This week has been full on. I’ve been indulging my inner foodie – on Monday, it was sushi with Eloise, on Wednesday a Beef and Bourbon tasting event at RARE, on Thursday it was epic burgers at The Pit and on Friday I finally got to try out Dinner at the Manor, a Leeds supper club with a reputation that I can attest is fully deserved. Then this weekend it was family time; we headed over to my grandparents to meet my two new baby cousins and then in the evening we celebrated another cousin’s 18th birthday. I love being from a big family, although it is stretching our potential wedding budget quite a lot!
This afternoon is all about baking blondies, making our way through the TV we missed over the weekend and catching up on blogging. Oh, and reading these lovely links:
- What is a million likes worth? And how can musicians in the Internet age make enough money to carry on creating music?
- Ever fancied yourself holidaying in Capri? Well, here’s how you can do it on a budget.
- I want to live in this beautiful Brooklyn brownstone.
- If you live in Leeds, you need to get yourself to the Briggate Farmers’ Market.
- This handy chart will diagnose why you never have anything to wear. Super helpful!
- This article sums up so much that I want to say. It’s perfect, you should read it.
- Having a tough time? Make this ‘everything is going to be all right’ bread and everything will be alright.
- I want to make this feather pendant light. It’s gorgeous.
- If you like online dating… you’ll love this blog.
What can I say about Edinburgh? I am totally head over heels with Edinburgh. It might be my favourite city ever, although it’s too soon to tell. Full of beautiful buildings, ancient pubs hidden down secret alleyways and cobbled streets. You can’t help but stumble across years of history, on places where secret trysts were made, deals done and promises broken. It feels like a place where dramatic things happen.
It’s no wonder that JK Rowling was so inspired here and you can see the influence that Edinburgh has on Harry Potter. At times, it felt like we were strolling down Diagon Alley, or popping into The Three Broomsticks. We found ourselves tucked into the back of The Elephant House cafe where Harry Potter was penned. As a lifelong fan, it was vaguely thrilling although the ordinariness of the cafe was perhaps a disappointment. Or it was, until I went to the bathroom… Pushing open the door to the ladies toilet you are confronted with a cacophony of graffiti, proclaiming their dedication to the story, to the characters and to the author. I felt myself tear up imagining how that must feel, to have your art touch so many people so profoundly. Whilst it may not be ‘high’ art (although, who decides…), there is something so magical about that.
It was just a weekend, but what a weekend! We stayed in the most beautiful apartment. The owner clearly has impeccable taste, the art on the walls was perfectly curated, the bookshelves were filled to the brim with classic and modern literature, the chandelier hung over a long table with mis-matched chairs perfect for debating politics and art over too many glasses of red wine and a dish of something garlick-y. Oh, and the bed was in a box. We sat by the fireplace, jazz music on the CD player and looked out over the Royal Mile. To think we paid almost the same for a Premier Inn last time we came is comically tragic.
On the first night we joined Emma and Matt for dinner at Ondine, a swanky seafood restaurant found just a stone’s throw from the Royal Mile. Far from the ancient pubs steeped in history, this was a swanky place with proper napkins and an extensive (and expensive) wine list. It’s not often that you get to dine in Edinburgh, though, so lobster was the order of the day and we finished the meal with whisky to celebrate Burn’s Night. Not your usual haggis, neeps and tatties celebration, but it felt fitting. Since we were dressed up to the nines, cocktails at the next-door Hotel Missoni was the only logical step – it was achingly stylish, the drinks were potent but I think I preferred drinking champagne in the apartment afterwards…
The next day was a day for exploration, for wandering aimlessly through Old Edinburgh in search of curiosities and curios. The weather was incredibly kind – although freezing cold it was bright and clear for most of the day so our wandering was pleasant rather than arduous. I think my favourite find was a bookshop filled to the rafters with second-hand books, crammed into corridors that you could spend hours browsing. It felt like something from a Dickens novel, with that overwhelming ‘old book’ smell and no rhyme or reason to the shelves other than a vague commitment to the alphabet.
I want to give you recommendations of the places we stumbled across, but it doesn’t feel right when I don’t know the city well enough. However, if you do want to follow in our footsteps, lunch at Mussel & Steak Bar was hearty and wholesome, Caffe Lucano allowed me to combine my love for hot chocolates and limoncello (not in the same cup, but in the same visit…) whilst affording excellent people-watching opportunities, and Holyrood 9a served us epic burgers in stylish settings that wouldn’t be out of place in hipster Leeds.
It’s hard to look back on holidays with any sense of detachment. After waiting so long for this weekend, I left feeling a bit deflated. Not only was I back to work with a bang (and on my birthday of all days) but having been ill on the last day I couldn’t squeeze every last drop out of Edinburgh as I had wanted. Looking back now, though, it feels like it was perfect. Perhaps it was a mix of the two – but there’s no denying that Edinburgh is always going to be close to my heart and top of my holiday wish list.
Oh and we got engaged, so there’s that…
If you’ve ever tried to organise a group meal out, you’ll understand the trials and tribulations of trying to please everyone. Whether it’s concerns over cost, special dietary requirements or just plain fussiness, trying to get people together can be a bit of a nightmare. If you are tearing your hair out, then allow me to make a suggestion: COSMO. Billed as ‘Pan Asian and World Banquet Dining’, COSMO houses many cuisines under one roof so no matter what you fancy, you can find a bit of it here. The answer to your prayers? It just might be.
Arriving at their Boar Lane restaurant, you feel as though you’ve stepped into an upmarket hotel lobby; I’m not sure if this is intentional but it makes sense seeing as you’re about to travel the world, culinarily speaking. We were lead down the stairs into the bustling restaurant below, which whilst aesthetically in keeping with the entrance was rather a surprise – there was a buzz of activity belied by the peace upstairs. This is not the restaurant for a quiet, intimate meal – you have to get stuck in to the atmosphere, catching up with your dining companions between trips to the many buffets.
A buffet restaurant may turn up the nose of the average foodie, but although this was not fine dining, each dish that I tried was delicious – and very filling. Don’t come here to express over quenelles and parfait, but to have an enjoyable evening where everyone can have what they fancy at a reasonable price. Sometimes, you have to put your airs and graces behind you for a slap up meal.
There is almost everything imaginable on offer – I was particularly taken with the crispy duck and pancakes (one of my favourite dishes), the sashimi (another personal favourite) and the teeny tiny desserts on offer. Everything I tried was tasty, and despite being the traditional ‘takeaway’ style fare, it wasn’t greasy or MSG-y. I fact, there were sections where you could watch your food be cooked freshly in front of you – dinner and entertainment all in one!
By the third plate, I was totally stuffed – and annoyed that my stomach is too small to fully take advantage of the all-you-can-eat nature of COSMO. I didn’t get round to the Mediterranean section or the Brazilian BBQ, but I was assured by fellow diners that both were delicious! The buffet-style restaurant is not new to Leeds, and I have certainly stuffed my face at other establishments of this style, but COSMO is definitely the nicest one I’ve been to. The decor is sleek, the staff efficient and friendly, and the food fresh and tasty. For something fun and a little different at a reasonable price, I don’t think you can go too far wrong with a trip to COSMO, particularly if you are dining with fussy eaters or kids.Disclaimer: I was invited to dine for free at COSMO restaurant in return for a review, but I wouldn’t hesitate to return (mostly to try that Brazilian BBQ!). As always, I would never recommend a restaurant to you that I wouldn’t happily eat at myself!
Three weekend link loves with no posts in between? I need to get myself organised! It’s been a rather odd week – January has been odd altogether. There have been definite highlights, but overall I think I was hit with my first ever bout of the January blues. I am so ready for Spring, for light mornings and occasional sunshine and being able to leave the house without piles of layers. It was my birthday this week, which passed by without much ceremony – some lovely presents, some prosecco at work and a meal at my favourite restaurant was all the celebration that I needed this year. Today I am planning on taking a yoga class, blogging my socks off and then heading to The Mustard Pot for their notoriously difficult pub quiz. Pretty much Sunday bliss – February is already shaping up pretty well! What are you up to today (other than reading these lovely links, that is…)?
- These Valentine’s cards will make you laugh – I’m annoyed I’ve already bought mine as there are definitely a couple of contenders here!
- Design*Sponge ruminates on the state of the blogosphere as it stands – an interesting read for the bloggers among you!
- Rachel’s photos of Columbia Road Flower Market are beautiful – I wish we could have fresh flowers in the house more often without the cat eating them.
- Laura takes on a Westfield chef and proves that it’s easier to cook great food at home than you think!
- Rosie is definitely encouraging me to eat seasonally with this seville orange curd recipe.
- Fancy a mini-break this year? A bunch of travel bloggers reveal their favourite places for a weekend escape…
- I am totally inspired to actually eat breakfast this week with these overnight oat recipes from Lil. I’ve bought all the stuff, so watch this space!
- This Daily Life piece definitely gave me food for thought: When Smart Women Collaborate with Creeps. Can you separate your love for art from the artist who created it – especially when there are financial rewards involved?
- More food for thought: Molly Crabapple turns 30 and writes eloquently about it.
- If you read nothing else today, read this: 7 things to remember when you think you’re not good enough. “We can’t hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we can love”. Mind = blown.
- This Instagram movie proves that every Instagram picture is the same. The article seems to think that this means there is no such thing as originality. I choose to see it as a comforting reminder of the commonality of human experience. Or perhaps it opens up a space on the shared language of social media spaces, where we create our own versions of pre-existing signs in order to be understood and to feel connection. Each to their own, I guess.
When you read this, I’ll be in Edinburgh. I’ve been waiting for this trip for a couple of months now, and I am so excited! We’ll be dining at fancy seafood restaurants, drinking whisky to celebrate Burns Night, visiting the cafe where J.K. Rowling famously penned the first Harry Potter novel and generally meandering around cobbled streets and marvelling at this fantastic city. I can’t for sure say that it’s my favourite city anywhere, I don’t think I’ve travelled enough for that and my love for Reykjavik is pretty high, but I do absolutely love it. I’m very grateful to have finally gotten over my cold just in time for our trip, but I’ve been suffering with it this week! I am very glad that I’m not a sickly person, I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a terrible immune system and a propensity to catch bugs. I think it’s thanks to some good genes that I don’t get sick very often, so thanks Mum and Dad! I’ve not managed to do much else other than sit on the sofa and feel sorry for myself, but it did mean that I got to read the Internet and find these little gems for you:
- Joy the Baker’s blog turns six and the post is definitely worth a read.
- This 1960s house is perfectly decorated. Why do the ones on Rightmove never look like that, eh?
- I am so into cardamom right now, so these lemon and cardamom cookies are at the top of my to-bake list.
- I feel that at (almost) 24, I should probably learn to do my make-up properly – starting with how to contour and highlight.
- These photos of the empty underground are beautiful, aren’t they? I think I could cope with London more readily if the tube always looked like that!
- Some old pasta cooking myths that need to go away. Yes!
- 24 bizarre and sociopathic life lessons we learned from The Sims. Truth.
- I want to live in this gorgeous house – I can only dream that my home will one day look like this!
- Mint choc chip ice cream has always been my favourite, so Rachel’s recipe for Mint Aero Ice Cream is a definite winner!
- During my trip to Edinburgh, this map of places to go has been my go-to. Always good to have an insider’s perspective!
- Struggling to take photos indoors during the winter? These handy tips will help you out!
Good morning lovelies! How are you? Better than me, I hope! I have been struck down by a cold which has rather scuppered my weekend blogging plans. I was planning to make and shoot a couple of recipes for you but I think that’s going to have to wait as I am currently bundled up on the sofa in my pyjamas whilst Paul attempts to make me a soft boiled egg. I’ll be back on my feet by Monday, I’m sure – don’t you hate when you’re ill over the weekend but well enough to go to work? That sucks.
Other than dosing myself up on Sudofed, I’ve been dying my hair back to brown, chain-watching Breaking Bad and being totally inspired at TED x Leeds this week. It’s been eventful!
- How to tell that you’re in a Bronte novel
- Tina Fey and Amy Poehler totally nailed the Golden Globes. Watch it here.
- Which Girls character are you? (I am sad, but not surprised, that I am Marni)
- 16 Buzzfeed Books You Have To Read Before You Die
- Why I’m sick of articles about teenage girls written by grown-up men. Preach.
- The Mean Girls-inspired jewellery line is so fetch.
- How to start a supper club. I have plans to do this later in the year, so I’m bookmarking this for later.
- This is the best gift idea for the bookworm in your life.
- I am completely touched by this story. Just lovely.
- This bed in a box idea is a genius upcycle for your spare room. I wish I’d come up with it myself…
- Want to make some puff pastry. Here’s a super easy recipe.
Just some of my favourites…
I absolutely loved this idea on Ashley’s blog and it made me think a lot about friendship. Friendship is super weird and also super awesome. It’s odd how you can bond over one tiny little thing and it ties you together. With Amy it was Harry Potter and our shared hatred of South Eastern trains. With Emma it was Buzzfeed lists and a love for bagels that could not (and will not) be quelled. With Eloise it was musicals and a need for a familiar face in a new city. I have such a weird mix of friends, from raving lefties who may one day lead a revolution (Daniel, I’m looking at you) to proper grown ups with babies and mortgages. That’s kind of the beauty of friendship – you can have one for every occasion. There’s no putting your finger on why and whether you’ll become friends with someone, but there’s a pretty good chance that if you fill some of the below criteria, we’d have something to talk about over coffee. Which is a good start, right?
We’d probably be friends if…
- You really want to hang out with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
- You use pretentious words when talking about books
- You know all the words to Mean Girls (who doesn’t, am I right?)
- You over-share. I’m a big over-sharer.
- Buffy is your hero. And Lisa Simpson. Especially if you aim to be some mega-hybrid of the two (as I do).
- Puns make you laugh more than they should
- You say ‘I’m a feminist’ rather than ‘I’m not a feminist but…’
- Spiderman is your favourite superhero (no shame)
- You could spend all day looking at pug gifs
- You have cursed the new Facebook algorithm more than once in the last few weeks…
- You love Taylor Swift unironically
- Enid Blyton was your childhood. Ginger beer?
- You always order dessert. No guilt.
- You spend as long analysing pop culture as you do consuming it
- You show your love through food
- You can talk (and listen) really fast. Also, if you don’t mind someone talking over you – there’s a lot to say, we’ve got to fit it in!
- You think cheese should be its own food group
Your turn! Will we probably be friends?
I love fashion. I love clothes. At one point in my life I read Vogue religiously and wanted to be a fashion journalist. It’s safe to say that has changed (I was young and foolish, and print wasn’t dead yet), but fashion still plays an important part in my life. Most of my disposable income goes on clothes and I consume fashion blogs and inspiration on Pinterest like it’s going out of fashion. Which, well, it is.
However, although I have bought more clothes in the last year than ever before, I still find myself in that peculiar pickle of having nothing to wear on an almost daily basis. I become bored of my fast fashion garments within weeks and it’s become more and more apparent that there are very few ‘classics’ lurking within my wardrobe. Those staples which will make you look stylish even on your worst days. Not only that, but as I plundered my Pinterest boards, it became obvious that the style I want to have (see above) and the clothes that litter my floordrobe do not quite match up.
I aspire to be a stylish person. I used to want to be fashionable, to be at the cutting edge of trends, but that is rather exhausting and involves a lot of switching and changing. Far better, in my mind, to be someone who always looks impeccably dressed even if they’re not at the forefront of all things fabulous. I want to be ‘well turned out’, as my grandmother would say. Flattering cuts, timeless pieces and a true sense of style rather than a mish-mash of different trends, which may or may not really suit me.
So, along with my resolve to be more conscious in life, I also want to be more conscious in my clothing choices. I will eschew fleeting items (dungarees, I’m looking at you, stop calling my name) and instead invest my money in classic pieces which can be paired together into beautiful outfits which will make me feel sophisticated rather than sloppy. I will not necessarily spend less money (although that is also on the cards) but I will be more choosy. I have just purchased a relatively expensive rose gold watch that I hope will see me through a few years, and a breton-striped top that was relatively cheap but which makes me feel polished.
At the end of the year, I would love to look back at photos and see a true sense of personal style. I’m hoping to throw a few more outfit posts into the mix on this here blog to keep myself accountable (and to show off my new purchases – I’m not a completely changed person, yet!). Effortless, chic and well-dressed: that’s what I’m aiming for.
I’ve long been an advocate of blogs. I think I first started reading blogs about 10 years ago and since then the landscape of the blogosphere has changed completely. No one could have predicted how it has exploded – blogs are now a viable form of alternative media and there’s one on (pretty much) every topic.
These are blogs that you need to be reading. Not because they have the prettiest pictures or the best recommendations for Mexican food in NW1 but because these are stories not often told, voices not often heard. They will make you a better person and expand your worldview (or at least, they did for me). This is my favourite thing about blogging, and I couldn’t keep it to myself…
Jack’s blog has charted her journey as a single mother on benefits in a world which very much disapproves of that. Ultimately, this is a food blog; she shares nutritious, delicious recipes which cost pennies – an essential when on such a budget. But, it’s not just that. She’s also told the story of poverty – of going hungry, of having to keep the heating and lights off in the house due to a missed benefits payment, of selling everything you possess to stay alive. Reading her bio, I found out that Jack is only 25. That’s amazing to me, as I’m turning 24 in less than a month and don’t feel half as wise or as brave as Jack. Nowadays, she is a journalist, author and a charity campaigner. Most recently she has petitioned for a debate about food banks in the House of Commons (which sadly turned into a horrible farce). Definitely a must-read.
Britni is probably the person responsible for my feminism. Or, at the very least, helped to shape it. I was reading her blog when I was a baby feminist, just trying to find out what I thought about the world. I have had a soft spot for her ever since.
In the time that I have known her (digitally speaking), she has gone from Florida party girl to sober Bostonian with a baby on the way (or thereabouts). Her blog talks frankly about feminism, sexual assault, street harassment (she also works on the Boston Hollaback! team), drug addiction and pregnancy. She is totally open and honest, and despite the perhaps depressing topics, it is refreshing to read.
This blog is truly heartbreaking but it’s a story that needs to be told. One More Mum tells the story of her family as they try to navigate her daughter’s anorexia. This is certainly not your average mummy blog, that’s for sure. It’s honest, raw and shows a side of eating disorders that doesn’t often see the light. It’s heart-wrenching to read – I have cried for them more than once and wished that there was more that I could do than send good thoughts – but reading this blog has really opened my eyes and certainly puts my own problems, small as they are, into sharp relief. This isn’t a flashy blog with fancy photos, mouth-watering recipes or top beauty buys but it is one that should make its way into your feed reader.
I have been a long time advocate of Kate’s work, so you may have heard me recommend her blog before. The main focus of the blog is body image and Kate explores her own issues with her body with a truly open heart. Although the topic of the blog is not always a happy one, there is something joyful about this blog and it’s made me stop and think on more than one occasion about how I’m perceiving myself and others. As well as body image, she talks about work, ambition, love, friendship and motherhood. She also happens to be one of the best writers on the Internet, in my humble opinion. I can tell which blogs I really like by the ones which linger in my Feedly unread; I save Kate’s blog posts until I can give them my full attention rather than flicking through them on my lunch break or on the bus to work. They are thoughtful and wonderful – I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
I am addicted to the Captain Awkward blog. It may be the only blog (apart from Yes and Yes) that I could never stop reading. It’s an advice blog which truly gives the best advice. I have learnt so much from this blog, even though my own problems do not align exactly with the letter writers.
There is so much great advice held within its (virtual) walls about setting boundaries, self-care, communication and compassion which have given me life skills which I did not possess before. If everyone read this blog, I truly believe that the world would be a better place. This is the stuff they should be teaching in schools.
Although it may sound it, this is not a staid blog either – it’s witty, warm and has a wonderful community surrounding it that means you can stray into the comments section without fearing for your life (a rare find in the Internet world these days).
For real, this blog will change your life. Trust me.
It’s been a while since my last Weekend Link Love, but don’t worry – I haven’t forgotten you! I’m taking a bit of a break from blogging at the moment, assessing how I want this space to go and what content I want to put on here. But, I can’t resist sharing these lovely links with you – there’s so much good stuff out there on the Internet! Since we last spoke, I’ve most been having time away from the Internet – I work in social media so at the weekend it’s quite nice not to pick up my laptop at all! Instead, I’ve been reading some books (so many books!), baking some maple syrup blondies (recipe to come!) and knitting a couple of baby blankets for my new baby cousins. Not only that, but I’ve been getting stuck back into yoga and decorating our spare room. So I’ve been busy! How about you?
- Jazmine has totally excelled herself with this dreamy photoshoot. Who doesn’t want to wear a tutu and ride a carousel? No one, that’s who.
- These salted caramel filled molten chocolate cakes are truly the stuff that dreams are made of. Make these for your loved ones and they’ll be forever in your debt.
- I’ve long suspected that Canada is my spiritual home and Sophie’s photos of Vancouver are not persuading my otherwise!
- Avoid the 14 habits of highly miserable people – a humorous look at how we really can pick our own moods and influence our happiness.
- Looking for a killer brunch recipe? How about these dip ‘n’ share eggs?
- Is the way fitness gurus act on social media making you lose motivation?
- Ally shares her top tips for the perfect Manhattan trip.
- I think this might be the holy grail of all cocktails for me.
- How to deal with unwanted emails with a gracious reply – honestly, the best thing I’ve read in months.
- Laurie Penny’s account of losing her father is totally heartbreaking, no matter what you think of her politics.
- This is becoming more and more relevant for me as our friends have more and more children: how to break the ice with little girls without commenting on their appearance. It’s all too easy to focus on their cuteness!
- Are you a foodie in Leeds on a New Year budget? Diane shares the best places to get good food on the cheap in our fine city!
- If, like me, you have fine or thin hair, you might want to know about these wonder products to solve your volume woes!
- I’ve been listening to podcasts on my runs so this list of Joy the Baker’s favourite podcasts was super helpful!