26/09/2014

Five on Friday #2

I'm back again with more lovely things I found on the internets. Again this week, they're mainly blog posts I felt I could relate to in one way or another. I actually didn't do a whole load of browsing or reading this week, however. I started playing that dreadful Kim Kardashian game, and it's slowly taking over my life. I'm in no way a Kim fan, but that game is bloody addictive! I think I need to delete it before my life gets completely taken over with a fictional jet set lifestyle!




Fiona of Dolly Dowsie wrote a wonderful post about how she raises her son. She has unfortunately been at the end of some horrible comments on her parenting style, and the post really shows off what a fierce mama she really is. While Fiona's blog is a new enough read for me, I really loved this post. I think many people come across some sort of negativity about how they raise their children. It's just nice to see someone taking a stand, instead of hiding how they really feel.




This print is the best. For some time now, Caelen has cut out his daytime nap. Which is a pity, because the adults in this house are fans of an old catnap or two. Also, someone give me ALL of the money to spend on Not On The High Street. There's way too many lovely things on it.


Another one from Charlotte this week. Write Like No One's Watching is increasingly becoming the first blog I check. Her post on being a newly single mother really hit home. I only wish I had read it when I was going through the start of that journey myself. It may have made me cry, but it's a truly beautiful read, single mama or not.




The Innocent Big Knit is back. For the last two years, I've been making, and sending off teeny tiny hats, and it's all for a good cause! Back in 2008, Innocent requested that people make tiny hats, to put on their smoothie bottles. For every hat wearing bottle that was sold, 30c goes to Age Action. The money raised goes towards their Care and Repair programme, which involves volunteers visiting older people in their homes and providing a DIY service. It's so easy to knit or crochet a little hat or two, especially now that the evenings are closing in. I'm looking forward to sitting in front of the fire surrounded by wool in the evenings. If you want to take part, you can find some patterns here.




Halloween is just over a month away, and I'm busy planning a costume or two. I'm lucky enough that I'll get to dress up for work, and I'm planning on matching costumes for Caelen, Tommie and I too. When I came across these DIYed Fairy Glitter Shoes over on Pale Girl I swooned. I have a similar pair of shoes that I never wear anymore, so I can really see myself trying this out. Now, just to choose a costume that work with them! 


22/09/2014

When Life Gives You Apples....

~via~


I like nice things. Sometimes, I even buy them. My joy at having new nice things never lasts long though. Especially when those nice things are electronic goods. I'm fully sure that technology, or at the very least Apple products, hate me.

It goes like this...
 
I buy a laptop to start college and my new little pink camera stops working. 

I buy a new camera and I lose my laptop. 

I buy an iPhone to replace the laptop and I smash my camera on a night out. 

A friend gives me a camera and I smash the screen of my iPhone. 

I buy a new netbook, the iPhone gives up the fight. 

I get a new iPhone, the netbook decides it wants to be a dick and only work when it wants to. 

I buy a Macbook Air, my iPhone takes a swim in a toilet.

Such is my life. My house, and my parents, is littered with remnants of my nice things. A cracked iPhone 4s lies on my parents bookshelf, for my dad to practice replacing the screen before buying a new one. The netbook is gathering dust, missing buttons from when I kicked it in disgust. A camera, cracked LCD screen, serves as a reminder to be more careful with my nice things. And the latest, my beloved iPhone 5, is currently in a pot of sushi rice, the only rice I had in the house, after rescuing it from the toilet this morning.

I'm hoping, and praying, that my phone will come back from the dead tomorrow, and I'll have broken the curse. Everyone deserves nice things, and I'll be ever so careful with my belongings in future.


19/09/2014

Five on Friday #1

Since I splurged on a new Macbook Air last Sunday, I've been spending a lot more time online. Before I bit the bullet and handed over a substantial amount of cash on this little baby, I used a cheap €100 netbook I bought in Argos. While it did the job for the first few months, recently it takes ages to turn on, and used to turn itself off for no apparent reason. So, not exactly great to be working on. Now that I've more or less caught up on everything in the last few days, I thought it would be nice to share some of the things I've been checking out.




Charlotte from Write Like No One's Watching has been doing up her lounge, and I for one am so excited to see the outcome. I love reading her blog. Like me, she's a single mama, and her boy William is the one of the cutest little guys that ever was. Her latest post has more snippets of the work that's gone on to get them a gorgeous space.




I started wearing my glasses regularly again a few months ago, instead of constantly wearing contacts like I did for years. Last week I found this post on Hello Giggles that made me laugh. I nodded in agreement with all but one of the points they made. 




Claire of Fine and Dandy wrote a handy little post about using backgrounds in your blog posts. Since  now I have the means to blog more, I'll be trying to improve it a lot. This post has been bookmarked to bring a little something something to future posts.


 


This Vice article made me laugh. My Twitter and Instagram feeds have been full of LFW posts recently, with some people really getting involved. It was interesting to see what an outsider thought of the whole thing.


A few weeks back, I tried to find a blog I used to read, and in the process came across this website. OK, so some (read: most) of the content might be bitchy, but I found myself sitting down and having a good old read of this on my phone every evening with a cup of tea and my bitchy face on.


Have you seen anything interesting I can check out on my next binge?

Family Day Out // Oceanworld

At times, I feel like I'm merely surviving, not living. Between rent and bills and food, there's not much money, if at all, left over at the end of the week. Whatever is left over is put aside for things like the odd bottle of wine, clothes, occasions, or days out. All of which, unfortunately, are few and far between.

Yesterday, however, we had one of those days out, and it couldn't have been nicer. For the last couple of weeks, I've been trying to think of new things to do with Caelen. Since I don't drive, the things we get to do have to be rather local, or it involves a lot of pleading to family members to play taxi. On Wednesday, my brother offered to drive us to Dingle, so I could bring Caelen to the aquarium there, Oceanworld.

Declan, Tommie, Caelen and I set off around noon, and drove through a blanket of fog where breathtaking scenery should be. We literally couldn't see a couple of feet in front of the car. It was kinda surreal, though I'm admitting right here and now I was pretty terrified because we couldn't see if there was another car coming until they were nearly on top of us.

Oceanworld itself probably wasn't the best choice for a family day out yet. Caelen got bored after the first few tanks, and I'm afraid of fish. Like, once I saw the first tank I wanted to vomit. Somehow though, knowing that I was there to show Caelen a good day I was able to get over it, and could look at all the fish once I had my camera attached to my face.


The sharks were my favourite. According to their website, Oceanworld has Ireland's largest collection of sharks, and it was pretty amazing to see them up close. We were able to watch them being fed, and listened to a talk about the differences between the males and females, and their mating rituals. As she was explaining how it worked, the female just happened to turn in such a way to show off her lady parts. I can officially say I saw way more than I bargained for!
Due to the rain, we abandoned the picnic we had packed that morning, and went for a mediocre meal in the town centre, followed up by one of the tastiest ice creams I've ever eaten while we walked back to Oceanworld for the shark feeding. If anyone is ever in Dingle, look out for Murphys ice cream shop. Free samples and friendly staff who compliment your hair and your child? Thats a win in my book.
All in all, it was quite enjoyable. If Caelen was a little older, it would have made a lot of difference. At the moment, he got bored quite quickly of looking at similar looking fish in all the tanks. However, it's definitely somewhere I'd bring him again when he's learnt more about fish, and is able to understand what they're saying in the regular tours and talks they put on.
Now, just to plan another little day trip somewhere!

16/09/2014

Review // Lil Red's Boutique

Two weekends ago, I went to a wedding. Being the first time I was going to meet Tommie's family properly, I wanted to make a good impression and dress to impress, but also stay true to myself. I'm not a preened to perfection girl, and when I do dress on the more girly, conservative side, I like to add some toughness to my outfits.
While I knew I was wearing a black 50's style prom dress, with a hot pink petticoat and matching shoes and bag, I wanted to tone down the pink a little. Especially with the shocking pink hair I'm currently sporting! I searched the town and online for suitable offerings, only finding fancy, feathered fascinators that were a bit too much for my crop. Finally, my brain clicked into gear and I remembered seeing the most perfect fascinator for my needs.




Thankfully, after a few emails back and forth, Nicola from Lil Red's Boutique came to the rescue. The result? A gorgeous black spiked and studded little number that would nestle in my pink locks to finish the look. It looked classy enough to wear to the wedding, but I can see myself incorporating it into my wardrobe on bad hair days on a pretty regular basis.




While I had first seen this fascinator on the Lil Red's Boutique Facebook page, I didn't realise that they weren't for sale just yet. Thankfully, Nicola had the supplies on hand to make a black one, and had no problem in making it at short notice, even going so far as to deliver it to my house because it was raining! Talk about service with a smile! Because it was handmade, I expected it to be more expensive than the €18 price tag, so I was extra pleased!




I've bought bits and pieces from Nicola before, at a craft fair a few years ago. While I can't wear the earrings pictured anymore, due to me stretching my ears for the last eighteen months or so, the "bitch" scrabble chain (that for the life of me could not find today!) gets broken out every so often. Everything I've bought from her shop is amazing quality, and the packaging is pretty sweet too!

If you're interested in checking out more from Lil Red's Boutique, you can find the Facebook page HERE, and her Etsy shop is HERE. Happy shopping!

Archive // Body Image & Self Confidence v2

**This is part two of old posts from Daiquiris & Denial that I wrote waaaay back in 2011, dealing with body image and self esteem. If you missed part one and want to give it a look, you can find it here.**

See these here? These are mannequins, the "perfect" dimensions. Those mannequins are made of plastic, or wood. You are skin, bones, fat and muscle. You are living. That mannequin can't. Stop beating yourself up for having an unrealistic picture of the perfect body. For you, the perfect body is the one you've got. You're perfect, just as you are.




Now, look in a magazine. See all of those pictures of models and celebrities. Most of these women are thin, yes. But they're also heavily edited. A Photoshopped picture of a woman or man can be used to convince people what a person should look like. It’s clearly fake, but it’s the reality people want to see. From all sides of the media, we are being told than thin is good. Long, thick shiny hair, tanned skin and a pert little body. However, when we compare "models" to "normal" women, we find that no matter how hard we try, no matter how hard we diet, it's futile. Our organs are the same, but that's where the similarities end. A tall, thin blonde woman will never look like a short, curvaceous brunette woman. Or whatever your body shape. You just have to accept your body for what it is.







 Last night, after writing part one, I got surfing the interwebs looking for inspiration. The world is full of advice on how to lose weight, or how dress to suit your shape, or wearing colours that suit you to reel in that man, or whatever. My advice to you, screw it. By all means diet if that's what will make you happy, and wear what makes you feel comfortable. But there's nothing wrong with eating what you like, in moderation, and wearing whatever the hell you want to wear. Whole tub of icecream wearing the fanciest dress you own? Why the hell not! Spending all day in your PJs? Knock yourself out. Do what makes you feel amazing, and you'll reap the benefits.



I also found a website last night, called Operation Beautiful. If you haven't, I'd really encourage you to check it out. It involves leaving post-its with positive messages in places to be found by strangers to brighten their day. I was kinda miffed as I had thought I had come up with an original idea until I found the site. I thought it was worth a try though, so I stayed up most of the night writing messages and links to the site on post-its to stealthily leave places for people to find.




xo

08/09/2014

Archive // Body Image & Self Confidence v1

Every so often, I'll be posting old posts from my old blog. Mainly because I'm a little bit too disorganised for regular posting, but also because some of the posts I wrote still have some sort of meaning today. After my last post about trying to get fit and lose weight, I thought the this post, and the follow up, were rather appropriate. And so....

**Instead of having a hugely long post, I'll break this up into two separate posts. I didn't think I had much to say on the topic, but it seems I do! Everything I've said here is written from a personal point of view but anyone could adapt it to themselves. Nearly everyone at some stage or another has received hurtful comments and it's just a case of realising, at the risk of sounding like a Bruno Mars song, you're perfect just the way you are**

While shopping earlier today, I got a comment from a fellow shopper. She pointed at the garment I was holding and asked whether I thought a "big girl" like me should wear "something like that". It got me thinking. This time last year, a comment like that would have left me devastated. But this year, not so much. Granted, I'm still shocked and a little upset at a virtual stranger saying something like that, but it hasn't been the first time I've been at the receiving end of comments like that. I've not grown used to it by any means, but I try not to let it bother me so much now. Being chubby is not the end of the world.

Not being the skinniest girl alive does not make me a bad person. It's not really a big deal. So I've got curves? I still manage to have friends, a job, some sort of a social life, a wardrobe bursting at the seams with lovely clothes. My weight used to be such a big deal to me. I thought that as the weight crept up, people would lose interest in me. That guys wouldn't find me attractive anymore. But that was just being silly. Who I am isn't dictated by the size of my clothes. Saying that, I'm also not just tattoos and piercings. I am me. I am the personality inside this body. I learnt the hard way that if you wear your insecurities on the outside, that is when people will start to pass you up. They'll say no to you because you're so involved in the "issue" of your weight that you can't see the bigger picture. What I'm saying is; be proud of who you are. Find comfort in your body because I honestly believe that you can't no one can love you until you learn to love yourself.

So much focus today is put on weight for girls. It's insane! People don't focus on what a person is capable of, and instead focus on the size on the tag of the clothing they're wearing. I'll admit, some days I'm guilty of doing the same thing, but once a person is healthy, and, more importantly, happy, what's the problem? I spent years not being happy with my body. My knees are constantly giving me trouble, my teeth are permanently discoloured from medication I was taking for years, I have loads of scars that I used to hate. But then I realised; this is the body I have. And I may as well grow to love it. I can walk, run, jump, skip, swim, sleep, eat, breathe. It's perfectly functional. What else can I ask for?

If I was going to starve myself down to skin and bone to fit in, I wouldn't really be happy. I've done the size 8 thing before, and it's just not me. Sure, I could wear clothes and not worry about all my lumps and bumps. I could wear sleeveless things without worrying that my bingo wings were jiggling. But I couldn't eat that cupcake without feeling guilty. I'd miss what little boobage I have (when I was smaller, I was a 32AA, now I'm a B cup. It's still small, but miles away from being almost concave!). Hell, I'd miss most of my curves. Not all of them mind, but I like not looking like a stick figure.

How do you feel confident when you're not particularly happy with how you look?

06/09/2014

No Pain, No Gain

I've never been the fittest of people. After breaking my arm the day before I started secondary school, leaving me out of PE for a few months, I came to the conclusion that sports just weren't for me. Despite our PE teacher trying to get me involved, I had either "forgotten my gear", "had cramps" or "had a really heavy period". Nine times out of ten, I managed to escape getting hot and sweaty. I remember the only time I willingly did sports was when the huge trampolines were taken out of storage.

That said, I was never too worried about my health, or my weight. While not the most active of children, I was skinny as a rake. Having dodgy knees after being knocked down when I was fourteen meant strenuous activity was out of the question. Swimming wasn't my thing. I went kickboxing a few times with friends, but ended up in hospital with my knees again and had to quit pretty quickly. I tried the gym a few times, but quickly tired of watching super fit people prance around the place in lycra. This may not have actually happened, but merely my mind altering things to ensure I never returned. 

In the few years before I had Caelen, however, the weight slowly crept up. I don't weigh myself, but every time my clothes started getting tight, I'd go out and buy new ones instead of addressing the problem. I always put it to the back of my mind, saying I would lose it at some stage, but it was an issue. It affected my confidence. And instead of addressing it, I would binge on packets of biscuits and crisps, takeaways and all of the drinks on nights out.

Getting pregnant changed things for a while. I stopped drinking all those empty calories. I started eating healthier. While I already walked everywhere, I found myself walking just for the sake of it, for the fresh air, and to clear my head. Even though I was obviously gaining weight around the middle, my arms and legs were looking smaller and more toned. I started, and finished, Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred in the months after I had Caelen. Finally, I was happy in my skin again.

This day last year I was at my cousin's wedding in Galway. Where once I had worn dresses that had skimmed over my stomach and thighs, I now wore a bright blue skintight one. And for once, I felt comfortable in something that clung to every curve. For once, I didn't feel self conscious. I didn't feel the need to constantly check to see if my stomach was bulging, or if my bum looked big in what I was wearing. It felt good. I found myself shopping for more and more fitted clothes. A tight fitting top here, a pencil skirt there. A ridiculously sequinned bodycon dress.


Two months later, I found myself in a new relationship. One where, if the relationship were to continue, would have to be carried out in my house. So, weekly takeaways and bottles of wine became our thing. And with each slice of cheesy pizza and glass of lovely, lovely wine the pounds piled on. The "love stone", if you will. Although, in my case, that stone turned into two, at least.

It may come across as fat shaming, or body bashing, which it isn't. It was my confidence. I tend to gain weight on the lower half of my body, which makes me look out of proportion. I have the smallest of small chests, and when I put on weight, it goes straight to my stomach. So much, that when I do put on a couple of pounds, I have people asking me if I'm pregnant.

I'm finally taking a stand. I'm not happy with how I look anymore. While I'm lucky that I have a lovely boyfriend that makes me feel attractive each and every day (even with crazy all day bed head hair and manky pyjamas), if I don't love the way I look myself, I can't expect other people to. And so, on Wednesday evening, armed with a Couch to 10K app, a banging playlist, and the finest sportswear Penneys had to offer, I set off for the first jog of my adult life.


I'll tell you now, I failed miserably. I panted, I sweated, I would have cried if I had the energy. I couldn't finish the last two jog sessions. But I went back again last night. And this time, I finished it. It may only be thirty minutes for the first few weeks, and the majority of it is walking for now. But I'll get there. I'm determined to lose this "love stone", but I'd rather keep the love, thanks very much.

05/09/2014

10 Things You Learn When You Live With Your Boyfriend Part Time

Alternative title: When your boyfriend spend most of his time in your house, and said house is now littered with his belongings. Not that you're complaining, mind.

When I say "your" boyfriend, I clearly mean mine, or things might get a little awkward around these parts.




1. Socks. They end up everywhere. And almost never in pairs. See also, random t shirts that you will steal as fancy new loungewear.

2. You learn more about your sleeping habits than you'd care to imagine. Meaning, you're less Sleeping Beauty, and more Snorey McDroolypants. And, you've seen the pictures to prove it.

3. Speaking of sleeping, it does mean nightly cuddles, which is always a good thing. Until you fall asleep and pull the blankets off said boyfriend. Which isn't such a good thing apparently.

4. Talking about bodily functions becomes normal instead of embarrassing. 

5. You realise, of all the photos scattered around the house, there isn't one single frame worthy photo of you as a couple. See above photo for reference.

6. Applying fake tan and hair dye is so much easier with an extra pair of hands.

7. Mutual weight gain is a thing that you will try to rectify with running. Which you will regret before you even start.

8. Sometimes you think that you would like some space to indulge in some single girl behaviour, but when they go away, you get lonely. There's no winning, eh?

9. You hate to cook and clean, and would therefore make the worst ever housewife.  He, on the other hand.....

10. Having a night of drinks and board games with his friends isn't as nerve wracking as you thought, and could possibly maybe become a "thing" when he does move in properly.

So, moving in together has been on some sort of horizon for a while now. At the very least, there's been a talk or two, and some jokey references. For the last few weeks, Tommie has been here more often than he's been away, and if that time is any indication of what living together will be like, I'll be more than pleased.