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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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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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A DIY Christmas Hamper

A DIY Christmas Hamper

There were a few days this past week where it felt that the sun had done a runner and left us in a perpetual state of dusk. Not seeing an inch of blue sky can definitely have its negative affects so I’m already feeling a little cheerier when I can see the low winter light streaming through the window, even if it’s just for half an hour!

 

Things have felt very busy this week and my bank account has taken such a battering in the last two months with trips away and now presents to buy that I’m afraid to even look at my statements! There is huge pressure to buy the most expensive gifts and not only that, pressure to have the house decorated, visit all our relatives and friends and drink our body weights in alcohol. Luckily there seems to be more and more people championing the simpler Christmas which I think helps to encourage less money spending and more thought.

 

In the spirit of this, I have decided against the usual mad rush of buying anything I think will do for my extended family in favour of making my own Christmas hampers filled with homemade products I think they will appreciate much more than a bottle of wine or another pair of gloves! I chose simple products that wouldn’t stress me out too much and I have staggered out the crafting process so I don’t feel overwhelmed and can actually enjoy it all.

 

I will list out a few of the things I’ve chosen to make however the gift of this is that you can be as flexible as you like and keep it minimal if it’s all you can manage.

 

ROSE PETAL BATH SALTS

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What You Need:

  • Petals from 4 roses
  • 20 drops of vanilla oil/essence
  • 3 cups of Epsom salts
  • Mini bags

These salts were embarrassingly easy to make and took all of about half an hour to make 18 small bags!

  1. The week before making them I bought a bunch of red roses when I was doing my groceries for £3 and enjoyed them until they were starting to wilt.
  2. When I knew their days were over, I took the heads off and sprinkled the petals in my Nutri Bullet. After a quick blitz the shredded petals were the most beautiful shade of crimson and the smell was A-MAZING.
  3. I added the petals to 3 cups of Epsom salts that were already in a bowl and added my vanilla drops.
  4. After thoroughly mixing through and feeling giddy with the pretty colours, I added them to the bags I had found on Amazon and they were good to go!

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CHRISTMAS SOAP

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What You Need:

  • ¾ Melt and Pour Soap Base Clear
  • Silicone Mould
  • 100 drops Orange Essential Oil
  • 50 drops Cinnamon Essential Oil
  • 20 drops Clove Bud Essential Oil
  • 3 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • Pyrex Jug

This was a little trickier than the bath salts but well worth the smell it created in the kitchen I promise!

  1. First of all I cut the soap base in to cubes that would fit in to the moulds so I could guess how much I would need to melt.
  2. I then put the cubes in to the jug and placed in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so until the base was melted.
  3. Once fully melted I added my oils and ground cinnamon and mixed well.
  4. After this I poured the mix in to the moulds CAREFULLY because I wanted the top of the soap to be smooth and not pouring over the edges (not so pretty). I
  5. I placed the moulds on a tray to keep steady and then in the fridge to cool for 1-2 hours.
  6. Once they’re solid you can pop them out and then dress them up any way you please!

 

CHRISTMAS CANDLES

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What You Need:

  • 1kg soy wax flakes
  • 3 Jam Jars (or whatever you have – I keep Bonne Mamam jam jars for my candles)
  • 3 wicks – I got mine here
  • 20 drops of Orange Essential Oil per jar
  • 40 drops Cinnamon Essential Oil per jar
  • 15 drops Clove Bud Essential Oil per jar

I play it a bit fast and loose with making these so the guidelines are pretty rough but easy to follow I hope! What’s handy is that you have similar ingredients to your Christmas soap so you can make your candles while your soaps are setting in the fridge (I paint a very calm picture don’t I?!).

  1. I placed my jam jars in a big pan filled about to about 2 inches deep of boiling water and then scooped about 18 tablespoons in to the jars. Make sure and take time when adding the wax as it reduces down as it melts so you will have to add them gradually.
  2. Once all your wax has melted and your jars are almost full, take the jars out of the pan and then add your essential oils.
  3. The final step is to place one wick in the centre and make sure it sticks to the bottom of the jar by using sticks to hold it in place (I laid kebab sticks across the jar and placed the wick in between so it didn’t fall away from the centre). This is the trickiest part and might take some patience!
  4. Wait for the candles to set and then cut your wick down to an appropriate length et voila!

 

LAVENDER HAND WASH

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What You Need:

  • Soap dispensers
  • Jug
  • 2 cups of castile soap
  • 2 cups distilled water
  • 4 tbsp sweet almond oil
  • 4 tbsp vitamin E oil
  • 20 drops of Witch Hazel
  • 40 drops of lavender essential oil

This recipe allowed me to make 4 of these bad boys and it took all of about 10 minutes #winning

  1. Using your jug, pour in your water first and then castile soap (prevents lots of bubbles) and then your essential oils.
  2. Give it a good shake around and then you are done!

 

WHIPPED SHEA & OLIVE OIL BODY BUTTER

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What You Need:

  • 1 cup shea butter
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 30 – 40 drops of vanilla essential oil
  • 2 x 500ml glass jars

This is a fairly messy process so one tip I have is to wash your utensils straight away after using!

  1. Scoop your shea butter in to a pan and gently melt.
  2. Gradually add your olive oil
  3. Add essential oils and remove from heat
  4. Once cooled, place the pan in the fridge for at least 30 minutes until the mixture has almost solidified
  5. Using a hand held mixer, whip the mixture until you get a light, airy texture.
  6. Spoon the mixture in your containers and they are good to use for a few months.

 

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I hope this provides a little insight in to how easy homemade gifts can be to make. All it takes is a little preparation and motivation on these dark evenings but the outcome is so worth it! Make sure to add some little Christmas themed sweets or crackers to try and beef out the box a little otherwise you can use some more of my crafting recipes here and here to help inspire you a little more!

 

Happy crafting x

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 🙂

 

Homemade Lip Balm

Homemade Lip Balm

Ireland is an island of many seasons and these constant changes can cause havoc with our skin. We all endeavour to protect our skin during the summer with plenty of SPF and exfoliation but our lips are often ignored. The weather here is so changeable that our peckers can become chapped and dry, traits which just aren’t attractive for our smiles.

 

I was looking around for recipes for homemade lip balm because I only wanted to use natural ingredients. I’m trying really hard to cut down on all the chemicals I use on my skin and face so when I find myself needing a remedy for my body, I’m looking more and more to products that aren’t harsh on my skin. I found a really simple guide to making homemade lip balm that nourishes lips and keeps them lovely and moisturised (and glossy!) and decided to give it a whirl.

 

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The recipe can be modified any way you like so you can include different essential or flavour oils although I chose vanilla extract because it reminds me of summer! I also ordered some cute labels from this Etsy shop so I can give some of my homemade products to friends and family – maybe one day I might even sell them!

 

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp beeswax pellets
  • 750 IU Vitamin E
  • 20 drops of vanilla extract

You’ll also need some small containers for the balm – I ordered some of these from Amazon.

Method

In a microwave proof container with a spout, heat the pellets and the coconut oil together 30 seconds at a time until the mixture is completely melted. Add the vanilla extract and completely mix through. Pour the mixture in to the containers and leave to set for half an hour. You’ll find the mixture sets really quickly so make sure to move fast! I got about 400ml out of this recipe, enough to fill 40 containers – lots to give out to friends!

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