Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Au revoir:

We're off to Paris!

In fact, if this works properly, Craig and I will already be in Paris when this post goes live!  I'm sure there'll be many new photos and stories to share when we get back, but for now please enjoy a few of my favourites from my last trip there.

See you all soon!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Record Store Day 2013:

Source: here

Yesterday (Saturday 20th April) was international Record Store Day, an annual celebration of independent record shops that started in 2007.  Every year, a huge number of well known bands and artists put out special releases (usually on vinyl) especially for Record Store Day, and these can only be bought in person in independent record stores.  This usually involves a lot of queueing, and we certainly did our fair share this year!

This is only the third year I've really been aware of Record Store Day.  During the first year (2011) we accidentally bumped into Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit in the Grassmarket and I got to meet one of my songwriting heroes.  This only happened because Frightened Rabbit were playing a set in Avalanche (Edinburgh) in honour of Record Store Day.  The special gigs and in store appearances are probably my favourite part of the whole thing, you can't beat some good live music from your favourite bands!

We started Record Store Day 2013 early at Vox Box in Stockbridge, where we joined a refreshingly short queue and were let into the shop promptly at 9:30am.  Because there weren't very many of us waiting, Ruaridh and Craig (my RSD partners in crime) managed to pick up the majority of the purchases they were looking for straight away.  It's definitely worth going a little bit out of the away to avoid queuing round the corner!  The staff at Vox Box were very helpful and knowledgeable, and they were also putting on some great live music later on in the day, which unfortunately we couldn't make it to.

Source: here

After a quick stop at Coda and an attempted visit to Underground Solu'shn (see aforementioned enormous queues!) we caught a train to Glasgow for more RSD fun.  Our first port of call was Love Music, where we stood in a motionless queue for ten minutes before deciding we needed a drink!

One of the many plus points about Monorail Music is that it's attached to a bar.  We still had to join an enormous queue to get inside, but once indoors we were rewarded with the opportunity to buy a pint and drink it while we waited to get into the record shop.

We stayed at Mono for an all vegan lunch (which converted even Craig, the most enthusiastic of meat eaters) and enjoyed the atmosphere.  The venue works hard to be family friendly, whilst still catering to its vinyl junkie customers, and there is none of the squashed frenzy that we experienced elsewhere.  Mono is the most serene RSD venue I have visited, once you have waited out the queue, of course.

Once we'd been fed and watered we headed back to Love Music to see Three Blind Wolves perform, and to buy their special Record Store Day EP.  Love was exceptionally cramped, and even getting from the front door to the till was a sweaty battle, but I'm sure the store's owners were pleased by how busy it was!  I couldn't comfortably make it inside to see Three Blind Wolves, but I listened and sang along from the doorway with the sun shining down on me and my sunglasses on!

After Three Blind Wolves, we had an excellent dinner (and cocktails) at the aptly named Cocktail & Burger on Sauchiehall Street before getting the train back to Edinburgh.  Our collective record haul is pictured above, for your viewing pleasure.  Did you do anything special for Record Store Day this year?  If not, join us next year!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

What I'm watching #1:

I've been watching a ton of TV lately across a whole variety of genres.  There are some old favourites on the list as well as some unlikely newcomers, so I thought I'd share with you all in case you need some help deciding on your next telly obsession.

Source: here

The Mindy Project
was created by and stars the witty and talented Mindy Kaling (who you may know as Kelly Kapoor from The Office).  The Mindy Project is a light hearted comedy (with the odd surreal moment thrown in for good measure) centred around the wistfully single, thirty-something Mindy Lahiri.  At first, I described the show to those who hadn't seen it as 'Bridget Jones-esque' (and got a few groans in response, particularly from Craig...).  However, in my opinion, as the first season unfolds, the somewhat predictable main plot point of Mindy's tempestuous love life is balanced out by her 
brilliantly strong and funny supporting cast and their own characters' stories.  In short, once I had persuaded Craig to watch a couple of episodes, I caught him chuckling away at Mindy and her colleagues just as much as I did.  There are some great celebrity cameos in the majority of episodes, and bear in mind that Mindy Kaling was a writer for The Office, as well as an actor, so if you like one then you will probably enjoy the other!

Source: here

Despite being one of the biggest scaredy cats the world has ever known, I recently decided to give American Horror Story a go.  Somehow I convinced myself that a TV show simply couldn't be as scary as a film.  Surely they wouldn't be allowed to actually put anything remotely disturbing on American prime time TV?  Surely I couldn't get anywhere near as creeped out by a TV episode in my own living room (in broad daylight) than I could in a tense and pitch black cinema screen for several hours?  
I was wrong.  

The first season of American Horror Story is set in an infamous 'murder house' in Los Angeles, and centres on its inhabitants, both past and present.  The second season, which Craig and I are currently working our way through, takes place largely inside an insane asylum and, again, focuses on the stories of the people there.  The premises of both seasons are typical of their genre, and the show blatantly borrows from many famous horror films, as well as real crimes.  On top of that, the show's story lines can be fairly exaggerated (verging on excessive) and seem to run away from the writers at points, particularly in the first season.  

Yet, somehow, it still works.  American Horror Story is still gripping and definitely still scary, especially for a chicken like me, but also for a horror fanatic like Craig.  In my opinion, the dramatic plot twists are the best part of the show, and these are especially well thought out and executed in the second, 'Asylum' season.  Evan Peters and Jessica Lange deserve a special mention for delivering the best acting performances throughout both series, and they both make up for and carry the weaker actors in the show.

Source: here

I couldn't be happier that Mad Men is back on our screens again.  Although a lot has changed in six seasons, the show still adds a much needed dose of glamour to my humdrum life.  As I'm sure you'll all know by now, Mad Men is set in the 1960s and follows an advertising agency (or group of 'ad men' - took me a worryingly long time to make that connection!) through both their work and personal lives.  Jon Hamm plays Don Draper, the leading man everyone loves to love and loves to hate in equal measure, and he is backed up by an excellent supporting cast.  John Slattery, as Roger Sterling, is one of my personal favourites, and his character adds some much needed comic relief to the show's more over dramatic story lines.  If you haven't seen Mad Men before, start from the beginning.  You have a lot to look forward to!

Source: here

Breaking Bad
is another TV show that has been a favourite for a while (thanks to my old flatmate, Liam, who introduced me to a lot of great programs!).  Breaking Bad follows the story of a high school chemistry teacher who feels forced to begin producing and selling crystal meth in order to provide for his family.  As you can imagine (and considering that there are currently five seasons) there are some consequences.  If you've never seen Breaking Bad before, I have two questions for you:

1) Remember Malcolm in the Middle?  
2) Remember Malcolm's Dad, Hal?

The mild mannered Hal was played by actor Bryan Cranston, who also plays Walter White, the main character in Breaking Bad.  I only ask about Malcolm in the Middle, because if you remember Hal and then watch Breaking Bad, I think it becomes immediately clear how versatile an actor Cranston is.  The show is extremely tense at points, as you might expect from its subject matter, but it has its comedic moments as well, particularly in the earlier episodes.  Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul, is easily my favourite character, and I'm always rooting for him.  Quite recently, one of my managers at work became utterly obsessed with Breaking Bad, and was so excited to tell me where he was in the story every time we spoke.  It just goes to show that anyone can get addicted!

I'm still dutifully watching the US remake of mockumentary sitcom The Office in its ninth and final season, feeling simultaneously heartbroken and relieved with every new episode.  The show and its amazing cast make me laugh just as much as they always have, but something isn't quite the same any more.  So many brilliant characters have left (some without any explanation) and, as has become the tradition with most American sitcoms, The Office has begun to drag out a little.  I'm looking forward to the finale, as I hear lots of old cast members will be coming back.  Don't get me wrong, I will be very sad to see The Office go, but there is nothing better than going back to the very beginning and starting it all over again.  If you haven't done it already yourself, I highly recommend it!

Are you as addicted to any of these programs as I am?  What have you been watching?  I've already been told by a few friends that I should try Girls next.  I'd love to hear some suggestions for shows to check out in the future, if you have any recommendations!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Instagram #9:

Ooft, it's been a busy month!  Where did March go?

1. Wearing sunglasses for the first time this year!  2. These butterflies were all over trees in the Meadows one night on the way to the gym  3. A rainbow spotted after work

4. Fluffy clouds and blue sky (unheard of!)  5. My glow in the dark drink in Hive...  6. Craig helping me to straighten up our frame college for this recent post

7. A birthday Instagram dedication to my best and most elderly pal, Emily  8. I desperately wish I could afford these goldfish dinner plates from Anthropologie (sadly not at £16 a pop...)  9. Classy train drinking on the way to Dundee with Steven

10. A creepy collage of Steven sleeping...  11. The train home, only slightly worse for wear  12. Bulmers and tea at the amazing City Cafe

13. City Cafe's adorable menu  14. My new anchor jumper, featured in this post  15. A no filter shot from the bus stop outside work.  It can be surprisingly beautiful there!

16. Easter egg inspired nails  17. Craig looking super pretty!  18. Our combined Easter egg haul

19. An Easter egg hunt in my parents' garden (never too old)  20. New place mats featuring some feathered friends  21. My little totem pole cocktail friend at 52 Canoes Tiki Den (read my post about it here)

22. My cocktail mermaid face  23. Watching The Mindy Project on one laptop whilst blogging on the other from my cosy bed - bliss!  24. Emulating Don Draper with a horrendously strong old fashioned from Bar Kohl

Somehow I managed to miss this photo out (I'm way too tired, you guys) so I'm putting it here in pride of place!  Aren't they the cutest?

As always, leave me your Instagram username in a comment, if you like! #forevernosey

Friday, 5 April 2013

52 Canoes Tiki Den:

I first became aware of 52 Canoes Tiki Den through photos on a friends Instagram.  As soon as I saw their cocktails in totem poles and skull shaped glasses, I was itching to visit and try them for myself.  So, under the pretence of going out for dinner, I dragged Craig and my big sister, Helen, along to sample as many cocktails as possible with me.

52 Canoes is the closest thing Edinburgh has to a tropical beach holiday, hidden downstairs in a basement building on Melville Place in the West End.  The bar is dark, but not dingy, and the tiki themed decoration is consistent without being tacky.  After reading a few reviews online, I was pleased to discover that the Tiki Den is famous for its food as well as its cocktails, particularly the nachos.

Our menus arrived with a pitcher of pink water infused with lemon and what we decided must be some kind of blossom (hence the unusual colour).  You know the cocktails are going to be good when even the water is pink!

When our first round of drinks arrived, I was very excited to find out that mine was in one of the aforementioned totem pole style glasses.  Overexcited, really.  Probably the most excited I've ever been about a beverage.  Most of the drinks are rum based, but Helen was pleased to find a cocktail featuring her favourite wine!  (See the huge wine glass it came in below!)

I loved this little guy!

When the pulled pork nachos that we ordered arrived, I was very glad we had decided to share one serving between three of us!  Somehow, we did manage to finish them.

As you can see, enormous portions seem to be the norm at the Tiki Den.  My 52 Canoes burger (with bacon and two kinds of cheese) tasted amazing, but I could only manage to eat half of what was on my plate, which is pretty rare for me!

Still, there was a wee bit of room left for another cocktail, and my coconutty 'Bahia' (in the blue glass) was delicious.

I think Craig's choice (which arrived on fire, and stayed burning for at least 10 minutes!) deserves a special mention.

After the meal, we paid our bill (which arrived with a huge selection of sweeties) and, with our waiter's blessing, pinched a lei necklace each from the rafters of the bar.  Overall, I really enjoyed visiting 52 Canoes Tiki Den and can't wait to go back.  Unlike a lot of bars and restaurants in Edinburgh, I felt like I actually got my money's worth for both food and drinks there.  The staff were friendly and helpful, despite obviously being rushed off their feet.  Maybe the fact that the place was so busy on a Thursday night speaks for itself, but if you're a cocktail enthusiast (or just appreciate good nachos and burgers) then you should definitely pay the Tiki Den a visit!

You can like 52 Canoes Tiki Den's Facebook page here for more information about their menu and special events that they have going on!