Monday, 29 September 2014

SEPTEMBER INSTAGRAM

September is always a bit of a weird month. After the mayhem (and lack of sleep) during August, September tends to be a few weeks of trying to catch up on sleep, spend as little money as possible, and just trying to recharge as a human.

Instagram username: @eversojuliet

1. The month started with a trip to the Secret Herb Garden, and the chance to make lovely flower crowns - which was so much fun to do (I wish I had the supplies and excuses to wear flower crowns every day!). Next month I'm going to an Autumn Wreath workshop with florist superheroes Pyrus, and I'm so excited. 

2. I also got the chance to make my own beeswax candle, which smells amazing (and I don't want to burn, because I love it!). 

3. I was feeling seriously scruffy so I went to get my brows sorted out at Benefit's Brow Bar. Getting your brows done in the middle of John Lewis isn't the most relaxing thing in the world, but I'm always really pleased with how they do brows (and £18 for a tint and wax is a bargain compared to HD brows at spas!).

4. I also bought another eyeshadow palette by Sleek Makeup (who I used in my smoky eye makeup tutorial). This one has a lot of pinky and coppery colours, which I am really enjoying for autumn. 

5. This month has also included a lot of deadlines, late nights at work and slightly frazzled days. To balance this out, I was able to borrow a pal of a pal's pup, and go for a really lovely long walk. It made me realise just how much I miss having a dog, and how excellent long walks are for clearing your head!

6. I am a sucker for my local florist, and have fallen into the habit of buying myself flowers whenever they happen to be open (as they do seem to do strange hours). I loved the blues and purples on these.

7. Earlier this year I got to try on a really amazing Tatty Devine necklace, which was being featured as part of the Science Festival's exhibition about maker culture. I fell completely in love, and have dreamed of owning one all year. And look!! My very wonderful boyfriend surprised me with one after a trip to London, and it's AMAZING. It takes them five hours to make each dinosaur necklace because it's so intricate. 

8. This part of September was rubbish though. My beautiful bike was stolen from outside my work (by teenagers, aaaargh) and despite reporting the theft to the police, and getting a really helpful response on twitter, I seriously doubt I'll get it back. It's not really worth anything. It's old and a bit slow, but I love it, and it was really horrible to have it taken.

9. I'd heard lots of people rave about Tiger, but hadn't been that impressed the few times I had popped in... obviously I was completely wrong! Look at these meant-to-be-mugs-but-actually-are-the-best-cacti-planters-in-the-land! So very good.

Friday, 26 September 2014

HOW TO:
Bake a chocolate nut roll

I am a big fan of baking, but I seem to be totally behind the times when it comes to fun-things-that-everyone-likes, so I've only just started watching the Great British Bake Off (and Doctor Who, and everything else that everyone likes. I'm late to the party).

Luckily, I get the GBBO hype now, so I was pretty excited when Stork challenged me to this week's technical challenge as part of their #storktwist Great British Bake-Off Blogger Challenge (phew!). Here's how I did it...


You'll need the following ingredients:

  • 525g plain flour
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp salt
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 240ml soured cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 40g Stork
For the filling:
  • 115g Stork
  • 120ml evaporated milk
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 85g cocoa powder
  • 450g mixed nuts (I used 150g walnuts, 100g pecans, 100g hazelnuts, 100g almonds)
  • 100g dark chocolate chips
  • Milk to glaze
And you'll want to heat your oven to 160 degrees (or 180 degrees if it's not a fan oven). 


To start, grind your nuts in a food processor. In GBBO they gave one of the contestants good comments for not grinding his nuts too finely, so only give them a quick blitz. Warm the Stork, evaporated milk and caster sugar in a small pan, stirring constantly, until it is melted and combined.


Stir in the ground nuts and cocoa powder, heating gently until the mixture thickens (mine got quick pretty quickly). Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature.

Now, start to make your dough (OH GOD). Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, soured cream, eggs and Stork in a bowl. Do not do what I did, which is carefully measure out a teaspoon of salt... get impatient at how slow the salt is pouring... give it a shake, and knock the top off - causing the ENTIRE tub of salt to tumble into the dough, forcing you to restart the whole bloody thing. Don't do that.


Mix to a rough dough. I find it quite hard to knead dough in a bowl, so I tipped it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for ten minutes, by pinching the dough with your fingertips, lifting and pressing back down. I'd recommend setting a timer for this bit - kneading isn't the most exciting thing in the world, so it's easy to feel like you've been doing it for AGES (when it's actually only been four minutes).

Transfer to a lightly greased bowl, cover and allow to rise for an hour. Do your washing up.


Now, the fun bit! Lightly grease the worksurface and split the dough in half. Roll out each portion to a rectangle (they recommend 25cm x 40cm, but I just guessed).

Spread half with the chocolate nut filling - this isn't the easiest thing to spread, but just take your time and you'll be fine. Sprinkle over half of the chocolate chips.


Fold over the two short edges just a little to encase the filling. Take the long edge, and start to roll the dough tightly to make a long roll. If you've greased your worksurface, it should be easy enough to roll without the dough tearing. Make your second roll the same way.

Transfer both rolls to a lined baking tray, cover loosely and leave to rise for THREE hours. Yup. Three. Hours. This is very, very much a bake for a lazy Sunday afternoon (rather than a Wednesday evening). Do your dishes while you are waiting.


When they are all nicely risen, brush with milk and bake in the oven for 35 minutes until golden.

Enjoy with a cup of tea!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

ZUKR BOUTIQUE

It feels like every time I turn around in Edinburgh at the moment, there's a new, artisan-excellent-indie wonder-business that's popped up, and demands all of my money.

This month, it's the turn of  Zukr Boutique - a contemporary patisserie, that recently opened their first shop in Newington. Just take a look at these...


They are teacakes! Teacakes!


And they have brownies...


Marshmallows...



Truffles... and so much more.

I first came across Zukr when they took a stall at the SciMart - the Science Festival's farmer's market with a scientific twist. I obviously had to buy a galaxy teacake, which turned out to be a delicious (if slightly too sugary for one person!) salted caramel and milk chocolate wonder.

Zukr Boutique has a shop at 3 Salisbury Place in Edinburgh, but you can also order online or from their etsy shop (& feel free to send some my way). Yum!

Monday, 22 September 2014

HOW TO:
Reverse shampooing

A few months ago I noticed loads of beauty bloggers seemed to be chatting about the miracle of 'reverse shampooing' - basically, conditioning first, then shampooing after. Those WEIRDOS, I thought, ignoring the hype and sticking with my tried-and-tested everyone-must-do-it-this-way-for-a-reason routine.

Until about a month ago, the whole thing suddenly popped into my mind as I was reaching for the shampoo. And, well, I haven't gone back!


My hair is fairly long and thick, so it needs conditioned regularly, but I also try to avoid washing my hair too often (partly to avoid using heat on it regularly, and mainly because I am lazy). So in my pre-reverse days I would wash my hair roughly every three days (which worked out as: Day 1 - clean but fluffy; Day 2 - well-behaved hair; Day 3 - rewash fringe, wear hair up). It was fine, but looking back, it only gave me one good hair day per wash.

Since switching things up, I have noticed a surprising difference. Day 1 hair feels sleeker, Day 2 hair is well-behaved as always, but Day 3 hair is actually clean enough to wear down if I want to (and I'm not having to rewash my fringe as often!). My hair definitely feels less greasy overall (although it feels weird immediately after washing, but then feels normal as soon as it's dry).

All you do is condition your hair (putting most through the length and a wee bit at the roots), leave for a few minutes, rinse, shampoo (you'll only need a little bit), rinse and go!

So! How? What? Why? I may work at a Science Festival, but I am very much not a scientist (so please don't judge me if this is all nonsense!). I think it's based on the fact that the residue in conditioner can be difficult to wash out (which then clogs up your hair), and that shampoo can be quite harsh and strip out your natural oils, encouraging your hair to be more oily. By switching it up, you get all the benefits of conditioner, then the shampoo strips the dirt from your hair AND the conditioner... leaving you with shiny, happy, absolutely clean locks.

Now, again, this may all be total rubbish (and after a google, some people are absolutely raving about it, and others aren't impressed). But I am a total convert! If you try it, let me know how you get on...

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Scottish Independence

Something very exciting is happening. Two years ago the UK and Scottish Government agreed on a referendum for independence in Scotland. And tomorrow, we vote.


I don't really feel qualified to write about politics, but it would feel strange not to mention it at all. If you aren't in Scotland (which, surprisingly, actually applies to the majority of this blog's readers) you might not have heard much about it, or even cared. But here, the atmosphere is electric.

I'm not going to talk about what way I'm voting, or why, because I think the most exciting thing of all is how people have changed. I've been eligible to vote for ten years, but I've never seen people (of all ages!) so passionate and eager to learn, to find an answer, and to talk to others about it.

It's gone far beyond boorish suited politicians shouting at each other. It's the conversation that's happening on the street, in the pub, between friends, and with people you've only just met. It's not the angry, scared, bitter fight that it might appear on tv either - I realise that there are idiots on both sides (and tensions have been growing pretty high in the last few days), but every conversation I've had with yes, no, or undecided's has been measured and considerate and respectful. We know that we all have to live together regardless of what way the vote goes. It isn't about country or a particular party or even a particular person. It's about making a decision. And I'm just so impressed with the good humour and intelligent thinking that I've witnessed from the people I've met.

So who knows, what'll happen on Friday. 97% of people have registered to vote, with a turnout of 80% expected. So whether it's a yes or no, either way we've got a country full of people who are talking and asking questions, and (in my case) thinking that perhaps I can write about politics after all. And that's very, very exciting.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Autumn homeware wishlist

I love Autumn! The leaves are changing colour, the weather will soon turn all lovely and crisp, and we can wear layers again (and escape the daily wardrobe confusion of how to dress for sort-of-muggy, sort-of-sunny, sort-of-breezy end of summer weather). I am very excited to dig out my bobble hats, and I am SUPER excited about entering an autumnal hibernation that involves being cosy, cooking roast dinners, and drinking red wine.

I am so excited about this actually, that I have accidentally gone on a bit of an autumn spending spree, so I thought I'd share what's caught my eye.


Tunnock's teacake cushion
I have wanted a Nikki McWilliams cushion for AGES, and figured it was finally time to treat myself to one (although it was surprisingly hard to choose between a teacake and a custard cream!).

Vanilla and fig candle
You're going to be spending loads of time inside, so make sure your house smells beautiful! This Anthropologie candle comes in loads of different scents, but I bet this one is lovely.

Mustard knitted throw
Ever since I pinned this picture, I've basically been on a mission to recreate it, and have been on a long search for the perfect mustard throw blanket. All summer I told myself that I'd "probably" get around to knitting one, but now it's a wee bit cold and I haven't done anything about it. Surprisingly, it's BHS that's come to the rescue, with this mustard loveliness.

Book
Autumn is for nights in (you know, under your blanket, candle burning, leaning on your biscuit cushion) with a book. I've been a bit terrible at keeping my book love series up to date, but recently I have been discovering the Discworld series, and absolutely adoring it.

Fairy lights
Last year I went to an ikea event, where they told us the most imporant thing in dressing a room was to fill it with lots of soft lighting (and avoid having one big light on). Fairy lights aren't just for Christmas, they make your space feel soft and cosy all year round.

Monogrammed mugs
Aaand when you aren't drinking wine, you will need a constant supply of tea, coffee or hot chocolate to keep you cosy. I would quite like to buy the entire Anthropologie kitchen selection, but I can't really afford that, so a mug is a good place to start.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Botanical jewellery

Oh my god, I am OBSESSED. I love plants and I love pendants, and before now, I didn't really think the two would meet.

But say hello to Ruby Robin - an Irish boutique that makes the most beautiful hand-crafted jewellery, using curiosities found in the woods, on mountain sides, combed from beaches or picked in wild meadows  Here's a few of my favourites from their etsy...

Dandelion necklace

Real fern necklace
Miniature terrarium necklace
Irish wildflower necklace
SO so so lovely. I want them all! They are surprisingly affordable too, priced at about £30 each. You can choose the length of the necklace chain (and for some you can pick if you want gold or silver), and they also do personalised pieces, which would be such a lovely gift.

Beaut!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Painting ponies

When I picked painting up again (after a break of years and years), I found I had a really bad habit of being SUPER heavy with shadowing and brush strokes. I found it so satisfying to paint heavy outlines and keep layering shadows, that I couldn't really make myself stop... and so the finished painting looked clunky, had no subtlety, and pretty much lost all its light.

But, considering I had been so nervous and awkward about picking up a paintbrush when I restarted, I wasn't going to let this stress me out. I paint because I love it and it really calms me, so rather than trying to teach myself big changes, I've just been taking tiny steps to try and fix my heavy hand.


I found that painting using just one colour has been HUGELY helpful in this! It's such a simplified way to do things, but it has really helped me concentrate on light and shadows, and play with when it's best to leave the paper blank.

I've also been trying to make myself stop before I think I'm actually finished, which is a total test of my willpower.


So, this isn't my normal type of post but it does feel like I'm maybe getting somewhere (and it's been over a year since I last wrote about painting). Now I need to practice on painting people... perhaps it's time to bring my illustrated bloggers back?

Friday, 5 September 2014

Chop Chop, Edinburgh

I've heard all sorts of great things about Chop Chop. They've been voted Britain's most popular Chinese restaurant, have received multiple AA Rosette Awards for the quality of their food, were on Gordon Ramsay's F Word, and their factory sells millions of dumplings each year. My friends rave about them, and I have lived within easy visiting distance for YEARS.

I've been meaning to go for ages, but am hopeless, so hooray for Chop Chop for inviting me along to try out their Leith restaurant.


Chop Chop specialises in authentic Chinese cuisine,  making all of their dishes from fresh ingredients with no artificial colourings or preservatives. Food is served as soon as it's ready, encouraging diners to order together and share their dishes, so you can mix the textures and flavours of all food on offer. 

You can either pick and choose off the menu, or order one of their unlimited banquets (which look incredible, oh my god), where food just keeps coming until you are defeated.

It's BYOB too (I wish I'd known this before we visited!), with a £5 corkage charge (per bottle...). 


Joshua and I couldn't really decide what to go for, so we ordered EVERYTHING. That included: pork dumplings; seasoned chicken wings; spicy squid; green beans and chilli; garlic with cumin seed (sounds weird, but it was SO good); aubergines; and stir fried spicy beef (amazing amazing amazing).

Both of us tend to make dumplings quite a lot (you can buy them in your local chinese supermarket, and they are the best lazy dinner/comfort food!) so wouldn't normally order them in a restaurant, but it felt rude not to try them as they are such a famous Chop Chop dish!

The food was all beautiful - I would make a special trip just for the spicy beef alone (it melted in your mouth, and was just, oh, hello). The vegetable dishes were all great too, it's easy to get lost in a world of noodles and meat, but these were so much more than side dishes.


The restaurant was fairly informal and had a nice, relaxed vibe, but unfortunately the staff were slightly too relaxed... and left us sitting for about thirty minutes after finishing our meal. We had been so pleased with the food that we were dreaming of dessert (and more wine), but by the time we managed to get someone's attention, we were both too full and ready to go.

Still, the food was marvelous (and as soon as they realised we were there to review it, a very nice man came out and gave us lots of chat).

Chop Chop have two restaurants in Edinburgh (Leith and Haymarket) and are opening a Glasgow branch in October 2014. They also have a delivery service and run a membership scheme that gives you a discount on each visit, and sends you celebration vouchers across the year. Yum. Thanks for having us Chop Chop, we'll be back!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Secret Herb Garden

Recently I was whisked off on a surprise adventure by Google #CityExperts (who, seriously, throw the best parties! It's definitely worth taking a look at signing up if you haven't already). They didn't say where we were going... just promised a unique, hidden venue with botanical surprises.

I (super unfairly!) assumed they were going to take us to the Royal Botanic Garden, which is beautiful, but not that hidden... so was pretty surprised when we headed off to the edges of town, and turned into the Secret Herb Garden.

Photo from City Experts Botanical Bash
Based just outside of Edinburgh, the Secret Herb Garden is a super cool gardener's treasure trove (one googler described it as a "hipster's dream garden centre", which sums it up pretty well). The herb farm is spread over seven and a half acres, and also houses a cafe, shop, vintage furniture, and a railway carriage that's been converted into a bee observatory.


Dotted around the greenhouse and grounds are places to sit - it just looks like the most perfect place to spend an afternoon with a book.

We were taken on a wander round by owner Hamish, who is the most inspiring plant-lover you'll ever meet (I've never heard anyone talk so enthusiastically about dandelions, but I am a total convert). He showed us around a small section of the grounds, and paid equal attention (and enthusiasm) to the spots of wild herbs and flowers that peppered the place, as he did to their new rose garden and orchards.

Photo by Chris Scott
As well as being a wonderful world of herbs, the Garden also hosts courses and workshops. You can learn the basics of beekeeping, learn about herbal health, try a watercolour class, candle making, wreath making, cooking, and more. 

They also have a herbalist treatment room where you can get aromatherapy massages and all sorts of nice-sounding things. Oh, and did I mention they make their own beer?

Photo from City Experts Botanical Bash
When we went, we got to try out a few things... including making candles with the resident beekeeper (which is surprisingly easy to do, and they smell amazing), making flower crowns with visiting florist Lotte & Bloom, exploring the gardens, and eating dinner that was scattered with beautiful edible flowers.

It was just beautiful, and you should go (I'm already planning my next trip).

The Secret Herb Garden is open every day from 10am - 4pm, and can be found just off the Edinburgh Bypass

Monday, 1 September 2014

I shaved my head! (sort of)

This year I've been playing about with my hair. I've tried new hairdressers, moved from badger hair to fox hair, and said goodbye to my super short fringe, but each time I chatted to the hairdresser I almost asked for an undercut... and then decided I wasn't brave enough.

An undercut isn't that rebellious, but it seemed like such a big deal each time I was in the hairdresser's chair. I would get super excited about the possibility of it, and then by struck by thoughts like - I'm in a client-facing job! I can't shave my bloody head!... I won't suit it!... it'll be a TOTAL pain to grow out... I'm too much of a scruff to pull it off.

Well, whatever, wimpy me. Yes, it will probably be a nightmare to grow out, and  there was definitely the possibility that it wouldn't suit me (I am plagued by a weak chin, sob), but hair does grow. And as for my job? I'm well aware that appearance has a depressing role in how people view you, but my ability to do my job is not challenged by my hair, thankyouverymuch.

So I went back to Dean Jones Hairdressing (as I had been so impressed by my last visit) and got the chop.


AND I LOVE IT!


My hairdresser was really great, and talked about how to incorporate it into my current style, so I could still wear my hair up or down, however I liked. She suggested keeping the shaved section in a soft shape round my ear to start, so that I could take more off next time if I wanted (I'd explained my big wimpy journey up until this point).

I know it's not that different, but it felt like a big step for me! Over the last year I've really started to understand that actually life is completely up to you. If you want something, the only person stopping you (or making excuses) is yourself. And on this occasion, that 'something' might just be hair, but it's an exciting thought to have.

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