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Author: Alex

Wild Garlic Chicken Pasta

Wild Garlic Chicken Pasta

Not so long ago a friend of mine took me to a secret woodland that lay hidden from the walkers of the nearby park. We followed an indiscriminate path that suddenly opened up in to a cathedral of trees and a carpet of bluebells and wild garlic. The scent was incredible (and my sense of smell is shocking) but it was the colours that moved me the most. It was as if the saturation was turned up wherever I looked as the sun streamed through the birch trees.

 

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We were there to forage for wild garlic before we reached the end of it’s peak season. I’d been wanting to start foraging for food for a while and wild garlic was a good place to start since it’s an easy substitute for other fresh herbs like basil. It’s also incredibly simple to find since you’ll find the stuff in abundance in pretty much every woodland. Luckily Rebecca (an extremely talented photographer/blogger who took all of these amazing woodland photos you see in this post) knew the perfect patch that was off the beaten path and on a slope which meant there was little human or animal footfall which makes it a little nicer to eat!

 

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I was planning on using the leaves in my recipe but you can add the flowers to salads to save any waste. Young leaves are the tastiest so I picked leaves with flowers that were newly opened or hadn’t quite opened yet. There was so much to choose from that I came away with a basketful – plenty to use for my pasta recipe!

 

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You can use the leaves in so many different ways; pesto, dip, soup, you name it. I chose to reinvent a favourite pasta dish that I cook by introducing a few cupful of leaves hoping that it might elevate it a little. It definitely did the trick! There was more of a kick of flavour (I used kale in previous recipes) and the smell when cooking was delicious. Cooking with ingredients that I hand-picked made it a little more special and I can’t wait to head out and collect more before the season finishes in a few weeks.

 

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I would recommend this dish for one of those spring evenings that has a chill in the air. We know this kind of evening well in Ireland; after a full day of sun the temperature suddenly drops and we find ourselves reaching for the winter blankets again. It’s warm, filling and a little bit indulgent but using foraged ingredients makes it a little less shameful!

 

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Happy foraging!!


Wild Garlic Chicken Pasta 

Feeds 2 – 3 people – depending how hungry you are! 

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 x chicken breasts, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 1/2 cups penne pasta
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 cups of chopped wild garlic leaves
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Method:

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over a medium heat
  2. Add onion and stir for about 3 minutes
  3. Add chicken and stir until cooked all over
  4. Stir in garlic and cook for an additional minute
  5. Add uncooked pasta, chicken stock, water, wild garlic and bring to boil
  6. Stir and bring to boil, then reduce to a lower heat, cover and leave to simmer for just over 20 minutes
  7. When all liquid has been absorbed, remove from heat and stir in cheese, double cream and lemon juice
  8. Serve with crusty bread

 

 

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What Not To Worry About #21

What Not To Worry About #21

A whole week of sunshine transforms the mindset of the Irish people. We become unnaturally positive as we pull all of our furniture outside to the garden with naive enthusiasm, attempt to have a BBQ without at least one argument and pretend that the midgies aren’t so bad really. We understand that weather this beautiful is not to be taken for granted and while some might have the audacity to say that it’s ‘too warm’, most of us can’t believe our lucky stars when we wake up to another blue sky.

 

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There is this fervour of activity that occurs when the sun is streaming down on us. We fear that we aren’t doing enough to make the most of the sunshine when in truth all we should be doing is stopping to savour it. We don’t need to book a weekend away or take half of the house with us to the beach. The best way to enjoy this weather is by not putting shoes on for the whole weekend while we potter between our garden and the indoors. This is how I spent my Saturday; by stripping the beds and throwing all the windows open, sitting on the back doorstep to listen to kids playing on the street, cooking a fry for brunch, going through all my unused cosmetics (man, how good does it feel to throw out crap you don’t use?). Bliss.

 

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Sunday was spent outdoors with my sister Shannon when I realised I had to sit in an office the next day. She collected me from my house and took a spin to Dundrum with Bella in the back to keep us company. It’s not often that we get to hang out like this just the two of us but she is probably the person I feel most at ease with in this world. We can sit in total silence and it will still feel like quality time together.

 

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On our way back to Belfast we passed a rapeseed field that was bursting with colour against the setting sun. Being the Instagram lunatic that I am, I convinced her to pull the car over and have an impromptu shoot. She didn’t need much persuading to be fair as she’s as big an addict as I am and so we leapt about the yellow flowers like a pair of eejits. It was the perfect way to end a sun-filled weekend.

 

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I hope you made plenty of Spring memories this weekend. And here’s a few of the worries and stresses I am letting go of this week…

 

Getting an Ed Sheeran song stuck in my head

The man is everywhere and even though I might face the wrath of his army of fans by saying this…. I don’t like his music. Galway Girl is like listening to what Americans think Irish music should sound like but holy Moses it can really get stuck in your head. The man is a musical evil genius! I find myself bursting out in to song as I type out an email and feel instantly ashamed of myself. Damn you Ed!

Spring Winds

To quote every person in Ireland, “Aw Jaysus boy, sure she’s warm when you’re standin’ in an aul trap but once you’re in the shade thon wind would cut ye in two”. Translated as: “Yes, you’re quite right, the weather is splendid however if you were to step in to the shade you would find it rather chilly really”. I like the Irish version better though.

Flies

One of my Dad’s pet peeves of the summer. And mine too if I’m to be honest (not cynical I swear!). One morning during the week I woke up to the sunlight filtering through the room which was the loveliest way to wake up until I heard this steroidal blue bottle attacking our curtain like a monster. What a jaw-clencher.

People that complain about the heat

As I mentioned above, these people are the worst! They yap all winter about how you can feel the cold to the bones but when the temperature lifts above 15 degrees you would sweat it was Doomsday. They’re out fanatically watering their precious plants as if the gates of Hell are about to open at the bottom of the garden! Chill out folks – we live in Ireland and it will be raining again in no time.

Walking on mopped floors in socks

*Shudder* – is there anything worse than damp socks???

 

Have a lovely week!!!

 

Homemade Lavender Spray

Homemade Lavender Spray

It’s funny how the sun can completely energise us and we suddenly remember all of the projects we abandoned during the winter. These last few days of sunshine and blue skies has awakened the creativity I thought had disappeared completely and I have a whole bunch of crafty things I want to make over the next few weeks (or until the notoriously short Irish summer ends).

 

I decided to start with a super quick and manageable project that I could do after work in the evening and a room spray was just about the simplest thing I could come up with. It’s a recipe I’ve been wanting to make for a while not just because our living room smells like a Victorian basement (drying clothes indoors = lovely damp aroma) but also to help quickly lift anything that might not be smelling so fresh e.g. gym bag, guddies (do people still say guddies??), car, curtains, boyfriend.

 

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Lavender was the choice for the spray because it’s my go-to summer scent. It takes me back to our holiday in Croatia last year where the markets would be teeming with little bags of this floral deliciousness and I bought as many as I could to take home with me. I still have a little left that I keep in a drawer but I hijacked a few sprigs to use for this spray. It smells wonderful and I’ve been spraying a little on my pillow to help sleep through these warmer nights.

 

If you don’t feel like whipping together a spray then you can introduce lavender essential oil in plenty of other ways. It really is an all-rounder essential oil; it’s antiseptic (great for wounds or scars), a sleeping aid, a muscle relaxant (a few drops in the bath will have you chilled out in no time), a pain reliever and can be used as a topical treatment for skin issues like eczema. A bit of an over-achiever really.

 

And if lavender isn’t your thing then you can create your own bespoke concoction that feels like summer to you. Like…

Cypress, Lemon & Rosemary

Orange, Lime & Spearmint

Sandalwood, Grapefruit & Orange

 

The options are endless! So here’s to bringing in the smells of summer and fingers crossed this sunshine sticks around for us to enjoy this weekend!

 

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Lavender Room Spray

What You’ll Need

  • Bottle with mist nozzle
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Dried lavender
  • Distilled water
  • Vodka or gin
  • Measuring cup

 

Method

  1. Clean out your bottle
  2. Pour in your distilled water first (I used a 6:1 ratio of water:vodka)
  3. Then about 25-30 drops of the essential oil (I used the maximum because my sense of smell is pathetic)
  4. Pour in your vodka or gin
  5. Give the bottle a good shake (with the lid on folks)
  6. Cut a few sprigs of lavender just short of the length of the bottle and place inside.
  7. Spray around the house like you’re a domestic goddess

 

What Not To Worry About #20

What Not To Worry About #20

Happy Tuesday!

 

I really enjoyed those little cluster of long weekends we’ve been having this past month. Not that I have been doing anything overly spectacular with my time but it’s the ordinary little things that have been making me happy recently. Spending lots of time with family and friends. Enjoying lazy mornings on the couch drinking lots of tea and writing. Going for mini adventures somewhere local. And sunshine!!

 

It took me a long time to appreciate the mundane because throughout most of my twenties I was seeking the extraordinary. The adrenalin from new experiences, new faces and new landscapes. As my twenties are dwindling I am able to appreciate the predictable moments because they are spent with the people who I want to be boring with. That is home to me. And even if I wander again I will always be brought back to the the ordinary moments that make my heart happy.

 

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Last weekend my family assembled to help my Granny Una celebrate her 90th birthday. We piled in to my aunt Susie’s and ate the most amazing food (there were about a million desserts) and I held a wine glass that never seemed to empty. The house was full of stories; some I’ve never heard before but most I have heard hundreds of times. We all sat around in a circle at the end of the night taking turns to play the bard and sharing jokes – a traditional end to an Irish gathering where I usually flounder because I am terrible at remembering jokes. It was a great night to be surrounded by

 

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But my favourite part of the evening was the quick chat I had with Una in between the photos we were all competing for. As to be expected on her 90th birthday she was feeling particularly reflective and she told me of her time in the Women’s Royal Navy, the most cherished years of her life. She talked of living in Egypt. How she still remembers hearing the music from her camp near the Suez Canal and the heat that seemed so different to the Irish sun. After three years in the WRN’s as a morse code operator she had to return home to look after her elderly mother. A decision she now says was both the best and worst of her life. It changed everything for her.

 

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I will cherish that conversation for the rest of my days because I saw in her more than just my grandmother. She was a wild one once and she too had that unwillingness to settle for the ordinary. She had hopes and dreams just like I do now. She was unsure of her choices and the path she was supposed to take. I felt closer to her than I ever have.

 

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This week I am choosing to let go of a few things but mostly I want to remind myself that I don’t have to have it all figured out. It’s OK with not knowing it all for now. Here’s a few of them…

 

Not Remembering Jokes

As said above I am shite at remembering jokes and quietly seethe with jealousy when people can roll a dozen off their tongue. How can you fit all of them inside your brain?! Remembering to brush my teeth is enough of a challenge.

 

Forgetting To Brush My Teeth

Until I’m all cosy in bed. It’s the worst when I get all snuggly and then realise that I don’t taste minty and then I have to drag myself from the cosiness. Personal hygiene is such a nuisance sometimes.

 

Crap Lunch

I’m trying to be really good and not spend money on lunches in work but sometimes it’s just plain sad when all you have is a few spinach leaves and tomatoes. Even a jam sandwich seems exciting these days.

 

Sunglasses

I will never complain of sunshine. NEVER. But because I live in Ireland it means I am always unprepared for the good days and always have to fish out sunglasses from the year before which are never there because I always lose them. Why are sunglasses so hard to retain? Of all my accessories they have the shortest lifespan. Or gloves. Damn seasons.

 

Never Having Change

I’ve fully embraced the modern life and use my card everywhere I go. It isn’t until I am in a carpark or a charity asks for money that I am reminded that people still carry coins. Why can’t everything just be a tap away from payment? Coins are cumbersome and just make you jingle so they should be altogether eradicated.

 

And that’s a wrap! Enjoy the rest of your week folks!

 

 

10 Ways To Embrace Your Inner Child

10 Ways To Embrace Your Inner Child

As a child I always thought that grown ups had their shit together and knew exactly where they were headed. Big decisions were just a series of stepping stones that would bring you to your soulmate/dream job/perfect house. Now that I’m a full fledged ‘grown up’ I have quickly discovered that my childhood idea was completely ludicrous and actually most of us are sort of playing along with whatever decisions we pray hope think are the best ones for our future. In reality a lot of us, including myself, are in a constant state of doubt, not certain of anything but trying our hardest to keep on.

 

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Of course being a grown up can be a really tough job. We have to pay bills, keep our cars clean and pretend we know how to do pivot tables. All this serious stuff can create such a weight on our shoulders that it’s hard to remember those carefree days as a kid when the biggest disaster was the day the ice-cream van missed your street. The thing is is that we can still tap in to those wee moments of simple joy we had back then. We still enjoy the same things (I will forever love a swing) it’s just that we don’t allow ourselves to unwind from this stiff adult mentality for fear that we’ll either look insane or we might fall in to a heap of despair.

 

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How about, instead of walking alongside that low-rise wall, you actually get up and walk along it like you know you want to? In any way you can you should encourage those innocent moments in the day that make you happy despite how silly they may seem. When we allow ourselves to just relax and be the same person we were when we were younger it can bring a real sense of contentment that can be dissipated by everyday adult life.

 

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Now that we’re coming in to better(ish) weather it makes it that little bit easier to let our inner child run free. The summer was the peak season as a child after all! I can still remember lying in bed on a summer night with the sunlight still shining through the curtains and the smell of outside still on my skin. That excitement doesn’t leave us as when we get older if we don’t want it to and I’ve thought of a few ways to help you embrace that inner child of yours on the days when you feel like adulting is too damn hard.

 

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Surround Yourself With Other Kids

If you’re a parent you might roll your eyes at this one but really you have the best tools to encourage the silliness every day. When I’m around Andrew’s niece and nephew or my friend’s children I get a snapshot in to a mindset I yearn to have again. Children believe in magic and that’s infectious – looking for fairies amongst the trees makes a woodland walk that little bit more entertaining.

Take Your Shoes Off

Run through the grass. Kick sand around the beach. Bounce on the trampoline. Throwing our shoes off to run around can take us straight back to the days when shoes were an infringement on fun. They still are.

Welcome Mess

Being an adult means keeping a tidy home but sometimes fun means mess. How about doing a bit of painting even if you’re terrible at it? Or crafting something you’ve been wanting to for ages? Buy PVA glue and remind yourself of the days of Art Attack and Blue Peter.

Play Loud Music

And dance round the house. Play songs from your childhood (my personal favourite is ‘Sunscreen’ by Baz Luhrmann but it’s not a real dance-y song) that will propel you to a memory you hadn’t thought of in forever.

Use Your Imagination

As we get older we rely less and less on imagination when actually it can be a real asset as an adult. Technology has made us lazy and we can turn to Google for just about every answer. How about creating a jar of fun ideas for the weekends? Every member of the house can take a turn in picking out an idea (and the phones could even be left at home if that’s even remotely possible).

Build a Fort

There is nothing better than spending a rainy afternoon watching movies in a fort. With lots of blankets. And marshmallows.

Plan a Treasure Hunt

I used to love treasure hunts as a kid and would love to plan an adult version with all of my friends. When we are all gathered together for a game night it’s like a playground anyway so I can only imagine what a treasure hunt would be like!

Skip

OK so I understand if you don’t want to do this in public but if you’re able to get a moment to yourself with no one around then DO IT. It will definitely make you smile.

Bring Out Old Photos

Remind yourself of the fun you used to have and rediscover the happiest moments you had as a nipper.

Play a Childhood Game

Kerbsie, Tip the Can, Hide & Seek, Red Rover. How many games did we have as children? Growing up on an estate surrounded by loads of other kids was a real blessing because there was always a game to play. Your mates might think you’re a lunatic to start with but no one can say no to a game of kerbsie.

 

Wishing you bunch of kids a lovely weekend – here’s to letting our inner children run free!

What Not To Worry About #19

What Not To Worry About #19

Hello Monday faces! I missed writing this post last week. It’s so therapeutic writing on a Sunday evening and planning what little worries I am choosing to let go of for the week ahead. Alas I was too busy enjoying my long Easter break and this week is the first 5 day week I’ve had in wee while – I’m trying not to be a little sad about it! Personally I think 4 day weeks are a good way to go but since I’m not my own boss (yet – one day!) I will have to accept that I am on the Monday-Friday hamster wheel and make sure weekends are always jammed with the good stuff.

 

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Last weekend was a special one after watching one of my best friends marry her person which is one of the strangest and most beautiful things to witness. I have been friends with Louise for 15 years and seeing her stand up at the altar in the dress we had all imagined since we were teenagers and saying the words we have all dreamed of saying was incredibly surreal. It doesn’t feel all that long ago that we were crying in toilets over boys or spending hours trying on each other’s clothes!

 

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The rest of the weekend was spent recovering in Armagh mostly beside a lit fire which in April feels like a real guilty pleasure. I fell asleep in the armchair and had to be shown to my bed like a sleep walking toddler and woke up not having a notion where I was. On Sunday afternoon I was fed by the Moffett’s and then fed again by the Donnelly’s in the evening like a touring grazer – Sundays are made for ceilidhing!

 

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My uncle has come home from Australia to help us celebrate Granny Una’s 90th birthday next weekend and his return has given the family plenty of excuses to get together. For such a big family it’s not easy to get us all under the same roof but we piled ourselves in to my Aunt’s house for a Chinese and Inidan (your typical Irish Sunday feed of course) and shouted over the top of one another while my poor Granny tried to make out the conversation. A couple of hours with the clan is enough to make my heart swell and we’re all clinging on to these special moments with Una because we know how lucky we are to still have her.

 

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This week I am starting out with a positive head despite how far Friday feels! Here are a few of the worries I am shedding…

 

Breaking Things

Much to Andrew’s continual dismay, I am renowned for breaking or losing things. The most recent damage is to my glasses which currently have one arm (or is it leg?). I’ve ordered a new pair but I’ve spent the last couple of weeks looking totally unprofessional in the office like I’m trying to start some sad new trend. I’m not I am just horrendous at replacing things!

Hackers

The joys of the modern era are the hackers/trolls/bullies we find all over the internet and I was lucky enough to be a victim of a Facebook hack a few weeks ago. Some lovely person decided to remove me as my blog page admin and despite trying to contact Facebook several times there was no happy outcome. I’ve had to create a new page all over again so if you’re reading this please share my page on Facey-B if you can so I can reach out to all my old followers. Hate to be a pest but I will promise to make you a cup of tea or at least send out some positive thoughts (don’t say I don’t spoil you).

Morning Routines

Brighter mornings has meant I am up earlier than usual but I’m not using the extra time as best I can. Instead I usually sit in a zombie-like state dribbling granola all over my PJ’s. I plan to start introducing some yoga stretches and a few minutes of meditation to wake me up a little better in the hope I might be a little more productive which leads me to my next worry…

Work To-Do Lists

Lately I’ve been a little unmotivated at work and the to-do list stares at me from my diary while I battle to get everything done. I plan to start managing my time much better in work so I don’t get the guilts when I leave a pile of stuff still to be done – no more jumping between a million tasks! Wish me luck.

Not Seeing the new Beauty & The Beast

How have I not seen it yet?! Someone please take me!!

 

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Wishing you lovely lot an even lovelier week!!

 

 

Local Favourites: Hillsborough

Local Favourites: Hillsborough

OK so I was supposed to make this a monthly feature but I am still getting to grips with actually running a blog and this whole consistency thing – and it’s SPRINGTIME! So forgive me please? Thanks.

 

Up next in this not-so-monthly series is Hillsborough, a wee village that’s just a stone’s throw from the big smoke. But despite it being so close to Belfast, I only visited Hillsborough for the first time last year – gasp! When I strolled through the pristine, flower-lined streets I felt a quiet, simmering rage knowing I had gone 27 years without the place. The shopfronts are flawless, every door is a dream and there are cafés-a-plenty to wet your thirst in.

 

There are so many reasons to visit this wee gem and I’ve listed a few to help you avoid the rage I had last year…

 

Architecture

A bit like Armagh, Hillsborough is well known for it’s Georgian buildings with townhouses to drool over. The main attraction is the Georgian mansion found on the top of the hill which just so happens to be the Queen’s place of residence when she takes the rare jaunt to the North. Lizzie has good taste because the building is beautiful and you can even take a tour of the house and gardens if you want to see how the other half live.

 

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Hillsborough Fort is where the town started Colonel Arthur Hill built it back in 1650. It’s a good place for a view of the town and the countryside around it as well as some creepy gothic additions.

 

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I’ve already mentioned the beautiful townhouses in Hillsborough but my favourite street has to be Arthur Street where, as it turns out, my Aunt used to live when she was a young thing. The wee cottages and their colourful front doors is a good place for a photo opportunity (if you’re anything like me and can’t resist a pretty house).

 

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Of course you can’t visit a town in Ireland without a church or two and St. Malachy’s is a symmetrical dream. It’s a good place for a dander up to the fort and then on to the lake.

 

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Space

Right behind the fort lies the lake and Hillsborough Forest Park which I had no idea existed until my last visit. Within a few minutes you can find yourself in a woodland getting lost amongst the oak trees.

 

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As Hillsborough is only a small village, you can find yourself in the countryside in no time at all. Just make sure to bring a good walking partner with you because mine bailed and went for a nap in the car!

 

Eat & Drink

Hillsborough is the perfect spot to take your Mum for a lunch because there are so many places that do a good scone and a cuppa. Out of Habit is a great spot for a break along with with Humble Pie and Meet & Thyme. Really you could do a scone crawl and taste them all which sounds like an ideal way to spend an afternoon.

 

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If you’re after something a little more filling then the Hillside offers a bit more on the menu – it should do as it’s the oldest pub in the town. The Parson’s Nose is also a favourite for a meal worthy of unzipping the old trousers.

 

Shop

My Mum told me recently that she bought her wedding dress in Hillsborough over 30 years ago and it seems like it’s still a favourite spot for brides making big choices – hopefully luckier ones than my Mum (haha divorce joke)! If you’re not a new bride there’s still a few wee places to bide a while in.

 

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Every time I’m in Hillsborough I have to call in to the Cheshire Cat to have a gander at what’s new. It’s the best place to pick up a gift for someone, usually for myself.

 

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Twig & Twine is another place to buy things you have to have but don’t really need. The shopfront alone makes me feel giddy with the flower arrangements and the general loveliness – Andrew wasn’t quite as excited.

 

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I hope all these reasons are enough to entice you to Hillsborough next time you’re stuck for an idea for a day trip. If you have been – go back! If you haven’t – go now because there’s nothing prettier than Hillsborough in the Spring.

My Favourite Food Blogs

My Favourite Food Blogs

It feels safe to say that we have welcomed Spring in Ireland. The blossom is in full bounty leaving scatterings of this swift season across our feet and in our paths. Although the blossom doesn’t hang around for long, it’s arrival marks a change in our days as we can allow ourselves to make way for changes. Changes in what we wear, changes in what we do and changes in how we eat.

 

Winter is the season for stews, soups and casseroles and while we spent the cold months refuelling and keeping our bodies warm, by the time spring comes we are ready for new ideas to shake up the dinner routine. It’s this time of year that I struggle the most with inspiration for our meals. I have grown tired of the same recipes I have been begun to have on rotation and cooking starts to become a task rather than a moment in my day that I look forward to.

 

Naturally I am a fan of blogs (I would be mortified to tell you how many I actually read) and there are some truly beautiful sites out there that I turn to in my moment of need. Not only do these sites provide me with endless ideas, recipes and combinations my tired wee brain could never concoct on it’s own but they are also a form of escape for me. Through reading these beautiful posts I get a snapshot in to a beautiful kitchen and a life that’s so different to mine. It’s not a matter of being envious but being woken up from whatever slumber I have fallen in to.

 

I have decided to share some of my favourite food blogs in case you are a victim of the seasonal slump. I know you will adore each of them but please don’t blame me if you waste hours of your evening pouring yourself over beautiful pictures instead of cooking the amazing recipes you intended!


Farmette

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Source: Farmette

Imen is an American who fell in love with an Irishman first and Ireland a close second. She creates her own interpretation of Irish recipes while providing a snapshot in to her life in the Irish countryside and how she has adjusted to our way of life. Her photos are always beautiful and help remind me why I’m so lucky to live on this wild island along with having such a close hand to fresh ingredients.

Manger

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Source: Manger

Oh this blog leads me in to a dangerous place of envy mixed with sheer adoration. Mimi has the most wonderful way of writing that takes you on a gastronomic journey you just don’t want to end. With beautiful pictures of her life in the French Médoc region with her squad of equally beautiful children (and dogs!) taken by her husband Oddur, it’s enough to make you want to run away and live the life of a culinary vagabond. I blame my best friend Caoimhe for this obsession as she was the one that introduced me to the blog and we gush often of our love for Mimi (we have big dreams of attending workshops held in the family chateau once we win the lotto).

Joy The Baker

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Source: Joy The Baker

Joy is like my best friend that I’ve never met. Her words are so familiar to me it’s like she’s an old pal who I can’t wait to see again when she invites me over for pasta and wine. She is super talented and inspires me to step out of my tiny box a little and to not worry about the mess. I also love her weekly Sunday posts that make me laugh as well as teaching me about things I would never have learned on my own. She is awesome.

Local Milk

local-milk

Source: Local Milk

If Joy is the best friend I never had then Beth is the cool girl I would be too terrified to even talk to. She has such style and is a true wordsmith as well as a recipe guru. She travels the world with her husband and baby hosting workshops that I can only dream of attending but make do with following her on Instagram. I might not always make the recipes she suggests but I try and give most them a whirl. Even so, her pictures and words alone have me returning to her magical world (and have me planning my next adventure!).

The Smitten Kitchen

smitten-kitchen

Source: The Smitten Kitchen

Deb’s site is my go-to when I want a quick recipe that I know will satisfy my rumbling tummy. Her recipes are approachable which is exactly what I need after I’ve slugged all day behind a computer and it’s a plus when every recipe is one I want to try. I would definitely recommend her blog for the days when you want something that’s not intimidating using ingredients that you will definitely have in your cupboards.

 

What Not To Worry About #18

What Not To Worry About #18

Hello friends. How are we this Tuesday? Feeling fresh as a daisy or did you reach for the covers this morning to hide away from the morning light? I’ve been feeling a little knackered lately and my body has been telling me so in a few different ways; cough is a little worse, I have developed a very attractive rash on my belly and I have been in my PJ’s before sundown the 3 few evenings. Hot stuff.

 

So overall I have been better but at the same time I have definitely been worse. There are so many wee things that are lifting me back to where I am happiest – a few little ailments won’t tear me back down. The last few weekends have been permeated with sunlight, the coats have been shed and I have definitely welcomed the return of daytime cocktails. It’s all good right here.

 

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Last weekend was a mix of good and bad behaviour. Friday was spent with friends tasting delicious beer at a local brewery which escalated in to a night of dancing and a few too many whiskies. I tried to exonerate myself on Saturday with a yoga workshop at Flow Studio which was nothing short of tingly loveliness. I learned so much and forgave myself for the debauchery the night before until I wolfed a chicken goujon supper after and then I was right back on the road to Guilt Town.

 

On Sunday we discovered a new slice of heaven at Mahee Island which blew lots of good sea air in to my lungs and made me smile from ear to ear. I love stumbling upon new corners of this country especially when they’re so close to home. Mahee Island is actually a part of a bunch of tiny islands in Strangford Lough and is only about 15 minutes from Belfast so it’s the perfect Sunday escape from the city. The islands are connected by narrow bridges with water surrounding every view from the road – it felt like we were so much further from home.

 

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Having a quick jaunt to the water is the best way to clear the head of negative thoughts and these are the thoughts that Mahee Island cured me of this week…

 

Hearing My Voice Recorded

There is truly no other sound that can make me want to pull my own ears off than the sound of my own voice. When I hear it recorded I try to imagine why anyone speaks to me or why I have any friends at all. The reason I mention this is because I have recently started to record myself on Insta stories and so the fear is very real but like any fear I just have to get over it and hope that I don’t drive followers away in their hoards!

Hospital Appointments

I have THREE hospital appointments this week. THREE. Three times I will have to wait in a crappy waiting room with nothing to read but Woman’s Own or ancient posters about COPD. Three times I will have to talk to medical staff who have been whittled down to a point after years of listening to the moans of others. Naturally I’m super excited about it especially the extortionate car park charges which I never seem to have the change for. But I will not let the negativity get to me!

Man Cables

Andrew is a hoarder. He hoards the most random of technical stuff which he stores in most corners of our tiny house. He thinks if he puts a lamp on a drive drive he can try and disguise it as a table but he ain’t fooling anyone. This week I decided that his pile of cables/keypads/LED lightbulbs will no longer torment me so I shoved them in the cupboard under the stairs like a good housewife.

Itchy Feet

No this isn’t another ailment but refers to my wanderlusting ways of the last few weeks. In my spare time (and by spare time I mean when I’m shovelling my lunch at my desk) I have been researching a new adventure and emailing Andrew links and ideas. He seems to not care quite as much and every evening I browse Airbnb beside him in the hope it might interest him a little. I think I’m just going to have to book his flight to the Philippines which I think he might be OK with.

Deseeding Avocados

Is anyone able to do this without fear of decapitating their fingers? I can barely look down when I’m making my guacamole! Scary business.

 

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And that’s it for this week folks. Wishing you a super lovely week filled with copious amounts of cherry blossom pictures and a little more sunshine 🙂

 

Treat Yo Self: 4 DIY Face Masks

Treat Yo Self: 4 DIY Face Masks

Oh Friday, you took a while to get here. Even though I was off on Monday (damn cough can get the better of me at times) it still felt like Friday would never arrive. Yesterday my head felt like it was ready to spin off my neck; my brain was fried and my body was tired. In spite of being ready for bed as soon as I woke up, I managed to take myself off to the gym after work but the world is cruel and I got stuck in the worst traffic I have experienced in months. It took me an hour and 10 minutes to travel 5 miles and when I arrived late to my PT session I nearly cried. Actually feel teary writing about it so yes, I am more than ready for the weekend.

 

This weekend I am ready to treat myself and so should you! A wee pamper session is great for the soul especially in this inbetween-y time of year when our skin can be a little more vulnerable to change. I notice my skin suffers in between the seasons, especially my face that seems to get dull and tired (and makes the need for make up that more necessary). Face masks are a great way to bring my skin back to life and it feels like such a treat when I’m in my PJ’s on a Friday night with my fluffy socks on and a big fat glass of wine in my hand – yes I know I am a rockstar. 

 

It’s so easy to go straight to cosmetics when looking for a decent face mask but it can also mean spending more cash than we can afford. This week, instead of turning to my very shallow purse I thought I’d turn to my kitchen and research if anything in there would do me any good. I have tried introducing natural ingredients in to my routine before and I saw the benefits then so I thought creating my own face masks might do the trick. And they did!

 

If you’re like me and have sensitive skin then give some of the below combinations a whirl. Reducing the amount of chemicals, artificial colours and fillers in our beauty regime will help relieve our skin of irritation and not only that, it will reduce the environmental impact we have on this lovely planet of ours – win win!!

 

Before you prepare for your cosy night in this Friday, I do have a few words of caution:

  • Be prepared for mess – do not wear your posh PJ’s because you will more than likely get drippage. Best to wear your old t-shirt and lie flat while the mask dries!
  • Be careful with the turmeric – this stuff stains like a motherlover and you should definitely NOT wear white.
  • Have a bath while it’s drying – not just because it’ll help you feel even more rejuvenated but also because of the drippage and you might get the odd bit of honey in your hair. I prescribe some bath salts, your favourite podcast and some candles because you’re fabulous.
  • Some of the masks serve as a handy snack while you’re waiting for them to dry – you’re welcome.

Enjoy your masks and let me know if you have any natural recipes your own – lots of room for inspiration over here!

And have a lovely weekend 🙂


4 DIY Face Masks

Avocado, Honey & Yoghurt Face Mask 

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 tbsp yogurt
  • 1 tbsp raw honey

Avocados are great in this transitioning time as they moisturise the skin and are rich in omega-3 fatty acids – fancy pants. Also, yoghurt is a gentle exfoliant and honey is a natural antibacterial so all of the good things are in here.

Mix the ingredients together, slap on your face for 10-15 mins and then wash off with warm water. Ta-da! Use this method for all your masks, there’s no real science to it.

 

Oatmeal, Cucumber, Honey & Lemon Mask

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 tbsp ground oatmeal
  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

This mask is full of goodness – oatmeal to exfoliate, cucumber to rehydrate, honey to kill off that pesky bacteria and lemon juice to brighten the skin. It might not look pretty but your skin will thank you for it.

 

Brown Sugar, Turmeric & Honey Mask

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tbsp turmeric

Another exfoliating gem that will brighten that skin right up along with a bit of turmeric thrown in to help with inflammation. This was my personal favourite because it made my skin feel silky smooth after – just watch the flippin’ turmeric for stains!

 

Coconut Oil & Honey Mask

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp raw honey

Super simple yet super effective. Both ingredients act as antibacterial shield and the coconut oil moisturises the skin better than any artificial product. This mask is also great for your hair if you fancy a deep treatment!

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