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My Summer Soundtrack

My Summer Soundtrack

It’s funny how the music we listen to changes with the seasons. In the winter I find myself listening to slow folk and acoustic songs that make me feel cosy on the inside. But in the summer it’s all about dance, soul and R&B. The kind of music that has me moonwalking my way to the back garden with a cold beer in my hand despite the fact that it’s a rainy Monday evening.

 

When we were growing up my Mum would play music in the kitchen in the evenings especially in the summer when the back door would be thrown open and the music would filter in to the garden. She had a big influence on my taste in music and introduced me to artists I’m still in love with today; Prince, Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, KC & the Sunshine Band. We listened to songs that taught us how to move and that allowed us to lose ourselves in the rhythm. Songs that taught us soul and about things we were too young to understand (singing along to Prince lyrics as an eight year old is a little disturbing looking back).

 

I thought I might share a few of my favourites that have become my summer anthems over the years. These are the tunes that I play loudly after a shitty day at work and are guaranteed to lift me up and remind me that it’s summer and there is no call for being sad. They are the summeriest of summer songs and you have my total permission to use them for your own summer soundtrack. I recommend being barefoot and having all the windows open. Just don’t blame me if the neighbours get at ya!!

 

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Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

Say what you will about MJ but this song is a classic disco tune that will have you moonwalking your slippers.

Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere

Ugh, Fleetwood Mac and their friggin’ melodies get me everytime.

Van Morrisson – Into The Mystic

“Smell the sea and feel the sky; let your soul and spirit fly in to the mystic”. Lyrics that floored me as a teenager.

Beyoncé – Crazy in Love

Because you can’t have a summer party without Queen B.

Bob Marley – Three Little Birds

This song reminds me of a trip I took around SE Asia with two of my best friends. We got matching tattoos of three birds on our ribcage and every time this song comes on we have a knowing look between the three of us.

10cc – Dreadlock Holiday

The second this song is on I slow down and smile.

Toto – Africa

I love trying to sing along to this song, especially in my car when I know I terrify all other drivers.

Prince – Raspberry Beret

Probably his least filthy song so you can play it a family party.

Marvin Gaye – Got To Give It Up

Makes me want to have a glamorous poolside party in California.

Will Smith – Miami

Cheesy but so so good!!

Cornershop – Brimful of Asha (Norman Cook Remix)

An oldie but a goodie.

Len – Steal my Sunshine

Despite this being played on every day the sun shines in Ireland I still love it.

U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

The guitars, the drums, the vocals. An Irish classic.

Angus & Julia Stone – Mango Tree

Brings the tempo down for sure but this brother/sister duo melts my summer hear.

LCD Soundsystem – Daft Punk Is Playing In My House

To be played loudly preferably with some couch dancing.

The Clash – Rock the Casbah

This was my ringtone in Uni I loved it that much.

The Knack – My Sharona

I defy you not to dance to this song!!

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes – 40 Day Dream

The happiest of summer songs that has me stamping my little hooves with sheer glee.

All Saints – Pure Shores

No one can do 90’s beach chic like All Saints

Jurassic 5 – Work It Out

This is my summer bath tune. Yes that is a thing.

Fatboy Slim – Praise You

A song that will never go out of style. Never.

 

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What Not To Worry About #22

What Not To Worry About #22

Happy Monday folks! So that’s the summer over eh? I woke up to the sound of rain this morning and I have to admit it was a little bit nice. Of course I’ll be wishing the sun back in a day or two but waking to the sound of rain pattering against the window isn’t a bad way to start the day and the week. Until I stepped outside to make a mad dash for the car, cursing myself that I always leave the umbrella in the feckin’ car.

 

Last weekend was a busy one, spent ceilidhing with friends and family as I performed my fortnightly whip-around Armagh. Although I’ve lived in Belfast for a few years now, most of my family and friends are still down in Armagh so I make the trek down the M1 as much as I can to avoid becoming known as the city snob – country folk can be cruel! It’s always a jammed weekend filled with countless cups of tea and biscuits but after living abroad for years I love being a short drive away from the folk that make my heart happy.

 

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I spoke in my last Instagram post about the concept of home and how transient the idea feels to me. As a child (is it weird to call yourself a child when you’re 28??) of parents who are no longer together and with no childhood home to return to, I often mourned the ‘home’ that I once knew. I used to feel a pang of jealousy when seeing friends return home for the holidays to the house they grew up in but why did I yearn for convention so much?

 

I decided that home doesn’t have to be built of bricks and mortar but can be found in relationships, experiences or even memories. Over the years I have created many homes for myself; in the student halls of Edinburgh living off potatoes and not much else,  in a hostel with my two best friends as we hilariously attempted to travel South East Asia, in the red dirt of Western Australia and in the ocean alongside it, on my sister’s couch watching trashy TV while we take turns cuddling her dog, playing Scrabble with Andrew in front of the fire on a winter’s night. And even after moving on I still left a part of myself in these places, with the people I chose as my family while I was there.

 

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And here I am, back within arm’s reach of the town I grew up in, frolicking in the orchards of my childhood (and getting pictures taken by photographer extraordinaire Rebecca) surrounded by the people I grew up with. This might be my home again for another while but just like the apple blossom that appears and disappears in a whisper, this too could be temporary. And that’s OK because a piece of me will always be here.

 

Here are a few more things I am choosing not to worry about this week…

 

Have a great week!

 

Crap Clothes Pegs

You know you’re getting old when you a sunny day delights you mostly because you can dry your clothes outside again. But why are clothes pegs the flimsiest things on the planet? I feel like Thor when they break at my very touch and then I have to fumble for another while I’m trying to keep the bedsheet up with one hand. You’d swear I was a Victorian housewife!

 

Junk Mail

I had an Avon rep come to my door to collect a catalogue she had dropped off and I had to confess that I’d thrown it in the recycling bin like an insolent child. She looked so hurt and I felt so ashamed that I’d thrown it out when I hadn’t even asked for it! This is why junk mail is the worst.

 

Duvets

We’re getting in to the warm nights where duvets become smothering devices and I have to hang one half of my body out of the bed to regulate my body temperature. It’s still too cold for just sheets so we have to live in this limbo until one of us chucks the duvet out the window in a sweaty hissy fit. I can’t wait for that.

 

Movie Nights

Andrew and I will settle ourselves in for a movie night once a week which I naively look forward to every time until I realise it takes us half a day to decide what to watch. We have bajillions of movies on the server waiting to be watched but we can never seem to pick one and furiously Google ‘best movies of all time’ for hours until we’re too tired to even watch anything. Couple joys!

 

Snooker

Who in their right mind can settle themselves in to watch that tripe on TV? Do you have to be male and over 45? It has got to be the most sinfully boring thing on this planet. In my own opinion of course.

 

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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

 

Buttermilk Scones with Nanny Moffett

Buttermilk Scones with Nanny Moffett

You would be hard pushed to find a granny in Ireland that can’t make the most delicious stews or a knit a onesie in one sitting. I don’t know if you these skills or bestowed upon you once you reach the age of 60 or that they’re skills that just aren’t that cool anymore but I do know that all grannies have a signature dish which they are famous in the family for. For my granny it’s definitely her chicken soup, known to have cured many colds, flues or just for times when us grandchildren ‘weren’t at ourselves’. For Andrew’s granny it would probably be her buttermilk scones. I tasted them the first time I visited her bungalow in Monaghan and it took all my power not to inhale the whole plate of them in front of me and drink it down with her homemade raspberry jam.

 

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A while ago Andrew and I drove down to Monaghan to see Ruth and I had plotted a way to ask her for her recipe. I am a massive lover of scones especially the smell they create in a kitchen. But mostly the taste of them. You instantly feel like a successful human being when you have a tray of lovely scones cooling on a wire rack. I was a bit hesitant to ask for the recipe because asking someone for a recipe they are renowned for can go one of two ways:

  1. They could be flattered that you would think so highly of them and be delighted to pass the recipe on; or
  2. They could be quietly horrified that you even asked for it and shift uncomfortably in their chair thinking of ways to get rid of you

 

Luckily for me Ruth was the former and was more than willing to share her secret however I had forgotten that Irish grannies also don’t use normal measurements. I got out my pen and paper that I just so happened to have on me and began to note down the ingredients and method which went along the lines of: Make sure to use Neill’s soda bread flour and rub in a knob of butter and a fingerful of sugar then whisk an egg in a mug, not a cup but a mug, and then fill it to the top with buttermilk…

 

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I tried to act unperturbed by these non-specific instructions but I knew I would balls the whole thing up on my own. I thought to myself the only way I would learn would be to watch her and out of some miracle she then asked me if I wanted to make some with her. She must have seen the terror in my eyes; grannies can also smell fear.

 

I was amazed at how she was able to bake so easily despite her being constrained by arthritis in her hands. She has adapted a canny way of moving utensils so she doesn’t have to strain herself too hard and it’s an incredibly admirable thing to witness because baking along with other domestic skills is something that is so obviously engrained in her. If she lost that ability then I suppose it would be a massive loss to her.

 

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Fortunately for me the whole recipe was much easier to follow and she taught me some great techniques to ensure the best scones e.g. make sure to get lots of air in when rubbing the butter in to the flour! It was a special moment because it made me feel part of the family and it was so generous of her to share it with me.

 

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I feel like I’ve almost mastered the recipe although I know they’ll never be quite as good as Nanny Moffett’s. Andrew is fairly happy to play guinea pig in the meantime anyway and the house smells AMAZING.

 


Nanny Moffett’s Buttermilk Scones

Ingredients:

  • 1lb Neil’s Self Raising Soda Bread Flour (nothing else apparently)
  • 1 – 1.5 oz granulated sugar (or 2 fingerfuls)
  • 4-5 oz soft margarine
  • 2 eggs beaten in a mug (specifically a mug)
  • Buttermilk – add to mug of beaten eggs and fill to the top

Method:

  • Preheat oven at 230 celsius
  • Weigh out the flour and the sugar together
  • Rub in the butter bringing the flour up from the bottom and getting plenty of air through the mixture.
  • Once all rubbed in (your wrists might be aching at this stage – I have to take breaks!) make a well in the mixture and slowly pour in the buttermilk an egg
  • Beat together with a fork – not a spoon – until all the flour is absorbed
  • Put the mixture on to a floured surface and sprinkle some flour on top
  • Pat the dough in to an oblong shape and using a cutter take pieces out around the outside first
  • Put the scones on to a greased tray and brush with some beaten egg
  • Place in over for 10 minutes
  • Let them cool for a few minutes when they’re done
  • Try not to eat them all and get found covered in jam and crumbs.