I don’t always make good decisions, but when I do…

There have been a few choices I’ve made in my life which, in retrospect, weren’t my wisest. Dying my hair black in secondary school was a big one. Taking a pair of heels with me the first time I went backpacking aged 18 was another (yes, they sat at the bottom of my bag for 4 weeks and no, I did not wear them once.) Going out for “a few” the night before a 5am flight also ranks up there in the Poor Judgement category, among many, many other bad life decisions which aren’t *quite* as suitable for public consumption.

But despite these fairly regular lapses, I’ve made a few conscious decisions which I’ll never regret. Here are a five of the most important ones I’ve made in the past few years.

Chasing travel

After graduating from university, I wasn’t interested in chasing any kind of ‘career’ job. I wanted to work for the sole purpose of earning money so I could go away. And yes, clearing tables and pulling pints while friends and fellow classmates were migrating to the big cities in the pursuit of degree justification was sometimes tough – but I am so, so glad that I stuck to my guns. It was all part of a bigger plan I had for myself.

I lived at home and saved for months before going off on two consecutive ski seasons in Europe and travelling South America. It sounds like a cliche but there’s nothing like throwing yourself out of your comfort zone, meeting different people and being exposed to environments at complete odds to your own to shape your outlook.

Although I’m in less of a flexible position now to travel for as long periods at a time, I try to make up for this by exploring new places as often as possible. I would love next year though to move abroad somewhere for a year or so.

Signing up for my Masters degree

During my last few months of uni, I had such a crappy time that I vowed I’d never take another academic exam again. Which of course is easy to say fresh out of graduation but alas, two years later and no relevant-to-degree job offers in sight, I realised if I ever wanted to earn a decent salary and use my skills at the same time, I’d have to face that return to uni fear.

Despite the fact it set me back all of my savings at the time, and I’ll be paying the debt off for another few years (possibly even decades…), it was a decision that had a hugely positive impact on my life. Yes, I was poor as hell for about 2 years, stressed out much of the time and exhausted from working various jobs to pay my way – but I made some brilliant pals, had some hilarious (er, and educational) experiences – and of course it got me my current job in writing, which was always the end goal.

Saying ‘yes’

I would probably call myself a confident introvert. This means that although I’m outgoing and confident, I really relish time on my own or I feel drained. This meant that a lot of the time when I was younger, I avoided certain social situations because I’d rather hang out in my comfort zone, doing ‘me’ things and ignoring the outside world when I wanted to.

But, like going to the gym, I realised that actually, the thought of the thing is not as bad as the thing itself. In fact, the thing itself can sometimes be really good fun. I think I made excuses for why I couldn’t do things too much of the time, instead of just going for it and taking part in experiences and opportunities that may never come my way again.

As a blogger, I’m invited to loads of different, exciting new things and this has become something I look forward to and embrace rather than finding excuses for. #Whoknew?

Conforming to my inner ‘adult’

The concept of having a steady job, paying a mortgage, maintaining a relationship and still somehow enjoying life used to baffle me. It all sounded so suffocating and restricting – and to be totally honest, occasionally I still feel like that.

But I’ve now come to see that for me, the pros far outweigh the cons. In some ways, having all the things I once thought would suffocate me in fact gives me more freedom than ever. My job gives me a regular salary, which allows me to plan my future better than I ever could before. Owning a house means I can do whatever the hell I want with it, creating an environment that I love (hello neon signs), and being in a relationship with the right person allows me the added confidence of not only accepting myself, but having someone else celebrate exactly who I am too.

And yes, ‘adulting’ can sometimes be shit – I still occasionally crave those heady uni days of random day drinking, slothing in pyjamas dissecting the night before, drinking jagerbombs mid week and living on money you didn’t *really* have.

But nothing beats that feeling of having control of your life, supporting yourself and laying your own path.

Flicking my comfort zone the finger (oo-er)

Three years ago, I applied for an internship in Turin, Italy, working in the Communications department of an EU agency. I applied not really thinking I’d get it, and about 10 days later I’d rented my room in Edinburgh out, said bye to my (at the time) new-ish boyfriend and gone to live in a country where I knew nobody, was living with strangers and didn’t speak the language.

Was it intimidating? Yes. Did I sometimes want to cry? Frequently. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

To be honest, I found the first half of my time there really really tough. I was struggling a lot with low mood and felt completely isolated. I missed my friends and boyfriend at home and felt stressed out by the uni course I was also juggling. Writing a dissertation and studying for exams while working full time is no joke let me tell you – and I was a childless, effectively single woman with no social life at this point so big cheers to the parents out there who somehow manage this!

Anyway, I got through it, and those 3 months remain some of the most important in my life. They showed me the power of determination, motivation, inner strength, independence and the life-affirming rewards you get from stepping completely out of your comfort zone and proving to yourself you can and you will.

 

As far as I’m concerned, making bad decisions is a vital component in being able to recognise the good ones. As long as you’re trying stuff out you’re nailing it. So get going and decide what that future of yours is gonna hold…

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10 things that made me happy last month

It can be a tough old world out there. The past month has been littered with various personal stresses, ones that we as humans let get us down too easily. While it’s important to ruminate on the difficult stuff – character building and all that – you can’t afford to overlook those little things in life that make it all worth living.

So in this nu-age spirit of positivity, mindfulness and general life enthusiasm, here’s a little round-up of April, where the following 10 things reignited my recently dampened outlook.

1. A fun photoshoot with inspiring people

I kicked the month off with a really fun photoshoot with one of Scotland’s key style influencers, Scot Street Style, and the wonderful photographer Ellie Morag.

I had such a good time meeting new people, wandering through little corners of Leith and going full on trial and error on certain poses and walks. There’s something so life-affirming about shoots like that, where you can just forget yourself, have fun and surrender yourself to the moment.

It’s strictly hush hush for now, but if all goes to plan the results should be revealed soon so, as they say, watch this space.

2. The boyfriend’s birthday

‘Cos what’s nicer than seeing your partner happy? Piggybacking on their celebrations of course.

For Dave’s actual birthday we went out for dinner at Leith Chop House – a venue I’m drawn to as much for its pleasing industrial and marble aesthetics as I am to its menu.

Oh god though, that menu. Those cocktails.

Happily, Dave’s birthday also fell on a Tuesday which is Leith Chop House’s BYOB night. Which meant sirloin steak served with many glasses of Sainsbury’s finest Malbec. Result.

3. A visit to the Harry Potter pop-up bar

Being a bloggaaaaa, it was of course inevitable that I’d end up here at some point. In the company of blogging comrades and top champs KK and Daniel we descended on this place on a rainy weeknight – and I gotta say, the simplicity (or severe complication, if you’re Daniel….) of getting to mix your own cocktail perked my mood right up.

The interiors have now been replaced by Rick and Morty-inspired Wubba Lubba Dub Dub, which opens this weekend. Hurrah.

4. A weekend in Aberdeen

When your soul needs some love, is there any better cure than good pals, booze, insanely good food, hilarious chat and daytime activities?

If your answer to that was anything other than ‘no’, you gotta get living asap.

Highlights included a tour of the NuArt murals around Aberdeen, a trip to Lane 7 and the 70s-inspired cheese toastie Mecca that is Melt. Next time you’re in the vicinity you have, have, have to go – if not for the toasties then do it for the brownies – or at the very least the vintage wallpaper.

6. Interiors collection for the new flat

You know you’re firmly ensconced in your late twenties when nothing stands your hair on end like a beautiful piece of furniture. Or, indeed, a neon sign.

Yup, the first two things we’ve bought for our flat so far consist of a chest of drawers, found in the beautiful Pad Lifestyle sample sale at Custom House a few weeks ago, and a neon sign emblazoned with one of my favourite quotes. And yes, you will have to wait until I grace my grid with this beautiful specimen to find out what said quote is.

7. First Pitt of the year

One of the things I love most about Leith is the energy that surrounds it, a large generator of which is the mass of events and activities that are happening here all the time.

Pitt Street market ranks highly in my list of favourite weekend repasse – especially when it’s a babe of a day and I’m surrounded by some of my favourite people!

Until a couple of weeks ago I hadn’t been since last November so my return to this fabulous outdoor market came with a bang.

8. Double wedding Saturday

The first Saturday of April was spent attending two weddings in two different cities (first one Dundee, second one Edinburgh!)

There’s something so beautiful and life-affirming about seeing an unwavering love between two people, and how that love extends itself through the room to friends and family.

I’m not going to another wedding until October and I think I may be more excited than my friends themselves. Super dooper excited to see one of my favourite couples ever get married.

9. Getting my hurr did

You can’t get your hair done and be miserable. Well, unless it’s horrendous, or not what you asked for. Or, god help you, both.

Thankfully I get mine done by a hair goddess who walks among us, found a couple of years ago by chance at Kalon Hair.

I’ve definitely raved about this place before (any excuse) but honestly, my hair hasn’t looked or felt this good in years. Every time I leave the salon it makes me feel like I have – at least temporarily – got my life together. Yay for balayage, regular trims, a curling wand and Sarah.

10. A good old fashioned book

As an English Literature degree holder, I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to books. If I don’t get ‘feels’ I tend to throw them aside before I’ve reached the first 100 pages.

Now, you’ve probably heard this already but quite honestly, Gail Honeyman’s debut novel Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time.

I came home from work most days, sprawled on the sofa and read this solidly. It’s one of those ones that stays with you long after the last page is turned. Best £5 Amazon spend.

Here’s to May!

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Edinburgh Life & Style weekender 2018

Got a love for fashion? What about interiors? Health and beauty?

What if I were to tell you all of these topics and more will be covered at this year’s Life & Style event? Add some cocktails to the mix and I think that ticks all of the majors on my ‘favourite ways to spend a weekend’ list.

Here are some of the star attractions coming up at Life & Style 2018…

 

LIFESTYLE STAGE

This event is all about celebrating the luxurious things in life. So naturally, that covers hair, skin, make-up, fashion – to name but a few.

Award-winning celebrity hairdresser Jason Collier, whose scissors have graced the barnets of icons like Victoria Beckham, Eva Longoria, Laura Whitmore (a personal fave) and Sienna Miller will be taking to the stage to share his expert hair advice.

Joining him will be facialist Charlotte Connoley, whose client list boasts babes such as Meghan Markle, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Cheryl (Cole? Tweedy? Anyway you know the one) with skincare tips to help us rival our celeb counterparts.

Also appearing will be fashion director and designer Wendy Rigg, Scottish make-up artist Sara Hill aaaaaand the ever talented blogger and author Vicky Psarias (aka Honest Mum) and lifestyle blogger and STV queen Susie Bruce.

 

WORKSHOPS + POP UPS

Great as these guys are, it ain’t all about them, huns. Life & Style 2018 is also giving guests the chance to attend one of many themed workshops and expert talks – including floristry with Snapdragon, calligraphy with Laila Lettering, tea tastings with The East India Company, and lots more.

Plus, there’ll be cocktail classes from Badger & Co and Element, to help guests learn to serve the perfect tipple. Hurrahhhh.

Pop-ups from everyone’s fave Instagrammble brands such as Oliver Bonas, John Lewis, Jenners, Anthropologie and more will also be appearing throughout the weekend. Get ready to lust.

TICKET HOLDER PERKS

Included in each ticket is access to the much-loved fashion show and trend talk, which returns this year and will be hosted by Scottish fashion designer and author Lynne McCrossan.

You’ll also receive an express beauty treatment in the pop-up beauty hall, including a choice of mini makeovers, manicures or massages, along with an Edinburgh Gin cocktail on arrival, an exclusive offers booklet and goody bag.

…WHAT NOT TO LOVE??

MORE DEETS

Choose from either a Saturday or Sunday full-day ticket, priced at £10 – exclusively available from www.edinlifestyle.co.uk.  (FYI – the first 500 customers receive an exclusive goody bag so get yer skates on.)

After buying your ticket, you can select your preferred time slot for a seat at one of (many!) fashion shows, and book yourself into a workshop and Lifestyle Stage talk. These will be available on a strictly first-come-first-served basis – so keep afore-mentioned skates on.

Edinburgh Life & Style will be from 10am-6pm on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 May 2018, with doors opening from 9.30am.

 

♥ SEE YOU THERE! ♥

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Teach an old wardrobe new tricks: 5 ways to keep your fashion edge, without splashing the bucks.

I’ve always loved fashion and style. I get huge satisfaction from playing around with clothes and creating different looks. Anyone who shares my appreciation for styling will appreciate that the way you dress is probably one of the most powerful ways of expressing yourself.

In my case, sometimes the weirder the better.  I used to parade around in a leather boiler suit and yellow hard hat as a toddler, lived in poppers and a matching tracksuit top in pre-adolescence, went through a phase of digging out my mum’s old ’60s kaftans in my early teenage years, and yup, I was the gal who wore a spiked dog collar during my goth phase (let’s all take a little minute to appreciate this image.)

This was all before I graduated, by the way, to bleach blonde streaks, cropped parka jackets, studded hip belts and blindingly white Stan Smiths. Eventually – I’m sure to my family’s intense relief – I achieved a style that, though subject to the odd deviation, is slightly less erratic. Though I do still like to throw in the odd surprise here and there.

To reiterate: I’m a bit of a fash experimenter.

While I jump at an opportunity to dress up, in my day to day life I tend to champion the casual look – with as much of a side of chic as I can muster. Even if I wear heels I’ll often pair them with a baggy jumper or my boyfriend’s shirt. I suppose it’s an overhang from my childhood, when trying to get me into a dress resulted in fits of ugly crying.

I think in our world of digital noise, though, there can be a pressure on fashion bloggers to be constantly adorned in new clothes. Putting up an outfit repeat post can be seen as a big no-no, and keeping variety on our feeds risks an insatiable desire to fill our ASOS baskets to the brim with stuff we didn’t know we needed.

So, as a new co-homeowner, now jointly responsible for an actual mortgage to pay off (argh) not to mention furniture and overall decorating (double argh), there’s not much spare cash for me to throw into my wardrobe and shoe rack anymore. Which means it’s time to pull out that old adage, and put it into extreme action when walking down Princes Street from now on.

Money. Can’t. Buy. Style.

Money can’t buy style. Money can’t buy style.

SO, in the spirit of recycling (not replacing), let me share with you 5 simple yet effective tricks I like to use when my wardrobe’s feeling tired.

1. LAYERING.

I use this a lotttt. My go-to is a roll-neck bodysuit. I have a black one that I wear under a skirt, under high waisted tailored trousers, under a shift dress. It can be worn totally casually or on a night out under a dress (I wore mine recently under a strappy black dress with a full skirt).

It always looks really sleek and chic and is the perfect piece to wear under sleeveless dresses or other garments that the UK weather doesn’t currently cater for.

Another thing I layer is shirts – a white shirt is always going to look good under a jumper or – if you’re brave enough – a tank top. Also works worn open over a t-shirt. If worn alone, you can achieve loads of different looks by tying it at the front, wearing it loose over skinny trousers/jeans or tucked into the front of your waistband. ENDLESS possibilities.

Another unsung versatile hero of our wardrobes – or at least mine – is jumpsuits/playsuits/dungarees/any kind of all-in-one. That sleeveless, strapless jumpsuit you keep for nights out but never wear? Throw a cropped t-shirt/denim shirt/jumper over it and hurrah – new outfit.

2. ACCESSORISING.

Never underestimate the power of a statement accessory. Be it belt, headband, hat, sunglasses, bag, or jewellery, accessories can transform an outfit completely.

Recently I was wearing a boring jumper and jeans combo, but when paired with a big pair of chunky gold hoops from Zara, a slash of red lipstick, my hair tied up and a blazer thrown over my shoulders I was a different wumman.

The same transformative effect has been achieved in the past with sunglasses, a bright bag or a hair accessory. Got an old baggy cardigan? Belt it up at the waist shove a pair of heeled boots on (which are, of course, the answer to most wardrobe woes.)

3. COLOURING. 

I think sometimes make-up and hair is really overlooked in the world of fash. The power of a bold lip or eye, or even a bit of fake tan can totally change the way clothes look on you – and you have the double privilege of feeling pretty hawt yourself.

If I think my outfit looks a bit ‘meh’, I’ll shove some red lipstick on, layer up the mascara and chuck a red across-body bag on.

4. STEALING.

No, please don’t pull a Winona. Fine so maybe this technique is marginally less moral than the others but these are desp times, am I right? I’m forever stealing – nay borrowing – stuff from my nearest and dearest to add a bit of outfit variation. I’m not talking an entire outfit, but a key piece can change a whole look.

My boyfriend’s checked/denim/corduroy shirts are a particular fave of mine to fling over a dress or leather trousers, and every time I’m home I take my mum’s big fluffy mohair jumpers, roll necks or oversized cardigans to pair with my trusty skinny jeans or trousers. If to be honest I’m around KK I normally steal something of hers too.

I mean… you can always return them.

5. TEXTURE DAHLING

Sometimes all it takes to change an outfit from boring to bitching is a little shake-up of textures. Planning on pulling an all-black ensemble? Pair some leather look jeans with a fluffy knit, or black trousers with a sheer top. The variety keeps it from looking too flat on the eye and makes it a bold statement – rather than an accidental one.

I find that as long as you have a few ‘oooh’ things in your wardrobe – jumpers with massive bell sleeves, jeans with frayed hems, pom-poms, sequins, whatever – they go a long way. Dig them out and as long as you’re wearing one of them, everything else can pretty much be as pared-down (or boring, whatever) as you like.

All v.v.v. simple things to do, yet they work wonders when you’re bored of your clothes but too skint to replace them (ah, story of my life).

Happy styling!

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Two peas in a pod: A stay at Glencoe Riverbed Lodges

The stretch between December and March/April can seem fairly eternal. With the excitement of Christmas behind us, the next cause for celebration is the distant promise of leaves on trees, the long Easter weekend and the ability to gorge shamelessly on chocolate eggs.

SO, this is precisely why it’s the perfect time to book a getaway and give yourself a little sumpn sumpn to look forward to and ease those Q1 blues. It was in this spirit that KK and I embarked on our little road trip up north for a stay at the Riverbed Lodges in Glencoe.

Glencoe is one of those places you drive through and each time feel completely in awe of your surroundings. From Edinburgh it took us about 3 hours to get there, but the drive is often heralded as one of the most beautiful roads in the UK, making it about 50 times more enjoyable than your average 3 hour shlep.

You arrive up a little track road and see the lodges nestled among the trees, each with their own little set of steps and veranda. There are 8 of them in total, seven of them with a hot tub and one without. They’re 12 sqm so totally teeny, but so cute and cosy. The first thing we did was get into our comfies, take some photos and just chill out which was so nice and relaxing.

I’d be wholly behind getting a lodge with a hot tub because as far as I’m concerned there’s very little better than climbing into one on a cold day, armed with a bottle of chilled prosecco. It was pretty much an example of us living our best lives.

No it’s not a floating black bikini – if you look closely there is in fact a very translucent bod in it.

It got dark pretty quickly by the time we climbed in so we don’t have many photos of it from the first night, but rest assured that bad boy is just as great to relax in come morning with a cup of cawfee from the lodge’s nespresso machine (ugh can I just live there already).

We chose to spend our time there hanging around in either our pyjamas or in the hot tub, because quite frankly we were there to laze around, but if you wanted to actually branch out of your lodge there’s loads of stuff to do – including hill walking, skiing at the Glencoe range nearby, Segway tours, cycling, mountain biking and golfing. There are a few local restaurants you can check out too.

Included in the stay is breakfast, which includes granola, porridge, fresh milk, orange juice, croissants (with butter and pots of jam) and fruit. The bed frame folds into a little table you can eat it at or if it’s dry outside, you can have it out on the veranda – pre or post morning hot tub dip!

Whatever you choose to do there, you won’t be disappointed by the lodges and their surroundings. It was such a novelty staying right amongst the trees and mountains but in the safety of a warm little lodge haven. They’re a perfect weekend getaway for a group of pals or your other half.

If you’re thinking of booking a stay at the RiverBeds, make sure to use the code ‘kkland’ so you can enjoy prosecco, chocolates and bath robes included in your lodge.

 

Photos by KK Land

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