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Sunday, December 10, 2017

I think Christmas decor is my favourite, it just radiates cosy warm comforts and magic if we're going to push it that far, and it allows me to push the limit on candles which is also a great because I do love to smell of cinnamon as much as I can.

There's been a few updates since my last post, including this stellar desk set-up I've had since mid November - I found both the Santa and mini tree in Homesense (of course), the lights are last year M&S, and the pine cones are actually scented with winter spice which is lovely alternative if you find candles a bit much.

Speaking of candles, I've burned through a fair few but my favourites that you can still buy are Yankee Candle Cinnamon Stick and White Company Winter - I've had the fancy botanical one since last year as well as the 3-wick which is still waiting to be burned over the next few weeks, but they honestly smell deliciously cosy and are a worthy investment.

Also in my bedroom I've gone to down on the red and gold which is a huge contrast to my usual blue (don't worry, there are still some Christmas blues in there) - these again are all Homesense last year but the wooden 'Merry Christmas' is still one of my favourite ever finds, I just wish I could nail it to the wall and display it in all it's glory!

Something I've never had but always thought looked beautiful were garlands and when I found this Gisela Graham design on Amara I knew it would be perfect for our fireplace.

The mixture of golds and greens are so versatile, and through the last month it's been a table centre piece and taken it's final place on the fireplace, where I wove some fairy lights around and styled it with bigger candles and a few statement ornaments - I finally feel like I'm living in Pinterest ;)

And then we come to trees - we do have 3 main ones in total (a real one we got this year and two fake ones from last year's sale YAAAS) we different themes which is great because I can never decide on one colour scheme.

The one by my desk is red and white which goes nicely with the Santa lights and also the red chalk on the blackboard, but I've mixed it up with white crackle baubles and striped red and white ones which make it feel less traditional and v fun. Again, the majority (okay all) were Homesense finds and also Homebase which is surprisingly good for decs so recommend checking them out!

The 'main' tree is a culmination of decorations from years gone by, and we went with a nice light caramel and gold theme, but I did take a risk by mixing white lights with warm ones and it actually worked out and makes it feel like 3 trees in one when you have either set on at once or together, which is quite nice. Plus, all the more fairy lights amiright?

My ever faithful blue baubles have found a place on the kitchen tree, and I do think the packed silvers and blues look fab on a pencil tree - it gives it more shape and makes it feel full of festiveness. Luckily my white lights have gone a bit more purple/blue so when it's about 4pm the decorations and lights look SO GOOD together - I'm in peak Christmas festive mode right now, I'm so excited.

Finally we have the table, and all those dried oranges finally came to good use, and make quite the centrepiece when coupled with candles and gold-painted leaves. Itgave me a good excuse to tidy everything up and also prep the table for all the upcoming games of Monopoly and roast dinners I'm going to consume in the next few weeks - only 15 more days to go....


Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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Thursday, December 07, 2017

I've wanted to visit Scotland ever since I saw the amazing Christmas markets years ago, and as someone who hasn't been past Durham nor been across the sea to Ireland, I thought it was high time I get my act together and explore parts of the country I'd often brushed over.

Earlier this year I thought about how crazy it is that Scotland is right on our doorstep yet we tend to go elsewhere in Europe for short trips, so a few months ago I finally made a plan to head up over Christmas and get to experience true Scottish weather and culture for myself.

Very kindly, Travelodge offered me a night's stay in one of their central locations (we opted for Prince's Street, set right on the doorstep of the Christmas Market but tucked down a side street) which was great for a whirlwind trip - we knew we'd have minimal time in the room due to exploring, so it's a great central hub where you can drop off bags, have a little sit-down between exploring/getting over the cold, and all rooms come with king beds too which is good if you need to stretch your weary legs.

Due to a 4pm wake-up call and the smell of roasted onions coming from the markets, we headed straight to the food stalls in East Prince's Street Gardens to grab something to quieten our rumbling bellies. I'd luckily done a lot of research for vegan food via VeganEdinburgh's blog which is so handy if you're vegan and looking for great places to eat in the city, and managed to hit up almost every stall serving yummy vegan treats.

First up was Babu Kitchen, a Bombay street food stall that had some delicious chai spice and pistachio brownies - it was a good texture although I have had fudgier, but the flavour more than makes up for it. Lighter than a gooey brownie, it's good if you're sweet tooth has boundaries and you want something you can eat in one go and feel okay/not sick afterwards ;)

Another highly rated stall was Mimi's Bakehouse, literally round the corner from Babu; their vegan hot chocolate is highly rated (and sadly they were all out of brownies the day we visited but I'm assured they're delicious) and it was a lovely smooth pick-me-up after being out in the cold for a while. They have lots of other yummy treats including cakes and fancy hot chocolate flavours so it's well worth a visit just to marvel at them - and maybe take home a cupcake or two.

A stall we sadly missed because we were full/fools for not going back was the French Crepe stall which I sadly don't know the name of but they did serve up some pretty delicious looking galettes (which I kept calling croquettes. I would have enjoyed either) so maybe a reason to go back next year.

Finally for the potato lovers out there, there's Chip on a Stick, which basically sells a whole potato twirled into a spiral and flavoured with whatever you choose. It's great. They are pricey at £4 a stick but it's potato and I love potato (albeit a very salty potato) and something you could share as you walk around the market - just don't take a photo of you eating the top of it as it's very phallic...

After an hour or so exploring the stalls, we headed east of New Town to Broughton Street where there were some shops I'd been eyeing up. Sadly Life Story was closed both days we went but I've heard great things about it so if you're in town on a Wednesday onwards, pop inside!

I'm going to do a more in-depth post on my favourite shops I visited but we picked up some lovely treats from Curiouser and Curiouser, smelt all the coffee in Artisan Roast, plus wished we could take home the festive plant displays in Narcissus (which were frankly too beautiful and the reason I can't look after plants.)

After a lot of shopping and a hot chocolate stop (second of five) we decided to venture South towards the Old Town for a bit of architecture porn so to speak.

It required walking up a lot of stairs but the view of the park and also the centre of town was so beautiful it was worth the huffing and puffing - I think.

We walked towards Royal Mile which just housed some beautiful buildings that I could've photographed all day, before walking around to the bottom of Candlemaker Row, a truly unique and quirky curved street that is rightly photographed and Instagram daily. The lights up and down the street were so festive plus at the time of day we visited, the sun was casting a glorious glowing orange light through the gaps of the buildings that made it feel so warm and cosy and truly Christmassy (plus I got an epic shot of the street with 4 guys taking a selfie in the corner - truly captured a moment there ;))

We finally made it to the castle in time for sunset and BOY did it look amazing - the whole sky was orange, the light was incredible, and you could see for miles which was breathtaking as one side was the busy city and on the other in the distance were huge hills and mountains. We didn't go inside but I'm sure in warmer weather or by actually booking in advance you can explore even more and learn about the history, but at that point, hot chocolate three was calling me...

We ended the night at Dishoom, which again I'd never been to after much raving from others, and after fobbing off another reservation we managed to get in at 5:30pm when it was near-empty inside, which really meant we'd get our food quicker and I was super excited for that.

We opted for vegetable samosas (puff pasty with potato, peas, and cinnamon aka me), Bedmi Puri curry (which was super hot but delish), Bhel, Gunpowder Potatoes, and fresh greens. The staff were amazing and found us some coconut yogurt when we asked for something to knock back the curry, and I think it's being stuck south so long but everyone was SO FRIENDLY!

Finishing it all off with mocktails, we flopped on our bed at 8pm (!!) and slept until 7am which was pretty impressive (minus some late night partiers coming back late) and set us up for a pretty chilled last day.

We only had a few hours so after breakfast we walked back to a few shops we'd previously visited for last minute gifts, walked along the side-streets to grab a pizza which was very yummy, and then finished it all off with - you guessed it - a hot chocolate and a long sit-down.

Looking back, it's seems crazy how much we fit in and I think with an extra day you could do it all at a slower pace, but it's greta having a central base to drop heavy bags off and also a fab variety of cafes to visit and top up your energy levels.

In a short space of time, I fell in love with Edinburgh's beautiful architecture, beautiful food, and even more beautiful people, and I'll definitely be back again come summer and Christmas - just don't forget to wear tights under your jeans, because it's a wee bit chilly!

Now if you're wondering about all my hot chocolate recommendations, well you'll just have to stay tuned a little while longer...


I was a guest of Travelodge on this trip, all thoughts are my own.

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

Website | Flickr | Tumblr | Twitter | Bloglovin | Instagram | Pinterest

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