The Jazz Emporium

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Guest Post by Jessica James: New Discoveries in Thriftland/Scotland

 I have discovered three new things this week…

Thing Number 1: Carboot sales are marvellous. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of junk present at these shindigs, but there are wee gems to be had as well. I went to the car boot sale in the omni centre, where I was mystically drawn to a pair of boots from across the crowded lot. My brain wheels were a-spinning! Were they real leather? Yes. Were they my size? Yes. They make me drool in a very unladylike way, with their lovely soft grey leather and buttons down the side, giving off a Victorian/steam punk flair. Just take a wee cheeky peek yourself!

They are defo the find of the month…if not the year!!      [Editor – OOOooooh they are awesome!!!]

Thing Number 2: A wise woman once said that mending = new clothes (thanks Vero). I’ve done a hefty amount of mending over the past week, which, according to Vero’s rule = new clothes at no cost! Also, while completing stage one cleanout of the closet of doom, I found an old busted straw hat. Said closet of doom has been nagging at my cleaning conscience and its chalk full of junk and gems from past tenants of my flat. To be honest, I’m quite impressed that so much stuff can be crammed into such a small space. Fortunately I’ve now completed Stage One Doom Diminishment, which resulted in 7 bin bags of rubbish, 4 bags to the charity shop, and one straw hat for yours truly. Stage Two is scheduled to take place next week.

Righto, lets get back on track with the straw hat repairs; a diamond in the rough. I stitched it up and put a bird on it (Hello Portlandia fans). No, actually I put a bow on it as I was fresh out of birds. Check it! Fashionable protection from the sun and it also makes me feel as if I’m wearing my Sunday best.

Thing Number 3: Keeping in the vein of goal accomplishment, I have wanted to discover Scotland since I’ve moved here. A majority of my time has been spent in dear Edinburgh with short jaunts over to Glasgow and up to Dundee. Last weekend I had the delight of taking a wee day trip from Dundee to Kenmore.


As you can see, the scenery was beautiful, and I’ve never seen so many sheep in all my days!! This made me a very happy camper. I had the pleasure of going into Scotland’s oldest hotel, not to be confuzzled with this fancy hobbit hole as shown below.

Next, I happened upon Europe’s oldest tree. For your information, that happens to be a Yew tree. Please see the sign below.

There were also some circles of ancient standing stones that are rumoured to be around. But time became scarce, and I was forced to move on. Oh well, I suppose I will just have to go back again, or actually make it all the way up to the Orkney Islands. On the plus side, I did see a waterfall!

What’s your new discovery?


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Guest Post by Jessica James: Saving the Pennies One Face-Mask at a Time

I don’t know if you realize, but we are very nearly half way through 2012! This epiphany brought to mind the New Years resolutions I made over five months ago. Typically, one goal was to save money. Admittedly, I’ve been spending unacceptable funds on frivolous items i.e. wool and toothpaste. Last week I was considering getting some posh hair repair product, but this would clash with my desire to save money. Light bulb! Why not take a look into a more DIY-like approach? As I’ve discovered from personal research, coconut oil is very beneficial to the hair and skin. This is a relatively cheap beauty supply option, and can be used as a hair mask, conditioner, or a styling product.

The plan: apply to hair as a hair mask and leave in overnight. I scooped what I thought was a wee bit into a glass container to be heated in the microwave. If you are not familiar with coconut oil, when it is cool, it is white and waxy, kind of like a candle. As it is heated, the oil liquefies and turns clear. The few chunks turned out to be a truckload of coconut oil. My hair has been pretty dry since my transformation to a redhead, and I thought a bit of extra moisture would do no harm. It took a good few minutes to apply, starting with massaging it into my scalp while my flatmate and I were having our evening chats. Eventually my entire head was encased in an oily layer, and off to bed I went. In the morning I washed it out and the transformation was amazing. I didn’t even put any product in my hair, and my curls were well defined with no frizz. Coconut oil is defo a welcome addition to my beauty regime.


But, by the end of the day, my locks were a bit more greasy than usual, which is due to the truckload of oil I applied the night before. For the next application, I will not apply so bloody much! Live and learn.

My skin has been feeling a bit dull, and I thought it would be a good idea to invest in a new facemask. While perusing Lush’s loverly products, I felt inspired to make my own. Oats, brown sugar, lemon juice, green tea and honey all make for a drippy homemade facemask. I still had a few workable hours left to my evening, and what better way than to spend it concocting a witches brew to apply to my face. AND it costs pence!!


After applying a thin layer to my freshly washed face, I left it on for about 10 minutes before the rinse off. As this mask is so drippy and messy, I think it best used in a bath or with a bib. This mixture is highly susceptible to gravity and much of it ended up on the front of my hoodie, making me look like a ridiculously messy eater.

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Guest Post by Jessica James: Scarecrows & Rainy Days


One week later, I am still suffering regret over not attending Elie’s first ever scarecrow festival. The very idea of it makes me chuckle…and then burst into ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ Said festival took place over this past bank holiday weekend, and rumour has it, there was even a Spongebob related entry. Doesn’t it just sound like something out of a sitcom?? But alas, the weather kept me indoors, so I have no firsthand coverage to share, sad times.

Last weekend, there did happen to be a small window of opportunity to enjoy some beach time. I was shuttled off to Lunan Bay (voted the best beach in Scotland in 2000, oooolala) before the sun decided to disappear again.


After a bit of frolicking in the sand with a crazy pup named Ozzy, I had plans to sample one of Arbroath’s delicacies: an Arbroath Smokie. Upon entering the fish shop, I was under the impression that an Arbroath Smokie would be a portion of fish put into a wee container and ready for consumption directly. No. It is an actual fish. I was quite bewildered when the fishy mistress told me she would be happy to take the backbone out for me. Receiving this information, I was bewildered and admittedly, a bit scared. With all these tumultuous emotions running round, I deemed it best to exit the building without a backboneless fish. This situation proved only to further expand this gaping cultural hole, and I am now suffering from non-buyers remorse. I take it back I take it back! I want some Smokie action!

Gee wiz, all the things I’m missing out on!!! I shall just sit here in the knit shop with my diminishing container of carrots and hummus, and pout.

I would feel much better if I were drinking a flat white coffee in the sunshine. Fat chance of that! Rain, rain, GO AWAY. Okay, enough griping and moaning for one week, I do believe I’ve well surpassed the quota.

Onto a more positive subject, this past week I assisted with Imaginate; Edinburgh’s children’s theatre festival. I worked as a festival assistant last year, and eagerly volunteered to help out again. This has been the best volunteer experience I have ever had. The paid staff make their volunteers feel super-duper appreciated.  As a now and again philanthropist, I value my personal time. This being said, I am happy when my donated time and efforts are suitably recognized. Another thing that makes being involved with Imaginate so spectacular is the reaction of the wee audience members. Every single child that I witnessed attending a festival show has come out utterly delighted. Och, but I forget that there is always an exception to the rule. One little girl became quite frightened of a diminutive puppet lurking about the stage. And yet another reason why Imaginate is awesome: while loitering about the lobby during show time, I was able to complete this wee gem: a hot pink lacy vintage inspired number fashioned out of luxurious Harris Tweed wool. Yum.

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Guest post by Jessica James: Silk and Pierogi

Learning new skills and hobbies inspires me to no end, both in a creative and general sense. This past week, I am delighted to say that I learned two new things: silk painting and how to make Polish pierogi. All in all, a brilliant week!


The silk painting workshop in my flat also included food, wine, and plenty of laughs. I may have been knitting for a good portion of the evening. A handful of us were learning this new skill, and a few of those folks were proper artists. Therefore, I was a bit intimidated to try it out with an audience such as this. The process starts off with a sketch on regular paper (and I am really not an artist in this sense). The lines should be dark, because this will have to be seen through the silk in order to transfer the image. The piece of fabric is put onto a frame of sorts, and then the drawing is placed on the underside of the silk. A glue pen is used to draw the outline and dried with a hairdryer.

Finally, the painting begins. With watercolours, you paint where you will. The glue-ish outline keeps the paint from running away of its own accord. The painting is then blow-dried to set the colour. Hey presto, you’ve printed custom fabric and the result is quite stunning.

I quite like my cheeky wee teacup…

Next in the learning new skills set is Polish pierogi. For those not in the know, pierogi is Polish dumplings. Since one of my flatmates is a veggie, we made Quorn pierogi, as well as feta and spinach-filled ones. Using the dinner table as the workspace, a huge flour volcano of eggs and water is mixed and kneaded into proper dough. My pierogi was rolled with a Captain Morgan rum bottle as I do not own a rolling pin (GASP!!).

Using a pint glass (keeping within the alcohol theme), wee circles are cut out, filled with the filling, halved and smooshed together. After boiling them in water with some olive oil, they were added to the giant pot of beetroot soup. Delish.

On a side note, this past Monday was Beltane; the ancient fire festival that celebrates the coming of summer atop Edinburgh’s Calton Hill. It features fire, drums and people running around in costumes and various states of undress. The night was clear and I had been looking forward to my first Beltane celebration for well over a year, on account of missing last year’s. Money well spent. Approved!


[Editor – is this photo the right way up?]

Have you learned a new skill lately?

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Guest Post by Jessica James: Hexapuff Obsessed!

Even after last week’s DIY dress alterations session, my alterations/fixing pile continues to grow. Being a crafty lass, I find it next to impossible to throw ANYTHING away. In my mind, a clothing item can always be transformed or used in some way (i.e. buttons, collars, etc). Yes, I’m a bit of a hoarder in this way.

A wee while ago, I made a solemn vow to not use acrylic yarn again….never-ever. Unfortunately, it looks like I’m ready to break this personal promise, dagnabbit! A lovely lady donated some wool for my personal usage, which I enthusiastically accepted. To my dismay, it turns out that I accepted a bulging bag of acrylic (plastic yarn). Because of my slight hoarding tendencies, I feel obliged to use it. But for what?? It does not feel pleasant on the skin, provide warmth, or hold its intended successfully. OMG, it is perfect for Hexapuffs!

Hexapuffs are a knitting phenomenon that has swept through the interwebs and taken over a good section of my life. I’ve become completely obsessed with Hexapuffs. These are little hexagon-ish shapes are knitted up and individually stuffed like a wee pillow. The concept is to make enough of them to create a covering of some sort. I originally thought I would just make a wee blanket for the foot of my bed, but it’s beginning to get out of hand. I’ve become hexa-obsessed, and may just end up with a full sized duvet, thanks to the extra bits of wool that seem to keep coming my way. The finished product will look a bit like a puffy honeycomb, which is why it’s called the Beekeeper Quilt. Yay. But as one member of THE JAZZ points out, one of these wee
Hexapuffs looks like it could be a character/monster of some sort (google eyes not included).


On of my current life problems is that I’m knitting too many things at once, and I feel the surmounting pressure of the wool in my wool basket waiting to be used (imagine ‘Under Pressure’ by Queen playing in the background at this point). I’m very much a product knitter, and I like to FINISH things, not continually start them. I’m just itching to have something completed so as to wear it…and yes, maybe even show it off a bit. On the needles now, I have the following:


One Lace Blouse...


One Lightweight Jumper...



One pair of Fair Isle-ish mittens...


The mittens are out of my favorite knitty magazine of the moment: Jane Austen Knits. I am very interested…what would Jane do??

And finally, not forgetting the bloody hexapuffs!

Mount Hexapuff


Guest Post by Jessica James: DIY Dress Alterations

Sewing machines can be very helpful, but are not entirely essential for the creative and crafty lass. As annoying as it is, it’s quite possible to alter clothing without the aid of a Singer. Today being such a lovely day, I felt inspired to add another functional summery dress to my ever-growing wardrobe. After receiving a wee bit of the rare Scottish variety of vitamin D, I was ready to tackle a charity shop discovery. The dress below is from my favorite charity shop in Edinburgh and was singled out for its potential awesomeness. The fabric is a nice weight and pattern. Additionally, the puffy sleeves speak for themselves. They may look a bit dowdy on the rack, but when worn, they are quite ‘Anne of Green Gables’ inspired. All in all, with a few alterations, this dress will suit me just fine.

The primary concern of the day is the lace collar. With the puffy sleeves it proves to be an overkill of fussiness. And don’t get me wrong, I do love a bit of fussiness…but this is just too much.

The collar is easily removed and the seam re-stitched to form a new and cleaner neckline. With this hurdle tackled, the focal point is now on the incredibly puffy sleeves. The skirt length is debatable. A much shorter length was contemplated to aid in highlighting the frock’s playfulness. But after consultation with my fashion guru flatmate, the original length was decided to be suitable. No change necessary.

The buttons, as you can see were just plain old boring white. I do have a great fondness for a bit of button craziness. Therefore, I couldn’t refuse changing them up. This is such an easy way to jazz an old garment up, and I’ve utilized this much in the past (hint, hint). For this project, I went for oversized gold buttons with engraved anchors. Classy as. And for the final look I added a gold belt to cinch the waist and  tie in with the gold buttons. After a fantastically fun mini fashion-shoot with my flatmate: Shazam abracadabra presto change-o!! Check out the finished product!

This dress now projects a bit of a gypsy/country girl feel. I may have to figure out how to rock this look with my signature red cowgirl boots. Stay tuned for more DIY action, as I’ve just gotten a gigantic 1970’s polyester dress that I fancy transforming into a circle skirt. And yes, I got that from the very same charity shop. Thrift addict? Yes, of course.

Now dinnae forget about that leftover bit of laciness from the collar. The lace collar is to be recycled into a freestanding collar and completed by a sweater clip obtained from The Jazz Emporium (you’re very welcome – Editors). Who doesn’t love recycling?! Sweet stuff.

(Sorry for the delay in getting Jess’ post online. We’ve been far too busy enjoying the rare Scottish sun. Like you wouldn’t do the same – Editors: Jazzine and the other nickname-less one). 

What have you guys been fixing up?

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Guest Post by Jessica James: Happy St Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick’s Day: a day in which everyone raises their glass to the Irish and their lovely culture. For some (or many), it is just an excuse to have a beer with breakfast. Back in the day, St. Patrick’s Day was strictly a religious holiday in Ireland, revolving around the church.

Once those dang Americans got their grubby mitts on it, it became a drinking holiday. Alright, you found me out. Yes, it is true; I love this holiday and all its wonders: beer, rainbows, leprechauns and pots of gold.

I don’t know if this is a ‘thing’ on this side of the Atlantic, but for me, not wearing green on St. Pat’s Day means you were at risk of being pinched; usually unpleasantly on the upper arm. My little sister was particularly brutal, and it was necessary for me to take necessary measures of protection (I’m well aware how ridiculous this sounds). So in preparation I would wear green pyjamas to bed the night before so as to wake up with no fear of being pinched. This was not a problem, as I’ve always been quite fond of the colour. Unfortunately, my sister would sometimes blatantly ignore my green pj’s and pinch me in spite. In that situation, an individual is entitled to pinch backs, which I administered liberally. I don’t think I will need to prepare in this way any longer. Unless that is, my flatmates want to make up for the absence of my sister. Fingers crossed for a NO on that matter.

For last year’s holiday, I was just not in the mood. I give myself an A for effort though. I did make it to the pub for a couple ciders. But then I just wanted to go snuggle up in my scrubs with a bit of non-alcoholic related junk food. This year, I think I’m just trying to make up for my previous lack of enthusiasm. EVERYTHING is happening on this particular Saturday night, and I had much trouble deciding what should be done. Prioritization is essential. This is a rather ambitious year, trying to do two cities in one night; Glasgow and dear Edi. There is a not-to-be missed gig in Glasgow; Summer Camp is playing. They have a nice surfer sort of sound, perfect to get you in the mood for the upcoming season. Then back to Edinburgh for The Green Door, as is referenced in a previous blog entry. If all goes to plan, it should be quite an eventful and exciting evening.

And more importantly, what to wear?? Too bad I didn’t plan further, otherwise I could have found myself one of these… Is the background of butterflies included?