse to charge around with a santa hat on all day! We went to Spoon, which is one of my favourite restaurants in Edinburgh - I highly recommend it! 

10. I got Craig a LEGO Lord of the Rings set for Christmas (because come on, you are never too old for lego!) and it was SO much fun putting it together.

11. Trying out my new Mirrorball polishes from Models Own (which you can see in action in yesterday's outfit post). Photos don't do them justice, they are so sparkly!

12. Planning out adventures on New Year's eve with a scratch travel map that my dad kindly gave us. I thought I was quite well travelled but was appalled with how little of the map I got to actually scratch off! So here's to more travelling... starting with a long weekend to Athens THIS MONTH (eeeeek), thanks to Craig surprising me with a trip for my birthday. What a super star!

My new year's resolutions are going quite well so far & I am keeping instagram updated with pictures of paintings in progress, so feel free to add me if you'd like to stay in the loop.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Outfit: Very lazy days

I am a huge fan of hibernating over winter. As soon as my Christmas holidays start I like nothing more than zooming home, putting on my comfiest outfit & watching endless movies with lots of popcorn!

So I'd thought I'd share my current favourite cosy outfit (although it's worth pointing out that I only brushed my hair because we are actually - shock horror - leaving the house today... on proper hibernation days I scruff it up to the maximum!).

Cardigan - Joe Browns*
Dress - H&M
Leggings - Joe Browns*
Slippers - Primark
Joe Browns very kindly offered me to pick some things from their site, and I was immediately drawn to THE cosiest looking cardigan in the world (plus some leggings too, for super slouchy days). I cannot stress enough how warm and lovely it is - I have basically been carrying it around like a blanket as it's so soft and nice! It's also a surprisingly good length too, and looks really cute when teamed up with a skater style dress.

Necklace - Hannah Zakari
This locket is one of my birthday presents from Craig (I am a very lucky girl) & I am in love with it! It's a gold bird on a starry sky & is exactly my cup of tea - the boy did good! 

Polishes - Models Own (p.s. promise I actually have ten fingers).
I also got a set of the Models Own Mirrorball polishes for Christmas (thank you thank you thank you) which look amazing painted over a black base coat. I couldn't decide which colour to go for so I now have a different shade on each finger (of which I do have ten, sorry for the odd photo!).


And for maximum laziness, I've got these ridiculous but super cute slippers that I got in my secret santa at work. As I'm about to go out into the real world, I'll just swap these for socks & boots & I've still got a perfectly good outfit to slouch around the cinema. Perrrrfect!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Hello 2013!

So it's 2013! I hope you all had a really good Hogmanay & aren't feeling too blurry-headed this morning (this post is scheduled, so chances are I am still asleep when this goes live!).

I love New Year Resolutions. I know they aren't for everyone (I asked Craig what his would be, and his response was "snowboarding... but I do that already" & "running... but I do that already" etc), but I really love setting myself a goal and using the new year for motivation. Last year I decided to learn how to cook & it went really well. I went from only knowing how to use a George Foreman grill to making a proper Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, and am a much more confident cook!

This year I want to be more creative. So I am promising myself that I will work on my novel regularly & start to draw again.


I've posted about writing a few times already - my biggest challenge is keeping going, not getting frustrated when it gets hard & taking criticism well!

Drawing is a little different - I used to draw ALL the time (I've  blogged about this before) but it must have been over a year since I last picked up a pencil. So I rooted around in boxes that haven't quite been unpacked yet, & found a motley bunch of supplies... broken bits of charcoal I've had for over ten years (!), blunt colouring pencils & a couple of tiny sketch pads.


I'm definitely super rusty, but I drew a rough self-portrait (based on the photos from #tachebooth) & it was really fun! I've ordered some pencils and brushes, and am keen to get started properly and get some practice.

I'd love to do a series of portraits of my favourite bloggers, but I'm not there yet... still, it's a nice goal to work towards!

I'm going to sum this up with one of my favourite Neil Gaiman quotes:
I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind. 
 Happy new year all x

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