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Top 10 Blog Discoveries of 2012

Did you find as many good blogs this year as this chipmunk?

As mentioned on Thursday, 2012 had some big things happen but I didn't give much reflection to my blogging experience. My life has certainly grown because of my blog in 2012. But that's not what this post is about - 'cause this post is about you! All the lovely bloggers I've come across this year and how fabulous I reckon your wee spaces of internet are.

And without do here are my top 10 blog discoveries of 2012.

We shall start with Louise. I'm mentioning her blog first as her blog has altered my life choices. Despite having been a vegetarian for moral reasons for close to year when I discovered her blog in April, I had never given a second thought to how many cosmetic companies test on animals. That changed immediately and come my mid-year resolutions in July I made the decision to always research a product first. She also has some really cute cats.

I first came across Elizabeth's blog when Googling "how to take public outfit photos" and found her post on the subject to be the best of what were generally poor results. There was something about her blog that kept me hanging around - it does contain fashion, food and travel after all! Despite only finding her blog in October she has years of archives and thousand of followers and it was just one of the blogs that made me ponder why it hadn't been on my RSS feed sooner!

I'm still on the hunt for some amazing male fashion blogs and so far in my findings this is is the best of the bunch. Stu introduces himself by saying "It's tough being a straight male fashion blogger, but someone's got to do it" and his writing style remains witty throughout, being a professional writer and all that.

Even though I haven't lived there for four years I still consider myself to be an Aberdonian, but I've found North-East bloggers to be a bit thin on the ground. Enter Christy! Who still lives in the North-East. She blogs about life, fashion and even music! I also love getting little glimpses of my home city through her photos.

And let's not forget Hayley! A blogging buddy that has turned into a 'IRL' friend. Hayley is super lovely if you ever meet her in person and just like me she loves Lush cosmetics and her blog is full of reviews for various products from their range. And her weekly Things That Make Me Happy posts always bring a smile to my face. 

She makes veganism seem so mainstream. Within her vegan food and cruelty-free beauty blog Sascha also talks about fashion, life advice and Gossip Girl.

I've become a bit more inclined to DIY recently and this blog has been one of my main inspirations for that branch of interest. But even when I'm not in the screwdriver and corkboard mood there's always plenty of recipes to be clicking through.

Do I need to describe what this blog is about?

I've been a big fan of Sarah's personal lifestyle blog for years now and don't think there's a blog post I haven't read twice. So when she released a small business blog I was beaming. If you don't work in marketing feel free to ignore this....

If you're Scottish you'll know the scandal that it was when a young girl posted her school meals online. The only thing I wondered was why I didn't come up with this idea when I was her age...

What has been your favourite blog finds of the year?

Morag x
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Weekend Web Links

   Photo from: The Beauty Department

Christmas has just passed but gift-giving can happen at many dates within a calender year. Sascha of Coffee and Heels wrote about gift giving dos and don'ts.

I'm still looking for a good outfit to ring in the bells but The Beauty Department has posted a nail look I might want to re-create.

I love to cook from scratch and have been known to grow my own food but I've yet to attempt making drinks from scratch - this diy ginger liquer caught my eye.

I only briefly mentioned Hayley's visit to Glasgow to meet myself and Louise, but she wrote a full post on it. Glad you liked my non-christmassy Christmas card!

I tweeted this during the week because it was so good but here it is again: Star Wars Christmas jumpers.

I love breakfast but when it's 8am I don't always have the energy for anything fancier than baked beans on toast. However at the weekends I love a morning kitchen experiment. Here is 10 Breakfast recipes for the holidays - or any day when you're not working.

This would look terrible in my room but if you fancy a DIY project how about a light up headboard?

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Christmas 2012

I hope everyone had an amazing 2012 Christmas! I know I did - this year will easily be put up there with my fav Christmassy times. Christmas dinner was held at my Uncle's house (he's just around the corner) with me pre-paring veggie goodness in my parents' kitchen and with my mum working a morning shift (nursing!) it was pretty much my play-house. I didn't have the energy to prepare sushi on Christmas Eve as I had planned so created it this morning before moving on to my Festive Filo Pastry, which was a hit with the other vegetarian.

I always find that the festive celebrations I spend with 'extended' family (hate that term!) are a lot more enjoyable than the ones with just my parents and grandmother. This year my cousin's girlfriend brought over her mother and sister from her home country Latvia along with her sister's fiancé from the Nederlands, totalling 11 people across 3 different nationalities. So it was packed. But they were super lovely and brought over a ton of gifts for us, and bought me stuff I'd use (final photo) despite not having met me (aside from my cousin's girlfriend). There were a lot of foreign food goodies so that appealed to the foodie in me! I instgramed earlier what my parents and anyone who delivered gifts before the 25th gave me. Super awesome all round.

I did buy a dress specifically for today but forgot to take photos of it! And also forgot to bring up the necklaces I bought to go with it. Ooopss...

Much Christmas love, and if you don't celebrate: lots of love anyway! 

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What's on my vegetarian Christmas menu?

Three things that are important parts of my personality: I'm vegetarian; I love to plan a party; I can be regularly found in a kitchen. One of my life mottos is also 'go big or go home'. Wrap this all up at Christmas time and you end up with a vegetarian armed with trays of food ready to make a turkey look like a poor person's Christmas. 

Though it didn't get finalised until yesterday. So maybe not an organised Christmas day menu.

Christmas Eve with parents and granny

Almost as far back as I can remember it has been a tradition in my family to have nibble like food on Christmas Eve. And for my Gran to be there. Not a proper meal - small bites such as cheese, crackers, olives, skewers of whatever....but obviously with me being an adult and not being forced fed anything anymore I'll be preparing things (assuming I get up from Glasgow in time).

As a centerpiece I think a food wreath would be ideal. Not nearly as complicated as it looks this is simply crescent rolls topped with cream cheese then green and red veggies of choice. Voila!

And to bring a bit veganism plus something a bit more exciting than cheese and crackers to the coffee table: seasonal sushi! When I first seen this on the vegetarian society website I was a bit 'wtf' as sushi isn't something I'd usually associate with Christmas. But then I decided to make it because 1) I love sushi and 2) being appropriate isn't my strongest trait. But I'm keeping it for Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day, 'cause that would be really odd....

Christmas Day with the extended family

This year's Christmas Day will include a wopping 11 people spanning three different nationalities (before anyone thinks my family is exotic, my cousin just has an exotic girlfriend, who's sister also has an exotic boyfriend). I'm also going to have to prepare two lots of veggie goodness as my cousins-girlfriends-sisters-boyfriend is also vegetarian. Better not do anything less than perfection then!

My take on the vegetarian centerpiece - this is going to be set-up to show-up the turkey. Which it probably won't but when deciding on my Christmas menu I think us salad-eaters need a centerpiece too. 

One of the reasons I'm picking this for Tuesday is because a 'stuffed cabbage' reminds me of a turkey. You know how you would stuff a turkey? I'm stuffing a cabbage instead. Eat me.  

If these vegetarian recipes aren't quite right for you (and you're still more disorganised than me) then check out my Christmas & Winter Pinterest board to see what didn't quite make the cut this year. 

And for dessert my mum is in charge - I am one person, who will need to travel Christmas Eve. Breaks my heart. 

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The Linkables

My friend sent this to me just to say "this is you as a goth".

Sup internet? What has been tickling your fancies this week? Too busy working? Well then take a look at my fav links and enjoy your Saturday morning in bed.

I'll start by linking to the 30 best blogs with pasta recipes which mentions yours truly!

One of my idols Gala Darling celebrated her six-year blogversary this week and she wrote an excellent post on taking risks, sticking to your guns and going after your dreams.

Like every year the best vegetarian Christmas recipes are always on the Vegetarian Society website - and even if you're not veggie they have plenty of ways to add creativity to what compliments the turkey.

I want to re-pin everything on Chelsea McGuffee's Pinterest.

Did we all see the Gossip Girl finale? I was surprised in the identity of GG as I thought it was going to be a much less obvious character. Perez Hilton has an interview with producer Stephanie Savage on her train of thought for the final episode ever.

A woman after my own heart: Kate Bolick who, like me, sees no appeal to marriage.

If you haven't decided on your 2013 resolutions this year then maybe you could use this as a guide: 101 Creative Resolutions.

Planning a project in 2013? Like lists?  Then Amanda Genther has just what you need!

Have fun reading.

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Stocking fillers for the foodie that loves a drink

It's no secret that I consider myself a foodie. But did you know that I'll rarely order the same thing every time I find myself at a bar? I generally find that people who are really into food are also into alcohol, but in a fine wine and liquers kind of way rather than a cheap can of cider for breakfast sort of way.

So if you find that the foodie in your life is also a fan of a tipple why not combine the two hobbies with my last minute gift guide?

Intoxicated Cupcakes by Kate Legere
Of course we need to start with a cupcake book. Because, why not? I flicked through this in town (I believe it was Joy in the Buchanan Galleries) and there was many a liquer to choose from. If someone doesn't buy me this I'm sure going to pick it up anyway.

Rock Shots from Henleys
If you were at the Scottish Blogger meet-up then I may have just ruined the 'secret' part of Secret Santa. Um, sorry?There were plenty of flavours to choose from but I stuck with Cola as it was a safe bet but if you're buying for someone who might prefer a more off-beat flavour you'll be in luck. 

Dougnut Hipflask from Urban Outfitters
If the drunk foodie in your life prefers not to mix the two hobbies quite so literally then a food shaped hipflask should get you brownie points. Or just provide them a funkier bottle to take to parties rather than a cola bottle pre-mixed with vodka. 

Because after all that drinking your post-drunk foodie friend will need to cook something to numb it all. I flicked through this in a shop and it gets the veggie seal of approval!

And for the foodie who prefers their kicks a little stronger...

Stoner's Delight by Dane Noon & Lex Lucid
Um, each to their own?

Lots of alcoholic cake love!

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How I Looked: How To Win an Ugly Christmas Jumper Competition

I thought for this outfit post I should put on, say, a bit of a tutorial. I believe I'm a bit of a dab hand at fancy dress/not being afraid to dress ridiculously. And if the Scottish Blogger Christmas party is anything to go by I'm not being too cocky with that statement.

When I heard there was a competition for the ugliest Christmas jumper I was all over it like a glitter nail polish. I love the challenge of dressing for a particular theme and I think it's darn rude not to adhere to a dress code (true story, if you're ever invited to one of my bashes you adhere to the dress code goddammit!).

And I made a plan. Just for a Christmas jumper (but a lot of these rules apply to most of my fancy dress escapades)

Don't shop where everyone else will. Okay so we don't necessarily know where 'everyone else' will shop and when you're competition is a bunch of fashion bloggers knowledge of indie brands is high. But I said I wouldn't touch Primark, H&M, or New Look, despite the options available. Too likely someone else will turn up in it. So I headed to the 'granny shops' in the St Enoch centre.

Think outside the box. This is where I have to help you understand what Jack Daniels has to do with Christmas. When debating this jumper in the changing rooms with the snowman one I deliberated between the obvious Christmas jumper and not-so-obvious jumper. My excuse? For some people Christmas involves a lot of whiskey.

Stick to the ugly theme. Don't try and cheat by wearing a pretty Christmas jumper - I won the competition because mine was ugly.

Don't be afraid to dress it up. It might be an ugly Christmas jumper competition but I'm still a fashion blogger so out came the pleather skirt (I do wear other skirts, promise!), studded color, and red lippy.

If in doubt, make your own! I seen plenty on eBay that I could have made myself and if I wasn't running about on adventures all the time I would have sat down with transfers, crafting glue and cotton wool.

Morag x
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#Scottishbloggers Christmas Meet-Up

As most of my readers are Scottish you'll probably be aware of the above as you were no doubt there yourself. But for those you who weren't there here's a recap of another amazing blogger meet-up (okay it was only my second...).

This was one was put on by the lovely Roisin and Gillian, with Bee coming in to work her event magic on the raffle. It was held in the Monkey Bar in Glasgow and all the stops were put out to make sure it was a great night. There were Christmas jumpers (and a competition for the worst one - won by yours truly), loads of goodies including Firetrap and Rox, a raffle with some amazing prizes (Glasgow piercing studio, Bonnie Bling, spirit tasting...), free wine, Yelp competition and Christmas crackers. There also ended up being loads of cocktails consumed, confusion between borders and bloggers, as well as an outfit photo session on Bath Street with Gillian and Jenn. Full outfit details will come when I post them haha! (Jenn also took a vlog - I have no idea if she will embarrass us with that!).

As everyone says if you find an invite to a blogger meet-up - attend. They truly are amazing. It's scary biscuits walking into a place where you know nobody but I love getting to meet bloggers. My IRL friends are now used to me taking photos of everything but they did have a lot of questions when I first took pictures of a stir-fry before eating it. But in a room full of bloggers we all have our cameras out anyway. And it's not considered rude to Tweet in the middle of a conversation. ;)

Also stoked to have won the Christmas jumper competition. As I said on the night, Jack Daniels is Christmassy as some people (shifty eyes) see Christmas as a booze fest. Cannot wait until my make-up lesson with Sara Hill

All photos are on my Facebook page

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Stocking fillers for redheads and gingers

I'm a big fan of stocking fillers - as long as they aren't coal. Or cheap chocolate coins. I'm also a redhead which provides scope to combine these two things. Redheads might only make up 4% of the worlds population (a non-made up fact!) but if like me you live in the Scottish region of the UK you're likely to know one (and if you know me personally, then you do).

Colour Me Good: Ginger from Amazon
Buy your favourite ginger the gift of colouring in their favourite ginger celebrities. Requires your friend to be a kid at heart. Or an actual kid.

Ginger necklace from Bonnie Bling
I mentioned Bonnie Bling in yesterday's Weekend Web Browsing post (and my TiTL post) but I wanted to highlight a specific necklace that my ginger head is eyeing up. I'm more of a auburn-lass than ginger but I think I'd wear this anyway. 

Dry shampoo by Batiste
Dry shampoo is an amazing invention but for anyone that isn't blonde the white marks outweigh the benefits of an extra half hour in bed. Batiste has had a brunette version for a while but it was only this year that a redheaded dry shampoo was released.

FYI, Batiste's Twitter moderator has informed me that they don't test on animals however I have performed no further research so this product is not fully endorsed as cruelty-free.

Ginger moustache mug from Amazon
Ever feel as though gingers are a bit missed out of Movember? Almost all Movember merchandise I see shops creeping up with tend to be black. I know there are a lot more black haired man-types than ginger man-types, but really? I'd certainly look silly sporting a fake black one - this mug is ideal for a ginger to get their fake mustache on. 

Playboy Redheads available at Amazon
And a stocking filler for the red-head lover. Fancy a worldy observation from Auntie Morag? Over half the guys I've dated have had a thing for redheads with some having had dated other redheads. If you have a friend who is dating/has dated a lovely female of the auburn persuasion then it may be likely that it is no accident.

Lots of ginger and redhead love! 

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The Linkables

Sparkly Christmas wishlist by Sweet Monday

Fancy giving yourself a Mean Girls manicure?

If you live in Glasgow you need to be subscribing to Bee Waits for No One if you want to have your finger on the pulse of weegie coolness. For those you wanting slightly off-beat Christmas gifts she has started up her Alternative Christmas Shop guide again this year. 

From Bee's selection I also discovered Bonnie Bling which brings together the best parts of plastic jewellery and Scottish slang. Extra points for recognising that the whole of Scotland doesn't talk like Glasgow. The Quine necklace is well on my to buy list.  

I can't believe I only discovered SkinnyTaste just this week. The Spinach Lasagne Rolls certainly weren't the easiest thing I've ever made but they certainly looked impressive  

Urban Decay were bought over by L'Oreal last week - Tashina of Logical Harmony has been documenting it to see what it means for their cruelty-free stance. 

If you're looking to buy a Christmas present for a foodie (erm, *hint*) then Rosie's guide to a home-made hamper is a good place to start

Sorry Gem, I think I might just be nabbing your candy cane Christmas wrapping idea.

I've recently started taking public outfit photos, after wanting to for years, and Elizabeth's post on the issue helped nudge me in that direction.

Just in case you get lost for words with a sad person - Emergency Compliments.

I'm not even going to lie that this is my dream apartment - 32 Signs You're Living in a Hipster Apartment.

And that's clearly you're weekend sorted, not because you're knee deep in Christmas shopping or anything...

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Beauty Review: MeMeMe Arch Angel

As so many of my beauty reviews recently have been along the lines of okay if you have the money, good if you're travelling but not every day or might be better if you had dry skin I decided I should post about a product that has become part of my daily routine and I really see myself re-purchasing.

Like a lot of beauty bloggers I take more care of my eyebrows than you're average person on the street. I'm also not naturally blessed  in the eyebrow department (along with acne, eyebrows are what I see when I see teenage photos of myself) so that also explains why I have a more extensive eyebrow routine than most.

When it comes to similar products I bought the No7 eyebrow tamer back in 2010 but will admit I was unimpressed with it. I bought the MeMeMe version as part of a sale and was more after the highlighter than the tamer but when I received the product it was the eyebrow tamer I was more impressed by.

I find it really does brush my eyebrow hair whichever way I want it to and then keeps it in place. Also because it is brown coloured it means it helps colour my eyebrows. However a negative is that you have to be careful the formula doesn't make it onto your skin and smudge. It easily coverable with concealer but be careful as it can slow you down in the morning if you have to tidy up the edges.

As for the highlighter I have to admit that it is pretty average. Not terrible, but nothing special either. I remember borrowing a really good highlight by Elf a while ago but for some reason never purchased myself. But as it is attached to an amazing product I will accept it as being there (this product in under a tenner, so hardly a waste of money!).

Also, as with all MeMeMe products, the packaging is awesome.

Lots of tamed eyebrow love,

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How I Looked: New Winter Coat

Welcome to the blog post in which I hang out in Glasgow Green with my camera and tripod. Thankfully the dog walkers, cyclists, runners and even canoeists kept any curious comments to themselves! This was only my second 'public' outfit photo but I felt as though I was already getting the hang of not being embarrassed, not taking too long and choosing a location. I'm pretty chuffed with how these turned out. Hopefully when the light nights come in I'll be confident enough to do more locations (or will have convinced someone to take photos for me).

As a side note: I remember chuckling whilst photographing this as I could hear an ice-cream van in the distance playing teddy bears picnic...

I knew this winter that I wanted to go fur a faux fur coat and given the selection Primark had last year I thought I should hit it up this year too. I didn't have the guts to go for a full on fur coat last year so settled for a waistcoat but I've become a lot more confident about dressing frivolously since my move to Glasgow (probably because you can get off with it here) as opposed to my parents house in an Aberdeenshire village. Admittedly the selection was pretty poor this year and this jacket was almost about sold out and I seen someone else wearing it on the morning commute the next day. But I feel so cheery walking about knowing there are bear ears on my head.

This coat is super-toasty too. Admittedly my legs and hands were freezing taking these pictures - which probably means this is the kind of winter that calls for trousers - but my torso and head were cosy. My friend at work was wearing it at her desk because she has one of the coldest seats and also confirmed the snugliness of it. 

I may still however buy a second winter coat as this is a very casual one. Even though I believe the world would be a better place if we all wore animal ears I realise that there are some situations where resembling a bear just isn't appropriate.

The rest of the outfit is another office outfit I bought/put together. The skirt and shoes have already featured on the blog and they are now very much staples in wardrobe - H&M also do a pale pink version of the skirt which I have my eye on.

Lots and lots of teddy bear love...

Morag x
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Recipe: Cocoa Pasta & Cream Cheese

Despite being a massive food lover and having loads of compliments weekly on my food dishes my blog has so far been very short on recipes. This is because so many of the dishes you see posted on Instagram were created using someone else's recipe and I feel it would just be wrong to post the recipe. However just before I moved to Glasgow I created this little dish using my own initiative. 

I picked up the cocoa pasta from Hotel Chocolat not long after it opened in Aberdeen. Admittedly I am not a huge chocolate person but I find it hard to say no to an opportunity to experiment in the kitchen. I hit up the recipes on Google but found that cocoa pasta usually accompanies...meat. I cooked the one veggie recipe I had unearthed which involved mushrooms but I just wasn't feeling it. The savory taste of a mushroom and the bitter taste of the pasta just wasn't mixing well in my mouth.

A FYI, at the time of the original Instagram I got asked whether or not is tasted like chocolate. It depends what your definition of chocolate is. If you only know chocolate to be a creamy Dairy Milk bar then no, it doesn't taste like chocolate. If however you know that true chocolate is bitter when not mixed with anything, then yes, it does taste like chocolate. Bitter dark chocolate. It is also naturally vegan, though this recipe isn't.

It was then a few days later that I spotted the cream cheese in my parents fridge. And I realised this could be a balance to the bitter flavours of the cocoa pasta. 

50g cocoa pasta
100g cream cheese (can add more)
2 spring onions, chopped
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon oil to fry

1. Put the pasta on to cook. My method is to boil water in a kettle, then add to a pan of pasta, then bring back to the boil before simmering until needed.
2. Slice the spring onion.
3. Heat the oil in a frying pan.
4. Gently fry the onions, be careful not to brown and burn They will soften - that is them ready.
5. Add the chili flakes.
6. Take of the heat
7. Put the cream cheese in a bowl and mix until it softens.
8. Add the onions and chilis
9. The pasta should be cooked by now - may need a few more minutes - drain when ready
10. Mix the cream cheese into the pasta
11. Serve

It is still an unusual dish and for someone who tends to avoid bitter foods, this isn't something I'm going to be making a habit of preparing. It is an acquired taste. But where's the fun at avoiding things you haven't tried before?

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