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Month: September 2016

4 Remedies for the Sniffles

4 Remedies for the Sniffles

While I have welcomed autumn with open arms and have been happily retrieving my much missed hats, scarves and gloves from the back of the wardrobe, there is one thing that I fear when the chilly air arrives: The Sniffles. It’s appearance can almost be timed to the very second because once September comes round it’s like everyone around me has noses like taps and eyes that continually weep.

I work in an open plan office with nowhere to hide so it’s like an absolute bonanza for bacteria. To prevent cross-contamination I try to avoid getting close to anyone who looks even a smidgen under the weather. What made this difficult recently was a training day I had to attend last week. One of those interactive, show-everyone-how-fun-you-can-be workshops with lots of exercises and TOUCHING. To my joys I was sitting next to a girl working on the floor above mine who seemed lovely but appeared to be on the brink of death. The woman was dosed to the high heavens and was throwing strepsils in to her at such a rapid rate I was surprised her tongue was still hanging in her mouth.

As I talked to her without actually turning my head for fear of breathing in whatever deadly, menthol-riddled fumes she was exhaling, I calmly told myself I’d be grand as long as I didn’t have to touch her. And then the speaker chimed in telling us we’d be playing a game. In pairs. Feck. We were paired up and told to face one another as we’d be playing a game of strength and usually I would be ecstatic in this circumstance because I’m competitive to the core and having to compete with someone who could barely see me through the Lemsip haze would have been no contest. However I was too busy thinking how I could touch her hand without really touching her hand when it was too late. She had already taken it, as it seemed she was happy to pass on the malady she had been stricken with, a little bit too happy if you ask me, and I waved farewell to breathing through my nose for a week.

The thing is though I hate being sick and for good enough reason. I try my hardest to avoid the hospital at all costs which, unfortunately, is not easy with CF. When you’re inside (I refer to it like prison because the meals are crap and you are subjected to the shouts and roars of the crazy people in the cell/room next to you) it’s a reminder that I have CF and will always have it for the rest of my life.

When I do have to go in some people say things like “I wish I could get a few weeks off work!” or “Think of all the boxsets you can watch!”. Now I fully understand they mean no malice with their words and the last time I was in I did ingest A LOT of GBBO but I still despise the place. Hospital can feel overwhelmingly lonely despite the fact there are nurses, doctors, physios, dieticians, cleaners, social workers and visitors in and out all day long from 6am to 12am. It’s great to be in my jammies all day but I would much rather be at home complaining about a day at work.

While I have already fallen once this autumn (I’m writing this from my couch and my surroundings are something akin to a drug den), having the day off feeling lousy started me thinking of all the wee remedies we have here for the cold. Living in a damp climate means that most of us will catch whatever fun things are going round and although buying painkillers or cough mixtures over the counter can be a quick fix, it can also be expensive. I’ve listed a few things I like to try out in desperation and old remedies that I’ve been taught over the years.

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Hot Ginger Tea

Ginger is great for inflammation which causes that whole blocked up feeling you get. My head feels about 20 tonnes at the moment so this is something I like to turn to to help get a bit of a relief. All you need to do is grate a few tablespoons of ginger and add hot boiling water, lemon juice, honey and cinnamon. I like to leave the ginger to stew a wee while to get a good kick of flavour.

Steam Bowl

Nothing reminds me of childhood ailments than sitting at the table with a towel over my head and a bowl under me with Vicks Vapour Rub dissolved in water so hot it felt like your face was melting. When I would come up for air I’d be shouted at because it wouldn’t work – darling memories! What works just as well is about 10-15 drops of tea tree or eucalyptus essential oil in hot water which clears out those sinuses – just keep the bowl underneath you for the drippiness.

Hot Whisky

This is a drink I look forward to if I’m sick or not but it’s a great tonic for a sore throat or a crappy Wednesday. I throw about 50mls of Jameson’s whisky in to a mug along with a slice of lemon, teaspoon of honey, a cinnamon stick and 3 cloves and that’s it! You’ve got yourself a PJ cocktail party. Just go easy because no one needs to be sick and suffer a hangover.

Garlic

My Grandpa Francie was a great advocate for the benefits of garlic and took garlic tablets regularly. It’s nicknamed as the Russian penicillin for its healing properties but it’s also really great for the heart too. You can take it crushed with some hot water if you fancy or you can buy the tablets if you’re a lazy Susan.

 

One last tip though is to always have yourself stocked up! Make sure to have all the goods you need ready for the mornings you wake up feeling like a half of a human by gathering the essentials at your next grocery shop. You’ll thank yourself later!!

 

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Good luck to all of you this autumn! Wrap up and stay at least 50 metres from just about everyone you meet and you’ll be just fine 🙂

 

A Birthday Post

A Birthday Post

Recently I turned 28 and I have had to unwillingly acknowledge that my twenties will be soon coming to an end. There’s a part of me that’s slightly terrified by it because when you’re in your twenties a lot of bad decisions can be excused due to the fact that you’re still young and finding your way. When you’re in your thirties however, you’re supposed to have your s**t figured out and be steadily following the life plan that society has planned out for you.

The thing is, the older I do get the less I care about this so called life plan. I have long compared myself with my peers as I have begrudgingly grown in to an adult – wondered if I was pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, caring enough, ambitious enough or just enough. It took some time for me to understand that confidence isn’t awarded through a constant stream of compliments and approvals. It was something I would only gain once I accepted that the level of perfection I sought to achieve was not just unrealistic but completely unfair to myself.

Society, especially Irish society, would have us believe that we are are unfulfilled if we do not follow a certain path in a certain order. Our lives seem to be planned out for us after we leave school; graduate from university, meet a lovely boy/girl, go travelling for a few months, buy a house together, get engaged (there is at least a little bit of leniancy with the order of the last two), get married, have babies all the while developing a fabulous career and ensuring you’ve enough money gathered up to drive a great car, shower your house in Cath Kidston and make sure you’re a size 10 until the day you fall in to an exhausted heap.

If we fail to reach these milestones we may feel inadequate or that we have failed in some way. I know I have struggled with feeling somewhat unaccomplished because I haven’t reached a level in my career that I think I should be at or see others exceeding in their roles while I feel like I’m coasting in mine. This kind of behaviour is neither productive nor an efficient way of dealing with my own insecurities and it’s this wonderful self-awareness that’s been granted to me in the latter part of my twenties.

I’m now able to identify the moments where I worry that I’m lacking in a certain area of my life whether it be work, money or relationships and I can reign myself in before I let my brain whir in to a complete frenzy of toxic thoughts. This ability has saved me in these moments, allowing myself to acknowledge all the great things that are happening around me, no matter how trivial I might find them, because they might not be so trivial to someone else.

So as I approach my thirties at a steady pace, I know full well I probably won’t have it all figured out and I’m OK with that. I don’t think anyone really knows what they’re doing half the time and no doubt finds themselves at the till some Tuesday in Tesco’s, holding their club card in their hand wondering how the hell they even got this far in life. We are all on the same path at the end of the day but it’s not the milestones we think we have to make that count, it’s the moments in between; the brave choices we make that could take us anywhere, the people we surround ourselves with who make us feel like we’ve come home and cherishing those moments where we know that things are pretty fucking good.

Here’s to 28!

 

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Hello Autumn: 10 Activities for the Golden Season

Hello Autumn: 10 Activities for the Golden Season

As a wee girl in school, my teacher asked me why I thought the leaves turned orange and fell from the trees every year. My reply was, “because they’re magic!” and to this day I feel like there is something a little bit magical about this time of year. There is a new briskness in the early mornings and late evenings that wasn’t there before and an air of preparedness seems to descend among everyone as we pack away the summer clothes and bring out the blankets, wool jumpers and scarves.

I was born and raised in Co. Armagh in Ireland, better known as the Orchard County, which may be the reason why I love autumn so much. Or maybe because I was born in the season (I turned 28 on Friday!!) but when the 1st of September arrives, it feels like we can almost hear the seasons snap. When I was living in Australia, experiencing that change in the season was something I missed dearly. I longed for the darker evenings, the walks through amber forests, the crunching of the leaves underfoot. There’s a reason we Irish seem to talk about nothing but the weather – it’s ingrained in us to experience all kinds of seasons and to look forward to the changes.

There is so much to do in the autumn, we just have to wear a few extra layers and have an umbrella within reach at all times! If you’re local or experience the seasons like we do, then have a gander at a wee list I made of fun activities to get you in to the autumnal spirit.

 

Go For A Walk

Now I understand that this isn’t the most creative suggestion but in Ireland many of us take for granted how amazing our woods and forests are this time of year. There is so much colour showcased all around us not to mention that it’s an absolute Instagram delight! Collect some conkers and jump in to piles of leaves to let your inner child be free and if you’re stuck for inspiration for where to places in Belfast, check out a post I wrote a while ago for my favourite walks here.

 

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Forage

It’s the time of harvest so go out and reap the benefits (with permission of course)! Armagh is home to the apple and there are plenty of orchards that will let you pick your own fruit to take home if you ask them. There’s also plums, damsons and blackberries to make jams and pies that would make aul Mary Berry proud!

 

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Host a Scary Movie / Pumpkin Carving Night

I love scary movies – LOVE them! I get some weird enjoyment from sitting with the blanket up around my eyes wondering why the hell I do it to myself. Hallowe’en is the perfect time to take advantage of this masochist hobby of mine and last year we had our friends Thomas & Rebecca over for a bit of carving too. Turns out Thomas was a bit of a professional and the competitiveness made it a great night. Will be doing it again this year for sure!

 

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Start a New Hobby

Spring is better known as the time to start something new but I think autumn is perfect because of the darker evenings pulling us indoors. We too often get sucked in to a routine of going home after work because it’s rainy and we’re feeling tired but having an activity which gets us out of the house helps break the week up and lift the spirits. This autumn/winter I’m going to start learning how to knit – expect photos of something resembling a scarf next summer!

 

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Visit Your Local Oktoberfest

The Belfast Oktoberfest has really taken off in the last couple of years with this year’s festival taking place every weekend in October – plenty of opportunity to sample all those brews then. I’m yet to have experienced it so I’m keen to make my way to the King’s Hall for a stein or 10!

 

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Volunteer at Homeless Shelter

Not to bring us all down but the figures for homelessness in Belfast these days are scary with the number of those sleeping rough increasing consistently year after year. However it’s not just those we see on the streets that we need to be concerned about. The number of those couch surfing, losing their homes or those vulnerable to abuse are also increasing. I’ve decided to sign up to assist the Welcome Organisation and help out where I can during these harsher months and if you feel like you would like to as well, just visit their website here.

 

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Bring the Autumn Inside

The Danes have a word called hygge which means the creation of a nice, warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life. I feel like I can definitely identify with this because in autumn, I love to make my home as cosy as possible. What I like to do is bring as many blankets out as I can for the living room, collect leaves and pine cones to decorate the table and fireplace and swap my art and pictures around so the colours are a bit earthier throughout the house. Andrew is just overjoyed when he sees me bringing more and more pieces of nature inside – not really, he doesn’t seem to have the same appreciation for dried leaves! Mel Wiggins, a fellow blogger, recently wrote a lovely post for the Smashed Avocado blog on how to create the perfect autumn table which you can read here for inspiration.

 

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Gather Your Clan

A roast is difficult to beat on those rainy Sunday afternoons and if you can’t meet your friends or family outside then why not gather inside for a feast to warm the bellies? My friends and I are choosing this option more and more now that we’ve reached our late twenties – we’d much rather sit around the table with a bottle or 5 of wine, eat good food and talk about dogs (to the dismay of our partners)! I wrote a post about what I cook for my roast dinner here but it’s also good to have a pot luck dinner where everyone brings their own dish because it eases the pressure and allows more time for wine drinking. Priorities people.

 

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Make Your Own Mulled Wine/Cider or Hot Whiskies

Any excuse for the Irish right?! I love curling up by the fire with my hands wrapped round a mug of warm alcohol. Making mulled wine is super easy and will make your home smell like an incredible winter wonderland! Whisky mixed with hot water, lemon, honey and some cloves are great too after a long day at work or if your throat is feeling a bit rough. Just don’t get plastered on a school night.

 

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Go To A Festival

Festivals aren’t just for the summer and there’s still lots happening in the autumn if you keep your eyes open. Culture Night is happening both in Belfast and Armagh this weekend, there’s also comedy festivals, harvest festivals, exhibitions. To find out what’s happening close to you, check out the Discover NI website here – don’t be tempted to hibernate and lock yourself indoors!

 

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Wishing you all a cosy, happy autumn!!

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