Monthly Archives: June 2013

She loves me, she loves me not…Travel Edition

I’m no stranger to a bit of cross-continental hopping, being a Canadian who’s found herself settled in sunny Scotland. It may surprise you that I’ve not been back to the motherland for over 3 years though, and this working holiday is my first trip back!  I’m very excited to be ‘home’, catching up with the oldest of friends, and visiting my favourite Toronto spots – as well as exploring new ones!  It’s had me thinking about the things I love (and those I’m not as fond of) about the act of travel.

She loves me…

1. The Dutch sense of humour.  

Heard over the tannoys at Schiphol Airport:

‘Could passenger Klein flying to Toronto, PLEASE head to gate K9.  The pilot is very bored’

2. Airport shopping!  

This will come as no surprise, as everyone knows I’m an utter shopaholic…but it’s so interesting to see what kinds of treats are on offer in foreign ports.  I especially love browsing the magazine racks and the electronics section to see what is on offer elsewhere in the world.  Foreign language interiors mags?  Oh yes!!

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3. Sleeping!

On a long-haul flight, I know I’ll be crashed out by the time we take off; a fantastic bonus when more often than not, I’ve been up all night packing.  I usually wake up when they announce descent, slap on some moisturizer and feel as close to fresh-as-a-daisy as one can muster after 8 hours transatlantic flying.


She loves me not…

1. Airport security.

I realise it’s a necessary evil, and I do feel safer knowing someone is out there checking none of my fellow passengers is a knife-wielding maniac.  However, after having whipped out my iPad both at security checkpoints in Edinburgh and Amsterdam, struggling to juggle passports and boarding cards whilst trying to put shoes/belt/zip bag up…not to mention the thorough pat-down because my bracelet set off the scanner…

2. Plane food.

Such a cliché, but airline food is still (most of the time) as revolting as ever.  I had something which was described as ‘pan-fried chicken with country style potatoes’, which reared its ugly head as a rubbery breast atop what had the taste and texture of Israeli couscous.  I have no objections to couscous, but I can’t remember the last time I thought it was interchangeable with spuds!  The only time I’ve had ‘pleasant’ plane food was surprisingly on route from Hong Kong to Sapporo; and it’s rather difficult to mess up zaru soba when it comes in two individually adorable sealed cups!

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I do love to travel though, and despite the stresses of being in the airport, it’s always worth it in the end.  Anyone else have any travel loves or pet peeves?

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New tattoo: architectural geekery

I am very excited to share my latest tattoo – a depiction of the Dancing House (of Fred and Ginger) building in Prague. It is possibly one of the most stunning examples of deconstructivist architecture, designed as a collaboration between Czech architect Vlado Milunić and Frank Gehry in 1992 and completed in 1996. The structure consists of 99 concrete panels, each of a different size and dimension – nae parallel beams in this baby!

Done by the ridiculously talented Barry Goddard of Jazz Tattoo.

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House of Fraser Fabulousness: Shu Uemura

Remember a few weeks ago I posted about my great experience shopping in Glasgow’s House of Fraser store – and in particular the impeccable customer service at the Shu Uemura counter? Well I promised a separate post about it, so here it is!

This was my haul from that shopping trip…

These were the items I actually purchased…(and a lip gloss)

Let me just start by saying I’ve always had fabulous customer service from Shu Uemura, so I’m not sure if they maybe train their girls up to be super-nice! First of all, I was on the hunt for a mint eyeshadow and eyeliner; I’m in love with my Nars ‘Barrow Street’, described as a ‘seafoam’ shade, but sometimes a girl just needs a liquid or gel liner to get a proper cat’s eye flick! I knew Shu Uemura was likely to have a green shadow, but imagine my delight (and subsequent disappointment) when I discovered they carried a green potted liner…which was limited edition, and which they were out of stock of! The tester pot was still there, but unfortunately no Shu Uemura concession in Scotland had any left. I mean, check out the awesomeness of that colour! How could I walk away?!

The salesgirl told me they couldn’t sell me the tester pot, for hygiene reasons…then she noticed it had barely been touched so said she could give me the semi-used pot (seeing as I looked so crestfallen at the news) if she scraped out the sampled area. Which, like I said , was hardly anything. So I got an almost full pot of eyeliner for free, which they couldn’t sell on anyways. But how many folk would think to do that for you?

I also fell in love with a set of gorgeous (and semi impractical) false lashes that were also limited edition and out of stock! Oh, the horror. When I went to pay for my purchases, which included one set of eyelashes, a red lip gloss and a trio of green shadows, she gave me the tester set of funky lashes as well! Which again she told me she couldn’t sell on, as they were marked ‘not for resale’, so she gave them to me for free!

I want to clarify that my high opinion of the service I receive was not just because I came home laden with freebies…though I do love a good freebie and a bargain, what I was impressed with was the salesgirl’s willingness to act above and beyond the ‘call of duty’, I suppose. She knew these tester items would be binned at the end of the day, so there was no harm in giving them to someone who was obviously wanting them, and who was making a purchase anyways.

So I’d like to thank that lovely girl for putting a smile on my face, and for such a great experience at both House of Fraser and Shu Uemura.

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Recipe: my first green smoothie (apples, spinach, kiwi)

Green Smoothie Mark 1
2 apples
Handful spinach leaves
1 kiwi, peeled

Into the Vitamix these babies went, blitzed til smooth. I had one of these (my tastiest yet) after a stint on the rower this morning.


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Recipe: strawberry, banana and spinach smoothie

Banana, strawberry, spinach smoothie
1 banana
A handful of spinach
A punnet of strawberries
1 apple
Fresh mint
Ice (optional)

Again I used my awesome Vitamix blender to whip up this concoction, which was tasty but wasn’t the most…photogenic. Our trusty colour wheel tells us that red+green+yellow = brown, if you can imagine!

I whipped this one up at the weekend in an attempt to perk myself up following a lovely day spent sipping prosecco in the sun…

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After-work wander: Glasgow’s Buchanan Street

I was working in Glasgow today, so of course I had a wander before I caught my train home. I love The Weej for its friendliness; much as I adore Edinburgh and call it home, it can be a bit contrived at times. Though you’re as likely to see a man fashioning balloon animals on the street in The Burgh, it feels put on for the tourists.
How fun is this guy though?!

I stopped at Rogano’s pop up ‘champagne garden’ on Buchanan Street for a lunch of oysters and creamy Caesar salad with king prawns. And a pot of peppermint tea to keep me warm!





I stopped in Frasers to look for a smaller wallet to fit into my clutch bag (so tired of schlepping my massive Prada number around everywhere) so of course stopped off at Shu Uemura…such a fabulous experience from a customer care perspective, the sales girl was so lovely so wait for a separate post about it! It’s so rare, especially in a busy department store, for sales staff to pay such attention and care to customer service. Oh and I spied these amazing Chanel sunglasses that have gone right to the top of my summer wish list!


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Recipe: Virgin piña colada smoothie

My friend Rach recently introduced me to the fabled Juice Cleanse, which cleared up her psoriasis and has given her a fabulous glow. I have to admit I’ve been enjoying an…erm…
enthusiastic social life since the sun made its first appearance a few weeks ago. Not to mention my murky past as an events coordinator seems to have caught up with me and I’ve been asked to help out with a few wee ‘dos’ in Glasgow! I like to joke I have three jobs, but only one requires me to leave the house!

Now Rach has far more willpower than I do, and knowing myself quite well I’m positive I’d find it nigh on impossible to stick to a full on cleanse. So I decided to start off each day with a fresh juice made by my own fair hands, followed by a ‘clean’ lunch and dinner. Plenty of steamed or grilled fish, no wheat, no dairy, no refined carbs (ie white rice, pasta etc). I’m on Day Two and I’ve been feeling great so far, so I thought I’d share a recipe for my Virgin Piña Colada smoothie.

Virgin Piña Colada
1 whole fresh pineapple
1/2 can coconut milk
A splash coconut water
A handful of mint

Rach gave me the incredibly generous gift of a Vitamix blender last week so we could ‘juice together’, so I just dumped everything in whole and blitzed that baby up! If your blender isn’t the kind that can chew through golf balls, maybe chop the pineapple ;-).

Now just imagine you’re lying on a beach somewhere sipping that piña colada…maybe add a tiny umbrella as garnish.

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Inspiration: Peppermint Patty

Inspiration: Peppermint Patty

Donna karan
$3,425 ;- ;


Kiki de montparnasse

Paige Denim mint jeans
$245 ;- ;

Palladium lace up boots
$76 ;- ;

Kate spade handbag

Corinne mccormack

Butter london

Fishs Eddy Mint Milk Bottle 8oz
$14 ;- ;

It all started with a mint green nail polish.

I’d been on the hunt for the perfect mint chocolate chip shade; a couple summers ago I thought I’d found that holy grail in a Toronto salon, but alas it was a discontinued hue. Then, last month I was perusing the counters at Harvey Nicks when my eagle eye spied amidst the ubiquitous silvers, black cherry reds and Barbie pink polishes adorning the shelves…Butter London’s ‘fiver’. A uniquely creamy shade of minty perfection.

And so the love affair with the pretty pastel grew; once my tootsies were polished a perfect peppermint and before the paint was dry I was already sending out search parties for a pair of minty fresh skinny jeans, some wear-to-death ballerina slippers and a summery frock for garden parties and race days.

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Inspiration: Mid century gentlemen’s club based around the iconic Eames Lounge chair

Mid century gentlemen's club based around the iconic Eames Lounge chair

I’ve been in love with the iconic Eames lounge chair since I first laid eyes on it in a design magazine as a teenager, so when the opportunity arose for me to buy one of my very own at half the price – a genuine Vitra issued article – I jumped at the chance.

My dream sitting room wouldn’t look to far off an old school gentlemen’s club; all luxe leather, sexy dark wood bookshelves, tufted button detailing and the unmistakeable scent of a country estate. Wood wax, tree sap and casually worn leather upholstery. Throw in my love of mid-century to 1970s design (i actually own that G-plan coffee table) with a dose of quirkiness from Moooi and you’d have my ideal space.

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Adventures in the Sun: Picnics in Peculiar Places

It’s been a sunny couple of weeks here on Edinburgh, and I have spent blissful days catching up with friends alfresco,

One of my very favourite was an impromptu picnic outside my lovely friend’s workplace. I’m lucky to have the kind of job that allows me flexibility with my hours, and during the summer months my home office is largely unoccupied when the sun is out (aside from a cat or two who took a wrong turning past the food bowl). I have no problem with working late at night if it means I can spend my days enjoying the great outdoors!

I decided to surprise my Grace with a picnic during her lunch break…I got some rather odd looks setting up on the pavement! How lovely is that picnic basket by the way? I picked it up during the Meadows Festival for a paltry £35! What a bargain!


Grace was delighted with her feast despite the unconventional picnic setting…

I must admit due to a lack of time that morning, it was ‘catered’ by M&S and the wee Bruntsfield baker ‘A La Carte. I had to cram the mini sausage rolls into the cups that came with the picnic set, and the teeny filled rolls went over rather well…



Of course no picnic is complete without scones with proper clotted cream and strawberry jam…


…and a nap in the sun!


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