Thursday, 23 June 2016

Edinburgh Events: Spa in the city 2nd & 3rd July

Spa in the City is one of our favourite events in Edinburgh and we can't wait to attend this year! It has a fresh new look via a gorgeous watercolour logo and a fabulous array of treatments available, as well as workshops, talks, activities, cocktails, tea, chocolate and frozen yoghurt!

St Andrews Square is to be transformed into an urban escape with a boho festival vibe and attendees are spoilt for choice with free treatments being offered, from brands at Harvey Nichols, John Lewis, Boots, Jenners, Debenhams and Superdrug as well as Toni & Guy, Neal's Yard Remedies and one of our favourites, Lush. There are also various events, workshops and masterclasses taking place in the Health and Beauty Heroes Marquee, including a summer make-up trends for 2016 masterclass from Jamie Genevieve and Beauty and Beyond: Panel Discussion (tickets here).

Mango Meets Mexico tequila cocktail at Element; makeovers by NYX

East India Company on George Street - tea and chocolate tastings

We had a sneak peek of what to expect at the Spa in the City bloggers event, held at Element bar and the East India Company. Element is a wee gem of a bar on Rose Street and are holding a cocktail masterclass at Spa in the City. Their cocktails are super delicious, with their signature cocktail - Edinburgh Rhubarb Rocks, laden with Edinburgh Gin and Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger liqueur - being particularly easy to drink. Their brunch bites were good too and there was a red lentil dahl that we couldn't get enough of, as well as french toast with berry compote. Yum! The East India Company has recently opened their Edinburgh branch on George Street and it is utter stunning. No expense spared in detail or design, their teas have a rich history and the variety is astounding. They will be holding tea and chocolate tastings over the weekend which we would thoroughly recommend.

There was also a little taste of the pampering sessions to come. A hand massage from Lush, using their beautifully scented massage bars, was blissfully relaxing and NYX were holding a mini-makeover session. They are newly stocked at Boots and their lipsticks are incredible.

It's being held on the weekend of 2nd and 3rd of July; if you love beauty and free stuff, clear your diary and head out there!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Creative Christmas Shopping & Crafting with Tiger

NOT BREAKING NEWS – Christmas is upon us! I think I spied my first mince pie back in August actually, so it’s been glittering quietly in the wings for a good while, but now it’s Officially Here, novelty reindeer antlers blazing. Being full-on Team Christmas, I am utterly delighted – and was even more so when the wonderful people at Scandiavian Santa’s grotto Tiger offered up a little shopping spree to kick the festive season off.

I wrote about Tiger as one of my top Christmas high street shops a couple of years ago, and in that time my love affair really hasn’t waned. For anyone not familiar, Tiger is a sort of Danish equivalent of a Japanese Yen shop, where you can get anything from homewares to toys to crafty supplies to snacks, spices and cake toppers. It’s the veritable Aladdin’s cave of goodies, with a super purse-friendly price tags and tons of that inimitable Scandi style.

Now, given all this, I’m happy to visit Tiger at any time of year, but it really does come into its own at Christmas time. Prices start from just £1, so it’s a brilliant destination for stocking fillers, Secret Santa gifts, or dear-me-merry-christmas-love-me treats, plus it’s sheer Christmas crafting heaven with shelves heaving with baubles, bells and ribbons for making your home and your gifts look stylishly festive.

I’m a big fan of interior design so had rather a lot of fun playing around with my lovely new things last Sunday afternoon – here are some of the gems I picked up:
As you can see, from gorgeous ceramics to classic candy-striped decorations and even cheeky novelty penguins (and dinosaurs), there's quite a range to rummage through at Tiger. They don't have an online store yet, but have shops all over the UK, with one right here in Edinburgh city centre in the St James Centre. Go enjoy your own festive trolley dash here now!

Jaeger: Boutique shopping on George Street

Jaeger have recently re-opened in Edinburgh to join some of the best premium boutiques on the much coveted strip of George Street towards St Andrews Square. Having previously been located towards the West End of George Street, this new location suits the brand much better and has been opened as one of Jaeger's flagship concept stores. As you'd expect from this heritage brand, the interior comprises of understated and modern neutrals, with beautiful touches such as bronze fittings on natural wood displaying key pieces from the seasons. The shop is split over two levels for both women and men's shopping and has opened just in time for Christmas so that Santa can bring you the lux items you deserve!

Jaeger are best known for their gorgeous coats, an obvious staple in any Scottish wardrobe. You're spoilt for choice with the range of colours and styles but it's best to visit and actually feel the quality of the wool and cashmere; you'll realise this is a coat for life, not just a season. Their classic funnel neck coats are super stylish, particularly belted up. One of the more directional pieces to cover up with is the belted duster coat, in black mohair or beige alpaca wool blends. Utterly lush and ideal for any swish holiday parties. Another key AW15 piece is their range of long line gilets, the perfect transitional piece between seasons or even to swan about indoors with during the colder months. They look far more chic than the usual crumpled cardigan or blazer and give a clean silhouette when you need to layer up.

The other items on our Jaeger lust list are their classic cashmere jumpers, with lovely jewel tones joining the usual dark and neutral tones. There's also a number of great Breton tops that you can wear with anything, our top pick being this batwing Breton number. And the range of leather accessories is oh so fabulous too. We're looking longingly at soft leather gloves (with suede trim), small boxy bags and chic waist belts too. So make sure you visit Jaeger's beautiful new boutique next time you're on George Street to browse their gorgeous collection and treat yourself or someone special!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Fairytale Fitted Winter Boots from Ted and Muffy

Ted & Muffy have recently opened their gorgeous boutique shop on Castle Street, promising a 'fairytale fit' for their beautifully designed boots. Formerly Duo, they have re-branded to Ted & Muffy to return to the original ethos of the founders which is finding perfectly fitting footwear with an emphasis on their boots. With winter now fast approaching, it was perfect timing for them to hold an evening for bloggers to discover their range of classic designs and modern twists on trends and have a fitting with their specially trained staff.
It was a great opportunity to view their range of shoes, from ankle boots to brogues and most importantly winter boots. Their boots range is amazing, from classic riding boots exquisitely made with the finest Italian leathers, soft suede cranberry coloured heels to dramatic buttoned up over-the-knee boots. Their tailored boot fitting service takes in calf width size which ensures your 'fairytale' boot which fits you exactly.

Katey was keen for a flat pair and to try the Midnight riding boot but the lovely fitting assistant recommended the Huntsman style which had a more tailored ankle fitting  and an interesting asymmetric cut. The Huntsman was a far more flattering fit and has three classic shades to choose from: black, tan and navy. It was a gratifying shopping experience compared to other shoe shopping expeditions where we have just been given my requested type and gotten on with the decision myself without fitting advice or recommendations.
It was a gorgeous event, with each blogger getting a personalised key to pin on a very on trend branch tree and getting to browse in style sipping fizz and munching on treats. We were so thrilled to be invited and can't wait to start wearing our beautiful boots around town!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Edinburgh is Delicious: Kyloe Restaurant and Grill

Scotland is rightly famous for its steak and, if you love a good one, then you're due a visit to Kyloe Bar and Grill, Edinburgh's gourmet steak restaurant. Located centrally in the West End above the Rutland Hotel, they take their beef very seriously (Kyloe is an old Scots word for Highland beef cattle), using cuts from pedigree Aberdeen Angus from Scotland's top farms and butchers. Their love of cattle continues with a cow motif throughout the restaurant, an uber-Scottish tartan cow to greet customers outside and cow hide wallpaper and seating.  Even the artwork is cow-themed!

If you're a steak novice or just like a good chat about what kind of steak you're in the mood for, Kyloe's friendly waiting staff are there to help. After being left with the menu for a wee bit after arriving, we were presented with a board of cuts and talked through the various steak options and specials available. This is particularly helpful if you're unfamiliar with some of the rarer steak cuts, such as feather cut. We were told that all of the steaks are aged for 28 days to enhance the flavour and juiciness, with the option for a 60 day dry aged steak to ensure the tastiest choice possible. The select breeds were also discussed, including the 100% Aberdeen Angus from Hardiesmill Farm from the Scottish borders and on this particular day, an American Black Angus steak, rich with marbled fats.

There's plenty on the lunch menu to tempt away even a dedicated beef eater, such as the grilled smoked Finnan haddock, served with Mull cheddar rarebit and a plum tomato salad (£11) and fresh linguine, with peas, broad beans, asparagus and crumbled goats cheese (£9). Other more meaty options include the classic mixed grill, a beast of a dish with lamb cutlet, pork sausage, rump steak, lambs' kidneys, grilled tomato, flat mushroom and fried egg (£13) or the lighter option of a Thai beef salad with crispy vegetables and soy dressing (£12).

It was hard to resist the steak though and we sampled the Aberdeen Angus and the Black Angus, cooked medium and medium well respectively. I'd enquired about ordering a steak whilst pregnant and cooked to 75 degrees medium well is perfectly safe in pregnancy, with the rich fatness of the Black Angus cut meaning that it could be cooked for longer without losing any moisture. The staff at Kyloe were so knowledgeable and answered all of our queries in a friendly manner. It was really nice to experience this service in a restaurant of this quality, there was no snootiness here at all.

Whilst the steaks were being cooked, we had some delicious freshly baked bread with butter and a chunky tomato dipping sauce. Our steaks soon arrived, cooked to perfection, with the medium well Black Angus having stayed juicy as promised. Beef dripping chips were a decadent accompaniment and the sauces were an excellent complement to the steak. The peppercorn had a sweetness with a nice wee kick at the end and the bone marrow had a rich flavour which enhanced the steak with every bite.

The steaks took a while to finish and it was great to take it slowly and have a natter whilst getting through these beauties. We were presented with the dessert menu and couldn't resist having a peek. Every single dessert sounded sublime but our favourites were the rhubarb and custard soufflĂ©, served with rhubarb crumble ice cream (£7) and the plate of orange desserts, which consisted of a caramelised orange pudding, iced orange parfait and citrus rice pudding filo (£6.50). We were so pleased to have decided to fit these in as they were absolutely stunning and were some of the most beautiful we have tried in the city. The rhubarb soufflĂ© would be our top recommendation, it was light and sweet with a punch of rhubarb flavour. The trio of orange desserts was also beautiful and a refreshing option for after a steak, with the ice orange parfait being a particular highlight.

Lunch at Kyloe was such a pleasant experience, a really lovely way to while an afternoon, eating one of our favourite meals. An essential Edinburgh experience for the serious steak lover!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Scottish Spotlight: Weird Crushes & Tom Pigeon Prints

Remember years ago there was that L'Oreal advert featuring Jennifer Aniston swishing her golden locks and trilling "I've fallen in love...with a shampoo..." and we were all like "RACHEL'S HAIR" and ran out to Boots? Well I've been thinking about it a lot lately, because I've developed a bit of a weird crush too. In fact, I've fallen in love. With a pigeon. A pigeon called Tom.

Which, with two fingers up at tenuous segue haters, introduces the brilliant work of Scottish lovely stuff creators Tom Pigeon. I've recently purchased their wonderful Largo print, which is sitting pretty in my hall, but I'm generally obsessed with their entire range, and so felt compelled to do my own wee bit to spread the bird. Bare wall sufferers of the world, rejoice! Here are some of my faves from their latest collection:
Top of the list is the dreamily stargazing "Luna Collection", three gorgeously shiny foiled prints featuring the crescent moon at Dawn, Day and Dusk (£35 each). I think they would look very swish indeed on my bedroom wall.

I also utterly adore the geometric Harbour Collection in blocks of very on-trend blush and mint. Inspired by local harbours, they're £50 each. From L-R Harbour 1, Harbour 2, Harbour 3.

In summery shades of pale pink and blue is the Constructing Worlds trio. Originally designed for an exhibition at the Barbican, you can pick up them up for £60 each.

And finally - how apt? I really do want everything from Tom Pigeon, so this print has to be a must. It's £50, and comes with a twin print "Anything" in black and white for a lovely monochrome contrast.

The team at Tom Pigeon also do a stunning range in geometric jewellery - check it out here.
And like any true crush, you've got to do a little light stalking on social media (WE ALL DO IT) - follow them on Instagram and Twitter for beaut pics and design inspiration galore. Heart U Forever, TP. Love, your biggest fan, Jane ; )

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Edinburgh is Delicious: The Blackbird, Tollcross

The Blackbird is celebrating the summer with a delicious new menu to enjoy, with a lovely mix of light and healthy eats, sumptuously filling salads along with classic favourites. We were invited to sample their new menu and really loved it. It's rare that you can find a place to eat that caters for those who want to stay healthy and those who just need to have a burger. Surely that's all of us at some stage or another right?

We were both keen to try the light salads for starters and tried the walnut and caramelised pear salad and sumac-crusted halloumi. The pear salad was served with kale, smoked cheddar and fresh raspberries and the combination worked superbly. The halloumi was served very simply with a balsamic glaze and fresh raspberries, for a salty-sweet experience. Both dishes were of a good size, not too filling and just enough to get started. Some of the other starter options we were tempted by included the wasabi and panko crusted tiger prawns, and the crispy chicken with sancho pepper, tequila, fresh lime and sour cream - a summery sounding combination.

For mains we went with the crispy Gressingham duck and a superfood salad with grilled tiger prawns. The superfood salad was both delicious and virtuous, and was a generous portion size with plenty of healthy greens in there - avocado, broccoli, kale and garnished with green tea, fresh lemon and chia seeds. The prawns were juicy and plump and ensured the meal was both light and filling. The crispy duck was gorgeous, served with roast beetroot, mandarin, golden squash, lemon thyme and toasted peanuts. The duck was the star of the dish, with juicy cuts making a perfect combination with the beetroot and mandarin, in both flavour and texture. The menu had so many tasty sounding options that I'm sure we'll be back soon enough to try out the sticky lemon chicken with udon noodle salad, the cauliflower fritters with quinoa and mango, and the grilled red mullet with charred asparagus, pomegranate and honey. Traditionalists should note that. in addition to these delicious but worthy-sounding eats, there are also good old burgers, fish and chips and steak pie on the menu too.

We decided to share a dessert and we were recommended the warm chocolate brownie with chocolate fudge sauce and pistachio ice cream. The brownie was dark and gooey, just like it should be and the pistachio ice cream complemented it beautifully. Next time we'll try the tarte au citron with gin and tonic ice cream which sounds like a lovely summer treat.

In addition to the new menu, there are summer cocktails specials too. In keeping with the existing imaginatively-named cocktails, there are The Girl with the Dragon Yuzu, Ol' Dirty Mustard and, a favourite of ours, The Adventures of Sherbert Holmes. These are bursting with fresh flavours of blueberries, mango liqueur, orange blossom water along with the more exotic Yuzu lemon sake, aloe vera juice and Pamplemousse rose. It's definitely worth a visit to try these menus out and enjoy these summer flavours while they're here!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Etsy Favourites: White Rabbit Skincare

If you're a beauty and skincare geek like me, you'll be all over the wonderful Caroline Hiron's Beauty Mouth blog, where she gives no-nonsense reviews, recommendations and cheat sheets on skincare routines and products. Scotland-based skincare brand White Rabbit were given a shout out on the Beauty Mouth blog, recommending in particular their Comfort Cleansing Balm as an alternative to Eve Lom's cult favourite - with a more purse-friendly price and no mineral oils. I'm actually really happy with the cleanser I'm currently using (another Caroline Hirons pick, Emma Hardie's Moringa cleansing balm), but was intrigued to follow up White Rabbit's skincare range, especially being handmade in Scotland and their use of essential oils. I'm interested in moving my skincare towards more natural products so was delighted to see the large range of natural products they have. Even better, they are all vegan and bunny-friendly - tested on humans only.

I settled on a few products from White Rabbit's Etsy shop - two day moisturisers, one night cream and a serum. A few days later they were delivered, along with a cute White Rabbit canvas bag. It was perfect timing as my old moisturiser was running out and  it was good to feel excited about using some new products!
The Cell Renewal Serum, has a blend of oils with a bright hit of citrus scent from neroli oil. This is my favourite product to use and my skin felt instantly smoothed without the greasy feeling you can get with some oil serums. I currently use this every evening and on occasion in the morning if I feel like my skin needs an extra hit of moisture, and I really feel like it makes a difference. The night cream, It's All About M.E.! is suitable for all skin types, helping to soothe and calm skin, whilst firming and improving elasticity. This has a light floral scent and a lovely whipped texture and is a great combination with the serum as it's not too heavy. £1 of each pot goes to the M.E. Association so it's a nice charity boost as well. The other moisturisers I've tried are the Coconut and Rosehip Calming Cream and Dew Soft Day Cream. The calming cream is for problematic skin, whether that be a breakout or itching, and also contains witch hazel, tea tree and lavender oil. This is the creamiest in texture of the three and has a more-or-less neutral scent, with a slight lingering of tea tree oil. The day cream is indeed soft and dreamy with a light texture that still has real moisturising power behind it and is good for my sensitive skin days.

I'm really enjoying using the White Rabbit products, with my top pick being the Cell Renewal Serum and its heavenly scent. I am looking forward to trying more products and the range seems to be developing all the time so I will be keeping up with what they've got to offer and if you love natural cruelty-free skincare, you should too!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Edinburgh is Delicious: The Colonnades Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea is one of life's more luxurious pleasures and we may have just experienced one of Edinburgh's finest, at the Colonnades, based at the Signet Library. We've been lucky enough to have afternoon tea at Signet Library in previous years at their annual Pommery Champagne Bar but as it is only usually available over the summer period it's been a total but oh-so-fleeting joy. After a £250,000 venue refurbishment, the newly renamed Colonnades introduce their elegant afternoon teas as a gloriously year-round fixture in Edinburgh. The venue has always been a stunning space, but it has been painstakingly restored with the highest attention to detail, from the intricate gold leaf, fluted Corinthian columns, handwoven carpet and mirrored tables to the bespoke stamped silverware and tea sets. Everything is perfection and we haven't even started raving about the food yet!

Part of Heritage Portfolio's collection, the afternoon tea changes seasonally to reflect the finest and freshest ingredients in Scotland, with produce from their gardens in Leith being incorporated into the menu. Rather than the traditional three tiers of an afternoon tea, the Colonnades place as much emphasis on the savoury elements as the sweet, so we began with an entire stunning stand of savoury goodies, including delicious bites such as fresh prawn cocktail with mango salsa, a brioche Aberdeen Angus mini-burger and Edinburgh Gin-infused smoked salmon on oatcakes.
The sweet treats that came next - another whole stand - were the stuff of dreams. Particular favourites were a tart lemon sorbet, passion fruit and mango eclair, lemon meringue tart in a crisp pastry adorned with stunning sugarwork and a classic mille feuille, with homemade pastry layers, organic cream and Perthshire berries. The scones were served warm with clotted cream and a divine strawberry and champagne jam.
An afternoon tea cannot be complete without, of course, the tea - with a selection supplied by the Wee Tea Company, we enjoyed unlimited cups throughout our sitting. Both the scented apple fruit infusion and the cherry tea proved lovely accompaniments. Glasses of fizz catered to those of the bubbly persuasion.

The Colonnades is now open for weekday bookings of afternoon tea and light lunches and there are plans to open on weekends for special occasions. We can't wait to visit again and we thoroughly recommend a visit for one of the most decadent afternoon tea experiences in Edinburgh.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Edinburgh Events: 12 Tub Cinema Club - whisky ice creams and films from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society

It's finally sunny in Scotland and what better time to announce that the Scotch Malt Whisky Society have teamed up with S Luca's to make the most delicious-sounding whisky ice creams - a surefire winning combination in Edinburgh! These whisky-laced ice creams will be served all summer long at their Queen Street venue and will be launched with at a series of film screenings being held to celebrate their central venue, the 12 Tub Cinema Club, being open to the public.  Named after the number of ice creams available (and the number of single cask whiskies to accompany them), the North View room will be transformed into an intimate cinema, complete with bean bags, deck chairs and ushers serving the ice cream and drams. All of the films shown will be linked to whisky and will kick off with Ken Loach's recent bittersweet themed comedy, The Angels' Share. Other choice picks include Barfly, Withnail & I (epic whisky intakes in both films), Lost in Translation ("Imagine you're talking to an old friend!") and Casablanca (the classiest dram knock-backs seen on the screen). The screenings run from Friday 19 June and run until Saturday 11 July, with more details and tickets available via Eventbrite. Our whisky-expert friends Adele and Stuart from Braw Spirit blog were at the preview event and reported back on the amazing looking venue and the divine ice cream, with flavours including Maple Bacon Crunch, a sweet syrup and smoky bacon flavour combined with a peaty whisky and Banana Dram-a, banana and marshmallow ice cream with a sweet, fruity and mellow whisky. So start summer in style, have a scream for ice cream and go book it up!Photos courtesy of Adele Erwin and Stuart McLaughlin