Monday, 29 June 2015

OUTFIT: FANCY FLORALS

A few weeks ago I went to try out the new (amazing!) afternoon tea at one of Edinburgh's fanciest venues, The Signet Library. I'll blog about the afternoon tea in more detail soon (because seriously, it was so so so good), but I also wanted to share what I wore that day.

Dress - JOY
Bee hairclips - Crown & Glory
I got this dress in JOY last year, and I love it! JOY are really great if you're curvy like me, most of their dresses are super flattering and cut in at the waist. They tend to be on the pricier end of my budget (most JOY dresses are around £40-£60), but they often have bargains in their sales, and do good freebies if you spend over a certain amount.

Dress - JOY
Polka dot blazer - Urban Outfitters
Satchel - The Leather Satchel Co
Shoes - New Look 
I paired it with my favourite blazer, a light polka dot one, which I got ages ago from Urban Outfitters, and teal shoes which pick out the colour of flowers from the dress. It's a little bit too short to wear without tights (although that might just be me!), but I like that it brings a summery vibe to cooler days.

Friday, 26 June 2015

EDINBURGH COLLEGE
HAIR & BEAUTY ACADEMY

I would never have thought to go to a college or uni to get a spa treatment (surely they only happen in fancy hotels and salons, right?), but I was invited along to the Edinburgh College Hair & Beauty Academy, and I was super excited to see what it would be like.

The spa is one of  the UK's first eco-friendly college salons, and it's run in partnership with Wella (for the hair treatments) and Elemis (for the beauty treatments).


I was a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to find the salon within the college (I had visions of wandering halls packed with students), but I was just being daft - as soon as you enter the (super slick) college building, the Hair and Beauty Academy is straight in front of you. The salon is industry-standard, which means it feels exactly like a fancy spa, with soft music, lovely scents, and really friendly staff (the students) who get you settled in. 

I was booked in for a 60 minute Elemis facial (which costs £25 - what a bargain!), and it was such a treat. I don't have much bother with my skin, apart from it getting a bit dry, so after a brief consultation with my therapist, she started the seriously relaxing treatment, and I did my best not to fall asleep!


After my facial was finished and I was feeling suitably cleansed and relaxed, I was invited to try out their flotation therapy bed. This is a dry floatation bed (so you stay fully clothed), which gives you a sensation of weightlessness to allow total mind and body relaxation. It's a bit of a bizarre experience at first, but it's so relaxing, and was a really nice end to my treatments. You can book this as a separate treatment, or combine it with a massage or body wrap.

My skin felt amazing afterwards and I was so impressed with the quality of the salon, the treatments and the service - and it is so cheap compared to other city salons! You can take a look at the price list here, and if you fancy a treatment, the spa is open on Tuesday and Thursdays, 5pm - 7.30pm (making it perfect for a post-work treat!).

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

HOW TO: SUMMER COCKTAIL

It's a bit of a blogger cliché to fawn over pretty pink cocktails in repurposed glassware, but a few recent cocktail-bar catchups with my Scottish blogger pals has tipped me right back into the sugary sweet world of martini's and margaritas!

Inspired by travel company Hayes and Jarvis' recent survey of the UK's favourite cocktails (the piña colada was, surprisingly, number one!), I thought I'd share a recipe for one of my favourite cocktails. This is a summery, fruity treat (and it also looks super cute served in a mini milk bottle).


This is a really easy recipe (mainly because I don't have any fancy measuring equipment!). All you need is:

  • 2 shots of vodka
  • Handful of fresh strawberries
  • Handful of fresh raspberries
  • Two mint leaves
  • Couple of frozen pineapple pieces
  • A big splash of pineapple juice

  • Put everything in a blender (I used my nutribullet) and mix until the frozen fruit is all broken up.


    Garnish with a strawberry and a sprig of mint. Stripy straws and cute mini flowers are not necessary, but they do make for a good instagram! Enjoy!

    Monday, 22 June 2015

    HOLIDAY WISHLIST

    It's summer! As you read this, I'll be sunning myself up in Croatia (aka doing my best not to burn in Europe's sunniest country!). I'm usually a big fan of doing a pre-holiday splurge but due to a lack of time, cash, and the fact I'm only taking hand luggge with me, this time I've got to stick to summer holiday wishlisting.

    summer blogger wishlist

    1. I realise they're not the most fashionable footwear around, but there's a reason they are so popular - Birkenstock sandals are the comfiest holiday shoes around, and are ace if you want to do a bit of adventuring and rock scrambling. This pair from Jones Bootmaker are also in my current favourite colour!

    2. I admit that this is completely unneccessary, but LOOK AT IT. Of course you need a red glitter balloon clutch in your life! Perfect for picnics in the park, and late summer date nights.

    3. Sunglasses ain't just for summer, they're for life (but summer is a good chance to stock up on them, when there's loads in the shop!). You can't go wrong with a pair of aviator retro sunglasses like these (and there's absolutely loads of bargains in the ASOS sunglasses shop!). I'm also tempted to recommend this pair but they'd be a wee bit harder to pull off!

    4. Great for cooler evenings, or cloudy days when the British summer is being particularly troublesome. I love the print on this botanical shirt, and the bow is super cute!

    5. Sunshiney days are the best excuse to wear a flower crown, and you can't go to a festival without one! As you may know, I've been loving Crown & Glory this year, and I currently have my eye on their beautiful meadow crown.

    6. I am a big fan of Bravissimo (although I wish they were a little cheaper!), and this Minnie swimsuit is absolutely adorable!

    Sunday, 21 June 2015

    PET PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

    You might have seen my recent post, introducing you to my newest furry friend - Soba the hedgehog! It's been a fun couple of months getting used to my spiky flatmate and learning how to look after a hedgehog. They are very shy pets, so it's still a bit of a journey in convincing Soba that he is not my next meal, but we're getting there, and he is still one of the most adorable creatures to walk the earth.

    Pets at Home also noticed how cute he is, and got in touch to ask me to share some of my pet photography tips. Now, I'm going to state very clearly that I am an absolute photography amateur - so this post isn't meant to be a lecture that I'm not qualified to make! Instead it's just ten super easy tips that I've picked up in my years of pet ownership. And it's an overload of Soba photos! (a Sobaload, if you will).


    1. Use natural light
    Flash drains everybody out, and it's no different for animals, plus some scaredy pets will be frightened by bright flashes. Try to take your pictures during the day, either outside or next to a big window, where you can take advantage of natural light. 

    2. Go down to their level
    It makes a big difference to your photos if you lower your camera to your pet's eye level. Hedgehogs are spiky balls from above, but have super fluffy bellies and the tiniest of feet, that you can only see from below. With big pets, don't be afraid to crouch or lie on the floor, and with little pets, just put them on a table or shelf to make your life easier.


    3. Adjust your camera settings
    Most pets are probably braver than Soba, but to my baby hedgehog, the sound of the camera lens shutting is the most TERRIFYING noise in the world. To stop him freaking out and balling up at every photo, I had to adjust my settings, so the shutter speed was faster, and all camera noises were turned off. Burst mode (where your camera takes a continous set of photos for as long as you hold down the button) is also really good for capturing speedy pets! 

    4. Be creative with settings and props 
    Mix it up! Give your pet some things to play with or interact with during your photoshoot, and change your backgrounds - take your pet outside or to different spots in your house, or use fabrics to create different backgrounds for small pet photos. 


    5. Show their personality
    Soba's main love in life is food, and licking anything he can get his paws on, so I love this stupidly cheeky photo of him licking his lips and looking at a mealworm! Think about your pet's personality, or little quirks, and how you can capture that moment. 

    6. Make sure they are comfortable
    Animals will be happier if they've been exercised, fed, watered, and aren't made to pose for too long. Hedgehogs are naturally nocturnal creatures, so whenever I wake Soba up during the day, he's pretty sleepy and grumpy for the first ten minutes, but after he's been to his litter tray and had a bit of food, he's a lot friendlier and much more keen to explore. If I am waking him up, I don't keep him up for long, and I make sure he's got a sleeping bag nearby to crawl into, if he wants. 


     7. Show interesting details 
    Close up shots are really interesting, and easy to do, whether you're using a 'proper' camera or a smartphone. Pick out details that you might miss in a full-body shot (like Soba's massive ears!) and make that the focus of your photo. 

    8. Bribe them with treats 
    Even the most stubborn pet can be won over by food. Soba will not answer his name or do anything on cue, but he will follow the scent of a mealworm anywhere. Holding up treats as you take photos, is also a good way to get their attention, so they don't wander off.


    9. Be patient
    Whether you've got a pet that's well-trained, or a pet that's impossible to train (hi hedgehogs!), you've got to be relaxed and very patient. Your pet will pick up your vibe if you're frustrated, and it's not their fault - they don't know what you're doing! It's meant to be fun, so don't stress, and don't take it too seriously.

    10. Know when to stop
    And with that said, it's always good to stop a little bit early, rather than pushing on and winding you and your pet up. If you've got a perfect picture in mind, but you just can't get the angle, reward your pet for being a good sport, and try again another day.

    Friday, 19 June 2015

    HAPPY THOUGHTS

    It's time for a happy thoughts update! Here are the things that are making me smile...

    1. Summer meadow flowers

    blossoming gifts bouquet

    I was sent this absolutely beautiful bunch from the very kind people at Blossoming Gifts online flowers, and I love it! It's their summer meadow bouquet which contains blue veronica, lilac eustoma, avalanche roses and daisy-like tanacetum single vegmo... I'm not great with flower names, but I know these ones were just gorgeous.

    I feel like I'm always banging on about how much I love fresh flowers, but it's so true - they just make such a difference to your home, and as vices go, I reckon a flower addiction ain't too bad. I particularly like the look of the under £20 cheap flowers range - how cute is this cinder rose bouquet?

    If you fancy getting yourself a flower delivery, then you can also get 33% off at Blossoming Gifts, with the discount code BGIFT33.

    2. I ran my first 10k!



    I DID IT! I can't quite believe that I did it, but I completed my Race for Life and it didn't kill me. In fact, I actually even had quite a nice time - what has happened to me?!

    I ran for the first time just over three months ago, and it was exhausting trying to keep going for just one minute. Since then I've tried to run three times a week (although realistically, at points it was only once a week), and somehow, bit by bit, I've turned into a runner who can do a 10k race in 67 minutes - slow by most runner standards, but an achievement I'm so chuffed with.

    When I crossed the starting line and was immediately confronted by a massive hill, I was filled with FEAR (because running up hills is the worst), and it took me a while to settle into my pace. But when I did, it suddenly felt quite easy, and running the last two k was really fun - my parents and Joshua had come out to support me, everyone was cheering, and I got loads of high fives.

    Now I'm looking for another 10k to sign up for later in the year, as I really want to keep up running, but I know I need a race to give me the fear to actually go out and do it!

    3. I'm going on holiday


    Photo: Fairytale photos of Croatia
    I'm so excited! This weekend I fly off to adventure on Croatia, and I can't wait. We're staying on the island of Hvar in an apartment with steps down to the sea (amazing!), then going to Split for a couple of days, to explore Diocletian's Palace, and channel my inner Daenerys Targaryen at Game of Thrones locations.

    I've never been to Croatia before, and I am in desperate need of a sunny adventure, so bring it on!

    Wednesday, 17 June 2015

    THE GRACEKEEPERS

    Behindcurtains, North and her bear waited. Their cue wouldn't come for a while yet. The air back here was still chilly, though the smell of sweat and soil was getting stronger. North never felt comfortable with her feet touching land. She didn't trust its steadiness, its refusal to move or change in the honest way of the sea. The landlockers hadn't given the circus much room on their island—it was small, north-west, not a capital—and behindcurtains was a narrow space.
    I picked up The Gracekeepers on a total whim, after the beautiful cover caught my eye. I hadn't heard of the book or the author before (although, as the world is such a tiny place, it turns out she's a friend of a friend), but it looked to be so perfectly my type of book, that I couldn't walk by and leave it behind.

    The Gracekeepers tells the tale of a future world flooded by the sea (think Waterworld, but without Kevin Costner prancing around). Callanish is a gracekeeper, who lives alone with only tiny birds for company, looking after funerals for people who die at sea. North is a circus performer who lives with her bear, within a choatic floating troupe of acrobats, clowns, dancers and horses. Their paths cross, their lives change, and you, the reader, are spell-bound by every step.

    I absolutely raced through this book - I had to remind myself to take breaks, just so I could enjoy it for longer! The author has created a world that is heart-breaking and beautiful, and just feels so real - even in it's most fantastical moments, it feels genuine and true. It's part myth, part fairy tale, and a little bit apocalyptic, and it talks about love and identity and gender and loss, but never in a heavy-handed way. It just presents these honest, brilliant characters that are fighting to be true to themselves, and sweeps you along on the ride.

    A brilliant, brilliant book. Read this if you're looking for something to lose yourself in.

    Monday, 15 June 2015

    A TRIP TO YORK

    A couple of months ago, Josh and I went on a fairly impromptu trip to York. I've not actually seen much of England outside London, so it was nice to play tourist for a couple of days. It only takes a couple of hours on the train from Edinburgh, so after a fairly stressful week at work (we went just before the Festival started!) I packed my bags and headed off on a sunny day.

    Here's what we got up to...

    york holiday recommendations

    WHERE WE STAYED...

    york holiday recommendations

    I'd been invited to stay with a well-known hotel chain (hence the impromptu trip), so I confirmed everything, booked my (non-refundable!) train tickets and time off work. Then it turned out just a few days before we went (!) that we couldn't actually get booked into a York hotel. And everywhere in York was booked. And expensive. Like the non-refundable train tickets I had booked. Thanks PR!

    So, after a fairly stressful day of trying to work out what to do, we decided to reclaim our holiday from being just a blogging trip, and booked a room at the very beautiful Hotel du Vin. This hotel was gorgeous - it's tucked away just down from the walls of the city, in a Grade II-listed mansion house.

    My favourite bit was the absolutely massive bath - I even took some lush bathbombs for the occasion (I don't have a bath in my flat, so this was a total treat). It was expensive (particularly as I had not budgeted for a holiday, aaaargh), but it was an absolutely lovely place to stay and I'd definitely recommend it if you are feeling flush!

    WHAT WE DID...

    york holiday recommendations

    York is a beautiful city, so it was nice just to wander around its cobbled streets. We made a beeline straight for The Shamble, Europe's best preserved Medieval street, which is lined with 15th century buildings that lean over and almost touch in the middle. We also explored around the walls of the city (which has such nice views!) and took a look at York Castle and York Minster (although were too cheap to actually pay to enter them!

    We did pay to go to the Jorvik Viking Centre, which is built on the site of the Viking-age city, Jorvik, and packed full of cool archaeology things (and a fairly hilarious/terrifying animatronic ride through a Viking village), and to visit the Treasurer's House, a house very close to York Minster with a 2,000 year history. The owner (a rich bachelor with an eye for pretty things) packed it with the most amazing antique furniture, ceramics and art, then gave it up to the National Trust, who have looked after it ever since. He has a mirror that is held up by a GIANT GOLD EAGLE. Definitely worth a visit!

    Finally, we went to the (free!) National Railway Museum to look at giant trains. I wouldn't say I was the most enthusiastic person about rail transport, but it was actually really fascinating, and we got to have drinks in a fancy 19th century railway carriage, and watch a massive train spin round.

    WHAT WE ATE...

    york holiday recommendations food drink

    If I'm honest, the majority of our trip revolved around food and drink. My favourite place was the House of Trembling Madness, an incredibly atmospheric medieval bar with stuffed animal heads lining the walls. It's in the Shambles and could easily be missed - you enter through a shop that is packed with different types of beer, wine and spirits, and go up a tiny set of stairs. We ordered Shambles sausages and mash and a platter board, and it was cheap and tasty.

    York is full of amazing-looking restaurants, but they were all booked in advance! If you're planning a trip, it's definitely worth getting yourself a reservation early... I reckon we had to phone about six places before we booked in for dinner at the Walmgate Ale House, which was nice traditional food, but nothing particularly special. We lucked out with an amazing brunch at a traditional cafe near York Minster (I'm pretty sure it was Betty's Tea Rooms), and found loads of nice little pubs to stop at for a sunny beer garden pint or a Sunday roast.

    And that was York! The accommodation was pricey (but so good), and there were more loud students than I expected, but it's a beautiful place and well worth a weekend visit. Now I think Brighton's next on my list... I want to see the Pier!

    Wednesday, 10 June 2015

    DINOSAUR WISHLIST

    I was seven when the first Jurassic Park film came out, and I remember it being the most exciting thing in the world. I was on holiday in Orlando with my family, so we got to watch it in America a month before it was released in the UK, and I was TERRIFIED of the raptors, but I absolutely loved it. Since then I've been to the theme park, read all of the books, visited the valley where it was filmed in Hawaii (and hid behind this log!), and studied archaeology for two years at uni. I'm a bit of a dinosaur fan.

    Now, twenty-two years after the first film came out (whaaat), I am still that excitable kid. I've already prebooked my tickets for Jurassic World, and my hopes are high!

    Turns out I'm also not the only one with a dinosaur obsession - the shops are full of lovely dino things. Here's a few items I have my eye on (or own already!). How amazing is that dino holographic clutch?!

    dinosaur wishlist blogger clutch necklace

    Top row

    Middle row

    Bottom row

    Here's hoping that the film isn't terrible...

    Monday, 8 June 2015

    THE MAGNUM, EDINBURGH

    The Magnum is a beautiful little place tucked on the corner of Albany Street in Edinburgh, just down from the busy thoroughfare of Princes St. Part restaurant and part bar, it's super cosy, feels suitably Scottish, but manages to find a happy balance and not be too twee or intimidating.

    I've been here for drinks a few times before, but had never had the chance to try their food, so I was delighted to be invited along to sample the menu.

    magnum edinburgh dining scallops black pudding
    Scallops and black pudding
    The Magnum works with local producers, so the menu changes daily to guarantee the freshest and finest Scottish dishes, served with a creative twist. To start, I couldn't resist the scallops and black pudding - the flavours worked really well together, and the scallops were melt-in-your-mouth perfect! 

    The Magnum Edinburgh prosciutto
    Crisp prosciutto salad
    Joshua went for a crisp prosciutto salad that came with a savoury panna cotta (I wish I had written down the name of the dish, but the ever-changing menus means it's escaped my memory - bad blogger!). Had my starter not been so tasty, I'd have been pretty jealous of this - it was an unusual but super tasty take on a traditional dish. 

    The Magnum Edinburgh lamb chops wild garlic
    Lamp chops











    For my main I had lamb - beautifully cooked chops with a wild garlic and pine nut crust, served with tarragon gnocchi and broccoli. I could happily eat this every night and not get sick of it, the lamb was tender and the gnocchi was totally moreish!

    Josh had seared duck breast, which was served with mushrooms, shallots, broad beans and smoked bacon lardons - it was a fairly massive portion, which meant we were both happy to share!

    The Magnum Edinburgh chocolate trio
    Chocolate trio
    By the end of the meal we were both stuffed with good food and good wine (The Magnum also has a pretty excellent wine list), but we had to try out the puddings to see if they lived up to the rest of the menu! 

    Josh went for the plum tarte tatin, topped with clotted cream, and I tried to slog my way through the chocolate trio of crème brûlée, chocolate brownie and chocolate sorbet. My god. I was definitely defeated, but felt like I could die happy. 

    The Magnum Edinburgh
    The Magnum - book online here
    Service was relaxed and friendly, and we spent a few happy hours here, sitting in the twinkling glow of the fairy lights that line each window. The food's also not as expensive as it looks - three courses cost between £25 - £35, which is super reasonable, given how good quality it is. 

    If you're visiting Edinburgh, then this is the perfect place to try out some Scottish food that is traditional with a twist (plus they have haggis on the menu, if you really want to tick some Scottish boxes!). It also would be a perfect parent dining spot - fancy enough to impress, but kind on your wallet!

    Wednesday, 3 June 2015

    MAY CATCH UP

    I can't believe another month has been and gone, what happened to May? Here's what last month looked like for me...

    lifestyle blogger instagram
    Instagram username: @eversojuliet
    1. I started the month with a really fun cocktail party with a few of my nearest and dearest. It was really fun (if a bit surreal to have a professional bartender in my house!), and exactly what I needed after the madness of April.

    2. You've hopefully had a chance to read up about Soba, my pet hedgehog! Most of my spare time is now spent gazing at how adorable he is (SO adorable), even if he continues to be pretty grumpy!

    3. My clever pal Sian launched Book Club for Drunks at Edinburgh's Paradise Palms, a proper book club held on the third Tuesday of each month, where you chat novels and drink along with the book (what a good combination). I crashed the first meeting, and got to feel like I was in uni again, where I tried to talk intelligently about a book I hadn't read. It was lots of fun though!

    4. Edinburgh's pop-up art festival, Hidden Door, appeared in May, taking over an abandoned section of the city and filling it with art, theatre, music, and cinema for the week. I had such a lovely time exploring this year's festival, and my favourite part was this piece - beautiful rainbow paper planes.

    5. My pal Niki & I also had our portrait sketched by a pencil artist (which I loved, even though I was wearing the world's most boring outfit).

    6. I was treated to the most amazing afternoon tea at the newly renovated Colonnades at the Signet Library (which opens tomorrow to the public!). This was just the most delightful food in a beautiful place - I will blog about this properly very soon!

    7. The 69th Edinburgh International Film Festival launched their programme and it looks a bit exciting (you can watch their festival trailer here!). I'm currently working my way through what they have on, highlighter in hand, and I'll share my picks soon.

    8. My mane was getting a bit unruly, so I went back to Dean Jones for a chop and to get my ends lightened up, and I feel so much better. I love my hairdresser - they are great at doing exactly what I want, and they leave me in peace to read my book when I'm there. Perfect!

    9. Edinburgh is still temperamental, as always (Scottish summers can't be trusted), but I still love my city, and I love my neighbourhood. This spot is about two minutes from my flat. I walk by it every day, and it makes me so happy on sunny mornings.

    10. I can't resist beautiful stationery, and this journal from Anthropologie was no exception (even if it was FAR TOO PRICEY for a notebook). But I couldn't resist! It was in my favourite colour and everything!

    11. It's been absolutely ages since I blogged about what books I'm reading, but I'm thinking about starting it up again. I've just finished The Beautiful Land and I really enjoyed it - it's an end of the world dystopian sci-fi thriller, with a lot of angst, and a lot of love.

    12. Aaaand my most exciting achievement this month - I'm still running! I'm not sure how I managed it, but I ran 9k (!!!) last week, which feels like such a huge achievement, considering two months ago I couldn't run more than two minutes at a stretch without getting winded. My 10k race is in a week and a half and I still feel nervous, but I also feel strong. It's exciting!

    Monday, 1 June 2015

    OUTFIT: SUNSHINE & FLOWERS

    I was thinking the other day about how much I love reading outfit posts. Not high fashion styled-completely-out-of-my-league outfit posts, but normal people wearing pretty clothes that don't look TOO scary to try and style (I particularly love Wardrobe ConversationsA Rosie Outlook and Miss West End Girl for this kind of post!).

    So I'm going to try and up my meagre efforts at my own outfit posts, and start sharing what I'm wearing a little more regularly.

    h&m flower crown floral skirt lifestyle blogger
    Top - H&M
    Skirt - H&M
    Floral crowns (I only wore one, promise!) - Crown & Glory
    Necklace - H&M
    Last week I was treated to a blogger morning at Spa in the City (more about that here!), and as it was held in one of Edinburgh's parks, it felt like a good excuse to wear a flowery outfit.

    I didn't intentionally pick an all-H&M outfit, but I am really loving their stuff at the moment! There's an H&M about five minutes from my office, which it means I pass it every lunchtime, and it's just too good to resist. This top is from their basics range (so was only £6!) and it is great - the cropped sleeves are perfect for sunny but breezy days.

    h&m flower crown floral skirt lifestyle blogger
    Floral headband - Crown & Glory
    Shoes - New Look
    I'm quite curvy, so I'm a fan of outfit silhouettes like this, that nip in at the waist and kick out to a skater skirt shape. I also seem to be OBSESSED with turquoise, I don't mean to, but practically everything I've bought recently has been in the same shade (I'm also wearing turquoise nail polish with this outfit). At least it makes colour coordinating easy! 

    h&m flower crown floral skirt lifestyle blogger

    Now I just need to learn how to get my photo taken in public without nervously freezing in an awkward grin... will I ever be cool? (Thanks to Amy from Scotcampus for taking my photos!).
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