Saturday, 24 January 2015

Creative Karma

There has been some lovely creative karma floating around this week. Perfect examples of how lovely humans can be, for absolutely no reason at all. Confirmation for me, that if you pay someone a kindness, the universe will find a way to reward you, in the most unexpected and unanticipated ways.

I recently designed a logo and a header as a gift for the lovely Janine at cookingwithcraic. I'm not a graphic designer by any stretch of the imagination, but I've mentioned before that I've always enjoyed drawing little pictures and I'm really into developing headers for this space, lately, so when Janine mentioned she wanted a new blog-header, I offered her my very limited services. I met Janine in Kilkenny, where we ate ourselves around the county and I found her to be just the friendliest, most fun person ever. She's originally from Canada but has been living in Ireland with her Irish husband and adorable daughter for a few years now. Her blog is PACKED with great recipes and a flavour of her rural life and I enjoy reading it (and drooling at her food) a lot. I tried to capture some of her wonderful personality in what is a very simple drawing, and she seems very pleased with it, so I must have done something right.

I'm so happy she liked it!

A couple of days ago I got a gift from another very talented friend of mine. A portrait of Lile and Sábha, based on a photo of them from my Instagram account

I ADORE it and I can't wait to frame it and hang it in my newly decorated sitting room. Louise Ní Chuilinn (find her on Instagram and Twitter @louieezus) who is actually the daughter of my ex-boss, is the artist. I've known her since she was really little (which I try no to think about too much) and she is an incredibly talented individual. She is currently studying for her Masters and these little 'doodles' as she calls them (they are SO much more than doodles!) are currently just a hobby. I've been cajoling her to publish a book of her creations - mostly because I want to own it and I really hope that someday she does. I'll be first in line to get my copy and now I'll be bragging loudly at the top of the queue that I am the owner of  an original Louieezus! 

Keep an eye on this girl, she'll go FAR. 

On Friday, Sábha was the lucky one on the receiving end of the good karma when her very random wish for a 'Bonnet' came true. She had been observing my grandmother knitting the previous Friday (we spend every Friday afternoon in her house) and had apparently been very interested in it. Unbeknownst to me, she had put in a polite request for a 'pink bonnet'. I have no idea where that idea even came from. The unusual nature of request must have tickled my generous-hearted grandmother as she was ready and waiting to present one to Sábha the moment we arrived yesterday. It's a sort of a cross between a bonnet and a headband. It buttons at the nape of her neck but ties under her chin like a baby bonnet. It's gorgeous and even has sparkles in the white wool.

Sábha is absolutely thrilled with it, and even though she insists on wearing it untied and not positioned properly on her head, it still looks perfect on her.

Lile has now put in a request for a yellow one. It has been promised for next Friday. More good karma.


None of these kindnesses are connected in any tangible way - but the thing that unites them is that they were all done with no motives behind them other than making someone else happy. 

I know I didn't think for one second that Janine would 'owe' me anything in return for the header, I was happy to help her out while also getting to spend time doing something I enjoy doing anyway. Louise told me that she loved working off the photo and was happy to gift me the original. I assume for her, the 'return' was also in the 'having an excuse to spend time doing something you enjoy'. It's probably similar for my grandmother, although she is kindness personified, so it's forever been in her nature to go out of her way for the people she loves.

January can be such a dark and dreary month but a little kindness can go a long way to making it brighter and more beautiful.  

From Janine's words about my blog, to the amazing portrait of my lucky little girls - the universe has been more than generous to me this month!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A Week in Dinners {Linky} + A Free Printable

I'm joining in with Sinéad from Bumble's of Rice's 'A Week in Dinners' linky today. I've been keeping note of and trying to remember to take pictures of our dinners this past week. The idea of this linky is to get a glimpse of what real families really eat and not just what they share on Instagram.

As we're still in January and still getting over the indulgences of Christmas I'm trying to detox a little bit and to shake off the pounds gained over the festive season. I've been trying to follow the advice I was given by a nutritionist years ago to eat my main meal in the middle of the day rather than in the evening, so my dinners have mostly been soup, soup and more soup. I keep my portion of the dinners cooked in the evening for the rest of the family and have them the next day at lunchtime.

Devo and I share the cooking now that I am at home. While he was a SAHD, he was the main cook in the house and I'm only now starting to get to grips with meal planning and recipe collecting. I'm hoping this linky will give me lots of inspiration as I have very little in my repertoire at the moment!


Me: Fresh Tomato and Basil Soup from Lidl.

Family: Honey, Soy and Garlic Prawn Stirfry
This is very loosely based on a very simple Nigella recipe. I make it with a half bag of whatever prawns are in the freezer and whatever veg we have knocking around in the fridge. I don't usually add the chili or the bok-choi from the original recipe as I don't often buy either. We only had one green pepper so I added a few thinly sliced carrots to the recipe. I also served it with rice instead of noodles which I stirred through the veg/prawn mix at the end.

The verdict:
Lile: "Not bad"
Sábha: "Not bad, but very yummy"

There were clean plates all round.


Me & The Girls: Carrot, Parsnip and Red Lentil Soup.
I made this myself but I didn't follow a recipe (I rarely do for soup) just bunged the veg (including an onion and some garlic) and lentils into a pot with some stock, simmered it until the veg were tender and then blitzed it with a stick-blender.

We spent the afternoon at the seafront and after walking a couple of miles and playing in the playground the girls were frozen (there was snow in most of the country that day!) so I treated them to takeaway chips and chicken nuggets to warm them up and to keep them going on the long walk back to the car. Also, just before dinnertime it started to snow and Lile and Sábha went out to play in it - in the dark.This chunky soup was the perfect antidote to both the cold hands and the unhealthy lunch.

The verdict:
Lile: "Very delicious" She ate it all up with two slices of wholegrain bread.
Sábha: "I'm just a bit tired and I'm still full from the chips and I don't like carrots today" She ate a few spoonfuls and ate a slice and a half of wholegrain bread dipped in the soup but, unusually for her, didn't finish her dinner.


Me: More of the soup from the day before even though I really, reeeaalllyyy, wanted to eat this:
Family: Devo made Daal and rice. The basic recipe is from the back of a yellow lentil pack but Devo makes it differently every time, only keeping the spice measurements the same. He used red lentils this time and added spinach and some quorn chicken pieces.

The Verdict:
This is one of the girls' favourite dinners (yes I am VERY smug about my children eating lentils, but I assure you, it's pure fluke), so every scrap was devoured.


Thursday was a slow day. Our car battery died in the cold snap and there was high winds and intermittent rain all day, courtesy of Storm Rachel. We decided to have a pyjama day and ignore the outside world. There was a lot of tea drinking done, a massive accumulation of toys in the sitting room by the end of the day and we did very, very little.

We were even lazy when it came to dinner time. This is what we ate:

Me: That bloody soup again.
Family: Pasta and Pesto Rosso with a sprinkle of parmesan. Simple and tasty. Clean plates again!


Friday dinners are always a bit hit and miss. I bring the girls to visit my grandmother every Friday afternoon and, as my mother, my aunt, and several cousins also gather there, there is always a bit of a party vibe. There is always a cake and always a few treats set aside for the smaller visitors.We learned long ago that it's not worth cooking anything fancy on Friday nights because it always ends in a battle trying to get them to eat and frustrated parents when they don't. Sometimes all they have room for is a boiled egg and toast or even just 'bits and bobs' which is basically a deconstructed salad.

That day, much to their delight, they got to share a frozen margherita pizza.
Devo and I treated ourselves to a takeaway from a new local spot called Street Food Outlet. I had the Torn Chicken Burrito 'naked' (which means no tortilla wrap) and some sweet potato fries. It was delicious.

So that's five of our dinners! I'm not sure how inspirational any of it is, but I guess it is 'real' - which is the whole purpose of this exercise.

For more dinner inspiration and to see how other real families eat please do click on the 'Week in Dinners' image above or HERE to read the other entries in this linky.


Also, because I'm trying to get a handle on this whole meal planning thing, I decided to design a little meal-planning printable plus a shopping list (Click HERE to have a look/download). Then, when I did a quick search of meal planner templates, I found THIS - which has all of the styles you could ever need and then some. Happy Planning!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Planner Giveaway : Winners

Just a day later than advertised, here are the winners of the Planner Giveaway!

I'll let Sábha and Lile do the honours:

Well done to commenters Kellie Kearney and CB - please contact me on with your postal address and I'll get the planners out to you asap!

P.S. Lile has been wearing that outfit for 24 hours straight. Yes, even in bed. I know.


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