June ended up being a really busy month!

I started a new job after four months of being redundant and it was the month of Edinburgh Blogger Conference. That meant going out to do a 9-5, learning new things (which always hurts your head) and coming home and working on conference stuff. Crazy.

It was strange going back out to work, I’m not going to lie. After being able to completely suit myself, go to the gym, eat nice breakfasts or, you know, stay in my pjs until midday it was a bit of an adjustment. But one that I needed. I was starting to feel really down at the lack of purpose to get up and go everyday, not to mention the lack of money! Being supported is not something I seem to be able to do easily.

I did a lot of learning during June, learning new stuff on the job but I also attended a lot of Business Gateway courses on marketing and all the social media channels. I use social media a lot, a common thing it seems with pretty much all millennials, but using it to post pictures of my daily outfits, coffee trips or my meals is a bit different from using social media in a business setting. The Business Gateway courses are amazing, and FREE! They’re for business owners but you can also go along even if you haven’t started trading yet so it is definitely something to take advantage of. I’ve already myself booked into some for Edinburgh Blogger Conference and starting up a business as they help with all of that too.

The weekends leading up to the conference on 17th June were really all about getting ready for it, I roped my Mum in to helping us pack goodie bags the weekend before and Mark was involved with getting everything to the venue and loading my Mini up with more bottles of water and cans of juice than I think I’ve ever bought. Luckily my new boss was pretty flexible and let me have a few days off around the weekend of the conference so I could run about picking up printing and last minute things we needed.

The weekend of the first Edinburgh Blogger Conference came round so quickly and the day was a bit of a surreal blur. It went incredibly smoothly, and not to blow my own trumpet too much, I think this was really down to the hard work that we put in as a team. I think I’ve really found the dream team, two other bloggers who I get along with and work well together. What more could you ask for! I posted about the day earlier in the week, you can read my post here.

I left the conference on the Saturday evening and was straight to meet my friend to head down to Dumfries to do Tough Mudder on the Sunday. Honestly at this point I was thinking I was mad, and had completely overestimated my ability to keep going for the full weekend. My adrenaline had started to run out and I was staying in a house with a group of people I didn’t really know that well. We got up nice and early on the Sunday and piled in the cars to head to the starting line. I was nervous as hell, as a first timer I had no idea what was really in store for me or if I would be able to do it. I’m going to write a full post all about my experience and why I loved it so much, but for now all I’ll say is it’s one of the best things I’ve done, despite being caked in mud and getting electrocuted…!

I had planned on staying the Sunday night in Dumfries too but I was done after Tough Mudder so caught a lift back to Edinburgh with one of the guys from my team and met Mark, where we went to get Krispy Kreme doughnuts to replenish some of my burnt calories from the morning. It meant I got to sleep in my own bed and I also got a nice leg massage from Mark which was amazing as I could walk the next day! 🙂 It was also good because we both had the Monday off work so we headed to St Andrews for a bit and had a nice wee walk and look round the shops.

Last month also went to our third gig of the year – Paramore at the Usher Hall. It was the first time I’ve seen Paramore and the first time I’ve been in the Usher Hall. I’m pleased to say that because of the awful incident in Manchester in May venues have really clamped down on security which made me feel safer. Paramore were incredible! And the Usher Hall was a great venue for them, it was quite small so it felt a bit more intimate and even though we were at the back you could still see the stage. And to make it even better when Hayley got one of the crowd up to sing, Lauren from Chvrches came on stage too! Amazing.

How was your June?

xxx
 
Photographs taken by me (except Tough Mudder team photo…that was taken by a passer-by at the event).
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Burgers are one my favourite foods to eat when I’m out for dinner.

I think it’s because it’s one of the things that’s possibly a bit more expensive to make yourself at home (you need a good bit of steak mince, if you want a slice of bacon on top then you’re generally going to have to buy a whole pack of the stuff, a block of some nice cheese…). When you eat burgers in a restaurant though sometimes there are so many options it makes it hard to decide what you want!

This was absolutely the case at Burgers & Beers. If you don’t know about this restaurant in Edinburgh, it’s on the Royal Mile, and does pretty much what it says on the tin, well… above the door at least! The majority of the menu is made up of burgers and beer but if burgers are not your thang (what is wrong with you?!) there are other options on the menu.

It seriously took me a while to decide which burger I wanted, plus Mark and I had to discuss to make sure we weren’t getting the same one (we like to have a taste of each other’s food). In the end I settled on the Frying Scotsman, haggis, onion rings and Scottish cheddar cheese, don’t mind if I do! Mark went for the Mac Attack, and yes that does mean mac n cheese on top of a burger! When you order a burger all you’re getting is the burger so you need to order fries on the side. There’s a lot of eating in the burgers so one portion of fries is definitely enough for two people.

So onto the food. I had to take the onion rings out the burger before I started eating it, I don’t have the ability to unhinge my jaw, but even at that I still had to use a knife and fork for some of the eating process! The burger was tasty, had just the right amount of cheese and the haggis fritter was a great add on. The haggis comes in batter but it’s not too heavy so you’re not completely stuffed half through your food. They’ve even nailed it with the bun. There is nothing worse than eating a burger while the bread is turning to mush during the process, not an issue with the glazed bun.

Mark’s burger was also ridiculously tasty. The mac n cheese comes in fritter form too and also has bacon on it, I’m pretty sure this one was calorie free…ha! There was also a bit of greenery on this burger and beer mustard. Yum! The side order of sweet potato fries went down a treat, but even with us sharing a side I still couldn’t finish all my food!

I haven’t even covered the beer menu. You won’t be short of choice, you can find a great selection of Scottish beers along with some imported beers. For those of you who don’t like beer though, check out the cocktail menu!

Burgers & Beers is now one of my firm favourites in Edinburgh, it’s safe to say we’ll be back.

xxx
 
Photograph taken by me
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Another month down!

Can you believe we’re into June already?! I mean, there are only twenty-nine Fridays until Christmas 2017 (sorry!)!!

May flew in for me. Mark and I had lots of fun days out, he took some days off work to keep me company as I was still technically unemployed last month.

At the start of the month we went to see Deftones at the SECC in Glasgow. Any gig we go to in Glasgow usually involves some form of yummy dinner beforehand. Our favourite is one of the best Glasgow has to offer (well, in our opinion), the pizza and beer selection that Bier Halle has always calls to us. 2 for 1 pizzas and more beer on the menu than you could get through in one visit! Usually we pick two pizzas we both like and share, our choices this time were black pudding & fried egg and Hawaiian. I was nursing a hangover this day that even beer and pizza couldn’t cure, so standing for about 3 hours at the gig was not ideal for me! But I still had fun.

Mark took the May Day bank holiday off work and we decided to take advantage of the sunshine and go for a walk and a picnic. Not just any picnic, we got M&S food (they have some great picnic choices in their Spirit of Summer selection). Having lived in Scotland all my life I should know that sunshine does not equal warmth…I ate my picnic sporting Mark’s woolly hat!

Having a boyfriend that is a beer geek means much time spent in beer shops and if there is any sort of beer event on we will try to be there. I’m partial to a beer or two myself so happy to go along too. When we saw FestivAle advertised at Summerhall in Edinburgh we swiftly got ourselves some tickets. Local beer shop Cork and Cask had a bottle bar, along with different breweries including Brewdog, St Andrews Brewing Co. and Barney’s (brewed at Summerhall). I’ve only recently started drinking gin and Pickerings Gin (distilled at Summerhall) was there too. I absolutely loved their original gin with ginger ale – yum! Along with good beer and gin the food was pretty tasty, I was not that happy sharing my halloumi fries…

There was some nice weather to hit Scotland in May. Not having to go to work meant that I was getting the opportunity to enjoy it and catch up with some friends. I also got to explore a bit more of the Kingdom I live in when I met friends and their wee boy in Aberdour for lunch and a wander along the beach. I think I still have lots of places to explore in Fife but this was another one ticked off.

We got some very last minute tickets to the Hidden Door Festival at Leith Theatre. There was art to check out, street food, bands, a speakeasy where Loud Poets performed, and the main attraction for us was Idlewild. Leith Theatre closed in 1988 and last month was the first time it opened it’s doors to the public since then. It has in no way been restored to it’s original state, but honestly this added to the charm for me. I have a bit of a thing with abandoned, decaying buildings. It is however a gem of a venue and it’s such a shame it hasn’t been getting used. Plans are in place to bring this great space back to it’s former glory, find out how you can help here.

A rainy bank holiday at the end of the month in St Andrews was a great way to spend a day off together. When we got in the car we didn’t know where we were going and I was given the choice of what direction we drove at junctions and roundabouts. It just so happened we ended up in one of my favourite places (I’m rubbish at directions so it was in no way intentional). Even rain in St Andrews doesn’t ruin your day, there are so many shops to look in (including beer shops) and cafes and bars we were easily entertained for the day.

How was everyone else’s May, did you get the chance to take advantage of some of our great weather?

xxx
 
Photographs taken by me & M Richardson, created using Layout
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Last Friday I headed out to a pop up tea party in Dunfermline.

It was really nice to go to something on home turf, and drinking tea and eating cake is a pretty good way to spend a Friday evening as far as I’m concerned.

The Dunfermline Tea Party Society is run by Chrissie, who loves tea and vintage crockery. A girl after my own heart! It’s so nice to have a company like this based in Fife and I was keen to find out a bit more about Chrissie and her exciting new venture so I caught up with her to ask a few questions.

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came up with the idea for The Dunfermline Teaparty Society.
A. So…. The Dunfermline Tea Party Society was one of those light bulb moments when you’re least expecting it. My friend had passed on a set that needed a home, and it sat out in the kitchen for about a week. I loved it but my husband, Ross, then started to ask where it was actually going to go. I couldn’t really give him an answer, so just shrugged my shoulders and walked away hoping that would be the end of the conversation 😉 He did have a point as my collection is pretty big now… It wasn’t until a few days later when I was folding some washing that the idea landed on me, “You could rent your sets out!”…. Hrmm… I thought, that’s a good idea and to be honest one I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of before. For a few weeks I didn’t really do anything with the idea but I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I thought that maybe this was a sign to see where this idea takes me. This was only back in February and in the short time till now its pushed me so far out my comfort zone, (putting the idea out there, staring a Facebook & Instagram page, vlogging for the first time and holding my first ever pop up party), but again I hope all of this is a good sign that I’ve found what I should be doing. Helping to bring people together through tea, throwing amazing tea parties.

Q. Where did your love of tea and teacups come from?
A. I’ve always loved all things vintage and in my art school days was described as kitsch. But my collection truly started when I was getting married. We thought it would be fun to have a cake buffet, so that’s when I started buying cake stands for our big day. This soon lead on to tea cups and all things tea related, including a dresser to show off my favourite and sentimental pieces. My tea drinking comes from my mum, who drinks even more of it than me! I think tea drinking is ingrained into us from watching our families drink tea, when anyone pops around the kettle goes. I really believe in the powers of tea, and how in almost all situations it’s there for you. In good times and bad, often the first thing we do is pop the kettle on and share a cuppa. It brings people together and at the same time gives you that 10 mins peace you need to conquer the day. 

Q. What are your future plans for The Dunfermline Tea Party Society?
A. My plans for The Dunfermline Tea Party are still very much at the early stages but I’m open to let it change and develop naturally. At the moment I hope to be able to help people throw parties and events in their homes using my collection and props. I also hope to use my creative skills to help style and dress the party to the themes and needs of the customer. I love the finishing touches and details and feel that these small, personal touches are where I can be different from all the other great tea party businesses out there. As I and The Dunfermline Tea Party Society grow, I hope to be able to throw more pop up events and perhaps a pop up cafe down the line, that bring all different people together, giving something back to the local community. I would love to help others through tea who are maybe lonely or in need of a good cuppa with friendly people. I’m also trying to figure out how to incorporate my first creative business Turtle Mummy Crafts, so I still have a lot of thinking to do.

Q. How will it work?
A. At the moment, I hope that through getting to know my customer over a cuppa, we’ll discuss their party needs and take it from there. Everyone is different, so each celebration should be different.  I’ll be there to set up and make sure everything looks great for the party. I hope to give a really personal service and get to know my customer and their needs. Planning even a small party takes up so much time and can be very stressful in our busy, 24/7 lives and that’s where I can help by taking care of “setting the stage” for a fantastic party, making good memories over tea.

Keep up to date with Chrissie and her plans for The Dunfermline Tea Party Society through her Instagram, Facebook and Youtube.

xxx
 
Photograph taken by me
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One of the best things about Easter is Creme Eggs.

They really should be sold all year round! I have combined two of my favourite things for today’s foodie Friday – cake and Creme Eggs.

I used mini Creme Eggs for this, but if I was going to make them again I would try them with full size eggs cut in half, I think you would get more of the gooey inside melting out. I also haven’t baked in a while so really need more practice with icing… I think that’s a good excuse to make more cupcakes, right?!

So, onto the recipe. I have shared my sponge recipe before and it is one I have sworn by for years. It makes a really light, fluffy, moist (apologies for those who hate that word) sponge.

Sponge:

125g self raising flour
1/2 level tsp baking powder
100g butter, softened (I like to use Stork for the sponge)
100g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
12 mini Creme Eggs

Buttercream icing:

100g of unsalted butter (I use real butter for this)
200g of icing sugar
(to make my buttercream icing, I always combine butter with twice the amount of icing sugar)

– Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius /170 degrees celsius (fan) / gas mark 5. Line a cupcake tin with cake cases. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Put the butter in another bowl and soften with an electric whisk. Add the sugar, eggs and flour and beat until mixed.

– Split the mixture evenly between the cupcake cases and put a mini Creme Egg in each case. Put in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. I check after 15 minutes to see how they are doing. When the sponge is cooked it’ll be springy to the touch and if you insert a cocktail stick it’ll come out clean.

– Once ready, remove from the oven and place the cakes on a cooling rack.

– To make the butter icing, soften 100g of unsalted butter and gently mix in the icing sugar with a spoon to start with (if you use the electric whisk straight away you will end up with icing sugar all over yourself) and then use the electric whisk to make the mixture smooth.

– Leave the cakes to cool down before putting the icing on top, you can pipe the buttercream or spread it on top of the cupcakes. It’ll taste just as nice either way!

I debated putting this post up because my cakes didn’t turn out quite how I wanted them to, but I’m not a baker and they still tasted damn nice so I thought why not share them?! Plus it’s a good way of combining two tasty foods.

xxx
 

 

Photograph taken by M Richardson
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