Social Icons

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Me By Numbers

As part of getting back into blogging I thought I should be a little more personal in some of my blog posts. After all, all of the blogs we read have a person behind them! I never used to post pictures of myself on this blog but I'm taking baby steps to start to incorporate myself into it more and more. Some of the personal posts that I read on other blogs have a theme behind them. I just wanted to put a few bits and pieces about me in this post so I have decided to do a 'numbers' theme - ironic because I usually don't like numbers. I was never good at maths beyond my Sesame Street days (I'm exaggerating...kinda) and the idea of doing Sudoku for fun makes me want to take a long nap.

Anyway, numbers seemed to be a good fit for this post so here is a little bit about me with the help of some numbers:

27...years on this planet. I still get ID'd frequently on account of my chubby cheeks though and there is a newsagent on Sauchiehall Street that still won't sell me a lottery ticket. I'm convinced that I will suddenly age overnight like a piece of fruit.

2...years in my current flat. I ironically moved around the corner from my old flat because I was really reluctant to leave the area but needed a bigger space. My boyfriend was and still is a saint for staying patient during the great flathunt of 2011. Which brings us nicely onto...

12...years with The Boy (well, it will be in June). I won't say a lot here other than he is my best friend and it is true love.

1...University degree. I completed a Media degree which sounds like a vague title but it covered quite a lot of different areas such as cinema, television & radio broadcasting and photography. Even though I had to travel a fair distance every day for three years (and sometimes turn up to class at the end of my journey only to find that the class was cancelled because the tutor was upset that some wrestler from the WWE had died...true story) and haven't used my degree too much professionally I still loved my course and don't regret it one bit.

14...tattoos and counting. I've been getting tattooed for several years now and will still add more to my collection in years to come. My first tattoo was my stocking seams which run up the back of my legs which I got when I was 19 (yes, it was sore - the backs of the knees especially). Some of them have meaning to me and some of them do not. I don't really have many small tattoos and my tattoos are a huge part of who I am. All of them are custom drawn and tattooed by Kev Younger who currently runs Lucky Cat Tattoo on Great Western Road. I have lots of tattoos but only currently have my ears pierced (I used to have my nipples pierced but after getting ye olde pneumonia and getting my chest X-rayed in hospital they had to come out).

3...times seeing my hero (PRINCE!) live. The 21 Nights in London residency was the best summer I've ever had and I'll always remember being so excited and feeling like I was in the opening scene from Purple Rain. Just. Wow. I hope that I will one day see him in concert again.

5...trips to Florida (with the 6th trip mere weeks away). My favourite holiday destination. I love everything about visiting Florida - the shopping, the food, the people, the weather and of course DISNEYWORLD (it really is the happiest place on earth)!! I hope to visit more parts of America over the years but Florida always has a special place in my heart.

 30...Rock. Just a little note on my favourite TV shows! I love comedies and currently my favourite things to watch are 30 Rock (now on it's last season, boo hiss), The Big Bang Theory and New Girl. I like both British and American comedies and also enjoy watching dramas like Sopranos & Sons of Anarchy, documentaries (especially music and crime), horror shows (American Horror Story is genius and I can't wait for the next series) and a lot of trashy nonsense like anything shown on E! and the Style network. Sometimes the best way to spend a wet weekend (in my opinion) is having a pyjama day in front of the telly.

So that is a little bit about me! I didn't even mind the numbers too much this time.

What are some random facts about you? Do you watch any of those shows? Can you teach me long division?

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Events: the Big SMAC-Down

Last month saw the first meeting of the Scottish Macaroni Appreciation Club - or SMAC for short - held at Sloans in the City Centre. The event sold out in a day and I wasn't quick  enough to snap up a ticket, so told myself I would definitely make an effort to get along to this month's event, which was held last night. The concept is very appealing to me - people that love macaroni sit around eating lots of macaroni and talking about it. Throw in some cheesy tunes and a friendly atmosphere and it sounds like my kind of party.

I do love macaroni - I get mistaken for a vegetarian sometimes because if it's available on a pub menu I will be likely to pick it over a meatier option. I'm no macaroni snob though - in fact one of my guiltiest pleasures is a box of Kraft Cheesy Pasta/ Mac and Cheese. I know, I know. "It's not real macaroni" my foodie friends will cry. "It's bright orange", "it's never seen actual cheese in it's life", and so on. I don't care, it's neon coloured and basically the hot, pasta version of Wotsits but I stand by my choice. That said, I do love a gourmet mac too - one of my favourites is lobster mac and cheese. It's amazing.

I was very excited about going to SMAC as I do get excited about any kind of themed occasion. I did not have enough time to pull together a proper macaroni themed outfit (IMAGINE) but decided to do a nail art tribute using some orange and yellow OPI nail polishes. I decided on a dress with a bit of stretch in it to help handle the food baby sure to emerge later in the evening (turned out to be a smart choice since I asked for seconds) I also threw on a pair of orange tights in attempt to 'mac it up' and headed into town. The orange tights were declared to be 'sexy' by some passing jake at the subway station - not my target audience but I will take it! Maybe he thought my legs were super tanned due to his own tanning of some (Tennents) Super? I'd love a pair of macaroni patterned screenprinted tights - anyone want to make me a pair?

Onto the event itself! My faithful cohorts and I rocked up to Sloans restaurant and were shown to our table. Good thing we booked tickets as it was very busy. At each seat we had a printed guide to the evening ahead and the macaroni's that would be served. That night it was going to be Stornaway black pudding, caramelised sweet potato with rosemary & garlic and Sloans' original macaroni's. The fourth dish was the much-discussed 'Mystery Mac' which would be revealed later in the evening to be cauliflower mac and cheese - apparently President Obama's favourite kind.

After trying all four dishes (and sides) we were given the opportunity to vote for our favourite and see which would be crowned the winning dish (or 'SMAC Daddy'). It was a close call, all of the macaroni's were delicious and I thought I was going to vote for the sweet potato one until I tried the Mystery Mac (which I am now calling Barack and Cheese). The cauliflower one was awesome - turns out I like cauliflower, who knew?!

The staff running the event were super nice and very efficient. The atmosphere was good, it didn't take itself too seriously and a bit of humour was definitely thrown in which helped keep things fun. We were each given a card with 'SMAC Founder Member' printed on it which I thought was a nice touch! We were also all 'sworn in' to the club by reciting the following pledge:

I hereby pledge allegiance to all things macaroni, regardless of creed, consistency or topping, so help me SMAC

It was a funny moment! After the plates were cleared away the cheesy pop songs were pumped up and I spent some time sitting chatting before heading home. I would recommend popping along to SMAC if you like your food, conversation and music with a huge serving of cheese! I had a brilliant time and will most definitely be back for another helping. 

Are you a macaroni fan? Have you been to SMAC? Did a jake yell at your legs this week?

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Beauty Bites: MAC Archie's Girls and Dainty Doll

This month I have been trying to be good and not buy lots of products because I will be going to the States in May and will most likely stock up on make up and other beauty products while I'm there. This month however also saw the hotly-anticipated release of the MAC x Archie's Girls collaboration which was bad timing for me because boy, do I sure love a MAC collaboration! I was very sensible and limited myself to one item only so that I could still enjoy the new collection but not go overboard. A friend went to MAC on my behalf to pick up said item which was another sensible choice since one peek of the other make-up available would have probably sent my 'one item' rule packing!

All of the items in the collection are beautifully packaged in hard white plastic featuring cartoon graphics of the Archie Comics characters. Presentation always gets my attention and MAC always get it right - especially in fun collaborations such as Hello Kitty, Heatherette, Disney Villains and now, Archie's Girls.

I chose one of the lipsticks from the Veronica line in the collection, called Boyfriend Stealer. As the name suggests, it's a sassy, vampy shade described by MAC as a 'blackened plum' in a 'deep, seductive tone'. I had been keen to try out a plum for ages so decided this would be the perfect opportunity. It certainly is very dark, especially at first glance while still in the tube, but can be worn in different ways depending on how bold a look you want to achieve. I wanted to go quite dark (go big or go home, right?) so swiped on a couple of layers to build up a more opaque look. As the lipstick is made from the same formula as MAC's Cremesheen lipsticks, it has a smooth application and a slightly shiny finish. It feels soft on the lips and despite being moderately pigmented it does not stain the lips and is easy to remove. No chance of those pesky stains the next day ("been eating liquorice?").

I decided to embrace the full vamp effect and wore it out to a gig with a black lace Betsey Johnson dress. I would recommend wearing a lipliner with this one, I always think with a bold lip you need to make sure it looks neat. I picked up a very inexpensive one from Collection that did the job nicely.

In a previous post I had mentioned picking up a blusher from Nicola Roberts' Dainty Doll collection. I had been very interested to try this brand as it promises to not only cater to, but actually be intended for pale skinned lasses like myself. Impressed? Very. The brand is still relatively new, yet has managed to establish themselves as a leading cosmetics line on a mission to 'enhance the beauty of fairer skin tones'. On a good day I look like Casper the Ghost so any assistance is appreciated!

One of the other things about Dainty Doll I admire is their dedication to using high-quality ingredients intended to improve your skin. The blusher I bought contains vitamins A and E, and is rich in antioxidants to help boost the skin naturally. Sounds good to me! I chose shade 02 called My Girl (which immediately conjured up visions of Macaulay Culkin being chased by bees but that is another blog post altogether) which is a sugary, sweet bright pink. It's the colour of cotton candy and I really like it. The colour is highly pigmented which meant that just one sweep gave my cheeks a healthy flush and a couple of sweeps helped me build up a brighter look with ease.

The size of the compact is very handbag-friendly and also features a mirror for use on the go. After applying my blusher in the morning I didn't have to top it up at all during the day. It stayed put and The Boy commented when we got home in the evening (after being on for over 8 hours) that the colour was still very visible. The blusher does not come with it's own applicator but I really didn't mind as I prefer to use my own brush anyway.

The Dainty Doll blusher range comes in 4 different shades. I'm keen to try Hippy Shake next, a lilac coloured blush as the colour looks adorable and I'm curious to see what a lilac blush might look like on! Now that I know how high quality the blusher is I'd like to try other products in the range too.

Overall I am very happy with both of these purchases. You can buy the Archie's Girls collection from MAC (but hurry - it is limited edition) directly either at MAC concessions or online. Dainty doll is available from a range of stockists including Boots, Very, Debenhams and Feel Unique.

Have you bought anything from the Archie's Girl collection? Or tried any of Dainty Doll's range? Do you ever feel like a ghost?

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

WestEndGirl Shops: Forever 21 at Buchanan Quarter

It was with a massive build up and blaring fanfare that Glasgow's first branch of Forever 21 opened up it's doors yesterday morning.It also signalled the opening of Buchanan Quarter, a slick new addition to Buchanan Galleries shopping centre. Situated across the street from the main mall, Buchanan Quarter boasts a 'runway' of new stores including Gap, Vans, Sketchers, Office, Fat Face, Watches of Switzerland, Paperchase, Evans Cycles and Forever 21. It is part of a larger development that also includes luxury apartments, coming in at a whopping £70 million.

Some of the stores we already have in the City Centre, and some of them are the first branches to be opened. With it's print-heavy advertising campaign, it was clear to see that the most anticipated store to open would be American fast-fashion giant Forever 21 with the 10AM opening being marketed as an event in itself including entertainment and giveaways. I headed down later in the day to check it out.

Upon entering the store the first thing that struck me was the sheer size of the place. Apart from department stores, it is surely one of the largest retail premises in the city (along with Primark & TK Maxx Argyle Street. The only other shop I've been to that made me physically react to it's vastness has been Topshop Oxford Circus (AKA the mother land). It was also very busy with excited shoppers, which was to be expected on it's first day - I can imagine it will be as busy for some time as shoppers - local folks and tourists alike - travel to the City Centre to see what all the fuss is about. It was clear that the staff were working very hard to make sure customers were being attended to, they seemed to be a blur as they moved around the store checking stock and helping people.

The store is also very clean and bright with attractive visual merchandising, making it easy to browse and navigate through the selection of products. I particularly liked the accessories department which was decorated to reflect a dressing room with pretty chandeliers and ornate feminine detailing on the walls. The men's department located on the ground floor was a little smaller than I was expecting but still looked like it had a decent range of clothes.

Shopping-wise, I had set myself a budget for the visit but it turned out that I never even came close to the limit as I never bought anything! I seen a couple of fun items that looked OK but just never seen anything I liked enough to buy. When I normally visit Forever 21 in America, I can easily buy a couple of bags worth so I was surprised that I didn't buy anything. It could be down to how busy the store was, or even the clothes they have this season might not be my thing. I know that Forever 21 can pull it out the bag (I adored their collaboration with Sanrio last year and could have easily bought most of the things in that collection) so I haven't given up on them. I am confident that I will make purchases from the store in future visits.

Overall I'm impressed with the new store and from the public reaction to Buchanan Quarter  it seems to be a welcome addition to Buchanan Street, helping cement it as the most popular shopping destination in Glasgow.

You can find Forever 21, along with the rest of the stores at 185-221 Buchanan Street.

Have you visited any of the shops at Buchanan Quarter yet? What did you think?

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 18 March 2013

WestEndGirl Eats: Smoak @ Variety Bar

One of the best things about visiting the States every year is the food. When I'm not there, I miss it and at home I try to recreate the taste sensations I experience across the pond with mediocre success. I watch episode upon episode of Adam Richman's Man Vs Food staring dreamily at the meals being dished up and count the days until my next trip abroad. I particularly miss dinners at the House of Blues, where the pulled pork barbecue sandwich is a must-try. It's such a shame we can't eat food like that over here, right? Wrong!

Over the last 6 months I've noticed southern style pulled pork pop up everywhere from pub grub menus to high end restaurants and it has been a welcome addition with ever-growing popularity. A year ago I used to have to explain pulled pork to the same work colleagues who are now suggesting it as a post-work bite to eat on a regular basis, and I think it's great that people are enjoying it - the more popular it gets, the more likely it is to stick around. Although after a trip to Smoak at Variety Bar it is clear that this is no food fad.

I was walking past Variety Bar on Sauchiehall Street when I first noticed the sign in the window saying that Smoak Food had opened a pop-up grill and were serving up gourmet Texan BBQ and street food-style grub. Now, I will admit that I had to convince myself that it wasn't a mirage - after all, Variety Bar and gourmet eating hardly go hand in hand (sort of in the same way Iggy Pop and a trip to your mum's wouldn't fit together, at least not before he did those insurance ads). But, after a bit of research into Smoak's already sterling reputation I was dying to go and try it for myself.

This weekend, The Boy and I paid them a visit. "I want everything on the menu", "I can't decide", and the ever famous "we can always share..." (famous as in, famous last words) were all phrases uttered by us in a meat-hungry daze until we finally made up our minds. I knew instantly that I wanted to try both the pulled pork and the brisket so opted for a pulled pork glazed brioche bun (£4.95) and a single brisket soft taco (£1.50, although if you want it for your main you will get 4 for £5.50). Both were delicious and generously portioned with yummy toppings like sour cream, salsa (the taco), in-house slaw and dill pickles (the brioche). Both came with nachos on the side, which was a refreshing change from the usual fries you might expect.

I also loved the 'Glasgow Mega Death' hot sauce on offer. Not the taste, you understand (too spicy for me) but the excellent name and packaging appealed to me!

The Boy decided to try both the brisket and the pulled pork too but opted for sliders (£5.50) - a brilliant touch to the menu. He managed to eat the three of them (two pork and one brisket) before I could photograph them but assures me they were very tasty.  Most of the menu is priced around the £5 mark, a very fair price considering how much food is jam packed into each meal and the obvious care that has gone into preparing them. Smoak use high quality ingredients such as rare breed pork from select British Farms and Pedigree Aberdeen Angus Brisket, and it certainly shows. The proof is in the pudding sandwich. 

Delicious food, made with attention to the details that matter and priced very reasonably. That's all there is to it. It's the closest thing to the House of Blues that I've come across back in Scotland (and believe me, I've tried a few) and I will most definitely be back for more.

Are you a BBQ lover? Have you visited Smoak at Variety Bar? Let me know!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

This Week's Mini Haul

After getting some good news on Thursday I was in the mood to celebrate so I decided a few little treats were in order.

Like a lot of other people, when I feel like buying a few little things/ need a new outfit/ want a specific item/ any other wardrobe situation  and don't really fancy breaking the bank there is really one place to go that will tick all of the boxes. The clouds parted, a beam of sunshine shone down through the rain and illuminated the doors of Primark! Hallelujah! Maybe not as dramatic as that but it is in my memory.

The shops are in the awkward 'getting rid of the last of the winter woolies and having to hang them on racks next to Summer dresses and straw hats' stage in the season right now (although I reckon Primark kind of always have that going on, it's part of their charm) so I went in with an open mind and a limit of only a couple of things (one would obviously need to be a dress, but that goes without saying since Primark are the kingdom of the £5 magic dress).

The first thing I found was a pink denim shirt with studded spike detailing on the collar. Phew! Now, this shirt clearly has a lot going on and is not for the faint of hearts (or wardrobes) but I couldn't stop looking at it and decided to pick up one to run it past The Boy for his opinion. The Boy is going through a 'customising everything that isn't nailed down with spikes' phase right now (and this isn't a criticism - he really is rather good at it) so it was no surprise really that the shirt got the thumbs up and an enthusiastic nod (the highest of praise). For £12 I decided to give it a go and plan to wear it tucked into a black skirt or over a dress.

Next up was this most excellent McQueen-esque bag for a mere tenner! Ever since my faithful Lulu Guinness bag bit the dust (*sob*) last Autumn, breaking after two years of loyal service I have been on the lookout for a new everyday/ work bag that it big enough to tote all my rubbish essentials around in. I have other bags but they are brightly coloured and printed and sometimes all a gal really needs is a big black bag - a more stylish version of a bin bag if you will! This guy fit the criteria and was immediately hired. No more interviews, the position has been filled!

I really like the embossed black-on-black skulls - you can never have too many - and the size was just perfect. I had to giggle at the fact Primark were marketing it as a 'Weekender' bag - I consider it an everyday bag, but I'd love to show the head dudes at Primark what size of bag I'd consider to be a weekend bag!

It will never fully replace the Lulu Guinness-shaped void but it will certainly do for now.

I also bought a grey and black striped dress that I'd had my eye on when it was full price (£13) and now it was marked down to £7 so I snapped it up. Unfortunately it has to go back due to sizing issues but hey, you win some you lose some!

After hitting the 'Mark I headed over to Boots and ended my little purse-friendly splurge with a new blusher. I had been keen to try Nicola Roberts' Dainty Doll range for some time now but never got round to it. Boots currently have 1/3 off of the range and so I decided this would be a good time to try it. I opted for shade number 2, called My Girl. It's a sweet, cotton candy pink colour and I will be writing a separate post about how I have found it to be after testing it out!

All in all, a happy little haul that didn't cost much!

Have you treated yourself this week? Got your eye on anything nice? Feel free to comment below! 

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Back in the saddle

Well hello there! As promised I've come back to the bloggerverse with almost a year of absence. I don't expect there to be many of you lovely people left here waiting for me but a big hi-five and thank you to those of you that are still here! 
Now that the distractions that were taking up my attention are over I can return to this blog with the energy and ideas that it deserves. As you can see, I have been doing a little spring cleaning - out with the old and in with the new. New layout, new design and - most importantly - new content. 
In my absence from blogging I have been sporadically reading blogs I admire and taking the odd mental note here and there to help me when I eventually retuned. This new blog isn't perfect but it's on it's way to being what I want it to be. I had previously been making do with what had been immediately available instead of thinking outside the box and making more of an effort (ironically something I always encourage in others but had stopped doing myself). Things like picture quality, using social media and networking with other bloggers had taken a total backseat and I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do. Bloglovin', Pintrest and #bbloggers chat over on Twitter are things that I have been aware of but haven't had the time or (sometimes) know-how to get involved in. So, one step at a time I will get involved instead of silently standing at the side of the playground. If you have any tips or handy hints to help me along the way or can think of anything else I might like please get in touch by emailing me at , tweet me @misswestendgirl or feel free to leave a comment below!
Any thoughts are welcome and appreciated! 
I have updated my 'about' section of the blog so you can see what kinds of things that I will be blogging about. Not too much has changed in that respect since i was last here but as this blog has evolved over the last few years I feel that it is important to say what I am all about and the blog too. I don't want to pigeonhole myself into 'just fashion' or 'just beauty' (etc) because I like too many things and want to blog about all of them. I guess 'lifestyle blog' has a wider spectrum of what to expect content-wise so until I think of a better description we can stick with it for now. I have also updated it to reveal a little more about me personally too - I think it is nice to know a little about the person behind the blog and most of the other blogs I read have that quality so it is one of the main changes content-wise that will start to show. 
I'd also like to (in the future) look at maybe organising giveaways and things like that but that is something that will come later, once I have the rest figured out! 

I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and hope you'll stick around with me to see how it goes. 

Thanks for reading!