Friday 29 July 2011

National Museum of Scotland

So, excitingly, on Wednesday night I got to go to the opening reception of the new National Museum of Scotland. The museum has been closed for three years, and they've spent £47 MILLION to restore the original interior, open up even more space and make it really lovely.

They have a T Rex!
You now enter from the ground floor and come up into the old entrance hall, which is just filled with light and is so open and pretty!
Every part has been done up - after the speeches, mingling and chatting (I love a bit of mingling and chatting) we made it to the animal room (my favourite!) and the space room (which had a Saltire that has been in space!).
I've been going to the museum since I was wee (including almost-weekly trips when I was a student, and discovered the joys of drawing in notebooks), so it was ace to get a sneak-peek of the new museum. Plus, they plied us with a LOT of wine, which made everything even more exciting.

The museum officially opened this morning with taiko drummers, glitter explosions and ACTUAL DINOSAURS in Chambers Street! Well, okay, robotic dinosaurs... but they looked real (and slightly scary). Go go go go go and visit.

p.s. apologies for the uneven quality of photos, they were all taken on Craig's phone (we forgot to take the camera) & he loves a spot of Hipstamatic!

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Zap! Pow! Zebra nails

I'm not going to lie, I am pretty proud of these nails. Definitely a new personal best!

Zebra stripes!
I've been going to the Wah Nails blog every now and again for inspiration (it was a spur of the moment trip to Wah Nails that kicked off my nail art attempts!), so when I saw these I did my very best to recreate them. I think I did quite a good job.

Pow! Zap!

I used a kirby grip for the polka dots, and the tip of my white nail art pen from Claire's to do the black stripes and lettering. I really need to buy some proper brushes or something, as I am just chucking away kirby grips (being too lazy to clean them). Bad.

The tips were done by hand, and are (reasonably) straight and even! They were REALLY easy to do - the only tricky thing was trying to write on my right thumb with a shaky left hand, but I got there in the end.

I am smug with nail success.

Monday 25 July 2011

Star Wars scarf

I'm meant to be saving up (trying to fund the -slightly- impulse holiday buy plus mortgage saving, ugh), but when I saw the latest scarf by Olivia Mew I couldn't resist. It has droids on it. DROIDS.

These are droids. They are cool.
& it came in a lovely parcel with a couple of sweet postcards...

The scarf!
AND the colours go really well with my hair. See? It was meant to be.

Pretty much the best $20-I shouldn't-be-spending-but-DID-spend-because-it's-a-star-wars-scarf.  It is available herealong with an amazing cat scarf (which I managed to resist, but may cave in post-pay day).  I feel like such a Jedi. 

Friday 22 July 2011

How to: twisted hair updo

I've been on a bit of a mission to learn new hairstyles for summer, so that I don't just stick my hair in a messy bun any time I can't be bothered to wear it down. So far it has gone quite well, and I've managed heidi braids, a french braid updo (I'm much better at this now!) and a hair scarf/mini beehive combo.

This week I tried this weird twisty updo thing and it is SUPER easy and I think it looks quite cool.

I found a step by step guide on a site called the Beauty Department (weirdly by Lauren Conrad - her from the Hills). Here's how they do it..

& here's my version...

Now, clearly mine is a lot (considerably) scruffier than Lauren's, but I've not mastered sleek locks yet. I also did this on quite mucky hair, which I think helped the twists stay in, but it would look sleeker on newly washed hair.  I also didn't start with wavy hair... who has time to style before they style? (Sleek haired people, I guess).

Excuse my knackered expression!

I really like it though! I think it's something that will obviously improve with practice (I had to try a couple of times before getting the initial bun/rest of hair ratio right), but for an 11pm attempt it is okay!

There are loads of events coming up, so I'm planning to try this again for my work festival party, and I will endeavour to get clearer photos (I am not good at lazy 11pm photography, sorry!).

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Roller derby at Edinburgh Fringe Festival!

This August Auld Reekie Roller Girls are putting on not one, but two Fringe bouts! First up, ARRG's Cannon Belles vs GRG's Maiden Grrders on August 6th. Last time these teams met GRG won, so COME ON ARRG!

Then ARRG's Twisted Thistles take on Stuttgart Valley Rollergirlz on August 20th. 

It's just the best sport ever. You get to shout and cheer and stamp your feet! Tickets are available here and are only FIVE POUNDS! Go go go, buy buy buy.

Monday 18 July 2011

Nautical nails

I am clearly becoming a little obsessed with stripes and anchors. I tried out a red version of this a few weeks ago, and fancied trying it in darker colours. Weirdly, navy doesn't seem that common a nail varnish (or maybe I just shop in the wrong places), but I finally found it & painted the above. It is SO easy to do, and looks nice and summery and sailor-like.

I thought this was maybe a more work-appropriate nail varnish than, say, pandas, & mentioned this to a colleague, who just went - "what, because you are a sailor?!". Er, well, I see his point.

Anyway, it's really easy to do if you fancied joining the sailor club. I used a white nail art pen from Claire's to do the stripes and the anchor, then added the red. It's pretty important to use a white base on a dark background, otherwise you won't see the red at all, it'll just disappear into the blue. I'd like to point out that the above photo is of my right hand (i.e. painted with the left) and is practically (for me) smudge-free. I am proud.

Thursday 14 July 2011

Cub cake

Today it was my very good friend Adam's last day at work (sob! boo! etc), so as a wee leaving present I baked him a cake. The man likes cake.

He gets nicknamed Cub, so  I made a very manly vanilla sponge with a fondant bear and a mini bunting banner.
I used this recipe (as it is lovely and easy), iced it with buttercream and then lined the sides with giant milkybar buttons. Mmm.
I made the bear by mixing green and red fondant (bought from sainsburys), and piping his wee face and paws with chocolate. There is a skewer running through the bear to keep his head on (and luckily I remembered to warn everyone before someone tried to eat it one go!).
The bunting was really simple to do, but finished off the cake perfectly. I started by downloading letters from this lovely blog, playing about with the colours in print until they looked good together, and changing the size until I was happy that they wouldn't overwhelm the cake. I used bbq skewers and string to hold it all up. Easy!

It is SUCH an easy cake to do as you don't have to worry about making the buttercream neat - the giant buttons cover everything up nicely. & most importantly, it went down well!

Monday 11 July 2011

T in the Park

T in the Park! It was brilliant. Even the bus up to Balado was fun. 

Sunshine, mustache pints, N Dubz (with thrones), Ke$ha (so awful, but funny), the Saturdays, Three Blind Wolves, Jimmy Eat World (brilliant), Scottish Opera (unexpected!), Beyonce (amazing), Professor Green, the Pretty Reckless (.. oh dear), Blondie (was bored), Weezer (ace!), Pulp, Tinie Tempah (brilliant crowd) and Foo Fighters. Phew. We watched more pop than planned, but had an amazing time.

& the sun even came out! 

Before we got completely sun burnt (we are Scottish)
Rivers in a very fetching T poncho

Mustache pints!

Chilling in the pod garden
Bin bag chic
I'm absolutely knackered today, but it was totally worth it. Well done T! 

& I promise I'm not going to become a gif addict, but here's Rae, Charlotte & me doing our best Beyonce Single Ladies dance. SO MUCH FUN!

Friday 8 July 2011

How to: bake the easiest cupcakes in the world

Here are the easiest cupcakes in the world. I've not baked in ages, but I wanted to make a wee treat for my team at work as we've done so well lately & have been hitting targets like pros (well done team!). So I made some. This is how you do it.

First, oven on! Turn it up to 150 degrees. Sensible people preheat their ovens. I can't be bothered, and assume it'll be fine by the time the cake mix is ready. Now! Get your ingredients. You'll need the following:
  • 150g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 175g self raising flour
  • Bit of vanilla essence
Bung the butter and sugar into a bowl/your lovely food processor. It helps if the butter is softish at this point (i.e you can poke it easily, but it isn't runny). You want to mix the butter & sugar to a really lovely smooth consistency. 
Add the eggs and flour. I don't ever bother to sieve flour, life is too short! Just stick it all in and mix together.
You want to mix it so it is smooth without massive lumps, but not so runny that you've knocked all the air out of it. See how it is ever so slowly sliding off the spoon above? That's a nice consistency to aim for. 
Once it's mixed, spoon it into baking cases as soon as you can. You want to aim to fill the cases between 1/2 - 2/3s full, just try and keep them even. This recipe makes about 15 normal cupcakes (or 12 massive muffin style cupcakes if you can't be bothered using two trays!). 

Depending on your oven, the cakes should take about 15 - 18 minutes to make. DO NOT OPEN YOUR OVEN DURING THIS TIME. Opening your oven too early is declaring to your cakes that you do not love them, and they should sink in sadness (they will). Cold air is a rising cupcake's enemy. You have been warned. 

Once 15 minutes have passed, start looking (through the closed oven door!) to judge the colour of your cakes. If they are starting to look golden, then (and only then) can you open the oven and try one of these tests to see if they are ready.

1 - Poking
When you poke it (gently) does it rise back to the touch? Then it's probably ready. Does your finger leave an obvious dent? Back in the oven!

2 - Stabbing
Stick a sharp knife in your cake, and see what it looks like when it comes out. If the knife is clean, the cake is ready. If there's still a bit of gunk then it'll need another five minutes or so.

When you are happy that your cakes are baked through, pop them on a baking rack to cool down and leave them alone for around 30 minutes before thinking of decorating them. If you try to ice a cake too early and it's still hot then the icing will melt and not look pretty. Go have a cup of tea or something. 

Okay! When they are almost cool, make your icing. I used the Best Buttercream Recipe in the World (2 parts icing sugar to 1 part butter) which makes lovely smooth icing. Number one tip for making buttercream - make sure that your butter is extremely soft! It'll make everything easier. When that's done, get a piping bag and start decorating!
Here's a really professional gif (haha, sorry!)
(By the way, if I can pipe with one hand whilst taking photos with the other, then ANYONE can neatly pipe buttercream!).

Cupcakes are lovely to decorate because you can do anything with them, and be as simple or creative as you'd like. I just put glitter on everything.

Tada! So there you have it! Cupcake success. Happy baking.

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Summer holidays

I'm in a much happier place this week! I FINALLY shook the dreaded cold (after infecting my poor co-workers, sorry!) and for the first time in about 10 days I can breathe normally. Phew.

Far more exciting news though, we booked a holiday today...  in October I'll be flying to Florida for two weeks! It was a bit of a mission finding a good deal - I've been completely spoiled as four years ago Craig & I went to Orlando and got an incredibly cheap but brilliant deal (five star resort, mini apartment with jacuzzi, just round the corner from Disney!). Nothing that compared was coming up, until I was at my lowest point last weekend (Saturday afternoon, sun blazing, stuck inside with lemsip, duvet & the laptop for company) and then I found the same resort hidden away on a discount site! Yeeeeeeehaw.

On holiday in 2007! I had SHORT BROWN HAIR. Eep.

So in 91 days (ha), we'll be jetting off to sunshine, theme parks (Harry Potter! Disney!), surfing, rodeos, beaches, malls.. oh, just Americaaaa. Cannot wait. 

Sunday 3 July 2011

Panda nails

Still ill. Still stuck inside. Still miserable. (wah).

Well, the only good thing that's come of moping about this weekend is having loads of free time to do useless things. Like paint panda bears on my nails. Er.  Of course. This is what they look like.

Left hand

Right hand

These are SUPER messy, but who cares? I'm ill. They are pandas. That's all you really need to know. 

They were actually really easy to do, if you fancy joining the bear revolution - just do stripey green nails (for bamboo), splodge on some white varnish where you'd like the wee faces to sit, and use a kirby grip to do the ears and eyes. Try not to paint your entire fingers (like I've done) and that's it! 

I feel like such a grown up.

Saturday 2 July 2011

Happy thoughts

It is a beautiful summer day, the sun is actually out in Scotland and I have a horrible EVIL cold keeping me indoors. So, to cheer myself up, here's a list of things that are making me happy at the moment!

1 - T in the Park

Nine Inch Nails in 2009 - so so SO good
One of the perks from working at a magazine are press tickets to T in the Park! I only just got confirmation that I can go and it's next weekend! Fingers crossed the weather stays sunny (and that my cold disappears!!). I've not had a chance to properly go through the line up, but at a glance I am most excited about the following: Jimmy Eat World, Fun Lovin Criminals, BEYONCE, Weezer and Bright Eyes.

Next week is sign-off at work (so mega busy and a bit stressful) so this is going to be a lovely treat at the end of a manic week!

2 - Holiday planning

Waiheke harbour, New Zealand
After last year's epic Hong Kong/New Zealand/Hawaii trip, Craig & I made a pact to not go on any holidays in 2011 to try and save some money. Well, we've made it to July and he has already been on TWO holidays (a cycling trip across Europe and a surf trip up North)! This has made me faaaar too jealous, so I've twisted his arm and we're thinking of going somewhere at the end of the year.

There is actually too much choice - it has to be sunny and (relatively) cheap, but other than that, we could go anywhere! I am struggling to choose, although I am doing my best to find a great deal to Orlando, just so that I have an excuse to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

3 -  Craig

I have been so moany and pathetic all week, and Craig has been an utter superstar - keeping me fuelled with lemsip and tea, making me dinner (and breakfast in bed), finding films for me to watch, and generally just being lovely. What a hero. 

p.s. I also like my new hairband.

Okay, I'm going back to hide under a duvet and feel sorry for myself.