Thursday, 30 August 2012

Birthday wishlist:

1. Converse low tops: Office
2. Diesel Loverdose perfume: Superdrug
3. H&M dress: H&M
4. H&M clutch bag: H&M
5. Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook: Amazon
6. Vans: Office

My birthday is coming up, and every year I find it harder and harder to think of things to ask for.  The shoe theme this year is as a result of me finally wearing through the soles of my very first pair of Converse that my poor, long-suffering Mum had to fork out for when I went into 4th year of high school (7 years ago!  Oh dear...).

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Fun with spray paint:

I went through to visit my parents last week and took advantage of their back garden to get some spray painting done while I was there.  The next few photos were taken by my glamorous assistant (big sister).

As you can see, I sprayed two frames and my jewellery storage hand gold to go with my bedroom colour scheme, and the other two frames glossy black to match a few I've already bought for the living room and hallway.  The whole process was fairly painless, although the gold paint seemed to dry much faster than the glossy black, for some reason.  I expected to make quite a bit of mess (hence the extremely attractive yellow apron) but came away with only two or three small blobs of black paint on my right arm that just looked like black freckles, and faded after a wee while.  As long as you lay down cardboard or newspaper, spray outside and use some common sense with how close you hold the can to what you're spraying (I learned this the hard way...) you'll probably be okay!

Above is the mirror that I mentioned in this post that has been hanging (mostly unused) in my bedroom at my parents' house for years, but was originally from my grandparents' dining room.  It's a nice sentimental heirloom that I'm glad I was allowed to have, and will keep for a very long time.

I realise that things look a bit disjointed and bare above our bed at the moment, but the plan is to slowly hang lots of frames and make a bit of a collage on the wall.  So far, above my side (left) I have a Some Like It Hot film cell, a Maccabees set list and a print that my best friend Emily made in high school (she has now just graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and her work is amazing, check it out here:

Craig's side only has one frame so far (and we just hung it today...) but the print is of an oil painting by his great uncle, George Wilkinson, who was an extremely talented artist.  Ever since I've known Craig, he's always had that print, but never found a frame for it or really been able to display it properly.  I was very chuffed when I found a frame the right size and colour in a nearby charity shop for 50p this morning!

I also want to give a special mention to my lovely Mum who made these cute sheep cushion covers for me as a house warming present.  My Mum is great at sewing, while I am absolutely rubbish (yes, I still get her to sew buttons on for me...) and the covers were not at all creased when she gave them to me: I only have my big bum to thank for that!

Here they are in action on my old Bargain Corner IKEA armchair (also from my bedroom at my parents' house) where I've put them for safe keeping and to avoid further creasing!

I feel like the flat is starting to take shape now and has a bit more character with some of our stuff up on the walls.  Having said that, we haven't even unpacked completely yet, so there's still quite a way to go!

Monday, 20 August 2012

The Edinburgh Pestival 2012:

I'm usually a bit cynical about the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe, although I've never figured out exactly why.  It might stem from working in a shop in the centre of Edinburgh over the last few summers.  The anger that rose up inside me when my two minute walk from the train station became a fifteen minute assault course because of all the tourist traffic on Princes Street is indescribable.  Every year I say I'll spend at least a whole day seeing what I can see at the Festival, and every year I fail miserably.  Even this year I haven't dedicated a whole day to Festival madness, but I have caught a few special shows that I very much enjoyed, and I thought I could share with you.

To kick off the Festival season, Craig, our friend Ruaridh and I saw
Withered Hand play at the Queen's Hall on Saturday the 4th of August.  Although the three of us have seen Withered Hand (also known as Dan Willson) play several times before, both on his own and with a full band, this was probably his biggest gig yet that I've attended, and it made me happy that so many people showed up to support him.  If you've never heard Withered Hand before, I would highly recommend it.  I'm struggling to compare his music to anything else, but if you like clever lyrics, acoustic guitars and folky leanings (like me) then you should give his music a listen.  It's all good, but I'd always recommend you to start with No Cigarettes, Cornflake and Religious Songs, and then see where the mood takes you from there.  On this occasion, Withered Hand was supported by Darren Hayman and Ballboy (Gordon McIntyre), and the whole show was compered by Josie Long, who you may remember as the ditzy guidance counsellor in Skins.  It turns out she is also a rather funny stand up comedian, and she made the 'waiting around between bands with your feet starting to hurt' bit far more enjoyable.  Needless to say, Withered Hand (an his fantastic band) were incredible, and we all sang along to our heart's content.

On a very rainy Monday night (the 6th of August) a group of us went along the Pleasance Baby Grand to see Rhys Darby's one man stand up show.  He's most famous for his role as Murray in comedy TV show Flight of the Conchords, and there are nods to that throughout his show, but it turns out that Rhys isn't much like Murray at all.  I was surprised by how animated and physical his performance was, and he was extremely funny, laidback and likeable on stage.  There was no picking on the audience - something that makes me very uncomfortable at comedy shows.  He actually accepted a gift (a tinfoil robot) from one member of the audience at the beginning of the performance and posted a photo of it on Twitter later, which I thought was very sweet.  I won't spoil any of the jokes for you, but Rhys Darby's dancing is a wonder to behold, and worth the ticket money alone.  His show is called This Way to Spaceship, and it runs until the 27th of August, so go and see it for yourself if you get the chance!  I highly recommend it.

Smile-N Productions

The final show that Craig and I attended is quite close to my heart.  On Friday the 10th, we went down to Stockbridge Parish Church to see 'I Got It: An Actor's Tale', a musical written by 18 year old Marc MacKinnon, who was in 2nd year at my old high school when I was in my final year there.  I was so impressed when I heard that Marc had not only written an entire musical by himself, but was also going to direct and appear in performances of it on the Fringe.  I was excited to go along and support him, and I really enjoyed 'I Got It'.  Unfortunately, the show only had a short three performance run, but all three shows were very well attended and Marc has received some excellent feedback.  I'll include a link to a detailed review of the show here, in case you're curious about the plot.  Personally, I was blown away by how great the whole cast were, and still can't believe that an 18 year old wrote the entire script and score himself!  I would definitely say that Marc was one to watch!  You can like his production company's Facebook page and get updates about any shows that they might be putting on in the future here: Smile-N Productions.

Although I've nothing else planned or booked for the Fringe, I'm still oddly proud of myself for seeing a small but varied selection of shows this year.  Have you visited Edinburgh for the Festival this year?  If so, what did you see, and do you have any recommendations for shows that are still running?  I'd love some suggestions!  I would advise you all to definitely go and see Rhys Darby if you can, he was excellent!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

A real live bed:

I have a bed!  A real live bed!  I am indescribably happy about it, too.  Smug smiles all round, and better lumbar support as well.

After admittedly giving Argos a bit of a slagging off in my last post, I should tell you that this bed frame is from there and I'm very pleased with it.  Unlike the drawers and wardrobe we bought previously, the bed frame feels very solid and was easy to put together, with minimal tools required.  I also really like the colour of the wood, and it matches my chest of drawers quite well.  If you're interested, the frame is called the Manisha double bed, although I notice that it is now being advertised at £749.99, and I certainly didn't pay that much for it!  We paid under £150, and that was including a delivery charge.  Here it is in all its glory:

I've chosen gold as an accent colour in our bedroom, which I think will go well with the creams and browns that make up the majority of the rest of the colour scheme.  Obviously there is a lot more still to do in terms of wall art and knick knacks. I have a few frames and ornaments that I'm going to repurpose by spray painting them gold, but there are still a couple of things that I'd like to buy.

1. These GARNITYR storage boxes from IKEA come in loads of different shapes and sizes, and I'd like to get two or three to use as under bed storage.  Because our bed is quite high, you can see what we've got under there, so ideally it should be both neat and pretty!

2. I have a mirror similar to this one hanging in my room at my parents' house, which I'm going to steal back and hang in our room here.  (Picture found on Google Images.)

3. Ideally, I'd like to have transparent glass lamp bases with gold or beige coloured shades on them for bedside lamps, but after some research I've realised that those are quite pricey!  I think this IKEA KNUBBIG table lamp would be an excellent (and much cheaper) alternative.

I'll update you all soon on how the spray painting goes (I'll hopefully be getting it done on Friday without too much mess...!) and I'll post some photos of the results!  Also, if anyone has seen any nice, yet affordable gold cushions anywhere lately, please let me know!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

How to buy furniture on a budget:

A friend sent me a text today asking advice on how to furnish a flat (or, in her case, a house!) cheaply.  Although I've only been doing the unfurnished flat dance for a couple of months now, I've already learned a lot of valuable lessons and made a couple of mistakes that some of you might benefit from hearing about...

1. Don't assume anything.
When you are viewing an unfurnished rental property (or even just before you sign the lease) always be sure to find out exactly what will come with the flat.  Luckily, our kitchen came fully kitted out with a fridge freezer, oven and washing machine.  I can't even comprehend how expensive it would have been to buy our own appliances, so always make sure to check before you set your heart on anything!  Even things as trivial as curtains are worth asking about.  The windows in our flat are extremely tall (109 inches from floor to ceiling) and we didn't think there would be any curtains there when we moved in.  Thankfully, there were!  (And even though they aren't exactly to my taste, at least we have time to save up for some nicer ones.)

2. Ask family and friends for charitable donations.
First of all, before you go spending any money at all, make sure you look in your parents' loft for any hidden treasures.  Both mine and Craig's parents have offered furniture to our cause, and even items as small as lamps can come in handy.  Also check with family or friends who you know are moving in the near future and might be looking to get rid of some things.

3. Check Gumtree.
And FreeCycle, Freegle, CraigsList and all those other websites that list free or second hand furniture in your area.  Some sellers will offer to deliver the furniture to you, but, if they don't, make sure you have the means to transport it yourself before you commit!  Also check on eBay for items in your area that you could go and pick up for cheap (usually marked as 'collection only').  However, always remember...

4. No picture is a bad sign... 
This might seem obvious, but if a seller or donor on one of the above websites has conveniently forgotten to put up a photo of the item that they are trying to shift, then it is probably in a bad state, or at least a worse state than their description might imply.  (This rule also applies to flat hunting.)

5. Bargain Corner!
Bargain Corner at IKEA, is like Gumtree in person.  The following would also apply to ex-display stock sales in other furniture shops.  As far as I know, there is a Bargain Corner in every IKEA in the UK, not just Edinburgh, but please let me know if I'm wrong!  Everything there is either an ex-display or slightly damaged item of stock, all being sold at a reduced price.  Craig and I bought our three seater sofa from Bargain Corner in the Edinburgh IKEA for £80 (reduced from £240) and paid £13.50 to have it delivered to our flat when we moved in (we actually bought it three weeks before we got the keys).  If there is damage to the item you're interested in, you can assess it in person and weigh up whether or not it's worth the money before you shell out, which makes Bargain Corner infinitely better than Gumtree, in my opinion.  Our sofa came without a cover, but we decided that covering it ourselves would be easy enough and that £80 for a sofa was too good a deal to miss!

6. Furniture charity shops are your fair weather friends.
Some large charity shop chains have dedicated furniture shops, and there are quite a few near us in Edinburgh.  These shops will usually be able to deliver the furniture to you, which is a bonus if you don't have a big enough car (or any car at all).  While we were on the hunt for bargain furniture, we visited The Bethany Shop, British Heart Foundation and Barnardos, but didn't actually end up buying anything because (and here's the bit that might make me sound like a bad person) quite a lot of their stock was overpriced for what it was.  It seems likely that a lot of the good furniture gets snapped up quite quickly, leaving room for disappointment.  Don't get me wrong: definitely do go in if you pass one of these furniture charity shops, but always check the quality of the items you're thinking of buying.

7. Consider kerb crawling.
Okay, I've never actually picked an item of furniture up from the side of the road and taken it home, but a friend did once talk me into adopting a chest of drawers that had been abandoned in the hallway outside his flat by someone who was moving out next door.  I used it for a year in Dundee, and ended up bringing it down to Edinburgh with me, where it has come in very handy!  Although it's by no means an antique, it's still in good condition and was absolutely free.  (We saw a similar, but smaller, chest of drawers in one of the above furniture charity shops for £60.)

My adopted chest of drawers in action: not perfect but pretty good for a freebie!

8. 'They keep it hidden for a reason...'
For (supposed) ease and to keep our costs down, Craig and I ordered a few items of furniture from Argos.  In all honesty, the quality isn't that great, and we've had difficulty having items delivered because they've been in and out of stock.  It will do for now, but I can't imagine that much of it will last for any length of time.  As a friend said to me: 'They keep it hidden for a reason'.  If you have to choose your furniture out of a catalogue without ever being given the option to see it in person, you're probably going to end up disappointed.  Bear in mind that photographs can be taken and manipulated to make anything look good.

9. Don't panic!
Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give you is just to keep a straight head, be realistic and to not spend all your money straight away.  We have been sleeping on a mattress on the floor for the last three weeks (crack den chic, as Craig calls it), but it has given us time to choose and order a bed frame we want, as well as staggering all our costs.  It arrived today, and it's lovely!  We also lived out of suitcases for a couple of weeks, which can be frustrating, but was worth it for the same reasons.  As long as you have somewhere to cook, somewhere to sit, somewhere to wash and somewhere to sleep, you'll be okay.  Save up for the extra items and you'll be able to buy higher quality furniture and decorate your home over time.

Tiny Craig trapped in the huge box that our bed came in!
I hope all or some of these ideas come in useful if you are moving into or thinking about renting an unfurnished place (or even buying your own home: scary grown up stuff!).  Do you have any top tips for buying furniture on a budget?  If so, please leave them in a comment for me and anyone else to read about!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


I haven't had Instagram for very long, but it's quickly become my favourite social networking platform.  I'm very nosey about other peoples' daily lives and photos!  I also really enjoy reading Instagram photo dump posts on other blogs, so thought I would post one of my own to give you an insight into what I've been up to this summer.  (I got the bus home from work in the dark at 9 0'clock last night, I'm pretty sure summer is almost over now, boo.)

1. A very, very rainy day.  We've been having a few of those around here lately...  2. A night out in Glasgow for my sister's birthday  3. A tiny Meursault gig at The Haven Cafe, Leith 

4. Fancy food on paper plates at the Taste of Edinburgh food festival (before it got rained off!)  5. Craig's first oyster  6. A face of sheer, chocolatey joy

7. Another Meursault gig, this time at the Queen's Hall  8. An out of place mailbox in Ecclesmachan
9. My new neighbour's charming doormat

10. The bare fridge essentials  11. Branston, the cutest guest at a recent family party  12. Fireworks on George IV Bridge for the Edinburgh Festival

13. Me today on my day off, getting ready to go out in the sweltering sun!

If you'd like to follow me on Instagram, my username is @justthemedicine (the same as my Twitter), and please feel free to leave me your own Instagram usernames in the comments!  Like I said, I'm very nosey.

I hope you've all had as much sun as we have here in the Edinburgh area today!  I'm away to check out my inevitable shoulder sunburn now...