My Top 5 Books of 2016

Wednesday, 28 December 2016
As 2016 comes to a close (thank god), I've been looking back at all of the books I read this year. Whilst I haven't enjoyed the books I read this year as much as I normally do, I definitely read some amazing novels. My Goodreads challenge was to read 52 books (a book a week) and I'm currently at 51 and will hopefully finish another before the new year. As usual, I've picked some of my favourites to talk about. If it's one of your new years resolutions to read more in 2016 then I'd really recommend these books as I found them all to be really gripping. And don't forget to click here and here to read my tips on how to read more books!

Ways To Die In Glasgow by Jay Stringer - I love a good murder mystery book but a murder mystery books set in a city I'm familiar with? Sold! This is the first of Jay's books that I've read but I really enjoyed it. The characters are all 'very Glasgow' ( ;) ) and it was awesome to read about the different parts of the city. This book was also staged with alternate characters narrating alternate chapters which is a writing style that I really enjoy. I wasn't able to guess any of the twists which helped build up the suspense meaning that it was one I just couldn't put down. 


2016 In Travel

Saturday, 24 December 2016
2016 has been a pretty awful year. But on the positive side, I managed to visit 5 new countries this year which has been a fantastic experience. My goal is to try and visit as many countries as possible but ideally, I'd also like to reach a point where the number of countries I've visited is higher than my age. On reflection, the countries that I visited this year were all amazing and I'm so grateful for the privilege of travel. Hopefully, 2017 will be even better!

The Netherlands

In February I took a mini break to Amsterdam with my blogging buddy Morag. We wandered around the canals, visited the Anne Frank House, ate some delicious food and saw some interesting exhibits at the Museum of Sex. I also managed to squeeze in an afternoon trip to Leiden, a nearby city that I totally fell in love with. The Netherlands has been at the top of my travel bucket list for quite some time and I had a total blast ticking it off. 


An Edinburgh Christmas

Wednesday, 21 December 2016
There isn't really so much of a 'point' to this post other than 'I really love Edinburgh at Christmas time and therefore I really want to show it off'. Is that going to be a problem? No? Good.

Edinburgh at Christmas really is just something else. When I live outside the city the festive season wasn't complete without a train journey into town for a visit to the Christmas markets. Now that I'm lucky enough to call Edinburgh home, I'm literally a 30-minute walk away and can go whenever I want!

This year the market is so big that it stretches across the Princes Street Gardens, St Andrews Square and even onto George Street. These photos were all taken at the gardens but the ice rink can be found at St Andrews Square. I went ice skating with my friends recently and I'm glad to report that no-one fell over! I was super proud of all of us. 

I just love wandering around the market, peering at all the stalls. And the food. The smell is quite frankly amazing, there's nothing else like it!


The Whistle Stop Barber Shop, Edinburgh

Sunday, 18 December 2016
I'm very lucky that both of my high school best friends now live in Edinburgh. We are all very different in our studies but we try to see each other every few weeks for a catch up. And that's almost always over food. So a few weeks ago we ended up eating at The Whistle Stop Barber Shop. This restaurant/bar has been open for a while and it's cool decor has always caught my eye whilst walking past. My friend had visited before with her husband and on her recommendation, we all went back together.

This was my opportunity to try out the infamous American dish: chicken and waffles. At Whistle Stop they're serving up buttermilk chicken - which makes the meat really tender and gives it a much stronger flavour. I'd agree that it works really well with the maple syrup but I felt that the waffles were a bit odd. They didn't seem fresh and weren't warm either. On the plus side, the portion size was massive. Considering this is intended as a starter/sharer you're definitely getting your money's worth. 


5 Things To Do in Boston

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

After only spending a few days there this summer, Boston has became one of my favourite cities. I cannot wait to go back as I think it is a wonderful city and these are so many things to see and do. I've written this guide of 5 things to do in Boston in the hope of convincing others to visit. These were some of my personal highlights from my time in the city. I'd really recommend Boston for anyone with an interest in American history. After visiting both New York and Boston I have to admit I preferred Boston! I cannot recommend it enough!

Take a tour of the Freedom Trail.

Boston has a very rich history and therefore, there is so much to learn. The Freedom Trail stretches 2.5 miles through Boston passing many historic locations. You can walk the trail yourself but many companies offer walking tours and the guides are extremely knowledgeable so it's worth the investment.

Christmas Gift Guide - For Students

Sunday, 11 December 2016
Ah Christmas. And the age old dilemma of what presents to buy for people. I have to admit that the older I get, the more boring my requests get too. These days if someone asks me what I want for Christmas the answer is more likely to be something like 'new pyjamas' than anything exciting. I've written a few gift guides before but this year I thought I'd do a student focused one. Presents that I like to receive are generally things that I wouldn't buy for myself and things like these definitely fit into that category!

Christmas Gift Guide - For Students


October and November Reading Wrap Up

Wednesday, 7 December 2016
As I only read one book in October I thought it would be best just to save it and write a combined reading wrap up this month instead! Thankfully November has been a much busier reading month for me and I'm now back on track for achieving my goal of reading 52 books this year. I can't believe that we're already this far through the year. Although seriously aren't we all really excited for 2016 to be over? I know I am! Here are the books I've read recently and what I thought of them!


Christmas Memories

Sunday, 4 December 2016
December is now well under way and it's only 21 days until Christmas! Now that I'm older and spend the majority of Christmas time away from home it's gotten me thinking more about the Christmas traditions that I've had grown up. Whilst I have really fond memories of all of my family's traditions it's also been a blast creating new ones with my friends too. I'm buried under work at the moment (who invented Christmas exams?) but that won't stop me from sharing some of my favourite Christmas memories and traditions this festive season.

The Edinburgh Christmas market - Growing up so close to Edinburgh meant that the Christmas market was always a pretty big part of the festive season! I love walking around the market in the cold and seeing all the bright lights and interesting stalls. And with all the delicious food it always smells amazing! And every year it feels like it gets bigger and bigger. It now expands over the Princes Street Gardens and St Andrew's Square. My favourite stalls are probably all the dessert ones and the stall that sells the flavoured coffee beans. They both smell amazing.

5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Scotland

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Today is St Andrews day! It's Scotland's national day. Whilst it isn't as big a celebration as it is in some other countries but I'll be trying to catch the fireworks at Edinburgh Castle tonight. It's looking likely that I won't be living in Scotland this time next year so I'm trying to savour my time in this beautiful country. Scotland is my home and I love it. I think that Scotland should be right up there on people's bucket lists as it has so much to offer. Here are my reasons for why you should visit Scotland:

1. Scotland is a relatively small country so it's possible to see a lot in a short about of time.

It doesn't actually take that long to drive around Scotland so if travelling by car, then you can see a lot of different places in a short time. In April I went on a day tour of the highlands with Grayline (which you can read about here) and I got to travel to Loch Ness and some other really interesting parts of Scotland. In a quick going 12 hours, we saw lots of different landscapes, wildlife and even the sun! I can't drive but once I learn how to I'm going to plan a more in-depth road trip because whilst I've seen a lot of Scotland I know that there's still so much more to see!

Wagamama's New Menu

Sunday, 27 November 2016
On Friday night I went to Wagamama with my dear blogging friend, Leda, for a catch up over some delicious Japanese food. Wagamama have added a few new sides as their autumn/winter menu so we were pretty excited to try them out. We opted to order a few sides to share rather than a main each - the best way to get to try out a little bit of everything. The restaurant was busy so we had a bit of a wait but a waiter was brining around samples of food and juice for everyone to try whilst we waited - amazing customer service. 

Starting with the new menu items, we shared some of the bang bang cauliflower. Crispy, wok fried cauliflower served in the old classic firecracker sauce. Cauliflower is definitely an underrated vegetable and this was really nice. I've never have cauliflower served fried before but I loved it. This dish also packs quite a bit of heat for the spice fiends amongst us. 


What's The Point In Blogging?

Wednesday, 23 November 2016
I'm currently the busiest I have ever been in my life. Third year is no joke: not only stressful but time consuming. But, despite that I've still been uploading a blog post a week. I've came to the conclusion that blogging is extremely important to me and is actually a great stress relief (even if it is sometimes stress-inducing). It can be a bit of a misunderstood hobby and to some it may seem a waste of time. But I'm adamant that blogging has lots of bonuses!

I've loved the written word my whole life, this is no different
I've always been a reader and when I was younger I was a keen writer as well. I essentially stopped writing fiction for a while and after that was when I started blogging. Writing my blog is just an extension of my love of both reading and writing. I'm a scientist by day so coming home and having the chance to explore my creative side through this blog is a welcomed break. 


Wahaca Edinburgh

Wednesday, 16 November 2016
One of the things that really sucks about blogging is reading posts from other bloggers about amazing restaurants... that are hundreds of miles away from you. I've been reading posts from some of my favourite English blogging babes about Wahaca for years now. So I was pretty pleased when I discovered that they were opening a chain in Edinburgh. I'd been meaning to try it out for a while but hadn't made any plans. Then last week I was returning to Edinburgh after some travelling. I'd been on trains for most of the day and was really hungry. In a split second decision I decided I'd go to Wahaca by myself, because if I'm not a grown independent woman that can go get her own tacos then who am I?


My Favourite Indie Films

Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Recently I binned all of my DVD cases as I'd transferred all my discs into a disc holder. It means that I can store all my DVDs in one place and they don't take up lots of space. But before I binned them I took some photos for a few blog posts about some of my favourite movies. I don't really consider myself to be a big movie fan as I often lose patience! I don't have a very long attention span! These are a few of my favourite 'indie' films. I don't know what I really class as an 'indie film' but I guess they're the ones that really stand out as being unique to me. Or where you can feel the style of the director really showing through. 

The Virgin Suicides - This movie is based on the book of the same name by Jeffrey Eugenides and I'm a big fan of his work (although don't ask me to pronounce his name). The movie is also amazing. The way this film is shot totally captures the dream like narrative style of the book which is so great to see. The storyline is a bit grim - it's about a group of sisters with strict parents and the boys who have crushes on them who try to 'save' them. It's not too long as well which is nice as I tend to lose attention if a film is really long. 

Tuk Tuk, Edinburgh

Wednesday, 2 November 2016
I consider myself to be a foodie. Going out for a meal with friends is one of my favourite things to do. But Indian food is honestly just something that I never really eat out - mainly because I enjoy cooking it so much at home. But a few weeks ago I met up with some of the lovely Edinburgh bloggers girls for a meal. We ended up at Tuk Tuk. This Indian street food restaurants is pretty famous in Edinburgh but I've never been! Located at 1 Leven Street, Tuk Tuk are bringing great, cheap Indian street food to the heart of Edinburgh.

We were ordering from their new tiffin menu which will be launching some time in early November. They're also opening a new restaurant in Glasgow! The idea of this set menu is that you get one starter, one meat main, one vegetable main and a naan bread or rice. And they come all neatly stacked in the little metal tins. These tins are called Tiffins and are traditionally used to deliver meals in India.

I struggled to decide what to order for my starter but in the end I went for the chicken lollipop because it sounded least like something I'd make at home. It turned out much like chicken pakora but with wings instead of breast. Honestly I wasn't very impressed by this. The batter was very greasy and the chicken seemed pretty low quality and in all honesty a little gross. The samosas and the vegetable pakora seemed to go down a treat with everyone else so maybe I just made a poor decision.

Moving onto the main courses. For my meat dish I went for butter chicken. Not a very brave or adventurous choice but this is a classic for a reason. The curry was smooth and creamy. It wasn't too spicy for me and the portion was a really good size. I'd definitely order this again. I felt a little out of my depth ordering the veggie dishes as I'd never tried any of them but I remembered how much one of my friends loves tarka dhal and decided to go with that. This dish was packed with flavour. I didn't eat the whole thing but lentils are really filling so you definitely won't be hungry after this. It's very rich and creamy - perfect comfort food. If you're a vegetarian you can also opt to have two vegetarian dishes instead of just the one.

One thing that I can't make for myself at home and always have to order when I'm eating Indian food in a restaurant is peshwari naan. There's something about the sweet, coconut richness of the naan bread that just compliments curry so well. Personally as I didn't really enjoy the starter so would prefer maybe the option to just have the two main courses with a rice and naan but I was definitely really full by the time I'd finished eating and didn't actually miss having rice as much as I thought I would.

Overall, I was really impressed with the relaxed vibe of Tuk Tuk and was totally blown away by how amazing the curry was. The food isn't expensive either and the sharing style of the food means that you can go as a group and order a little of everything. We all really enjoyed our meals and it was so lovely to catch up with everyone. Edinburgh has so many bloggers and the sense of community between everyone is lovely.

The lovely bloggers I ate with: Little Girl Bigger World, Twenty Something Lifestyle, The Quiet Resolution and Country Girl City Life.

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

Halloween Reads

Thursday, 27 October 2016
Halloween is fast approaching with darker nights and brisk autumn mornings. I always read more during the autumn and winter months as there's something so comforting about curling up with a book on a dark evening with a cup of tea. Halloween is one of my favourite holidays but over the last few years I've found myself being a bit too busy to go all out. So to make the most of it I like to read some books that are a little spookier. Today I've rounding up some Halloween themed reads. I know not everyone is fond of a classic, gory horror so I've also included some thrillers and some Halloween read based at children. Lets face it, Halloween is never as good when you're not a child. Trick or treating over Halloween parties any day. And sometimes I think that a good thriller can actually be scarier than a horror!


The Silence of the Lams by Thomas Harris - Could you really talk about classic horror without mentioning Hannibal Lecter? This isn't the first book in the series but it's definitely the most famous and you can read it without reading the others. Hannibal Lecter is a very creepy character, I mean, he eats people. This book isn't very scary in a traditional sense but it is very unnerving. The movie is also very good so a great one to read and then watch. If you've seen the film then you definitely need to read the book as it adds a lot more strength and understanding to the story. 

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix - This book would definitely win an award for the most unique idea. This is a horror story set in a furniture store. They obviously couldn't call it IKEA in the novel but it's very obvious that it's modelled off of IKEA. The book itself is physically set up to look like one of their catalogues. The staff keep noticing that things are moving in the store overnight and  so some staff members are pain extra to do an overnight shift and try and get to the bottom of things. Lets just say that night was definitely not worth the overtime. This book is actually really scary at times so a very impressive one indeed.

Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake - This book isn't particularly scary but it is very enjoyable. Its about a boy who hunts ghosts. He is tracking down a particularly nasty ghost called 'Anna Dressed in Blood' who is known for brutally murdering anyone who enters the house she haunts. But Anna makes no move to kill him and he finds himself trying to help her rather than kill her. She has something that she needs to do before she can 'pass on'. This is definitely the least scary out of the horrors I've included and is for those that don't want something too scary but still want a little bit of horror for Halloween.

New Crochet Projects

Wednesday, 12 October 2016
I have a confession to make. I am really, really sick of crocheting elephants. They were a lot of fun at first but then I got so many requests for them that it felt like I was never stopping. I've lost count of how many I've made in total but I'm on my second pack of safety eyes. And they come in packs of 50 pairs so I know that the number is somewhere between 50 and 100. Yup. That's a lot of elephants. So I made the decision to close my Etsy store and just go back to the basics with my crocheting. It's been a nice, welcomed break. It was also part of my 20 before 20 goals to crochet some animals that aren't elephants. Since my elephant break I've completed two new projects. A bunny and a panda. Aren't they adorable? This is just a quick post to show them off a little bit and write little mini reviews of the patterns as well. 

Flopsy Bunny
Pattern Creator: Miss Neriss
Pattern Link: Here

September Reading Wrap Up

Wednesday, 5 October 2016
September has, unsurprisingly, been a really poor reading month for me. It always is as the start of the university year is a really busy time for me. So its to be expected that I'm not really committing a lot of my free time to reading - third year is no joke. I did manage to get two books read which I don't think is terrible and I'm also quite far through a new one too. One of the books I read this month really let me down but I really enjoyed the other...

Martini Henry by Sara Crowe* - This is a new young adult novel about a girl who dreams of being a writer. She's living with her old, ex-rich aunt in her old crumbling manor home. Whilst also trying to sort out her love life and researching the history of the old house. The plot interested me but I have to admit I felt a little let down by the book. I found the characters to be really snobby, weird and unlikeable. There's a point in this book where the main character gets called middle class and she corrects the person and tells them she's upper class. Think that about says it all. I did read this pretty quickly but to be honest, it didn't grip me like other young adult novels have and I just feel very lukewarm towards the whole thing. I gave it 2/5 stars.


Chaophraya Edinburgh

Sunday, 2 October 2016
Chaophraya is a restaurant that is recommended in Edinburgh time and time again but one that I hadn't gotten around to visiting. It promises excellent views over Edinburgh and the castle and some really high quality, authentic Thai food. Chaophraya has been in Edinburgh for a few years now and there are a few other branches in Scotland and England. This is the first time in years that they've launched a new menu and I was very kindly invited along to review. We attended on a Thursday night and I took along my friend Kathryn as a little celebration for finishing our first week of third year. With a glass box dining area offering an amazing view of Edinburgh castle and the rest of the city this restaurant packs a pretty impressive punch when it comes to atmosphere. With lots of amazing authentic decorations, a beautiful salt water fish tank and lots of atmospheric lighting there is a lot to catch your eye. Chaophraya are paying attention to all the little details - everything down to the waiting staff's uniforms are incredibly intricate.


Foundry 39, Edinburgh

Monday, 26 September 2016
Like most UK cities, Edinburgh is really big on burgers. New burger joints are springing up all over town. I've tried a few and definitely have my favourites. I was invited along to Foundry 39 on Queensferry Street by Leda who was invited along to review them for the student newspaper (you can read her review here) and I was excited by its really full menu and really central location. Perfect if you're on Princes Street doing some shopping!

We arrived on a Thursday night and the restaurant/bar was quiet but still had a lovely atmosphere. With mismatched decor and bare light bulbs this place has a really cosy, intimate feel to it. Pairing that with their really in depth cocktail menu and we were off to a great start. Cocktails in Edinburgh can be expensive but personally I'm willing to pay for quality. I started off with a smoked rhubarb and rosemary daiquiri and Leda opted for the watermelon collins. Both such unique flavours! And lovely presentation as well. The cocktail menu was not only extensive but also very unique. 


What's Your Favourite Harry Potter Book?

Thursday, 22 September 2016
I reread the Harry Potter series this summer and that along with the release of The Cursed Child got me thinking about which Harry Potter book is actually my favourite. I love all the books a lot and I'm so glad that I grew up reading them. I've always had a definite favourite - which hasn't changed over the years. But what about the rest? So I thought it would be interesting to write a post about which order I'd  put them in if I had to. I've also recently acquired a copy of the illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone which is absolutely beautiful. And for the record I've not included The Cursed Child here as I consider it to be more of an add on than the 'eighth book'. This was really hard to do but I'm pretty firm in my ranking but it would be really interesting to find out what everyone else thinks. 

*May contain spoilers - proceed with caution*


Jeremiah's Taproom, Edinburgh

Monday, 19 September 2016
My old flatmate, Rebecca, has recently moved to Leith. It's an area of Edinburgh that I've not explored very much but it has a good reputation amongst foodies. So when we met for dinner one night I ventured out of my fail-safe Newington comfort zone and down to Jeremiah's Taproom. Rebecca had been a few times before and raved about it so I was really interested to try it out. Located on Elm Row it's right at the top of Leith and actually still really close to the city centre. The menu contains of a lot of burgers and hot dogs but they also have a wide range of sides and a breakfast menu that's served until 5pm on the weekends. With a pretty impressive selection of craft beers and a long cocktail list it's a strong contender as a great food and drink place in Edinburgh. And the biggest plus? Dogs are welcome too.

I know pulled pork is the 'done thing' at the moment and it's absolutely everywhere but I can't help but do a little happy dance when I see it on a menu. So I just had to order the pulled pork burger from the menu - a 6oz beef burger with tomato, lettuce, cheese and some bbq pulled pork on top. It had slid off a little but after I sorted it out this burger was really, really nice. The pulled pork was really tasty and tender - I just wish that there had been a little bit more of it. In fact - if they added a pulled pork sandwich to the menu I think I'd be in heaven. When our food arrived I did think that the portion of fries that came with the food was quite small but actually in the end we were really full and almost struggled to finish. Eyes bigger than my belly it may seem.

Malmö Travel Diary

Friday, 16 September 2016
Malmö was never somewhere that was on my bucket list but when we realised just how easy it was to get there from Copenhagen we couldn't help but cross the bridge and tick Sweden off our list at the same time. Luckily, I actually really loved Malmö. Even more than I loved Copenhagen and I loved Copenhagen a lot. Generally it has a much more relaxed feel to it than Copenhagen and there are a lot of lovely parks to walk through. I totally fell in love with Sweden and I'd love to go back. 

After getting off at the central station we took a quick walk to check into our hotel, the Scandic St. Jorgen. Now let me tell you this, we got so much more for our money here than we did in Copenhagen. Our room was absolutely lovely and an amazing breakfast was included for the same price as our room at Generator. I'd really recommend this hotel to anyone visiting Malmö!


Copenhagen Travel Diary

Tuesday, 13 September 2016
Last week I took a mini break to Copenhagen with a friend from university. Copenhagen is somewhere that I've always wanted to go to and luckily it's really easy and cheap to fly there from Edinburgh. We noticed that it's really easy to get from Copenhagen to Malmö (in Sweden) so we decided that we'd split our time between the cities. We were away for two nights and spent one night in Copenhagen and the other in Malmö. So yes, that's two countries in two days. A little mad? Well, yes. But we actually found that Copenhagen is really small and that we were actually able to get everything done that we wanted to do! Plus Copenhagen is super expensive for accommodation so only staying there one night was actually kind of a blessing. 


Glasgow Photo Diary

Saturday, 10 September 2016
After about a year of owning a Mac I've finally sorted out using the photo album system. I'm a little ashamed that it's taken me so long - I wasn't kidding when I said I found the switch difficult! But since then I've found a lot of photos that I had intended to use for blog posts and just forgotten about. So I've been on a mission to write those posts! It's interesting to recover some old ideas and give them a new life. So basically that's my intro for saying that these photos were taken last October. Yup. You know when you keep saying that you'll do something but forget to do it? Yeah that's this post. I took a trip into Glasgow so that I could see Charlotte, Morag and Lis and we had a fantastic day. I've already blogged an OOTD from that day and a review of the JellyBear dessert parlour but these are some photos that I took around the city that day.

One of my favourite things about Glasgow is that it has some pretty impressive pieces of street art. This big nature piece is my favourite and it was really close by the dessert parlour of dreams. I've often wondered if Glasgow would have been a better fit for me. But I've came to the conclusion that Edinburgh is home. Both are amazing cities but for different reasons and there's someting inexplicable about Edinburgh's charm that just stands out to me. However, Glasgow is always there for a visit. And it's nice to think about how different my life could be if I'd picked a different city. So here are some photos of Glasgow: the one that got away. 


August Reading Wrap Up Part 2

Wednesday, 7 September 2016
During August I read a whole twelve books so I decided to split my reading wrap into two. If you haven't already read part one of this reading wrap up then you can catch up here. But if you have then carry on! Here is what I thought of the last six books I read in August:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling - After rereading all the other Harry Potter books this year and then getting my hands on The Cursed Child I finally wrapped up the series this month. This is one of my favourites in the  series and I just love seeing how all the plot lines wrap up. JK Rowling is such a clever woman. It's actually unbelievable the level of depth and thought that has been put into these novels! 5/5 stars. I might as well start rereading these again as I love them so much!

Girl, Missing by Sophie McKenzie - This book caught my eye on the Kindle sale as I was sure that I'd read this when I was in my early high school years. I couldn't remember how it ended and it was only a pound so I thought why not download and read it again? Oh my god this was a load of dribble. Honestly the plot wasn't very well thought out. It's about an adopted teenager who sees a photo of a toddler on a missing children website and thinks it might be her. So you know, she just runs away in an airport and gets on a flight to go see if it is her. This book was just honestly so hard to read at times as it was so bad. At 12/13 I'm sure it was really exciting but at 19? It's laughably bad. 2/5 stars. 

Fat Chance by Nick Spalding - This is probably my favourite book that I read out of the month. It was just so funny. This book is about a couple who enter a 'biggest loser' style competition on their local radio show where the couple that loses the most weight in a set time wins £50'000. Zoe and Greg are a really lovely couple who obviously care a lot about each other and they are also so funny. It's rare that a book will be good enough to make me laugh out loud but this book had me in stitches. They also talk about why they think they got overweight, the way that society treats them and the difficulties of losing weight - for example why is 'healthy' food often so much more expensive than junk food? I really enjoyed this and gave it 5/5 stars. 

Not Quite A Geordie by Holly Hagan - Ok judge me if you will. But this year I got really into watching Geordie Shore. I'm pretty sure that's because of exams and procrastination but I actually really enjoy watching it. It's definitely a car crash show but it's a bit of a guilty pleasure. So when I saw Holly's autobiography cheap in the Kindle sale I thought why not? It's obviously never going to be a great piece of literature but it's pretty interesting if you're a fan of the show. I've not watched any of the earlier seasons so it was a good way for me to learn more about how it all got started etc. Guilty pleasure read - classic 3/5 stars just for the gossip. 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion - This book was everywhere a few years ago and I'm glad that I finally got around to reading it. It's about a genetics professor at an Australian university who creates a survey to help him find the perfect wife. He's a 'genius' who is very socially awkward and so he thinks that this is the ideal way to find the perfect woman. Until he meets Rosie, who answers all wrong but just somehow makes a lasting impression. This book was really fun and sweet whilst not being overly sickly. It's also heavily hinted that the professor has Aspergers syndrome so his narrative style is quite unique but very interesting. I really enjoyed this one and gave it 5/5 stars. 

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl - I haven't read a Roald Dahl book in years  but when I found my old copy of James and the Giant Peach at my gran's house I couldn't help but give it a little reread. It honestly only took me an hour to read this and it was so nostalgic. I loved it. It's made me really consider buying some sort of Roald Dahl box set and rereading them all as I have such fond memories of them. I hope kids are still reading these books today because they're such gems. 5/5 stars. Leave me a comment letting me know what your favourite Roald Dahl book was - I think mine was Matilda!

And that concludes my two part reading wrap up! What books would you recommend I read next?

August Reading Wrap Up 2014 // August Reading Wrap up 2015

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

Central Sushi, Glasgow

Sunday, 4 September 2016
Glasgow is a city that I really strongly associate with food. I think that's because whenever I go to Glasgow it's to visit my blogging friends and if there's one thing that we love then it's food! Drinks are optional, dessert is optional but food is always a strong must. So a few weeks ago I went into town for a catch up and we ended up heading to Central Sushi. Our plans got altered a little bit so it ended up being only myself and Charlotte but we still had a lovely evening and it was nice to get some one on one chat time. Central Sushi is a little Japanese restaurant that's very close to Glasgow Central Station which is awesome for me as it's the station my train into Glasgow goes to! I'm not the biggest fan of sushi (I just really don't like seaweed) but I love Japanese food and their menu is really varied. I'd originally heard of Central Sushi via the citizenMag, which is a really good place to look out new places to eat in Glasgow, and was intrigued because as a group we've eaten at a fair few Japanese places!

We ordered some side dishes to share and a main course each. Neither of us actually tried any sushi but from what we saw others eating it looked really well presented. First up were the chicken gyoza. Gyoza are some of my favourite things to eat and we were both really pleased by these. They were really fresh, crispy and the filling was really flavourful. They came with a little side dish of soy sauce for dipping but I actually preferred dipping them into the katsu sauce that came alongside my main course. So tasty!

August Reading Wrap Up Part 1

Thursday, 1 September 2016
August has been a fantastic month for me in terms of reading. I think it's because I've been working full time hours and my building doesn't have signal. Which means that I've been having my whole lunch break as uninterrupted reading time. If I'm reading something during my lunch hour I'll often get so into it that when I get home I'll often start reading it after after I've cooked dinner. Meaning I've been tearing up the books I've been reading. It feels great to get back into reading lots of books again as when I'm at university I don't have a lot of free time for reading. I've almost completely emptied my Kindle again this month with just some really long ones to go. It's my goal for September to finish those ones off and that way I can buy some new books without feeling guilty. We'll see! But for now here are the books I read in August and what I thought of them. I've actually decided to split this reading wrap up into two as I just had so many books that it was just going to be far too long! Part two will be published on September 7th so look our for that but here are the reviews for the first 6 books I read in August!

What's A Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne - After reading, and loving, the first two books in this series I couldn't wait to read the final book in the trilogy. I downloaded it to Kindle the day it was released and enjoyed it from the get go. Whilst I really enjoy Holly Bourne's writing I do find her characters to be a little irksome at times. This was no different but on the whole the book was the best out of what I've read so far. The main theme is feminism and the main character starts a month long project where she calls out every example of sexism she sees. Pretty impressive! I really enjoyed this and it was exciting to series wrapped up. I think there will be an update book soon that shows you were all the characters go next and I'm looking forward to that too. 5/5 stars.


Lush Salted Coconut Hand Scrub

Monday, 29 August 2016
When I was in high school I worked weekends in an aquatic pet shop. My hands would be either in water or wet for the majority of my shifts and it meant that they were often left very dry, cracked and painful. I was 16 and had old lady hands. It was during my time there that I discovered hand scrubs. I really love the Crabtree & Evelyn hand recovery scrubs but they are very expensive at £17 for a tube! When I saw that Lush had released a hand scrub I was very excited because Lush are a company that I really love (read the reasons why here) and it's only £7.95. Which still isn't the cheapest but it's considerably cheaper than what I was using before!

Coconut is one of my favourite scents so I have to admit I was a little disappointed when I smelt this for the first time. I thought it would have that classic, rich coconut scent. But it doesn't smell at all like coconut. The coconut in this product is coconut oil which actually doesn't have a scent. According to the Lush website this is scented with sweet gorse which is a yellow flowering plant that grows just about everywhere in Britain. It's not a strong scent which is good if it's going to end up on your hands. However, the coconut oil means that this scrub is very moisturising and doesn't dry out your skin. This scrub is quite dense with sea salt as the scrubbing particle. It's not as harsh as Ocean Salt but stronger than Rub Rub Rub. It very easily removes all the dead skin cells and leaves my hands feeling really smooth. I imagine if you're into gardening or a similar hobby then this would be really effective at cleaning your hands up a bit as well. 

Books That Leave You Thinking

Friday, 26 August 2016
Books have always been my 'thing'. I can't remember when I learnt to read but I know that since then I've always had a book on the go. I try not to be a 'book snob' and will try something from every genre at least once. Sometimes if I'm feeling down or busy or stressed then I want nothing more than to get absorbed into a cheesy, young adult romance novel. But I also truely believe that the best books are the ones that leave you thinking. The ones that you close and can't stop thinking about. The books that make you question why things are the way they are and what you can do to change that. It's the books that really stay with me that effect me the most and remind me why I'm such a fanatic reader, why I crave the few minutes every day where I can get sucked into a different world. If you're looking for a book that's going to change the way you see the world then these five books are my recommendations. 

The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger - I've read this book so many times and it impresses me every single time. One of my favourite things about this book is that my opinion of the central character, Holden, changes so much depending on the mood I'm in when I'm reading it. There have been times where I've loved him and times where I've hated him. The book is about a young adult who drops out of private school to face his problems. Sometimes I empathise with him and sometimes I find him really frustrating. But he has such a unique narrative style that I find I subconsciously copy his 'voice' for a few days after reading it. You phoney.

Mimi's Bakehouse, Edinburgh

Tuesday, 23 August 2016
With three locations and an online store Mimi's Bakehouse is taking Edinburgh by storm. They've been on my radar for a while and I had been intending on trying out their afternoon tea but I ended up making a spontaneous trip there with Charlotte, Lis and my flatmate, Rebecca, when Lis and Charlotte were in town for the cat cafe. We got the bus down to Leith where the original bakehouse is. It was late afternoon on a Saturday and we did have to queue for a table but the queue moved quickly. Seeing how busy it was was a fairly good indication of what was yet to come and we got to have a peek at their cute decorations before sitting down. 

 Mimi's has a really cute, quirky decor sense. With lots of bunting, artwork and decorations. They also have a selection of things for sale in case you want to take anything home with you. It was really busy but there were quite a few groups in for afternoon tea and after they had left the bake house really quietened down. But if you don't want to stop in they do take aways as well. 


See With Iolla

Saturday, 20 August 2016
It's been four years since I started wearing glasses and since then I've become very firm in what I like in a pair of specs. When you wear glasses, all day every day, they almost become like a little part of you so I think it's really important to get a pair that you love. I was invited along to the Iolla showroom in Glasgow to see what they have to offer in terms of glasses. The shop is on Argyle Street in Finnieston. Being in the West End of Glasgow you'd expect it to be quite hip and you wouldn't be wrong!

When we arrived at the store I was really impressed with the decor of the shop. It was really modern with exposed brick etc but still kept lots of little Scottish touches as well. The word 'Iolla' means sight in the Scottish Gaelic language so I guess that's only fitting. The staff as well were really helpful, explaining how their pricing system etc worked and leaving us to try on some glasses for ourselves although they were also happy to help with recommendations. 

10 Cheap Things To Do In Edinburgh

Wednesday, 17 August 2016
After growing up 20 miles from Edinburgh and having lived in the city for the past few years, I consider myself to be a local. I feel more at home on Edinburgh's cobbled streets than I do on the suburban pavements on my home town. Every August Edinburgh fills itself with guests for the Fringe Festival and it's amazing to see so many different people come together. But Edinburgh attracts tourists all year round and for good reasons: the city has such a rich and exciting history but most attractions in Edinburgh are actually free or very cheap. So after your travel costs a visit to Edinburgh isn't likely to break the bank.

I'm sure that I can convince you that there's so much to do and eat in Edinburgh and that it doesn't have to cost the world. In fact, most of Edinburgh's museum's are free so even if the weather is a bit miserable you can still keep occupied! But what about accommodation? During the Fringe it can be hard to find hotels/hostels with space - and the ones that do will be charging a fortune. Why not try out Homestay? This website allows you to book a room with an Edinburgh local. So you really get to experience what life in the city is like. And as I'll mention - Edinburgh's bus system is really cheap so you could also save money by staying a little further out as it would only cost you £3.20 to get in and out of the city. I've always found that locals are the best people to ask for recommendations about their city - especially for food - so who else better to stay with.

Here are my recommendations, as an Edinburgh local, on 10 cheap things to do in Edinburgh:

1. Climb up Calton Hill for an iconic view of the city.
Cost: FREE.
People will argue whether Calton Hill or Athur's Seat has the best view of Edinburgh. I'm including both in this post but Calton Hill is my personal favourite. Why? You still feel like you're in the city and you can pick out loads of landmarks. Last summer my friends and I climbed up and had a little cider at the top of the hill as the sun set. It was honestly one of my favourite days and it just made me feel so lucky to be watching the sunset over a beautiful city with amazing friends. The climb is really easily and probably takes about 15 minutes as it's only a little hill. Definitely the one to go for if you have less time in Edinburgh as Arthur's Seat is quite a time commitment.


Isle of Arran 2016

Sunday, 14 August 2016
Earlier in the year I visited the Isle of Arran with my family. If you've read my posts about our visit last year then you'll know that it's a special spot for my family. We go there as often as we can and my grandad's ashes are scattered there. Unfortunately for our trip this year the weather wasn't as great so it wasn't as action packed as the 2015 trip. But that doesn't mean that we still didn't have a great time. We went around Easter time so it was nice to be able to get away from the stress of uni and exams for a bit. Obviously I've been meaning to schedule this post for a while I just got distracted by going to Canada...


Holiday Must Haves

Thursday, 11 August 2016
So.... guess who booked another holiday? I know what you're thinking. Yes I have been to Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada and the US in the space of the last year. But I'm travelling whilst I'm young ok?! My friend and I will be visiting Denmark and Sweden in September. In a bit of a whirlwind trip we'll be visiting Copenhagen and Malmo in the space of three days. So if anyone has any recommendations on things to do in either city then that would be greatly appreciated! I love packing so I'm glad that I'm going away again so I can think about what to take with me. With each trip I go on I get better and better at packing more efficiently so I'm determined to make this my lightest bag yet. Of course my smaller camera will help with that. But it's gotten me thinking about what I consider to be essential when I'm travelling. If you've seen my post on travelling light then you'll know I only travel with hand luggage for short breaks so it's important to only take what you need. Here are my holiday must haves!

Google Maps download - Ok so I didn't know this until I was in New York but you can download areas on Google Maps and then use the GPS location to see where you are on your map without using internet. This is actually a life saver. My extra tip is to 'save' the locations you want to go to  and this shows a little star over the area on the map. The stars will still appear without internet meaning you can see all the locations. I used this almost like a to do list when I was in New York and removed the stars after I had visited. That meant it was really easy to see what I still wanted to see and where I was in relation to them all. Actual life saver!

Dinner at The Brasserie, No 11 Brunswick Street

Monday, 8 August 2016
Edinburgh is currently alive with the thrill of the Fringe Festival. Which is lovely but also quite tiring so on Saturday night I headed along to No 11 Brunswick Street, a boutique hotel in the New Town/Leith area, to try out the dinner menu at their restaurant: The Brasserie. The hotel is inside an old Georgian town house and still has the original wooden floors and tiles. The place definitely has a higher class feel to it and we agreed it would be a lovely spot for special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays and graduations. It's small - only sitting 26 and is rather dark so had a really cosy, intimate atmosphere. There were lots of candles burning and it felt very romantic although my 'date' was only my friend Rebecca! I wasn't actually feeling too hungry by the time I arrived but after we read the menu we were so hungry. There was a real selection of traditional Scottish food and a few twists as well.

To start off with I ordered the grilled queen scallops with bearnaise sauce. I am a huge seafood fan and this didn't dissappoint. They were soft and almost buttery in texture and you could just tell that they were fresh. The benefit of Edinburgh's location means that we can get some really great, fresh seafood. The sauce complimented the scallops really well and all of the sauces are homemade.

Rebecca ordered the haggis filo parcels with spiced turnip puree and whiskey sauce for her starter and they did not disappoint. I'm not the biggest haggis fan but I tried a little bit and it was lovely. The filo pastry was very light and just melted in the mouth. Mary Berry would be proud as there was definitely no soggy pastry to be found at The Brasserie. The whiskey sauce was notable but not too strong. Really the perfect dish for someone interested in seeing what Scotland has to offer. Rebecca and I both agreed that the portion sizes of the starters were really good. Sometimes if I order a starter I'm full before the main course arrives but this was just a lovely light bite to get us started.

Bedside Essentials

Saturday, 6 August 2016
After starting a second job for the rest of the summer it feels like I've been spending most of my free time in my bed because I've been absolutely shattered. And it's gotten me thinking about what I like to keep by me and I've reorganised my bedside table so that I'm only keeping the essentials to hand. Plus I'm super nosy and love seeing what people keep in their rooms which is why I'm writing this blog post. Also I wanted an excuse to show off this super cute new photo background I picked up!

Hand Sanitiser - Ok so I like to snack in bed. But I also read in bed and I don't like to touch my books with my hands after I've been eating in case I mark them. So I like to keep hand sanitiser on my bedside table so that I can eat and read at the same time without having to get up and wash my hands. Lazy? Yes but this is literally a post about things I don't want to get out of bed to reach so.... I bought this Limoncello hand sanitiser from Bath and Bodyworks when I was in New York and I love the smell of it. It's so fresh! 


July Reading Wrap Up

Wednesday, 3 August 2016
July was a good month for me in reading. It always is because I set myself a week every July to read as much as I can. I actually read 4 of these books during that one week so you can see how much it works for me. I spent a lot of time reading Kindle books this month until I had read all but two of the books on my Kindle. It was nice to feel caught up. Then there was a really good sale on Kindle books so I stocked up on 5 new ones which only cost me £7.95 which is a total bargain! I read faster on Kindle for some reason so that really helps me be able to read more. I also really enjoyed the books I read this month: in particular the Holly Bourne novels which I got hooked on. I've taken on a second job at another pharmacy which means that I'm going to be a lot busier in August but hopefully I'll still get a lot of reading done. At the moment my plans are to finish rereading the Harry Potter series and try out some of my new Kindle reading. But until then, here's what I thought of the books I read in July...

Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison - When my sister said that she was thinking about throwing out her copy of this one I seriously couldn't help but rescue it. I absolutely loved Louise Rennison's books when I was a younger teenager and was so saddened when I heard recently that she had passed away. Despite being older now I still really enjoyed rereading this book. It was just so much fun! The voice of Georgia Nicholson is so strong, almost like a teenage Bridget Jones. This book is laugh out loud funny and I'm not ashamed to say that I enjoyed it just as much this time around as I did when I was 13. 5/5 stars. Really tempted to reread the whole series now if I can find them somewhere cheap. 


Products I've Been Loving Recently

Saturday, 30 July 2016
When Water Painted Dreams was started (4.5 years ago - wow) it was primarily a beauty blog. But as I've changed my blog has changed with me and I very rarely post about beauty products anymore. Not that I don't use them (although I rarely wear make up these days) but because I've found my favourites and don't really feel the need to branch out. Every now and then though, I do purchase something new. I thought I'd write a little post about some of the products I've been loving recently as I do kinda miss writing about products from time to time. To the best of my knowledge all of these products are not tested on animals and vegan suitable! Also the most expensive thing here is £15.50 so none of these will break the bank.

The Library Of Fragrance Orange Blossom - I received this as a Christmas present but now it's a staple in my summer fragrances. This isn't the typical orange scent with it being the blossom and not the fruit. It's much muskier which I like in a fragrance and I really love it. It's not the strongest so I do feel I need to reapply it halfway during the say but it's also not the most expensive perfume so I don't mind about having to do that. I also received the peach one at the same time and I loved it so much that I've already used it all up. These are £15 each but almost always on a two for £25 offer in Boots. Once I've finished this I think I'll get some more. Got my eye on fresh laundry. Let me know if you've tried any and what scents you like.