A Look Back At 2015

Wednesday, 30 December 2015
So 2015 is drawing to a close. This makes me feel a little sad as 2015 has been a truly amazing year for me and I've had some amazing experiences with friends I'll never forget. Last year I wrote a post looking back on 2014 and I thought it would be nice to do another for this year. It's been amazing to read back 2014's post and see how much has changed. I bet that before I know it I'll be reading this as 2016 draws to a close!

January - January is generally always a good month for me because my birthday is January 20th. This year I finally turned 18! Being a 17 year old fresher for half the year is not fun. I had a really great flat party with all my friends. It was so much fun. I also started a new job in the pharmacy. I still work there now and it's probably the best job I've ever had.
Most viewed blog post: What Makes Me Unfollow A Blog 

February - Edinburgh University hosts an 'innovative learning week' every February. It's basically a week off. I decided to 'learn innovatively' by going to visit my step sister in the lake distict. They're not close so I don't see them often, this was a really lovely trip! I also went and signed the lease for my second year flat which was a major weight off my shoulders.
Most viewed blog post: Should Bloggers Blog For Free

March - To be honest, when I think back I'm having to seriously think hard about whether anything exciting happened in March. I've had to had a look back at my Facebook to remember. It appears we had another flat party(resulting in some absolutely beautiful frapes), hung out with my friends a lot whilst in lab coats and visited the amazing Steak on stones. Looks like a great month, even if I struggled to remember it.
Most viewed blog post: How To Have A Good Night's Sleep

April - April brought in the end of teaching for the semester. Classes were over for my first year of uni and it felt like it came in way too quickly. Over Easter I visited my favourite place on earth with my family: the Isle of Arran. It was an absolutely amazing trip. I just love island life. Cannot wait to return next year. The end of the month also signalled the start of exams. Which was an unwanted stress! And on the last day of the month I opened my Etsy store. What can I say, I like to keep busy!
Most viewed blog post: Loch Lomond

May - I look forward to the days where I don't heavily associate May with exams. But it was still a really good month despite all that. My exams went well and I also had quite a lot going on socially too. A few parties to end the semester before I moved back home. I felt quite emotional as I really enjoyed my year at uni and I wasn't looking forward to moving home and not seeing my friends for the summer. However, I did get promoted at work which meant I was doing more hours for the summer in a better position. I also got visited in Edinburgh by the lovely Beth and whilst the visit was brief we packed in so much and it was lovely to meet her.
Most viewed blog post: I've Opened An Etsy 

June - I was officially back home for the summer and whilst I was missing Edinburgh I was also working a lot which was actually such a relief. I went to Go Ape with some of my friends from home and had one of my best days of the summer up in the trees. It was so much fun and would recommend it to anyone who is interested! And we also had a staff night out where we went for dinner and then drinks. It was a lot of fun even if I felt a bit sore headed the next day.
Most viewed blog post: Student Sundays - Accommodation

July - July was quite a hard month for me as I finished a long term relationship. I haven't talked about it much on my blog as I really don't think that's fair to him. Nothing nasty happened, things just fizzled out and I knew my heart wasn't in it anymore. My friends came back to Edinburgh for a quick visit and it was exactly what I needed. We got Chinese food and then climbed Calton Hill to drink cider at sunset. I couldn't help but feel like I was exactly where I was supposed to be in my life, even if I was still working things out.
Most viewed blog post: What To Pack For University

August - This month started off with the amazing Scot Blog Meet. It was all organised by my good friend Charlotte from Colours and Carousels and it was truly amazing. I got to meet so many amazing bloggers and also catch up with some others I've known for years! Generally I spent the rest of the month getting ready for my upcoming trip and moving back to Edinburgh. I also read a lot of books this month as shown by my reading wrap up!
Most viewed blog post: Saving Money On Food 

September - This was a very busy month for me. I spent the first four days of the month with my amazing friends in Geneva, Switzerland. It was the best holiday I've ever been on and in such a small space of time we saw some amazing things. Highlight of the trip was visiting CERN which I loved because I'm such a science geek. A few days after returning to Scotland I moved back to Edinburgh for the start of my second year of university. It took some getting used to the early mornings again but it felt great to be back at university again.
Most viewed blog post: Student Sundays - What To Expect From Your Classes

October - October is always one of my favourite months. This year I went to two blogging events in October: Molton Brown and Ted & Muffy. Both were such lovely nights. I got to meet Leda who is an amazing blogger who goes to the same university as me. October can also be thought of as the month that I started dating again. Which had it's good points along with the bad! I also went to Glasgow to hang out with my blogging babes which is always a good idea.
Most viewed blog post: Meeting Bloggers In Person

November - November seemed to be a pretty short month but when I look back on it I actually got quite a lot done. I started the month by going to see some fireworks on Calton Hill with my friends. That week I also went to the Light Show at the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens which was amazing. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos so I never blogged about it! I also wrote my first ever university essay. Which on the whole was an unpleasant experience but essays aren't my strong point so I'm very glad that I did it, and passed!
Most viewed blog post: Ted & Muffy Event

December - December is a bit of a weird month as for the most part it starts off with AHHH EXAMS and then moves onto AHHHH CHRISTMAS. I was quite worried about my exams as I've found this semester to be a real big step up but when I was actually sitting the exams I felt quite confident with the questions. That being said I don't want to jinx myself! When they were over I came home and have been enjoying the festive period with my family. I've also been updating my blog design, I hope you all like it!
Most viewed blog post: Christmas Haul

All in all, 2015 was an amazing year. It was hard at times but there were so many amazing things going on as well. I grew and developed a lot as a person and I'm so grateful for all the wonderful people in my life and all the amazing opportunities that have came my say. 2016, you have a lot to live up to but I'm sure you'll be even better. 

I hope you all have a lovely new years! 

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Pinterest Round Up: Christmas Leftovers

Saturday, 26 December 2015
Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Unfortunately I'm working today but I know that some of you will still be at home, lounging around and eating all day. That's my plan for when I get home from work! A Christmas dinner isn't actually my favourite meal. I don't like gravy so I'm not a fan of roasts in general but I find turkey in general to be a really dry meat that I don't really enjoy. So when it comes down to it, I often enjoy the leftover creations more than I enjoy the actual meal! With the help of Pinterest, I've found some awesome recipes for using up Christmas leftovers and organised them here in this handy blog post. I'm going to be trying a few of these over the next few days and I hope you all spot something you like the look of too! I'd love it if you'd join me on Pinterest by following me here!

Admittedly smoked salmon isn't something I usually have at Christmas but I do enjoy it the rest of the year. This smoked salmon pizza tart looks absolutely delicious and is something a little bit different. Much tastier than a boring old sandwich I'd say!

I'm usually a big fan of sausage rolls and love to make them myself. I don't need to be persuaded very much to try out a new recipe. These leftover turkey, stuffing and cranberry sausage rolls look absolutely delicious. And I love cranberry sauce even more when it's warm. 

So pizza is great at all times of the year. And I've already confessed a love for cranberry sauce. So a turkey and cranberry sauce pizza sounds right up my street. Plus if you have a cheese board(if you aren't please evaluate your life) you probably have some nice cheeses you could use to top this as well.

Normally when I think of Christmas leftovers it's traditionally British food. Maybe the occasional boxing day curry. But these turkey ramen bowls are taking things east. Ramen is such a feel good food and I think these would be delicious.

Something sweet to mix things up! Cranberry sauce scones sound delicious. I think I would even add some white chocolate to the scones or even make a white chocolate sauce to serve over the top. Or cream. Ok, now I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Do you like the look of any of these recipes? I think I'll be trying the sausage rolls first!

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Things I Love About Christmas

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

  • The smell of a real Christmas tree. I do love our plastic one but the smell of a real one can't be beaten. 
  • Tacky Christmas jumpers. Sequins? Check. Sparkles? Check. Plays music? Even better.
  • Hilarious attempts at wrapping oddly shaped presents.
  • Having the excuse to eat lots of cheese.
  • Spending time with family.
  • Taking the dog out on a walk and delivering Christmas cards.
  • Fairytale of New York. Ultimate Christmas song. 
  • Edinburgh's Christmas market. 
  • Really cute wrapping paper. Extra points if it features dogs, penguins or really cute illustrations.
  • Brie and cranberry toasties(although I do enjoy these all year round).
  • Old Christmas decorations that are old and boring, but no one can bear to chuck out. 
  • ELF.
  • Michael Buble's Christmas album.
  • When someone buys you a present that is 'so you' that you realise just how well that they know you.
  • Not crying at any of the Christmas adverts ever because I'm cold hearted. 
  • Driving around town with my mum to see all the houses that go all out on their Christmas lights.
  • Snuggling with Batdog.
  • Christmas candles.
  • Getting a massive food baby and then lounging on the sofa after dinner. Drifting off into naps. I mean.... I nap nearly every day. But it feels much better with a full and happy stomach.
  • Mince pies.
  • Visiting family.
  • Hanging tinsel in every possible place.
  • Bailey's hot chocolate. 
  • Being so excited for someone to open their present because you know it's something that they're going to absolutely love!
  • Not being able to sleep on Christmas Eve like a child. 
What is your favourite thing about Christmas? Leave a comment and let me know! This will be my last blog post before Christmas. I'll be back on Boxing Day with some recipe ideas for using Christmas leftovers. I hope you all have a very happy holidays! 

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End of Semester Update

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Gift sets at Molton Brown // JellyBear // Glasgow
Batdug the red nosed dug // Lush Bath! // Exam treats
My hometown // Blackforrest hot chocolate // Edinburgh's Christmas market

Hello, it's me. I was wondering if after all this time you'd like to read one of my blog posts? BLOODY HELL. This semester has been hard going. I'm now halfway through my second year of university and whilst I am totally in love with my degree choice it comes with a lot of work. I have a lot of contact hours. And when I say that a lot of people say 'oh yes but students with less contact hours have lots of work to do outside class too'. Which is true. But I've got my fair share of work to do too! I actually don't think there was a time this semester where I ever sat down with absolutely no work to do. There was always something! I've just finished my exams and I am now sitting with some freedom. I had Materials Chemistry on Monday, Chemical Pharmacology on Thursday and Chemistry on Saturday. Materials and Pharmacology were ok, I definitely have done enough to pass I'm just not entirely sure I really enjoy those areas as subjects. Chemistry, despite being a Saturday morning exam, was really good. I don't want to jinx myself but I can't remember the last time I felt so confident in an exam. I'm hoping that all my hard work this semester shows up in my grades but it will probably be another month or so before I get any of them. 

Socially this semester has also been really busy. There's been a lot of socials, nights out, parties etc. Even just things like firework night involved seeing friends which was so nice as I feel like I really missed out on a lot this time last year because a lot of my time was taken up with a job I hated! I've also started dating again which I don't want to discuss too much but it's been a lot of fun. Starting to see other people has confirmed to me that I really wasn't happy in the relationship I finished this summer which has really made me happy as I realised that I definitely made the right decision. Whilst I feel bad that socialising/uni/work has gotten in the way of blogging I don't regret it and if I could do the semester over again I wouldn't change it. Blogging is a big part of my life and probably my main hobby but I don't want to look back on things and think 'oh if I'd not written that blog post and instead revised a bit more I would have gotten a better grade' or 'I could have spent that time with my friends'. I want to blog about my life but I don't want to ever feel like blogging is getting in the way of me going out and living. 

I don't really know if there's much else to update you on! My Etsy store had a few sales in the run up to Christmas but not as many as I would have hoped. I didn't really take the time to advertise it as much as I should have and I definitely left things too late. I'm going to try and sell the things I have currently to people I know in person before Christmas but if not everything will be put up on my store on Boxing Day on a bit of a sale. I do have a few elephants so keep your eyes peeled if there's anything you fancy! In the new year I think I'm going to focus on designing my own crochet patterns and selling those instead. The majority of my Etsy traffic is from my basket pattern and not actually the physical things I'm selling. Hopefully I can boost it a bit now I'm off for Christmas. I'm also hoping to boost my blog over the break, schedule lots of posts and maybe get a new design. We shall see!

Let me know how you're doing too! I've missed you guys.

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell


November Reading Wrap Up

Friday, 4 December 2015
Erm. Oops. Fair to say that I got a little distracted in November and didn't read very much. I've been pretty busy with lots of uni work. The semester ends this week but after that I have my revision break and then my exams. I have three coming up and my last one is the 19th of December(an exam on a Saturday?!). That's also why I've not really been blogging. Hopefully when my exams are over I'll have much more time to get back into the swing of things. Unfortunately I was also not able to finish the #sassybooks read for November. I will hopefully read it this month and review the two at the end of December, but we haven't decided on a book for December. I read two books this month. Which isn't great but better than nothing! 

One by Sarah Crossan - This is a really interesting book. It's written from the perspective of a conjoined twin. And the whole book is written in verse. As it's in verse it was a really quick read. I really enjoyed the book but I felt at times it lacked a certain depth with the characters and the plot. I think this may have actually worked better as a proper book! I still really enjoyed it and I'm now really interested to read some more of her work. I gave this book 4/5 stars originally but on second thought I'm moving down to 3.

The Rest Of Us Just Live Here - I was so excited for this book and honestly I felt so let down. Patrick Ness is one of my favourite authors and I find it hard to believe this what written by the same author. It's about some teenagers who are about to finish high school and move on with their lives. It contains some science fiction aspects that weren't very well explained. Overall the whole book seemed messy and I didn't enjoy it. This book has gained 2/5 stars from me, I wasn't impressed!

What books did you read this month?

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Giving Thanks

Monday, 30 November 2015
  • To Lis, Your undeniable fire for life inspires me to be the best person I can be.
  • To Dr McGregor, It had never even occurred to me to study chemistry until you suggested it to me, even though it was always my favourite subject. I'm a year into my degree and I'm the happiest I've ever been.
  • To Charlotte, For always reminding me that I am a boss ass bitch.
  • To my gran, You have always supported me in everything I've done. Without you I would not know that fortune favours the brave.
  • To Kathryn, Your dancing face makes me smile. 
  • To Batdog, They say that dogs can interpret human emotions. They've obviously never met you because you're an unsympathetic little shit. But you remind me that my problems are small in the long term and that sometimes you just have to pull on your boots and go on the walkies.
  • To Shaira, The kitchen story is at least, a good laugh. 
  • To 56 North, Your 2 for £10 burger deal for students makes me deeply happy.
  • To the a manager of an Edinburgh store, You gave me the harshest job rejection I've ever had. You ripped my confidence to shreds but filled me with a fire to prove you wrong. A year later I've now been promoted and love my job. You would have been lucky to have me. 
  • To Sarah, You're the bravest person I know even if you don't view yourself that way. Your unwavering friendship and support means more to me than I can put into words. 
  • To Natasha, You're the only person who texts me out of the blue to ask me how I am and I appreciate it.
  • To Imogen, You bought dog cookie cutters even though you hate dogs just so you could make my birthday cake. That's friendship right there. 
  • To Mary's Milk Bar, Your ice cream parlour is the best place for me to contaminate myself with lactose. Worth it every time. 
  • To Rose, I needed a laugh that night.
  • To Connor, Thanks for being my lab partner for a few weeks. I was a bit abrupt with you in the beginning but I think I was just a bit shocked that someone from university recognised me from my hometown. You dropped out a few weeks in and I haven't seen you since. How are things going?
  • To Scott, Thank you for singing in shower even though you know I can hear it because it makes me smile.
  • To Rhona, For completely bleaching our first year flat after every party.
  • To Simon, You made me feel incredibly small but it taught me the importance of being big. 
  • To Jenade, You're just the right amount of mean.
  • To Roisin, For coming to Geneva anyway even though you missed your flight.
  • To Morag and Louise, Without you two I'd still be using animal tested products. Who wants that on their conscience? 
  • To John, Stepdad doesn't feel like the right word. You mean more than that to me. 
  • To Grandad, you taught me to read and every day I see the beauty in the words I learnt from you. 
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Lush: The Experimenter

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Ok. I'm totally late to the party. Many weeks ago(actually more like months now) Lush released a few of the products from their amazing Oxford Street store out into their regular stores. I've been itching to visit London for years but have never gotten round to it(and the likelihood is I won't any time soon). So luckily I was able to get my hands on some of their new products. I actually bought some whilst I was at the perfume event at the Lush store in Livingston, my home town. Amongst the products I bought was The Experimenter which is an oddly shaped, brightly coloured bath bomb. It definitely stands out amongst their displays! I expected this to have quite a sweet scent but was pleasantly surprised to discover it's anything but that! It's actually which a rich, complex scent which definitely has a few layers and is very strong. There's definitely quite a lot of spice in there but also a lot of vanilla and tonka. It's quite a mature scent and I'm a big fan. It's very similar to their All Good Things perfume if you've ever smelt that. 

With all the different colours in the bath bomb it actually gives off a really nice deep blue/purple colour when properly dissolved in the water. It also contains quite a bit of glitter. Normally I don't like it when their bath bombs contain a lot of glitter as I find that they are often quite messy and that you need to clean out your bath afterwards but this was actually a pretty nice amount. I filled up a big hot bath, got some candles going and had a soak whilst reading a book. Such a nice relaxing way to spend an evening!

This bath bomb is quite expensive at £3.95 so I probably wouldn't buy it again. It was really nice but I've found myself favouring their bubble bars recently as you can break them up and use each one for two to three baths.

Have you ever tried this? What did you think?

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

Ted & Muffy Event

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Hello everyone! I recently got to attend the blogging event hosted at the Ted & Muffy store in Edinburgh. You may remember that last year I went to a similar event at a store called DUO(blog post here). Well DUO have since rebranded so this was a good opportunity for us all to check out the store after the rebrand. The name comes from the two founders of the company, Ted & Muffy, and with the rebrand they've tried to go back to their roots in creating high quality, fashionable boots that fit well. The store has had a total revamp, it looked completely different. Everything was so sleek and modern. Everyone had a look around the store to get an idea of what was available and there were also some snacks and drinks to keep up occupied as well. Including some absolutely uh-mazing millionaire's shortbread. I got to see some of my lovely blogger chums like Abby and Louise and we had a good chat to help each other decide. I was really undecided as to whether I should get a pair of ankle boots or knee highs. They had some amazing over the knee pairs too but I knew that they wouldn't be a good decision as I wouldn't get enough wear out of them.

Last year I got a knee high pair of boots but found them to be a bit uncomfortable. I have really skinny ankles and found that they saged around the ankle a bit and rubbed. This time around I was measured by the store manager. My old boots fitted perfectly around the legs and the feet it was just the ankle that seemed to be a bit weird. I tried on a few pairs this time that were a bit more fitted around the ankle but decided to opt for an ankle boot this time around. I do love a good ankle boot. The pair that I went for in the end were the taupe Spark ankle boots which are the pair in the last photo. They're suede which maybe wasn't the best choice for Edinburgh's rainy weather but is lovely and soft! The colour is also quite unusual but would go with most outfits and as the manager pointed out is much easier to transition into spring with. I did try on the Phoenix style which were again lovely but I still didn't find them to be tight enough around the ankle. The boots have been ordered and I'm patiently waiting on their arrival. Like last year, I will be featuring them in an OOTD soon enough so you'll see them in action soon enough!

Thanks to the lovely ladies at Ted & Muffy and Octane PR for a great night!

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

Stockbridge Market

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Hello everyone. On Sunday I went down to the Stockbridge Market with my friend for a look around the stalls. I've never been to Stockbridge but I've heard so much about it. It's a very picturesque part of town and it's known as quite a well off area. I was reading someone else's blog and they had mentioned that they loved the pork gyoza that were on sale there. And that was all that I needed to convince me really. I love dumplings! So anyway, we arrived at the market at around 11:30. We walked down from Newington and I think it took us around about an hour. But it was a nice day and it's a much quicker walk from Princes Street. Everything looked so lovely. The market was already quite busy and there were a lot of people(and dogs, yay!) walking around looking at all the stalls. The market is a mix of food and crafts. Although I only managed to take photos of the food. It's clear where my priorities are! Although there was a stand selling dog treats and as much as I tried to take photos of all the dogs staring at the treats they all came out blurry. It was a good laugh to watch though!

The dumpling stand was actually the first one that we came to when we entered the market but we walked around twice before ordering any food. A few of the stands even had samples so we snacked on some passion fruit curd(amazing), Scotch eggs and some fancy oils/balsamic vinegar with bread and crackers. Then we made up our minds about what we wanted to get. I went for four of the pork gyoza with the chilli and soy glaze and corriander. They were absolutely delicious. They were so fresh and the filling was really tasty but the glaze just added such a kick to them. I'm a fan of spicy food and I can handle my spice. It made my lips tingle in the way that's just spicy enough to be comfortable. My friend opted for a haggis gambo from Knight's Kitchen, an African cafe. It was kind of like a pasty from what I could see but she really enjoyed it. They were also selling vegetable samosas so we got one each. I really enjoyed mine. It was really tasty had a nice flavour to it but it wasn't overly spicy. Knight's Kitchen is actually based in Newington, the area I live in, so I will definitely be going back to their cafe to try out more of their food. 

Then as we'd had a main lunch we needed to get a sweet treat too right? There were a few stands selling cakes and stuff but we were drawn to a woman who was selling her home baking. I had a home made custard cream and it was delicious. My friend went for some gingerbread which she says was really nice with a strong ginger taste. 

Overall we both really enjoyed our food and had such a lovely afternoon strolling around the market. I'll definitely be back!

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Easy Raspberry-Banana Smoothie Recipe

Thursday, 5 November 2015
Hello everyone. Feels like the first time in ages that I've shared a recipe. But here I am chatting about smoothies. I've always liked smoothies but it's only recently that I've started making them regularly. And this is entirely down to me using frozen fruit. I bought some frozen raspberries in Tesco and have already gone through the tub. They're much cheaper and don't make any noticeable difference to the taste of the smoothie. I just chuck all the ingredients into a jug and then blend up with my handheld blender. Which is so much easier to clean!

And I had to photograph this in the nerdiest way possible! The beaker is from Pyrex's Lab Kitchen range. I'm also seriously lusting after one of their conical flasks. Did I just use the words lust and conical flask in the same sentence? Yes, yes I did. That's the life of a chemistry student for you! In all seriousness, it's actually really handy as it has measurements on the side for rice, flour etc. 

  • One ripe banana, sliced.
  • 200ml almond milk.
  • 2 tablespoons fruit yoghurt(I use raspberry or cherry).
  • Handful of frozen raspberries.

I just pour in the almond milk first so I can measure it in the jug, then add some yoghurt and the banana. Then I blend it up until smooth. From here I'll add the raspberries a small bit at a time so that I judge how many I need on the colour of the smoothie. Personally I like to add some whole frozen raspberries on top. I really like the texture but I know some people won't. All down to personal preference.

So easy! And a great way to get in some of your five a day/use up some rather sad looking bananas!

What's your favourite smoothie recipe?

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

My Edinburgh Gems

Monday, 2 November 2015
Hello everyone. I'm back today talking about how much I love Edinburgh. I could do it all day if I had to. In fact, I love it so much I've teamed up with Travelodge for their Flaunt Ya Haunt campaign. I'm going to be discussing my favourite places to eat and see in Edinburgh. I quite often get messages from people who are visiting Edinburgh looking for some recommendations so it's about time that I wrote a 'wee' city guide. 

Places to eat:

One of my favourite restaurants in Edinburgh is 56 North. It's also a gin bar so if you like a drink with your meal then you are all set! It's a bit out of the touristy region at West Crosscauseway but only by a 10 minute walk. It's also really close to Edinburgh University's central campus so you can have a look around there at the same time! They have a pretty amazing range on their menu and an extensive burger collection(2 for £10 with student cards as well!). I would really recommend their fish and chips or a Bill Murray burger. Their fries are uh-mazing. 

If you're looking for some good steak then I can't recommend Steak On Stones enough. I was invited here for a review meal earlier in the year and it was absolutely divine. It's a little bit on the pricier side and not necessarily somewhere I'd be able to eat on a student budget. But if I were going out for a nice romantic meal on holiday I'd want to to be somewhere like here. The steak was absolutely beautiful and I felt so classy the whole time I was there. I'm drooling again thinking about it!

If you've got a bit of a sweet tooth then you need to head down to Mary's Milk Bar. Situated in the Grassmarket it's a quick walk from the city centre and has a great view of Edinburgh Castle. Since becoming 'Buzzfeed famous' the Milk Bar often sells out so if you're visiting at the weekend maybe best to get in there quickly. Their ice cream is absolutely amazing. And the flavours are always very unusual. Last time I was there me and a few friends shared rhubarb and ginger sorbet, apricot jam and croissant and salted caramel. So good! They also do hot chocolate-ice cream floats. GET IN.

At the weekend there's the Stockbridge Market. Located in an extremely photogenic area of Edinburgh this is a great place to go for an afternoon's wanderings. They have some lovely food vendors but also some crafty ones as well so it's a good place to go and get a bite to eat. I went on Sunday and got some pork gyozas with chilli glaze and they were absolutely delicious! I also shared some vegetables samosas with my friend and we both got a cake for dessert too. We really enjoyed all of our food.

Places to see:

I can't recommend the National Museum of Scotland enough. It's the one place I take everyone who's just visiting Edinburgh. There is so much to see here that you could easily spend the whole day there. There's so much to learn about science, history, art, technology etc alongside lots of Scotland specific exhibitions. The entry is free(although there is a donation box). 

Camera Obscura it's a bit of a tourist trap but Camera Obscura is a really good time. Especially if you're travelling to Edinburgh with kids or the weather's a bit rubbish. There are a ton of optical illusions to go and see and it's generally a good laugh. There's also an amazing view from the top. It's a bit expensive which is why I probably wouldn't go back but I think everyone should go at least once.

If you want to see a great view of the city without committing to climbing Arthur's Seat then I can't recommend Calton Hill enough. It's a quick climb(it's mostly stairs actually) and the view is pretty amazing. I actually think I like it more than Arthur's Seat because you actually feel like you're still 'in the city'. Could easily do this walk if you aren't the fittest/or are with children.

I may be biased but as a University of Edinburgh student I absolutely love going to Old College. It's kind of the iconic thing that people picture when they think of Edinburgh uni and it is really lovely. I actually had some lectures here last semester(the lecture theatre was actually awful) and I miss going to it every week. They recently had the mini Kelpies installed which added a bit of character. Unfortunately now you'll have to travel further west and see the actual ones. 

Places to stay:

There's an absolute ton of places to stay in Edinburgh but there are a few Travelodges scattered around the city, in some really convenient places. Obviously I've never stayed in any of them but I got to go and stay in one in Glasgow at Easter and I was really impressed by how nice the rooms were. They were really spacious, clean and the beds were ridiculously comfortable. My parents actually bought a Travelodge mattress after sleeping in one they're that good!

The last time my dear friend Beth from Alphabeth was in Edinburgh she stayed at the Budget Backpackers Hostel in the Grass Market area. She said that she was pleased with how nice their room was and that the hostel was very clean. It also had a really nice 'cool vibe' to it as well.

So those are some places I'd recommend visiting if you're going to be in Edinburgh any time soon. If you have any recommendations leave them in the comments!

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This is a sponsored post. 

October Reading Wrap Up

Sunday, 1 November 2015
Hello everyone! What a quick month it has been. And a good one at that. This month I set myself the challenge of reading 4 books. I've totally smashed that this month and read 6. I read a few on my Kindle which I've not done for a while but it was nice to get back into using it. For some reason I find that I read a lot faster on my Kindle. I've also only got 2 books left to go before I finish my GoodReads 2015 reading challenge. Definitely completing that! Here are the 6 books I read this month and what I thought about them:

Life On The Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers -  One of my flatmates lent me this book and I read it in a day. The book is made up of letters that a mother and daughter leave to each other on their  fridge door. Because of this it was a really fast read but very addictive and hard to put down. It takes a bit of a twist(which was honestly a little predictable) and it gets very sad. So in the space of a few hours this book totally broke my heart. Really interesting writing style with a great story line too. 5/5 stars would really recommend!

Am I Normal Yet by Holly Bourne - This was October's Sassy Books read for the month. You can read my full post about it here. This is a book about a teenage girl with OCD. Personally I had a lot of mixed feelings towards this. But you'll have to read my review to find out why ;) 3/5 stars.

Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged* - This is probably my favourite book out of all the ones I read this month. It's about a muslim woman who works in publishing. Sofia isn't married and is sick of all the outside pressure she gets about it. She starts writing a book about muslim dating and her publishing company want to go ahead with it but the more she writes, the more unsure she feels about it. The main character was fun, witty and realistic. I really enjoyed reading this one and was pretty gutted when it was over. 5/5 stars. Better than Bridget Jones.

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp - This book came into my hands in a very weird way. It was given to my friend Lis by a publisher in America. She came home to Scotland but decided I'd like it after she'd read it and passed it on to me. So thank you very much! Although it doesn't actually go on sale  until 2016. This book is about a school shooting and it's all told in the space of an hour from the perspective of several difference characters. I really enjoyed this book and read it really quickly but I couldn't really connect to quite a few of the characters and that made me struggle to find it as sad as I maybe should have. I rated it 4/5 stars and think it might spark some interesting debates. 

When I Was Me by Hilary Freeman* - I thought that this sounded like a really great read: a teenage girl wakes up in her bed but realises that everything else has changed. All the people in her life are all still there but they seem to be leading different lives and like she was a totally different person. But this book let me down a lot. When she woke up in her new life she seemed too easily willing to let go of who she was before. And this book also introduced the aspect of quantum mechanics. I've actually done quite a bit of quantum mechanics so I understood everything mentioned in the book but I can imagine someone else reading this and being totally confused. Maybe a good idea but not a great book. I gave it 2/5 stars.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell - I've been trying to reread a book every month and this is my book for October. It's about a guy who works at a newspaper and it's his job to read the emails flagged by their systems software a being inappropriate(ie containing swearwords etc). He keeps seeing the emails between two friends but enjoys reading them and can't bring himself to report them. But after a while he starts to develop feelings for one of the girls. This book is adorable. It's admittedly not my favourite Rainbow Rowell book. That's not a bad thing though as all her other books are absolutely amazing so this is actually really good. I gave it 4/4 stars the last time I read it but this time around I'm updating it to 5/5.

What books did you read this month?

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Sassy Books: Am I Normal Yet?

Tuesday, 27 October 2015
Hello everyone! Hope you all had a good reading month. Back for this month's Sassy Books post! If you don't know: Sassy Books is a book club I run every month with the lovely Charlotte where we pick a book and invite you all to read it alongside us. This month's book was Am I Normal Yet by Holly Bourne which is a YA novel about obsessive compulsive disorder. The main character is a teenage girl and the book is all about her trying to get back into 'normal' life whilst dealing with her illness. 

All Evie wants is to be normal. And now that she's almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the-girl-who-went-nuts, there's only one thing left to tick off her list... But relationships can mess with anyone's head - something Evie's new friends Amber and Lottie know only too well. The trouble is, if Evie won't tell them her secrets, how can they stop her making a huge mistake?

First off, this book covers quite a serious topic. OCD is still treated as a bit of a joke in today's society and people will often make jokes about people who are neat being OCD. The reality of OCD is that it is actually crippling and can affect people in so many ways. This book shows not only how OCD effects Evie but also her whole family. So this book does a great job of raising awareness for OCD but also makes you think about the way that we, as a society, treat it as an illness. There were times that I found it to be a bit difficult to read but it's important.

The story is pretty well paced and there were very few parts that I found to be slow. I read it quite quickly because of the chatty writing style but didn't find it to be one of those books that I couldn't put down. As much as I hate to admit it, at times I found the main character to be a little bit annoying. I think it's really hard for people to write teenage characters well. Not that the characters in this book were bad but at times could be very whiney and full of teenage angst. I know that doesn't sound all that positive but on the whole I still really enjoyed the book. I read a lot of YA fiction and love it but I just get the feeling that if you aren't keen on YA in the first place you probably won't enjoy this so that's something to consider. However,  I am definitely going to be checking out some more of Holly Bourne's books. She has another book called The Manifesto On How To Be Interesting but I also believe that Am I Normal Yet is the start of a series so I will definitely be picking up the next one for a read too! Overall I gave it 3/5 stars as even though I enjoyed the book there were elements I didn't enjoy. 

Posts by other bloggers participating in #SassyBooks: Colours and Carousels, Momentarily Dreaming, Shifting Tales, Life In Ginger, Shy Strange Manic, Conflakegirl's Musings.

But what about next month? As ever we are really keen to get as many people involved in the book club as possible each month. If you want to participate all you need to do is read the book and publish a review before/on the last Tuesday of the month. For November this will be the 24th of November. If you don't have a blog but want to participate anyway you can join in by tweeting about the book using the hashtag #sassybooks. For November we are going to be reading The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth(Amazon link here). This is a book about a girl who is sent to a camp that aims to 'cure' her from being gay by her family. It's an interesting idea for a book and I've heard many great things about it so I'm expecting it to be a good one!

Hope you can all join in!

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JellyBear Glasgow

Sunday, 25 October 2015

I love dessert. And it's a well known fact that even when you're full you can eat dessert because it goes into a totally different stomach right? So when meeting up with my bestest blogging chums in Glasgow there was one place in particular I wanted to visit. I'd first heard of JellyBear when Charlotte blogged about it. It's a dessert parlour in the Merchant City area of Glasgow and it looked divine. The sort of place that will most definitely induce a sugar rush. Perfect. When we arrived we ogled the menu for a good few minutes before ordering and heading upstairs to sit and wait on our desserts. They have a ton of actual tables but we headed straight for the bean bags with a tartan picnic blanket in the middle. It was the perfect place to sit back, relax and have a good old gossip. The decor in JellyBear was lovely. They had so many awesome/funny quotes up on the wall and the whole place had such a lovely vibe.

'But Hayley, what did you get to eat?' You cry.

When I was planning the trip to JellyBear I was almost certain that I was going to be getting ones of their sundaes. But I had a last minute change of heart and went for the cookie dough. Charlotte told me it was amazing and I cannot disagree. There are a ton of optional extras from ice cream flavours to toppings. So in the end I had the chocolate chip cookie dough with honeycomb ice cream and fudge. As you can see it looked amazing. It also smelt amazing and tasted even better. One of the best desserts I've had in a long, long time. I don't think it took me very long to put away either.

Charlotte ordered the cookie crumble sundae which comes with cookies, oreos, ice cream and more. It looked absolutely mouth watering and is probably what I'll order the next time I go. I've already decided I'm going back for more! Lis had a waffle with raspberry ripple ice cream and marshmallows. I'm a big fan of the waffles at Frankie and Benny's but I have a hunch these would be even better. Again, I'll have to return to try them for myself. Suddenly I seem very motivated to take a lot of trips to Glasgow! Morag is actually vegan but as they do a sorbet sundae too there was an option for her. It contained lots of different sorbets and fresh fruit as well. It was by far the most colourful dish out of the lot and I bet it was really refreshing. I absolutely love sorbet and most of the time choose it over ice cream so I can imagine this is also delicious.

If you've made it this far through the blog post without drooling then well done. I am drooling writing this. The next time I'm in Glasgow I'll definitely be heading back. In fact, I've came home to Edinburgh with photos and stories that are making all my Edinburgh friends want to go too. Maybe I'll take them...

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Switch to Witch

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Hello everyone! Can you believe that it's already been 5 months since exam season? A few of you will remember that I wrote a blog post with Witch Skincare about keeping your skin stress free for exam season. It's weird to think about how exams seemed like such a big deal at the time but 5 months on they're over and done with and we're all back at uni and we're back to worrying about the next lot. It's the 5th week of the semester. I guess it depends which uni you go to but at Edinburgh our semesters are 11 weeks long. So this time next week I'll be halfway through the semester. It feels like I went back yesterday. It is terrifying how quickly university goes. 

The lovely people at Witch Skincare have sent me another amazing parcel with lots of goodies to inspire me to switch it up this autumn as part of their #switchtowitch campaign. I usually switch up my skincare when the colder weather comes in anyway but I'm excited to get round to challenging myself to do other things as well!

So what was in my box?
  • Challenge Cards: 5 cards with 5 different challenges on them. Each one has an inspirational quote on one side an the challenge on the other. You'll find out what the challenges are later in the post. 
  • Hair chalks. 6 different colours of hair chalks. Perfect for adding a bold colour to your hair without the commitment.
  • The Little Book of Mindfulness. This little pocket sized books contains lots of challenges to yourself for tackling stress and slowing things down.
  • Some Witch Skincare goodies. I was very kindly given five full size Witch products and some little samples to give out to my friends. I received the gentle exfoliating face wash, the pore minimising gel wash, the cleansing lotion, the blackhead clearing gel and some of the face wipes. 
  • An ASOS voucher. A little voucher to treat myself to something new from ASOS.
So I had plenty to try out. But how where the challenges and how have I gotten on with them?
  • Switch Up Your Skincare. As the winter comes in the temperature change can often wreak havoc on your skin. I definitely find that mine changes and the products I've been using all summer don't seem as effective. Some of the products I was using already were from Witch but I've had the chance to try out some new ones. So far I'm really impressed with the blackhead clearing gel. You rub it into dry skin and then rinse off. You can actually feel the dead skin cells coming off. Gross? Yes. But also kinda cool. 
  • Switch Up Your Mornings. Using The Little Book of Mindfulness I've been taking some time out of my day to destress. I've always found that adding some relaxation/yoga into my day makes me feel much better and actually makes me much more productive. This book contains short exercises to clear your mind and focus. Some of them feel a bit silly but there are some that I've really enjoyed and will hopefully keep up with as the semester gets busier. 
  • Switch Up Your Blog. Witch challenged me to do a post I wouldn't usually do. They gave a list of ideas and I've decided I'm going to do a Q&A post. I'll be asking for questions on Twitter too but if you have any questions then leave me one in the comments!
  • Switch Up Your Hairstyle. With the addition of the chalks in my box I was challenged to switch up my hair. I haven't actually used these yet but I am planning on cracking out for Halloween. I've actually been considering changing my hair for quite a while now. I feel in the mood for a change but I'm not actually quite sure what I want to do but I'm thinking about adding some layers or a fringe. What do you think?
  • Switch Up Your Outfit. With my ASOS voucher I've bought a new skirt and a new belt. So now I'm patiently waiting on my parcel. I also did quite a bit of shopping in Glasgow on Sunday so expect some OOTDs soon!
So that's how I'm switching it up this autumn! If you'd like to try some Witch products you can tweet a one line review of any Witch product with the hashtag #switchtowitch to be in with a chance to win the whole range!

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