Fairytale wishlist

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As someone with an 'out and proud' attitude to my love for Disney, it probably won't come as a surprise that I have a serious soft spot for fairytales. As well as watching the animated retellings on VHS, I grew up reading the original stories in cherished storybook collections. I have to admit, for a long time I actually preferred the tragic Hans Christian Anderson version of The Little Mermaid! 

After posting my Harry Potter wishlist last week, I thought I could continue the Christmas gift theme with a little fairytale wishlist for anyone else who loves all things 'happily ever after'.

I obviously had to begin with some beautiful collections of fairytales. The Fairytales of the Brothers Grimm and The Fairytales of Hans Christian Anderson are both from German publisher Taschen and are particularly exquisite. With hardback covers, bespoke illustrations and historical introductions to each story, these are the type of books you will buy now and cherish forever. Then, because such beautiful books deserve a beautiful home, I've also included these stunning Heather Alstead Kiss a Frog bookends. Pop over to Heather's website for a full range of fairytale inspired homeware, including bookmarks, mugs and greetings cards.

This sweet Once Upon a Time pillow case is another way to add some fairytale magic to your home. Despite everyone reading Little Red Riding Hood as a child, I don't think this particular fairytale receives the love it deserves. If you're a fan of the story, I recommend reading the Roald Dahl version - I discovered this poem while studying Children's Literature at university and loved reading the story of the helpless female being spun on its head!

The pretty fairytale apple pendant from ASOS is such a fun way to include a bit of make-believe into your day-to-day life (because, for some reason, tiaras are frowned upon in the office). Or, if you're happy to nail your sparkly colours to the mast, this Cinderella tote bag is perfect. 

Of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without chocolate, and anything by Fairy Tale Gourmet would be perfect for under the tree. These beautiful handmade chocolates inspired by fairytales are the confectionery of princesses. I think I swooned over every single item on the website before finally deciding on these sea salted, caramel filled, triple chocolate seashells (what a delicious-sounding mouthful!).

I've finished off with a big bottle of Snow Fairy and a Magic Wand from Lush - because, like the Coca-Cola advert and a giant box of Celebrations, these pink and sparkly bath goodies are a Christmas institution. 

Give Back Friday

After the flurry of TV advertisements, e-newsletters and media coverage, I'm sure you all know by now that today is Black Friday - but did you know that with one easy, FREE step, it could also be Give Back Friday too?!

Before you get stuck in to snapping up party dresses and presents for your nearest and dearest, mosey over to the Easyfundraising website and sign up for a cause close to your heart (with over 5,000 charities and other good causes registered, you're guaranteed to find one special to you).

Then, every time you shop, visit Easyfundraising first, pick the retailer you want and start shopping. After you've checked out, that retailer will make a donation to your chosen cause. Easy peasy - and it won't cost you a penny! There are nearly 3,000 shops registered with Easyfundraising now, so there's a good chance the websites you're planning to visit today anyway are already on there.

With over 1 billion pounds estimated to be spent on Black Friday alone, if more people shopped through Easyfundraising, that's a heck of lot of free donations which could be raised. 

In fact, Easyfundraising estimate that £14.6million could be raised for charities and good causes today if everyone shopped via their website - just imagine how many wonderful things that money could do!

So, if you're doing any online shopping today (or any day!), please take a minute to sign up with Easyfundraising and find a cause which matters to you.

This post isn't affiliated with Easyfundraising in any way - I just think this is a simple and brilliant way to do some good! 

Five Sisters Zoo

I think if you live in Scotland and someone mentions 'zoo', you immediately think 'Edinburgh'. I admittedly hadn't heard of Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder until it sadly hit headlines two years ago after an enormous fire ripped through the reptile house, killing more than 48 species. After a public appeal was launched, kind animal lovers from around the world donated a total of £110,000, which allowed the zoo to rebuild and start anew.

I've wanted to visit since I read about their wonderful fundraising campaign and a sunny Sunday at the end of September seemed a perfect opportunity for an impromptu day trip to West Calder. The zoo itself is tucked down a quiet country road just outside of the village of Polbeath. It's £9.95 for an adult ticket, £7.95 for a child ticket and £28 for a family day pass - which, to see 160 species of mammals, birds and reptiles, I think is a good bargain!

When you buy your ticket you're given a map of the zoo including a recommended route to take around the enclosures. The zoo is home to an enormous selection of animals from around the world, including lemurs, meerkats, moneys, tortoises, Arctic wolves, lynx, bat-eared foxes, reindeer and brown bears. You can read the full A-Z list of animals on the Five Sisters Zoo website.

You may have read about the brown bears in the news after Five Sisters Zoo rescued them from a European circus in 2012. The bears spent more than twenty years performing tricks and living in horrifically cramped cages - however, after a public appeal helped raise £80,000 in donations, Five Sisters Zoo were happily able to transport the brown bears to Scotland, where they now live a much more natural life in a two acre, woodland sanctuary. Despite a lifetime of cruelty, the bears began to exhibit natural behaviour within weeks of arriving at the zoo - and are even about to begin their third year of hibernation

This spirit of compassion and rescue has continued this year with their recent #save4lions appeal. This dramatic appeal saw Five Sisters Zoo rally with the public to raise £150,000 in twelve months: an enormous sum needed to rehome four lions which had been rescued from horrific conditions in a French circus. The lions had been castrated, which is why they don't have manes, unnaturally de-clawed and cringed at the sight of a stick - a strong indication that they had been beaten while living with the circus. The appeal was a success and the lions arrived at their new home - a custom built, two acre enclosure, with a pool, waterfall and large, heated, indoor den - at the end of October.

If the dedication to international animal rescue doesn't convince you that the staff genuinely love animals, the touching entrance display of plaques commemorating the animals killed in the fire might. While it's such a tragic event to have touched the zoo, I think their grief over the loss of so many lives shows how much the staff care about the animals they're responsible for. 

We spend a lovely afternoon wandering around the enclosures, eating ice cream cones and soaking up the sunshine. As well as my usual favourites - otters and monkeys! - Five Sisters Zoo is home to more unusual animals I've never seen before, including raccoons, Arctic wolves and those little squiggly necked guys up there (AKA, as Google informs me, eastern long-necked turtles). I was impressed by the big leafy enclosures with large outdoor and, more private, indoor areas. In fact, when we paid the brown bears a visit, we only managed to catch a tiny glimpse of one through the trees because their enclosure is so huge and wild - I didn't mind though, I'd rather they were living in as natural an environment as possible, rather than being forced to be 'on display' 24/7.

It was a lovely afternoon and I really recommend visiting if you're in Scotland. While not as well-known as some other zoos, the large, enriched enclosures and dedication to animal rights gives Five Sisters Zoo a bit of an edge over some of their more famous competitors.

You can support the zoo by donating to one of their appeals, 'adopting' an animal or having a personal message engraved on one of the enclosures.

Black Friday

I'd estimate around 81% of my wardrobe is black. If I had my way then I'd wear black skinny jeans, black jumpers, a black faux-leather jacket and black Chelsea boots every day. However, with Christmas inching closer (who else is excited?!) it's nearly time to ditch my skinny jeans for something a bit more festive - and that's where the LBD comes to my rescue.

This little beauty is the Sophia Dot Mesh Skater Dress from boohoo. I'm a sucker for polka dot and mesh panels, so, despite already owning so many black dresses, I couldn't resist this pretty addition to my wardrobe. With red nails, gold stacking rings and a bright pop of Ruby Woo, I think this dress is a good option for anyone who wants 'a party dress' without the glitter or sequins. I've paired my dress with the black and gold Paige Velvet Box Clutch - I always think velvet is a lovely way to add a festive touch without embracing full on sparkle.

This Friday is 'Black Friday' which means retailers will be slashing their prices and bargain hunters will be snapping up deals in their hordes. I'd never been one for frantic high street shopping (although I do love watching the devil-may-care videos of people stampeding into department stores) but I'm all for an online sale from the comfort of my pyjamas. Whether it's an outfit for a big Christmas night out or something special for a loved one, there's something very satisfying about snapping up something I'd be buying anyway but with a healthy percentage chopped off. 

Have you bought something new to wear over the festive period? Are you a LBD or a 'sequins and glitter' kinda gal?

* Post is in collaboration with boohoo, but all opinions, words and awkward poses are my own.

Feel Good Friday #27

I hadn't planned to write about the devastating attacks in Paris last week, in part because I can't find the words to articulate the bubble of sorrow, fear and anger which has been swollen in my chest since last Friday. However, when I read about this little act of kindness, I knew I wanted to share.

When Jack Swanson, a 7 year old from Pflugerville in Texas, found out that a local mosque had been smeared in faeces and torn pages of the Quran, he emptied the $20 from his piggy bank and donated it to the congregation. 

Faisal Naeem, who sits on the mosque's board, said he was giving interviews with local media outside the building on Monday when he noticed a little boy and his mum looking on. 'I just thought they were watching on. This isn't New York, so when there are a lot of TV cameras, people stop to look', Faisal says. 'But when I finished, the kid came over and gave me $20.' 

Jack's mum, Laura, explained that she had spoken to Jack about the vandalism previously, saying 'We were talking in the car about how someone smeared poop on their church and that was a really, really awful thing to do and we had a good conversation what churches are for, and how everybody's churches are important... I think it's really good to get kids involved and to let them know what the important stuff really is.'

Faisal, who has a son around Jack's age, was moved by the gesture. 'It's 20 bucks, but coming from Jack collecting his pennies it's worth 20 millions bucks to me and to our community', he says. 'This gives me hope because this means it's not one versus the other.'

Thank you, Jack. 

Harry Potter wishlist

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As Storm Abigail lashed against the flat windows over the weekend, I decided to give in to my lazy side and indulged with fleecy pyjamas, steaming mugs of tea and my Harry Potter box set. The combination of miserable weather and binging on my favourite films made me start to feel to feel rather 'Christmas-y' - I'm suddenly very excited for the Christmas holidays to have more of the same with a few selection boxes thrown in! With Christmas and Harry Potter (always) on my mind, I thought it would be fun to share a little assortment of magical gifts for you or any other Potterheads in your life. 

Starting with some perfectly nerdy stationery, these assorted magical notebooks will have you feeling ready for Transfiguration class - or will at least brighten up your desk. I think my favourite is The Book of Advanced Spells, but hands up who else thought about scribbling some Half-Blood Prince related graffiti in the Potions notebook?! Then, because even wizards and witches need some Monday motivation from time-to-time, I included this pale blue cushion as another piece of perfect homeware for every Hogwarts alumni wannabe. I would also love this pretty coffee mug for my flat - ideal for curling up and watching the Deathly Hallows with. 

I was going to include Harry Potter themed confectionery in my wishlist but I'd have been here for hours - I mean, honestly, what would you give for a handful of Galleons and ten minutes at the Hogwarts Express sweet trolley?! I did include this adorable chocolate frog keychain though - great for taking a little bit of magic with you everywhere you go. By the way, this doesn't mean I wouldn't also love a stash of real chocolate frogs under my tree on Christmas Day... For another sweet, but less calorific, treat, this Butterbeer candle would be ideal for a winter night in - cosy, comfortable and a lot less crowded than The Three Broomsticks. 

I couldn't decide between the Quidditch Team Captain sweatshirt and 4 Privet Drive t-shirt so I included both: the choice is up to you (or treat yourself yourself to both - it is nearly Christmas, after all). The Gryffindor Head Girl pin is such a quirky (and slightly more subtle) piece of Harry Potter merchandise, for a little day-to-day magic. While I love the rich colour for Gryffindor, I have to confess I'd feel a lot more honest wearing a Hufflepuff pin!

I'm going to finish with the best gift of all: this beautifully illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. If you haven't seen a copy 'in real life' then pop into your nearest book store for a look - it really is the stuff of Harry's most lucid dreams. This was genuinely the first item on my Christmas list this year - because, even after all these years, my mum still buys me the new Harry Potter book.  

Feel Good Friday #26

I wasn't going to publish a Feel Good Friday post this week because I shared one last Friday, but as soon as I read about this little dude earlier this week, I knew I had to tell you all about him. 

It's also World Kindness Day today, so it seemed particularly fitting to publish a little positive post.

This is Albert. He's a rescue dog who lives in Fairfield in Connecticut as part of a pack of three rescue pups. 



As you will have noticed, he also has a wheelchair. But don't think for a second that holds him back - he's such a happy, energetic dog, he definitely gives his pack mates a run for their money! You can see Albert doing his thing in the videos his mum uploads to Instagram. He's a bit of a beach baby and loves sprints along the beach and getting his paws wet.  

This is a bit of an unusual Feel Good Friday because there isn't any 'story' as such, but I follow Albert on Instagram and I genuinely smile so hard every time I see a new photograph or video of Albert and his family hanging out.



As if the posts aren't already awesome enough, Albert's mum often shares them with hashtags such as '#whyweadopt', '#adoptdontshop' and '#whatdisability'. I stand by these messages 100%, so it's hard not to feel a little emotional when I see Albert charging along the beach with these hashtags underneath.

It's obviously still a bit of unusual to see an animal with a wheelchair (I've still never seen one 'in real life'), so I love that there are companies who specialise in creating custom wheelchairs for our four legged family members - and that Albert's mum didn't let his wheels put her off giving him a forever home. 

I hope reading about Albert put a smile on your face - and follow him on Instagram for guaranteed happy moments every day! Plus his best friends are pretty darn cute too.

Pub Dogs of Glasgow

I'm going to put my hands up and admit it: I'm fully fledged dog creep. I've been tagged in this photo, this photo and this photo by different friends. I spend a significant amount of my time on the internet watching dog videos and I feel genuinely happier when I meet a dog on my walk to work. At a loose end on Saturday afternoon, it won't really come as any surprise then that me and Sam (he's a big dog creep too) decided to while away a few hours by holing ourselves up in the dog friendly 13th Note. With a bar, vegetarian and vegan kitchen and calendar of live music, the 13th Note has been one of my favourite venues for years - but, let's face it, it's really the dogs that make it.

The best part is, as Glaswegians we're really spoiled for choice when it comes to dog friendly pubs. So much so that Freight Books have published an entire book dedicated to the 'canine customers of Glasgow's legendary watering holes'. This quirky hardback book is bursting with beautiful portraits of dogs - from distinguished breeds to lovable mongrels - and short biographical profiles of each pooch.

With handy maps of each area of the city, you can easily see at a glance where the dog friendly bars and pubs are (the West End is killing it). If you have a dog then these should help make choosing where to go for a drink with Fluffy or Fido a breeze. They also help if, like me, you don't have a dog but just quite fancy meeting a spaniel over your pint.

We were treated to meeting five different dogs in the 13th Note on Saturday: from the tiny, cocky pomeranian to the chilled out whippet, I wanted to take them all home. I've been to a handful of the other venues in Pub Dogs of Glasgow and I always love spotting a pooch over my rum and cola. 

Clearly I'm not the only one with a soft spot for good drinks and good company because Freight Books have now also published Pub Dogs of Manchester and Pub Dogs of London. With more beautiful portraits, funny biographies and snippets of dog-inspired poetry by Graham Fulton, these have both been added to my Christmas wishlist. 

Are there any dog friendly pubs where you live?

Feel Good Friday #25

Wondering what to do with this year's Halloween costume now the festivities are over? What about donating it?

I'd never thought of donating my old Halloween costumes before until I read about 'Ween Dream, a voluntary organisation, which collects gently used Halloween costumes and donates them to children in need.

Founder of Ween Dream, Kelsey Meeks, decided to start collecting Halloween costumes for a good cause when she moved to New Orleans and noticed children in her community trick-or-treating in plain clothes. 'For the first time in my life, I saw children trick-or-treating without costumes... Every child should get to dress up on Halloween', she says.

She started by asking friends and they started asking friends, until she had built up a collection of about 100 new and gently used superhero, princess, monster and other popular costumes. Then, after her collection grew year by year, 'Ween Dream was founded in 2014. This year the organisation distributed costumes to children throughout 24 states. 'Next year our goal is to double 24 states', says Kelsey.

While based in America, 'Ween Dream has inspired me to think about creative ways to help other people closer to home. I'd never thought to donate a costume before but - especially after seeing so many smiling children enjoying Halloween - it's made me realise how silly it is to throw them out or tuck them away inside a wardrobe. 

Even as the organisation has grown, Kelsey still remembers clearly a moment from their first year: 'When they were picking out costumes, some of the kids had younger siblings, and they made sure their younger brothers and sisters had costumes before they picked out their own,' she says. 'That was really special'.

Images from Ween Dream website.

Winter holiday wishlist

Has anyone else noticed the perfect autumn weather start to fade away? As we crept closer to Halloween, the crisp air and blue skies in Glasgow started to be replaced with gloomier days and a heck-of-a-lot-more rain. If this is what we have to look forward to, I think I'm officially 'over' winter already. Well, winter in Glasgow anyway - if I look a little further afield then there are plenty of places I'm itching to don my thermal underwear for. To try and recapture some of my love for the coldest months, I've shared a few destinations at the top of my winter holiday wishlist.



Ah, Iceland. Top of my 'winter wonderland' wishlist for years now - and with good reason. I don't think I've seen a country which is so beautiful, distinctive, and, dare I say it, magical as Iceland. I want to tour the Golden Circle, visit the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, go whale watching, and, of course, try to catch a glimpse of the mesmerising Aurora Borealis.



There's something very romantic about visiting mainland Europe to experience a traditional Christmas market. If I was heading across the water in December then I'd pick F├╝ssen in Germany. With a Christmas market held in a cobbled courtyard in a town surrounded by snowy mountains and frozen lakes, I can't think of many places better to drink in mulled wine and the smell of toasted cinnamon. There's also the Neuschwanstein Castle to visit in nearby village Hohenschwangau - said to have inspired Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle, this beautiful landmark looks like something plucked straight out of a fairytale.



I might have watched Elf one too many times, but when I visit New York (I'm determined it's not an 'if', it's a 'when') I'll go at Christmas time. I want to see Central Park under a blanket of snow, the department store windows dressed for the holidays, and the enormous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree twinkling with thousands of fairy lights. I'm not much of a shopper but I think I can make an exception for toys (if only to see the OTT Christmas toy store displays) and steaming mugs of hot chocolate.

I have a few more winter holiday destinations which I'd like to visit eventually, but these three are at firmly at the top of my list. I can only imagine visiting these places in colder months, for the sprinkle of magic which comes with winter - reminding me why the shorter days and lower temperatures aren't all bad.

If you could go anywhere in winter, where would you go?
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