Monday, 20 July 2015

#252. Homewares from Etsy. Roundup 2

Oh Etsy, you really are determined to make me spend all my hard earned pennies on all of your beautiful homeware things aren't you? 

Major swoons! 

Over the past two weeks I've been working away like a trojon trying to get our study looking gorgeous and glam and less studenty. It was really starting to annoy me with its cool but tatty posters and piles of stuff, so one evening I just started painting the desk, with vague visions of Pinterest upcycling projects and it all went from there - a little creative kick up the bum. It's coming together nicely now and I'm so happy with how it's working out - Changing Rooms eat your heart out! 

With this overhaul in mind, I have been spending even more time that normal scrolling through the pages and pages of amazing homewares on Etsy - there are some very talented people out there making jaw droppingly beautiful things - and pinning like a fiend. (Have a look at wishlist 1 here).

Here are some of things that I hope will be making an appearance in the flat soon. Puuurty, Puuuurty.

Top row
Rustic wooden apple crates - great for stacking and storage 
Deer head decor - will make every room seem like a vintage hunting lodge
Edison lamp - these bulbs are amazing

Middle row
Inspirational print - simple and cute. What a great quote too
Copper plant hanger - I really like copper and the idea of a hanging plant
Old Books soy candle - What smells more amazing than old books? Nothing!

Bottom row
Wine bottle wall vases - great idea for flowers

What do you think of my Etsy picks? Will any of them be making their way to your wishlists too?

Monday, 6 July 2015

#251. Honeymoon part 2 - Zanzibar

The past few weeks have sped by and honeymoon already feels like a ridiculously long time away. After the business and exciting times of the wedding and safari in Kenya on honeymoon part 1 (read more about that here), Robin and I were ready for some major chillax time in Zanzibar. 

Zanzibar is an island off the coast of Tanzania, east Africa and we were staying at a rather plush hotel called The Residence. We were lucky enough to have a lovely little villa all to ourselves with a personal pool, canopy bed and the biggest bathroom I have ever seen, seriously, you could have had a party in there. Everything was so green and we could see the sea from our room which was amazing, all turquoise and gorgeous. We spent so much time just chilling, swimming in the pool, eating and drinking our way through the cocktail menu and just taking it really easy. The whole place is just beautiful and we had the best time. The weather wasn't great, it rained a lot, a hell of a lot, like monsoon for our first few days (very rare for that time of year in Zanzibar...everyone we spoke to was very confused as to what was happening) but it just made us appreciate the gorgeous sunsets and sunny days even more when they did appear. Que majorly excited happy dance!

Where we stayed - our villa from the back.

The main pool. I do love an infinity pool.

Little weaver birds making their nests.

As it was low season everything was pretty quiet. I can't remember the last time I was the only one on a beach.

Sandy feet.

Prosecco to take back to our villa to drink by the pool - BEST IDEA EVER!

Some of the yummy cocktails from the huge menu. We slowly but surely worked our way through the list during our stay.

So beautiful!

The rain didn't bother us, we're Scottish! And at least it was warm.

Happy honeymoon selfie.

Cloudy sunset...still gorgeous.

The most incredible sunset I have ever seen in my life...ever! Haven't edited this photo at all - how gorgeous is it? The whole sky was lit up and it looked like the sky was on fire. I sat watching the sunset for a good half an hour, just taking it all in and appreciating it which was so lovely.

Silhouette Li at sunset. Robin was having a nap so there was a bit of too-ing and fro-ing to get this all set up.

This is monsoon heavy rain! That is not a jacuzzi haha. Even we were put off by this and stayed inside with a movie (and a bottle of prosecco obvs).

Our dolphin watching boat after we picked up 12 fishermen. Our boat was so low and skirting the surface of the water and one fisherman was scooping out water with a bucket the whole way back to the shore. The fisherman were out swimming in the sea, diving under the water to repair the fishing nets and keep them maintained.

We managed to swim with wild dolphins, which was one of the most incredible things I have ever done. The rain was bouncing off the sea and the waves were big, but it was so worth it. The sea was like a bath, it was lovely, so it was warmer in the water than on the boat.

Another dolphin pic. So glad we bought our little Nikon camera that can do some underwater shots.

We visited this restaurant called The Rock for lunch which was so lovely and had the best mojitos I have ever had. So tasty! We were the only people in the restaurant, again low season, so we got the best seats in the house. Result. We had to get a boat to the restaurant on the way over, but the tide was out on the way back so was shallow enough to walk.

My overly excited happy dance at the sun finally coming to visit! (There was also singing involved and screams of "Blue sky, Robin, look! Blue sky!)

Sunset canapes and prosecco on the jetty.

Another beautiful sunset. Unfortunately my camera could only focus on us or the sunset, so we went with the prettier of the two, the sunset!

Watching the sunset, glass in hand #bliss

The sunset really did look like a watercolour painting - so lush!

We were lucky enough to have dinner on the beach one night, beside a roaring fire.

Monkeys on our roof! They were so naughty and you could hear them running from rooftop to rooftop.

We had such a lovely time in Zanzibar, it is such a beautiful place with such friendly people and I couldn't recommend it enough as somewhere good and slightly different to go on honeymoon. We were looked after so well by the staff at The Residence, although it was strange everything being so quiet because of low season - it is worth checking that out when you are looking at options. It was the perfect relaxing honeymoon and exactly what we needed after the busyness of the previous few weeks. It all went by in such a whirlwind though and we were back on home turf before we knew it, so as always, I would have really enjoyed an extra few days away, but I say that after every trip! I would love to go back to Zanzibar someday, so it will be staying on the bucket list for a while yet.

Have you been to Zanzibar before? Is it somewhere you would consider going? Have you booked somewhere fun for your honeymoon?

Friday, 3 July 2015

#250. Friday Fitness: My top 5 favourite health and fitness apps

I've been using apps more and more on my phone, particularly in relation to my fitness goals. I find it so helpful having reminders on my phone to exercise, to remember to eat well or to motivate me with little fitness challenges. I have my phone on me all the time, who doesn't these days, so it makes sense for little prompts to be coming in throughout the day to get me off my Netflix binge (I know what I would rather be doing). Some apps are even pretty good for a full workout in the house when I know I need to get moving but the idea of going to the gym just seems a little bit too much of a know that feeling. Lazy? Um, yeah, my old nemesis.

I have a lot of health and fitness related apps - most of which I don't use but they are there like a little comfort blanket, making me feel like I am doing something - so I thought I would share the apps I actually have been using regularly to help towards my fitness goals.

1. My Fitness Pal (Free). An oldie but a goodie. This is one of the very first apps I downloaded when I got a smart phone, so we go back a long way and on the whole have had a pretty consistent friendship. My Fitness Pal really helps me keep a track of what I have been eating and the levels of exercise I have been doing which makes me stay accountable. You can see everything straight away which really does work wonders for my motivation and helps me make healthier choices. I like adding my data in daily and seeing my progress and the daily food diary makes it easy to stay on track. Links: Itunes. Android.

2. Tone it Up (£0.79). Now I love these ladies, they are just awesome and really keep me going towards my fitness goals. I like this app a lot as I can check the weekly workout schedule they have created quickly and can access workouts, blog spots and stay in touch with the amazing Tone It Up community too. It's so good being able to access workouts on the go - it helps get rid of any excuses not to do at least a short follow along video. Links: Itunes. 

3. Nike Running (Free). I've went through various running apps but I've recently started using Nike Running after a recommendation from my pal Kim, and it's definately my favourite. Like a lot of running apps it uses gps to track your run, totals the number of miles and runs you have done, your achievements, the weather on those runs and you can even cheer on your pals as well if they have the app. I think the best feature though is that it stops tracking when you pause at a set of traffic lights, so it doesn't affect your time - brilliant! It's such a simple thing but one that makes everything so much easier and more efficient and you get a better indication of your actual time spent running too. The only downside is that it uses NikeFuel rather than calories, so it is hard to know how hard you have been working. Links: Itunes. Android.

4. 30 Day Fitness challenges (£2.29). I quite like setting little challenges for myself and am such a creature of habit, so this app has been great in encouraging me to do a little something everyday, even if I am busy and running around all over the place without the chance to exercise. Even doing a challenge a day makes me feel like I have done something. There are so many challenges, split into 4 areas - legs, arms, core and strength - each 30 days long, so you can really focus on specific areas of your body and maybe choose a few different challenges to do at a time. Some of the challenges are really simple so you can do them anywhere, with one simple move, others you have a series of moves to do. I have been working on my plank and my pushups and have really been enjoying trying to build the length/number up everyday. I play the Rocky theme tune a lot to keep me going. Links: Itunes. Android.

5. Daily Yoga (Free). Yoga is something I have always fancied to help me relax and increase my flexibility. I have been having some issues with my leg lately as unfortunately my muscles' natural state are to be really tight when they 'think' they are relaxed, meaning when I run things get pulled more than they should, so I am more prone to injury sadly. I have been trying to do a little bit of yoga every so often to help with this and enjoy using this app. It is easy and straightforward to follow the videos and each move is fully explained. There are videos for all levels too, from beginners to more advanced and there are a good number of videos that come free before you have to pay for more content. This will definately be an app that I will be using more and more over the coming months, trying to release my inner yogi. Links: Itunes. Android.

How are your health and fitness goals coming along? Do you use any of the apps above? Do you use and really like any apps that I haven't mentioned? Hit me up.

Stay cool,

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

#249. Review: The Blackbird, Edinburgh

Now you know me, I love my food. So I was delighted to be invited along to The Blackbird on Leven Street, Edinburgh, a few weeks ago to sample their new summer food and drink menu. I had been to The Blackbird once before with Gillian and Laura for some #Burgerlovingbabes time, but was excited to go back and see how things have changed.

The bar was really busy when we first went in, which surprised us for 6.30pm on a Tuesday night. Every table was full and there were lots of people standing having drinks at the bar too. The Blackbird is beautifully decorated with bare Edison bulbs, stone walls, lots of mirrors and vintage guild frames and has a really cool, but comfy and cozy vibe. 

We were shown to our table and left to peruse the menus. The drinks menu is extensive, with lots of cocktails split into different categories, plus the new selection of seven summer cocktails. There was just so much to choose from and everything sounded amazing, which made things reeeeee-ally difficult, but who's complaining? The Blackbird is also in the same family as Treacle, so I was expecting big and tasty things from the cocktails. We both eventually went with cocktails from the recent seasonal menu which all had amazing names! Robin chose the Neo Tiki Punch, with mango, pineapple and rum and I decided on The Girl with the Dragon Yuzu with gin, lemon and dragon fruit cordial. Both arrived with fun striped straws which I love and Robin's had an extra little cocktail umbrella, which I quickly put behind his ear obvs. Robin's cocktail tasted like holiday in a glass, all pineapple and tiki loveliness and conjoured images of beaches and sea and the smell of sun tan lotion...get me on a plane now. My cocktail was so refreshing but with a fruity kick that it was hard to stop drinking it quickly.

Everything on the food menu also sounded amazing, from fish and chips to steak pie, so mouthwatering delicious that again, we had a hard time choosing. For starter I couldn't see past the haloumi, as I love it and it's always a treat, so we decided to share that with some breaded chicken. The haloumi came toasted with sumac, giving a nice lemony contrast of crispy to soft, accompanied with balsamic vinegar and some raspberries - a tasty combination of sweet and tangy. The crispy breaded chicken was also lovely and came with a tequilla, sour cream and lime dip, which was SO good! I love sour cream, so could have just sat and ate that straight from the pot.

For main meal, I went between a few different things before settling on the vegetarian burger, with feta, puy lentil and bean. I really shouldn't have kidded myself, I always go for the burger! They are just so dam tasty and this one was no exception. I love a broiche bun, the sweetness of the bun always works well with the savoury burger and I enjoyed the lovely creamy manchego cheese. I couldn't really taste the feta but the burger was still delicious. I also swapped the twice cooked chips for my favourites...sweet potato fries, which were just the right mix of crispy and soft. YUM!

Robin decided to try the crispy gressingham duck at the recommendation of the waitress. Robin is not a fan of beetroot and taking this on board the chef gave Robin a choice of quinoa instead, which he was so happy with. This change was made without a fuss and so we were very impressed at The Blackbird's flexibility with dietary requirements. There was also a note on the menu highlighting that gluten free alternatives for each meal could be provided, again which we were impressed with. Robin's meal was just delicious and the duck was cooked perfectly and was still lovely and tender, complimented by the crispy coating. The quinoa was mixed with a tasty blend of big chunks of roasted butternut squash, mandarin, lemon thyme and peanuts and was extremely flavorful.

Both meals were just delicious and we were so impressed with our choices.

Overall Robin and I had a great time at The Blackbird and we would be keen to go back for dinner another night, or brunch at the weekend. The atmosphere was just so warm, cozy and welcoming and I could see myself sitting for hours with pals over a few drinks, especially given how tasty the cocktails we had were. It would be good to go back and work our way through the whole list! The Blackbird also do live music nights on a Sunday, so it would be the perfect and chilled way to end the weekend, and have a beer garden which I am sure will be packed over the summer when the sun comes back out. The staff were really friendly and helpful too, even with our random no beetroot requests and the food really was delicious. Check it out, Edinburgh peeps!

You can keep up with all the The Blackbird's goss on Twitter.

Have you been to The Blackbird or it's sister bars before? 

**Disclaimer - I was invited to The Blacbirds in return for a review. Whilst our meal was complimentary, I was under no obligation to write a positive review and the post above reflects my true and honest opinion of my experience.