Sunday, 1 March 2015

Edinburgh in Springtime: Daffodils and a To Do List

So, Spring. It’s reluctantly on the wing, despite the decidedly wintry sleet raining mushily against my living room window right now. There’s a wee bit of warmth in the sun, snowdrops are out and the biggest YAY of all, it’s light at 5 o clock (insert your celebratory emoji of choice).

Which means it’s time to goodbye to hibernation, my electric blanket, and cold dark weekends spent entirely in the thrall of Netflix, and hello to days out enjoying Edinburgh, which as locals would know, looks mighty beautiful in springtime. Let's take a moment to savour, shall we?

Daffodils at Edinburgh castle.
 Arthur's Seat, the Crags and a mystery gorgeous labrador
 Edinburgh's prettiest walkway - the candy floss cherry Bs on the Meadows in May
Golden view over the city.
 Daffys again in Princes Street Gardens.
 Photos courtesy of Ian Sommerville - thanks Dad!

In addition to drifting ethereally through meadows of daffodils with my hair in a perfect fishtail plait, here’s some of the things on my springtime to do list for 2015:

Eat yummy food in cool places: I'll be trying out artisan pizza with a Swedish twist at the newly-opened Soderberg (brought to you by Scandi food ninjas Peter's Yard, who appear to be taking over the world one heavenly cardamom bun at a time); sampling a carb-busting meatball and spaghetti flatbread wrap from mega-trendy purveyors of Italian Street food Civerinos (find their exposed brick heaven on Hunter's Square); faceplanting into a plate of apple and haggis pakoras at Edinburgh's (and I think possibly the UK's) one and only craft beer and curry house VDeep, taking up residence in The Vintage's old cornerside dig in Leith; and finally, enjoying breakfast in three-tiered afternoon-tea style with Mimi's Bakehouse's new glorious, indulgent, technicolour Beforenoon Tea.

Drink beer: Although it's been open for several weeks, I still haven't managed to get along to the Hanging Bat's sister bar Spitfire - specialising in American, Canadian, German, Swedish and Belgian beer, it's going to be a must for toasting the arrival of spring's light nights.

Being really cultural: Checking out vintage video games exhibition Game Masters at the National Museum of Scotland (Yes! It's a legit exhibition in a proper museum an' everything); heading up to Calton Hill at the end of April for the annual Beltane fire spectacle; enjoying Hidden Doors, Edinburgh's May-time visual arts and music festival - venues tbc, but an old street lighting depot on Kings Stables Road is rumoured to the festival's quirky and characterful home; and learning about the Science behind Game of Thrones, just one of several awesome looking events at the always excellent Edinburgh International Science Festival in April.

Which barely scratches the surface I'm sure - what will you be up to to celebrate Spring in Edinburgh?

With love, from Edinburgh - Jane xxx

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

SS15 - Favourite Spring Picks

It's perhaps a little too early to get excited for Spring in Edinburgh just yet (brrr!) but I am excited about some of the SS15 collections that have been recently released. It's been a long old winter so it's so cheering to see some big bursts of florals, gorgeous pastels and super cute influences like Charlie Brown and colourful dinosaurs. Here are some of my favourite things!

How awesome is this dinosaur jacket from The White Pepper? Answer: very & I want it now please. Dinosaurs are a big theme in their latest collection, with dresses, leggings and separates featuring these colourful little guys. The rest of the collection is equally as playful, with these bright platform boots and the extreme peter pan pleat collar dress making my wishlist.

We're both huge fans of Tatty Devine and the latest collection's floral and fairground themes are a delight. Tatty Devine know better than most how a statement necklace can transform an outfit and my favourite from the new collection is this flower decoupage necklace. The colourful wildflowers are spot on for spring and will brighten up any grey day. The detailing on the carousel horse and raindrop cloud brooches are adorable and I need them to remind me of all the good things in the world.
Cambridge Satchel Company have just released a new range in collaboration with Peanuts, featuring satchels with the iconic Charlie Brown stripe in all sizes. There's also a range of A4 leather zip pouches with four different illustrations to choose from. I love the clutch with all of the Peanuts gang - seeing all my favourites like Lucy, Peppermint Patty and Linus with his blanket makes me so happy! And coming soon is a very cute dog collar, which have the Charlie Brown stripe and my favourite Peanut, Snoopy, on the pendant. 

I always look forward to viewing Orla Kiely's shows and her latest LFW show didn't disappoint - beautiful colours and prints as always with a strong floral theme in prints, installations, planters and cupcakes! The latest collaboration with Clark's continues this flower theme in bright colours like these yellow and coral bursts - the flower prints and cut-out punch heels are gorgeous, along with the bolder bright flower trim of the navy heels. But my favourite of the collection are the 70's style t-bar platforms in a tan snakeskin with adorned with a trademark flower - just amazing.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Happy Galentine's Day!

Image via Smart Girls

Valentine's Day is all well and good but we are much more down with today's alternative, Galentine's Day. Devised by the wonderful Amy Poehler's character Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation, it's celebrated the day before V-Day and is basically a day for ladies to celebrate ladies, the friendships that we have and our ongoing female awesomeness. Yeah! If you're down with Galentine's Day too, give your lady friends a compliment, tell them what they really mean to you and what you appreciate about each other.

Here's some other cool Galentine's stuff you can do:
♥ Go and visit Amy Poehler's Smart Girls to read articles on inspiring women and female empowerment.
♥ Smash the patriarchy over brunch - waffles are the traditional Galentine's meal and you can get some great ones from Papii's on Hanover Street.
♥ Listen to Rookie's tip top Galentine's playlist which will have you singing along straight away - who run the world? Girls!
♥ Remind your BFF that it's always hoes before bros and ovaries before brovaries with this instant download card from Etsy.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Argento Jewellery and 20% discount code

Argento are an online boutique selling gorgeous jewellery from a variety of brands, including Pandora, Thomas Sabo and Links of London along with some smaller exclusive companies. They have a huge range of jewellery, from quirky charm bracelets and pendants, classic watches, oversized cocktail rings and glittery gemstones.

Argento very kindly sent an August Woods necklace to us ahead of Valentine’s Day, a beautiful piece with a silver and grey looped design. It’s modern in design and classic enough to be teamed with either the most simple plain top or something more bold and patterned too. Stunning! August Woods have such a great range, I've got my eye on a lovely geometric silver spike necklace too. Argento sent some other goodies too; some luxury tanning lotion and chocolates and it was so lovely to be spoilt ahead of Valentine’s Day! It’s the perfect webpage for Valentine’s Day browsing for yourself or a loved one.

They have some brilliant offers on at the moment  - use the code LOVE20 to get 20% off your Argento purchase. And with a purchase over £50 you receive a free selfie stick! I must admit, it’s not something I would have purchased myself but it’s actually pretty cool. It’s nice to be able to get pictures of me and my boo without our huge faces being the main attraction and it’ll be great on holidays too. I’m not sure how high the embarrassment factor of waving one around in a crowded city would be but I’m looking forward to using it on a planned trip to Aviemore and capturing us with the beautiful Scottish countryside. And ensuring it captures everything sparkly that I'm wearing too!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Blogging on the go in Edinburgh

One of the best things about writing a blog with one of your best pals is the fun we have with the process itself. Jane & I meet up regularly to chat about future posts, Instagram ideas and how much we love Pinterest - usually over tea, cake and/or lunch! I had become used to lugging my laptop around with me, an unwieldy 15 inch slab which is fine for using at home but a pain to heave around town. Luckily, Logitech recently sent us their Keys To Go stand-alone keyboard. to try out, which connects to all iPads via bluetooth and fits neatly into an everyday bag. It's thinner and lighter than a notebook, and has a lovely feel to it when typing. It's so nice to have more room in my bag and my shoulder appreciates the lighter load too! It's covered in a water-repellant fabric skin which helps protect this from any dirt and spills. Not only that, I can stand my iPad up on a table and settle in a comfy couch and write away with the keyboard on my lap. The perfect blogging experience!

I thought it would also be nice to give a shout out to some of our favourite places to meet up & blog. They all have free wifi, plugs to keep everything charged,  delicious coffees and cakes, and are happy to have folk hanging around for a few hours.

♥ Hemma Bar is located near the bottom of Holyrood Road and is stylish and spacious, with two floors of seating. Plentiful couches, fab brunches and lovely staff make this the unofficial Edinburgh Etiquette weekend HQ.

♥ Loudons Cafe is a very popular weekend hangout for folk working away on laptops, but it's roomy enough for all with lots of seating. The menu has healthy eats and cakes from their own bakery and the table service means you can sit for a good hours and get work done without having to move.

♥ Brew Lab is the smallest of the three hang-outs and based in the heart of studentville in the Old Town so it's always good to get there early. They take their coffee very seriously so it's the best place to go when you need a jolt of caffeine to help you get on with your work.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Edinburgh Events: Things to Do in February

February's not just for lovin', it's also about eating pancakes, watching ballet, fine foods and getting arty - check it:

CoppeliaThe Nutcracker & Swan Lake
10-14 February / Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre, 18-22 Greenside Place, EH1 3AA /
The Russian State Ballet are bringing a trio of some of the most magical and elegant ballets to Edinburgh - Coppelia, the Nutcracker and Swan Lake. We loved the Scottish Ballet's Nutcracker at Christmas and these are sure to be equally beautiful productions that will delight and inspire.

Pancake Weekend
13-15 February 2015 / Joseph Pearce's, 23 Elm Row, EH7 4AA
If there is one big day in February that is closer to my heart than Valentine's, it's Pancake Day! This year it's on the 17 February and JP's is having a Pancake Weekend to celebrate. Pop in any time for a stack of them to go along with the usual fine food, beers and Swedish inspired cocktails.

The Wave Pictures concert
10 February / Sneaky Petes, 73 Cowgate, EH1 1JW / £9
The Wave Pictures are one of our favourites and they'll have a new album out in February - yay! And they're playing in Edinburgh too - double yay! Hear some of the songs from Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon and swoon over the epic guitar solos.

The Scratch Series pop-up restaurant
Iglu, 2B Jamaica Street, EH3 6HH / £45
Scratch Series is a pop-up based at New Town eatery Iglu. Chefs David Crabtree-Logan and Ben Reade have taken over Iglu's upstairs restaurant space until the end of March, running every Thursday-Saturday at 7pm. At £45 it's a bit on the pricey side, but they promise to showcase the best local produce and plan to dazzle with seven course suppers of "refined, whimsical, thought-provoking and, above all, delicious food." With a description like that, who could resist?

Rail pop-up gallery & shop
Until 24 February / 9 South College Street, EH8 9AA
Run by University of Edinburgh students, this pop-up shop aims to combine art installation and shop, where even the clothes rails are specially designed sculptures. You can get a peek of what to expect from their Instagram account; they want to give visitors an experience where art is collaborative and the creative process is tangible. The pop-up will be visiting London in a few months so visit whilst you can.

Edinburgh Student Arts Festival
5-13 February / Venues throughout Edinburgh
This is the inaugural event, a collaboration between higher and further education institutions throughout Edinburgh. There should be a myriad of visual art, music, dance, exhibitions, talks, workshops, stalls and theatre shows, showcasing the work of 250 students. Expect wonderful things from Edinburgh's up & coming artists.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Edinburgh is Delicious: The Basement Bar, Broughton Street

Just a hop, skip and a jump away from Princes Street is Broughton Street, which has a small strip of cool bars and shops to visit at a more leisurely pace than Edinburgh's city centre. At the top of the street is the Basement Bar, an under-the-stairs hideaway which is a bit of an Edinburgh institution for cocktails and Mexican food. After a makeover in the past year it's a pretty sweet place to visit so I snapped up their invitation to try their menu

The dining space at the back of the bar is surprisingly light for a basement bar, with exposed brick, brightly coloured chairs and greenery decorating the walls. We were seated by our lovely waitress and perused the drinks menu with interest. As a Mexican bar, there was no surprise in the extensive tequila presence on the drinks menu or the sangrita, a palate cleanser intended for the moments between sips of tequila. There's also a fun cocktail menu too and, as a dedicated lover of everything passion fruit, I had to try their passion fruit and blueberry mojito. It was fresh and lovely, not too sweet due to the passion fruit kick to it and the traditional hint of mint. 

Their small bites menu has a lot of great choices on there, with some of our top picks being the seabass, scallop and prawn ceviche and the corn fritters with feta crema. After some deliberation, we settled for some crispy empanadias, filled with chorizo and spiced potato and some freshly made guacamole with tortilla chips. At the Basement Bar, you can be assured that freshly made guacamole really means freshly made, as they make this up right at the table. Scooping out a whole avocado and adding in red onion, garlic, lime and chili to your liking, it's mashed up in front of you ready to eat, a great touch. We were also presented with three bottle of hot sauce with varying degrees of heat - chipotle, jalapeno and for the bravest of souls who can take it, the intimidating x hot sauce. It's a good way to portion out spices when sharing dishes and the mountain of chips with the guacomole and delicate puffs of empanadias disappeared quickly.

The large plates have some favourite Mexican classics listed, like burritos, fajitas and baked enchilada, the latter of which was my dining companion's choice. It arrived as a huge flour tortilla covered in salsa and melted cheese, filled with chicken tinga, peppers and jalapenos. Served with rice, it was perfect with the hottest of hot sauces and deliciously filling. I thought the chilli negra sounded like an interesting choice of beef cooked with beer and dark chocolate, as did the Mexican blackened hake which was served with a seafood bisque and green rice. However I opted for the fish tacos, something I'd never tried before and thankfully, after stuffing myself with tortilla chips, the lightest dish on the menu. This was a tortilla crusted deep fried coley served on soft tortillas, with salad and mango salsa accompaniment and a good dollop of hot sauce. 

By the end of the meal we were pretty full, however something on the dessert menu had caught my eye, warm pineapple poached with chili and served with coconut ice cream. As a lover of tropical fruits, this ticked the right boxes for me and it was a lovely fresh way to end the meal. It was beautifully presented and accompanied with a sauce that I wasn't quite expecting, like a thin custard. While pleasant enough, I would have preferred the pineapple without the sauce, with the natural sweetness of the pineapple contrasting with the chili, but that was probably the only thing I'd change from our overall experience. We're looking forward to visiting again when we're next on Broughton Street as it's the perfect place in town to forget the cold and think warm sunny thoughts whilst tucking into freshly made guacamole!

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

Edinburgh Wedding Project: Lady JoJos Brides and the perfect vintage wedding dress

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 style, I wanted a vintage wedding dress 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.