It is almost time to decorate! I like to make decorating day into an occassion. I start with Christmassy bites. Mince pies are essential as well as a box of Quality Street or Roses for nibbling on.
When I put my decorations away, I wrap them in pages from the TV guide and then into old biscuit and sweetie tins. This makes unwrapping fun!
Many of the decorations have special meaning to me and it is great to reminisce about where they came from. I have paper ornaments made in school and beautiful fabric ones make by a friend and beaded wire ornaments from South Africa.
Each year I treat myself to a few new ones. This year I already have my eye on some of the gorgeous ones at EZ Living Furniture (very tempting as this is where I work). Take a look at some of the gorgeous goodies on the web site.
Pinterest is also great for some fresh ideas – I must admit that I was drooling over photos while making my wish list.
I am delighted to say that I have been given a selection of 6 beautiful ornaments to give away on my blog. Leave a comment here to be entered into the draw. If you would like another entry, give it a like on Facebook and a share to spread the Christmas Cheer.
I will pull a winner on 6 December. Sorry but this competition is only open to Ireland.
Christmas is my favourite time of the year. I start to get excited, sometimes even before Halloween. Today I took a little time to reflect on why I love Christmas.
Every Christmas my son and I build a gingerbread house. We tend to do this on Christmas eve, and I have some really wonderful memories about houses falling down, crazy icing decorations and much laughter. How the house comes together isn’t important, what is important is the special time I share with my son.
We also have a lovely tradition based on the french idea of 13 desserts. Our interpretation is a plate with 13 different goodies – fruits, nuts, and sweets. We replenish this each day both for visitors and for ourselves. The ‘plate’ as it is called in our house is a key tradition also laced with memories, especially when the dog helped himself!
Family and friends and food
Christmas is also about taking time out. Each family has it’s own way of celebrating this holiday. For me it is about family and friends. A simple Christmas dinner with family is always followed in my home with a fabulous tea party spent with friends. There is so much delicious Christmas food to be eaten, that it simply cannot be eaten in one day.
I love Christmas food. The sweet yummy stuff for sure ( I have secretly been eating mince pies since they came into the shops). I also love the more savoury treats from a great roast turkey with fruity stuffing to blue cheese and crackers.
Sharing food with family and friends is just the perfect combination.
Gift giving has become synonamous with Christmas. I love buying presents and really enjoy this part of Christmas. I don’t spend a huge amount of money, but really enjoy seeking out special treats for special people. Sitting on my bed on Christmas eve wrapping presents that might be silly but are thoughtful is a big part of Christmas for me.
This year I will be having an African Christmas and spending time with friends and family in South Africa. Hope my Mom will be ok with the Christmas tea party!
In less than a month I will be on my way to South Africa for a brief holiday.
What I look forward to the most is catching up with family and friends. Even though I have been living in Ireland for almost 13 years now, I find that time simply melts away and we are nattering away. like it was only yesterday that we saw each other last.
I do value my friends and work hard to keep contact. Distance and the pressures of daily life sometimes get in the way. I am grateful to be in contact with friends that I have had since I was five!
I have moved around a lot in the last 15 years. The big move from South Africa, the move to Westport and now the move back to Galway. At every stage of my life I have made new friends. I don’t always have time to talk every day, but I do value my friends.
Today’s quote simply says, true friends won’t grow apart if they don’t talk every day. I am so glad about that.
I love good party and am looking foward to my housewarming party on Sunday – another great excuse to catch up with friends old and new.
I love a good party. I love bringing people together over good food and drink (not necessarily alcoholic) for fun times. Spending time with friends and family is so very special. I also enjoy the idea of inviting random people who have come into my life, and made it better. Seeing people meet and make connections just makes a party pop!
Well, I have a reason for another party – I am having a housewarming for my new home. As I started to plan and prepare for the party it occurred to me that I do most of my planning online using social media and apps.
This is how I do it …
I start with a little Pinterest and YouTube browsing ideas for a theme. Sometimes it is a piece of music and an item of food that has me thinking.
I just love vintage music – so let us put a bit of Louis Armstrong on in the background on YouTube, and then hit Pinterest for some foody ideas. Time to unpack my gorgeous tea cups!
Tea parties are really my thing. A good cup of tea and a perfect cake cannot be beaten. I have recently connected with a fabulous tea company based in Galway. Solaris Tea have simply the most marvelous teas including one I call celebration tea. I am including a video clip because I am not sure I can describe it as well. A clear tea pot is a must and as the hot water is added the pot of tea becomes an exquisite flower.
I am very excited to say that I contacted.Solaris tea on twitter and will be having this fabulous range of tea at my party!! I met up with Catriona from Solaris at an ITWBN blogging event and she urged me to try the Chai Green tea. I am not a green tea lady, but to be polite I said I would try it. After drinking 3 cups I had to buy it. The tea is beautifully made and combines whole leaf tea with delicate citrus and spice.
I do love spending an hour (or two or three) in Pinterest, It is my first stop when planning a party menu. I was so inspired that I had to create board with tea party ideas, I am thinking tiny tea sandwiches and perhaps a pink and white dessert buffet?
A trip to Spotify sorts the music – some big band blues I think.
Now for the invites. Let’s head over to Facebook, where I can send off some invites and catch up with some friends who live to far away. Perhaps I might have to have a little party over in South Africa when I visit…
The party is next week, so best I had over to my lists. Lots of recipes and party posts coming soon.
November 13 is World Kindness Day. I first came across the idea of random acts of kindness when I read Pay it Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Although this is a novel, the concept of simply doing something kind for someone else with no expectation of a return made a huge impact. The book, which was subsequently made into a movie starring Kevin Spacey told the simple story of a social studies teacher who set a project and a young man with a bright idea.
The task was to Think of an idea for world change, and put it into action.
The 12-year-old came up with the idea of doing something kind for three people. Simple things really, but things that made a difference. Instead of ‘paying him back’ he asked them to pay it forward but doing a favour for 3 people themselves. This resulted in a whole lot of kindness.
Random acts of kindness can take any sort of form. I am blessed to have been the recipient so many times. Just recently I received a slip from the postman to say that I had missed a delivery. I wasn’t expecting anything. The parcel arrived on a week when I really needed a lift and I was delighted to find, some yummy sweets, a magazine and some sparkly bath salts along with a card from a dear friend.
When browsing art books (a bit of an obsession with me), I came across the concept of leaving a piece of art or a message in a public place for someone to pick up. Imagine coming across something really beautiful and knowing that a random act of kindness put it there, just for you.
My challenge to you, and to myself is to take a minute or two to be kind to a friend or stranger, especially on World Kindness Day – 13 November 2015. It doesn’t cost much and can make a huge difference in someones day.
I am always inspired by women who are fabulous in every way. Woman who defy the rules, and set out to reach for their dreams no matter what.
I was invited to an ITWBN blogger event at 56 Central, a new snazzy eatery in Galway. The food was beyond delicious, the décor really extraordinary and the company of my fellow ITWBN bloggers sublime.
What really struck me though was the quiet confidence of the fabulous woman who welcomed us. Gill Carroll spoke with passion when she spoke of the ethos of the restaurant that provides culinary excellence from local producers and invites people to connect.
I knew at this point that I wanted to do a ‘Fabulicoius Woman’ interview with Gill. I wanted to know what made this fabulous woman tick!
Q: You have opened two unique eateries, 37 West renowned for healthy food and 56 Central which is based on connections. Where do you find your inspiration?
Gill: I spend a lot of time researching, studying from great leaders. I take one thing from everyone and then use them to drive me on! You can learn from anyone now online – but, I do like to go to talks as well to get the real deal!
Q What would you consider your greatest achievement in your career thus far and why?
Gill: I think it was when 37 West (the first restaurant launched by Gill), won Best of Galway Awards or when we got our first McKenna award – seeing the teams faces when we got the awards was something special – we all worked hard for them.
Also, creating my vision boards for 37 West and putting them out, and ALL of them coming true!
Q How do you reboot yourself when you hit a low?
Gill: I always go back to basics. I have a Dream Day and over many years have created many vision boards – so when things go low I go back to them – read them and remind myself of where I want to go – where I said I wanted to go when times were good!
It is easy lose focus business is hard – people expect a lot so you. My aim is to follow the words of Tony Robbins and create, not destroy. I have super people around me too, which means in seconds I can connect with people who just get me!
Q Who inspires you? And why?
Gill: So many people!!!
My Dad for his true fearless entrepreneurial spirit.
My Mother for her passion for fun and enjoying life.
My best friend Pat for his constant inspiration.
My business partner Lisa in Strive For It for her passion for consistency.
Q If you had to sit down and have a meal at 37 West – what would you order?
Gill: For breakie I have an omelette with Cajun chicken, jalapeno, feta cheese and gluten-free bread! My last supper would be of course a Chicken melt, chunky chip, garlic mayo and a san Pellegrino lemon! ahhhh heaven. (And I am hungry just reading that)
Q How do you relax? You have two very busy and successful businesses, but I would imagine that you need to relax and rewind at some time. I think this is an important part of being fabulous, hence the question.
Ok, I am bad on the relaxing! I love training, it’s my way of letting go and having me time. I am in the gym early in the morning before the world gets up! I love going to the Radisson to sit in the hot tub for hours.
I believe in the freedom days – taking a day off away from world and doing something very exciting – at least once a month!
Q Lastly, what do you do you do to make yourself feel fabulous?
I am not into make-up, hair or fashion. I have to be told to do that sort of stuff! To feel fab I enter a race the crazier the better – getting your body and mind in shape for something wild like that is when I feel alive inside – like doing Tough Mudder or Spartan race. I feel alive covered in mud in a field, helping myself and others get through some hard hours!
If there’s a charity element I am even more ready to get covered in mud. It makes the whole event so much more worthwhile. Last year I was part of a team that raised €160k for Cystic Fibrosis – a really special moment of my life!
I also love to go for good meal, sip on a big glass of red wine and laugh my head off with good people. Follow it up by dancing my ass off. Basically acting like a big child!
I would like to sincerely thank Gill for not only welcoming me to her restaurant, but also taking the time to do this interview. I can honestly recommend the food at both eateries (and I do love good food).
I am not a lover of confrontation. In fact, I will do anything I can to avoid it. As you would imagine that isn’t a great life strategy and I have had to learn to deal with things head on. Even when I know that the discussion isn’t going to be pleasant, it is still better to have it than to let things fester.
In the past two weeks I have been brave and faced my fear of confrontation. Being brave has left me feeling stronger and in control. Although I must admit to feeling emotionally depleted.
Everyone has different demons that they need to face. Mine was confrontation and it became exacerbated by procrastination. I really do not like dealing with some things and will do anything to put it off.
I recently attended a workshop presented by Pat Divilly. He is a truly inspirational man who has faced many demons and is proof that we can overcome whatever situation we are in.
It is a short post today, but an important Wednesday Quotation for me.
A few days I unpacked a box and found a pile of old school reports. I laughed when I read this one dated from when I was 5 and 20 days. I really haven’t changed much. It has me wondering how much of our personalities are formed so very young. I have also been contemplating how we lose confidence as we get older.
I have typed the whole thing out, for the amusement of my readers (especially those who have known me for many years). I know I still look for validation and still stress out when I lose things. I still don’t like cocoa.
For many years I believed that physical activity and sport were something I could not do. I am glad I am walking now and keeping myself as fit as possible. I still, of course love making things and painting!
My challenge to you is to dig out your old school reports and take time to reflect. (I also had to dig out my nursery graduation photo too.)
Half Yearly Report:
Name: Kerry Manning
Height: 44 and 5/8”
Feeding: Her appetite s good, she enjoys all fruit. She has milk and cocoa but does not particularly enjoy the latter.
Cloakroom: She is fairly independent and quick during this routine.
Emotional development: Kerry is a happy and cheerful little girl. She does however get very upset if anything goes wrong or if she loses an article of clothing. She is still a little shy and tense when faced with unfamiliar situations.
Relationship with adults: She is friendly and co-operative, who likes to win praise and to gain the attention of staff.
Relationship with children: Kerry enjoys the company of other children. She is less reliant on Frances now and more independent in forming her own social contacts.
Language: She has a slight lisp. She is inclined to speak very quickly which makes her speech rather indistinct. Her vocabulary and she conversed freely.
Indoor: Kerry enjoys completing the puzzles. She is interested in all the manipulation sense training toys. She likes to draw and colour in.
Outdoor: She plays imaginatively in the Wendy House with a group of children. She enjoys all forms of sand and water play. Kerry is fairly agile and she uses the physical equipment with increasing confidence.
Organised activities: She loves making things and is very proud of the results she achieves. She frequently paints and a certain amount of form and detail is evident.
Songs: She enjoys singing and is more willing to take an active part.
Music: When she concentrates, Kerry’s sense of rhythm is fairly good. She participates with enthusiasm.
Stories: Kerry is an attentive listener she has a good memory for detail.
PT: She joins in happily and her muscle co-ordination is fairly.
General: Kerry has made a good adjustment to Nursery School. She needs encouragement to attempt unfamiliar things and is inclined to say ‘I can’t’ before trying.
I really haven’t changed that much to be honest. I have learnt a few lessons from this old school report and writing this blog post.
Thanks for reading, and those who know me well, I would love your feedback.
I didn’t grow up with Halloween. It was only something that started to impact in my life when my son was born. When he started to go to nursery he came home with Halloween costume requests and that started me thinking about this day that was celebrated with dressing up, scary movies and trick or treating.
When I moved to Ireland nearly 13 years ago I really started to become curious and did a little studying about the history of Halloween. Today it is really about the candy and costumes. In the past I have bought sweets and chocolates and then found myself eating too much of it myself. The question is – how did it start?
I am told that Halloween evolved from the ancient Celtic festival known of Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”). This is also November in the Irish language, and the month my son was born.
The festival of Samhain celebrates the end of the harvest Gaelic culture. It was believed that on 31 October the boundry between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped. This meant that the dead would come back to life and haunt us.
I love this photo taken in the Spiddal graveyard. As a photographer I really love the winter light. It creates a starkness to the bare branches and adds a spooky feel to the mudane.
These days I mark the day by going to a quiet place, perhaps a little dark. Not a bad place, but simply a contemplative place where I can remember those who have passed from this life into the next. I choose to believe that I will be guided rather than haunted.
I might have to indulge in a little chocolate just because.
I started my blog at the beginning of the year, but I can honestly say that the real kick-start came after attending a blogging event.
That first event was the ITWBN meet-up at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Galway. I was made to feel so welcome and was so inspired by fellow bloggers, speakers and the sparkling and lovely event organised by Saibh and Sinead.
Now, I am not strictly a beauty blogger, but I do love my make-up and love being fabulous so I dressed up fancy (and had my photo taken by a friendly photographer), and headed out with a spring in my step.
What a wonderful an inspiring event. It started with a warm welcome from my fellow bloggers, some which I knew already, and others who I had the pleasure of getting to know. We were treated to gorgeous fruit cocktails and fragrant Solaris tea before sitting down to a spread.
The food was delicious. Our table devoured the yummy savouries and were delighted to receive an extra plate. Scones, and sweet goodies followed all washed down by tea. Catriona from Solaris Tea urged us to try some of the special teas and I found myself addicted to Chai Green Tea, so much so that I had to buy a box to take home!
Joanne is glamorous in person, but is also very down to earth. As she shared her story, I found myself inspired and was quickly jotting down ideas for posts and for increasing my readership. Joanne built her blog from very little. The success of her blog is a result of lots of hard work and consistency. It wasn’t all about beauty, more about blogging and Joanne was very generous about sharing tips for taking your blog the step further. Question time was great, lots more scribbling from me.
No blogging event from the fabulous ITWBN would be complete without a legendary goody bag. Snuggled up on my sofa after the event, the pencil came out again as I started planning even more blog posts based on the goodies!
Blogging can be a very solitary hobby, but by attending events and joining groups you become part of a community. A community of colleagues that are there to inspire you.