Monday, May 11, 2020

A Little Catch-Up

The Little Magpie Arket Grey Cashemere roll neck jumper

Hey pals! This post was supposed to go up yesterday but I ended up spending most of the day in bed eating scones and watching films (Stardust, as it turns out, is magical at any time of year) so here we are today. There's no specific theme to this post to be honest, more just a wee chance to catch up on the past few weeks. I thought I'd start by chatting through a few things we've watched recently - we've watched so much tv that my body-shaped indent in the sofa is almost complete - what we've been doing to pass the time, to round up a few things I've worn in isolation (and have been looking online) and I was also going to chat a bit about the books I'd been reading but I ended up putting a separate post together on those as I had quite a bit to say, so you can find that here if you like! And, apart from that, really just have a bit of a chat about how everything was going. I find I go through a whole range of emotions before I've even had lunch, that I cry more often at tv adverts (in fact, I'm crying more at everything, it's like my body's constantly on the lookout for small emotional releases) and that some days I just need a day in my pyjamas watching Mrs Maisel on loop. On the flipside, I've found that I'm a lot more grateful for the smaller things - when we go on our walks I'm so much more aware of what's around us, of the birds chirping and have also taken countless (and I really do mean countless) close up photos of flowers. Every single rainbow and message in each window makes me smile and feel closer to everyone around us. I'm so grateful for calls with friends and family, for the funny videos sent to me by my neighbour, for the small acts of kindness I'm seeing all around me, for Rob's infinite silliness and ability to cheer up down days... the list goes on. When you're forced to slow down you really do start to notice and appreciate countless things that you'd normally be too busy to stop and be grateful for, so I'm trying to focus on that where I can. Taking it day by day, feeling what I need to feel and making sure to step away from my phone when it all gets a bit much.

The Little Magpie  pink polka dot essentiel antwerp dress  (1)

So, I'll start with what we've been watching!

This Country: A few friends had been telling me to watch this for months and I cannot believe it took me so long. It's a mocumentary style programme surrounding the lives of young people growing up in the Cotswolds and is the most I can remember laughing at a programme in a long, long time. I'm in total and utter awe both of Daisy May and Charlie Cooper's writing, how seamlessly they weave in heartfelt moments, and their ability to stay deadpan throughout (I'd genuinely be in a fit of giggles on the floor 90% of time if I had to act opposite either). I wish so badly that I could go back and watch this with fresh eyes over and over again. Find it here.
Race Across the World: Another one recommended to me my pals and boy oh boy is it good. Five teams - each made up of two people - are given the cost of an airfair from London to Singapore (and then Mexico City to Argentina in the second series) and have to make their way from A to B using only land and sea. To make it that little bit harder, no phones are allowed so there's no access to google maps or google translate. It's incredibly entertaining, you learn a lot along the way (if 'what is the Southernmost city in the world?' comes up in a pub quiz I am SORTED), see some beautiful, beautiful scenery - which is especially appreciated at the moment - make bets about how you'd fare if you were on the show and also see how each contestant changes as journey goes on. Another one I was genuinely gutted to finish! Find it here
Normal People: The programme I'm sure your feeds and group chats have been consumed by! I absolutely loved it: the acting was incredible and so wonderfully understated (I shouted 'I just can't believe how good they are!' at least twice an episode. A possible mood ruiner, yes, but it was too good not to), the chemistry between Connell and Marianne is off the charts, each individual shot was so beautifully thought out and, since finding out Daisy's actually English, I'm also blown away by her accent too. Just like the book, it's tender and it's real and painful at times to watch. I did feel, also like the book, like it went on ever so slightly long but that's only a tiny complaint and not one that would put me off watching it. If you haven't seen it yet, find it here
 Disney+: Our lockdown saviour; it's like a warm cuddle through your tv screen. We've watched everything from The Emperor's New Groove (one of my all time favourites) to The Parent Trap (Rob had never seen it so that had to be immediately rectified) and loved every minute.*

*I should probably add in here that I worked with them on a paid partnership on Instagram but that changes nuthin' when it comes to my views. It's heaven on there if you're a Disney/Pixar fan)

The Little Magpie  Faithfull puff sleevemidi dress
FAITHFULL puff sleeve dress (c/o and sadly old but you can find the new prints - same shape - of this dress here)

In terms of what we've been doing outside of watching tv and films, we've been painting a lot (I'm really not very blessed in that area but I do find it therapeutic and a great distraction from my own mind), playing Monopoly (I threw a fantastic huff because I was losing so badly that involved screeching 'DON'T PATRONISE ME!' which was a real isolation low. In fact, on that note, Ruth has put together the most perfect post on PMT in isolation), we've been going our daily walks (which, honestly, have been such a saviour when it comes to mental health), doing the 30 minute low impact Madfit classes (a good chunk of which I spend staring at her muscles in awe), playing card games, doing IGTV barre classes with Psycle London (Rod has cheered up many a sad iso afternoon), tidying and needlessly moving things around the flat and reading. Sitting on my to-do list collecting dust, probably from now until the end of time, is 'learn French'. Ahem. I don't mean for that list to overwhelm anyone as there's been a HUGE amount of nothingness in between those activities and some days that have passed in a haze with us asking 'what... did we actually do today?', but more just to inspire anyone who might be looking for some more things to fill the time! The lovely Liv Purvis has also put up a guide on the best Instagram lives each week here.

And here's a wee round up of some of the outfits I've been wearing in lockdown! Chloe Plumstead wrote a beautiful caption here about not saving your best for 'best' which really resonated with me; there are so many dresses in my wardrobe that have only been worn once because I was saving them for some unknown 'special' outing, so I've thrown caution to the wind and started wearing them indoors. Some days I put them on and feel lifted, some days I put them on, feel great, then feel a bit uncomfortable or silly and and change back into my comfies after a few hours, some days the last thing I want to do is even think about wearing a nice outfit and gravitate straight towards my warm, baggy clothes or active-wear. I completely understand that you're not going to want to do this every - or even any days - it's all about doing what's right for you on that day. I've tried to dress up at least one of the weekend days to differentiate from the weekdays, even if it's just to go a walk or to sit on the sofa and eat fajitas in. So, throughout this post are some outfits from days where I was feeling up to wearing something special:
The Little Magipe H&M lilac midi dress The Little Magpie H&M lilac dress

Lilac isn't a colour I'd normally wear but this is up there with one of my favourite dresses I've ever worn. The quality's incrrrredible for the price and I absolutely love the loose, flowy fit (especially right now whilst I'm 98% banana bread)

The Little Magpie  H&M stonewash high waisted jeans
H&M high waist jeans (c/o) & puff sleeve crop (top is old sadly)

These jeans are FANTASTIC. I like a really high waisted fit, and these are certainly that, and they also fit my five foot self perfectly as I think they're designed to be ankle grazers on your average sized human. They're a little tighter than I'd like at the moment - see previous banana bread statement - so by mid afternoon I'd admitted defeat and was back in my leggings. 

The Little Magpie  Nasty Gal Stripe flare trousers
NASTY GAL flared trousers | FREE PEOPLE puff sleeve top (c/o) | ROCK N ROSE headband 

...I'm beginning to notice a puff sleevd theme here, I'm getting very predictable in my old age (kidding, I've always been predictable). Free People, as I'm sure you well know by know, is one of my favourite places for clothes and this top's another little slice of heaven. It comes in two colours and both are just as beautiful as the other. 
The Little Magpie & Other Stories blue puff sleeve dress

For days when you want to feel like Cinderella (plus it has pockets which I was incredibly gleeful to discover). Also in the second photo I'm laughing because as I stepped on the floorboard it made an impeccable fart noise and I was genuinely quite shocked to see the photo back and how... expressive my laughing face is. If you're younger and wondering if fart noises get less funny with age, well, my tunnel for a mouth is your answer. 

The Little Magpie Red H&M midi puff sleeve dress IMG_8266
H&M puff sleeve dress (comes in white and black too)

...Of course it's a puff sleeve dress. I've found dresses - even if a bit more extravagant - more enjoyable to wear in isolation than trousers. I spend a lot of time sitting down (be it watching tv, typing or because I'm stuck in a yoga pose that was too advanced for me) and, because I generally favour quite a tight trousers, have found dresses to be a lot less restrictive. I ruddy love red so was immediately drawn to this one (and it's also a total bargain too at £24.99!)

The Little Magpie & Other Stories Black coin print trousers
& OTHER STORIES coin print trousers (old) and FREE PEOPLE blouse (c/o, also comes in white and green) 

Ah, here's a pair of trousers I will make an exception for. I got these last summer for going to Italy and they're that rare blend of fitted but comfortable. Paired with another wee Free People blouse that, again, has some fantastic sleeves.

And, last but not least (my god this has turned out to be an unexpected whopper of a post) is a round up of some nice things I've seen online recently. I've been trying not too look as I have no self control but sometimes, mainly in the morning when I'm clutching my first cup of tea, I have a little bleary eyed browse. I know most people are in the same boat and trying not to shop at the moment, but I thought I'd share a couple of my favourites just in case I'd stumbled across something that someone was specifically looking for (or, like me, in case you enjoyed perving on pretty summer dresses and daydreaming about where you'd wear them). My particular favourites are these trousers (which I think look SO comfortable and are also a bit of a bargy), this beautiful wee dress (which, again, I think looks so much more expensive than it is), this floral maxi (puff sleeves. Of course), and, finally THIS masterpiece of a dress which I spent a long time staring at like someone who needs to get a life*

*BECAUSE I need to get a life, sorry.


And that brings to an end this outrageously long post! My thumbs have gone slightly numb from typing so I can only imagine what state your eyes are in. If you've made it to the end, I salute you.

Amy 

Post contains affiliate links and fart jokes

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

April's beauty empties!

The Little Magpie April Skincare Empties
I'd like to start by saying that, don't worry, you've not missed anything: although the title of the blog post might be worded like this a regular feature, it's the first time I've actually done a post like this. Normally I keep my empty sharing to Instagram stories but I've had a lot more time than normal to finish up various beauty and skincare bits over the last month or so, so thought I'd do a proper round-up here so that I can go into a bit more detail. And if you like the post I'll continue it on and make it a regular feature fo' real! So, without further ago, here are some of my recent favourite beauty empties:

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate:
I've been using this on and off for the past five years or so and have repurchased countless times. It works by enhancing your skin's natural night-time recovery process and I always feel my skin that bit softer and more hydrated the morning after using it. The formula's 99.8% natural derived and there's lavender essential oil and primrose oil in so it's verrry relaxing to apply - I normally take a big deep breath whilst I'm patting it on, making everyone else in the vicinity instantly uncomfortable. Plus, the bottle looks like it came straight from ye olde apothecary (not an essential when buying skincare but I am particularly drawn to bottles that look like they belong in a potions lab). I warm 3 drops in my hands and apply it after cleansing and toning, pre-moisturiser, by gently pressing it onto my skin. Don't forget that breath.

Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream:
I'm sure you'll have seen me bang on about this countless times because it's a firm favourite in my beauty bag. The first time I ever used it was when I was a child and burnt my face on holiday* and it was the only lotion my Mum could find to soothe it without stinging. Since then it's become a staple and I use it for everything from smoothing flyaways to highlighting my cheeks in summer to smothering myself with on planes, but it's been especially useful the past few weeks for wee patches of dry skin that have popped up in isolation (anyone else's skin going a bit nuts?). If you haven't used the Eight Hour range before, I'd also highly recommend the hand cream for dry paws, the Great 8 daily defence moisturiser, and the lip balm (the tinted ones are especially nice) as well! Ooh, and the Miracle oil for evening time on holiday. Heaven.

*As I typed that I could hear my Mum wailing, 'you make me sound negligent, Amy!' so I hold my hands up and say that I would use the slipperiness of sun tan lotion to my advantage, break free and run straight back into the pool the second she'd finished applying it and, thanks to this joie de vivre, my under-eye skin took a real hit

Ouai super dry shampoo:
Because who needs dry shampoo when you have SUPER DRY SHAMPOO. I use dry shampoo all the time - be it on my fringe to give it a bit of volume, on my crown to give it texture for a beehive and on those 'in between wash' days, which are becoming more and more present in iso, may I add (I'm trying to train my hair to go longer between washes and am determined to beat it). It is pricey, sadly, but if you ARE looking to splurge, I would say it lives up to the price tag and a little goes a long way; I had mine for around 4 months before it ran out. Plus, two big bonuses: it smells absolutely amazing and it doesn't leave any telltale chalky spots on your hair or scalp. However, if you're still looking at this and thinking 'are you nuts, woman?' then you can't go wrong with good old Batiste.

Utan x Jamie Genevieve CBD tanning water:
I LOVE this. There are only two fake tans I use on my face and this is one of them. It's perfect for sensitive skin - it's one of the few that hasn't caused my face to have any sort of reaction - gives a really lovely glow that you can build on each night and is infused with lavender so smells amazing which, I think we can all agree, is a true rarity for fake tan. One of my favourite things about it is that it sprays directly onto your face and there's no need to rub it in, so no worrying about it getting all over your hands either, huzzah! I use 3-4 spritzes as the final step in my evening skincare routine. 

Jo Malone Peony & Blush Suede candle:
It's a bold claim to make but I think this is my favourite Jo Malone scent, every time I get a whiff of it on someone I can't help but spontaneously shout out 'PEONY AND BLUSH SUEDE!'. The candle version is just as delicious and the smell fills the entire room (the candle's been finished for about three weeks now and the jar still smells like peony heaven). Peony, red apple, jasmine, rose and gillyflower all come together to make for a really beautiful, calming scent... get a room, I know. 

The Little Magpie Pamper Routine
Darphin De-Puffing Antioxidant eye cream:
My skin can be quite sensitive and Darphin's a brand I've always found my skin really gets on with. I've yet to be disappointed with their products - if you haven't tried their rose oil cream yet it's a b-e-a-u-tiful night cream, especially on dry skin - and this eye cream is another winner. It's a gel-like formula so applies nice and lightly on the skin and is also very fast absorbing so a great one to use under make-up. I've found it to be both hydrating and smoothing, especially on dehydration lines, and a little goes a long way. 

Crabtree & Evelyn fruit smoothie face cream:
This recommendation actually comes to you from Rob! We both use their exfoliating body bar daily (a great product if you're a bar user, we've been using it for almost two months and still have about a third left) so when he spotted this he claimed it for his own. It's honestly one of the nicest smelling moisturisers I've come across - it's listed as being sweet coconut and cactus leaf but to me it smells like holidays and the ocean. I pinched some for myself one night and it's really lovely and hydrating but very light at the same time. So there's one you know will be a hit with the men in your life too! 

Kloris CBD oil:
Another one from both me and Roberto - we've been using a few drops of this in a herbal tea in the evening to help with sleep or, on days when I feel especially anxious, I'll pop a few drops under my tongue and keep them there for 30 seconds. I know there's still a bit of doubt surrounding CBD oil but we both really enjoyed using it!

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser:
I tried this for the first time last summer on Liv Purvis's recommendation and have been hooked ever since. It's beautiful to use, very kind to sensitive skin and also removes eye make-up - that's right, EVEN MASCARA - without leaving your skin feeling dry or tight. I currently use it for my first cleanse in the evening: splash some warm water on your face, apply and massage the cleanser in and watch your make up roll on off.

Frank Body Scrub:
Boy does this take a long time to fully vacate your shower but it really is one of my favourite body scrubs. I fake tan and need a good ole exfoliate every few days so I don't go full on patch adams and this is one I come back to time and time again - it's a blend of coffee granules, oils and vitamin E so leaves your skin so, so soft to touch after you've used it. Plus the smell of coffee is always a welcome addition to a shower. I find one handful enough to do my whole body!

Mitchum Deoderant:
This is another one that comes to you from both me and Roberto as he's been using the men's one. I normally use a Mitchum roll on but have switched to this new one which is powered by bamboo powder, is 96% natural ingredients and it smells like HEAVEN. It's eucalyptus so a really soft, natural scent. A definitely re-purchase in my books!

La Mer The Concentrate:
I've done a huuuge blog post on this product right here so I won't go into it in too much detail again but everything I've said there stands true - it goes on like velvet, soothes red and irritated skin and it just a joy to use. A total investment but one of my favourite La Mer products and one I'm v sad to finish!

Amy x

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Thursday, April 30, 2020

What I've been reading in 2020 so far...

The Little Magpie Favourite Books April 2020
Hey pals! I hope everyone's doing ok? Today's post is all about one of my favourite things: books, books and more books. Losing myself in a good read is one of the few forms of escapism that works for me and, as I've had the chance to do a bit more reading than normal in the last month or so, I thought I'd round up all of the books I'd read recently with a little bit about what I thought on each. Starting with...

The Book Thief
 Oh my god did I love this. Rob's sister recommended it and, as soon as I started, I went into full blown antisocial mode - curled up on the sofa, totally lost in it, eager to finish it whilst simultaneously knowing I'd feel lost and listless when I did. It's set in Nazi Germany, 1939, and follows the lives of a German family, the Hubermann's, who adopt Liesel - our protagonist - and are also hiding Jewish Max Vandenburg in their basement. It's written from the perspective of death and beautifully so, allowing the author to ponder upon humanity whilst giving a real insight into the heartbreaking and devastating effects of war as the story unfolds. Despite this, the book is still filled with uplifting and heartwarming moments  - I cried and smiled in equal measures - and the characters are written so vividly that you'll fall in love with them from the opening chapters: Hans felt so real that I was desperate to reach into the book and cuddle him. I put a lot of the books I'm reading on my stories and was totally blown away by how many people replied to say this was their all time favourite book, so I like to think this is, hopefully, one for everyone (and I can guarantee it'll stay with you for a good while afterwards).

Calypso
 Oh my good god. I don't think I can actually put into words how much I loved this - before I'd even finished it I'd already decided it was one of my favourite books and that I'd do anything in my power to become best friends with David Sedaris. It's a collection of essays that are written to perfection: he's incredibly sharp, honest, observant, open about his failings and so frank that he had me turning towards the window of the train I was on so people wouldn't see me hysterically laughing. I read and re-read lines and marvelled at his word choice and how well they were put together. He moves seamlessly from laugh out loud moments to more intimate, personal and heartbreaking admissions and back again in a way that few people can master, covering everything from suicide, alcoholism, politics and family relationships to shopping in Japan and an un-flushed toilet at a garden party and everything in between. His writing immediately put me at ease; it was like reading the diary of a (very, very funny) close friend; one who is weird, wonderful and comes away with the kind of acerbic admissions that'll have you coughing into your tea. Honestly I'd love so badly to be inside of his head for a day so I could view life the way he does. One of my favourite reads in a long time.

Daisy and the Six
Megan bought me this for Christmas as it's one of her favourite books and, as always with books that come with a recommendation from family or friends, I so was excited to get stuck in. Holy mojito is it enthralling; I started it on my birthday with the aim of reading 10 minutes before breakfast and ended up losing a good few hours to it. At the very, very beginning I wasn't sure on the interview style format, but very quickly got used to it and began to enjoy how it allowed for a deep exploration of each character. It follows the story of a fictional 70s rock band who we know from the beginning have had a premature and messy break-up... we just don't know why. It's very, very readable and the characters, again, come to life very quickly, to the point where I actually had to look up if they were a real band. Me and my Mum had such vivid mental images of each of the characters that we had an in-depth discussion about what the Billy of our imaginations looked like (surprisingly: very, very different) and I particularly loved the character of Camilla and badass Karen.

Books

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo 
...was a birthday present from Rob which I'd been banging on about every since Carolyn (who always has the best book recommendations) had mentioned it to me the previous year. The story tells the tale of Evelyn Hugo - another very strong female character - her seven husbands, one forbidden love and a life in Hollywood as Cuban actress. Evelyn, a retired Hollywood star, has been notoriously quiet about her private life but is finally ready to give her version of events, hiring little known journalist Monique who - over the course of the story - comes to realise Evelyn's choosing her wasn't quite as random as it had initially seemed. Dun dun duuuuun. I really enjoyed this and am so in awe of Taylor Jenkins Reid's ability to write characters that feel so real and complex in all their flaws. She explores sexuality, race, misogyny and more through the characters in the novel in a beautifully evocative and compelling way.

The Insecure Girl's Handbook
 The debut novel (what an exciting thing to write) of the ever-wonderful Olivia Purvis. Liv's put together a beautifully honest book, inspired by The Insecure Girl's Club, that will have you shouting 'I thought I was the only one who felt like that!' in your head several times throughout. It's like being given a warm cuddle as you read and Liv is truly wonderful at offering kind, heartfelt advice and coping mechanisms for a whole range of insecurities, with her voice shining clearly throughout. The book's also punctuated with interviews with women from all walks of life who offer their insights on self doubt, insecurity and more, each one making you feel that bit less alone. It also marks the first time I've ever written on a book - I know, it goes against everything I stand for too - making little notes in the margins and folding over pages I wanted to come back to. I'm so incredibly proud of Liv and think this is a book that'll truly help so many people feel less alone in their insecurities.

Grown-Ups
I so badly wanted to love it, as I'm a huge Marian Keyes fan, but I struggled to get into this one. There are so many characters that you're often trying to figure out who's who instead of focusing on the plot or on connecting with the individuals, and I didn't get as many chuckles from it as a MK novel would normally bring. Like I say, I do absolutely love her writing and feel like she's another author who's fantastic at writing very flawed and human characters as well as being able to touch on serious issues whilst still weaving in lightness and humour, but sadly I didn't enjoy this one as much as usual.

I Feel Bad About My Neck
 I'd heard so much about this book that I was nervous it wouldn't live up to the hype and, if I'm honest, I'm still not 100% sure how I feel about it. One thing I do love, that's true of every novel of hers I've read so far, is that there is so much of Nora Ephron present in her writing that it's almost as if she's sitting there reading the lines out loud to you. Her tone is notoriously self-deprecating, dry, observant and honest; she'll have you giggling and nodding along in agreement, feeling like the two of you are in cahoots together. Whilst I enjoyed some of the essays and observations in this book, there were quite a few that I didn't agree with or relate to, and I did feel it lagged a little in parts. However, I can see that one of the joys of the book may be that you could come back to it at various times in your live and take different things from it. It's not one I was desperate to pick up and I found myself dipping in and out of it over a few weeks but it did bring some smiles and nods along the way and I really do think that she she writes very beautifully and very effortlessly. 

And there we have it! If you'd like to check any of them out I've popped a wee link in each title that'll take you straight to the book. I'm just starting on 'Me Talk Pretty One Day' by David Sedaris (next step: restraining order) now and would ruddy love to know what you're reading at the moment/what's on your 'to read' list? In fact, I'd also love to know what you thought of these books if you've read 'um too!

Amy 

Friday, April 17, 2020

How to Spend 48 Hours in Edinburgh

The Little Magpie Maje studded cropped leather jacket 2 The Little Magpie Vintage suede coat with fur cuffs 8 The Little Magpie Street Style Edinburgh The Little Magpie Vintage suede coat with fur cuffs 4 The Little Magpie black mini bodycon skirt
MAJE cropped leather jacket (old) | ZARA burgundy cardigan | KATE SPADE clutch (c/o) | ASOS midi skirt (old but very very similar here) | RAG & BONE knee high boots via The Outnet (c/o)

Well hey there! Today's post is another travel one, but this time we're slightly closer to home in Edinburgh. I'm often through for work but very rarely for pleasure (as anyone who's ever asked me for a bar recommendation will know) so me and Rob decided to have a wee weekend there just for ourselves a couple of months ago. We stayed at InterContinental Edinburgh the George, which is one of my all time favourite hotels in Edinburgh; it's perfectly located on George Street (a great street for shops and bars and also a two minute walk from Princes Street/St Andrew's Square), the rooms are lovely and the staff are always oh so very welcoming. Plus their cafe - Burr and Co - is one of my Edinburgh go-to's, it's got a really lovely European feel to it and they do a grrrreat cake. The hotel has a really interesting history too: it's made up of five Georgian townhouses, dating all the way back to the 18th century, in an area that was frequented by famous Scottish faces like Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. We stayed in one of their suites which was such a lovely treat - there's a living room area, which you can chill in after a hard day's touristing, a big beautiful bed that feels like it's made of clouds, as well as a free standing bath that looks increasingly welcoming every single time you visit the bathroom. There were some lovely Scottish treats waiting in the room for us in the form of an incredibly cosy jumper from Pringle (which you might have spotted on my Instagram stories, I'll show you on here very soon if not) and, continuing on with the cosy Scottish theme, a throw from Knockando - a woolmill that dates all the way back to 1784 and one of the last of it's kind (which you can also now visit in person for a tour) - who are now stocked in Pad Lifestyle and Harvey Nichols, so there's two lovely Scottish brands for you to check out whilst you're in Edinburgh!

The Little Magpie Review Intercontinental George Hotel Edinburgh 1 2 The Little Magpie Review Intercontinental George Hotel Edinburgh 1 5 The Little Magpie Review Intercontinental George Hotel Edinburgh 6 (2) The Little Magpie Review Intercontinental George Hotel Edinburgh 14 The Little Magpie Review Intercontinental George Hotel Edinburgh 1 3 The Little Magpie Review Intercontinental George Hotel Edinburgh 7 The Little Magpie Review Intercontinental George Hotel Edinburgh 8 The Little Magpie Review Intercontinental George Hotel Edinburgh 11 The Little Magpie Review Intercontinental George Hotel Edinburgh 10 The Little Magpie Review Intercontinental George Hotel Edinburgh 12 We checked in late on the Thursday afternoon, dropped our bags in the room and, with a few hours to spare before dinner, headed down to Armstrongs and Carnivale for some vintage shopping, followed by a much needed cup of tea at Lovecrumbs. Normally we would always head out for dinner when we're visiting somewhere, but on the Thursday evening we had dinner at the Printing Press bar and Kitchen in the hotel and I'm SO glad we did. I'd been to the bar in December for some festive drinks with friends (it's so lovely and atmospheric at that time of year) and loved it, so we started with a wee cocktail in the bar - which I've since learned won Scottish Hotel Cocktail Bar of the Year in 2019 - and then went on to have an amazing meal in the restaurant, tucked in the romantic wee window seat above. I'll let you have a wee look at the full menu here, but my particular favourite was the scallops with pea and parsley puree, whereas Rob said the smoked haggis, pureed neeps and crispy potato starter was up there with the best haggis he's ever tasted (a truly big claim). They were also fantastic with allergies for anyone who, too, suffers with a sad digestive system. Bellies full, we headed up to bed ready for the jam packed Saturday ahead.

The Little Magpie Victoria Street Edinburgh The Little Magpie Review 127 Edinburgh The Little Magpie Vintage suede coat with fur cuffs The Little Magpie & other strories checked blue trousers 1 The Little Magpie Vintage suede coat with fur cuffs 1 The Little Magpie Edinburgh Fhior tasting menu review    WAISTE VINTAGE faux fur cuff coat | & OTHER STORIES black scoop neck top and blue check trousers (c/o - both now in sale) | ASPINAL OF LONDON brown crossbody bag (c/o)

Friday: Valentine's Day! The morning started off with a visit to the Strathberry shop, it was my first ever time there and it's such a beautiful shop (plus I could easily have spent the whole morning chatting with Ruthie and Vanessa who work there) where I picked up a lovely bag that I'll show you as soon as we're out and about and bags become a necessity again. We finished up, armed with a full day of plans and... cue dramatic entrance from Storm Dennis, who put a bit of a dampener, literally, on those carefully crafted plans. We ran to 127 - one of my favourite cafes in Edinburgh - for cake and a matcha (I'm rapidly realising how hard it is to say you drink matcha without sounding like an arsehole) and a bit of respite. It didn't seem to be letting off any so we scrapped our plans for the day ahead and headed back to watch movies in the room - also my idea of a dream day - but what I'll do is talk you through our original plans so that, if you happen to be there on a more fortunate day, you can hopefully take a few ideas from it! So, originally the day was to start with brunch at Urban Angel (who do 'mmm' worthy gluten free bread) followed by a trip to Anthropologie (we don't have one in Glasgow so I always make a beeline for it when I'm in Edinburgh), followed by a walk up the Royal Mile and down to the Grassmarket - stopping in at Mysa (a lovely homeware store), Pie in the sky (some of the best greeting cards you'll see), The Milkman (another great coffee shop), Camera Obscura (home to many an optical illusion and a really fun way to spend a few hours in Edinburgh) and Victoria Street (the famous colourful street I'm sure you'll have seen many a time on Instagram) with a wee stop off at Museum Context (Harry Potter gift shop heaven) along the way. You can also carry on to the castle from here if you fancy! And then we'd planned to finish up the afternoon at Panda and Sons, a speakeasy bar who do fantastic cocktails (and who I loved even more when I saw they had a cocktail called the 'Paolo Appletini'). Our evening plans went ahead, thankfully, as we'd planned, so we got ourselves into some Valentine's glad rags that Cupid would have been proud of and spent the evening at Fhior. I'd read about it online before we visited, as you do, and was nervous I'd set my expectations too high but, whatever I'd imagined, the meal exceeded it ten times over. We opted for the 7 course tasting menu - Rob with the added wine pairing - which included:
  • Gently baked North Sea sole in butter sauce with fermented swede and pepper dulse
  • Roasted East Lothian carrots in a parsley emulsion with whipped crowdie and and chestnuts fried in brown butter
  • Roasted duck breast with sage marinated beetroot, fermented pear puree in a gastrique sauce made with beetroot, duck stock and pear vinegar. 
  • Pumpkin tart with birch sap ice cream 
...pretty special, isn't it? At the end of the meal we sat and tried to choose our favourite course and genuinely couldn't, every single one was just as good as the one that came before. The staff were all so incredibly lovely (and knowledgeable too), they were brilliant with allergies and the food was, of course, amazing, but another of my favourite things was the atmosphere. Often there can be a bit of a stuffy air when you're in a restaurant that offers that level of quality of food, but there was none of that at all, it just felt really nice and relaxed. Their website states that they believe serious food and wine should be accessible, playful and light-hearted and that they strive to ensure their dining experience is delivered with skill and passion but no pretension, and they really have found the perfect harmony between the two. You can choose either 4 or 7 courses for the dinner menu, priced at £40 and £65, or head there during the day to enjoy the lunch menu - it's honestly a restaurant I couldn't recommend more if you're looking for somewhere special to eat once we're able to start dining out again. We're already daydreaming about a return visit! 

Photo 08-04-2020, 13 22 30 (7) Photo 08-04-2020, 13 22 31 (2) The Little Magpie Edinburgh Guide The Little Magpie Cowan & Sons Edinburgh brunch The next morning we were up bright and early to enjoy one last breakfast - and a whisky sour at the 'make your own cocktail' stand at the breakfast buffet table - before check out. Storm Dennis was in full swing at this point but we decided to brave him a little while longer to head down to Stockbridge for a last Edinburgh lunch before we went home (it was a truly fantastic weekend for our bellies). We were torn between The Pantry and Cowan and Sons - both Stockbridge favourites - but settled on the latter as it was a little closer and the winds were starting to reach hat blowing-off levels. I had gluten free granola, because I'd really hit the breakfast table hard, whereas Rob opted for the veggie breakfast. If you do go there, make sure not to miss the cakes - their gluten free white chocolate and raspberry brownie's heaven. And that brings our 48 hours in Edinburgh to a close! I hope that gives you some inspiration for if you happen to venture to Edinburgh in the future. We're through often, like I say, so I'll keep gathering recommendations as I go! 

Amy 

We were guests of the hotel and Fhior whilst we were there but that hath not swayed my opinion one bit. Thank you to the amazing Jigsaw PR for being so wonderful and arranging such a great trip for us! 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Tips on Working from home

The Little Magpie Tips on Working from home
Hey fellas! I was trying to think of things that people might like to see at the moment (other than Sweet Pea the sheep, who I look at at least twice a day) and thought a post on working from home could be quite helpful? I've far from mastered the art but I've been fortunate enough to be able to do it for the last six years or so, so I thought I'd share some tips that have helped me along the way. One thing I would like to say before I get into the nitty gritty is that, although these tips are intended to help you whilst you're in the zone, please don't put too much pressure on yourself. We're currently in the midst of a very strange and surreal situation, so lean into how you're feeling each day - if you're not feeling it, then listen to your mind and body and don't force it. Yesterday I felt like a human bag of sand so I took the day off, put my phone in another room and spent it reading Marian Keyes and feel so, so much better for it. Both Matt Haig and Marian Keyes herself have summed it up perfectly on their Instagrams (the magical wordsmiths they are) but, the bottom line is, just do what feels right that day and, as easy as social media makes it for us, try not to compare yourself with what anyone else is doing or with anyone else's productivity levels.

So, without further ado, here are a few things that help me when I'm working from home: 

  • Shower and get dressed! The temptation to stay in jammies is strong, I know, but it'll work wonders for your mindset if you shower and get your little butt in some clothes. It doesn't have to be smart clothes - just something that's different to what you sleep/relax in. I tend to wear minimal to no make up if I'm working from home, but I do know that some people feel a lot more productive when they wear their usual day to day make-up and hair, so have a bit of an experiment and see what works best for you!
  • Don't force it. Look for patterns forming in when you're most productive (for me that tends to be in the evening) and schedule your bigger tasks in for then. Then schedule less demanding tasks - emails, inputting expenses, googling photos of Harry Styles - for the rest of the day. One of the biggest perks of being able to work from home is that, generally speaking, you can decide your own schedule so, if you'd rather exercise or do errands in the morning and finish work a little later, or on the flipside start at 6am and finish earlier in the day, the choice is yours! It's all about finding what works for you.
  •  However: set rough working hours and stick to them. In my first few years of blogging I had a terrible habit of starting work at 7am and working right through until 1am which, who'd-a thunk it, does not do wonders for your mental health, your social life. your sleep quality or your relationship. Or your posture, for that matter: I am now a human banana. When there's no set 'hometime' it's very, very easy to keep working through and think 'I'll just finish one more task' and, before you know it, it's 9pm and you still haven't had dinner. Set working hours - whatever times work best for you - work efficiently within those hours and make sure you finish with a good chunk of time left to unwind. Close your laptop and cook, watch tv, listen to a podcast, do a yoga class... free your evening (and hopefully your mind) from work.
  •  To do list. I honestly couldn't live without mine. Decide whether a daily or weekly one works best and group the most important, pressing tasks together at the top and then list the smaller, less urgent tasks after that. You'll find once you've ticked off a bigger task you'll feel a lot more productive and your 'I got this!' levels will spike; I'm terrible for putting tasks off until they become big looming monsters in the corner and then, when I finally have to tackle them, realise they weren't so bad at all and I'd just given myself a whole lot of mental grief for nothing. Make sure to keep domestic chores - buy washing up liquid, hoover under the bed, do the dishes - on a separate list so that you don't overwhelm yourself. I also used to write every single thing I had to do on my to do list - the special wave of joy you get from crossing something off got a bit addictive - but I found it actually had a negative effect on my productivity if there were so many things on there that it looked unmanageable, so the things I know I need to do day in day out (ie emails) I no longer put on the list and I group formerly separate tasks like 'shoot blog photos, edit photos, write text' into the simple 'write blog post'. It can be hard working from home with no appraisals, no performance reviews, no one saying 'well done' so make sure to take the time to say it to yourself when you finish a deadline or tick off a particularly large task.
  •  Get up and have a little stretch or walk around every 15 minutes. This is something I'm very, very bad at (you know when you lose yourself in a task and two hours later you've somehow assumed Golum stance over your laptop and haven't moved?) so it's worth setting an alarm to go off on your phone until you get into the habit.
  • Keep moving! Normally I like to break my day up with a walk, some PT or a pilates class. Obviously this isn't feasible at the moment but there are lots of ways around it! There are some really great Youtube channels where you can do yoga/pilates/HIIT etc at home (ie The Body Coach and Boho Beautiful) and I've also seen some people, like Psycle London, now taking classes from home via Instagram live so that you can still feel like a part of a community. It's very easy (and inviting) to fall into the trap of sitting at a laptop all day before shimmying straight over to the couch for an evening of Netflix but try to get active at least once a day, even if just for a short 20 minute period.
  •  Put your phone in another room. Boy oh boy have I learned this the hard way - it was only once it was there I realised how often my hand subconsciously reached for it. If you can't have your phone in a separate room (say you need to have it on you for work calls or texts) then at least put it over on a worktop where you can't easily reach for it. You'll realise in no time how much more productive you are without the temptation to scroll right beside you!
  • Make sure to keep contact with the outside world. There'd be times I'd go to PT at 8pm in the evening after a day of working from home, talk at a million miles an hour to Andy for him to slowly go 'have you...spoken to anyone today?' and I realised I literally hadn't said another word out-loud to someone since the previous day. So schedule in a wee call/facetime/skype with a friend, family member or colleague, choose a voice note over a text where you can, and also keep an eye on online support groups for people working at home who're going through the same thing.
  • Try not to be tempted to do chores during your working day that you wouldn't be able to do if you were out at an office. I'm really bad for thinking 'I'll just put on a wee washing, I'll just clean the bathroom..,' but it eats into your working day and will also break your concentration and make your day feel a bit in-limbo. I've found the most productive way to take advantage of working from home when it comes to housework is, if workload allows, take a half day on a Friday for an afternoon of cleaning and tidying so that you're done and ready for the weekend arriving. 
  • Try keep your workspace separate from the rest of the flat. If you're fortunate enough to have a spare room or an office that you can work in and then close the door on at the end of the day then fantastico! But I know a lot of people aren't that fortunate - I used to work wherever I felt like on the day (from bed in the morning, from the sofa in the afternoon) but found that the whole flat started to remind me of work and that stress was bleeding into places it shouldn't, so now I use the kitchen table as my 'office'. Then in the evenings we'll cook, light some candles in the living room and head though to there to eat. Everyone's different and some people find a change of scenery motivates them but I personally found our flat to be that little bit more harmonious and peaceful once I'd separated it into different areas.
  • This one you're welcome to groan at how cringey it sounds but, if you're in in a bit of a groove and struggling to motivate yourself, blast some tunes and have a dance or a sing in the kitchen (Johnny Cash and Kiss have been my go-to's this week); 9 times out of 10 it'll do the trick. 
  • My achilles heel... DON'T CHECK THE FRIDGE EVERY 10 MINUTES. I can promise you there's nothing new in there since the last time you checked. But, then again...

And that's everything I can think of at the moment! If you have any more of your own please do leave them in the comment box below for other people to read (and for me to learn from too) as I'm sure there's a lot of people in the same boat at the moment!

Take care fellas x