Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Edinburgh is Delicious - Yo! Sushi


Yo! Sushi have opened their second branch in Edinburgh, taking over the upstairs corner across from the Royal Scottish Academy. It can be hard sometimes to find somewhere in the city centre for a quick and tasty bite to eat so it's a very welcome addition to Princes Street. It's a cool place to visit, with great views, space age decor and of course the sushi train coming past every table with tasty bites to eat!

If you're not sure about how Yo! Sushi works, here's a crash course. Go up the stairs and unless you are very early, be prepared to wait a while. The queue usually moves pretty quickly and the staff normally give you a rough idea of how long you may need to wait around. Once you're seated inside you'll either be at a booth or a long table where you'll see cute little dishes go past you on a conveyer belt - time to eat! You can pick up a dish straight away, but I'd say it's best to peruse the menu first to see what's available before checking what's sailing gently by. The colour of each bowl denotes the cost of the dish. Hot food like noodles or tempura is cooked to order, and can be done by pressing a handy button beside the table which brings over your server. Simple! 

With over eighty different items on the menu, there are plenty of dishes available other than sushi to try. The first dish  I selected was a duck salad which was fresh and came with a hoisin dressing.  My favourite dish was the marinated aubergine, which was soft and full of flavour. The sushi was pretty special too; their best seller is the Yo! Roll which is salmon, avocado and mayonnaise, a classic for a good reason. This went down a treat, as did tuna nigiri. There was a wide range of interesting sounding sushi which I'll investigate next time, such as the duck and mango roll and a salmon and yuzu salsa sashimi. There's plenty of opportunity to eat lovely fresh dishes as well as more filling (but equally tasty) noodles and rice, so it's nice to be able to mix things up should you wish to try something new.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Here Comes the Bride: Bespoke vintage style at Lady JoJos Brides

I've been meaning to write about Lady Jojo's Brides for a while and now that the chaos from my own wedding has long since passed, I can happily write about this lovely place where I had my wedding dress made! Lady Jojo's specialise in vintage-inspired wedding dresses with a made to measure service. They have a range of styles, mostly inspired by 1950's tea length, which all have cute vintage names like Audrey, Rita and Veronica. Everything is made in their Edinburgh studio and they are so helpful and lovely throughout the whole process. Their pricing is very reasonable too, it's based on a tiered system depending on which fabrics you choose and any extras you may want. There are not many places in Edinburgh where you'll get a beautiful made-to-measure dress for under £500! There is also a bespoke dress service so you can bring in a picture or sketch of your dream dress and see if they can help make it a reality. This is exactly what I ended up doing and couldn't have been happier with how it turned out, so thought I'd write about my experience if you're considering a bespoke dress.

When it came to deciding on my own wedding style, I loved vintage dresses but found that authentic vintage came at a price, not just in monetary pounds, but physical ones too - those mid-century ladies were small. The average size of those pretty dresses was about an 8 which is very much not my size and probably never will be. I had seen a vintage dress on Etsy that I loved but for various reasons wasn't quite what I was after.  However, it was the first time I'd seen something that I thought was really my style, a dress that I could see myself getting married in and, although I hadn't really considered a bespoke design before, I began to get excited by the prospect!

Photo by the very lovely Lyndsey from Mack Photography
I'd looked at Lady Jojo's dress designs on their webpages and they were beautiful, but not quite what I was after. I had really liked their Lillian dress however and it was actually fairly close to my dream dress so I thought it couldn't hurt to ask them if it would be possible to make this dress of mine. I shyly called them up about my idea and had a lovely positive response so made an appointment to see them about it and they walked me through the process of what was involved - choosing the materials and deciding the length. The dress I wanted had a lace bodice, half sleeves, chiffon skirt and round neckline so it was nothing overly complicated but gosh, these were still hard decisions to make! They have some stunning luxury laces available and it was really difficult deciding between them. I nearly went for polka dot lace but then thought the sleeves might be too 80's Madonna (not necessarily a bad thing but not the bridal look I was hoping for!). However I found a gorgeous ivory lace that I loved and was happy with. Luckily my lovely bridesmaid Michelle was with me and it was a big help to have her there as a second opinion. The consultation includes going through various price options so there's no scary final bill to come and I was so happy that I could afford what I knew would be the wedding dress for me.

As the wedding date was a good nine months after my consultation, it was quite easy to book in for fittings and they were really flexible with timings. I feel really lucky to have had such a positive experience and would absolutely recommend Lady Jojo's to anyone in Scotland who was thinking about getting a vintage style wedding dress. There's no need to pay thousands of pounds when there's an Edinburgh studio who can do a bespoke, made to measure service.

Finally, here's a few tips for anyone thinking of getting a made-to-measure dress, regardless of where you get it from:
♥ If you don't have your wedding shoes for the fitting, bring along those that you think will be of a similar height. It really does matter!
♥ Similarly, have a think about what kind of bra you'll be wearing on the big day.
♥ Try and book any fittings in the morning, before you have your lunch!
♥ And lastly, remember it's meant to be a fun experience. If it's not, abort mission and find somewhere you love instead.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Edinburgh Events: Rabbie Burns Night


Burns Night is upon us this weekend and once again Edinburgh has some braw events to celebrate Scotland's national bard. Here are our favourite picks of where to celebrate Burns Night in Edinburgh!

♥ The Ghillie Dhu is always a good place for a knees-up so it's no surprise that they're holding a Burns Weekend, with events running from Thursday night to Sunday. There'll be a piper for the haggis, Burns readings, plenty of ceilidh fun and of course, whisky galore.

♥ Steak are holding a Burns menu all day, so no grand ceremony of piping in the haggis, but you can enjoy the food at your leisure and their venison with truffled mash main course sounds delicious.

♥ If you're after a bit more of Burns than the traditional toasts, The Scottish Storytelling Centre are holding a Supper with Burns, promising a three course meal (with haggis of course) and Burns stories, songs and lore, complete with a clarsach* player too.
* Scottish harp

♥ It's not a traditional Burns Night, but Studio 24 are launching their Full Metal Ceilidh night on Saturday 24 January. Instead of a nip of whisky, you'll get a shot of Buckfast and you can expect jigs, reels and Metallica.

♥ The Scotch Malt Whisky Society have a night of music, drama and poetry to go along with their three course Burns supper. And there's nothing like toasting the bard with whisky experts so there'll be some quality drams for you to try.

♥ Hemma's Burns Night is Swedish style, with haggis served at a Viking long table and a free dram if you recite some Burns' poetry. Sounds like messy fun!

♥ If none of this tickles your fancy, there's always the option of going to your local chippy, buying a haggis supper and making your own address to its honest, sonsie and deep-fried face. And we'd recommend listening to this beautiful rendition of A Man's A Man whilst you enjoy your chippy tea.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Super Easy Baking: Key Lime Pie


I'm pretty obsessed with pies and even have a Pinterest board celebrating their greatness. I have a special love for American style sweet pies - they always look so beautiful, topped with crunchy sugar crusts, glittering glazes and billowing whipped cream. This love was compounded by watching Pushing Daisies in the mid-noughties, an awesome Tim Burton-like tv series that was cut in its second season prime and starred Anna Friel wearing some gorgeous dresses; her love interest owned a shop called the Pie Hole which sold huge and beautiful fruit pies. Anyway, pies are a lot easier to make than you'd think and this recipe is fairly simple. Key lime pie is a classic and is the sweetly tart cousin of lemon meringue pie.  Without the mound of meringue topping, however, there's a big citrus hit  from the filling.  It's quite a decadent dessert but refreshing rather than sickly sweet. If you're not into the sourness of lime and would prefer a slightly sweeter version, you can add less juice and zest and a few tablespoons of icing sugar to the whipped cream decoration. I was able to make the cute mini-pie version with some extra biscuit crumbs pressed into a mini muffin tin, baked for 8 minutes with the smallest dollop of filling for an additional 5 minutes. Worth the effort if you have extra crumbs!

Key Lime Pie

Ingredients:
300g gingernut biscuits
120g butter, melted
1 x 397g tin of condensed milk
3 egg yolks
zest and juice of 3 or 4 limes (depending on your tastes) and extra zest to decorate
200ml double cream

Method:
1. Heat the oven to 160 degrees Celcius / 140 degree Celcius for fan ovens.
2. Whizz the biscuits to crumbs in a food processor (or put in a strong plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin).
3. Mix with the melted butter and press into the base and up the sides of a 22cm loose-based tart tin. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and cool.
3. Put the egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk for a minute with electric beaters. Add the condensed milk and whisk for 3 minutes then add the zest and juice and whisk again for 3 minutes.
4. Pour the filling into the cooled base then put back in the oven for 15 minutes.
5. Cool then chill for at least 3 hours or overnight if you like.
6. Whip the cream into soft peaks and decorate as you please, adding the extra zest as decoration as the final step.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Anta Homewares and Cookbook - plus cheese scone recipe


If you love traditionally Scottish homewares, Anta is probably going to be one of your favourite places to visit. Miles away from the tartan tat of the Royal Mile, their flagship store on George Street is as authentically Scottish as you can get and is an oasis of gorgeous muted colours, soft woollens and beautiful designs. Anta's key products are their hand-painted stoneware, adorned with tartan, thistles and other patterns, and their range of textiles, made from woollen yarn sourced from the Western Isles. Their range of textiles is huge, from home furnishings like cushions and throws, to furniture, curtains and even carpets. Their scarves and bags are all lovely too, classic but modern. The stoneware is mainly kitchen focussed, with teapots, mugs, baking and serving dishes, In light of their large range of kitchenware they recently released a wonderful cookbook. There's a wide range of recipes with plenty of Scottish influences as you'd expect (a whole section on venison recipes for instance), so there are lots of Scots classics such as tattie scones, oatcakes, St Andrews cake, Scotch pancakes and a recipe for traditional Scots porridge (made with water and a pinch of salt). There are a lot of other delicious sounding bakes and treats too and one that I'm looking forward to trying is the cheese scones, perfect for the chilly weather and served with soup. Here's the recipe from Anta's book!

Cheese Scones

Ingredients:
450g self raising flour
pinch of salt
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp paprika
100g unsalted butter
150g grated cheddar, plus extra for topping
200ml milk

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celcius.
2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. With your hands rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
3. Add the cheddar and milk and bring ingredients together with your hands.
4. Gently roll out on a floured surface to 3cm thick and cut into circles.
5. Bake for ten minutes, remove from the oven and top with a sprinkling of cheddar.
6. Return to oven and bake for a further five minutes until golden brown.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Layered looks with Modcloth

The only predictable thing about the weather in Edinburgh (and Scotland) is that it can be completely unpredictable. We can go through all four seasons in an hour, never mind a day, and going from the cold and windy streets to cosy wee pubs means that layers can be a girl's best friend. When Modcloth asked us to pick some of our favourite layering items I was thrilled because a) Modcloth is awesome and it gave me an excuse to spend many happy hours browsing away and b) their collection of cosy cardigans have given me serious layering lust - they are all super cute! If you've never visited Modcloth before they sell online all the kinds of clothes and accessories that you wish you could find when you're out shopping. They have a huge variety of vintage-inspired pieces, cool designers, and a huge range of shoes and accessories - making it a perfect one-stop shop for online shopping and outfit inspiration.Modcloth winter layers

Browsing online for the first layer, I was immediately drawn to this gorgeous navy blue top. I'm a big fan of peter pan collars and it gives this top a cute vintage style. Its perfect companion is a classic button up cardigan and this mustard yellow coloured one paired with the blue is working the primary colour blocking trend well. The hardest part was picking the final layer - as mentioned, their cardigans and cover-ups are all very cosy looking and covetable. But I think this slouchy boho style cover-up finishes the look nicely with a retro modern feel. Its contrast to the clean lines and textures of the other layers brings the look together. The perfect accessory is a slouchy leather shoulder bag, big enough to fit one or two cardigans in!

Will you be looking to layer up as the seasons change (and do you love looking at Modcloth as much as us)? Let us know!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Healthy New Year! Fresh juice and Hula Juice Bar

Now, I'm not one to be get obsessed with diets and fitness but as it is January and I feel like I've eaten my own body weight in chocolate and pies over the past few weeks, I'm definitely feeling the need to start being a bit healthier. One of my best recent purchases has been the Nutribullet, a nifty little gadget which pulverises fruit and veg to make delicious smoothies. It has a super-powered motor which takes it beyond a blender so there are no bits floating around and you can blend in ice and nutritious extras like nuts and seeds. There's a recommended starter smoothie which consists of leafy greens, berries and nuts which tastes great. I've been using spinach, strawberries, raspberries & almonds with coconut water, a combo which delivers a healthy hit with no hint of spinach taste. But really anything goes - I've also tried apples, pears, avocados, watermelon, carrots, flaxseed and they've all blended smoothly in a matter of seconds. It makes being healthy oh-so-easy and delicious and, if you are looking for inspiration, there are a wealth of ideas on Pinterest too. 

If you're interested in juices but not sure about buying a whole new expensive gadget (and it is pretty pricy if you're not going to use it often), Hula Juice Bar on Victoria Street have started doing green super juices and smoothies in addition to their existing range of smoothies, juices and milkshakes. Plenty of green ingredients like cucumber, spinach, celery and parsley are mixed with juicy favourites apple and mango in their new menu to help you be extra virtuous.  So, if you are looking for ways to start 2015 in healthy and virtuous style, you can take the home-made approach or make a wee visit to the experts.  Me? I'll be doing both!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Shopping Next at Fort Kinnaird

Happy new year! 2014 was a rollercoaster of a year, but we had a lot of fun so here's to 2015 bringing more joy into our lives. In the meantime, there's been something consuming our online lives post-Christmas - sales shopping. After the bizarre adoption of Black Friday in the UK meant that Boxing Day sales were even more ridiculous than ever it's been quite the luxury to sit back, wait for the sales emails to come in and wait for the goods to come directly to the door. But there's also something quite satisfying about finding unexpected gorgeous items in the shops out there in the wild. Fort Kinnaird has had a bit of a makeover recently, and now with a Topshop, TK Maxx, New Look and Next - as well as newly opened Ed's Diner, TGI Friday's and soon to be opened Five Guys Burgers, it's a great shopping destination. They asked us to take advantage of the post-Christmas sales and have a look around Next to see what we could find there. Next are famous for their sales so we were delighted at the invitation. The shops at the Fort all have the advantage of more space than their city counterparts so it's not the same cramped stressful experience that you might otherwise have. Their homewares department is just lovely and, after a wee bit of browsing time, I picked up two beautifully scented candles - peony & sweet pea and one from their Antigua range. I also found a brightly patterned long sleeve smock dress which will be perfect for transitioning from winter to spring when the world shifts and the seasons change. Have you been able to take advantage of any sale shopping in the new year? Have you been shopping at Fort Kinnaird recently?  Let us know about your unearthed treasures in the comments below.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Edinburgh Events: Scottish Ballet presents The Nutcracker

The Scottish Ballet's Christmas production of The Nutcracker is an utter delight that will make the most grinchy of folk feel like giving in to festive joy. Based upon Peter Darrell's 1973 production, it mixes traditional Christmas nostalgia with bright bold colours and sparkle, resulting in stunningly beautiful sets and costumes. It's a sumptuous visual feast, taking in Beatrix Potter-like dancing mice, delicate snow fairies in tutus and hundreds of shiny tree baubles that are incorporated into the sets. The choreography, strictly based upon the original production, is flawless and Tchaikovsky's music enchanting; the amount of detail that has gone into all aspects of the production is breathtaking. It has a sense of innocence and wonder that makes it very suitable for all ages and would be such a lovely show to take children to form some special Christmas memories. The Nutcracker is at the Festival Theatre until 3 January, a perfect time for this most beautifully festive performance.

We sat next to Edinburgh Sketcher and were thrilled to see him at work, you can view his drawings from the Nutcracker on his website.


Photos courtesy of Scottish Ballet

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Super Easy Christmas Baking: Gingerbread brownies

Here's a super easy recipe for some Christmassy brownies, full of festive spices and chunks of stem ginger and sweetened with some white chocolate buttercream icing. They last particularly well, up to a week in the fridge, so make for good gifts for pals and for you to munch on throughout the Christmas break. I was originally thinking of a gingerbread latte brownie when making these so these are best enjoyed with a strong cup of coffee.

Gingerbread brownies

Ingredients:
250g unsalted butter, chopped (at room temperature)
300g dark chocolate, chopped
4 eggs
330g brown sugar
200g plain flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 cup (35g) cocoa, sifted
4 pieces of stem ginger, chopped

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celcius (150 degrees for fan ovens). Grease and line a brownie pan or square cake pan.
2. Melt butter and 200g chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water), stirring until smooth or melt together in short bursts in the microwave. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, to the chocolate mixture, beating well after each addition until combined. Add sugar, flour, baking powder and spices, then fold in the cocoa and the stem ginger.
4. Spread batter into the pan and bake for 25 minutes or until just set. Cool in the pan, then turn out and cut into squares.
5. Cover with white chocolate buttercream icing.

White Chocolate Buttercream Icing

Ingredients:
110g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
250g icing sugar, sifted
150g white chocolate

Method:
1. Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave in short bursts, mix until smooth and leave to cool.
2. Beat the butter and half the icing sugar together until smooth (about five minutes with an electric mixer). Keep adding the icing sugar in heaped spoonfuls and mix until smooth and pale.
3. Beat in the melted white chocolate, making sure not to beat too much or the mixture will go runny. It should be a spreadable consistency and you may require more icing sugar if runny or add some milk if the mixture is too stiff.