Tuesday, 26 November 2013

November Nesting

Now that the weather in Edinburgh is officially "fresh" it's time to escape the chill and have some downtime at home, as beautifully expressed in Ashley G's print above. Here's our favourite ways to get nesting!


Drinking tea (preferably from a beautiful beautiful cup).
Being a tea jenny extraordinaire, I will hug a mug, every day, whatever the weather (except for when I'm on holiday when my preferred breakfast drink is MIMOSAS). But when it's chilly outside, I like to sling on an ironic onesie, bundle up in a blanket and double my dosage: a strong brew, but with lots of milk. No, haters, that is not "baby tea", but yes, I would rather love it in a gorgeous leafy cup from House of Rym...

Going knitwear nuts
There's no love lost between me and summer fashion - I hate showing my legs and I'm not so much peely-wally as translucent, so I'm always glad to break out the woollens when it gets frosty. Knitwear is having a bit of a fashion moment (even more so than usual) so we're especially spoilt for choice this year, and I would be delighted to be luxuriantly snuggling up in anyone of these cosy patterned numbers in the near future. Stylish and with ample room to accommodate a hot water bottle up yer jumper too.

Top row, L-R: Wishlist ombre from Jaegar; Lund-tastic fisherman knit from French Connection; pink and patterned from Topshop
Bottom row, L-R: a tasteful Christmassy knit from H&M; American Apparel colour-block; stripes a-go-go from InWear at Edinburgh's own Kakao by K.

Be daft for craft
Although I'm no stranger to box sets, it's occasionally nice to break up the lengthy TV marathons that tend to accompany winter's long and dark nights, and getting a wee bit crafty is a good way to do so whilst giving the ol' creative muscles a flex too. I keep my crafting mega-simple as I like projects that see an outcome in an afternoon or two, so I've be diving into my overstuffed Pinterest archives to find some homespun crafty inspiration.

Clockwise from top left: rainbow pom poms; DIY embroidered smiley gloves; huggable raindrop family; multi-coloured bottle brush forest.

Scrummy, speedy sustenance

I spend a lot more time squirrelled away in my wee kitchen in the winter, but nevertheless favour recipes that are straightforward and speedy for those nights when I just need to vegetate. From L-R:

(1) Jamie Oliver's 15-minute veggie and bean chilli with lemony yoghurt - although I don't think I've every managed to make it in 15 minutes, it's warming, scrummy and pretty angelic calories-wise too. The recipe calls for ancho chillies, which if you're in Edinburgh, you can pick up at Lupe Pintos' deli in Tollcross.

(2) Not angelic but definitely delish is that fondue-in-a-box extravaganza, the baked camembert. Sometimes I think I'd like to kiss the genius that was looking down at a wheel of it and went "Let's put this baby in the OVEN". Brava, sir, brava. Make little cuts in the top and push in slices of garlic or sprigs of thyme or rosemary, drizzle with honey and serve with roasted figs, or top with some crushed walnuts. Everyone has their preference but I like my camembert as whiffy as possible, and Le Rustique always stinks up a scrumptious storm.

(3) Sophie Dahl's warm winter root vegetable salad with feta is one of my top winter faves, a hearty dish that covers your five a day in one fell, delicious swoop. I sometimes substitute the feta for goats' cheese, sprinkle on some rocket or crumble in some spicy Tuscan-style sausages and fennel seeds for when my inner carnivore needs fed. It needs a little time in the oven but besides a little chopping is fairly fuss free.

Layering and Loungewear
I love a bit of hibernation and to be able to do it in comfort is the ultimate goal.  You don't need to bother with looking cool as you won't be going anywhere, it's a free pass to wearing whatever you like (which in my case is mostly my boyfriends jumpers).  Toasty loungewear (i.e. tracky bottoms or pyjamas) are very accessible thanks to the huge Primark on Princes Street selling Scandi-print snowflake and reindeer wool leggings, cosy owl/deer/bunny pj's and more novelty onesies that you could shake a stick at.  On the other side of the coin are cashmere onesies at over a hundred quid a pop - it sounds amazing but really, utterly decadent (not to mention soft and fuzzy) madness.  Back to the real world,  River Island do some excellent loungewear (I love these bright pink velour joggers and the cheeky pud!), however these Topshop pyjamas are my ones of choice - brushed cotton with a subtle animal print (reindeer, polar bears and bunnies), they're super warm & cute so tick all my boxes. I'm hoping if Santa is good to me, I might be able to wrap myself up in a Cath Kidston dressing gown and tuck my bed-socked feet into these ridiculously awesome unicorn slippers too.

Nordic Noir
I've been addicted to the spate of Scandi-drama series' that have made their way onto telly over the past few years and am thrilled that Borgen has returned so I can get my latest dose of design porn and hott Danish guys.  The Tunnel (the UK/French remake of The Bridge) is also filling the void of Nordic Noir for the time being but I'm looking forward to the The Bridge 2 (along with some quality Scandi-knitwear) and new drama The Protectors, which has another strong female lead character.  The only downside to a bit of NN is I can't knit my own Lund-esque jumper whilst reading subtitles too.

Page Turners & Hangin' with Pets
Nothing says nesting like hanging out with your own wee faithful four-legged pal, which in my case is a black and white feline wonder with a pink nose.  They provide entertainment, love snoozing and are like beautiful works of art that just happen to love hanging out with you.  I'm planning on reading about some of his fellow felines, in Tom Cox's series of books about his cats - Under the PawTalk To the Tail and just released The Good, The Bad and The Furry.  I've started the first one and it's the kind of page turning comfort read that works well in this weather, particularly with a cat snoring nearby in his basket.  I realise to non-cat lovers it may sound unbearably twee but ex-journo Cox spins a good yarn - his Twitter accounts My Sad Cat and My Smug Cat are hilarious.

Experimenting With Booze
With the festive season not quite yet upon us, it's still prudent to keep an eye on all of the seasonal alcoholic beverages in advance for future cocktail making.  I've seen a rather splendid looking rhubarb vodka and honeycomb Irish cream in M&S, who always come up with some winning booze this time of year - their mint chocolate Irish cream Baileys was a regular feature in my hot chocolate last year.  It's time to experiment with the cherry brandy, Cointreau and Amaretto you have lying around - all of the best festive flavours - to ensure you have the finest cocktails ready to go for December.  You can even make your own candy cane vodka (and make the rather lush looking white hot chocolate candy cane martini while you're at it)!  Here and here are a good starting place to practice.


Nesting, literally, in scarves
Jane likes her knits, Katey likes layers, and my own personal woollen wonder is the scarf. I have lost count of how many scarves I own, probably around 30. Some are summer scarves (which, if you twine two together, make a beautiful layered, warmer winter scarf) but I've recently found some so big you can wrap yourself in them like a blanket, or literally create a nest around your neck when they are wrapped thrice around.  They are more square than long and do sit almost like an oversized cowl neck jumper. My own scarf saviour is Zara. Most of my favourites come from here, and they do the uber big 'shawl like' scarves that bundle up into your own portable nest.  They also work well to double as mini blankets when in a cold pub, movie theatre or coffee shop. And yes, I have done this.
All scarves above my own, from Zara (top two this season, bottom scarf last year. Yellow is evidently in.)

Using cinnamon in pretty much everything
Before Starbucks made the Spiced Latte a one-coffee wonder, I had my own love affair with cinnamon. It makes everything taste so much better, and there is no denying it is one of the flavours of the Festive Season. My favourite cinnamon-based recipes are Lebkuchen, the German cookies that use egg white and ground almonds to give them a chewy, light texture. BBC Good Food do a perfectly great and easy recipe. My second favourite baked good that doesn't always call for cinnamon is banana bread, specifically The Hummingbird Bakery banana bread. Their recipe uses a lot of ginger and cinnamon, but doesn't drown out the deliciousness of the banana. A twist on the normal lighter loaf. I also one day had a happy accident by attempting to sprinkle cinnamon into my pancake batter and ended up loading in around 2 teapsoons. The result was Jenny's Famous Cinnamon Pancakes! They taste like eating the cinnamon pancake equivalent of ginger biscuits. And my new favourite way to use cinnamon is on sweet potato! Inspired by Jamie Oliver's Veggie Chilli recipe, which uses cinnamon twice, I now sprinkle cinnamon on my sweet potato fries when making them at home. Now everything I eat can taste like Christmas!
Left to right, german cookies Lebkuchen, banana bread, and veggie chilli. All include cinnamon!

Hug-a-mug of hot chocolate
As I work from home or anywhere with wifi, I can quite comfortably nest up in a temporary spot, so long as they have big mugs full of a hot drink that I can hug to keep warm. Nothing feels so good as wrapping your cold fingers around a warm mug, eh?  So one favourite home-away-from-home nesting spots in Edinburgh are The Chocolate Tree for their churros and Spanish hot chocolate, Artisan Roast Bruntsfield for good coffee, and Freemans with their big comfy leather couch (and who stock Coco of Bruntsfield rose hot chocolate).
Churros and Spanish hot chocolate at The Chocolate Tree.

Keeping my tootsies toasty and my feeing in my fingers!
I have terrible circulation, and I don't think I'm the only person to go through their own personal mini mope over the sudden loss of circulation to your extremities the moment the temperatures drop. I get that weird thing where my fingers will suddenly go shock-white and lose all feeling, and rather raspy dry skin to go with (never a good look). So a good pair of gloves, cosy socks, and hand cream are winter nesting essentials for me. I got a great pair of festive socks from H&M recently, whilst GAP always have nice angora wool socks; I tend to prefer the less practical mittens at keeping my fingers warm, and use a sheepskin pair I got for a tenner last year; and really like Soap & Glory's Hand Food (available at Boots) as a portable wee hand saviour, to stop them chapping up.


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