DIY | To Be Read Jar

To Be Read Jar

I first saw the idea of a To Be Read jar on Erin’s blog E-Elise and thought it was a really good idea. Recently the fabulous Becky Bedbug and Vivatramp did their own versions which motivated me to get in on the TBR action. I’ve been much better at reading recently and I have built quite the collection to books to read, but I do often struggle to pick. The TBR jar makes it super simple – write each book on a slip of paper, stick them in the jar, pull one out, and read the damn book.

I decided to decorate a spare, small preserving jar with some illustrations cut out from Company magazine.

To Be Read Jar To Be Read Jar

Not the most complicated craft – just get some craft PVA and glue the paper directly on to the jar. With stuff like this I always apply a layer of PVA over the top too as it dries clear but protects the image and just makes it much more secure. I also stuck some washi tape on the lid with “To Be Read” written on it, y’know, in case I forget what it’s for.

To Be Read Jar To Be Read Jar To Be Read Jar

I think it looks pretty good. I have about 30 books in it so I’m setting myself a key rule:

I’m allowed to put a book back into the jar if I really don’t want to read it, but only twice. After that, it’s put into the donation pile for my local charity shop. No hoarding!

To Be Read Jar

Right, I’m off to read The Deaths.

What have you been reading recently? I’d love some book recommendations – there’s always more room in the jar!

Eat Drink Discover Scotland 2014

Eat Drink Discover Scotland

One thing I think we can all agree on is that Scotland has some pretty awesome food. Forget about your stereotypes of deep fried Mars Bars and Irn Bru (forgive me Bru, I love you really), Eat Drink Discover Scotland showcases Scottish cuisine at its best, it’s freshest and it’s most creative. For me and David, it was a chance to treat ourselves so we headed along to the Royal Highland Centre last Sunday with empty bellies and full wallets, planning to reverse this sharpish.

Eat Drink Discover ScotlandEat Drink Discover Scotland Eat Drink Discover Scotland

The exhibition hall was divided in geographical regions, from Orkney to the Borders, with a bonus island of “Chocolate Zone” as well as a couple of stages with chefs demonstrating recipes, an education area, and a masterclass area. We didn’t sign up for any masterclasses, but we did enjoy wandering through the stall, listening in to some of the presentations and chatting to the exhibitors. Between trying samples and filling our shopping bags we also stopped for a buffalo burger from The Buffalo Farm in Fife and a scoop of my favourite honeycomb ice cream from Mackies from the Grampian area.

Wanna see what we bought?

Eat Drink Discover Scotland haul

Predictably it includes chocolate, cheese and cake.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

This caramel shortcake cheesecake from the Handmade Cheesecake Company in Ayr is without a doubt, the best cheesecake I have ever eaten in my life. The BEST. EVER. IN MY WHOLE LIFE. Really. It was perfect. And that caramel sauce – oh holy hell, that was beyond perfect. It was dream-like. Luckily for us, they deliver nationwide. Who will send me a profiterole cheesecake for my birthday? Profiteroles! On a cheesecake! I need it!!

Eat Drink Discover Scotland hau

OK. I’ve calmed down now. But only slightly, because Mackies is making chocolate now! They had a wee deal so I got all four flavours. I would say that the traditional milk chocolate one is not that special but the rest are amazing, especially the dark and the mint. I can see the mint bar being a regular addition to my shopping basket.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

To Orkney and obviously I had to try some cheese and oatcakes. I can’t get enough smoked cheese in my life so we picked up some from The Island Smokery. Very nice indeed! But you can’t eat cheese by itself so we also purchased some rough oatcakes from Stockans and for a fancy addition, some pate from Castle MacLellan all the way over in Dumfries and Galloway.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

Over in the Edinburgh section, David was drawn to these little sachets from Flavour Magic. The Chilli and the Smoked packets are flavour infused rock salt for jazzing up your cooking and they pack a lot of flavour in there. We’ve had the smoked rock salt on steak last week and it was lush! The Togarashi is a Japanese spice blend that is wonderfully complex and unique. Both the Togarashi and the Chilli have an intense afterburn! Great for spice lovers as the heat hits you after the flavour has a chance to build, so the flavour is not overpowered – very impressive.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

From Perthshire we got these absolutely delicious oils and dressings. It was a mix and match selection so we got a cold pressed rapeseed oil and two dressings – chilli and red pepper and apple and walnut. These are seriously good! I’ve been having the chilli dressing drizzled over spaghetti for a super quick dinner and it’s just lovely.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

Lastly I got some coconut ice from Handmade Tempting Treats in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs area. Love coconut ice. Yum yum yum yum yum.

Didn’t we get a good selection? I was also tempted by the Edinburgh Gin stall, the cider and alll the meat, but I had to control myself. Overall, it was a great day out. Buy local! It’s good.

One Scotland

Scotland

I’ve debated with myself whether it’s appropriate to share my thoughts on the Referendum here or not and so far I haven’t. But while I don’t want to get into an argument I do want to reflect on the past few days.

In the early hours of Friday 19th, Scotland changed forever, and sadly, if the past couple of days are anything to go by, not for the better. I’m not talking about the actual outcome, but the divisions that have sprung up. People arguing about who is and isn’t a “true Scot”, the rhetoric of calling people “the 45″ or “the 55″ (the latter usually prefaced by “cowardly”), even going so far as insinuating that people over a certain age should lose their vote. Worst of all, perpetuating the hatred by sharing unverified stories and rumours, particularly on Friday night when a very small group of (let’s be honest here) pissed up hooligans kicked off in Glasgow. Sharing these stories and saying “I’m not saying all no voters are like this but…” has all the sincerity of the phrase “I’m not racist but [insert racist comment here]“. I even saw one post where someone compared George Square to Tiananmen Square. I can’t even begin to get into how illogical and offensive that is.

This is still a time when we can demand great change. We have not lost anything here. We can embrace the new challenges we face, or we can get sucked into in-fighting and bitterness. I know which I’d prefer. Simply by having this referendum, we’ve inspired the rest of the UK (and the world) to expect better from their government. To the people saying that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I say that this is simply not true. We haven’t given up any rights here and I don’t believe that even with new leadership the SNP will drop the policy of independence. In fact we should remember that we are extremely fortunate that we can vote, so fortunate that many people don’t even bother. So let’s keep this momentum for change going and turnout in our millions. Can you imagine the upset if the SNP, or another party can convert this week’s result into actual support? As the three main political parties in the UK merge into each other, we can shore up the left-leaning, progressive alternative so desperately needed by the whole of the UK.

We are one Scotland for a’ that.

See you at the polling stations on May 7th.

My Little Box | My Little Parisienne Box

My Little Parisienne Box

So you may have heard the exciting news about a new subscription box on the scene. This one has a French accent, shipping over from Paris with the trademark , effortless je nais se quoi the ladies of France possess. My Little Box offers beauty and lifestyle treats, delivered monthly to your door for £14.95 including postage. Each month is themed and in France past boxes have included “My Little Party Box”, “My Little Weekend Box” and even “My Little London Box”. For the UK launch, the theme was, appropriately enough, “My Little Parisienne Box”.

My Little Parisienne Box My Little Parisienne Box

The outer box opened to reveal a quote from Ms Hepburn, a very nice touch I thought. The box itself reveals the theme. Daytime, Parisienne chic. Perfect.

My Little Parisienne Box

If you’re a fan of quality wrapping and presentation then you’re sure to love the attention to the finishing touches with My Little Box. Everything from the ribbon to the order of the goods in the box is thought out carefully to elicit delight in the lucky recipient. I’ll show you what I got in the box in the order in which I saw them.

My Little Parisienne Box

A lovely A5 art card by the company’s resident illustrator and a quote from the author Maureen Johnson. I love things like this and regularly change the cards I have on display in my room so this will go into the rotation.

My Little Parisienne Box

Some Paris themed stickers to brighten up a notebook, mirror, or whatever you fancy. I love the Metro sign and the Eiffel Tower, reminds me of my trip to Paris last March.

My Little Parisienne Box

The next item was an A5 notebook with blank pages and an elastic closing. The first few pages also told the story of My Little Box.

My Little Parisienne Box My Little Parisienne Box

I thought that this was a really lovely addition to the very first UK box and it’s lovely that it is incorporated into one of the items instead of a throwaway leaflet.

My Little Parisienne Box My Little Parisienne Box My Little Parisienne Box

The next item is a padded tablet case. This is actually perfect for me as I can slip my Nexus in one side and my Kindle in the other and fold it in half. I’ll be doing quite a bit of travelling over the next year so this will come in really handy.

My Little Parisienne Box

Lastly, a drawstring bag. It can only be one thing… the beauty products!

My Little Parisienne Box

Every box will contain one item from the companies own range. This time it is a full size illuminating highlighter pen. I’m happy with this as I don’t actually have one at the moment. I can’t report on the quality as I haven’t tried it yet, but I will report back. There is also a deluxe sample (30ml) of the Laura Mercier foundation primer which I have used before and love. This size will last me ages so again, very happy. Finally a sample of Nuxe multi-purpose dry oil. This is a dinky 10ml bottle, but I imagine that a little will go a long way. It smells really good and I’m looking forward to giving it a whirl. I love that they’ve chosen a French skin care brand that they know us UK girls will go crazy over.

My Little Parisienne Box

Overall, I’m really impressed with this box. My Little Box clearly has a very strong brand identity which I think greatly contributes to the success of the box. They are able to pick a theme and a couple of beauty products which complement their style, creating a sense of cohesion that is often missing from other subscription boxes.

I want to see what the next few boxes are like, but I will definitely be considering becoming a long term subscriber.

Are you tempted by My Little Box?

 

Eats | The Huxley

The Huxley Edinburgh

Located at the west end of Princes St, The Huxley is a bar that I’ve always passed but never gone in. Well no more! Last week, on a bit of a rainy day, me and David popped in on the hunt for burgers and cocktails – as we always are!

The Huxley Edinburgh

The menu is not massively extensive, but it certainly doesn’t disappoint. The Huxley is known for it’s burgers and especially for it’s hotdogs. On this occasion though, we both went for a steak burger.

The Huxley Edinburgh

Oh. My. Word! This is the Piggy burger – a steak mince burger with pulled pork, maple glazed bacon and pork scratching crumbs. Truly, a big dirty, greasy burger. It really hit the spot. Recently I’ve been big on pulled pork and this one easily measured up against all the rest. I enjoyed the sweetness of the bacon but mostly I loved the crunch that the pork scratching added, the first time I’ve had this on a burger. This mountain of food was only £8.50, cheaper than we were expecting but with no compromise on quality.

The Huxley Edinburgh

For drinks we went all out. I started with a Kentucky Threesome – Makers Mark bourbon, mint and sweet cherry. I actually didn’t enjoy it, the cherry was over-powered by a oddly strong orange peel so it wasn’t what I expected. I followed this up with the far more successful Cool Rummings which was a blend of rum, tropical juice and garnished with sweet passion fruit. David started with a classic Innis & Gunn swiftly followed by a Grape Gatsby martini with elderflower and Absolut Kurrant which went down far too easily.

Gourmet burgers are very much in vogue at the moment with more and more burger joints popping up in Edinburgh. The Huxley more than holds it’s own against the newbies. It’s a trendy atmosphere with very reasonable prices, and comfortable surroundings. I loved the burger but the next time I go back I’ll definitely be hitting up the hotdog options – chilli cheese dog, get in ma belly!

Where is your favourite burger joint? I wanna try them all!

Barry M Gellys | New Autumn Shades

Barry M Gelly Nail Polish Autumn Shades

Well hellooo autumn! The season of cosy knits, fallen leaves and pumpkin lattes. Aaannd the new Barry M Gelly nail polish shades. Six new shades were launched: a grey, red with a brownish tone and a chocolate brown as well as the three I have above. I think this collection perfectly captures the autumn season, I’m so impressed.

Barry M Gelly Nail Polish Autumn Shades

This is ‘Cardamom’. It’s a muted, forest green and is just lovely. I don’t have anything like it in my collection (OK, maybe OPI’s ‘Mermaid’s Tear’ is the closest, but this is definitely darker).

Barry M Gelly Nail Polish Autumn Shades

Next up is ‘Paprika’. From other pictures I had thought that this would be more orange but it’s more of a orangey brown. I think that it’s surprisingly flattering on my skintone.

Barry M Gelly Nail Polish Autumn Shades

Lastly, my favourite of the bunch: ‘Mustard’. It’s a “what it says on the tin” kind of shade – straight up mustard. I’m so glad that they have finally done a yellow Gelly, more please, Barry!

The formula on all these is great. I did two thin coats as that’s my habit, but one thick coat would self level and be opaque. The finish is shiny as you would expect and lasts a good few days with a base coat.  They are £3.99 each and on 3 for 2 in Superdrug now – go, go, go!

In Other News | September

What’s been happening | what’s the plan | and all that other shizz

I never really know what to do with Sunday style posts so trying something different for a bit. “In Other News” will be mostly monthly and cover anything from events I’ve been to, what I’m looking forward to, links I’ve been loving, wishlist type stuff. All kinds of things really. A bit like a diary.

Edinburgh Bloggers event

First, an event from last month. Edinburgh Bloggers is a newly formed group on Facebook and blog which aims to create a network for bloggers in this fine city. Recently they held an event at The Rosehip. It was a really nice afternoon with cupcakes, a chance to meet other bloggers and a raffle that raised money for McMillan. If you are a blogger in Edinburgh (of any genre) do come and join the group here.

Made from Scotland

If you’re a fan of Scottish designers and producers then you ‘ll be interested in the pop-up shop from Made From Scotland, situated on Rose Street for the next two months. Selling a range of items, from homewares to fashion, it sells a huge variety with a mix of traditional materials and designs to modern reinventions and pop culture references. I particularly like the stationery from Gillian Kyle, the fun prints from The Grey Earl and of course, the tweed bunting by Couthie.

I went along to the launch evening and met up with some of the lovely bloggers I met at the tea party (see, you should totally join the group!). Afterwards, we headed along to the newly opened Cask & Still pub on Leith Walk. Typically, I was too preoccupied by whisky and pork pies to take photos but oh well. You’ll just have to take my word for it that it’s a place worth checking out. Whisky, craft beers and gin cocktails are the order of the day with a laid back but trendy atmosphere. Top.

Charity Shop

I’ve also been doing some volunteering at the Save the Children shop in Stockbridge. I’ve had a couple of shifts with the visual merchandising team and on the shop floor. I’ll be sharing more about this very soon, but let me know if you have any questions about volunteering, donating or anything else and I’ll do my best to answer them.

I’m excited about the rest of the month as I have a few things to look forward to such as Eat Drink Discover Scotland, Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival and Still Game Live. What else? Oh yeah, that small matter of the Referendum. I’m enjoying the debates – even if the BBC’s creeping bias is becoming cringe worthy. Yeah democracy! I’ll be holding my breath for the results next Friday that’s for sure.

What is September looking like for you? Hope it’s shaping up to be a good month.