Friday, 30 January 2015

HOW TO:
Make a peach & banana smoothie

I got a Nutribullet for my birthday, and I have since become a total smoothie bore. But they are SO DELICIOUS and wonderful and just the best thing (this is probably all of the fruit sugar talking).

I have a deep hatred of breakfast cereal (after years of my caring parents forcing me to eat boring and healthy cereal), so I used to be pretty terrible about skipping breakfast and then feeling sluggish and grumpy until lunchtime. Smoothies have made me feel so much better!


I make up mini freezer bags in advance with pre-cut fruit, then in the morning I just grab a bag, add a handful of leaves (I'm also a kale bore now), plus some coconut water, and mix it up. I know that fruit is packed with sugar so it's definitely not the healthiest breakfast around, but I figure it's better than nothing, and I've noticed a huge difference in how I feel.

Making smoothie packs in advance is really great too, as it means I can just bulk buy loads of fruit in one go, and then not worry about it going off or wasting it.


It feels quite ridiculous to blog a smoothie recipe (grab some fruit! Blend that fruit!), but this might provide some inspiration if you're a brand new smoothie bore like me. 

You'll need: 
  • 1 banana
  • Half a peach
  • A handful of strawberries
  • A big splash of coconut water
  • A couple of ice cubes (not needed if you are using frozen fruit)


YUM.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

OUTFIT: DENIM & DOTS

It's been ages since I posted a proper outfit post, but I've FINALLY got myself set up for blogging outfits in my flat - I've got a tripod, I've got a camera remote, I've found a spot of blank wall space and I've got loads of cute clothes to show off!

Cardigan - H&M
Skirt* - Oasis (from House of Fraser)
Tshirt - H&M
Shoes - Oasis (from ASOS)
To start, here's one of my new favourite outfits. Over the last couple of years I've really grown in confidence in what I wear, and how to pick clothes that suit my shape. I mainly wear dresses or skirts as I love clothes that nip in at the waist and then have a little shape, so skater-style items (like this denim skirt) are perfect for me!

I work at a Festival which has a really relaxed office environment. We don't have a work dress code, but I'm in a client-facing job, so I try to look a little bit smart (although I am naturally scruffy, so THIS is smart for me. I would never make it in the corporate world!). Because of this, I wear the same clothes at the weekend as I'd wear to work, so I've been trying to buy clothes that work well in multiple combinations.


Whenever I buy new clothes I tend to get a bit obsessed with one item, that I want to wear over and over and over again, and that's how I feel about this cardigan - it's so cute, it goes with everything, and I would wear it daily if I could.

The skirt is another new wardrobe staple, and also came with this really cute belt with a lovely criss-cross buckle detail. I mainly wear gold jewellery now, so I am a fan of gold accessories!


I'm also wearing a couple of Crown & Glory glitter clips in my hair - these are two teardrop-shaped clips that I've clipped together in a heart shape. 

I'm really enjoying hair accessories at the moment, they're such an easy way to add a little extra to your look. I've got a couple of glitter bows that I love, but I'm on the lookout for flower crowns that are a little more Spring-appropriate!

Monday, 26 January 2015

EDINBURGH'S CAT CAFE

Last week, Maison de Moggy, Scotland's first cat cafe opened up in Edinburgh. Cat cafes are, as you'd imagine, places where you can hangout with cats, while drinking tea, eating cakes, and just enjoying purring pals.


Cat cafes got super popular in Japan and started popping up in the UK recently (Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium is probably the best-known over here). They're aimed at people who love cats but can't keep them, and offer the chance to relax with some feline company.

The cats at Maison de Moggy have all been living together for a few months to let them become pals (because there's nothing worst than scrapping cats), and there's a member of staff watching them at all times to make sure they don't get in any mischief (or more likely, that they aren't wound up by customers).

And they're CUTE. You can see the cats here, and they're quite an exotic bunch - ragdolls, bengals, a chinchilla persian, maine coon, norwegian forest cat, and a couple of British shorthairs. Fancy cats are lovely, but it would have been nice to see some mongrels in there too - I hope if they ever expand their gang, they think about rescue kittens, there's so many of them in centres (always neuter your pets, kids!).


If you want to visit the cafe you have to book a time in advance (which you can do online). It costs £6 (or £7) at the weekend for an hour, and they recommend that you arrive at least 15 minutes early so you can be briefed and not miss out on any of your cat hangtime!

Maison de Moggy is based at 26 Hamilton Place in Stockbridge, Edinburgh, and is open Monday to Saturday, 11am - 7pm.

Friday, 23 January 2015

BIG POP CLUB

Subscription boxes are absolutely everywhere right now. I've already written about Bloom & Wild's beautiful flowers, and the super cool Lucky Dip Club, and now it's the turn of Big Pop Club.


Big Pop Club is the newest project by illustrator and blogger, Ella Masters (who, if you've read my blog for a while, you might remember from my illustrated blogger post!).

Each monthly Big Pop Club box will be filled with exclusive illustrated items, including a monthly printed calendar and tattoo-inspired pieces (think screen prints, patches, totes and tea towels!). Each box also comes with a Big Pop Club membership card that gets you 20% off the rest of her shop.


Each monthly box is based on a different theme - for February, Ella's inspired by the circus, and has been sharing a few sneak peeks on her instagram.

Big Pop Club is obviously influenced by Lucky Dip Club, and the prices follow a similar subscription model. It costs £20 for a single box or £18 if you sign up for a monthly subscription (or you can buy a six month subscription if you are feeling super flush!).

I'm a big fan of independent artists and I'm excited to see what the first box looks like. It goes on sale on February 1st, and there's only going to be 50 boxes available, so you'll need to be quick!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

MY LIVING ROOM

I'm obviously quite a nosy person, as some of my favourite blog posts to read are ones that peek into people's houses (is that weird? I promise I'm not weird. I just like interiors).

Anyway, it's been almost a year since I moved into my flat and I really, really love it! It's cosy and quirky and makes me really happy. It's also super tiny, so here's where I spend most of my time. 


It's a rented flat which came fully furnished, and I'm pretty lucky with how nice my borrowed furniture is! I love mustard and grey, so was delighted when I found this chunky mustard knit earlier this year as it's really cosy and makes my colour scheme dreams come true. 

The cushions are a black and white massive Ikea number (so squishy and comfy!), a teal Habitat cushion with a dachshund pattern that I've owned for years, and my tunnock's teacake cushion. 

I've only got a few prints up in my flat. There's Let's Stay Home and an Ella Masters print above my sofa, and a gold fawn (which I'm pretty sure is from Hannah Zakari) above the tv (which does a pretty good job of hiding my unused tv aerial). 


My window seat is one of my favourite spots in the flat, it's lovely to sit in on a Sunday morning, coffee in hand, and watch the world go by. I've got fairy lights strung up year round and I always aim to have fresh flowers on the windowsill, so it's a really pretty spot.

The cushions are from Ikea (they were part of their BRĂ…KIG collection) and I love their pattern. I've been meaning to replace the window seat fabric since I moved in (it's a bit battered from the previous renters), but haven't got round to it yet, but I will soon!


My flat has huge windows with really deep windowsills, so the other spot in this room (in the kitchen half) is used for my indoor garden. 

At the start of the month I tidied up all my plants, made a hanging planter for my ivy (strung up in the top left of the window), and planted seeds that have already started sprouting! I've got loads of cacti dotted between larger plants and around my flat, they are the easiest plants to keep and I've got a bit of a succulent addiction. In the front of the photo you can see my dinosaur planters - there's a DIY here if you want to give it a go! 

I've also got dinosaurs up along my ceiling beam, because I am a totally sensible 29 year old.

Monday, 19 January 2015

HOW TO: CRAYON LIPSTICK

I'm a fan of easy DIYs, and it doesn't get much easier than this (which is probably why it looks like an activity aimed at children). Making crayon lipstick is super easy, uses products that you probably already have in your house (or are cheap to buy), and allows you to make totally unique lip colours in about ten minutes!

It's also really satisfying to do. Here's how you do it...


You'll need the following:
  • Crayola crayons
  • Coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • Vaseline
  • Little tubs to put the lipstick in - I ordered mini cases which worked perfectly, but you could just use an empty lipbalm container
  • Paper towels
  • Wooden chopsticks (for stirring the lipstick)
It might feel weird to put crayons on your lips, but Crayola crayons are non-toxic (presumably because tiny children eat them), and the coconut oil masks the crayon scent. You can also add in a drop of vanilla extract to make the lipstick smell sweeter, if you want. 


Put a mini glass bowl into a saucepan of simmering water to make a double boiler. Break one crayon into small pieces and pop them into the glass to melt. Then add a teaspoon of coconut oil and a teaspoon of vaseline, and stir it with a chopstick as it all blends together. It only takes a few minutes to do, and while you're waiting you can get your next bowl of crayon pieces ready!

You can actually skip the vaseline (and reduce the coconut oil) if you want the lipstick to be more opaque, but I added quite generous measures of both so the lipstick would be quite hydrating. My lips dry out quite easily, so I try to be quite kind to them!

Clockwise (two of each colour): Carnation Pink, Violet Red, Scarlet, Red, Red Violet & Violet, Blue.
Once it's melted, pour the contents of your mixture into little tubs - put them on paper towels so you don't spill wax everywhere, and remember to use a towel or oven glove to pick up the glass bowl, as it'll be super hot! Pop it all in the fridge for 20 minutes until the mixture firms up again.

I got two tubs of lipstick out of each crayon, with just a tiny bit leftover, and here's how they look on...

L-R: Red violet & Violet; Scarlet; Violet Red
Red Violet & Violet: I made my own shade by melting two different crayon halves to make this pinky purple colour. It looks really dark as a solid but is really nice on - and works as either a subtle sheer, or a more built up colour. I wouldn't have bought this shade if I'd seen it for sale (because I can still be a bit of a lipstick wimp), so I'm pleased it came out the way it did.

Scarlet: I'm pale and a red head, so wasn't quite sure if I'd pull off an orangey shade, but I love it! I think this is my favourite lipstick I've made, and it has already earned a space in my handbag for everyday use.

Violet Red: A deep pink that, again, I think would work well for everyday wear. I wanted to make colours that I would actually wear (hence, the fairly limited range of colours), and I like this one a lot.

L-R: Red; Blue; Carnation Pink
Red: Probably my least favourite of the colours I made, my lips definitely looked tinted, but for some reason it was really sheer! Boo, bad crayola. I maybe went a bit overboard on my coconut oil/vaseline combo when making this lipstick, but I'm not actually too fussed as I'm not that keen on the colour anyway (and I have five other shades to play with instead!).

Blue: Part of the fun of this DIY is, for no extra cost, you can try out colours that you wouldn't (or couldn't!) buy in the shops. I love hallowe'en makeup, so I was excited to try out colours that would work for that... but actually, I kind of love it? I'm not sure if I actually pull it off, but now I've got two tubs of blue lipstick I need to find an excuse to wear it.

Carnation Pink: I don't normally go for bright pink lipsticks, so when I was making this I decided to just go for it, and I added a pinch of edible pink glitter as well. The sparkle is quite subtle, but this lipstick made me feel like I'd gone back to the 90s, I'm not sure if frosty pink is the one for me!

Because each shade was packed with oils, they all felt really nice to apply and didn't dry out my lips at all - although you will want to take the lipstick with you so you can reapply throughout the day as the staying power ain't amazing. Still, it's SO cheap and quick. And it's a really fun way of trying out new colours!

Friday, 16 January 2015

RAINY DAY WISHLIST

The weather outside is frightful (truly AWFUL, I thought I was going to be blown over this morning!), and summer feels a long, long while away.

I always get annoyed by high street shops who start clearing away winterwear in January - do they forget we live in Britain? So hooray for Joules, who realise that it's actually still quite cold here, and have a whole heap of things designed to help you outwit the weather...


Top row
 
Waterproof hooded jacket - when the weather is seriously blustery, umbrellas are most definitely NOT your friend, but hoods solve everything! I didn't know how much I needed a green jacket in my life until now.

Navy wellies - if you live in the UK, wellies are a bit of a depressing wardrobe staple. Joules do a huge range of floral wellies, but I prefer a bit more of a traditional look (which means you can wear them without looking like you're off to a festival!).

Intarsia jumper - I am obsessed with mustard-coloured clothing at the moment, and the floral neck on this jumper is so pretty! Look at your jumper when the weather is miserable, and remember that spring is (supposedly!) just around the corner...

Bottom row

Rubber raincoat - for seriously dreicht days you need a proper raincoat, which MUST have a hood. This has lovely toggles and a stripey lining too, so you can feel like a really excellent fisherman.

Cream check scarf - massive scarves are great, and massive tartan scarves are even better!

Reversible jumper - this jumper has a row of buttons down the back, meaning you can either wear it as a cardigan OR a jumper (although you may get comments about getting dressed backwards...). Either way, it's a really lovely pattern, and it's light enough to wear year round.

I want it all!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

WAH LONDON NAIL ART KIT

I've been so good in the January sales this year (partly because I hate the shops during the sales, and mainly because I'm skint), but I could not resist the WAH LONDON Ultimate Nail Art Kit from Boots, which currently is on sale for £25 (down from £80). Whaaaaaaaat.


I've been a big fan of WAH Nails for ages. A few years ago, when I was down in London for work, I popped into their Topshop salon for an impromptu visit, which started my love for nail art. Recently they launched a range of polishes and tools, inspired by fashion, street style, art and technology for all of your nail art needs.

I've been really lazy with nail art recently, so it was so much fun to have new nail art pens to play with!


The set contains loads of stuff, and comes in a super shiny, but really nice case.

There's tutorial cards to show you a few different nail art looks (including leopard print), a nail file, buffer, scissors, clean up brush, cuticle pusher, jewel tool, two pots of jewels (gold studs and little sparkly ones), instructions on how to use all of the tools, and four nail art pens (usually £7 each) and eight nail polishes (usually £9 each). Phew!


The polishes include: Biter's Beware, an acid yellowy green shade; Love My Team, a classic red; Mating Surfaces, a vivid lilac colour; Wifey4Lifey, a jelly pink; An Even Bigger Splash, a bluey green; No Nails No Life, a cool pink; I'm Real, a pinky brown nude; and Classy Glassy Glossy Topcoat, a super quick-drying glossy topcoat.

I used Mating Surfaces, Wifey4Lifey and An Even Bigger Splash, and I'm really pleased with how nicely the colours work together.


The nail art pens come in black, white, hot pink and yellow, and are ace - each pen has a double function, so you can either pull the cap off and use the pen nib (perfect for little details), or unscrew the lid to use the thin striper brush (which lets you paint graphic lines).

It's such a good kit, and I can't believe that there's still some left in the sale! If you're interested in nail art, I would hugely recommend this - it's such a bargain!

Monday, 12 January 2015

RECIPES TO TRY

One of my not-quite-a-resolution New Year's Resolutions is to try and do things that will give me more energy... and part of that plan is to cook good food, from scratch, using wholesome and healthy-ish ingredients.

I've been getting better at cooking recently, but I can be a bit wimpy about trying new things, so this year I'm going to change that! I've been pinning food inspiration on pinterest for a while now, and here's a few of my favourites so far. I can't guarantee that my versions will be anywhere near as pretty, but hopefully they'll taste nice!


Top row 

Bottom row


Friday, 9 January 2015

ROULOTTE RETREAT

Just before Christmas, Joshua & I decided to go on a trip for my birthday. I knew I wanted to find somewhere a bit quirky that wasn't too far from Edinburgh, so I was delighted when I came across Roulotte Retreat - six French roulottes nestled in a wildflower meadow in the Scottish Borders.


The roulottes are spaced out around a tiny loch, surrounded by fields and trees and farmland. The six roulottes are all decorated in different styles - there's Indian, Celtic, Spanish and Himalayan themed caravans so you can pick whatever best fits your mood.

Each roulotte has a woodburning stove (so you'll be super toasty, even in the depths of winter), a mini kitchen with a Baby Belling oven, living space, fancy shower and bathroom, and an original-style roulotte bed.


We booked two nights in Karlotta - a Celtic and Moroccan-influenced caravan, decorated in rich purples, reds and golds, with sari curtains and velvet touches.

Each night the rain poured down, and it was just so nice to feel completely switched off from the real world, reading books, playing cribbage and drinking wine by a toasty fire. During the day there's loads to explore nearby (we were lucky and the sun came out while we went for a wander along the river).


It's only £95 per night to rent a roulotte, and I'd highly, highly recommend it - I had such a relaxing time, and I'd love to go back in the spring when the wildflower meadow isn't quite so wintery and soggy.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

BEING HAPPY

I remember this time last year - a whirlwind of stress and excitement and nerves and hope. I had just returned from a much-needed adventure and was attempting to readjust to the real world. My house (that I was living in with my ex) finally sold, giving me only a couple weeks to find a new home in the city. I started a new relationship, and I interviewed for a promotion during one of my busiest month's at work. It was exhausting. 

And twelve months on? I'm sitting in my flat, coffee in hand. The sun is streaming through the windows, and my little windowsill garden (which has just been tidied up and replanted) looks happy. I booked a couple of extra days off this week because it always feels so lovely to have a secret holiday when the rest of the world goes back to work. I've got a pile of new books to read, and the flowers my boyfriend bought for our anniversary are yellow and bright and singing of spring. It's peaceful.


I remember the day I wrote this post. I was scared about life and what was going to happen, but I was determined to hold on, and not give up hope. So when things FINALLY started falling into place at the start of 2014, I was completely drained. Over the last twelve months I've had to learn how to breathe again, to let go of putting on a brave face, and trust my instincts. And it seems to have worked.

So, for 2015 I'd like more of the same please! I'm not going to set myself super specific resolutions, instead I'm going to continue to make choices that make me happy. I want to go on more adventures, I want to be kind to people, I want to get more energy in my life (which I think I can fairly easily solve by eating breakfast in the morning - I am terrible about missing meals). Really I just want to feel happy in the small moments that make up my life - whether that's doing something super exciting, or a day in my pyjamas playing video games.

Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors, and every now and again he writes a really beautiful New Year's Wish. This is his for 2015, and I think it's pretty perfect.
Be kind to yourself in the year ahead.  
Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It's too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand. 
Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.  
Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them.    
Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.
Neil Gaiman - New Year's Wishes 
Happy new year everyone. I hope it's a good one.

Monday, 5 January 2015

DECEMBER INSTAGRAM

Hello! I hope you all had a lovely festive season, and are feeling refreshed and ready to take on the new year. I took a few weeks off blogging to eat, drink and be merry and it was just so much fun. Here's what December looked like for me...


1. At the start of the month I went along to the opening of Cambridge Satchel Co's new Edinburgh store, which is packed full of beautiful bags and satchels in a rainbow of colours. I have a brown satchel which I got several years ago, and I still use it almost every day. They are such perfect bags!

2. I also was sent a bouquet of beautiful Christmassy flowers from Debenhams, which have helped make my house feel suitably festive! These (the cinnamon spice bunch) were sent three weeks ago and have held up so well - I've picked out a few wilting blooms, but the majority of the bouquet is still going strong! Debenhams are also offering you all 25% off a luxury bouquet - just use the code DFBLOG25 to get money off a flower delivery.

3. One of the best things about December? Mince pies! I caved early this year, and mince pies became a pretty staple part of my diet from late November on. They're just so good! I will miss you, flaky pastry pals.

4. Here's a good treat cheat I learned from Nikki McWilliams' blog - make mini christmas puddings super quickly, by drizzling icing over tunnocks teacakes. Perfect if you have no time (or are, ahem, feeling a bit worse for wear after a festive night out).

5. Joshua went full hipster this year, and embraced beard baubles (stealing all of my kirby grips in the process). I went full christmas with a velvet red dress and massive glitter bow.

6. For the Science Festival's christmas lunch, my lovely pal Amy & I took charge of the organised fun (the best kind of fun), and made everyone do a big singalong, with the words from 'Walking in a Winter Wonderland' turned into 'Working in a Science Wonderland' (see what we did there?). It was TOO much fun, and luckily our colleagues went along with it!

7. It was my birthday just before Christmas, and Joshua painted the cutest card for me. I love cacti! (He's alright too).

8. We went on a birthday adventure to stay in the most amazing romany caravan in the Scottish Borders (I'll blog about this in more detail soon), and went on a big explore of the countryside - finding this amazing abandoned saw mill. It was totally untouched (the saw blades were still in position!) and was such an exciting (and spooky) place to discover.

9. Another favourite thing about December - wreaths! I wish they could be up year round, it's so lovely to see them everywhere.

10. In the season of excess, it's totally appropriate to drink massive bloody marys, garnished with king prawns AND boiled eggs AND bacon, yeah?

11. This was our christmas pudding which was super appropriate for an Australian/Scottish Christmas, as it was half panettone, half ice cream (plus millions of fruit, dessert wine and dark chocolate, mmmmm!).

12. And this was my new year look! I went super glittery with a Crown & Glory crown, and used Urban Decay glitter to line underneath my eyes (I'm not sure if you can see that clearly, but it was so sparkly). I spent Hogmanay surrounded by wonderful friends, singing Auld Lang Syne and watching the fireworks from Edinburgh castle.

2014 was a good one. Bring on 2015!
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