27.11.09

The longest brokest weekend ever

There is little in this world that I hate more than a month that ends on a Monday. It means that I must struggle through that last weekend with little or no money, trying to entertain myself in ways that don’t involve hiding indoors with some DVDs and a glass of something that I scraped together from my stash of frozen cooking wine.

For those of you who are also scrimping through the weekend, I’ve done a wee bit of research, and this is the list of cheap and free that I’ve come up with:

Friday

I’ve never eaten at Pizza Express before, but as I’m so broke, and I can’t be bothered making dinner tonight, and they’re offering 2 for 1 pizza, I just might give it a go.

Saturday

If you can stand the crowds, visit this London toy store's first British store outside of London. With it's interactive displays and reputation for allowing both children and childish adults play with the toys in store, it should be a fun way to while away an afternoon.

For inspiration or just for a way to spend those last few pounds burning a whole in your purse, visit the Glasgow Craft Mafia’s monthly market, held at Mono this Sunday. Members of the Mafia make jewellery, clothes, hats, bags, art, toys, stationery; the list goes on and on. Some of it’s re-purposed and recycled lovingly from vintage pieces, all of it’s handmade and, frankly, awesome.

I’ve got family on the brain, as yesterday was Thanksgiving, so I’m thinking about visiting Street Level Gallery to see The Parents, a collection of photographs by Colin Gray. This is what the List has to say about it:

“The rather serious documentation dealing with illness and death is interspersed with playful images of the mundane, transforming these into beautifully textured and detailed interpretations.”

I know that doesn’t sound like a cheap thing to do, but Morrisons has Bollinger for £18 (if there are any bottles left!) and loads of other supermarkets and off-licenses are doing similar deals at the moment. Any excuse will do, right?

Sunday

Winterfest 2009 has officially begun, and the annual headache that is George Square has been turned on. It is worth visiting though, to really get into the spirit of Kitchmas, so head down on Sunday to catch this week’s afternoon movie. They’ll be showing The Maggie (1954). I don’t know much about this classic Scottish film, but here’s the tagline (according to IMDB):

A Scotch Mist...A Girl Never Kissed...A Yank Who Missed...and Landed High and Dry

While you’re there in George Square, do some ice skating, drink some cocoa, and generally soak up the atmosphere. Hopefully it won’t rain.

While you’re in George Square for the Sunday film, stay for the St Andrew’s day ceilidh. If you can stand the bruises from being flung around by exuberant (and drunk) men in kilts, this will probably be a fun way to dip into the Homecoming celebrations. And it’s free!

Head to Prince’s square for 50% off your meal at Zizzi. Eat pasta and bask in the knowledge that you get paid tomorrow!

23.11.09

Screaming and pounding on my keyboard


Is it me, or is HQ Hair’s new website intensely annoying? After I got over the disappointment of loosing my extensive wish list in the re-design, I consoled myself with buying some Nars eyeliner, using the discount they were offering to celebrate the launch of the new site. Now, nearly a month later, I still have not received my order.
I was HQ Hair’s biggest fan, but now I can’t even bring myself to try to re-populate my wish list. They’ve got some nice new features, like the introduction of filters that allow you to browse their product offering based on skin type, or the type of product you want. For example, I was looking for an exfoliating face wash, and the site allowed me to filter based on how often I wanted to use it (daily versus weekly) and then my skin type (dry versus combination). Yay! But then when I found my perfect item, I tried to add it to my wish list, and the site asked me to log in even though I was logged in already. And then when I entered my email address and password, it wouldn’t log me in! This is twice now I’ve been on the site and given up due to frustration.
So I have a message for HQ Hair: online shopping should be more convenient than going to the stores. It shouldn’t be rage inducing!

Ethics hit the mainstream

Do you remember when 'ethical fashion' was a bit of an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp or 80's style? When it meant nothing so much as dreadlocks, hemp and rubber Birkenstocks?

With designers like Stella McCartney making vegan accessories, and John Smedley making a range of organic cotton knitwear for Katherine Hammnet, the reputation of ethical fashion has improved considerably in the past few years. Even the occasional high street staple, like American Apparel, with their stance against sweatshops and exploiting third world labour, are showing that ethical can be fabulous.

So it was with a good deal of curiosity and anticipation that I attended Kirsty MacLean's ethical fashion show, Sewing Roots, at Che Camille on Friday night. The group that came together for the show was as diverse as is it was glamourous (in fact, I counted no less than three Bayswater bags in the audience). The audience did not look like a meeting of assorted eco warriors. Ethical is a concept that has entered the mainstream.

The labels represented at the show included recycled paper bead jewellery maker Mzuri Beads; Johari, the clothing brand that invests 100% of its profits back into social development programmes in Kenya; Bibico, the fair trade clothing brand; and fashion upcycler Mia Nisbet. Their wares will be on sale at Che Camille through the rest of the month, until 9 December.

Some photos:

20.11.09

Hello Glasgow

I have news for everyone. For those of you who are not American, the news is: next weekend is Thanksgiving. It's a national holiday in America where families get together, eat lots of turkey, watch American football, and take naps.

For those of you who are American, the news is: you must take advantage of the long weekend and go on a trip. Your family can make their own Turkey; they'll be fine. You must hop on a plane, enjoy 2 movies, dinner and a snack, and voila, you're in Glasgow.

Once you're in Glasgow, this is what you should be sure to do before you leave:

Buy a Sunday Herald
And I say this not for the news or opinion, but for the Magazine and the Arts section. The magazine will show you what people are eating and wearing in Glasgow (I especially like the 'My Favourite Look' feature, that lets an average member of the public discuss their favourite outfit and why they like it). The best part is the Arts section though - specifically, Damian Love's irreverent, sarcastic, cynical, and funny television reviews. Enjoyable to read and always true.


Eat at an Indian restaurant
You will be spoiled for choice on this one, and it's hard not to be overwhelmed, especially as they all seem to be owned by one of three companies/moguls. So, I would suggest either Mother India or the Wee Curry Shop for sheer quality and yumminess, Balbir for the incredible service, Shish Mahal for the amazingly huge menu, Chillies for its casual charm, or Thali for its sumptuousness and luxury.

Visit George Square
This time of year, George Square is like a huge, electric birthday cake. There are garish Christmas lights everywhere, an ice skating rink, rides, and a variety of performances and films. And the the Helter Skelter of course. It's not just a song by the Beatles, it's also a huge, psychotically decorated slide that gets erected on special occasions.


Go shopping

And I'm not just saying that because I love shopping and I write about it several times a month. Okay, maybe I am. But Glasgow is a great place to shop. Go to Che Camille in the Argyle Arcade for something unique and home grown; Fopp for amazingly priced CDs and books; House of Fraser for the perfume and handbags; Space NK for cosmetics and skincare and top notch advice on both; Cruise to gawk at the label whores; Sandalwood for the shoes; New Look and Primark for the bargains; Penhaligons and Jo Malone for the scented tissue paper and ribbons and shiny boxes; Roots & Fruits, Heart Buchanan and Grassroots for the delicious deli offerings; the Merchant City branch of Tinderbox for the coolest place to have coffee while browsing arts and crafts in the back; or for more crafty shenanigans, head to Sloans Market.

Have tea
And not just any tea, choose something exotic from the exhaustive tea menu at Tchai Ovna, while sitting out in the garden smoking a hookah. Or sit inside, play a board game, and wait for hours while the wait staff have forgotten you've ordered food. I know that last part doesn't sound fun, but it's all part of the sit back and relax and spend an afternoon doing nothing kind of vibe. They also have periodic evening performances of various genres of music.

Visit museums
I know this advice will hardly shift anyone's paradigms, but the museums in Glasgow are worth seeing and they're free. The future of the Lighthouse, Glasgow's home of architecture and design, is still unsure, but it deserves to continue on. Also be sure to visit the Modern Art museum, the massive Kelvingrove Gallery and Museum, and the eccentric Transport Museum.


See some live music
Glasgow is perhaps not as famous for its music scene as it should be. It periodically gets attention when the likes of Franz Ferdinand or Glasvegas appear on international charts and sell out gigs abroad, but there is always something going on here musically, and the quality of bands, even the unsigned ones that work away, playing gigs at clubs and pubs throughout the city, are usually worth checking out. Get a List, or visit S1 Play to find out what's going on and where.

Go to a pub
For real Glasgow atmosphere, I would suggest visiting the Intermezzo bar on Renfrew Street across from the Cineworld Cinema. Try to visit during one of their karaoke nights. It's a small, traditional pub across two floors (well, the ground floor and a sort of mezzanine) and most of the clientele know each other. Karaoke nights bring out extravagant, emotional renditions of the likes of Robbie Williams and Neil Diamond, and the atmosphere is brilliant. A great way to spend an evening. If the idea of Karaoke fills you with terror, and even just watching it is your worse nightmare, go to the Three Judges in Partick, the Ingram just off George Square, or the Captain's Rest on Great Western Road. Or, if you're of a more adventurous bent, go to the Spirit Bar at the East end of Argyle Street. Interesting, but alittle scary. Alternatively, if you are looking for stag heads and men in kilts, go to Uisge Beatha on Woodlands Road.

13.11.09

Discounts galore

Here's a round-up of mid-season mania:

Barry M Cosmetics
'The most colourful name in cosmetics', Barry M, is offering 20% off until 18th November. Use code NEW20.

Graham & Green
Get 20% off everything until Monday, using code X9EM20.

Puresha
Ethical and organic beauty experts Puresha are offering free Patyka neroli dry skin face cream when you spend over £55, with code LOVENEROLI. This is a great deal, as the cream costs £38!

My Wardrobe
The very fashionable folks at My Wardrobe are offering 25% off their top 100 winter essentials with code WINTER25W.

Long Tall Sally
LTS has taken 20% off coats in store and online. Alternatively, if you spend over £25 on full priced items online, you can get free delivery with code PA2312.

Gap
If you want to save 30% at Gap by 15 November, send me an email or leave your email address as a comment (I won't publish it) and I'll send you an invitation to join Gap VIPs. Apparently I can only send 3 invites, so first 3 people to contact me will get the vouchers.

It's not a recession for shop-fitters

There's sort of an overwhelming array of store openings in Glasgow of late. On Thursday I did manage to make it to the brand spanking new Waitrose on Byres Road (which is fantastic, a much better use of space than the old Safeway/Sommerfield, and is crammed full of yummy yummy things) but I didn't manage to make it to the new H&M that takes over the old Habitat/Open space at the bottom end of the shopping centre. I will be trying to make it bright and early tomorrow, however, to be part of Choo mania (because, if you're living under a rock and somehow don't know this, it's the only store in Scotland that will be carrying the collaboration with Jimmy Choo, and the line launches Saturday).

Then there's all the stores that will be opening soon in the newly revamped St Enoch's Centre. And the new deli/takeaway effort by the Mother India people, located next to the Cafe across from the Kelvingrove Gallery and Museum. A new Merchant city showroom for designer-lights.com boasts gold leaf Artichoke light (which retails for just over £50,000). Whew! Recession? What recession?

8.11.09

Nathan & Moe

The last thing I need is to find another jewellery line that I love. Jewellery's not like clothing or shoes, where I can manage to justify the necessity to myself and to my husband. But. there I am, sitting in front of my computer, googling Nathan & Moe.

What I found were flower necklaces that were pretty without being too girlie, crystal and chain embellished ribbons, and crystal encrusted bangles. My favourite items, though, were from the Spikes collection - necklaces, bangles and rings all adorned with slender spikes. The company is based in the US, and so far the only place I've found to buy is the Gift Library. I've got the snake ring and the spike earrings on my wish list.

To see styles, visit the Nathan & Moe website.

4.11.09

What is Scottish Style?

I don’t know, and the question was not answered at the Scottish Style awards, because the most stylish female award went to a Scottish actress who works in LA, not to Glasgow’s own Queen Michelle, who I felt was a far better, more interesting choice, and perhaps more reflective of the diversity of style in Scotland.

But it was a fun night. I and fellow blogger MBK (from Food-e Glasgow) drank our body weight in champagne and watched all the amazingly dressed people swishing by and air kissing. There was basically a sea of sequins filling the Old Fruitmarket. I was far less amazingly dressed, as, after changing my clothes about 20 times, I finally settled on black jeans, black heels from Office, my grey chiffon Grecian twist top from ASOS, and a silver cardigan I had purchased at TK Maxx at the weekend. It sounds like something I could wear to work, doesn’t it? But I topped it off with my sparkly headband, which always makes me feel like a princess, and I had my butter soft Halston clutch under my arm, the fashion equivalent of Dutch courage.

Congrats to Sophie Ellis Bextor who did a splendid job for her first time presenting an award show, and to Deryck Walker for giving history’s most drunken, incomprehensible acceptance speech. And to all the up-and-coming designers involved in the New Talent Runway Show – there were some gorgeous pieces. I tried taking photos but all I had was my iPhone, which doesn’t have a flash, so the images are a bit difficult to decipher, so I'll only post a few, but they won't do justice to the clothes. But there were gorgeous, flowing, silk jersey floor length dresses by Francesca Chiorando, with soft digital prints; lady-like leather with a hard edge by Keira Thorley; laser-cut head pieces by Jen Groundwater, and intriguing concoctions of rubber, chiffon, lace and jersey by Rachael Barrett. The Runway shows were the highlight of the night, and worth all the agonising over wardrobe earlier in the evening.

From Rachael Barrett's story (above)


And Keira Thorley's (above)


And Jen Groundwater's (above)

And Francesca Chiorando's (above)

November wish list

Schlepping around the shops to find myself an outfit for the Scotland Style Awards reminded me of why I love online shopping: no crowds, no carrying, no rain. As much as I love Glasgow, and I love the thrill of the hunt that is shopping in actual stores, sometimes it’s just better to buy things online.

So this month’s wish list is all from online stores:

Trousers from Long Tall Sally
LTS has failed to keep up with an increasingly design-savy public, and this whole ‘Lisa Loves’ business leaves me cold (Is it just me? Who is this woman?). That said, I love the British heritage feel of these Serro check trousers. I didn’t see them when I was in the Glasgow store on Friday, but they’re online.

Cashmere throw from ME&EM
This throw will be perfect for that train ride down to London this Christmas. There’s really nothing nicer in winter than cashmere. And right now, they’re offering a 15% discount with code ME15 if you order by 14th November.

Clutch from Anya Hindmarch
Remarkably, there are still some sale items on the Anya Hindmarch website. My favourite item is this Wilde clutch in tan glace leather.

Skin care products from Origins
I bought some face wash from Origins in John Lewis at the weekend, and they gave me 2 samples – both of which I tried and am keen to try again. Now that it’s colder and my skin is a bit dryer, and the darkness makes me tired all of the time, I’m looking for a richer eye cream. Origins GinZing Refreshing eye cream to brighten and depuff feels and smells lovely, and I don’t know if it’s just the power of suggestion, but I did think my eyes looked a bit brighter after using it. The other product I tried was Modern Friction, a ‘natural’ dermabrasion scrub. I was alittle concerned at first, as visions of a neurotic former Seventeen model I had gone to university with floated through my mind. She had come to acting class once looking like the victim of some sort of medical experiment, with cracked, bleeding skin on her face, the result of dermabrasion. I never understood why she was willing to undergo such discomfort, especially considering she was only in her late teens/early 20s at the time! No thank-you. But I was pleasantly surprised by this Origins scrub. It left my skin feeling fresh, soft and new without any irritation.

Ring from Blaguette
I tend to be a relatively conservative dresser, but I like to go a bit bigger with my accessories. This ring from Blaguette is perfect, particularly as and I’m having a total rose gold moment, and it’s rose gold plating contrasts really nicely with the white cubic zirconias. I also love this black and white version, a nice alternative for evenings out near Christmas.

Converse trainers from Debenhams
I'm wearing holes in the soles of all my trainers, so I want to get these super high tops by Converse which will not only look a bit formidable, but will also keep my ankles warm.

Cardigan from Gap
Unfortunately, to buy one of the gorgeous dip dyed, long line cardigans they're doing at Gap at the moment, I'll actually have to go in-store. But I think it will be worth it.

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