Wednesday, 27 May 2015

SPA IN THE CITY

As part of This Is Edinburgh's year-round mission to make our capital city as lovely as possible, Spa in the City is back for its eighth year, with free beauty treatments, talks and tips for all to enjoy.

st andrew square spa in the city edinburgh blogger
st andrew square spa in the city edinburgh blogger

This year, Spa in the City has been spread over two weekends (23rd & 24th in St Andrew Square, and 30th & 31st in the West End). I was invited along to the St Andrew Square weekend with a few other bloggers to try out some treatments, and the weather was beautiful!

St Andrew's Square is a lovely place to hang out, whatever's happening (even more so now the grass has finally been fixed after the winter!), but there was such a lovely vibe in the Square - beauty tents were dotted about, a band was playing, and everyone was just soaking up the sunshine.

st andrew square spa in the city edinburgh blogger
Sassoon Salon step by step updo
We started the morning at the Beauty Heroes Marquee watching a blow & style demo by Sassoon Salon, who showed us how to do a few looks from their blow bar. It's always really interesting seeing hairstylists in action, and the difference a few simple steps can make to a style - I liked their dishevelled ponytail a lot!

st andrew square spa in the city edinburgh blogger
Lush Spa
Then I headed off for my treatment - a shoulder and neck massage from Balance Spa at the Roxburghe. This was SO WONDERFUL, I just didn't want it to stop. The masseuse used Decleor essential oils so it smelled amazing, and in the treatment tent you could hear the soft murmur of people in the park, and music drifting through.

Afterwards I went for a wander around the other tents (making a beeline for the Lush Spa tent), then met up with my blogger pals for a Cocktail Master Class with Element, where we learned a few tricks and sampled a few drinks (and then were super inspired to use our 2 for 1 cocktail vouchers at their lovely bar on Rose St!).

st andrew square spa in the city edinburgh blogger
And did I mention it's all free? And you get a goodie bag when you go to their registration tent? Mine included treats from Lush, mascara, face masks, and a special Spa in the City offer book (which can also be downloaded online) with discounts for food, drink, spa treatments and shopping (including H&M!).

If you fancy taking part in Spa in the City next weekend, it's popping up outside the Huxley on 30th and 31st May between 11.30am and 6pm. All treatments available are offered on a first come first serve basis, so it's worth heading down early to make sure you can get booked in. Treatments include Aveda massages, Benefit makeovers, Regis massages, hair styling with James Alexander Hair, and more!

Monday, 25 May 2015

MY PET HEDGEHOG

If you follow me on instagram you'll have already seen a few photos, but I wanted to properly introduce you to Soba, my pet hedgehog!

pet hedgehog african pygmy blogger soba

Soba's a baby African Pygmy hedgehog, which is why he looks a bit different (and cuter!) than native UK hedgehogs.

I had been thinking about getting a pet for ages, but was really struggling to find one that fitted into my life. I live in a small flat, so I had to think about how noisy potential pets would be, how much space they'd need, and how much attention they'd require on a daily basis. I bought books about birds, I quizzed everyone I knew with pets, and I watched about a million pet videos on youtube looking for inspiration, but never even considered hedgehogs - I didn't know you could actually own one, until my friend Eilidh bought a baby hog called Bonnie, and my mind was blown.

pet hedgehog african pygmy blogger soba

It was a no brainer - hedgehogs are pretty ideal pets if you want minimal effort, but maximum cuteness. I bought Soba from a breeder in Scotland at the end of March (he cost £150, including a deposit). 

Hedgehogs live between 4-6 years, and are solitary animals, so are happy in their own space. They're nocturnal, so sleep all day (as he's a baby, Soba sleeps up to 22 hours per day!), which means I have zero guilt in leaving him to go to work, or if I'm away from the flat for a night. They are super quiet animals too (although they make hilarious huffing noises), and are very clean pets - Soba litter trained himself within a few days, and I only need to clean out his cage about once a week (although I do clean the litter tray more frequently). He eats cat food and mealworms, and can also be given vegetables and fruits, so it's cheap to feed him too.

pet hedgehog african pygmy blogger soba

They are obviously also ADORABLE, but are very shy animals. Hedgehogs don't naturally want to be your pal, so it takes a lot of time and patience to get them over the idea that you are going to eat them, and be relaxed around you.

Soba's definitely getting better, but he still balls up whenever I pick him up, and takes a bit of time before he relaxes in my hands. His spines aren't super sharp (they feel like the bristles on a hairbrush), but it does feel very, very strange to hold a spiky ball at first! If you are looking for an immediately cuddly pet, then hedgehogs ain't the one for you, but if you're into persuading grumpy things to like you (like I am), then they are worth it.

ikea hack small pet cage hedgehog

As I don't have much space, I knew I wanted to make Soba a space that would fit into my home. With the help of Joshua, boyfriend-extraordinaire, we took an Ikea Kallax bookcase, and hacked it into a hedgehog house.

Soba lives on the top level, and the bottom level houses all of his stuff (we originally thought about making a multi-layered cage, but it was too much to tackle!). We bought a backing board (that lets air circulate at the back), drilled round holes between each room, and made perspex doors with magnetic clasps. It was an exhausting project, but I'm SO pleased with how it turned out.

ikea hack small pet cage hedgehog
Sleeping sack - Handmade
Food bowls - Pets at Home & JOY
Sleeping cave - Etsy
Bucket wheel - Ebay
Soba seems pretty happy with it too! The cage is split into different areas, so he has two spaces for sleeping and burrowing, a space for food and water, and a space (behind the white door) for his litter tray and wheel - hedgehogs love to run, and love to poo while doing so (lovely), so this keeps it all behind doors!

The whole space is covered with vinyl so it can easily be cleaned (and the bookcase won't get damaged), and then lined with fleece bedding.

I've been looking into getting more toys and things for him - he has a little ball that he plays with, and is a big fan of cardboard tubes, but I'd like to put more in his cage. Hedgehogs are still pretty unusual pets, so it's hard to work out what they're into (especially as most hedgehog advice forums are fairly terrifying places that tell you to avoid all the things), but it's a work in progress!

Hope you enjoyed a glimpse of Soba! If you've got any questions, just let me know, and keep an eye on my instagram (@eversojuliet) for more hedgehog photos.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

CROWN & GLORY CANDY SHOP

Ever since I decided that 2015 would be the year I embraced hair accessories, I've been obsessed with Crown & Glory, makers of off the hook hair things, who are going from success to success. I've now built up a seriously ace collection of glittery bows, hairbands and flower crowns, thanks to my Glitterati subscription, but I want more - I am well and truly addicted.

crown and glory candy shop floral crown macaron

So I'm a bit jealous of all you Londoners, as this week the Crown and Glory Candy Shop will be popping up at decadent bakery and macaron-makery, Anges de Sucre.   

Here you can take your pick from Crown & Glory's treasure trove of beautiful floral blooms and glittery pieces to make your own, completely bespoke, floral crown, fascinator or headband. How amazing is that?

floral crown crown and glory

The Crown and Glory Candy Shop will be open on Friday 22nd May (12pm - 6pm), Saturday 23rd May (10am - 6pm) and Sunday 24th May (11am - 5pm) at Anges de Sucre, 1 Holland Street, Kensington, London. I wish I could go!

Monday, 18 May 2015

BEST BREAKFASTS IN EDINBURGH

Is there anything better than a good breakfast? Not a rushed bowl of cereal (as someone who struggles to eat before work, I can't imagine ever enjoying a weekday breakfast), but a long lazy morning chatting to your favourite person or reading a book over coffee and eggs.

One of the best things about Edinburgh is that it is packed with amazing places to eat, and here are some of my favourite breakfast spots.

edinburgh best place breakfast blogger roseleaf pantry spoon
Top row: The Pantry, Heller's Kitchen, Lionness of Leith
Bottom row: Spoon, Roseleaf, Henri of Edinburgh

The Pantry
I almost didn't want to tell you about the Pantry, as it is one of my very favourite weekend breakfast hangouts, and it's always pretty busy (book in advance if you are planning a special trip). The Pantry is nestled in beautiful Stockbridge, all food is seasonal, with the menu changing weekly to make the most of Scotland’s fruitful larder.

Heller's Kitchen
On the other side of town, Heller's Kitchen is a fairly fancy wee restaurant that do a seriously impressive brunch. I am a huge fan of their pancakes which come with maple syrup, fruit or bacon. (If you're in the mood for pancakes, but are feeling a little rougher round the edges, the American-style City Cafe does a good job too).

The Lionness of Leith
This derelict-pub-turned-hipster-haven is one of my favourite bars (who also do an amazing Sunday roast), and their breakfast menu is small but perfectly formed. Simple dishes are made from locally sourced ingredients, and served with a relaxed attitude in a super laid back dog-friendly pub. Perfect.

Spoon
I love Spoon. Sitting somewhere between fine dining food and casual cafe vibes, this is a quirky restaurant that is great for big groups. Menus change daily, but food is guaranteed to be delicious. It's also the spot where the first Harry Potter was written, if you're into that sort of thing!

The Roseleaf
The Roseleaf is best known for their quirky cocktails and array of hats, but they also have surprisingly good food. My favourite dish is their fancy funghi... assorted wild mushrooms sautéed in a garlic and parsley olive oil, served on toasted homemade bread and topped with a pair of poached hens eggs. Mmm.

Henri of Edinburgh
Sometimes life doesn't just revolve around poached eggs (I know, I know), so if you're looking for slightly different fare, Henri's is a total treat. Half deli, half cafe, this is a treasure trove of charcuterie, and there's nothing nicer than people-watching from their window seats.

Friday, 15 May 2015

SOCIAL & COCKTAIL

Cocktail parties are great, but cocktail parties with your own professional bartender (and no need to do the washing up afterwards!) are so much better. That's exactly what Social & Cocktail offer with their mobile bar packages, pretty much guaranteeing that you'll be the best host around.

social and cocktail bar hire blogger

I'm a fan of cocktails, pals, and the excuse to dress a bit fancy for no reason, so it was a very obvious yes when Social & Cocktail got in touch and asked if I fancied trying out their service. All of their cocktail packages include a state-of-the-art mobile cocktail bar, a professional cocktail bartender, glassware, a selection of expertly prepared cocktails (which you can choose in advance), and the option to take part in a cocktail masterclass with your friends.

They bring all of the ingredients and garnishes so you have literally nothing to do to prep for your party, other than let them in about half an hour before your guests arrive.

social and cocktail bar hire blogger

This all sounded great (obviously), although I'll admit to feeling a bit weird about having a bar and a stranger in my house. My flat is pretty tiny, with a combined living room & kitchen, so I wasn't totally convinced that I'd fit a bar AND my friends in without it all feeling a bit squished and awkward.

I also was a bit nervous about the bartender, because the whole thing just felt a bit out of my depth. You don't usually spend Saturday nights with a person you've just met, making them serve drinks in your small kitchen.


But it was BRILLIANT. Yeah, it was a little bit strange at first, when my pals all turned up in nice dresses and heels and we made super polite not-really-sure-what-to-expect small talk. But it barely took any time at all for that to disappear, and it so quickly became the best, best fun. 

Our bartender was absolutely lovely too! He somehow managed to make it feel completely natural that he was my kitchen, and was super friendly, occasionally dipping into our chat, but mainly just getting on with things in the background.

social and cocktail bar hire blogger

We were served five cocktails each: a french martini, a cosmopolitan, a strawberry daiquiri, an appletini and a mojito. Everyone remarked on how much nicer cocktails are when they are properly made (so true, it makes such a difference), and even though they were on the sweeter side of the cocktail scale, I was really happy with the menu we were served.

We were all pretty happy to just be handed cocktails (particularly top-ups of cocktails!), so none of my gang tried their hand at playing bartender, but if you fancy it, Social & Cocktail can also teach you how. 


I'm amazed by how good value this is - prices start from £25 per person if you pick from the popular menu (which is what we did), which gets you the whole package (bar, bartender, five different cocktails, and very generous servings). Some Edinburgh bars charge £8 per cocktail!

Social & Cocktail offer mobile bar hire in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, and you can find out more information on booking a package here: Social and Cocktail events. Why should hen parties have all the fun? Yeah, it's indulgent, but who cares! It's worth it.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

LEARNING TO RUN

It's been seven weeks since I nervously laced up my trainers and headed out for my first run in a very, very long time.

It took me over an hour to psyche myself up enough to actually leave the house. I couldn't find my headphones (and got in a massive flap about running in silence), I didn't know what route I should take, I had no idea how I was meant to carry my phone or keys without a bag or any gadgets, and I got really worried about how I would look, and what people would think of me.

I was the world's wimpiest runner. But I'd signed up to do Race for Life. So I had to do it. (& I was part of Cancer Research UK's blogger team, which meant I really, really had to do it).

race for life blogger running cancer research uk

So I did. I downloaded an app and started slowly plodding away... and seven weeks later I'm still running. I didn't die of embarrassment the first time I ran by a group of people, and my knees didn't explode from new exercise. I feel good about myself (and without really trying, I've lost almost half a stone). I also somehow seem to enjoy it now? I've changed.

Here's what I've learned about running so far, which might help you if you are also the world's wimpiest runner.

1. Pick a goal
If I did not have the impending terror of my 10k race, I would not be running. I would be sleeping. And snacking. But I know if I do those things, then I will have a terrible time trying to drag my sorry self around the Race for Life course. Running now makes life in June so much easier (which you can  also sponsor me for, if you are feeling kind!).

2. Find what motivates you
I have only just started to like running (and even now, I'm still a bit unsure about the whole thing), so when I started I had to focus on what I did like. At first the ONLY thing I liked about running was when it ended, and I felt smug that I had done it. So I held onto that, and dragged myself out by thinking about how good it would be when it was over. After a while I realised that I also quite enjoyed being outside, running along lovely woodland paths, and looking at squirrels. But really, I mainly like feeling smug. There's no shame in that (I hope!).

3. Get an interval app
The idea of running for 30 minutes? Terrifying. The idea of running for a minute? Well, alriiiiiight. I downloaded a 10k runner app and I LOVE it. It tells you exactly when to walk or run, and leads you through the process in such baby steps that build your confidence, and avoid you burning out by trying to do too much too soon. Today I ran for 20 minutes in one go, which felt impossible seven weeks ago. Next month I have to run a 10k (oh god), which yes currently feels impossible, but I know that if I follow the app, I'll be fine.

4. Slow down 
Apparently one of the most common problems with new runners is that you try to go too fast too soon and do yourself a damage. I did exactly this - in week two I was feeling alright with running a couple of minutes at a go, so I tried to go a bit faster. I ended up with mega achey knees (and then paranoia about KNEE PAIN), which made running even more miserable. So I slowed right now... and if I felt like I wanted to walk, I slowed to a walking pace, but kept jogging. And it totally helped! All of the advice says ignore speed, it'll come in time.

5. Listen to podcasts
I'm sure this won't be for everyone, but this totally changed my running experience. When I started I listened to really intense pop playlists, which were good for getting my energy levels up, but I also got really bored. I had started listening to podcasts after getting into Serial (like everyone else in the world), and as loads are about 30 minutes long, they seemed pretty perfect for my running sessions. And they're ace! I get totally caught up in the story, and focus on that more than the time I've got left to run. I've mainly been listening to This American Life and Freakonomics, but today I listened to Knifepoint Horror and had actual terror shivers as I ran (which is ace, because I didn't think about running!).

6. You don't care what people think
This has been one of the best things. I genuinely felt a bit ill thinking about how the whole wide world would judge me, running along, pink face and out of breath. But then the minute I got outside, I suddenly didn't care. The first time I ran past a group of people, I realised that they didn't know if I'd been running for one minute or ten miles. The next time, I barely thought about it, and now I only focus on how to get by a group without breaking my pace (people with prams, try not to takeover the ENTIRE pavement!). I'd been nervous about seeing other runners too (because I wasn't a real runner, whatever that was), but they don't care! I think one or two people have smiled at me, but most of the time I ignore them, and they ignore me. I'm pink faced and I don't care at all about it. It's such a good self esteem boost.

And overall, I just feel better. I have more energy. I have lost weight (without at all thinking about it). I adore having a reason to go outside on a sunny day on the spur of a moment, and I turn into the smuggest human when I run on a rainy day (and brag about it, sorry friends). It's still hard, and almost every run has a moment where I dream of sofas and doughnuts, but when I talk about it I'm genuinely happy. Which has really surprised me.

So, I reckon if you've ever thought about it, or you're feeling a bit sluggish and want to change your routine up, start running. Definitely sign up for something if you're an exercise-slacker like me - Race for Life has over 300 events this year, from 5ks to marathons, so you'll definitely find something that suits your ability near you (plus you get discounted entry if you use the code RFLEver). And H&M have surprisingly cute running gear! Who knew?

Monday, 11 May 2015

APRIL INSTAGRAM

I'm a bit behind the times with this, I know, I know. Without really meaning to, I gave myself a bit of a break from blogging as I got used to life post science festival (aka got over post-festival lurgy, and had loads of lie ins!).

So here's a belated look at what April was like for me. (Shhh, let's not focus on the fact we're already a third of the way into May...).

Instagram username: @eversojuliet
1. Did I tell you that I got a hedgehog? I got a hedgehog! Meet Soba, he's an African Pygmy hedgehog, and he's teeny tiny and sleeps a lot. Hedgehogs are quite shy pets, so he can be a bit huffy around me, but is turning into the perfect flat pet. I'll write a proper post on him soon!

2. Working at a Science Festival means you often have a lot of weird and wonderful conversations. The week before we launched, I had a frantic couple of days trying to track down a twelve foot caterpillar, which had been delivered to the wrong place, and was the cause of many hilarious conversations (because really, how do you lose a TWELVE FOOT caterpillar?!). Don't worry reader, we were reunited in the end.

3. As part of the Science Festival we curated a beautiful exhibition exploring light in all of its forms. How the Light Gets In is running in Summerhall until May 22nd, and it's free! If you're in Edinburgh, it's absolutely worth a visit.

4. Festival time is one of working hard and playing hard too. I'm lucky to have such a fun gang of science pals... makes the long, long days definitely worth it.

5. Although I was glad of a morning off! Now the days are longer my flat is full of light - in the morning, my favourite spot to sit is in my window seat, and in the evenings my bedroom is bright and lovely.

6. My pal Simon came over to perform at the festival, and did a seriously intense (but very entertaining!) maths talk that completely went over my head. If anyone's looking to programme a stand-up mathematician at their event, get Simon, just so I can hang out with him again.

7. I also managed to sneak out of festival duties to see my pal Kirstin launch her new book, Fishnet. I had high hopes that it would be good (I worked with Kirstin when I was at The List, so I knew she was an ace writer), and I loved it - could not put it down at all. It's an angry, funny, unapologetic look at the sex industry, and is well well well worth a read.

8. Extra benefits of having a pet hedgehog? They are seriously photogenic animals, which means you can't resist setting up super cute photos. Look at his tiny paws!

9. It was my friend Murray's birthday (happy birthday Muzzy!), so to celebrate, Joshua helped me make this AMAZING Fast & the Furious card. Muzz and I have a guilty soft spot for F&F, so it was the obvious choice in ridiculous themed cards... but who knew I so suited Vin Diesel's arms?!

10. You can't really ever trust the weather in Scotland, but summer definitely seems to be on its way. Blue skies and beautiful blossom make life so much nicer. I've already had two bbq's this year too, but have already been absolutely drenched within the last week.

11. Warmer days also brings impromptu trips to pubs by the seaside! I love living in Leith, views like this are only ten minutes away by bicycle.

12. Aaaaand one of my favourite things - my local, sometimes-open sometimes-mysteriously-closed, flower shop was open, and had these beautiful blooms for only a couple of pounds. Buy yourself flowers!
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