Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

img_4361This blog is long overdue. I started reading Voyager in August but so much has happened since then (I moved to a new city and started my Masters degree) so it has taken me a bit longer to finish it and write a review. If you read my post on Dragonfly in Amber, you’ll know Gabaldon broke my heart with that ending so I was really eager to find out what would happen next. Without further ado, here’s what I thought about the third book in the Outlander series.

This review contains some *SPOILERS* so I won’t be held accountable for ruining anyone’s experience of the book or the third season of the TV show. If you’ve not read it and still want to, avert your eyes to another review!

All Outlander themed candles are from Meraki Candles.

 


1. It’s long.

This might be stating the obvious but I wanted to get it out of the way. I love Outlander, I adore Jamie Fraser but, gosh, these books are too long. On one hand, it means more time to enjoy the characters and Diana Gabaldon’s fascinating world but it also means I am deprived of the sense of achievement I should get when I finish a 400-page long book – three times over. It’s around 1500 pages long and for the first time in the series, I really felt some parts of the story were over-indulgent.

2. Everyone’s old!

Voyager takes place 20 years after Dragonfly in Amber and after the Battle of Culloden. For me, this wasn’t easy to adjust to. No longer is Jamie Fraser a youthful and rampant Highlander completely besotted with Claire. Well, he’s still rampant and besotted just without the youth. So much happens in the time that Jamie and Claire are separated, I felt like they were meeting again as completely different people. Like Claire, I felt like I had to decide whether or not I was willing to love Jamie despite not knowing what kind of man he had become in the twenty years we were apart.

Will ye take me and risk the man that I am, for the sake of the man ye knew...

3. Or dead!

If they’re not old and cynical, they’re not there at all. I was pretty upset about the way Voyager sweeps over some of my favourite characters in the jump through time. There is a very brief mention of Murtagh about 3/4 of the way through the book (I think?) but that’s all. For a character who was so important in the first two books and who meant a lot to me, I would’ve liked for him to feature in Claire and Jamie’s memories more. Every book in the series has a totally different mood and setting but with this means there is a whole host of characters that I grew to love but are left dead and buried in the previous book with no mention in the next. Having said that, I really loved the moment when Claire meets Mother Hildegarde in Paris again and they have a poignant moment for Claire’s first baby, Faith.

4. Trust nobody.

And we quickly realise that Jamie really isn’t the same anymore. He lies to Claire about having a kid and being married… TO LAOGHAIRE!? This was pretty unsettling and I’m not sure if I can bear to watch it unfold when Season 3 airs. Marrying Laoghaire was one thing but the constant secrecy and lies really stuck in my throat. And Claire’s ability to gloss over his life after throwing a small temper tantrum? I’m not sure I would forgive my Jamie quite as easily.

4. That Reunion Though.

 

Now that I got my least favourite bits out of the way, I can tell you all about the best bits and the moment I was desperately waiting for was the scene where Claire and Jamie see each other again after 20 years apart. It didn’t disappoint. Gabaldon kept me waiting and the tension that builds from the moment Claire returns to 18th century Scotland is unbearable. Will she find him? What will he say? It turns out nothing: when they do meet again, Jamie faints. And it is perfectly adorable in every way:

“You’re real,” he whispered. I had thought him pale already. Now all vestiges of color drained from his face. His eyes rolled up and he slumped to the floor in a shower of papers and oddments that had been sitting on the press – he fell rather gracefully for such a large man, I thought abstractedly.

He quickly wakes up and from this point on I’m just a big ball of messy emotions.

The tears spilled down my cheeks, only to soak into the rough cloth of his shirt as he pulled me hard against him.

Oh and…

I don’t know how long we sat there on the dusty floor, crying in each other’s arms with the longing of twenty years spilling down our faces.

For every time I complain about the length of these books or some of the absurd decisions made by the characters, Gabaldon wins me over again with her ability to break my heart and mend it over and over again. I know Gabaldon doesn’t want Outlander to be known as a love story. It is so much more than that but, for me, and I’m sure most fans of this book, it is the way Gabaldon writes Claire and Jamie’s epic love story that captures my heart every time.

5. Jamie’s a Publisher!

Many of you will know I’m studying a Masters degree in Publishing in Edinburgh so I was over the moon to discover Jamie’s new career in Voyager is running a printing press in Edinburgh under the guise of ‘Alexander Malcolm.’ It was fascinating to read about printing presses in the same city that I am studying the art of making books myself. Now when I wander around the cobbled streets of the old city, I can envision wild Highland Jamie up to no good with Fergus by his side. Jamie and I really are soulmates after all.

6. Lord John Grey

While some of my favourite characters are left behind in Dragonfly in Amber (Murtagh and Master Raymond), there are lots of characters introduced (or re-introduced in this case) in Voyager. Lord John Grey did, in fact, appear in Dragonfly in Amber as the young boy who tries to “save” Claire from Jamie and the brutish Highlanders on the eve of the Battle of Prestonpans. We see a lot more of him, all grown up, in this book and he is a really intriguing character. He’s homosexual at a time when it was very much illegal and, like everyone in the Outlander world, he’s got the hots for Jamie. What intrigues me is the feeling that Jamie has a deep affection for LJG in return. There is a bromance going on there in the end that I want to read more of and I know that Lord John plays a big role throughout the series so I’m excited to see how he develops as a character!

7. Geillis Returns (Again)

Oh My God. This was the big shocker that redeemed Voyager for me when I thought I was going to give up. Why didn’t I see this coming? I really enjoyed reading about future Geillis (a.k.a Gillian Edgar). Partly because it was fun hearing that she was a righteous SNP activist. One of the best scenes in the novel is when Roger, Claire and Brianna watch Geillis travel through the stones after sacrificing her husband. Gellis is one of the most badass characters in the whole series and her crazy return at the end as Mrs Abernathy was chilling.


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Overall, I really enjoyed Voyager – I just wish it was 400 pages shorter! I guess I just keep looking for that magic spark I had with Outlander but every book brings something completely different: different settings, characters and moods. I am (trying to be) on a book buying ban for the next few weeks/months until I work my way through my ever-expanding TBR pile so this time I mean it when I say I’m not buying Drums of Autumn for a long time or at least until I can no longer withstand not knowing what happens next.

If you’re an Outlander fan too, follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Mad Dog, Cheese & Winchin’: Claire Barclay Draws

Claire Barclay combines my love of Scotland, cheese puns and adorable illustrations in one beautiful and colourful online Etsy store.

Claire Barclay Draws epitomises why shopping independent is the best. Nowhere on the high street would you find so many Scottish culture gems, like this Mad Dog 20/20 print,  AND cheese puns, That’ll Brie Nice, all in one place. Through her greetings card, jewellery, tote bags, art prints and bunting, Claire combines nostalgic Scottish banter with vibrant pop culture and the result is magical.

I always smile when I receive my purchases from Claire. She delivers every time with amazing fun products and it’s even reflected through to her packaging! Would highly recommend. – Fay

Claire is animg_3910 illustrator and designer who works solo from her “wee studio” in Glasgow, Scotland. She loves making work based on funny elements of Scottish culture as well as anything else that’s jazzy, colourful or cute! She creates a whole range or products including greetings cards, art prints, tote bags and jewellery all with her quirky doodles on them. Claire also works on custom orders such as family/pet portraits and wedding invitations.

Super cute and super great also the Claire Barclay Draws customer service is amazing and one of the main reasons I will be a returning customer 🙂 – Jamie

I have been lucky enough to get my hands on a bundle of Claire’s incredible designs and I can testify that the products are as adorable in person as they are on your computer screen. I received two awesome A4 prints, a gorgeous tote bag and a “cat lady” brooch.
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Designs by Claire Barclay and candle from Love Scottish Candles

Art

I’m originally from bonnie Ayrshire but after four years studying at The University of Glasgow, I’m a self-confessed Glasgow wean who is now living in Edinburgh. Claire’s Glasgow Girl designs were just so fitting for me so they were really what drew me in. Claire’s illustrations are personal and you can really engage with them. They’ll have you and your friends giggling with a sense of nostalgia that I don’t think many people are capturing in the same way Claire is.
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Claire managed to combine both my new home and my love of Glasgow in the two art prints I received: Edinburgh Girl and You Can Take The Girl Outta Glasgow, But You Can’t Take Glasgow Out The Girl. These make wonderful gifts for any Edinburgh or Glaswegian gals who want to show off their love of their city or memorabilia for a guest visiting the city for the first time. You can also have these prints personalised to showcase your own home city; I recently spotted a Paisley Girl print on Claire’s on Instagram, which you can buy in the Slug in a Bottle Shop that will be popping up in Paisley soon.
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For anyone that grew up in Scotland, there a few special items that will definitely capture your hearts and imaginations. I’m sure many a Scot’s teenage years were spent drinking one of the following: Tennents, Buckfast, Mad Dog, Lambrini, or Frosty Jack’s – which brings back fond memories of shoving my drunk boyfriend into the back of a taxi after he drank a bottle of ‘fabulous Frosty’s’ at a house party in Glasgow. Claire pokes fun of Scottish youth culture with a variety of prints, greetings cards and jewellery.

Fashion

Claire Barclay herself is a bit of a fashionista and self-proclaimed “jazzy outfit enthusiast” so the jewellery and tote bags she offers are just the cutest. I am so in love with my Glasgow Girl tote but, unfortunately, it has met a sad fate in an accidental washing machine fatality. As long as you don’t mix yours in with a hot wash of towels then you are sure to have a gorgeous tote bag with a long life and the ability to get everyone talking and smiling.

I keep my Cat Lady brooch pinned to my Alohomora Design tote and proudly display it at University every day. It is super cute and sturdy and, if nothing else, it sparks that age-old debate: do you prefer cats or dogs? If you are inclined to obsess over our feline friends then you need one of these little pins in your life. Claire’s brooches range from £3.50 to £9 depending on which design you’re looking for and they look awesome pinned to an oversized denim jacket. Other designs include Geeze a WinchGeein’ It Laldi and, for those of you looking for something less Scottish, there’s a motivational Be Happy brooch.

Claire also makes necklaces (like this quirky and colourful Unicorn Necklace) and earrings (my personal favourite: Taps Aff earrings)


Follow Claire on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Check out her Etsy page and don’t forget my 15% off code expires at the end of October so hurry, hurry!

Buzzing About The Fuzzy Bee Paper Company

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The Fuzzy Bee is an online paper store created and founded by the lovely Marisa Woods. Marisa has a Bachelor of Arts in drawing from Providence College in Rhode Island and has been making cards since opening The Fuzzy Bee Paper Company in 2012. She runs her own blog and you can find her at various markets across Glasgow.

As most of you know by now, I have embarked on a new adventure to study Publishing in Edinburgh. As a result, I’ve been landed in a new flat with a new room to kit out. Being away from home is never easy: missing family and friends, being in an unknown place and, frankly, feeling a bit scared. One of the best things you can do to make a new room feel cosier and more inviting is to adorn it with prints and posters. I wanted to get a couple of illustrations to frame and put in my room that would make me smile in the morning or after a long day at University.

When I saw The Fuzzy Bee’s Nicola Sturgeon meets Gretchen Weiners à la Mean Girls poster, I knew I had to have some of Marisa’s amazing designs in my new home. She is a super talented illustrator, which you can see from the prints and cards she creates, and pretty funny too. All of the cards and illustrations are hand drawn using a Wacom tablet and Photoshop and they started simply as a way for Marisa to document different moments in her life.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s a big thing for me to promote small businesses and, in particular, Scottish companies. Marisa is based in Glasgow so lots of the humour is Scots – although there are tonnes of non-Scots products to buy for any other UK and International readers. Next time you are redecorating or buying a card: please try to source them from local, small businesses. It’s more personable, the products tend to be made with an extra helping of love and, of course, it supports the local economy instead of sending your hard earned cash to goodness knows where.


The Fuzzy Bee Paper Company Products

Art Prints

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Nicola Sturgeon/Mean Girls Print

It was Marisa’s prints that enticed me to her store and you can browse a variety of awesome art pieces here. They make an amazing addition to your home and will have all your guests talking.  I’m really digging the Little Map of Glasgow and Little Map of Edinburgh just now, which are great souvenirs for travellers or just lovely keepsakes for residents. For something Scottish, try the Haggis Print. For something inspirational, try this Throw Kindness like Confetti Print. For general awesomeness, try this Eat Pie for Breakfast Print. Prints vary from approximately £11-12 each.

Greetings Cards

 

Looking for something a touch more personal? I am not exaggerating when I say that The Fuzzy Bee Paper has greetings cards for everything. See for yourself here. There are ‘be my best man‘ cards, ‘happy anniversary‘ cards and ‘congratulations on your new job‘ cards. No matter what occasion you’re celebrating, there’s a card for it here and each of them is as witty as the one before.  I was lucky enough to get my hands on a few including the ‘I love your new digs’ card: perfect for anyone who is moving to new house or flat! There are loads general friendship/love cards like this You Do You card. They’re perfect for moments when you want to let someone know you care. Now that I’m living a solid two hour train journey away from my friends and family, a greetings card is a lovely way to let them know I’m thinking about them. Alternatively, buy yourself a few unique greetings cards and frame them for decoration like I have! They’re only £3 each so they’re a total bargain.

Stationary

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A6 Notebook (Candle from MoBros)

Marisa also makes lovely A6 note books like the one you can see in the picture to the left. The note book designs range from autumnal leaves and pretty flowers to sloths and tacos. Like I said on Instagram, it is a truth universally known that a nice notebook will make the stress of Uni that little bit better. They’re only three quid so go pick one up over on Marisa’s Etsy store so that you can be the Queen/King of Stationary in your next class.

The Beehive Box

Another amazing aspect of The Fuzzy Bee Paper Company is the subscription box that Marisa founded. Marisa teamed up with loads of other amazing and talented designers to create a special stationary box: The Beehive Box.

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thebeehivebox.com

Delightfully curated box of locally sourced stationary and paper products from all around the UK.

It is a great way to keep up to date with adorable designers and be able to grab a Fuzzy Bee goodie from time to time. Their subscriptions range from the £8 p/m Worker Bee Subscription, £15 p/m Honey Bee Subscription and £25 p/m Queen Bee Subscription. I’ve subscribed already and I’ll be posting a blog about that in the future. It’s free shipping to the UK and it is also a great way to encourage and support local/small business.

What are you waiting for?

With Christmas coming up in the not-so-distant future, there’s never been a better time to go old-school and send your loved one a special handcrafted card; F.Y.I letter writing is also a great way to work on Breaking Up With The Internet. If you’re stuck for a Christmas gift for family and friends, try framing one of Marisa’s A4 prints or greetings cards as a unique gift for your fave person.

Whether you visit a market, subscribe to a stationary box, shop on their official site or browse their Etsy store, you need a beautiful Fuzzy Bee Paper Company design in your life!


For more stationary inspiration, follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

 

Hello Edinburgh: Five Things I’ve Learned In My First Week

My first week in Edinburgh has come to an end and I can proudly exclaim that I survived it. Not only did I survive but I actually really enjoyed my first terrifying week in a strange city with unknown people.

What I’ve learned about student life in Edinburgh so far…

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1. It’s Okay To Be A Tourist

There is so much going on in Edinburgh all of the time. It’s not just the Fringe or the New Year street party. There is always live music and events (including loads of literary ones) to get involved with. During my first week, my boyfriend and I spent a day exploring the city like tourists including a spin on the big Ferris wheel and a trip around the National Scottish Gallery to admire some Renaissance paintings (p.s the organic brownies at the NSG are 10/10) I know that I have not even begun to see the tip of the Edinburgh culture iceberg and that excites me! It’s great to resign myself to being a tourist and allowing myself to enjoy the beautiful aspects of this city not just as a residing student.

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2. You can make any house a home.

It turns out that it is possible to turn old and slightly gross student accommodation into your own little slice of paradise. I was so worried about leaving the safe haven of my hometown for a new city but I’ve managed to make my flat a place where I’m comfortable and can enjoy some peace from the stress of academics and working. I’ve learned that you don’t need to be moving into the most glam accommodation to make it feel like home. I’ve been filling my room with lovely candles like the ones on my July 2016 Homespiration: Candle Edition list and goodies from the wonderful The Fuzzy Bee Paper Company. I’ll be writing more about turning student accommodation into a home you can feel proud of in the near future.

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3. You need to have a strong app game.

To survive life in Edinburgh you will need to get the Bus & Tram app. This has been a gift sent from heaven over the past week. I genuinely think I’d be lying in a ditch in the middle of nowhere right now if I didn’t use this handy travel tool. I use the ScotRail app too. It’s great for working out the quickest and cheapest way to get outta town. And, of course, there’s trusty Google Maps! Pro tip: plug your earphones in and let the robo-voice tell you where to go so you don’t look like a total newbie staring at your phone screen as you try to navigate the unknown streets. If you’re moving to a new city, Edinburgh or not, check out the best travel apps for your phone to make moving around the city a much more pleasurable experience.

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4. You need to be savvy with your food.

This week, I’ve learned that it’s not always easy to transition from home cooked meals to scraping together whatever you can. Everyone knows students live on a strict budget and a diet consisting of Pot Noodles and cheap rosé wine. I’m trying to challenge the stereotype of the student who can’t and won’t cook by finding cheap ways to cook healthy and tasty vegetarian food. I’ll be doing a series of blog posts on student cooking which started with my Creamy Coconutty Curry recipe. Keep your eyes peeled for my tips on using leftovers soon (including this yummy potato salad you see above)

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5. You’re not alone; everyone else is scared too.

Taking any step in a new direction is scary. Whether it’s a new career path, a new home or a new course, stepping out of your comfort zone is not something we humans like to do very often. But when you open your eyes and look around you quickly realise everyone’s in the same boat and if you talk to people you’ll discover that everyone is experiencing to anxiety-inducing changes all the time. As I was told in a lecture today, you either cope with change, adapt to change or lead the change. P.S: do the latter. It’s not easy but I’m learning to roll with the changes and take comfort in the fact that I am one of many!


Follow my journey from small-town home-bird to cultured chica in my country’s capital via FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

If you have any tips for living in Edinburgh or just advice on student life in general, please get in touch!

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

I’m such a bad book blogger. This has taken far too long to post so I apologise for that. If you haven’t already then check out my review of the first Outlander book before you read this.

You’ve probably gathered by now that I am Outlander obsessed. The first book captured my imagination unlike any other book has in a long time and I have been fangirling ever since. I’ll start off by saying I didn’t enjoy the second book in the series as much as the first and I feel like I’ve been putting off writing this because I don’t want to feel sad again. Bear with me here, it might seem like I didn’t love this book but I did. This series has me transfixed but I did spend a lot of time comparing Dragonfly in Amber to Outlander so this review might seem negative at times. Probably because it ripped out my heart and stomped on it. Am I supposed to enjoy being heartbroken?

Synopsis

Dragonfly in Amber is split into four parts: Scotland 1968, Paris 1744, Scotland 1745 and back to 1968 again. It begins at the end as we are thrusted back into the twentieth century as Claire tries to piece together a life for herself and her daughter without the love of her life, Jamie Fraser *weeps gently* … who am I kidding? *ugly sobs*  and without her first (second?) husband, Frank Randall.

Thankfully, we do go back to eighteenth-century life to spend time with our fave ginger hunk as Claire convinces Jamie to prevent the Jacobite uprising in order to save thousands of Highlander lives. Claire and Jamie spend some time in Paris gallivanting with prostitutes and Bonnie Prince Charlie before returning to Scotland to settle into agricultural life and win the war after failed attempts at prevention.

I won’t spoil too much. There is a whole lot of drama in between but, finally, we go back to the beginning again as Jamie forces Claire to travel through the stones to her “own time” where she and her unborn child can live in safety under the protection of another man who loves her too *heart shatters into a thousand tiny pieces*

Characters

Reason number one to love this book is tall with a mop of red hair and his name begins with the letter J. You guessed it Jamie Fraser is and always will be one of the best parts of this series. If you’re looking for a new book boyfriend then look no further than Gabaldon’s wild Highland warrior. He is sweeter than ever in this book and I liked that we saw an insight into his intelligent and calculating side. While Outlander very much focuses on him as a fighter and a lover, Dragonfly in Amber really showcases Jamie as a clever and educated young man. Plus there’s this:

I promise. If I must endure two hundred years of purgatory, two hundred years without you – then that is my punishment, which I have earned for my crimes. For I have lied, and killed, and stolen; betrayed and broken trust. But there is the one thing that shall lie in the balance. When I shall stand before God, I shall have one thing to say, to weigh against the rest … Lord, ye gave me a rare woman, and God! I loved her well.

Excuse me while I take a moment to drown in my own tears… Anyway!

My favourite new character from this book was Master Raymond: a weird and frog-like apothecary who Claire befriends in Paris. You never really know where his loyalties lie and his mysteriousness really adds a sense of magic and fantasy to the series, which I felt was perhaps lacking in the first text. He is also a badass in the herbal department and manages to save Claire’s life when she is on the brink of death. What’s not to love?

Other favourite characters include the new and adorable, Fergus (real name Claudel), a Parisian street rat who Jamie takes under his wing and fosters as his own son. Fergus is the comic reprieve from what can be an otherwise dark and heavy read. Similarly, Claire’s new friend Louise de la Tour is a really fun and sexy character who provides some levity to the story.

Plot & Setting

Dragonfly in Amber is undoubtedly a lesson in history. Compared to the first book, it was far more focussed on the history of the period and, for me, this could be difficult at times. In my first review, I mentioned that I loved the romance of this series but I felt that Dragonfly in Amber was very much focussed on being a historical fiction piece than a love story. Which is great if that’s what you’re into but, as I’ve said before, I am a sucker for the soppy stuff. Literally, I just groaned every so often: “SO MUCH WAR.”

I feel like the phrase “be careful what you wish for” comes to mind when I complained that Outlander lacked in the history and magic departments. Because Dragonfly is not only packed with history, it was also a lot more magical than the first book. This book brings in mysterious folklore like La Dame Blanche and plenty of cults and strange rituals which were fascinating to read about. I feel like Paris worked well for this reason.

However, I want to point out just because Dragonfly in Amber didn’t feel like as much of a love story to me as Outlander does not mean that Gabaldon scrimped on the soppy love stuff. We get some classic quotes from Jamie Fraser who just won’t quit. Like this:

If it was a sin for you to choose me . . . then I would go to the Devil himself and bless him for tempting ye to it.

In terms of setting, I much preferred being back in the Scottish Highlands. The Parisian world is incredibly descriptive but I enjoyed it a whole lot less than I would have thought. In theory, eighteenth century Paris should be right up my street. It exudes luxury, sex and, violence, which is always going to make for a great book. Yet it fell flat for me. I found myself longing for the familiarity of the rolling green Scottish hills. I don’t know if it’s because I am Scottish or because one of the reasons I love Outlander is its exploration of Scottish heritage and culture. Maybe I’m just a creature of habit, I’m not sure, but I loved the second half of the novel so much more than the first.

Overall

Dragonfly in Amber made me feel like the honeymoon was over. Outlander  was a delicious and sexy romp filled with the excitement of first love. Dragonfly is beautiful and poignant in its own way but even all good love affairs become a bit dull over time. It is one of those books I will enjoy more as time passes when I have the gift of hindsight. I spent so much time comparing it to the first that I probably didn’t value it in its own right enough. I’m probably just bitter at how much it made me cry.

Anyway, like I said, it sounds like I didn’t love this book but I did. It just broke me a little by the end. It will have you sobbing your eyes out. I didn’t know so much heartache could be contained in one book, excluding Me Before You. And, I have just ordered Voyager. I can’t wait to start it because I am suffering from a seriously bad case of Droughtlander right now. I need me some Clan Fraser.

What about you? Are you an Outlander fan? Let me know on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Loving LoveScottishCandles

It’s been a while since I’ve introduced you all to a new candle. Autumn is coming which means it is time to invest in knitwear and cosy candles to get you through the colder weather. LoveScottishCandles is the latest on my homeware must-have list and here’s why…

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Based in Hawick in the Scottish borders, LoveScottishCandles is proof that Scotland are making the best candles you can buy. As their name and quaint labels suggest, their products are crafted with a lot of love. Attention to detail is high and lighting one of these cuties will give you the warm-and-fuzzy feeling that we long for as Autumn approaches.  They smell wonderful, come in a range of fragrances from country to luxury and are beautifully packaged.

What beautiful candles! The fragrances are all devine and last for ages, I can smell them even when they’re not lit. Burn time is great too. I get lots of compliments when I have guests round, they all ask where I got them from. Great little purchase.

LoveScottishCandles not only offer a gorgeous selection of candles but they have been posting updates of their current self-build on their social media sites so follow them on the links at the bottom to get some DIY inspiration, photos of Scottish landscapes and behind-the-scenes making of their candles. Their social media pages add a touch of personal to every purchase; I love knowing where and who my products are coming from. Too often we buy into nameless and faceless corporations and where is the fun in that?

Wow! What can I say other than these candles are a must! They are amazing, the fragrance’s are fabulous and linger when they’re not even lit, you walk into the room and you can smell the fragrance. A hard day at work , light one of these in the bathroom have a long bath , have another one in the living room and Wow totally relaxed and stress free. I can’t get enough of these its like the saying “a woman can never have enough pairs of shoes” well you can never have enough of these candles. Enjoy.

If you’re into floral scents, there’s Scottish Rose and Tiger Lily. If you like those muskier tones, what about Black Pomegranate or Fireside? Having a dinner party? Try burning Apple Strudel & Spice to welcome your guests to the smell of fresh baking. The fragrances have a high pay-off and you can smell it before you even open the gift box, which means all your guests will be complimenting you on the delectable scents. Browse the shop to check out all eight of the LoveScottishCandles’ scents.

I received the Lavender & Chamomile candle as a gift from LoveScottishCandles and I can’t get enough of the scent. I mentioned it in my recent 5 Tips For A Better Sleep blog because lavender and chamomile are both renowned for their relaxing properties which help to relieve anxiety. That means this fragrance is the ultimate snooze-inducing candle. Run yourself a hot bubble bath and light one of these before bedtime. You’ll forget all about your tough day at work.

The LoveScottishCandles website also shares with its customer insightful Candle Care instructions. This is a big thing for me. So many people complain about candles for not burning evenly or producing too much black smoke when, in reality, this could be prevented by looking after their candles properly. There is no point in investing in such gorgeous candles without keeping them in good condition. I am always getting on at my mum for not caring for her candles properly! Here’s a few of LoveScottishCandles top tips to getting the most from your candles:

  1. Do not burn candles for more than 4 hours at a time.
  2. When burning for the first time, burn for long enough that all the wax melts to the edge.
  3. Keep wick trimmed to 1/4 inch at all times.

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There is a reason LoveScottishCandles boast Handmade With Love on all of their candles. They are a delight and will add a special touch to your homes when burning. They’re inexpensive and their wonderful packaging makes them a wonderful gift for a loved one or a special treat for yourself.

Follow LoveScottishCandles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular candle and DIY updates or browse their shop now.

For more homeware inspiration, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or check out my July Homespiration 2016: Candle Edition blog. 

Everything You Need To Know About MoBros Candles

EDIT: MoBros Candles have since closed and are no longer available. There are a few still for sale on Amazon here.

Getting to know you

It’s no secret that I’m a candle fanatic and I’ve introduced you all to a few of my favourite Scottish candles already. Each of them brings their own unique qualities to the table; from the quaint and countrified to the literary lovin’, there is a candle for everyone. Now I’m pleased to welcome the decadent and luxurious MoBros Candles to your coffee tables, bookshelves and bubble baths.

MoBros candles came into my life about six weeks ago when I cleverly broke my knee and was stuck in a full leg cast feeling very sorry for myself. To cheer me up, my Auntie bought me one of the MoBros ‘try me’ sized candles in the scent, Wild Bluebell. You can see it in some of my Instagram photos and in my review of To All The Boys I Loved Before. With top notes of crisp green leaves, bluebells and hyacinths and base notes of white musk and amber, it smelled so fresh and delightful; I knew I had to get my hands on some more.

Passing the test

I have a mini checklist when it comes to choosing my candles because as much I would love to try every candle on the market, I do have to keep my addiction in check.

  1. I love handcrafted items because I feel like the quality and the scent payoff is so much higher than mass-produced candles. Despite having the appearance of a large company, MoBros are still hand-making all their candles. Check.
  2. I like ethical and high-quality candles. MoBros candles use pure, European sourced and refined paraffin wax which is the cleanest-burning fuel source possible. They are also a living wage employer. Check.
  3. As a Scottish blogger, I love candles made in Scotland. I think it’s important to support your local economy as tempting as it is to buy everything on Amazon. MoBros candles are manufactured in my favourite city in the world: Glasgow. Check.

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Fragrance

So they meet my basic candle criteria, what about the fragrances? MoBros boast a fine selection of luxury scents: Black Pepper, Black Pomegranate, Black Raspberry & Vanilla, Dragon’s Blood, Pink pepper & Green Mandarin, Plum Blossom, Rosewood & Velvet Moss, Wild Bluebell. In addition to the Wild Bluebell sampler, I was lucky enough to try out Black Pepper and Black Pomegranate. 

Black Pepper is very citrusy with a deliciously masculine black pepper midnote. Despite its name, it’s like fresh cut flowers and very sweet; it is one of the nicest candle fragrances I’ve had the pleasure of smelling in a long time. It reminds me of my favourite Pink Pepperpod collection from Molton Brown.

As for Black Pomegranate, it’s a spicy and fruity candle which boasts plum, pomegranate, and rose top notes with definite musky amber undertones. I recommend this for a cosy night in as it is reminiscent of home-cooking and crackling fireplaces.

Packaging

There are three different options with MoBros candles each with their own perks depending on your own candle desires. Each one is beautifully designed with floral and fruity illustrations in blush pinks, soft lilacs, mossy greens and rich reds. This makes them a perfect gift for a friend.

The ‘Try Me Range’ is perfect for the non-committals among you. If you’re unwilling to part with your cash before trying the scents then you can buy a little sample tin to test drive for only £4.49. I had the Wild Bluebell scent in this size and for a dinky tin, it packs a powerful punch when it comes to scent and can burn for around 25 hours.

The Travel Candles (photographed above) come in tins with a lid which makes them easy to transport – hence the name – so you could pack one for a romantic overnight stay. With approximately 35 hours burning time, you get plenty of ‘bang for your buck’ with these 200ml tins especially at only £7.99. To put you in the picture, the candle giant, Yankee Candles’ small jars cost £8.99 and only give you between 20 to 30 hours of true fragrance enjoyment. So for £1 less you’ll get between 5 to 15 hours more bliss!

The Classic Range is for the more luxurious candle lover and there is no doubt these will look very glam in your living room. They come in dainty glass tumblers and currently have the widest variety of fragrances available on the site. At £14.99, they’re slightly pricier than the travel tins but you get 45 hours +/- of pure candle-y goodness and they’re so bloomin’ pretty too.

Let’s Wrap It Up

Ultimately, if you are looking for a candle that encapsulates style and substance then you really need a MoBros candle in your life.

Check out more of my home style inspiration on my Home page or on my Instagram.

 

 

The Poets range by McKelvie Candles

I have completely fallen in love with these candles. They combine my love for candles, literature and Scotland all in one beautiful product. Last week, I was on the hunt for Scottish businesses to get involved with my Instagram giveaway when I came across McKelvie candles. Straight away I knew I had to get my hands on them. Not only are they beautiful but they come in fragrances like Vanilla Tablet and Aipple Tert from Granny’s Kitchen range. However, while I was very excited about the prospect of tablet scented candles, it was The Poets range that really caught my eye.
As a writer, a lover of everything literary and a self-confessed candle addict, the idea of poetry inspired candles was just too good to be true. The Poets candles come in the following scents: Lady Mary Ann, Little White Rose, Eriskay Love, Fingal’s Cave, Mountain Daisy and Cotter’s Ingle. Some are inspired by Burns poetry, others by Keats or Scottish poet Hugh Macdiarmid.
When I contacted McKelvie candles about getting involved with my Scottish giveaway, I was even more intrigued by the fascinating tale that inspired The Poets range. The woman photographed on the lid (see photo above) is David from McKelvie Candles’ Granny. She went to Ecclesmauchan school near Broxburn where she fostered a great love of books and poetry and showed great academic promise. She graduated in 1911 and her headmaster pleaded with her to study English/Poetry at University – he even planned to arrange funding for her. However, it being 1911, her mother “ruled the roost” and told her “what’s the point in wasting time and money educating a lassie – she’ll gan oot tae service like the rest o’ them.” Heartbroken, David’s grandmother still continued to write poetry and share it with her family over the years. When they decided to launch a series of poetry inspired candles they decided to honour their granny by using her picture (aged 14) on the tin lids.
I was totally moved by this story being a female Scottish writer who was lucky enough to have the opportunity to follow my dreams and have just graduated with Joint Honours at the University of Glasgow in MA Comparative & English Literature. I paused to consider all the talented female writers who have never had their work heard or published throughout the years because of social expectations. However, I like to think justice is being served as Granny is getting her photo on a set of stunning candles and her story can be shared by many readers too.
With all this in mind, I was absolutely over the moon when David from McKelvie candles agreed to send me a couple of their candles to use as part of my Instagram giveaway. I’ve managed to get my hands on Eriskay Love, a lilac coloured floral and citrusy candle, and Little White Rose, white in colour and sweet in nature as the name suggests. They are beautiful. I can’t stress how lovely they smell and their tartan tins really finish it off for me. I especially love the added detail of decorative crystals.
You can check out McKelvie candles on their webpage or like their page on Facebook. Buy your own luxury scented candle by locating a store near you. If, like me, you’re from Ayrshire you can find McKelvie candles in Grassroots Fine Flowers in Irvine, Hayes Garden Centre in Symington or Forever Young in Kilmarnock among many others!