Thursday, 20 September 2012

My life in books:

'Marmalade and pears, toothpaste for bears, mustard and custard and carrots.'

Books have always been a huge part of my life.  My parents are both big readers, and constantly read to us, took us to the library (to inevitably take out the same books over and over and over again) and encouraged us to read ourselves from a very young age.  I have fond memories of so many children's books, but Teddybears Go Shopping is probably brought up and quoted most often in our family.  I'm really sad to see that it's out of print now, but there are some second hand copies for sale online.

Tintin was my first crush (yes, I know...) and I absolutely loved reading all of the Tintin comics I could get my hands on when I was a little girl.  The Secret of the Unicorn was one of two that I actually owned, and my copy is extremely battered, well read and well loved.  I was a big fan of the recent film (and, between you and me, the film's story made a lot more sense than the comic's) but you can't beat the amazing eccentricities of the original.

I've never met a girl my age who didn't love Jacqueline Wilson's books in their early teens.  I read and loved a huge number of them, but the Girls... series was easily my favourite.  I found the main character, Ellie Allard, very easy to relate to at that awkward age, and I'm sure that pre-teen girls will love and connect with her for generations to come.

I was quite late to the Harry Potter party.  I cannot claim to have loved it from the very beginning and, alas, will never be a truly hardcore fan.  The first book I read from the series was actually number four (
The Goblet of Fire), but after reading it I immediately went back to the first three and caught up on what I had been missing.  For books five, six and seven, I pre-ordered and then queued up at my local bookshop at the midnight release to receive my copy.  Don't lie, at least some of you did it too.  I much prefer the books to the films (and even the books start to get a bit suspect when Harry becomes an angsty teen) but I was, and probably always will be, very emotionally invested in the Harry Potter franchise.  I have re-read The Chamber of Secrets the most, and if I ever have children I'll be excited to read at least some of these books to them and to share the magic.

I went through a phase of reading Muriel Spark novels, including The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, when I was about 12 or 13, and remember very much enjoying them.  I decided to write about her novels for my Advanced Higher English dissertation when I was 17 and in my final year at high school, and it was only then that I began to notice all of the... well... dirty bits.  I recently re-read Jean Brodie, and yet again found even more hidden in the story that I hadn't picked up on the first few times round.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that this book (and all of Muriel Spark's work that I have read) can work on many different levels for various age groups, and to me that is the sign of a talented writer.  I now live in Miss Brodie's neighbourhood, and go past landmarks that feature in the book on a daily basis, which makes the literature geek inside me smile.

Never mind the Bront√ęs, Shakespeare and Stevenson: Danny Wallace is easily one of the proudest literary discoveries of my university career.  I saw the (arguably rubbish) film adaptation of Yes Man first, but eventually discovered that the movie was based on a real writer's hilarious experiences and quickly got sucked into the book.  I have given Yes Man as a gift to friends multiple times, and converted plenty of people to Danny's work.  (His other books are amazing too, I read them all in quick succession after Yes Man.)  I got to meet him at a reading and signing at my old university, and he was truly lovely, despite obviously being very tired!  If you were only to read one of the books on this list, make it this one - I promise you won't regret it!

'You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.  You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.'

Remember the Advanced Higher English dissertation that I mentioned earlier?  We were given a lot of freedom about choosing our own topics, but I still remember my teacher scoffing something along the lines of: 'just as long as you choose a proper book, and not Fight Club, or something'.  So I wrote my university dissertation on Fight Club instead.  Although my dissertation was a stressful experience, I'm proud of myself for completing it, and I came out of the other end still loving Fight Club (both the novel and the film adaptation).  I also once put the above quote from Palahniuk's book on a pretentious sign in our kitchen in uni halls in an attempt to encourage some of my flatmates to do their washing up.  Needless to say, it didn't work.

This post was inspired by (i.e. unashamedly copied from) Lauren over at 'A Blessed Unrest' who posted her version at the start of this month.  You can find her original post here:  Please feel free to share your desert island reads in the comments!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Slowly but surely:

It turns out working full time and turning 22 doesn't leave much time (or money) for decorating and improving a flat.  I did, however, finally manage to get most of the clutter on top of my dresser hidden away in one of the storage boxes I mentioned in this post.  Small victories, eh?

The clutter that I didn't quite manage to hide belongs to Craig.  I swear...  I also bought two bigger boxes in the same design to keep clean towels and bedding in on top of the wardrobe.  It doesn't always feel like it, but the flat is (very) slowly coming together.  Next on the agenda is the mammoth task of making covers for the sofa and armchair in the living room, with the help of my poor, long-suffering Mum.

By the way, I had a lovely birthday weekend and was totally spoiled by all of my lovely family and friends.  Enjoy the above cheesy group photo of me and some of my best pals.  Thanks, self timer!  Hope you all enjoy the weekend!  (I will be at work...)

Monday, 10 September 2012

Instagram #2:

1. Silly bus faces on the way into town  2. Steve attempts reverse charge calls to made up phone numbers...  3. Some pretty wild flowers on the way to work

4. My first ever white Russian, appropriately drunk in Lebowski's  5. Scott Hutchison plays the Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh  6. A pretend summer holiday lunch in the Grassmarket

7. Decadent home made nachos  8. Three Blind Wolves play Electric Circus  9. I finally found some studded flats (for a bargain)!

10. OR ELSE   11. I seem to have been spending a lot of time with these two this month!  12. A delicious birthday feast, cooked by Craig

13.  The amazing sheepy birthday cake that my Mum made and presented me with last night! 

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Top blogs:

I've decided to dedicate this post to all of the great bloggers who inspired me to start my own blog.  Thanks so much guys, and please keep up the great work!

I think Rhiannon's was the first blog I ever kept up with, and I still look forward to reading her posts every time she updates.  She is one seriously talented photographer, and I usually just want to crawl inside all of her photos and live there, especially the ones taken around her home.  Although I didn't realise it at first, it was definitely Rhiannon's frame collage above her bed (shown below) that inspired my own!  I would call Sewn Branches a beautifully illustrated lifestyle blog, with plenty of inspirational posts and a few great music recommendations.  Rhiannon also has a website dedicated to her photography:, so check it out if you get the chance!

Gem is pretty much a celebrity (she's been on telly and everything) but her blog posts are so down to earth and chatty that I feel like I'm having a conversation with a friend when I read them.  She recently started working as a Web Assistant at Company Magazine, and writes quite a bit (as well as posting photos) about what she gets up to at work, which I find really interesting and exciting to read.  I also really enjoyed reading about her time spent at London Fashion Week this year and watching the daily vlogs she posted from there on YouTube.  Gem's blog is great for fashion and beauty how tos, as well as inspirational outfit posts (with a lot of charity shop items included, not just brand new, expensive clothes).

Scathingly Brilliant
Kate at Scathingly Brilliant has one of the most unique styles I've ever seen.  I think I have only seen one photo of her where she wasn't wearing a lovely dress, and her perfectly coiffed pink beehive is a wonder to behold.  She's also a fantastic illustrator and has some extremely cute cats.

Cupcake Couture

Rani of Cupcake Couture is a fellow Scottish blogger who also lives in Edinburgh.  Her content is usually a mixture of beauty and fashion, with the odd foodie post thrown in here and there for good measure (she loves eating out, and her baking looks tasty!).  I really like that the majority of her pub and restaurant recommendations are relevant to me!  Recently, Rani was on a dream road trip holiday in California, and her posts and photos from there are amazing, definitely worth checking out!

One Girl and a Blog
Rach is another local fashion and beauty blogger who has just moved from Glasgow to Edinburgh.  (Sometimes I wonder what I would do if I saw these girls out and about in town.  Probably get very shy and not say anything, because I'm silly...)  I really enjoy her outfit and Instagram posts, as I'm completely nosey when it comes to other peoples' lives!

A Taste of Paint
I briefly mentioned my best friend Emily's art blog in my last post, but she definitely deserves some elaboration and a lot more attention.  Above is probably her most famous and loved painting, which she featured in her final year Degree Show at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art earlier this year.  I know we've been friends since we were two years old, and some people might say I'm biased, but I think Emily's work speaks for itself: she is such an incredible artist.  Even though uni is over, she is still painting in her own studio space, and I'm very proud of her for keeping it up!  Check out A Taste of Paint for more examples of her work, and for some great foodie posts too (her cooking is just as good as her painting!).

I do what I'm told...

Thinking about it, I have some really talented friends...  Tom is another of my great friends who I went to both high school and university with, and he also recently graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone with a degree in animation.  Below is a very early animation of Tom's that I have always loved and I think shows how talented he was, even at the very start of university!  (He did the music too!)

As well as being a mega talented animator, he is also a brilliant artist, and his sketches and caricatures are my favourite.  I'm always so honoured when he draws me, and he captures people so effortlessly that there is never any question as to who his subject is!  Below is a recent sketch that he drew of three friends, and I'm top right (huge, wonky smile, tiny eyes and big hair: that's definitely me!).  Since finishing uni, Tom often updates with daily drawing challenges, and I'm sure he will post links to any future animation projects that he gets involved in!

I do what I'm told...

A few more friends:
Laura's cakes always look inventive and delicious - a perfect combination if you ask me!  She often posts recipes and baking tips and tricks which may be of interest to any budding bakers out there!

Dinosaur Circus
Faye loves all things vintage, and puts real effort into blogging a variety of fashion, homeware and lifestyle posts.  Check out her recent post about her niece's amazing 2nd birthday party: so cute!

Viewed Through a Lens
Joanna regularly posts brilliant film reviews, written to a professional standard.  Her blog looks great, and she is a talented and driven writer who is definitely going places!  Just watch this space...

Beauty and Baggage
I used to chat with Seonaid in class during our very last semester of uni, and it was only after the semester ended that I discovered she was already a well established beauty blogger!  She's extremely dedicated to her blog, and always has lots of great content to read (if beauty products are your thing, of course!).  Seonaid was recently nominated for a Cosmopolitan Blog Award in the category of Best New Beauty Blog, which I think is such an amazing achievement!  You can register and vote for her here:, and please do if you read and enjoy Beauty and Baggage!

A special mention also goes out to: Violet LuluTales for Karina MarieA Rosie Outlook and A Blessed Unrest whose blogs I also regularly read and enjoy.

Thank you and congratulations if you have made it to the end of this post, I know it's been a wordy one!  If you've made it through, you probably deserve a medal, or something.  Please feel free to recommend your favourite bloggers to me, I love having new blogs to read!