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What Not To Worry About #40

What Not To Worry About #40

Happy Monday friends! As I write this, I am curled up on my couch, watching hurricane Ophelia whirl herself around my wee house making it creak like it’s about to take off ‘Wizard of Oz’-style in a matter of minutes. It’s a beautiful name for a storm that could potentially wreak havoc on an island that isn’t quite used to dealing with anything remotely tropical but we are used to rain, lots of rain, so despite meteorologists urging us to take the warnings seriously there is little chance that a few drops of rain and wind will spook us too much. I hope.

Before Ophelia greeted us she pushed some weird weather our way over the weekend; lots of mizzly rain with temperatures warmer than they had been for months. I had planned to meet an Instagram pal on Saturday to take some photos and was hoping the weather might clear a little. Alas we were forced to brave the drizzle and skipped around the Argory getting our toes thoroughly soaked in the process but in the end we came away with some very pretty snaps that I think made the trench foot worth it.

Mel and I became friendly over Instagram after I immediately fell in love with her writing. She writes a wonderful blog that is full of content that lifts you up and pushes you forward, championing women and their wide range of ambitions and dreams. Mel believes that if you are passionate about something then you should let nothing stop you from pursuing it and has proven that herself in what she has accomplished. She was recently awarded an MBE for her work in anti-human trafficking, she organises seasonal gatherings to bring together local creatives hoping to make connections, she is raising two kids and on top of that she writes for her blog among other publications. Freakin’ wonder woman, right?

Online relationships are commonplace in our modern society but what is becoming even more common are the friendships that are formed through social media. Little communities are created among people who have a united passion, who want to encourage creativity in others and receive support for the work they produce which is predominantly shared online. Some of these friendships can be more fruitful and rewarding that those we have in real life and although we may never even get to meet the person behind the screen, it doesn’t make them any less valid.

Luckily Mel is only down the road from me but it really got me thinking of all the amazing people I have been able to meet through Instagram and the blog. By creating connections with people who inspire me and attending events like Mel’s gatherings or Emma’s retreat, I have opened up a whole new world for myself and forged friendships that maybe wouldn’t have happened if not for the online world. It’s a new age we’re living in and I feel damn lucky to be a part of it.

Now, on to the worries I am letting go of this week. Here’s the weekly list for today, I hope you are reading it from a safe wee spot, preferably wrapped in a blanket with a cup of tea warming your mittens…

Speaking the same love language as my partner – when I drove down to Kerry a couple of weeks ago with my pal Rebecca, we got in to a very deep chat about the different love languages that exist between partners and how couples should figure out their respective language in order to make the relationship work (deep I know but a road trip will do that to ya). Since then I came across this article and I found it fascinating and so eye-opening – definitely worth a read.

Making light of sexual harassment – I have been engrossed in articles relating to the Harvey Weinstein scandal since it emerged and what surprised me most was how unsurprised I was at the ability of a successful man to continually harass and abuse women for decades. Women are victims of this kind of harassment from such a young age it’s like we become immune and stop feeling shocked which in turn, only allows for this kind of behaviour to be acceptable. I read this piece on my favourite website and the comments moved and enraged me so much. Maybe the actions of this horrific man has started an important movement – who knows?

Confusing comparison with inspiration – sometimes when I read someone’s work, look at their beautiful photos or watch them talk I am filled with this feeling of despondence. I wonder to myself if I could ever achieve success like theirs and hate myself for comparing myself to them when in actually fact I should be relishing in being inspired. I should be taking notes or thinking how their work might better my own because being inspired by someone usually ignites the passion you needed to succeed in the first place. Lesson ongoing!

Wearing pumps – I think that ship has sailed now as I got my feet soaked at the weekend. Winter boots at the ready!

Dark mornings – I got up in the dark for the first time this morning which wasn’t too fun but what I have started doing is meditating right after my breakfast. I’ve been using the Headspace app and using a few minutes in the morning to relax and regroup before work. I’m hoping it’ll make the dark mornings a little easier to bear – worth a go for a few weeks!

 

Have a great week folks!

 

 

 

Autumn Yumminess: Apple & Blackberry Crumble

Autumn Yumminess: Apple & Blackberry Crumble

Autumn is a season of sounds. Leaves crunching underfoot, the cooler winds howling at night, the first fire crackling in the hearth. Nature puts on the finest display for us before the famine of winter when we are robbed of foliage and fruit and the sun barely makes it over the horizon to warm our ruddy faces. There is nothing more autumnally glorious to me than the sensation of bitterly cold air nipping at my nose and ears, threatening to take away all sensation before escaping in to the warmth of the house where a hot bath awaits me.

But before we retreat indoors we must absorb every little bit of the harvest season by foraging for the treasures we miss so much in those long winter months. Being from Armagh, the orchard county of Ireland, I’m a cute hoor and have many opportunities to gather the last of the season’s produce whether it be plums, damsons and as always, the faithful Bramley apple. The bramley is something of an icon in Armagh and it’s been the principal variety to be grown here for almost a century. It’s blossom decorates the Armagh countryside in May and it’s green skin turns red in the heat of the late summer; even the apples get sunburned in Ireland!

 

I popped down to my friend’s orchard about a fortnight ago to gather some apples before the end of the season and as usual I came away with too many to use. Last year I made an apple tart but this year I wanted to use the blackberries I had picked from the roadside at home a few weeks before and thought an apple and blackberry crumble would be just friggin’ lovely as a midweek treat for two. Of course this recipe can be used for a rustic dinner party or to cheer up a mate or to just eat in one big bowl by yourself when you’ve had a shitty day. Your choice my friend, no judgement here.

I hope you can give it a whirl but more than that I hope you are embracing Autumn and all of its amazingness because this is the time to start doing things for you. Summer can be a hurricane of plans and commitments but as the colder months unfurl we are treated with weekends to ourselves, moments when we can actually revisit the things we cast aside in the summer haze. Let the briskness and sharpness of the change in seasons wake you up to what truly makes you happy and get out and do it.


Apple & Blackberry Crumble 

Ingredients

For the crumble topping:

  • 120g plain flour
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 60g unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into small pieces

For the fruit compote:

  • 300g Bramley apples
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 30g demerara sugar
  • 115g blackberries
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • vanilla
  • big dollop of ice cream

Method

  1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Tip the flour and sugar into a large bowl. Add the butter, then rub into the flour using your fingertips to make a light breadcrumb texture – try not to overwork it! Sprinkle the mixture evenly over a baking sheet and bake for 15 mins or until lightly coloured.
  2. Meanwhile, for the compote, peel, core and cut the apples into 2cm dice. Put the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan and melt together over a medium heat. Cook for 3 mins until the mixture turns to a light caramel. Stir in the apples and cook for 3 mins. Add the blackberries and cinnamon, and cook for 3 mins more. Cover, remove from the heat, then leave for 2-3 mins to continue cooking in the warmth of the pan.
  3. To serve, spoon the warm fruit into an ovenproof gratin dish, top with the crumble mix, then reheat in the oven for 5-10 mins. Serve with a big scoop of ice cream or a dollop of fresh cream – yum!

What Not To Worry About #39

What Not To Worry About #39

Good day old pals! How are things shaping up on this grey and dreary Monday? It was if the sun barely rose this morning and my mind never fully woke up to the fact that it was daytime – the opposite of what I needed. I work in an office that looks out to the Cavehill mountain in Belfast and on a day like today the clouds roll over the cliff edge and down the hill in a misty swirl, a little distracting if I’m honest.

What I do enjoy on days like this is getting home and lighting candles in different rooms around the house. I tidy up a littel bit, cook something hearty that warms my belly before settling on the couch with a cup of tea and a book to read. There is something so indulgent about creating a cosy atmosphere at home, something that’s a little harder to do when it’s summer and all the windows are open to the world.

This past week has seen me driving from one end of the island to the other (6 hours of driving is not kind to the behind, I tell ya) to attend the TBEX conference down in Kerry. My good friend Rebecca from A Clothes Horse had asked me to go with her a few months ago and I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to meet people with such a similar passion to mine because blogging isn’t something a lot of people really understand up here (“You mean you don’t make money from all this carry on?!”). Rebecca is the one person I have to bounce ideas off and I have taken her prisoner as my mentor because after blogging for a decade, the gal is a friggin’ wealth of knowledge.

I think the reason why I devote so much of myself to this wee space is simply because of how much happiness it brings me. This blog is more than just a hobby; it’s something I am more passionate about than anything I have done in a long time and knowing that my words might make one person either think or feel differently about a topic or themselves fills me up with more joy than any job ever could. That is enough for me and if there is a day when someone might actually pay me to write the words that tumble out then that would just be a dream come true.

Of course I was beaming pretty much the entire time I was in Kerry. We attended talks that filled me with so much inspiration I felt I would burst if I didn’t get every single word written down. We were able to meet with companies that I could never have imagined being in the same room as never mind actually having a chat with! It was hard work but the kind of work that feels all worthwhile especially when you can end the day in a pub drinking a Guinness and tapping your hooves to the beat of a bodhrán (the Americans go wild for a good dose of “ceol agus craic”).

It’s safe to say that despite the grey Monday I am feeling super positive and very happy to share a few worries that I am choosing to let go of this week. Let me know if you’re joining in too – would love to hear the worries you are saying goodbye to 🙂

Being shy – there was absolutely no room for shyness at the conference. I had to be shiny and sparkly which I can sometimes struggle with but somehow I managed to enjoy every second of it. I think it was because I was just so excited to be there and I wanted to leave without a single regret, even if it meant almost losing my voice in the process!

Hostels – another reminder that I am getting old is the fact that hostels now give me the creeps. Rebecca and I had booked ourselves in to a twin room in a hostel to save a few coin during our stay in Killarney but we ended up only staying one night because:

  1. I sank a good two feet lower when I sat on the bed (this was not due to holiday weight!)
  2. The sheets felt damp
  3. The radiator wouldn’t work
  4. The shower had a push button that would leak out freezing water for a minute before you had to push it again (like a freakin’ leisure centre)
  5. The pub below us meant we could hear a pair of lads having a very audible heart-to-heart at about 1am

I won’t say where the hostel was but let me tell you we booked ourselves in a hotel the next day ASAP. I was never as glad to see a proper mattress in all my life (and this is a girl who loves camping!).

Being the big spoon – I read this article yesterday which was a little bit adorable to read and also confirmed my belief that being the big spoon feels just lovely even if your partner tries to swat you off because apparently you’re “too clammy”.

Being a bit of a pyromaniac – I am counting down the days until we can light our fire again because my favourite sound in the world has to be the sound of a crackling fire. I was also really happy to read this article and learn that humans are actually wired to gather around fires so it makes perfect sense!

Taking photos in public – as a blogger I have to take lots of photos in front of people who look at you like you’re a bit mental – why are you taking photos of yourself drinking a coffee love? I’m getting used to it though and kind of laugh now when locals wonder what the hell I’m at – you even get a few who want to join in!

What Not To Worry about #38

What Not To Worry about #38

And so it was October. A month that feels a little bittersweet as nature puts on a final show of colour and magic before the sedentary months of winter roll in. Despite it being a month that sees the temperatures fall and the trees baring themselves to the world, October is when I find myself reawakening and finding the motivation that disappeared in the haze of summer.

It’s as if a light switch goes off as the world outside darkens, I suddenly remember the tasks and creative projects I had set aside months ago and immerse myself in books and articles that I know will inspire me. I spoke of the blogging event I attended in last week’s post which is one of the ways in which I am trying to push myself back to where I want to be again, surrounded by people who lift me up and encourage me to create.

I am also attending the TBEX conference in Kerry next week which I am so so excited about (and a wee bit nervous if I’m completely honest). My friend Rebecca had asked me to go with her earlier this year and I jumped at the opportunity to speak and listen to photographers and bloggers who have travelled the world while making a living. I have had to use up the rest of my annual leave (it’s going to feel like a long time until the Christmas break!) but I reckon it will all be worth it, even just to have the opportunity to leap about the fields of Kerry.

I hope you’re feeling just as motivated these few weeks as we say goodbye to the summer that never was but if you are lacking a little and are in need of a gentle push, have a gander at the worries I am letting go of this week. I have linked some articles which have inspired me too so please read them to enlighten you or even just made you chuckle because a wee giggle can be enough to lift us 🙂

Here goes…

Listening to bullshit – we don’t have to put up with it and we’re actually doing ourselves a disservice by participating in even listening to it. Read this article which is an excerpt from Brené Brown’s new book to help convince you!

Not being able to write – working a full time job and then coming home to write a post from scratch can feel almost impossible which is why I need to have a wee space at home to wind down. I loved reading this piece where writers spoke of how they get their creative juices flowing, where they can create best and even what they choose to wear!

Getting major wedding envy – I trawled through the photos from Sara Tasker’s wedding (who is the genius behind Me & Orla) and heard a little whimper escape because it was all so beautiful. If I ever get married it will be in a barn I am almost certain with ferns in my hair OR I might just wear ferns in my hair at the weekend for kicks.

Being a very lazy baker – I have hardly baked all summer and feel guilty that my cake mixer has been sitting in the corner abandoned and unused. With the apple season rounding out I decided to pop down to Armagh to bake some apples and either re-try this recipe or give Rebecca’s mum-in-law’s recipe a go.

Missing someone – Autumn brings with it moments of contemplation and this can sometimes lead to pangs for the people we wish were by our side. Read this poem if you’re feeling the same. It made me ache in the most beautiful way.

 

Have a lovely week folks and if you have any tips for Kerry, help a sister out and leave a comment!

What Not To Worry About #36

What Not To Worry About #36

Happy Tuesday pals! How is your week going so far? Have you been digging out the cosy knits and winter coats from the back of the wardrobe this week? I have to admit, despite how completely unready I felt for Autumn, I have been secretly relishing the brisk mornings and having a real excuse for having a hot chocolate at 8am. It may have been a pretty lousy late summer but there seems to be a few brighter days on the horizon so we can at least squeeze a few more after-work sunset walks in before those dark afternoons descend on us.

 

Unfortunately I’ve been feeling a little under the weather since coming back from our holidays. I managed to push through last week when I was back to work but my stubbornness had to take a back seat when I came down with a temperature on Saturday night. Andrew was the one that talked me in to calling the hospital and telling them I needed to be admitted on Sunday morning but, as is the case a lot these days, they didn’t have any free beds so I am having to wait until one becomes free.

 

For those of you who are new to the blog, first of all, I am so glad you’re here! Second of all, I am sure you’re wondering why on Earth I would be needing to call a hospital, right? The reason for the hyper-vigilance is because I was born with Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease which affects my lungs and digestive system (check out this blog post which goes in to a little more detail). My main issue is maintaining an infection in my lungs which I do through physiotherapy but sometimes my body can grow tired and the infection can cause more problems than normal. These are the times when I need to be admitted for IV antibiotics and more intensive physiotherapy which usually takes two weeks.

 

I am lucky in that hospitalisation is rare and I am able to live a normal life with minimal treatment however it doesn’t make going in to hospital any less scary or disheartening. This is a time when I am at my most vulnerable, when I am forced to tell my managers and colleagues about my health which can leave me feeling a little exposed and embarrassed. Of course I am perfectly entitled to take time off when my health is in decline but having to communicate this in the workplace is terrifying because I hate to feel like I am a burden to anyone.

 

Fortunately my employers have been more than supportive and so I have been waiting on a hospital bed from home, resting and giving myself a head-start before I am admitted. I am hoping to throw myself in to the blog more and use my time wisely but most of all I just need to be still and rest this wee body of mine so I am in tip-top shape for this long ass winter of ours!

 

I am not worrying about myself too much, in fact I am fairly positive it won’t take much for me to bounce back so there is no wallowing in this camp. Instead I am letting go of more silly worries and thoughts so I can feel a little lighter and hopefully spread a little more happiness in to your week too! Here’s the list for this week.

 

The in-between season wardrobe – how do I dress? Can I get away with bare legs anymore? Is it too soon for woolly hats?? September is a weird month for fashion.

Googling answers to life questions – I am a sucker for Googling weird and wonderful symptoms but it turns out us humans Google pretty much everything that pops in to our little heads. Here’s the list of the most Googled how-to questions which offers some insight in to our quirks and insecurities.

Email spam – I really need to give my inbox a good spring clean because it is littered with crap I just ignore and never delete. I am going to try and delete 50 emails a day so I just be done by about 2072.

Not sticking to my summer bucketlist – I never manage to but I am going to use a few goals from this list to keep me happy this Autumn.

Feeling post-shopper’s guilt – when I feel sick I tend to have the urge to buy myself something so I went out yesterday and bought myself brand new PJ’s because I am a granny and this is what makes me happy 🙂

 

Have a lovely week!!

Live The Little Things

Live The Little Things

Oh Friday, thank goodness you’re here because I have been dragging my tired ass from one day in to the next. My days have been rolling in to one as I hide in my cosy house after work (with the odd jaunt to the gym for a half hour of pure pain) and my wee hooves have been practically sighing with relief as I shuffle in to my slippers as soon as I’m through the door.

 

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I almost feel embarrassed about the sheer joy I have been feeling at doing feck all recently but this is the only time of year when it’s completely OK to hibernate and watch all 6 seasons of Downton Abbey with a cup of tea permanently balancing on my ever-growing pouch. We need these little things to keep us going in the darker evenings because by spending so much time indoors, we can easily succumb to darker thoughts. Silly worries about whether we should be doing more after an exhausting day at work (and maybe eating fewer blocks of chocolate) can permeate and fester. Things that we wouldn’t give a second thought to during the warmer months can suddenly become more considered and worth our time.

 

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I try to be aware of this feeling that can creep in during winter. Instead of allowing myself to feel guilty about enjoying the simpler way of living, I relish in it because I know when the longer days arrive I’ll be drawn to the outside again. I might not have as many pretty photos but I have lots of time to write, read and cook – things I completely neglect when the sun comes out. Most of all though, I use this time to appreciate the little things that happen to me throughout the day that can make me just as happy as the big moments in life.

 

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During the next month or two when you may feel a little restless or stressed, try to be mindful of the small things that have maybe made your day a little better. Put on some music while you’re cooking dinner and have a wee party in the kitchen. Listen to the fire crackle as you read your favourite mag. Buy yourself a bright bunch of flowers. Call your best mate for a chat. All these little wins add up to a pretty happy winter.

 

And here are my little wins for this week…

  1. Listening to Jurassic 5 in a bath full of bubbles – Andrew definitely caught me trying to rap along
  2. Laughing out loud in my car on the drive to work in the morning – I was listening to the radio, I’m not completely demented
  3. Having just enough milk for the last cup of tea of the day – YESSSSS
  4. Getting to the gym and remembering everything – I usually forget a sports bra or socks in my morning stupor
  5. Waking up and realising I still have over an hour left in bed – definitely the cosiest feeling in the world
  6. My herbs still clinging to life despite living on an hour of daylight every day – you go basil!
  7. Ordering a knitting kit on Amazon – quiet time means time to get creative (and knit a scarf as we’re coming in to Spring)
  8. Made my own fishcakes which were absolutely delightful – hello potential blog post
  9. Reading a magazine in bed at 10pm – #grannylyfe
  10. Funny emails from my mates to keep me going in work – they’re the best!

 

Have a cracking weekend folks and whatever you’re up to, don’t feel a shred of guilt as long as you’re happy 🙂

 

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What Not To Worry About #3

What Not To Worry About #3

Hello Monday heads! I hope all of us manage to get out of bed now the mornings are a little colder and bed seems like the perfect place to be! I’m not a fan of the mad dash to towards my dressing gown and slippers but at least it’s one of way waking me up a little faster!

 

Entering winter can feel a bit daunting sometimes especially when it feels like the only sunshine to be seen is threw the office window but it’s important to appreciate the things that come along with the darker evenings. Wrapping up in scarves and hats to meet friends with the cold biting at your ears and nose, cooking big batches of soup to see you through the week, hot chocolates by the fire – these are all the things I relish in the colder months.

 

This week instead of bothering yourself about the silly things, plan something fun for yourself this Monday that will help you feel motivated for the week ahead. Maybe a wee yoga or meditation class, a coffee date with a mate you haven’t seen in ages or a try out a winter recipe you’ve been looking forward to making? It’s the small things that pick us up but we need to look for them, especially at the beginning of the week anyway!

 

This week I’m not going to get worked up about..

 

Refusing to get rid of candles even when they have gone beyond their days of burning – I have candles strewn about my house even though there isn’t a drop of wax left in them but because I spent money on them I treat them as ornaments (much to Andrew’s delight).

Leaving it to the last minute to get petrol – I’ve heard this isn’t too healthy for your car but as a girl who hasn’t even washed her car since she got it in January, I find myself constantly waiting until the moment the indicator has dropped below the red light. Every time.

Never being able to find a decent pair of tights – How come I buy about twenty pairs every winter but in the morning when I need them most I can only find the pair with wee balls all over the legs and ladders at the ankles???

Never remembering faces or names – I’m so terrible at this and it’s gotten to the point where I just nod and say “Aye I know them well”.

Breaking up my day with tea breaks – The only way I can make my way through the day is knowing exactly when my next cup of tea will be (blame my mother the tea addict).

 

Take it easy this week and I hope it’s a good one!

 

 

Homemade Autumn Wreath

Homemade Autumn Wreath

I have heard that the eskimo have many many words which can be translated as ‘snow’. This is something that we Irish can identify with since in Ireland there are about a million different kinds of descriptions for rainfall. Lying on the edge of Europe has left us vulnerable to the elements, the Atlantic battering us with whatever remnants she has left of a forgotten hurricane or storm. We are at her mercy and as a result we have rain in our blood and in our conversations as our lives and decisions are so determined by the presence and absence of it.

 

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The different kinds of rain can be welcomed or dreaded depending on the time of year or the character of the rain itself. There is the torrential sun shower which is revered since it breaks up a rare stint of solid sunshine that is at first embraced by everyone but is soon complained about because “it’s almost too hot, you know?”. This kind of rain falls fast and hard but it is fleeting like a first love, the perfect kind of rain really and if you’re lucky there might be some thunder and lightning thrown in for good measure.

 

Soft rain is probably my least favourite for it is incessant and soaks through slowly. My Mum would always say it’s the most dangerous since it can fool you in to thinking you’re not actually all that damp. This rain reminds me of the days I used to play camogie because it would never be enough to call off a game but yet the hurl would be slipping through my fingers constantly making it even more difficult than usual to play (I was never that good).

 

There is also the horizontal rain that is usually accompanied by gale winds that will practically lift you off your feet and make going outside feel like preparing for an expedition. There’s the rain that that doesn’t leave for days and makes you forget what the sky looks like. The rain that leaves a welcome chill in the air. The rain that makes it more humid and sticky than before it came. The rain that threatens for hours to come and will the moment you decide to leave the house.

 

Autumn brings with it all kinds of rains and although I’m sad that the weekends where every moment can be spent outdoors are more than likely over, I secretly love that I am now having to be a little more creative with how I choose to spend my precious days off while the rain is insistently persistent outside. My crafternoons are a selfish joy of mine and even though I’m not artistic in any way, I love creating things that I can display or give as wee gifts.

 

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I’m a Pinterest fiend (you can follow my boards here) and saw someone posted an Autumn wreath that looked amazing but easy – right up my alley! So last Saturday I took myself off to Holywood for a browse through the florist and picked up some eucualyptus, a chrysanthemum and some wire for my own wreath. That evening I sat at the table waiting for dinner to cook with some friends, and some wine of course, and made it all on my own! I was relieved at how easy it was – and how great it looked! – and it’s now sitting proudly above my fireplace.

 

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Yes the rain is here and yes it might stop us from exploring the places we want go at times but instead of complaining I plan on taking advantage of the days to be spent indoors. I might get plenty more projects on the go. I might bake more. I might even start knitting. Or I might not do any of those things except just sit by the fire, wrap myself in a big blanket, keep an ear to the window and listen to the rain. No matter what kind it is.

 

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Autumn Wreath

  • Few long branches of eucalyptus
  • One chrysanthamum
  • Few wires

There is not much in way of method here except just bind the eucalyptus and wire around each other in a circle! I used a few lengths of wire and curled the ends behind leaves to disguise them but using a few wires helped bend a little better. I just cut the stem a couple of inches below the flower at an angle and poked it between a section that looked a bit bare. I dipped the stem in sugar in the hope it might help the flower stay alive a little longer but I’m not sure if this actually works or not!!!

 

Happy crafting!!

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 🙂

 

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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