Tag: lifestyle

How to be a plus sized over 50 Fashionista!

This post has been sponsored by Hotter Shoes who have also kindly gifted me my boots and handbag.

I love fashion – and I like to think of myself as a plus sized over 50 fashionista.  Why not?  We are all entitled to celebrate our bodies and the beautiful clothes we wear.  I know that I always feel better when I am wearing something I love.

The seasonal wardrobe change over

I grew up in South Africa, where we had cold dry but short winters and long hot summers.  The big wardrobe change over is a ritual that I have continued even though the seasons are quite different in Ireland.

The steps!

  1. The first step is to haul the suitcases from under the bed. As I unpack last seasons clothes, I really try to do my first cull.  Is there anything that is really tatty or something that I will probably never wear again?  These go straight into a bag for recycling.
  2. The next step is to check if anything needs mending – realistically if I don’t mend it now, it will languish in the back of the wardrobe for another season.
  3. The next step is to empty my current wardrobe. There are some basics that are part of my wardrobe all year round so these don’t go into storage.  I also keep a few summery thing out in a special section for winter sun holidays!
  4. As I pack my new season wardrobe into the wardrobe I take note of what I have, and consequently what I need. As you can imagine at 54 I have amassed lots of clothes and even after recycling, there isn’t a lot that I need.
  5. I then make a list of what I need, this season it is jeans and boots. My current boots are two years old and have been worn so often that they burn the soles of my feet on a good day in town.  My body seems to have changed shape and I really need to treat my bum to a new pair.
  6. Finally there is also what I want!  Money is tight but it is always good to add something that you might fall in love with.
I love this outfit – perfect for travelling. Super comfortable and trendy Pixie boots from Hotter Shoes in Wine. The matching handbag is also from Hotter and is perfect for taking on the plane. My lovely book patterned skirt is from Bo-Peep.ie.

What to buy?

Over the past few years my life has changed and I no longer need corporate wear, and have found that my casual wardrobe is growing.  I still love dressing up for any occasion.  I also like feeling a bit trendy and have found that the careful purchase of fashionable accessories is a great way of updating my wardrobe with minimum expense.

Once I had my wardrobe all packed away in sections – tops, bottoms, dresses, jackets and cardigans.  The accessories were sorted with special attention to hats, scarves and gloves I was ready to make my wish list.

  1. Black boots and a fun pair if possible.
  2. A winter dress – not the easiest thing to find, but I do love my vintage so I knew where to look. Lindy Bop in the UK has the cutest vintage style, and I fell in love with a black swing style dress that was conveniently on sale.  – pics of this soon – I promise.
  3. Jeans – well this is still on my list. I need to find the pair that makes me feel good.  For now it is my old ones with a belt.
  4. I am still on the look out for all the perfect accessories, but then it is good to have something to shop for when I am away or out shopping.

Falling in love with online shopping

Traditional shopping is something I only do on occasion.  My health has made me really sensitive to sounds and lights and I find it really tiring.  I also get claustrophobic in the changing rooms.

Online shopping is my saviour.  I never thought it would be possible to buy a pair of boots that fit so perfectly online.  My first interaction with Hotter Shoes included a chat with their fitting expert.  When my fabulous new boots arrived, I was only a little apprehensive. The first time I wore my boots I walked and walked and walked – no better recommendation.

I also bought my Lindy Bop dress online and based on previous purchases, I knew what size to buy, and it slipped on like it was made for me.

Feet up after a long day. These are my fabulous Hotter Whisper boots – that go with almost everything.

Footwear is probably the most important fashion item in my wardrobe

If my feet are not happy I am not happy.  Comfort comes first even before fashion, although it is a close second.  Because of this I always plan my outfits from the feet up.  There is no point in putting a fabulous outfit together and then realising that you don’t have the shoes to finish it off.

My first choice from Hotter Shoes was these black Whisper boots – these are simply the most versatile ankle boots ever.  They are smart enough to wear with tailored clothes and with dresses, but are equally suited to jeans.  An extra selling point is that they have two zips rather than one.  When you have awkward arthritic feet this is a fantastic feature.

As an extra treat I chose trendy Pixie boots with their suede print and tassels.  These are simply boots that speak to my heart.  I love the boho chic look right now, and these boots make me feel fabulous whenever I wear them.  My feet also love them for their slipper like comfort.

Every good pair of shoes deserves a great handbag.  Hotter also kindly gifted me the Laura handbag.  This bag complements my pixie boots as it is wine with a black floral print.  I took the bag with me on a recent trip to the UK.  Such a brilliant bag, and ideal for fitting in everything you need for a flight.

All set for the season

After all that wardrobe sorting, here I am snuggled up on the Chesterfield in the kitchen reading. I still have my boots on as I am comfy and warm.

I think I am almost set for this season!  My wardrobe is tidy and getting ready every morning is a pleasure!

Thanks for reading and sharing my fashion journey.

Kerry xx

12 Tips for Travelling on a Budget

I love to travel.  There is something about visiting a place that is not home that captures my imagination and quite simply excites me.  I had to find a way of travelling on a budget.

We are on a very limited budget.  I am in fact on a medical pension which makes it even harder to travel, but not impossible.

My excuse was that I couldn’t’ afford a holiday

For many years I was the person that said I can’t afford a holiday.  I looked on with envy as many people jetted off to sunnier climates and felt frustrated and a tiny bit left out.  What I didn’t realise is that there are a few tricks and techniques which make it perfectly possible to travel – on an extremely limited budget.

  1. Book out of season – it’s one of the advantages of being a little older.
  2. Be prepared to trawl the internet – the deals are there to be had, you simply have to spend time looking. Our favourite site is www.loveholidays.com
  3. Be flexible with dates, and places, you might have to compromise a little but I promise it is worth it.
  4. Let go of the 5-Star dreams. We travel on a budget and understand that if you aren’t paying 5-star rates you won’t get a 5 star hotel.  However, you might get a really clean self-catering apartment in a perfect location.
  5. Choose self-catering. Although we have tried various options, but if I am honest I do prefer self-catering.  It is fun going to the supermarket and figuring out what might be delicious.  It is also a lot cheaper.  A bottle of wine, or even a bottle of water from a supermarket is more affordable than one in a restaurant.
  6. Eating out is cheaper than at home – just remember to do your research. Trip Advisor is great for knowing just exactly what you are getting.  I love the European café culture – so am always happy to pay for a great coffee and a pastry and sit and write in my journal or simply watch the world go by.
  7. Save! Yes, no matter how cheap it is savings are going be needed.  I am personally very happy to have baked beans on a baked potato for dinner for a few nights and know that I can make the holiday payment.
  8. Choose to pay monthly. I find it quite difficult to save up a lump sum, but many holiday operators offer the option of paying monthly.  We allocate 10 Euros each of our weekly budget to paying off holidays.  It is easy enough to find 10 Euro and we are heading to our third European holiday this weekend.
  9. Research transport options. You might be able to pick up a bus pass for the week for as little as 10 Euro.  I love to walk on holiday but sometimes you need to catch a ride.
  10. Think of the extras. I used to get caught by extras like check-in fees, and parking.  Parking can be quite a chunk of spending money if you don’t get it right.  One option would be to stay at an affordable Dublin hotel which offers a shuttle to the airport and parking while you are away.  We are delighted to be staying at the Carlton Hotel Blanchardstown before leaving for Turkey.  An added advantage is that we need to be at the airport at 4am.  This way will be rested and ready for our holiday.
  11. Look into the local currency. If you need to convert your spending money before you go.  (And yes you guessed it I save that too for a few weeks before the trip)
  12. Check out mobile phone and internet access with your service provider. The last thing you want is a rude bill on your return.

It is exciting to go on holiday and the best part is when everything is sorted and paid for before hand.  I am off to pack my bag, tick off my checklist and get ready for Turkey.

I hope you are inspired to go travelling on a budget.

Follow me on Instagram @fabulouskerry to see how we get on.

Thanks for reading.

Kerry xx

How to pack fabulous into a 10kg carry-on bag!

Packing for a week in a carry-on bag is the biggest holiday challenge for me.  I want to be comfortable, feel fashionable and pretty and still not incur excess baggage costs.

It starts with shoes …

Shoes are the most important item in my holiday wardrobe.  Firstly I must be comfortable, and walking is always a huge part of the holiday.  In addition shoes are the heaviest item in your luggage and when you have 10kg for a week’s worth of style some forward planning is needed.

I was recently introduced to Hotter shoes.  These fabulous shoes have transformed my wardrobe and my foot comfort.  So stylish and super comfortable.  My pale blue Flare sandals are a dream to wear.  They are seriously stylish but are so well designed that they even have fastenings that adjust – absolutely perfect for me as my feet swell in the hot weather.

Blue is a favourite colour for me – and like denim they go with everything!.

Red shoes, in my opinion are magical.  Gorgeous soft buttery leather and a padded,shaped innersole make these Nirvana mary-janes so comfortable, while still being fashionable.  The design of this shoe is perfect with dresses, leggings or jeans.  Such a versatile choice that I know will take me through the seasons.  A great choice for travelling!

How to pack for Summer sun

Summer means colour to me.  Banish those blacks and greys and get happy.  I love summer bright dresses that you can simply slip on and be ready to go the beach or eat dinner al fresco.

I start packing by laying out the clothes I think I want to take on the bed.  Then, I count the days and consider contingencies.  Most often do a bit of editing because we often take too much.  The next items to go in are shoes.  I normally travel with three pairs.  For a summer holiday, a pair of flip flops, a pair of sandals and a pair of shoes suitable for walking and travelling.  As I wear a lot of dresses, these all need to be pretty!  My Hotter sandals and shoes in blue and red were the first items in the suitcase. A quick glance at my holiday wardrobe assured me that they were the perfect choice.

My packing checklist

I work on a little checklist for all my trips – just to make sure I have all I need and nothing extra.

This would be for a seven-day trip.

  1. Footwear – sandals, flip-flops, shoes
  2. Dresses x3 – normally a couple of maxi dresses and a shorter one. (I do wash and wear)
  3. Leggings x 1
  4. Tops (for leggings) x 2
  5. Wrap/cover-up
  6. Swimsuit
  7. Cardigan
  8. Underwear
  9. Modesty tops (Little vests to go under my dresses and protect my modesty somewhat)
  10. Capsule make-up and cosmetic collection (it all fits into a little zip lock bag)
  11. Hair – yes I take my heated rollers with me everywhere, hairbrush, hair ties and pins.
  12. Medication – I do have to take a good bit with me – so that is a second zip lock bag.
  13. Extras – travel adaptor, phone charger, my journal
  14. Accessories – a fold up beach bag, sunglasses, and a few key pieces of costume jewellery.
  15. Handbag – I checklist all the items in here too – no harm in being prepared.

Tick everything off the list and then roll pack.  This way I fit everything I need in.

Yes, it can be done!  Carry-on luggage only.

I wouldn’t have believed it could be done.  It is possible to save on checked luggage and fit whatever you need into a little suitcase.  I do think it is all about choices, and for me it definitely starts with choosing the perfect shoes.

This is a sponsored post by the fabulous Hotter Shoes.  I was gifted the shoes which have honestly become my favourites.  I wrote about choosing the shoes and the wonderful service offered by Hotter in this blog post.

Thank you for reading, and I hope I have inspired you to book that summer break – and save the cost of check-in baggage for a nice dinner out on holiday and maybe a glass of wine.

Kerry x

Tenerife – it creeps into your heart until you don’t want to leave

Everyone has different expectations of a holiday and of course different budgets too.

We were so excited to be visiting Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife.  Endless hours had been spent on YouTube looking at travel videos.  I was very curious to experience ‘black’ sand!

The holiday didn’t get off to the finest start.  Despite being excited, the trip was long.  A four and a half hour flight, plus a couple of hours drive and of course airport waiting time all added up.  It meant that we arrived late in the evening a little tired and grumpy if I am completely honest.

Travelling with a budget airline on a short trip is fine, but absolutely no frills on a longer flight is a little more challenging.   The holiday had started and were eager to get going as we had a 90 minute transfer from the airport to our destination at the north of the island.

Something went wrong and we found ourselves waiting for more than an hour.  Eventually a small group was loaded into a mini bus that was not road worthy and we set off.  This was not the way I was expecting to start my holiday.

We travel budget style

We are on a budget and more than happy to compromise on luxuries for the chance of some sun on our bones.  Resorts wouldn’t necessarily be our choice either as we enjoy walking and soaking up the local culture.

Our hotel, Travador, was in the older part of Puerto de la Cruz, and despite the website reporting a big upgrade it was a little tired.  We eventually realised that it was the public rooms that had been upgraded and that the rooms were in progress.  Never mind, it was clean (a biggy for me) and the location was absolutely perfect.

Walking our way around Puerto de la Cruz

Both my partner and I suffer from arthritis, and one of the reasons we travel is to take advantage of the dry heat which makes such a huge difference on our pain and inflammation.  There are days at home where I struggle to walk.  In Tenerife I was walking 10 0000 steps a day (with my trusty stick Stan), but walking nevertheless.

On our first morning we started exploring the town, which in a weird way reminded me of South Africa.  The beautiful gardens which were part of the city scape incorporated Bougainvillea one of my favourite childhood flowers as well as many other trees and flowers.  I took hundreds of photos that first morning.  The heat on my back and the paw paw (papaya) and guavas outside the shops were enticing.

Location is really key – especially if you want to be able to walk everywhere.  After treating ourselves to coffee in an outdoor café we found our way to the beach only a 10 minute walk from our hotel and it was at this point that I started to fall in love.

It is odd looking at black sand, because it’s different to what your head says it should be.  The combination from an artist’s eye however is breath-taking.  The sea reflects an exquisite turquoise shade as it brushes across the sand.  I took loads of photos and can’t wait to get into the studio to try to recapture this amazing colour combination.

A beer and a beer shandy were just what we needed after our long walk and we simply sat back and enjoyed the magnificent view.  These positions at the beachside café became a daily indulgence.  Sometimes we indulged further tasting the local cuisine or a naughty ice cream.

There is something about the sea that calms and relaxes me completely.  I can look at it, walk along the shore line dipping my toes into the waves or simply close my eyes and take in the smell of the salty waves and sun on the sand.  I did a fair bit of the above in Puerto de la Cruz.

Musings from my journal

I journal every day.  It is part of my routine and certainly something that helps me in so many ways.  When we are on holiday, journaling time has to be planned for.  Most days this took place in a little café a stone’s throw from our hotel where I could order a pot of tea and a pastry for the princely sum of 2 Euro.

During the holiday I came up with these seven realisations/lessons that I learnt from my week in Puerto de la Cruz.

  1. It really doesn’t matter what you look like.  On the beach I saw woman (and men) of every shape, size and age all wearing bikinis and other skimpy swimwear.  They were happy and sunning themselves and not beating themselves up about what they looked like.  I made a pact to give up tangling with my sarong and simply relax and enjoy.
  2. I love the coffee culture. People watching is such fun and there is nothing nicer than whiling away an hour over a delicious café con leche and perhaps a sneaky pastry.  Costing less than 2 euro – including the nibble, I can afford to indulge.
  3. My IBS is better on holiday. I realise this is a bit TMI (too much information) but it is really relevant to me.  IBS is part of my life and a side effect of fibromyalgia and other conditions not to mention the many pills that I have to pop.  I think it could be all the walking (see point 4) or simply being truly relaxed and keeping hydrated.  It could be lack of stress.  I just know that somehow I would like to hang onto this advantage when I get home.
  4. Walking! Instead of dancing all night I could walk all day.  I walk fairly slowly and use my trusty stick much of the time, but I really enjoy it.  We walked on the beach, along the paved walkways which stretch across Puerto de la Cruz and wound our way through quirky back streets.  Yes, my feet got sore, and I got tired, but it felt so good to be moving with the sun on my back and a few breaks along the way to enjoy the atmosphere.
  5. My joints – the bane of my life with arthritis are much, much better in a dry heat. It is amazing to rely less and less on pain relief over the week, and of course to be able to move more.  The sad side of this is that within 48 hours of being back in Ireland, these positive effects are gone.  (Never mind I can book another budget holiday).
  6. You can travel on very little money. Both my partner and I are on a very limited budget.  Holidays are only possible if we budget carefully before hand and afterwards.  We invest a lot of time into digging out the best deals possible.  We are fairly flexible with dates which means that we can avail of the best offers possible.  This holiday was booked through Love Holidays and was paid off on an instalment plan.  We don’t mind the lack of luxuries, but do love the warm air and the sense of excitement that travel brings.
  1. Be adventurous! In everything.  We had a giggle every morning when we came down for breakfast because it wasn’t what we are used to.  Peas, carrots, and one morning pizza.  There were some really yummy cakes and pastries too.  Everyone is different and every culture that you visit has different cuisine.  Try things – you might not like them, but then again you might be back for more.

Highlights and low notes

As with any journey there are particular highlights.  One of mine was the night we treated ourselves to dinner at a little restaurant and were in turn treated to a feast of flamenco dancing.  I am very much an off the beaten track person, and would prefer to try smaller eateries.  One of the best meals of the trip was a shared plate of the local Canarian potatoes (wrinkly potatoes) – basically salted boiled new potatoes with two mojo sauces eaten at the beachside café.

On a low note, it took us 27 hours to get home.  A technical fault on a Ryanair flight had us diverted to a different airport and drinking tea at 4am in an airport hours from our car.  It wasn’t easy and it definitely meant that we arrived home tired, rather than relaxed.

Thank you for reading about my travels.

Kerry xx

Finding Shoes for Difficult Feet

I have always wished I had different feet.  Prettier smaller, slimmer feet.  The kind of feet that Manolo Blahnik would like to grace.

Extreme Foot Make-over Fantasy

In the nineties there was a TV programme being aired called Extreme Makeover.  The participant was transformed via surgery, cosmetic dentistry, and the usual fashion, hair and make-up.  What differed on this programme was that nothing was off the menu.  I watched people undergo serious surgical procedures and what must have been extreme painful.

Every time I watched the programme I wondered if they could do a foot extreme make-over.  I could undergo surgery and come out with transformed feet.

Back to the real world where finding shoes for difficult feet isn’t easy

We are who we are and we should embrace our own unique beauty.  When it comes to shoe shopping though it isn’t easy if you don’t fit the ‘average’ shoe.

Since being diagnosed with arthritis, the situation has got even worse.  My feet are sore, the joints feel swollen and fragile at the same time.

Finding shoes that are perfect isn’t easy.  For me they need to meet the following criteria:

  • Comfort
  • Fit
  • Attractiveness
  • Affordability
  • Availability

Anyone with awkward feet (and I now know there are a lot of us) will know that finding all these in one pair of shoes is very hard to find.

Most comfortable shoes are not pretty.  Finding shoes that are comfortable and that fit well is another thing.  I am a size 8, and in many brands this is the largest size available so there is no opportunity of taking a larger size to get a bigger width.  If I do go for a bigger size I find myself flopping out of the one shoe, or gripping like crazy with my toes to keep my shoes from falling off.

Pretty shoes for a fashionista

I am a real fashionista!  I love my fashion and style and adore dressing up to go out.  And then it comes to my feet.  What will I wear?  Where am I going?  How far will I have to walk?  Sometimes I simply decide that I hope nobody looks below my knees.

I don’t mind spending money on a good pair of shoes that I am going to wear. However I think we have all fallen into the trap of buying shoes on the hope that they will ‘ease up’ or for an occasion. Frankly any money spent on shoes (or anything else) that you don’t use is money wasted.

So imagine if we could find a perfect pair of shoes that fit, were comfortable, fashionable and attractive and affordable.  Well that sounds like a pipe dream because I don’t know of many high street stores that stock these dream slippers.

I was introduced to Hotter shoes via my blog.  I immediately went to the website www.hotter.com and started exploring.  It was all looking good.  This website was telling me that the perfect shoe was available.

Their slogan of comfort for the soul/sole really appealed but to be honest I was wary about buying shoes online without being able to try them on.  I imagined a series of parcels travelling back and forth trying to find the right shoe.  And then probably settling for something that wasn’t quite right.  Yet another pair of shoes gathering dust and decorating my hallway.

Introducing the personal shopper

After chatting with the Hotter team on email I was told that a personal shopper would be giving me a call.  James called and immediately put me at ease.  We had a little chat and then started talking about fit and style.  He was so knowledgeable and understood both my medical history and my difficult feet.  He advised me on width fit and on style. There are things you need to look out for with both arthritis and diabetes and he was totally up to speed and able to advise which shoes were the best choice.

After placing my order, I had this sense of confidence that the shoes would arrive and that they would not only fit but become favourites.

Shoes that make me want to dance

My summer shoe wardrobe consists of three pairs of shoes from Hotter.  A fabulous pair of pale blue sandals.  Soft buttery leather and so very pretty.  The cutest red Mary Janes which are idea for an Irish summer where it isn’t that warm.  Fabulous with both dresses and trousers I know that red shoes are going to give me my own sense of magic.  Finally I have a cute pair of floral pumps. (A fashion post will follow with lots of shoe pics)

They all fit!! And are all comfortable!  I could turn into a shoeholic after all.

Thanks Hotter!

(Although I am working with Hotter on an #ad blog post, this post is purely from me.  It is about my struggles and my excitement at finding pretty shoes for difficult feet).

Thanks for reading and if you fancy trying a pair yourself, know that you too can talk to a personal shopper.

 

Kerry xx

Empty Nest  – a Syndrome or an Opportunity

On Tuesday last week I waved my son off on a journey that will propel him into the real world.  I closed the door and burst into tears.

I could not really explain the tear. They just came and the more I tried to stop them, the more they flowed.  I was a bit taken aback as I thought I had my head around it all.

From birth our role as a parent is as a nurturer.  We feed our children, keep them safe and do everything we can to make them smile.

I am a proud Mom

I am incredibly proud of the young man who is my son.  My son is a hard worker who is passionate about everything he does.  In my opinion he has unusual clarity about his life’s goals and is now on the way to a wonderful future.

He has had a fascination for computer games and programming for since his early teens and has worked steadily away in tandem with finishing school and then completing a degree in Theoretical Physics.  And, now he embarks on his new adventure as a games play programmer working on his dream game.  Yes, I am proud, extremely proud.  But, this job is near Manchester in the United Kingdom. So he is not only starting out in his new career and a whole new chapter of his life, but he has moved to another country.

Of course I will be visiting, and I have already started looking at flights and planning get-aways, but ultimately this week marks the end of my role as a mother to a child and the beginning of true adulthood for my son.

So an empty nest.  What does that mean?

In some ways I feel a fraud talking about my empty nest as he and I have lived apart for a while now between college and other things.  I did have the joy of having him under my roof for a couple of months after college which was a gift which I cherish.

An empty nest for me it marks the end of an era.  My child is now a tax paying adult!  It changes nothing about how I feel about him.  I will continue to worry about if he is eating well and meeting nice people, and that he is happy.  That part of mothering never turns off.  I do know however that as he left the nest, he is ready to fly.

I am sure that he will feel the excitement I once felt when I started out on my own and moved into my first flat with my sister.  The day I was shown my first desk at my first job, and the day I received my first pay cheque.

I have allowed myself a few days to get used to the idea that we no longer life in the same country, never mind the same house or town.  I have had a glass (or two) of Prosecco to celebrate his success and talk endlessly about how I feel, but now it is time to face up to what this empty nest means for me.

An Empty Nest as a launch pad?

I am at a stage in my life when I too can stand on the edge of the nest and decide where to fly.  What changes can I make in my life?  What destinations can I choose to fly too.

I know that many people of my age face the same challenges.  In a way it is an exciting phase for us empty nesters too.  We can play the game of reinvention.  I am putting myself in the way of opportunities.  I am determined to embrace my creative side and work on my art with the long-term aim of holding an exhibition.

You don’t get to 53 without accumulating. I have so many ‘things’ in terms of items that need dusting and tidying. So instead of shopping I am looking to spend my time and money on experiences.  I have booked to go to the National Gallery to see the Vermeer exhibition, signed up for an international craft class, and am playing short away trips.

South Africa is my destination in October and I am planning on spending time creating some wonderful new memories with friends old and new during my trip.  I will also stop off in Dubai for some special family time with my sister.

I have decided to consciously consider myself a Mommy bird who looks at her nest and instead of seeing it as empty sees it as an opportunity to fly.

As I continue to celebrate being fabulous in my fifties I hope you come back to share my journey here.

Thank you for reading.

Kerry xx

Afternoon tea – a necessary indulgence



Afternoon tea is my favourite meal.  I know that it might not be the healthiest meal but it trumps on the luxurious indulgence stakes.

I was delighted to be invited to the Carlton Hotel in Blanchardstown to celebrate the launch of their afternoon tea menu.  The simple thought of it had me up early in the morning and ready to travel.

Like any true afternoon tea addict it is always a complete experience, so I started with my outfit.  It had to be my Lindy Bop Tea dress.  Feeling pretty and bubbling with excitement I set off on my journey with fellow bloggers Sinead from Yummy Mummy and Dolores from Irish Health Hour.

The mood was set with lots of girly chats and laughs and we arrived in good spirits.

A Hotel with a Heart

Some people might say that a hotel is simply a hotel, but this hotel has heart.  What a beautiful warm welcome we received.  The staff were fantastic, friendly and efficient.

As we entered the room where the tea party was being held I just wanted to swirl and twirl in my party dress.  The attention to detail was second to none and my eyes kept jumping around to take in the detail, all of which built atmosphere and excitement.

Pimp my Prosecco

Before we sat down for tea we were offered a glass of prosecco, but not just any prosecco.  This cute primp my prosecco stand meant that we could add flavourings and fruit to our glass of sparkle. As delicious as it was, I wanted to watch my intake and the great staff immediately assisted by pimping sparkling water for me.

The perfect ingredients for afternoon tea for me are great company, excellent hot tea and lots of it and of course the foody goodies.  As we sat down at a perfectly decorated table with great little details like name plates and little flowers I glanced over at the fine china and knew I was in for a treat.

The cake stands were delivered and we all simply dived in.  The bottom layer of sandwiches was my first dive in.  The classic smoked salmon and brown soda, a yummy delicious chicken with apple wood smoked cheddar (so yummy that I was looking for a second one), fresh tasting egg mayonnaise and cucumber and finally a roast beef.  I was ok with missing out on the beef (as I don’t eat red meat), and was delighted to sit back and sip at my tea.

My number one tea party food is a good scone.  These scones served with jam and cream were fluffy and light inside with just the right amount of crisp. The addition of lemon drizzle cake and a fruity banana bread was just the right balance before reaching for the top tier!

The top-tier of any tea stand is pure indulgence and this was no different.  Creamy, dreamy coconut cake, delicious vanilla cheesecake, toffee Mille Feuillee and beautiful little custard tarts which are my mother’s favourite.  The big decision – to choose or simply have one of each.

There was a lot of delicious food and I enjoyed it.  It was great fun though and between lots of laughs as we experimented with Boomerang and dived into our goody bags. Time simply flew.

Just a small note at this stage on the goody bags.  They were fabulous with lots of treats for us bloggers to try.  I will be featuring many items on my Instagram (@DynamicKerry) and my blog in the weeks to come. We were gifted all sorts of goodies from a range of sponsors.  These included the Carlton Hotel, Ultra Pure Laboratories, Human + Kind, Dr Paw Paw, Ardell Lashes, Graham Anthony, Debenhams, Nude by Nature and from local retailers including Chopped, O’Breins Wines, and Westend Retail Park.

This was my kind of afternoon, and to be honest my perfect social occasion.  I will definitely be back!

We even finished off the afternoon with a gin cocktail!  Who could say no to that?

A hotel with a lot more to offer

Before the day ended we had a tour around the hotel and I added to my wish list.  Beautifully appointed rooms just invite you to sink into soft pillows and take a rest.

The fab business centre caught my eye.  Working from home I am often looking for somewhere to hold a meeting or simply work and write when I am out-of-town.  I will be working on a different blog post over on www.kerrymanning.net all about working on the go and will definitely be including the facilities at the Carlton Hotel in Blanchardstown.

The Carlton Hotel is conveniently located close to the fabulous Blanchardstown Shopping Centre and in easy reach of the airport.

Thank you for reading. Let me know if you indulge in afternoon tea at the Carlton Hotel Blanchardstown or wherever you live.  Remember tea and cake is best shared with friends.

Kerry xx

Destressing my skin and my soul with Hayo’u

Stress is part of my life.  It is part of all our lives and relieving stress is high up on my list of things to deal with.

Over the past couple of years I have learnt to deal with my stress better. To be simply be more ‘in the moment when it comes to day-to-day life.  If I am upset over something I stop and breathe.  Simple I know but it has made a huge difference.

When I received news of the Hayo’u range of products I was intrigued.  I wanted to know more about a pamper product that seemed to understand where I was in my life.

The Hayo’u Method

Rather than a range of products I was introduced to the Hayo’u Method.  The system is designed to tackle stress levels and make you feel and look younger so a win in my book.

The package of samples (thank you so much) arrived.  Are these going to be any different to other bath and pamper products.  I had to wonder. They are so very different that I have to attempt to explain the sensory experience that I have had, and continue to have using this method.

The first of my senses was my sense of smell.  I love oils and the combination of lotus flower and frankincense. And combined with the healing properties of Himalayan pink salt it is just heavenly.  The first product I used was the shower gel which  immediately invigorated me.  But, as I was road testing the product I needed to follow instructions.  Each product comes with a little insert which introduces you to the one minute breathing exercise. This little ritual is rooted in the wisdom on Chinese medicine and helps you to focus inwards and calm your mind.  As you breathe in the gorgeous aromas you are drawing out physical tension and inviting in calm.

I love the instructions – Expel – the stale breath, Descend as you breathe in and then as you exhale – Smile though your whole body.  Try it – it feels great and puts me in a happy place.

After trying the shower gel I was ready for a bath, but waited for the following day.  I normally shower but I have been treating myself to baths quite a bit especially since I have been in a bit of pain.  The reason there are none of my own pics for this blog post is that I have used up all the bath product!  A gorgeous oily salty pink pile that I used both as a bath salt and a bit of a scrub.

A Stone massage at home

As if that wasn’t enough there were two more packages in the parcel.  The  Hayo’u Beauty Restorer De-stress Face Tool  a beautiful jade specially shaped stone, and a little bottle of gorgeously aromatic Treat-Rite De-stress Face Oil.

The two are used together to stimulate energy points and release congestion and toxicity.  I have included the video link so you can see how it is used, but let us just say I am addicted.  The experience is wonderful with the fragrance from the oil and the cool pressure of the jade stone tricking me into believing I am in an expensive spa.

It is easier to watch the video than to try to explain how this all works.

https://www.hayoumethod.com/the_one_minute_beauty_ritual/

As a blogger I get asked to try products fairly often but I only write honestly and write about products that I really love.  This little parcel has already brought me so much joy and relaxation that I have no hesitation in recommending it. These are not budget products, however I really think that they are simply fabulous and worth a treat to yourself.

Thank you so much for reading and promise me that no matter what products you use, please treat yourself to a relaxing bath – it is something I think we all neglect.  Lie there and simply breathe.

Kerry x

p.s.  I was gifted these items to try, but my review is from the heart.

Do you need a digital declutter?

This week I deleted over 50 000 emails and 20 000 text messages – a massive digital declutter.

Do you need a digital declutter

Digital mess is different to normal clutter.  For the most part it is invisible and takes up very little space in the physical world.  I honestly didn’t know I was carrying it all around with me.

So let me tell you how it all started.  I joined a group on Facebook called #Dream Life & Biz Creators Group.  It is run by the fabulous Patricia Parashakti Lohan.  She set up a week-long challenge and anyone who knows me knows that I am competitive so I was hooked.  When I started it I wasn’t even sure what it was about!

Patricia is a Feng Shui expert and the challenge was around decluttering.  I had already started on a big cleanse a few weeks prior so I felt quite smug.

First the handbag …

The first cleanse was your handbag – well I did mine the day prior so that was ok.  And then I remembered my very bad habit of migrating from handbag to handbag with only the essentials and leaving the clutter behind.  I cleared five handbags.

I found money and a few other things I had lost on the way and I threw out so much rubbish and it felt great.  The biggest benefit of all – I spent some time going down memory lane, looking at receipts, business cards, train tickets and flyers.  I let myself remember and contemplate and then I allowed myself to let the mess of scrappy papers go.

Then the emails and texts …

I digress though.  The real whammy for me was when we were asked to clear out our emails and messages – day four I think.  We carry our phones around with us all the time, our phones carry around much the same as our handbags, just in a digital form.

I started with the messages.  Over a thousand messages from an old boyfriend.  Why was I holding onto those.  Delete!

I deleted junk messages offering me 60% off at a sale that took place years ago.  I deleted work messages from a job I left over a year ago.  I deleted and did a digital declutter of over 20 000 text messages.

I did take time to enjoy the memory of some of the messages.  The message saying that my son had been accepted in his first choice course at university.  The first message from my partner.  The announcement that a friend had had a baby girl. The mantra was the same, enjoy the memory and then delete and make way for the new.

Facing the mammoth task of the emails was daunting.  Gmail doesn’t facilitate mass deleting very easily and when I googled it and tired something as advised I landed up in a bit of pickle with new messages going into the trash.

The only option was to do it slowly.  I trawled through emails with my finger on the delete button.  It was really cathartic pressing down and watching the past wing its way into the digital dustbin.   As I deleted I really did feel more energised and more positive about the future.

I have made some decisions about email, unsubscribed to emails that are no longer relevant and filtered my email into manageable files.  I am now finding that a visit to my inbox is a quick pleasurable experience.  I see the promotions I want to see, read the updates I enjoy and most of all I am more efficient.

The decluttering journey continues and I am honestly looking forward to it.

Patrica tell us that by letting go of the old we can make way for the new.  I have done a lot of that in the last week and there is more to do.  The bins (both actual and virtual) have been filled and emptied.

Thank you so much for reading and please feel free to comment if you have undertaken a digital declutter.

Thanks for reading.

Kerry x

Be Brave – take the first step

Be brave, take the first step

Being brave is huge!  It means different things to different people really but it is really a very powerful emotion that can propel us forward in a really good and positive way.

What does brave mean to you?

For some people attending an event or a function is brave. For others it might be attempting something that they never thought they could do.  We all have our comfort zones and when we take a step outside of this lovely comfortable place we are being brave.  For me it is stepping out into the unknown.

I am being really courageous this year.  Due to my health, I have had to start again.  Literally.  Imagine almost 52 and having to find a new career which will fit in with my current life.  It isn’t easy, but I am reading and learning and hopefully will be able to work part time very soon.

I have also had to be extremely brave and face some of my exercise demons.

This time last year I was living in Westport, working as the Head of Marketing for a financial services company and generally living it up.

Now my life has changed and I am living in Galway and trying to get my body as strong as possible in ways I can control.  I think this is really important as I cannot completely control the arthritis or fibromyalgia (never mind the other issues), but I can control my fitness levels.

I was brave in February when I did a 10km walk for charity.  I felt this way again when I did the Darkness into Life walk earlier in May.  I felt terribly brave when I went to my first yoga class.  Granted it was a yoga class for people with joint pain, but it was still hard to walk into a room and realise that you might be the biggest person in the class and more likely the least flexible person.

Fast forward a few weeks and I am lying on my back with my legs up against the wall, and trying various poses.  It is still a long way from the downward facing dog, but I am proud that I am taking these little brave steps.

Every day we have a choice, to be brave and take that step out of the comfort zone or stay cuddled in the warmth of the known.

I do both.  One thing I have learned though is that every time I take a brave step, the reward is there.  It isn’t always immediate, but it does come.

Please feel free to stop by and tell me your stories about being brave.  It honestly doesn’t matter how small the step, it is a step in the right direction.

Thanks for reading

Kerry x

 

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