Thursday, 24 January 2013

We've Become Mango:

You know how some people are just disgustingly talented?  I've mentioned my friend Marianne's blog here before, and also showcased some of her artwork.  If you've had a look at her blog, you'll probably already know that she is quite an articulate and humorous human being, but did you know that she is also a member of a three piece comedy sketch group called We've Become Mango?  And did you know that they are actually funny?  (Marianne isn't even paying me to write this, although she did ask that I give We've Become Mango five stars for any upcoming Fringe flyers.  Here they are: *****  Enjoy!)

Image found here

Bribery aside, going to amateur comedy shows was quite the thing during my first year at uni, and as a result I have seen some good stand up and also some truly awful stand up in my time.  I remember seeing Kevin Bridges (before he was famous) fill in at the last minute for another act at our Union.  He opened his mouth and swore profusely into a microphone for half an hour in an attempt to hide the fact that he didn't actually have any jokes to tell.  Going even further back in time, I can recall sweating through unbearable performances by my high school's Comedy Club, who had a grand total of one member with any comedic talent in their midst (sorry to any Comedy Club veterans who might be reading this...).  The harsh reality is that live comedy, and particularly live sketch comedy, isn't that easy to pull off, unless you really know what you're doing.

Image found here

We've Become Mango (also known as Marianne, Richard and James) certainly seem to know what they're doing, or have got me fooled at the very least.  Their recent live sketch show at Edinburgh's Bedlam Theatre, entitled 'Talking Limbo', was well attended and very well received by the audience.  Despite claims of stage fright, the trio exuded confidence on stage, and kept us all laughing with them (not at their expense) even through minor technical difficulties.  The structure of 'Talking Limbo' gave each member of the group a chance to flaunt their strong talents as individuals, but also showcased the trio's obvious chemistry and comedic compatibility.  Most importantly of all, they really looked like they were enjoying themselves up there, filling the venue with an infectious enthusiasm that I never felt at those ill-chosen university comedy gigs.

We've Become Mango will be back with a vengeance for this year's Edinburgh Festival and Fringe, so look out for them if you happen to be in the area this summer.  Be nice to them if they thrust a flyer in your face, and go and see their show if you can, because they are the funniest amateur comedy act I've seen (and better than a lot of the professional ones I've seen too...).  If you like taking the piss out of pop culture, overdramatic comedy falls on stage and guessing the difference between bodily functions for fun, then you'll love these guys!  (They make it all a lot funnier than me, I promise!)

You can find We've Become Mango on Facebook:

or Twitter: @wevebecomemango

Like and follow them for updates about upcoming shows!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Blogging about books about blogging:

In my New Year's resolutions post a couple of weeks ago, I told you all that I wanted to improve my knowledge about blogging, as well as the quality of my blog itself.  In an effort to get that particular ball rolling, I reached out on Twitter and asked if anybody could recommend any good books about blogging.

My sad little Tweet went unanswered, but I did some of my own research, and hit the jackpot (I think) with an informative book about blogging that is right up my street.  Blogging For Creatives by Robin Houghton is that book, and I've been eagerly reading my way through it since its arrival on my doormat last week. 

The book covers the 'how-tos' of blogging from the very beginning, which might not initially appeal to those of you with already established blogs, but even those early chapters were fascinating for me.  Like any subject, you can never know absolutely everything about blogging, and I found myself taking notes from page one.

Image found here

Houghton really seems to know her stuff, and her writing style is concise and easy to understand, without being patronising.  Some of you might wonder why I wouldn't just look for blogging tips on the internet, rather than buying a book about the subject, but as the author says herself: 'Who has the time to sift through it all?'

Blogging For Creatives is lovely to look at, with plenty of inspirational blog recommendations on each page, and a huge amount of great tips.  I haven't even finished reading the whole book, and I've already purchased a relevant domain name (very cheaply) that I hope to be using for this blog in the near future, simply because Robin Houghton advised that it might be a good idea.  And it IS a good idea!  I just didn't have the know how or the confidence to do it of my own volition.

Image found here

As well as teaching me about blogging, this book has also reassured me that (in some areas at least) I have been doing the right thing so far regarding my blog.  If you are a new-ish blogger like myself then I'm sure you'll agree that a metaphorical pat on the back from someone with a lot more experience than you is nice once in a while.  You can check out Robin's website here:

Image found here

Just by chance, I was loitering in Asda before work the other day and stumbled across the above issue of Company magazine.  The only thing I really know about Company, apart from recognising the name, is that fellow blogger, Gem, works there as a web assistant.  As you can see, January's issue is all about blogging, and a quick glance at the introduction by editor Victoria White revealed that the magazine has been revamped (both in terms of visuals and content) to look and feel more like a blog.  To be honest, Company's new set up reminds me more of a scrapbook than a blog, but I still find it aesthetically pleasing, and I'm looking forward to reading this issue's blogging advice (given by real bloggers!).  Hopefully you can still grab a copy of this in shops if you're interested, even though there isn't much of January left!

Clearly, I've got lots of reading and research to keep me going, but I've heard that Blog Inc. by Joy Deangdeelert Cho is another book about blogging worth checking out.  Have you read any blog-improving books or websites lately?  I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Home improvements:

Ever since we moved into this flat six months ago (or maybe even before we moved in) I have had a list on my phone of all the things we NEED to buy.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, we have continued to exist without the majority of these items, but that list was really starting to bug me.

As you might be able to guess from the funky names, everything above is from IKEA and can be found on their website, if you fancy.  It's all very well showing you immaculate stock photos, but unfortunately my home is far from a crisp IKEA catalogue!  Here's what I did with my new purchases:

The shoe rack has made things a lot more aesthetically pleasing in the hallway, and the two shelves are great for normal shoes, winter boots and novelty shark slippers alike.

In my defence, it's pretty difficult to make a doormat look exciting, but I do think this one is cute whilst still being practical.

I didn't really think through the fact that I would have to be in any photograph I took of the new mirror, so here I am before work this morning.  Hello!  I'm excited to have a proper full length mirror again.

It might be a bit silly to keep keys in a glass bowl, but they do it in the movies, and that's a good enough reason for me.  It's quite a sturdy bowl, really, plus it looks nice and didn't cost the earth.  If it breaks I'll upgrade to something more sensible!

I love these glass candlesticks, and they're perfect for the Cath Kidston candles I was given for Christmas (I talk about them in this post).  At first I didn't like that they came in an odd number and in varying heights, but the end result is quite nice to look at.

Now for a couple of bonus photos!  These frames aren't in the collage, but they are from IKEA (they're called GLADSAX) and are the perfect size for displaying vinyl records or, in our case, these promotional Machine Head posters that Craig has been keeping a hold of and meaning to frame for about five years now.  They look great in the hallway, and I'm glad Craig can put some of his own personality into the decoration.  (See?  I'm nice and let him make some decisions!  Sometimes...)

I also thought I'd show off my lovely bargain lilies on the hearth (they were reduced to £2.99 in Waitrose!).  They are beautiful in a simple way, and (I like to think) they add a little more elegance to the room.  Plus, £2.99!  Did I mention that already?

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Instagram #6:

1. My big sister on the even bigger ferris wheel  2. An iconic sight in Edinburgh around Christmas time  3. Edinburgh from the big wheel
4. Comparing my curly and straight hair  5. Straight(ish) hair and a new cosy jumper  6. Playing reindeer games in St Andrews Square
7. A Christmas card drawn by Marianne  8. Ruaridh, all wrapped up for Christmas  9. My friend Tom opening his Christmas present from me
10. The Frightened Rabbit necklace, made by Ruaridh, that I talk about in this post  11. Tasty oysters at our anniversary dinner  12. Craig piecing things together
13. A lovely surprise (I love balloons!)  14. My cheery santa tree ornament on Christmas Eve  15. Christmas morning (before I started feeling too unwell...)
16. Unbelievably cosy Christmas pyjama bottoms (from Craig)  17. I love this tshirt! Another great Christmas present (from Emily)  18. Showing off my new Scroobius Pip face jumper (from Craig)
19. I freaking love Airedale terriers! :)  20. Pip looking wise  21. Another of Marianne's creations (expertly photographed by myself, obviously)
22. Showing off my first Anthropologie bag and feeling posh!  23. What I actually bought from Anthropologie (£6)

Leave me your Instagram username in a comment below if you use it!  I'd love to have a nosey at what you've been up to.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

7 revolutionary resolutions:

I may have made essentially the same New Year's resolutions every year for as long as I can remember, but this year is different.  I swear.

Image found here

1. Write:
Now that I don't have the excuse of uni work, I really should write more.  I don't have much of an excuse not to.  They say everyone has at least one novel in them, but even seeing a short story through would feel like an achievement for me at the moment!  I'll admit it, I'm pretty lazy for someone who claims to want to be a writer some day.  Still, writing regular blog posts has kept my brain ticking over during the last few months, and I'm planning to dedicate at least one morning a week solely to creative writing.  This is definitely my longest standing (and so far unachieved) resolution.  Wish me luck...!

2. Read:
All the way through university, I kept looking forward to a time when I would finally graduate and have the time to read books I wanted to read again, not just ones I was being told to read by my tutors.  It's now over half a year later, and I have succeeded in reading one whole book.  I did more reading when I was lying in bed feeling ill over Christmas than I have since graduation, and I've realised that this has got to change.  For one thing, I love reading (when I actually convince myself to put the internet away and pick up a book).  For another, I'm never going to be able to write anything worth reading if I don't learn from the enormous number of great authors whose work I have at my fingertips.  I was given Bill Bryson's entire back catalogue in paperback form for Christmas, and that seems like a pretty good place to restart my love affair with books.

3. Blog:
I'm pleasantly surprised that I've managed to keep this blog up to date for almost six months now, but I always feel like I could be doing more with it.  I'm not the best when it comes to taking photographs, creating graphics or even coming up with exciting content, but I'd like to spend some time improving on these aspects of blogging this year.  I have a few friends who blog regularly, but I would like to meet more bloggers, and maybe even attend a blogger meet up some time.

4. Decorate:
My aim was to have the flat up to scratch by Christmas time but, of course, it never happened.  There are still boxes in the spare room that I haven't managed to unpack yet, and there are endless odds and ends that I still need to buy and have been on my 'to buy' list since before we even moved in...  Then there are the mammoth tasks that we keep putting off, like covering our poor naked sofa and changing the curtains on our 108 inch high windows.  But I've decided just to bite the bullet and get stuff done.  That way, I'll have a lovely flat for 2013, and I'll also have some more things to write about here on Inferior Design!

5. Save:
My Dad is insanely good at saving money, but he can't remind me to save half of my pocket money every week now that I don't live at home anymore.  This year, I'd like to get into the habit of saving even a little bit of money when I get paid each month.  As funny as it might sound coming from a 22 year old, I should probably start thinking seriously about saving for my pension soon so that I'm not forced to work into my 7os or 80s!  I'd also like to start putting money towards treats for myself, like one of the amazing (but ever so pricey) treatments at the new Lush Spa on Princes Street.

6. Travel:
It seems like almost everyone I know is either jetting off for an extended holiday abroad, or spending a year teaching somewhere sunny after graduating.  I don't really have the freedom or money to go travelling at the moment (as much as I would love to do it!) but I've decided to start saving for a short trip away at some point this year.  Paris?  Somewhere in Italy, maybe?  I'll figure it out!

7. Waste less time:
This is easily the most important of all my resolutions.  I waste so much time every night on the internet or watching TV, yet I'm always complaining that I never have any time to do anything.  The temptation to sit on my bum, eat my tea and go to bed when I get in from work every night is pretty strong, but it would make for a pretty boring life in the long run.  Although the internet is an amazing tool for research and communication, it's also far too addictive.  I need to remember that the world isn't going to end if I don't read every single status on Facebook!

Do you have any goals in mind for 2013?  You can always check out the lovely Fiona's recent resolution post on her blog, Country Girl - City Life, if you're looking for more inspiration!

Friday, 4 January 2013


There's about a year between these two photos of me, and I suppose not much has really changed (apart from the obvious drastic difference in hair colour, and the even more obvious dark circles under my eyes...).

If I'm honest, 2012 had its ups and downs, but looking through all of these photos has made me realise that the ups heavily outweighed the downs.  2o12 was the year I graduated from university, the year I moved into my first 'grown up' home, the year I started earning some of my own money.  I saw some unbelievably good live gigs, met some of my musical heroes and was brave enough to tell them how much I love their music.

Leaving Dundee after four years there was hard (and leaving some of my best friends and a great flatmate behind was even harder) but I think it was time to move on by the time graduation rolled around.  I'll always have fond memories of my university city, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Dundee uni to anybody!

Life immediately after uni was a bit of a shock, and it's taken me a long time to get used to being a graduate (in fact, I'm not sure I'm quite used to it yet, seeing as I still carry my student card around in my purse everywhere...).  I see my family a lot more now than I used to, I get to see Craig every day and the majority of my friends have already claimed our spare bedroom as 'their' room.  Things are good.

2013, anybody?

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

A very crafty Christmas:

Happy New Year, friends!  You may or may not have noticed that I ended up taking a bit of an unintentional hiatus from blogging over Christmas.  I woke up with a tummy bug on Christmas morning (such a huge disappointment) and have really only started feeling better in the last few days.  I think I've probably missed the window for a full blown 'What I Got For Christmas' post, but I did receive some lovely homeware and some handmade gifts that I thought deserved a special mention.

This plain table lamp was hand decorated by my very creative and talented cousin, Morag.  Check out her bespoke cake toppers and sculptures and her Etsy shop to see more of her artistic skills!  She said she modelled the design  of my lamp on henna tattoos and that it was 'a project', which means it took a lot of time and effort, as I think you can see from the result!  It's now in pride of place on my bedside table.

Morag also made this adorable mug candle for me.  Okay, okay, the mug isn't handmade (although it is very cute!) but the candle is, and it smells like hot chocolate - delicious!  If I'm honest, I feel like I won't ever burn it because I want to keep it perfect forever...

Picture found here

I love so many things about these pretty Cath Kidston mugs already, even though they were only given to me by some family friends last night!  The starry pattern is so sweet, and just my style.  Also, the mugs stack on top of each other.  That's right, STACK!  (I'm not quite sure why that feature excites me so much, but it really does!)  Best of all, they come in a reusable tin, so it's pretty much two presents in one!

I also received these polka dot candles (also from Cath Kidston), and I'm eager to invest in some candle sticks so that I can put these beauties out on display.  Again, I might never burn them, though, just to keep them nice!

Comparison photo found here

This is actually one of Craig's Christmas presents on the right: a custom Frightened Rabbit anchor, designed and hand made by our friend Ruaridh.  We (half) jokingly asked him to make one for our bathroom back in the summer, but the end result is far too handsome to be hidden away, and it has found a home on the living room fireplace.

And this was my present from Ruaridh, a necklace modelled on a Frightened Rabbit print that the band's frontman drew.  I can't find a good comparison photo for this one, but it doesn't really matter because the necklace is an exact replica of the drawing.  It's insane.  Even the band were impressed on Twitter!  Unfortunately Ruaridh doesn't have a website yet, but I have been bugging him to get one up and running, and you should too!

As you can see, I did very well this Christmas, and these are only a small selection of the amazing presents I received.  I'm very grateful to everybody, not just those mentioned here, but aren't my friends and family talented?