Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Vernez: A fashionable affair

Vernez. If you haven't already heard of this fresh new fashion app taking the Internet by storm, then trust me, you're about to.

Sleek, stylish, modern and all black (and white) errythang, I knew straight away it would be love at first download.

Vernez, a hot new fashion app allowing you to create and design your very own unique fashion magazine at the touch of your fingers, offers users the chance to create sleek and stylish magazines right in the comfort of their own home, on the train home from work, or even lounging in the sun on holiday. With hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of items from global high fashion designers, to your everyday local high street brands available to view, use or even buy, this app gives you an exclusive access into the world of fashion, and everything that comes with it. A one-stop shop for all of your fashionable needs whether that be to let your creative hair down in developing a magazine, or to look/purchase your next Christmas night out outfit, Vernez does it all.

When I first came across this trendy app, I was darn excited to try it out. I'm accustomed to loving the odd photography app, however, I haven't come across a fashion app that I've fallen in love with immediately, that was until Vernez came along...

First bonus: the app is free, its easy to use and also helps keep you up-to-date with the latest trends as they happen. Secondly, it can become pretty addictive so if you're one to get needy with apps, this will definitely end up as your Sunday 'Netflix and chills' replacement. Don't get me wrong, it takes a few minutes to get into the swing of things, but once the app has taken you through its initial 'hello and welcome' tips then you'll be singing and dancing the rest of the way. 
Note: pay attention to the 'how to use' stage - it will save you the hassle of working everything out yourself.

Also, the app is not just a creative platform, its a collaboration, acting as a social networking platform too, allowing fashionistas across the globe to engage in each others style, allowing you to gain some top tips from others. Vernez is a platform to present your craft as a stylist, or your talent as a designer to a global society whilst socialising with a bunch of like-minded people who all have one thing in common; a love for fashion. Either way that's pretty incredible.

You'll see below I have already been pretty busy on the app (I've had it for the sum total of 48 hours and already, I'm addicted). It's easy to navigate through, although the only negative for me is that it makes me want to buy ALL of the clothes, #majorstyleenvy.

The app is filled with #fashioninspo left, right and centre, and you can create different editorials with the shop tool, or source your own images from your camera feed by adding them to your 'personal wardrobe', which I thought was a really cool aspect to the app. It also remembers all of the clothes you use in your posts and embeds their information into the post you are working on. So if you, or someone checking out your editorial wants information on the items featured, then they can all at the click of a button (well tap of a finger so to speak!). Below will give you an idea of how this information is presented...

Unfortunately, the app isn't available on Android phones yet, however, there are plans to develop the app so it should be accessible on androids soon. When, I couldn't tell you... sorry!

If you are interested in the app and would like to access and download it, you can click here, which will take you straight to the iTunes store. You'll never know who's #ootd will be trending next until you Vernez...

So go on...get creative and show us what you've got fashionistas! Also, if you would like to follow me on Vernez then you can get me on my handle at @justjulia. Ps, it can become very addictive so beware!

  For Now...

Just Julia

Sunday, 22 November 2015

CUP: Aberdeen

This Alice in wonderland meets pastels and porcelain little slice of girly heaven, is not your average tea room; taking you to a world so far away from reality, you'll forget you were ever in Aberdeen...

Established in 2013, this artisan tearoom has been one of my top places to grab a hot chocolate or a quick bite to eat for the past two years. Its reputation in Aberdeen proceeds itself and I would quite happily stay there all day accompanied by a good magazine or book in hand.

The attention to detail within the four walls of Aberdeen's cutest tearoom, CUP, is every Pintrest fans dream dining destination. From the stunning duck egg 'map of the world' blue wall, to the delicate salt and papers shakers, to the decorative teacups and saucers guests are treated to, and the exciting journey through an unknown world of mischief to the bathroom, this place truly is adorable.

Not only is the aesthetic and interior a huge talking point of the tearoom, the food and drinks selection is also deliciously divine, and in my opinion, the proof of the pudding for this quirky premises.            
I've visited this cute local establishment plenty of times, with many waffles and hot chocolates consumed, and I must confess, they have some of, if not the finest waffles I have tasted in the Granite City. The atmosphere is always buzzing in CUP (not dependent on how much coffee you drink), and whether you visit on a Wednesday morning or Saturday afternoon, this place is always busy.

Not only are the thatched delights (yes I'm referring to the waffles here) something I tend to waffle on about to friends, but the soup and sandwich menu is also very varied, offering a wide selection of tasty sandwiches to meet all preferences. What I love about the sandwich dishes is the healthy portion of crisps which comes on the side. The small taster of the soup of the day is also a nice touch. Although I've never experienced it yet, I've heard the all day breakfast is what dreams are made of. 

Another aspect to the tearoom which has always stuck with me, is the way they present their flavoured teas. Below, you can see my flavoured berry ice tea, with timers at the ready, to help me brew the perfect cup of tea. I'm not a coffee fan; the stuff really doesn't agree with me at all, so anytime I'm out and about I enjoy trying out new hot or cold beverages, which can tantalise my tastebuds and make my company jealous. I think CUP have nailed this in a oner with their iced teas and pink lemonade. This little fantasy world away from home is somewhere I urge every Aberdonian to try out, and if you're not a local get your ass to Aberdeen, trust me, it's totally worth it for the waffles alone.

  For now...

Just Julia


Kevin bridges: A night with the AECC

What do you get when you put a well-known Scottish comedian in front of nine sell-out audiences in the oil and gas capital of Europe...a kick-ass comedy show, that's what you get.

I've been a massive fan of KEV.I.N Bridges for as long as I can remember, so it's no surprise when I was invited along to one of his 'A different kind of story' shows as a guest of the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC), that I would jump at the chance of seeing him live again.

Our evening was to begin before the show, upstairs in a intimate room in the main building where we were treated to pre-show dinner and drinks. Being the food enthusiast I am, my eyes went straight to the menu, once I had made introductions with the other guests of course. We were treated to a two-course meal prepared by the AECC catering staff. The menu was very different to the usual banqueting menu of chicken and beef; which I was anticipating, so was pleasantly surprised to see duck, sea bass and mushroom risotto on the menu. I opted for the duck, it was deliciously succulent and was extremely easy to cut into. For dessert it had to be the chocolate brownie of course (see my pervious post on my love of brownies) and boy was it worth the battle I had endured to get it. (Some other guy was eyeing it up when I was taking photos of the gingerbread house, resulting in major panic in almost losing my beloved - you can't imagine my relief when he picked another dessert).

Seared and Roasted Duck Breast, Confit Leg Bon Bon with Star Anise and Ginger Carrot Puree, Braised Pak Choi, Spiced Red Cabbage, Soy Glaze and Toasted Sesame Seeds

Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Ginger Spiced Bon Bon, White Chocolate Sauce and Raspberries

After dinner we were then taken down to the main exhibition arena where we took to our seats. Eleven rows back may I add, pretty snazzy seats indeed. We arrived just as the support act, Karl Spain, took to the stage. For the next 30 minutes Karl entertained the audience telling us jokes about his life, his wife, and some childhood experiences which literally brought tears to my eyes, tears of hilarity that is.

What I've always loved about Kevin Bridges is his ability to tell stories in the most interesting, but humorous way. From his 'gee us a quid or your getting stabbed' joke a few years ago, to the new material he produced reciting half of Wikipedia back to us, due to his unfortunate incident with a new neighbour, Kevin really did pull out all the stops regarding his performance. 

A main vocal point throughout his act was his very noticeable weight loss, and his attitude to food during his younger years. He talked about those 'gym posers' we are all so familiar with and a personal trainer who it seems has a vendetta against fruit, carbs and everything 'yella' (yellow). What really did it for me was how he had lied to his personal trainer/nutritionist about what he had eaten for breakfast; this had me in tears as all I could picture was myself many years ago lying to my mum about what I'd eaten for lunch at school, classic.

His performance was also based around his childhood, touching on times in his life he was grateful to have the family he does. I really enjoyed his stories and how humble he came across on stage. I'm a fan of those individuals who stay grounded to their roots and Kevin truly comes across as someone who is. Although I must admit, I'm just grateful I'm not the hoose rice of my friends! (You'll have to buy the DVD to understand this if you didn't catch the show, but I promise it will be worth it!)

All in all Kevin was outstanding, although I've probably broken some photography law taking the above pictures slyly resulting in me annoying half of the stewards at the AECC (sorry guys, a girls got to do what a girls got to do for her blog!). He continually engaged with the audience throughout the show and even encouraged them to tweet him questions, so he could come up with more jokes at the end of the show. A great touch to round the evening off.

The evening was a remarkable experience and one I will not forget for a long time! Thanks again to all at the AECC, your hospitality was impeccable and very much appreciated.

  For now...

Just Julia

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Handmade Burger Co: Aberdeen

Recently I visited Union Square's burger bar joint, The Handmade Burger Co, after an extremely hungry boyfriend returned from a three and a half week trip offshore. A little hesitant at his initial suggestion, I decided to go along with what he was anticipating to be the best meal he had eaten in the past few weeks (the food offshore really wasn't the best), and joined him on this man meets burger journey.

Rocking up on a Saturday evening I was fully aware that the restaurant would be busy. Luckily my ravenous dinner guest had phoned and reserved a table, securing a time to indulge in his burger experience.

On arrival, we were greeted exceptionally quickly and ushered to our table by a chirpy waitress. Met with a sticky table and a dirty knife, I was a little anxious we were getting off to a rocky start, however, since previously working in hospitality I gave them the benefit of the doubt and the initial issue was dealt with swiftly. Now the only thing on my mind was the menu.

Opening the menu I was presented with well over 40 different types of burgers, and even for a burger fan, this was a little overwhelming. Toying with myself; beef or chicken, beef or chicken, I decided to opt for a Jerk chicken burger, something I was very much looking forward to. Being a massive fan of pulled pork, (and knowing my boyfriend's love for the stuff too), the smile on my face told him everything when he pitched the Denver chips to me. Six-hour marinated pulled pork smothered in BBQ sauce placed on top of chunky hand-cut chips and then covered in cheese, if chip heaven exists - I was there.

Denver chips

Jerk chicken burger with mango salsa, authentic jerk sauce, mayonnaise, rocket, tomato and red onion
We decided to go for two sides, obviously onion rings was the next top choice, and my hungry guest picked out the Texas chilli cheese extreme (beef) in a brioche bun - as you can imagine it was hot and cheesy, exactly as it stated on the menu. The brioche bun complimented the heat of the chilli cheese, bringing a light, sweet taste to the burger. I'm not a massive fan of hot and fiery; the hottest I go at an Indian is a Korma, so hot foods are definitely wasted on me. However, my Jerk sauce; although slightly spicy, was full of exotic flavours bringing a Caribbean feel to the dish. My burger didn't come with a gherkin which was pretty heartbreaking as I love them, but I managed to bag myself the other half of my boyfriend's. And who said romance is dead!?
Another thing my other half is well-known for, is his love of milkshakes. Dessert, or his mid-meal drink if he's feeling up to the challenge, will consist of a milkshake - providing he thinks the milkshakes are up to his taste test. Opting for a banana bonanza, it made the cut. I decided to be creative and mix-it-up a little by requesting a shake not on the menu (peanut butter and chocolate). I guess the girl behind the till liked my creativity as she gave me discount -  which was very sweet of her and much appreciated. All in all a pretty pleasurable and surprisingly satifying pit-stop for dinner. Just push yourself to pick something you usually wouldn't, its much more fun and worked a treat for me. Next time I'm trying the peanut butter and bacon burger. Mmm.
Banana and peanut butter and chocolate milkshakes

  For now...

Just Julia

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Have your CAKE and eat it

Recently I was presented with a gift soo gooey and delicious that if I hadn't have experienced it myself, I would never have believed something so divine could be delivered to my door in record time.

In the name of market research, I offered my tasting services to the lovely artisan cake shop, CAKE, providing them with my guinea pig ways to give them vital feedback on a new service they were to provide to the public, home delivery. 

Now I don't know about you but when Jen, the owner and pastry chef of CAKE, presented me with the opportunity of complimentary chocolate which would be delivered straight to my door (and most importantly would be home by the time I arrived back from work), was simply an opportunity I couldn't refuse.

CAKE, which is based in Aberdeen city centre, is a small artisan cake shop which prides itself on high quality, home-baked goodies. The ethos of the brand oozes Jen's obvious passion for baking, and it is extremely refreshing to see such raw talent catering for a wide audience, especially as she offers a scrumptious gluten-free range too.

I'm not going to lie, I've never been one to fuss over gluten-free products, however on this occasion, I was quite looking forward to sampling my first ever gluten-free brownies.

Only expecting one brownie in my mysterious box, I was pleasantly surprised by its size. Laying seductively on my bed, those brownies were ready for me to devour them. Opening the box I was presented with FOUR strategically placed brownies, hidden slightly by internal packaging, to ensure they would survive the journey.

Included were three different flavours; Chocolate orange, chocolate marshmallow and chocolate caramel, all gluten-free.
As expected, I couldn't bring myself to demolish all four brownies in one sitting. So one by one, throughout the week they quickly disappeared. On feasting, all of the brownies were moist on the inside and crisper on the outside, and extremely chocolatey - which is exactly how I like them. The marshmallows were gooey and the taste of orange was strong, yet not over-powering. I was surprised how well they kept due to the fact it took me a wee while to get through them, this told me a lot about their ingredients and packaging - high quality.

I am no brownie expert by any means, but in my eyes, they were very well baked, well packaged, and  were on my mind for days after consumption. The brownies are very rich and filling and one could easily be shared between two, not that I was going to share. CAKE really did hit the nail on the head with these bad boys. They have since then launched their Christmas cakes and have stocked up big time on their brandy. As far as quality and taste goes, Jen, keep doing what you're doing.
P.S. thanks for the brownies!

  For now...

Just Julia


Sunday, 8 November 2015

Five things I learned from SPECTRE

With a launch that's broken UK box office records by taking in more than £41million in its first week of release, it's pretty clear that our beloved Mr Bond continues to capture the hearts of the nation with the latest addition to the 007 franchise, SPECTRE, taking to the big screen.

As ever, Mr Craig, or should I say Mr Bond, looks seriously fit, sporting a build similar to one of the New Zealand rugby team. The movie itself is jam-packed with intense action scenes, and of course multiple suave dress changes (or suit changes for Mr Bond), as well as numerous shaken, not stirred martinis.

When it comes to movies it's the ones which incorporate fast cars, explosions, kick-ass fighting music and high-speed car chases which tend to capture my attention. No prizes for guessing who I got my film taste from...thanks dad.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the movie from a different perspective and really think about what I took from it. Bearing in mind I sat through SPECTRE with NO juice, NO popcorn and worst of all, NO PICK N' MIX, all down to my own bad-timing, but what's a girl to do.

Here are the top five things I learned from SPECTRE. Disclaimer: definite spoilers alert!

1. Never trust your siblings or half/step/adopted siblings
Ok so the dude who's been causing Bond all this heartache for the past decade, by turning his life upside down, killing off everyone he loves and the so-called author of all his pain- turns out to be his adopted dad's son. Or something like that.

Growing up with two little sisters, one pretty close to me in age and the other ten years younger, I can relate to the whole "I'm going to ruin your life for eternity" thing, after attempting to kill my sister (on numerous occasions) by poisoning her with special 'potions' and successfully pushing her down the stairs many times.  I was young and mischievous, don't judge too harshly. In comparison to the movie I guess I'd be the evil brother, although I'd rather be a bond girl propped up at the bar, sipping on the finest champagne.

2. Nice cars don't come to those who wait
The worst side effect of action movies, for me, is that I end up thinking I could be one of the stunt doubles in the movie. Driving home you would honestly think I was auditioning to be the next James Bond, or trialling for the next spot on a Formula 1 racing team. Then again, my wee 1.2 litre Corsa really isn't going to get me very far, is it.

Sadly, unlike Mr Bond us everyday folks can't just jump into any car we seem fit, even if Grand Theft Auto has shown us how to do so.  It seems only Bond himself will be getting behind the wheel of the industries fastest beauties. Maybe one day...

3. Heels are impractical for kicking ass
My day job (not that its your typical 9-5 job anyway) results in a lot of running in heels. Heels can make any outfit look glamorous, but when it comes to taking on the world, running from gunmen and jumping on and off of speedboats, it's safe to say I would quite gladly pass on the heels and get the flats on instead.

Heels may make our legs look sexy ladies, but a broken ankle won't get you very far whilst fighting crime.

Note to self: if ever challenged to take on a man the size of a small elephant, don't just sack the shoes, run.

4. NEVER enter a bar in the middle of nowhere if it doesn't serve alcohol
Being a fond lover of cocktails, it breaks my heart that the lavish clinic poor James entered didn't serve alcohol. Don't get me wrong, I don't condone excessive drinking or alcoholism but out of the whole of the mountain they end up on, the ONLY building for miles doesn't serve alcohol. Tragic.

James Bond with no vodka Martini, what is the world coming to!?

My preferred tipple...
5. Don't shoot mysterious briefcases
Bang and the dirt is gone. Well actually in this case it's bang and half of Mexico is gone. Kaboom. Gone.

As obnoxious as Mr Bond is, did he really have to shoot the briefcase with a bomb big enough to bring down a football stadium full of people right in the heart of Mexico? Yes, yes he did. As exciting as it was watching him jump from building to building, somersaulting in mid air frantically trying to recover his gun, which he seemed to have somehow misplaced, of course he would end up smugly settling his arse on a sofa unscathed. Classic Bond moves or what.

The worst, but also best part of this is that no matter what the challenge, and trust me when I tell you, he goes through a fair few challenges, Mr Bond always ends his missions successfully. Bravo old chap.

A final last word to the wise cinema go-er...When visiting the cinema, be wary of who you end up sitting beside. Being stuck beside an extremely heavy breather for over two hours whilst trying to concentrate on Mr Bond's ridiculously insane moves is slightly heartbreaking, especially when they have juice, popcorn and a pick n' mix galore. Go figure.

For now...

Just Julia

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Photo shoot fresh

Recently I was invited to a closed photo shoot by my good friends at Linton and Mac, Aberdeen's latest fashion forward hair salon, which seems to be taking the city by storm. The innovative duo behind the salon venture, creative directors Jennifer Linton and Joanna MacDonald, both ooze talent and extreme enthusiasm for their industry, so I was really looking forward to seeing them both in action.

Although I've been to a number of photo calls/shoots I've never actually worked on a shoot which involves the full shebang (hair, clothing, make up, models etc.) so I was pretty excited about this.

On-shoot I quickly realised how much time and effort really goes into pulling these things together. Saying that, I've decided to pull together five top tips for anyone participating in a photo shoot anytime soon, they will help you get you through those tough times, trust me.

1. Positive vibes
One negative nelly really can ruin the day for everyone. It's really important for everyone to work together in order to achieve the end goal you're all hoping for. If its your first time working with a group of people break the ice and organise to have breakfast or lunch together so everyone can bond. All for one and one for all as they say!

2. A good photographer and a team with a creative eye
Getting the right shot and ensuring the models look the part is really dependent on 1. the capabilities and skills of the photographer and 2. the team of creatives working alongside, ensuring everything is in place for the shot. Having an enthusiastic, inspired team, makes all the difference. From giving different shoot location ideas, to helping assist with capturing the ideal lighting, everyone on the shoot plays an important role in obtaining the ultimate frame.

3. Food and drink is a must
I can't stress enough how important this is. Make sure you have a stash of snacks on-set for the team and eat a substantial lunch. Photo shoots are long, tiring days, and it's important to stay on top of your game. Regular intervals and breaks will also help everyone stay energised and motivated.

4. Experienced models 
Working with individuals who know how to "work-it" makes everything 100 times easier. The more comfortable and confident they are in their abilities, the edgier and more out-going they are on set. Although Sam was only signed to his agency seven months ago (I wouldn't have believed it if he hadn't told me himself), he and Megan, who have worked together on a number of occasions, clearly knew what they were doing, and it was refreshing to see how at ease they were working together; it really was beautiful to witness.

5. The ultimate glam squad
Lucky for us we were spoiled with an abundance of behind the scenes talent alongside our experienced models. The team worked for hours, complimenting one another's work as we went, lending a hand where need be. From stylish, fashionable clothing, to stunning make up by local MUA, Abigail Westwood; every element was built up to compliment the final piece and focal point of the shoot - the hair. Blessed with the magic touch of tag-team duo, Linton & Mac, the two ladies worked away,  creating a number of different looks for the specific shoot. After working hours on end in the salon and battling with the elements outside, the final result was totally worth it. Job done.

  For now...

Just Julia
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