Saturday, 26 December 2015

Boxing clever...


So... there goes Christmas...

Boxing Day has dawned.

You are considering chocolate for breakfast. PJS all day. You have the urge to Nama-stay in bed and you will probably have a mini repeat of yesterday's dinner. Mum will make enough sandwiches to feed an army. Or maybe you might get creative in trying to use every last piece of your turkey to make soup or some other strange concoction because you watched Jamie Oliver do it once and you reckon it will be a piece of cake. Haha... I had a lovely Christmas Day, did you?

My day began with as I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and sipped my coffee with no real rush or agenda. I enjoyed picking out a festive outfit.

I took real pleasure in the art of "getting ready"...you know, festive make up touches, curling your hair etc. Truth to be told, we were kind of channeling the relaxed spirit of PJs all day, but there is something quite lovely about making an effort. Sure, I might have looked like I was getting ready to hop on over to the Grammy's and potentially the poster girl for "all dressed up and nowhere to go".

The reality is that this didn't bother me at all. It was Christmas Day, and everyone likes to feel a little bit special at Christmas, right?


As predicted, dad's militant dinner plan practically went off without hitch (apart from that brief moment that mum "mislaid" his itinerary and the rest of the day was hanging in the balance.) Bravo dad, what an incredible job!

I must admit, I am usually quite keen to crack open those presents before the clock strikes twelve, however on this occasion there was something nice about pacing the day. Even if it does fight against everything natural in me to shake, rattle and roll those presents across the floor as I attempt to guess what is inside.

I hope that in the hustle, bustle, wrapping, glitter and tinsel you managed to slow things down to take some time this Christmas. We don't often take the time to take things slow, but it does the heart the world of good.

We dined and chatted. We sipped wine and listened to Christmas songs. We exchanged presents and filled the house with laughter as we remembered what a rare gift it is to all be in one place at one time.

Don't you think that today kick starts the most curious few days of the entire year?

Meal times are back-to-front. You can't remember what day it is. Are the shops open? Can we expect normal mail? Can I still eat treats for breakfast without the fear of intense judgment?

2015 is coming to a close and after the excitement and festive buzz that Christmas offers begins to dissipate, we start to take stock of the year. Things we've accomplished. Our experiences. New places we have traveled. People we have met along the way. Getting to know those already in our life a little better. On a personal note this year has also famously been the "year of the blog", and that hopefully means exciting things are on the way for 2016.

I wanted to say a big thanks to anyone who has journeyed through "There goes Christmas" with me. You guys are swell.

From today things will get more back to normal back here at HQ, but it has been fun to set myself a little challenge to post pretty often on the countdown to Christmas. Did you enjoy it? Be honest. I like honest.

With this in mind, let me just say that your support means a lot as I continue on my little path with the blog. If it is something you are interested in I would encourage you to...

Keep reading.

Keep suggesting improvements.

Keep sharing with friends.

Keep leaving comments.

Allow me dream a little bigger and reach a touch further as I take "There goes Claire" into 2016. As my expression might suggest, I am rather looking forward to it...

#THEREGOESXMAS









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Thursday, 24 December 2015

One more sleep...


...one more more sleep to go. Are you excited?

Whether you are cracking out another tin of Quality Street/Roses; sipping hot chocolate; bopping around the living room to Bublé or cuddling up to Love Actually on loop, we have only one more sleep left until Christmas Day.

No matter how old we get, Christmas always seems to have a certain kind of magic to it. It is always special to gather family together and share in those age old traditions and feel...well, like a kid at Christmas.

Part of me can't quite believe that the year has zipped by and we find ourselves on the doorstep of Christmas once more. This holiday is looking a little different for our household. Downgraded, but not in a bad way. We are focusing on the smaller details. Happy to find alternatives or compromises and ever in celebration of "plan B".

I am poking/prodding presents much to the dismay of my brother who insists (even at 33 years old) that we have to wait because "those are the rules." Truth is, I am excited for presents, even if they don't have mine name on the gift tag. Dad is watching Jamie Oliver in the vain hope that he may be able to glean a few last minute tips and tricks for the dinner table.

Hold on a sec. Let's take a moment here: can you even imagine how wonderful it would be to spend Christmas Day at Jamie's?

Mum and I are laying the festive table with a slightly alternative feel, because, let's face it... it's easier and quite frankly still looks pretty jolly.

Blog HQ wishes you all a very merry, happy, healthy Christmas. May you truly feel the very best of the season this year. As we unwrap our gifts, embrace each other with well wishing and begin to draw this year to its close, remember to look past the turkey and treats and to the true meaning of Christmas. These are simply embellishments that decorate the heart of an inspiring message.

Look beyond.

Search for more.

Tomorrow is a day that changed history. You have nothing to lose when considering the reason for this particular season. And everything to gain...

#THEREGOESXMAS





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Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Good news...


Everyone loves a piece of good news.

Finding something that was lost. A friend is unexpectedly in town. Feeling happy because you get that certain result.

Good news brings relief.

Calms fear.

Encourages joy to well up within us.

It can arise over the smallest most insignificant thing that, chances are, may not even matter to anyone else. It can be something huge that we were literally hanging on the wire for. You know, the big stuff. Something that within a second could alter the very landscape of the remaining few pages of this calendar and carry you into a whole new year.

Christmas is a season for good news. For glad tidings of comfort and joy. Isn't that what the carols say?

Yesterday was a day for receiving good news. It was good news that the festive season had begun, for rest and a little play as we all put work on the shelf for a few days. It was good news that after a whole year I was coming back to be reunited with family to share in the holiday season together.

It was good news that after a few weeks of anguish and worry, my mum received encouraging results following a difficult diagnosis and some tricky, painful surgery. News like this alleviates worry. A huge burden that weighed heavy from a long period of waiting is instantly lightened.

Hope is expected.

Futures are brighter.

People can relax again.

There is even the sound of happy laughter that breaks through tense silence. A silence that felt both empty and deafening.

It is among life's greatest blessings to have the support of people that love us. People surround us. Bless us with small gestures. Figure out the details to enable us to take a load off. Pray on our behalf. Journey with us.

This Christmas we count our blessings, and also count ourselves fortunate to have incredible family and friends, and a loving God. This is perhaps the best news.

#THEREGOESXMAS
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Saturday, 19 December 2015

The final countdown...


It's the FINAL COUNTDOWN... (do do doo doo, do do do do doo)...

You've written those last few emails, popped on your out of office and are getting ready to wave your desk goodbye for the holidays. Could there be a more incredible feeling in this lifetime? No more work for 2 whole weeks and nothing but dinner, movies and Cadbury's selection boxes ahead. Hooray!

Yesterday marked the end of another year at the office, and by lunch time we were gently warming a little mulled wine in china tea cups and gathering around our computers to ease in the season with a few festive tunes.

On traditionally named "fall-down Fridays" offices all over the land dawni garish Christmas jumpers or a hint of sparkle to go on the legendary Christmas night out. At the university this took the form of a somewhat civilised affair and a sit down dinner in the Debating hall followed by a little time relaxing at the bar. A glass of fizz, a beautifully decorated tree and a sprinkling of tinsel here and there helped us with all those seasonal feels.

Yes, you may have a glass of wine too many as you read the embarrassing jokes and play with the lame gifts in the crackers but the Christmas night out marks the end of another working year. A time to dress up and let your hair down, but also a time to celebrate the highs and lows of the year that has gone by. There are things we will be eternally proud of. There are those things that we could have/should have done differently and vow to get right next time.

When all is said sometimes there is a tendency to dwell on the lows and get caught up in the mundane of our day to day when what we ought to do is focus on the highlights and the people we have around us. Life can throw us a curve ball and take us on an unexpected turn, but often when it does it will helpfully place some pretty amazing people in our path that we wouldn't have met otherwise. Don't you think so?

So perk up, put on your party hat and embrace the moment, wherever you are. Whether you share hilarious stories together, offer a cheeky toast to times gone by or throw down your best moves to T-swizzle, rock around the Christmas tree with your friends and have a happy holiday!

#THEREGOESXMAS

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Thursday, 17 December 2015

Lines & Current


Sometimes within modern day street style there is a growing appetite to go back to basics. Muted colours, uncomplicated style and simple pieces we can trust, because at the end of the day we know they work.

This Belfast brand have caught my attention for the Autumn/Winter season with their minimalist aesthetic and a desire to give something back by way of collaboration with a variety of worthy causes. This provides all those that love their brand a chance to look good, feel good and do good.

As the winter sun began to fade one chilly afternoon, I headed to a secluded secret garden in Edinburgh's iconic old town to shoot a few images and spotlight a little attention on Lines & Current.


It is often frustrating to perfect a killer hair routine only to have your efforts dashed when you are forced to hide it under a winter hat. Headbands allows you to accessorise your outfit and fight off the winter chill without the inconvenience of shockingly bad hat hair ruining your "do". Believe me, I have been there. Cue impressive bird's nest.

I selected the Navy MARTA headband from the range (£9.99.) The jersey material is incredibly soft with enough stretch to get it around my abundant barnet. The knot can be placed at the front, however I found that it is equally comfortable when swivelled around and worn to the back... you know, if you are prone to switching things up.


I adore the way this looks and again found myself reflecting on Danish/Norwegian street style, made so effortless by those happy, healthy Scandinatives. I would often be sipping on a latte, huddled under a blanket in my hygge hideout of choice, turning the pages of a magazine as countless women strutted the streets oozing that effortless Scandi-chic. Practically perfect in every way.


Ok, so I can't carry my groceries, sip a coffee and navigate those bustling bicycle lanes at evening rush hour, but would I be so bold as to propose that I wanted to connect with a little bit of that in my own personal style? Whilst I am positive that many carry it off better than I, wearing the Marta allows the me the chance to channel a little of that vibe at home.


Next up are THE HENNING sunglasses (£21.99.) I chose the tortoiseshell frame which feature a miniature L& inscribed on the trademark wooden leg. Words can scarcely contain my love for these fashion savvy frames. They certainly give a nod to other high end wooden frames on the market, however as far as THE HENNING are concerned the price point is as impressive as the quality, allowing me to spare a few pennies for a rainy day.


Whether large lenses allure you or you need something to throw on your face when life calls for a minimal make up day, these are a wonderful choice. Wrap yourself in a blanket scarf, ruffle your hair, pop on the specs and a little lipstick/lipbalm and you are good to run out the door and seize life by both hands.

Slightly shameful admission, but there is something about wearing these frames that makes me feel super cool. And yes, I will probably end up slipping on some street snow or tripping over a curb as I run for that bus, but at least these can go a small way to saving face. Then I would be quite literally falling for Lines & Current in a very real way.

Delighted to know that even though I have fled to distant shores for over a decade, amazing style is still coming out of Belfast- placing Northern Ireland on the map for reasons I can be proud of.

There might be quite a lot of Scot in me, but Northern Ireland will always be home to my roots. It is time this land is famous for the right reasons and I think brands like Lines & Current are central to this effort.

Rebekah Johanson and those who support her in this fashionable outfit are a personal inspiration. They ensure that you can accessorise your style with on trend pieces that won't clean out your wallet and perhaps play a small role in something greater.






Lines & Current instil hope and help change lives and that will always be something to quicken my heart. They donate part of the profit to a variety of charitable causes which allow them to give something back and to affect positive change. It is cool to think that there are little elements of Lines & Current all around us, in a way. I look forward to looking on as a tribe of L&C women spring up all over the country as they increase their reach.

This brand evoke a real feeling of lived in, boho, beautiful simplicity. It seems that the heart of this brand will always be first and foremost about people and personal connection with customers to help women feel a little more like themselves and at home in their own skin. To me, this kindles what true beauty is really about. We should really work a little harder to keep it simple.

Less is more...

How can I connect with Lines & Current?
www.linesandcurrent.com
Facebook: Lines & Current
Twitter: @linesandcurrent
Instagram: @linesandcurrent
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Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Star of wonder...


Stars.

On the one hand they are tiny details that can be easily missed in the hustle and bustle of life. Lost in city light pollution. Rushing through town on those last minute festive errands it's easy to forget the beautiful details if you keep your eyes to the ground. On the one other hand they are huge, intricately made and full of wonder.

Taking a little time out last night I strolled through the cobbled streets of picturesque Stockbridge on my way to a quiet birthday gathering. The rain was beating down as made my way through the windy alleyways. Truth be known, I hate rain. I will however make the exception if I am snuggled up by a fireside clutching a hot chocolate like a long lost relative.

Last night wandering through wet streets dodging puddles seemed strangely peaceful. The walk to my venue allowed me to take a little time out. To gather my thoughts. To shrug off the day. To notice the smallest of details and appreciate the fact that in Edinburgh, beauty is everywhere to be found.

We gathered around tables at a new wine and cheese café. What could be more perfect that hiding from bad weather in good company, with a few nibbles and an inviting glass of red? It was the dream.

Cosy conversation; fun and laughter; Christmas décor and a great soundtrack as we kicked back to relax in the presence of friends while the rain pattered down on window panes. Simple things, yet bringing true delight.

I happened to snap this photo of a star as it drew my attention in a shop doorway. It was magical. The best thing was it caught my eye when I was least expecting it.

Advent is a season of hope. Waiting for answers. Desperately seeking guidance in difficult situation. Searching out signs and wonders. Re-framing our expectation that the season will change. Whatever you may be wishing on a star for, best to always be patient in the wait. And appreciate the unexpected beauty in that time...

'cause you're a sky full of stars
Such a heavenly view


#THEREGOESXMAS








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Monday, 14 December 2015

A light has come...


Christmas day is next Friday- say what?

Last night we celebrated our annual carol service together at Central; one of the leading churches in Edinburgh's city centre. Christmas is my favourite time of year in the life of this particular church, as we put a lot of effort into making things truly special for the holiday season.

We extend warm invites to friends, family, colleagues and neighbours to come join with us as we share in this time. This is something that is always better when experienced together. Well seasoned church goers and new faces young and old (and all the stages in between) come to discover more of the message of hope that is offered to all this Christmas time.

We love the twinkle of dainty fairy lights and singing our favourite carols. We adore the sense of joy and occasion that Christmas brings to us, but it might just go far beyond embarrassing jumpers and mulled wine, doesn't it? A message of light and hope that changes lives forever, and only for the better.

Oh holy night!

Maybe what you crave right now is a dramatic act of light, hope and love to come crashing into your world and transform things on a monumental scale. Maybe at this point you can only catch a small glimmer of light just in your eye line that fuels expectation for something better in the coming year. Hope does many things and has the incredible ability to change what it touches. Hope infiltrates politics. Alters work places. Strengthens relationships. Reconciles division. Restores damage and rescues what is lost.

Maybe those countless Etsy prints and Insta-encouragers have something here: the best is yet to come.

Phenomenal promise. Staggering reality. Overwhelming gratitude. Could we share in being a light for this city? And how do we better invest in a vision to enhance this illuminating glow?

For those who are interested, the evening featured a stunning track from Gungor feat. All Sons and Daughters, "Oh Light". The live performance of this was beautiful, but feel free to check out the song HERE.

Some of the talented Central team also made a wonderful film, #ALightForThisCity. I thoroughly recommend giving it a watch.

Oh Light
Come to reconcile
Come in like a child
Holy night

Oh Light
Our hopes and all our fears
Met within your sight
Holy night


#THEREGOESXMAS

How to connect with Central?
www.jesusattheheart.org
Twitter: @JesusAtTheHeart

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Friday, 11 December 2015

Winter wonderland...


It's the most wonderful time of the year.

However, what if this season has left you feeling a little less than magical? Candy floss hair? Chapped lips? Dry hands? Does anyone feel me?

I thought it would be a good idea to round up a few of my current winter faves. These are items I have been reaching for to amp up the TLC as the temperature dips.

1. Soap and Glory Beauty Sleep Accelerator (Night & Flight Moisture Miracle)

Dry offices, cold air, crazy weather and cranked up central heating leaves me feeling a little like someone has stuck a straw in my face and removed every last trace of moisture.

Well, hello my little friend!

Soap and Glory continue to impress me with their body care and cosmetic range. Can they put a foot wrong? This night cream has a slightly odd but perfectly dreamy and super hydrating texture. It is also ideal for high flyers to pop on during that dreaded long haul flight and you can emerge at your destination feeling revived and fresh faced. Plus you won't run the risk of scaring your travel buddy half to death as you treat yourself to a mini in-flight routine. I find myself using this most evenings at the moment and honestly can't fault it. Definitely one to pick up in a Christmas gift set or on its own to hang from your tree.

2. Sarah Chapman Skinesis Overnight Hand and Nail Treatment

Sarah Chapman wins at skin care. This product doesn't come in cheap and is certainly the most spendy option on my wish list, but sometimes it is fun to treat yourself to something high end at Christmas. You deserve it, right? That being said, some heavy hinting in all the right places could ensure that you receive something a little special this Christmas. This is first item I have sampled from her range in a hopeful quest to rescue my winter ravaged paws. The packaging feels luxurious, as does the product. I am now in the routine of popping on this heavenly blend of oils before I jump into bed, being sure to work it into hands and nails. Sadly not something I feel I could justify the whole year round (my account would flip!) However I would say it is perfect for a one off treat or a gift for someone who needs a little extra TLC this festive season.

3. Lipstick Queen, Medieval

Christmas time is awash with a mix of berry tones and statement red lips. But what if you are just wanting a subtle hint of colour for every day wear? Medieval has become a staple for me this winter and barely makes it out of my handbag. The texture is hydrating and adds a touch of colour that is universally flattering. This is my go-to choice when I want something quick and easy that is kind to lips. Add for a wash of colour or layer it to make the cherry tint more vibrant. With this blush shade for lips, it gives the effect that you have just been running around in the snow. You may find you need to reapply often, but personally I don't mind. Easy to wear, looks great on everyone, and currently one of my most favourite things I own.

No brainer.

4. Joico K-Pak Deep-Penetrating Reconstructor

Having long hair in winter means that you need to take extra care. Joico have an incredible range of hair care for every type on the spectrum but let me tell you that this reconstructor is practically a miracle in a bottle. Leaving it on for just 5 minutes as part of your shower routine will help repair, rebuild and return locks to their former glory. It can be used on a variety of hair lengths and structures and is what I reach for when my hair feels a little dull or battered by the elements. I love that I can do something kind for my hair in just 5 minutes, however if you have a little more time on your hands feel free to potter around the house and let the product do its thing. Shiny, strong and manageable hair. So long scarf dreadlocks!

Swish Swish.

5. Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Ultra Moisturising Lip Balm Dark Chocolate & Mint

Ending with easily the cheapest thing on my winter menu. Sometimes we just need to keep it simple.

I love most offerings from Palmer's as they do a fine rage of moisturisers and body products. I could be stating the obvious, but one of the best things that you can keep by your side in winter is a lipbalm. Sure, you can decide to splurge and there are plenty of choices out there if you decide to splash the cash, but this one is great choice. The Palmer's formula is packed with Vitamin E and SPF which will keep you feeling like a smooh operator. I chose the Dark chocolate and Peppermint one mainly because it is delicious, but they offer the original formula for plain Janes or a cherry option if you would rather have a pretty pout with a hint of tint.

These are frequently on offer at your nearest Boots or Superdrug, so I don't blame you for grabbing a little stash. A bargain buy for this season, and hey...if you happen to stumble under some mistletoe, you'll be ready.

You should share your winter favourites below. What can you not be without this season? Let me know!

#THEREGOESXMAS


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Thursday, 10 December 2015

Step into Christmas...


14 days to go. Are you feeling those Christmas vibes?

Are you hanging your stocking on the wall? Maybe you are planning to go to a carol service to help you embrace the spirit of the season? (incidentally, I know of a great one happening this weekend in Edinburgh, if you are free)... but more on that later.

We all engage in a few weird and wonderful traditions to help get us into the swing of Christmas, from the deep and meaningful to the little touches that help fill us with Christmas cheer. For me, winter time and the inevitable roulette of Scottish weather means 'tis the season... for a lush bath.

Joy to the world!

A sweet friend of mine as an unexpected (but very welcome) surprise popped a peeping santa on my desk at work because she knew I was facing a difficult day ahead. The smallest of gestures sometimes speak the loudest, and this is often the case with straight-up old fashioned kindness. Tis the season to be jolly, sure. But tis the season to also be kind, thoughtful and loving.

The Lush bath is a wonderful thing. I can avoid that store in all its perfumed haze for a good 8 month stretch, however as soon as the winter chill hits...I want a bath. Every day (for as long as I can get away with it!)

There is always something new to try. A fancy colourful concoction. Something that fizzes or melts. And who isn't a sucker for a limited Christmas edition of fun little treats?

Stepping into a bath is like stepping into Christmas. (Yeah I know, that song is my jam.) Taking time for a bath allows us to step into something warm, relaxing that soothes us which in turn helps us to step out of the crazy chaos. Time stands still, well... until you get prune fingers.

Tis the busiest of all seasons and I'm fairly sure your diary is bursting with drinks, gatherings and parties but remember there is no shame in calling TIME when you need a few moments of calm. We don't want to so busy ourselves that we forget to take time to experience, engage and appreciate everything around us. Presence, not presents.

There is nothing like a little festive FOMO to elevate our stress levels, but trust me now could be the perfect time.

REBOOT.

RESET the clock.

The rest of the year may be flying by at a lightning pace, but don't you think that it is all the more reason to take it slow?

#THEREGOESXMAS

If you would rather step into christmas together...come join us for some Christmas Carols.

The Deets
Central: Jesus at the Heart
3.30pm or 6.30pm
Sunday 13th December
Central: Jesus at the Heart
www.jesusattheheart.org
Tollcross, Edinburgh (just check the website for directions)
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Monday, 7 December 2015

Havin' a ball...


"You shall go to the ball!"

A winter ball to be precise...Ooh, festive.

There is something quite lovely about making the effort to dress up for the evening. A big part of me loves the ritual of it. Picking out a pretty dress, fixing your hair, a hint of lipstick and adding a little sparkle to the equation. I am not usually one for glitter, but if you can't add a touch of shimmer at Christmas or New Year, then when on earth can you?!

Festive gatherings are all kinds of wonderful. Whether you are mingling with friends over a glass of bubbly, swooning to your first taste of Bublé or busting out your latest experimental dance moves as you shake-it-off to Swifty. Occasions like this bring people together, and that in itself is a kind of magic.

The added bonus of indulging the festive season on Scottish soil is that usually there is some manner of ceilidh involved. Whilst my birth certificate doesn't exactly testify to the fact, there is nothing that makes me feel more Scottish or at home than a ceilidh.

You may know each dance like the back of your hand; test your endurance during the Orcadian "strip the willow" or quickly learn that your arms bruise like a peach. Or perhaps you are that guy/gal that revels in walking the newbie through their first steps because let's face it, they don't know their Canadian Barn Dance from their Military Two-Step.

I heart it all.

Fun. Music. Dancing. People... Not just for Christmas, right?


#THEREGOESXMAS
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Saturday, 5 December 2015

Let's mull it over...


I'm sure you have heard the stories...

Edinburgh is pretty magical at Christmas. Twinkly lights adorn the city and it illuminates like a giant Christmas tree. Everyone looks forward to this time of year as the German market has come to town, and it wants to be noticed.

Each person has their favourite little tradition.

Maybe you enjoy the crazy rides that allow you the chance to scream your head off with child-like glee. Maybe you want to snap up that pair of sheepskin slippers for dad's perfect stocking filler. Or perhaps mum really wants a little wooden figurine to set off her mantelpiece. You know, to go with the other 500.

Personally, for me it is all about the mulled wine/cider and maybe the occasional sweet treat or two. Nothing helps you get more into the spirit of Christmas than cupping a hot mug of gluhwein. Kind of sweet, slightly spicy and completely brimming with all the winter feels. The stalls are packed with crafts of every kind. More than you can even imagine. However, I believe that what people enjoy most is the art of crafting memories.

It might be your first awkward skate date. It was your suggestion. You thought it would be romantic (like in the films) and may have promised to be the Torvil to his Dean, but you are more like Bambi on Ice.

It could be festive fun with friends as you enjoy the Christmas lights together in your favourite city. You share a little wine and many laughs and when you add everything together you feel insanely lucky to have them in your life.

Mulled wine is perfect for cold hands, and warms the body for but a second. Friends, love and laughter warm our hearts forever...


#THEREGOESXMAS


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Friday, 4 December 2015

Vita Coco


Coconut water...

It has quite readily become the hipster hydrate of choice. I knew that Vita Coco had a bounty of flavours to suit every taste (peach,lemonade) even with a few coffee options for fellow caffeine comrades. Let's be honest, they have frequently saved my skin when life has left me a little parched. I wasn't aware that they also offered a solid oil within their product range.

Colour me intrigued.

A popular choice for beauty lovers and kitchen dwellers, most people will find that they have many reasons to keep a tub tucked away in their home. Many end up grabbing a tub for both bathroom and kitchen cupboards. From cooking to cleansing, baking to body moisturising there are a wide variety of ways to use this winter wonder product.  Some use it to practice the ancient technique of oil pulling, whilst others fix a bullet proof coffee to kick start that Monday at the office.

I want to reflect a moment on coconut oil for beauty purposes, especially now that the cold snap is upon us. Vita Coco kindly sent me a tub of their cold pressed coconut oil* to play with. Whilst there are countless options available on the market, I truly believe Vita Coco offer one of the best in terms of quality and price and you can easily pick up a tub at your local Boots or pop it in with the weekly supermarket shop at the purse friendly price of £7.99.



Saving Face

When the winter months arrive I like nothing more than slapping a cleansing oil on my face to remove the last traces of make-up after a long day. There is no better feeling than make up removal, as much as I enjoy putting it on. Ideally I want an oil/balm cleanser that is easy to melt and will have your make-up off in seconds. Enter Vita Coco.

This is one of the most affordable options as far as oil cleansers go. There are many high end favourites on the market such as the Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm, or the newly hyped Sunday Riley Tranquillity Cleansing Balm for occasions when you can afford to splash the cash. However if you find yourself having a more budget friendly month and need to pinch valuable pennies I would highly recommend stocking up on a tub of Vita Coco for your bathroom or to perch on your night stand.

So here's the scoop.


Warm a small amount quickly between the fingers and apply directly on top of your make-up and begin to work the product in. As it is an all natural product you don't have to fear when rubbing it into those panda eyes. The consistency of the product easily breaks down everything from bases, to eyes to your favourite lipstick and you can swipe everything away with a hot flannel or muslin cloth depending on your preferred choice.

The formula of the coconut oil is super hydrating without leaving any waxy trace or film on the skin. Your face is guaranteed to feel clean, soft and super comfortable.

Let Your Hair Down

I find this season a particular nightmare as a long haired gal.  Dry offices, central heating, rapidly changing weather all take their toll on our tresses. Anything I can do to give my locks a helping hand and save me from looking like a walking candy floss is rather welcome.


Using coconut oil on hair is not a new idea, but it could add that much needed boost of moisture and quench thirsty locks if you add the smallest amount to smooth pesky flyaways. I prefer working a generous amount into the lengths and ends of dry hair and wrapping in a shower cap or old T-shirt.

Some leave the product for a few hours if a lazy Saturday around the house on the cards. I choose to leave the product in as an overnight treatment that can be showered off in the morning. Make sure to rinse well or double wash to ensure all traces of the oil are removed. Not doing this properly could leave you in a sticky situation. Awkward.


However you look at it, this is an amazingly useful product to keep by your side at all times, so don't be coconut shy.

Decant a little into a small tub to carry with you on the move. Rub it into your hands as part of your night-time ritual. Dab a little on your lips as a treat or smooth into cuticles to keep manicured hands in tip-top condition this wintertime. This pot of magic will keep you going from husk til' dawn.

I don't mean to milk it, but this is love. I swear by it...

*I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes only. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*

How do I connect with Vita Coco?
Facebook: Vita Coco Coconut Oil
Instagram: @vitacoco
Twitter: @VitaCocoUK



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Thursday, 3 December 2015

game change


This is my mum, Arlene.

This picture was taken as we braved the winter chill last year for some shopping and a signature Starbucks "red cup" to get us into the holiday season. I remember how we joked about how she looked like she was taking a trip to Russia. What a hat.

Christmas is going to look a little different for us this year.

We had high hopes as a family that we would be gallivanting around some chilly location in Europe, probably heavily organised by me with an amazing itinerary. So what, I like to plan!

With mum and dad's Ruby wedding anniversary in June and mum celebrating her 65th birthday shortly after, it has been quite a significant year so we thought it could be fitting to round it off in style by doing something a little different this holiday.

All plans have quickly been forgotten as mum received a shock diagnosis of cancer that none of us were ever expecting. Every day seems like a battle to wrap your mind around it, just about. But what next?

Christmas will now be a time of rest after fairly complex surgery and a wait to start further treatment. Any niggles I've experienced about not wanting to repeat our "status quo" Christmas for yet another year quickly pale into insignificance. It would seem that a restful time with family will be exactly what is needed this year. Nothing like life to help you redress your priorities in a heartbeat.

Family.

This Christmas won't be filled with thrills and spills for this insatiable wanderlust. It will be time spent at home making endless cups of tea for my sweet mum as she recovers. It will be filled with hysterical laughter as we attempt to play that board game none of us quite understands. It will be "all hands on deck" for a quiet family meal together. It will be playing music while the embers of that winter fire gently fade.

This season, readjust your priorities. You never quite know when your game will change.

Resolve that family feud, because in truth no-one can quite pinpoint exactly how it started. Extend a hand of friendship by writing that overdue letter to someone as an olive branch as you learn to swallow your pride a little. Value your friends and family greater than treasure and hold those you love tightly, because you never know when they might need you most...

#THEREGOESXMAS


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Tuesday, 1 December 2015

There goes Christmas


It's that most wonderful time of year again.How quickly it has rolled around!

We are decking the halls, trimming the tree and getting ready to cue Bublé on repeat. Come on, I know that isn't just me, right?

Many bloggers out there will be putting their very own spin on "Blogmas" all over the internet. With that in mind I have decided to post a little more frequently as we countdown to Christmas.

Without further ado, let's get cracking with "There goes Christmas". Hooray for snappy titles! I hope to share a short post every other day from the 1st December as we approach Christmas Day.

If you need a helping hand getting into the spirit of the season, then why don't you come along with me as we step into Christmas. Please feel free to comment below with suggestions or ideas of what you might like to see- would love to chat with you as we think about Christmas together. Remember, if you are sharing any posts make sure to use the hashtag #THEREGOESXMAS

Ok, I best get going. I hear the faint whisperings of a Toffee Nut Latte calling my name...

#THEREGOESXMAS
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Monday, 30 November 2015

Alright Treacle


"Alright Treacle?"..

Not just a typical greeting you might receive if you tapped on Danny Dyer's door to borrow some sugar. Naturally I was delighted to connect with Edinburgh based supper club, Alright Treacle. Totally blown away by their creative partnership and desire to offer an alternative dining experience for our city, I was quick to snap up my place at their table; sample the varied, visually stunning menu and chat with founder and kitchen goddess, Anna.

The Crew


The Alright Treacle team come in the form of dynamic duo, Anna Hamilton (R) and Lydia Honeybone (L). Anna did something of a "side-shuffle" from previous career choices and discovered her love for creating vibrant menus and a passion for the community dining experience. With no real formal training in the kitchen, she found her natural affinity and flair in menu design, culinary creation and hosting - all this with Lydia as her trusty right-hand gal.

Edinburgh is a fine canvas for such a concept. Alright Treacle do it all: private event catering, collaborations, special birthdays or hosting themed supper clubs at a quirky flat in the historic Old Town, otherwise known as Alright Treacle HQ.

Culinary Community


Setting a theme for any event is the perfect way to draw different crowds together and keeps the company and concept fresh. I found that hosting the supper club in a flat created an intimate, socialable and personal dining experience. There is something delightful about community dining.

Carefully selected menus and themes naturally attract a wide variety of different guests each with their own tastes and interests. This social "melting pot" is the perfect environment to spark conversation and keeps a natural flow to the entire evening. If that does not occur naturally it is almost impossible to generate. It is organic and cannot be forced. In truth, forcing it would really detract from the very element that makes it so fascinating.


I adore that each event is entirely individual, whether you want to relive retro dishes with a twist, enjoy chocolate in every course or get into the spirit of the festive season, Anna is bursting with ideas that will lure you in and ensure that you never want to leave.

As I chatted among guests I found a mix of loyal Alright Treacle veterans and newcomers which bound the evening together in an intricately woven social tapestry. Further time with Anna illuminated that through the group dining process new friendships blossomed. Over time, newbies would integrate themselves into the group allowing long-lasting friendships to be forged. This makes it quite different than rocking up to your favourite restaurant to eat, pay and leave.

At my event it became abundantly clear that Alright Treacle were as passionate about the GREET as they were about the MEAT. A veritable feast of gourmet cuisine, creative party panache and a hostess with the most.


I volunteered to attend "Meat Head" on a chilly October evening which the wise among you will deduce promised a meat feast with meat taking centre stage in every course, including dessert. Just thinking about it brought me out in the meat sweats. Not an evening for our veggie friends you might agree, but certainly a carnivore's heaven.

Time for a tipple


Why, it would seem rude to refuse, wouldn't it? On arrival we were greeted with an Elderflower and gin fizz cocktail. What a fine welcome! I think I could get to like it here. A few bubbles were all we needed to set us off on the right course.

Snack Attack


To kick things off Anna presented a home made bread fresh from the oven which had a hint of pancetta, cheddar and shallot, accompanied with fresh pesto.

I try not to eat bread too often, so this felt more like an occasional treat. Honestly, I would have enjoyed going to town on this alone, but I had to leave room for all that was to come.










Just For Starters



First plate of the evening was a venison carpaccio with parsnip puree and crisps, fig, parmesan, pistachios, pickled shallot rings, mustard frills and a pomegranate molasses dressing. I enjoyed the incorporation of seasonal produce into this visual masterpiece.

Such a tasty titbit to whet our appetites. Each one of Anna's dishes are a sumptuous work art.

Quite fitting that I captured each kodak moment before I devoured every morsel of these delectable delights.




The Main Event


For main, Anna served up beef cheek, blue cheese and walnut pie, rare filet, celeriac purée, chanterelles, poached pear, blackberries, pea shoots, buttered beef and all topped with porcini gravy. The meat was tender, the flavours alluring and complementary and guaranteed to bring pizazz to any palette.

Just Desserts


You know what they say about saving the best for last?

I never quite knew that bacon and cheesecake could be friends, but apparently they get along quite famously. The cheesecake was made using a hazelnut base with a salted caramel and bacon filling. This was topped with tart berry and served alongside a beetroot sorbet which offered a sharp contrast to the dish. A more daring dessert you will not find.

A brave attempt and an Alright Treacle première, but the table agreed that this bold move more than paid off. You could say that sometimes you can risk it for a biscuit (base).


Each course was sublime, with company to match. Sadly Alright Treacle are approaching their "last supper" for the moment as Anna embarks on fresh horizons in New Zealand with her beau. However, should she find herself back in "Auld Reekie" I would urge you to act swiftly to ensure that she has set aside a place just for you. I truly hope she continues to develop her creativity on different shores and that this will enable her to bring back fresh flavours and a concoction of new ideas on her glorious return.


Bon Voyage Alright Treacle, so nice to meat you...

How do I connect with Alright Treacle?
www.alright-treacle.com
Facebook: Alright Treacle
Twitter: @alrighttreacles
Instagram: alrighttreacles
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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Milkman


If you have lived in Edinburgh for any length of time you will quickly realise that we have no shortage of hot coffee haunts in this town. However, I am always willing to make exception for the new kid, and the kid in question is "The Milkman".

Rumour has it that most people tend to have a love affair with the milkman at some point in time, so let me tell you a little bit more about mine...

The Dude


Cast your minds back to a time when milk was delivered by horse and cart around the dusty streets and into family homes. The original "Milkman" was owner Mark Donald's great-grandfather and he did just that on the streets of Huntly, in rural Aberdeenshire. He was keen to show me old images of his great-grandfather, perched on a cart and sporting the trademark flat cap and pipe which he had captured from photo albums after a saunter down memory lane.

It was immediately clear that this character was very close to his heart. Mark chose to name his business baby after him and is determined to incorporate the logo as part of his branding in various ways around the coffee shop so that he can keep family close to help guide his own footsteps in this new venture.


The Milkman espresso bar sits in prime position in Edinburgh's quaint Cockburn Street as it cascades down to Waverley bridge. When the property became available Mark knew in his heart that it would be the perfect pitch for a coffee bar and not just because his other half runs the popular and quirky Miss Katie Cupcake just a hop, skip and jump along those legendary cobbles. Nawww...

Once Mark had secured the spot, the beginnings of lovely idea began to fall into place.

The Delicacies



I adore when the artisan food scene in any city work in collaborative to supply each other with quality coffee, baked goods and sweet treats.

There is something quite special about a sense of comradery that exists within a start-up community, who shy away from rivalry and competition and instead desire to share in and celebrate the success of the other.

To offer humble opinion, I think this could quickly prove to be the way forward, especially with many budding businesses in the city.

The Milkman supplies only the best, high quality java by Dear Green coffee with thanks to friendly neighbour, Glasgow. The bakery items are fresh daily and all from my own personal local bakery, The Manna House.

Other sweet treats are supplied from Pinnies and Poppy Seeds and unique flavours of craft soda are available courtesy of popular fellow Edinburgh newbies, Kitsch.




The Design



What I found most intriguing about this budding entrepreneur was his thirst for original design within the shop and restoring existing and curiously hidden features to their former glory. From exposed copper piping to shutter pulleys for his windows, Mark wants to further uncover the history that dwells within the four walls of "The Milkman". I found that this further adds to its quaint charm and instant likeability.


He has the rare gift of envisaging potential to re-purpose what others may have casually cast aide and seeks to put them in the spotlight,rather than on the scrap heap. A perfect example of this would be the street light that hangs from a wooden beam in a cosy corner of the shop. The glass panels have been removed and ivy drapes from this eye-catching piece which now enjoys a new lease of life in its new indoor abode.


His doors have flung wide to locals only a few weeks ago but his cup is literally brimming with ideas about how to further improve the shop feel. Mark is also keen to seize opportunities and funding to join with architects and design professionals in Edinburgh to bring his ideas to life and showcase this happy little corner of Edinburgh's beautiful Old Town.

Next time you have a free morning to spare; want to huddle from the December chill or need a latte as you run to catch your train, stop by "The Milkman'. Personally I would rather linger a while to soak up the ambience and appreciate everything that makes this space unique, rather than just simply skim the surface.


Spoiler alert: the staff are relaxed and friendly, the snacks are fresh, the atmosphere is warm and the coffee is flowing. Other coffee corners in Edinburgh sit up and take note as "The Milkman" is destined to be legen-dairy....

How can I connect with The Milkman?
Facebook: The Milkman
Twitter: @The__Milkman___
Instagram: themilkmancoffee



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