Monday 30 March 2015

March Favourites

Right, I am cramming two months into this one so brace yourself; loads coming atcha.  But before I get into it, what about this weather we have been having?  Is there a definite hint of summer or am I just imagining things?  In fact I think I saw a swallow the other day.  Not too hard to believe; it was around St. Patrick’s Day a few years back when I spotted the first one of the summer so it is possible.  On this day however, I might have gotten a little carried away because I am so over the winter and really really want a super doper injection of natural Vitamin D via warm, melty, buttery sunshine.  Which I know we are going to get for the third year in a row!

Let’s get stuck in. 

Be warned, I have loads but they’re all goodies!

The Beauty Favourites

Essence Silky Touch Blush in Babydoll & Essence Studio Nails XXL Nail Thickener

Not one for blushes myself, I’m pink enough thank you, but sometimes I am so pale I frighten small children so a splash of colour takes the scare away.  This is a really lovely colour and if you tap off the excess before you apply it you really can’t go wrong.  If in the event you end up with a pink stripe (just sayin’) correct by dabbing on a little foundation.  If you’ve used a foundation brush all the better.  We all know how pocket friendly Essence cosmetics are so this definitely won’t break the bank.  Approximately €3.49
I had to bin what was left in my beloved Nail Nurse by Rimmel so when I spotted something similar in the Essence nail range, I snapped it up.  I like this a lot.  It has a hint of colour to it so you end up with a lovely natural pale colour on your nails after the third coat.  Not a bad buy at all if, like me, you run out of your usual Nail Nurse.

Catrice Powder Compact in Rose Beige & Limited Edition Nail Lacquer in Nude Purism

I love this compact.  It can be used as a setting powder, followed by a blush and I have even used the different shades as eyeshadow.  A perfect little all-rounder.
I am a sucker for a bottle of nail varnish.  And this one is no exception.  In fact the day I was paying for the above items the lady at the till commented on it and asked me where I bought it.  It’s not grey and it’s not taupe but a decent mix of the two.  Again, goes on really well and for someone whose hands are always in water of some sort, it doesn’t chip too quickly. 

The Food and Drink favourites

Chocolate Weetabix and blueberry Glenisk Greek Yogurt with blueberry.

Ok so a little confession.  I don’t buy the sugary breakfast cereals.  Unless they are on special offer and because I know the box will be emptied within 24 hours.  So it doesn’t get to hang around and they are not eating it every day.  Not sure why I think it’s ok for them to mainline a box of sugar over that period of time but when it’s gone, it’s gone and it doesn’t come back into the house for months.  One day one of them spotted a box of Weetabix on Special Offer.  My most oft repeated words.  Can we have it, pleeeeese, can we have it?

They got it.  And I ended up crumbling a biscuit into a bowl, chopping a banana and spooning blueberry Glenisk Greek yogurt over it just to see what it was like.

It was like a little bit of chocolatey heaven it what is was like.  Perfect after a run.  Absolutely perfect.  Not too sweet, which I was surprised about, and it really filled the gap.  Now I buy it every other week and hide it in the press for myself.   


You know you’re Irish when………………… drink copious amounts of tea.  This month I have been knocking back the stuff as if it was going out of fashion.  Cups of it, one after the other in the afternoon.  Lovely. 

The health favourites


My old favourite.  I could dedicate an entire post to this topic alone but I will try and keep it short here and cover the basics.  I love it.  Having been on a break of about 2 months (eeek!) I decided something must be done and last October I embarked on a self-imposed core strength regime each evening for about 15 minutes.  Just to tide me over and when Christmas was upon us, I got back out there and it was like I had never stopped.  I credit the core workouts for this.  Wonderful things altogether.  I am now topping 7k a few times a week and intend to hit the 10k mark before summer.  Of course I realise I have just jinxed myself good and proper by typing this out loud.  In case you are interested here is a link to a fabulous and wonderful set of ab exercises that can be done in 7 minutes (seven minutes) and I swear to god, if you do these religiously each day, you will see the difference. 

The Music favourites

Taylor Swift and Hozier
Let’s address Taylor first, shall we?  Millions and millions of people cannot be wrong.  That is all I will say on that matter.  Shake it off!  Best. Pop. Song. EVER!
Andrew Hozier Byrne didn’t exactly crawl out of the woodwork you know, nor was he an overnight success.  This guy has been treading the boards for years and years.  More power to him.  I remember him on Ray D’Arcy (sob! Come baaaaack) in the early days, playing in studio.  Ray advised people to travel to Whelan’s (sob!) on Camden Street to see him before he got ridiculously popular and started selling out all the big venues.  Look what’s happened. 

The feel good factor
I had to take a moment to think about this one.  Apologies but I did.  It’s been a long aul month and to be honest I am glad to see the end of it.  But the end is night (Apologies March!) but bring it on.  There is lots to look forward to and I believe that is important.  Make a list if you have to.  I have!  There will be a couple of family get together’s in April and there is a new little cousin in the family.  It’s all good.  You might have to delve deep but you will find something. 

Thanks for tuning in!


Disclaimer.  I bought all of these products myself.  I wasn’t asked to review them nor did I receive payment for same.  I liked them all and thought I would share the love. 

Wednesday 25 March 2015

In Which I Write About Shoes
The working title for this was “Thoughts on Nude Heels” because, frankly, I am delighted to have had any thoughts of any description recently, even if they are on shoes, so I dropped everything and ran for a pen to write them down.  I’ve been going through a funk lately you see and my funny seems to have funked off on me.  Just. Can’t. Get. The. Head. Working.

It’s awful.   I decided to go with the flow and take an enforced break but have discovered I can’t stop thinking about it and that’s making me worse.   But then shoes tottered along to save the day.

Yay!  Because who doesn’t love a good shoe?

This is the picture on Facebook today that perked me up.
pippa o'connor

I have been obsessing a bit of late about nude heels.  Typically, when I have a glass of wine in hand and am in front of the computer, I browse websites to see what’s on offer.  I must stress that I am after a pair of shoes that I can actually walk in.  Not messing and will leave my street cred at the door because I don’t care how sexy and cool and elongate-y they make my legs, I must be able to get about in them.  My car to bar shoe days are long gone. 

Car to bar?  You know; shoes that are so perfectly gorgeous and vertiginous you absolutely must have them only to discover on that first crucial maiden voyage, they will, just about, allow you to walk from the car to the bar.  And that’s it.  You look like a new-born calf in them such is your trouble walking.    

I’m done with such palaver.  I want a pair of shoes that look all that but are practical to boot. 

I googled Clarkes.  Yes, I know.  Definitely showing my age.  But Clarkes, similar to Rimmel make-up, have experienced a resurgence of late and they (Clarkes) are not horridious anymore.    I did spot a gorgeous pair in my local Almost Nationwide store earlier on in the month but I was caught up in the more pressing matter of feking runners for the boys so I had to wipe my drool off the shoes I coveted and walk out with smelly feet runners instead.

One time I even left the kids in the car alone as I dashed into New Look to have a goo at their shoes.  It was in there I finally had to face up to something I was desperately trying to ignore; I am not a size 5 anymore.  The 6 was way too big and the 5 was akin to that Cinderella story.  You know the one.  My feet weren’t going anywhere in those shoes.  

Sigh.  Back out to the car. 

The shite that happens to your body when you have kids.  I swear to god.  No wonder we need/want/covet shoes.  Floating ribcages that don’t quite settle back. Large backs, wide hips, desperate PMS symptoms and fekin odd feet.   

And then!  Then!  On yet another fucking runners search I found them!  The shoes.  

Practical, pocket friendly and they aren’t nude.  And they are in a size five and a half.  And I love them. 

And here is a picture of them. 

Def not car to bar!

Thank you shoes for not breaking the bank and my feet and giving me something to write about.  It’s better than chicken curry.

Friday 20 March 2015

Honest to God Culinary Terms

Cooking.  Noun.  The practice or skill of preparing food by combining, mixing and heating ingredients.  

This noun is enjoyed by many people, indeed some manage to eke quite a substantial living out of it.  For most, however, it is a necessary fact of life and dressing it up in sexy cookbooks and exotic menus doesn’t change the fact it can suck so many hours out of the day your head will spin.

I am of course referring to myself. 

It’s not that I can’t cook.  I can.  Most of what I try turns out pretty edible.  I just don’t like to do it.  I also rather hugely resent the amount of money I spend on food.  A quick mental look in my cupboards confirms the majority of stuff stored in there would never be purchased by me normally.  It’s mainly for the boys.   Cheese, all of the breakfast cereals, the gallons of milk, packets of ham, many yogurts, bread, sugar, it goes on.  And on.  Relentlessly.  I would be wealthy if I did not have to buy all of the food. 

But in the regular event that a bit of cooking has to take place, most days, these are a few culinary terms I have become acquainted with.

Split.  This is what can happen with milk or yogurt during the cooking process.  It splits up and looks gross.  It's happened to me many a time.  

Brown off.  Not to be confused with pissed off.  No, to brown something off means to cook it lightly in a pan.  Onions spring to mind.

Bake.  Does exactly as it says on the tin.  Put the raw creation in the oven and bake for specified amount of time.  Not a minute more.  Not a minute less.  Except if you use a fan oven.  Then you have to do something else entirely.  I think it’s reduce the cooking time.  But don’t ask me.  I’m crap in the kitchen.

Cover.  Not take cover.  Or maybe.  Cover means to put a lid on it or use a sheet of tin foil.  Tin foil is not as innocuous as it looks.  There is a reason for the shiny side.  This reflects heat.  Or does it increase it.  Not sure.  You might have to look this one up for yourself.

Add wine.  This makes the whole cooking process so much more fun.  It adds such dimension and changes the taste completely.  It is totally up to you whether or not you want to add some to your dish.  Personally, I think this is a complete waste.  But again, what would I know?  Tin foil confuses me. 

Whisk/beat and or whip.  Ooooooohhh Matron.  Someone’s been reading 50 Shades.  Who knew cooking could be so raunchy.  Stay away from the whipped cream now!  

A holy freakin’ mess.  (Real culinary term) this is when it all goes tits up.  It is advised there should be wine on hand for such an event.  Chalk it up to experience and stick to what you know in the future.  Leave the cook books where they belong; on the shelf looking pretty.     

Indigestion/ heartburn.  A sign that you had a really good meal and ate way too much. Or the start of food poisoning.  You’ll know in a matter of minutes.

But my favourite culinary term has to be this one.  “Hi.  Can I place an order for collection please?” 

Hands down.

Monday 16 March 2015

Shitty Stressful Saturday Shopping (With Kids)
There comes a time in your child’s life when they are not even a tiny bit willing to go grocery shopping with you anymore but are still too young to be left at home by themselves.  And when Mister Husband has to work, I have no choice but to take them all with me.

I have become quite accustomed to random strangers in the supermarket talking to me about my boys.  Mostly it is lovely older people who comment on how healthy they are in order to disguise the fact that one of them is scaling the fridges as if he were on one of those climbing walls.  Other mothers are also fond of making contact.  Usually they have a screaming toddler in their own trolley so there are lots of knowing and sympathetic smiles exchanged.  It’s very comforting.  Not!

Once a store manager approached and helpfully informed me, as one of them was licking up the spilt sugar from the floor, that I can do my shopping online.  I like to think he was being helpful and not subtly banning us but I answered him honestly,  “As hard as it is with them all, I still like to get out of the house.”   

Rugby tackles are common.  In the dairy aisle usually.  Tears are shed as the injured firmly believes he was having a heart attack.  I fire some chocolate buttons into him and give the attacker my best evil Madonna I’ve Just Been Pulled Off A Stage And You Will Suffer look. 

Don't mess with me!

This Saturday I had a member of staff scold one of them for messing with the flowers.  It is impossible for me to keep an eye on them all; I am usually begging them to stay close and not run off so I missed the reprimand.  I would have told him not to wreck the flowers had I seen him but it wouldn’t have bothered him. The fact a stranger chastened him had much more of an impact and he was quiet for about 89 seconds.

Last week one of them left a bag containing almost sixty euros worth of Xbox stuff in the gents upstairs.  We were on our way out of the centre when he began to hyperventilate with the fright. 

To say I wanted to throttle him would be putting it mildly.  Two of the boys were already halfway to the door.  

I swung the trolley towards Easons glass shop front, put my coffee underneath it, ordered Lovely Liam to guard everything and I took off.

I was Usain Bolt; a blur as I raced past the coffee shop in the middle of the concourse gaining on my two boys.  I swear it went silent as everyone stared at me racing past.  Of course they may have been thinking there goes another shoplifter.

I caught the boys just as they reached fresh air.  One of them had a paper bag dangling from his arm.  Oldest Boy’s bag of tricks.  The one he was searching for in the gents upstairs.

Stress levels run high for the rest of the day after a supermarket shop with my boys. 

Saturdays shouldn’t be like this. 

I remember one of the bigger supermarkets in my hometown providing crèche care whilst their parents shopped.  It was a conservatory type room with toys in it and frankly strongly resembled that scene from Toy Story 3 when the toys were donated to a playschool and the kids turned feral on them.


Supermarkets today need that service.  They do.  They also need to quit with those square slow cooker things in which the ladies cook sausages and the like. Get rid!  Those ladies should be handing out samples of wine! 

The toy aisle needs to be bigger.  Much bigger.  Make it part of the crèche.  With lovely padded cushions and bean bags all over the place. 

That way you can collect your wine sample(s) and then head into the padded crèche, take a seat and strike up a conversation with the mother on the Frozen bean bag beside you.  Your grocery list is being taken care of by a friendly member of staff whilst you quaff wine in the crèche.

something like this.  

What?  You didn’t think I meant for the kids to go in there did you? 

They’d be outside.  In the car.

If I had my way!   

Friday 13 March 2015

Stuff I Have in Common with Jessica Biel

I think Jessica Biel is an absolute babe.  She is my girl crush.   She is fantastically pretty in a way that is not intimidating.  I look at her and think, “We could be friends, Jessica and I.  Yes, we could.” 

And then you see her on the red carpet or in a magazine and her beauty is ramped up to an off the charts “woah!” with just a smidgeon of make-up.  She still looks like she wouldn’t swat you away as if you were a pesky fly if you asked her for directions.  Or maybe her autograph.

She looks, normal I suppose.  Like she might be a bit of fun sitting beside you on a bar stool.  Or going for a coffee.  I bet she’d be great company if I wanted to go shopping and needed a bit of advice.   

And her hair.  All her own I bet.  Lovely healthy looking hair.   That lucky girl was the reason I decided to go for Balayage highlights in mine. 

Yes, we have lots in common really.  Her career kicked off after she was cast as Mary Camden in the popular and long running family drama, 7th Heaven.  My second name is Mary.

Jessica is 1.70m.  I am too! 

If I stand on something.

Her ears are pierced.  She has a dog.  She was once vegetarian.  She is 33.  I used to be 33.  She’s married.  She likes to run. She drinks water.  And coffee.    


It’s uncanny really.

And then I went and ate three caramel wafer chocolate bar things one after the other and knew she wouldn’t do that in a million years.  I definitely didn’t feel like I had anything in common with her then.

But, but she is due her baby any day now *I think* and she’ll probably have a boy.  I bet she’ll have a boy.

Whew.  We’re back.  Best friends again.  Practically twins

Friday 6 March 2015

Random Things I'd Be Lost Without

NATURALLY I WOULDN’T be able to get very far without my car keys.  In weather like this, I always wear a coat and gloves.  My wallet goes most places with me too.  It’s great company really.  Doesn’t do much.  There’s never a lot in it but if it did go missing, I’d have to cancel a gazillion cards for stupid stuff most of which I never use anyway, but the hassle of it.  My toothbrush is another one.  Manky, scuzzy mouth?  Yok!  I am a tad attached to a bit of moisturiser.  I dislike that tight feeling on my face after I clean it.  I’ve recently started to chew gum after a meal.  The lazy man’s toothbrush but I quite like it.  I also think it makes my teeth look whiter.  Water, I love water.  I don’t drink milk so water is my go to thirst quencher.

I could go on.  And on. But there are one or two more things that I really, really, really would be lost without.  I mean really.  I will reveal all and explain each one as I go along.

The school gate.  Surprising one, no?  Think about it though.  It’s a social injection that lasts as long as it takes for my child to appear.  Some days I’m tired and not up for banter so I sit in my car till the last minute.  But on the days when I am gasping for a chat and a laugh, parking up with ten minutes to spare can really change my day.  Some days it’s a quick hello and a half finished sentence before one of my boys literally drags me away.  But other days, like today, where I can pour my heart out to someone and find they feel the same way - that is the true mettle of the school gate.

Facebook.  Some days I think Facebook is a blood sport.  No-one ever puts up a new profile picture of themselves first thing in the morning after a rocking night out.  It’s always nice hair, nice clothes and make-up.  I’ve done this myself.  But it has its place too.  There is something for everyone on Facebook.  From parenting communities to sports pages.  From hobby pages to advice forums.  I’m part of it all and the really good thing about it is, you can step away from it any time you want to.

Spanx.  Yep, she said Spanx.  I said Spanx.  Although they’re not Spanx the brand they’re more like a cheapy Dunnes Stores pair of sucky in knickers that does the job very nicely thanks very much and don’t tell me you don’t have similar yourself. Not attractive but that’s why they’re called underwear and not outer wear.   Someone a little bit famous once said diamonds are a girl’s best friend.  Pshaw!  Give me a pair of panel beaters any day! 

Wine.  If it came down to it, at an absolute push and it was a very serious matter of life and death, I probably could do without it.  But I wouldn’t be happy.  Not one little bit.  I like it, see? 

Coffee and most recently tea.  When it’s too early in the day to be supping wine, coffee is a close second.  Ok, coffee is a poor second but it has its merits.  As does tea.  I’ve turned into a tea-aholic.  I find it goes best with about 10 of those giant chocolate buttons.  Yum!  Love those too.

Garnier Summer Body.  I had to sneak in a beauty can’t live without.  This stuff is the business.  Every summer I get asked “were you away?” when I wear it.  I only ever get away with the faeries but they wouldn’t know that.  It’s lovely for arms and upper chestical area.  I use leftover stuff on my face.  But it’s not great for legs.  Mine don’t appreciate it anyway.  But for everywhere else I like it.   Currently looking for a leg friendly one – as in not too tanned, just something to banish the utter whiteness of them – so if you have any recommendations please don’t be shy!

Pillows.  I like about three pillows.  The third one is a throwback from my pregnancy days and I just can’t seem to shake it.  It brings me much comfort and that’s its job, yes?
Other stuff that spring to mind immediately are those little shoe liners for your runners from Penneys.  Ooooooohhh, oooooohhh Penneys. Hold on!

Penneys.  This deserves a whole paragraph to itself.  Penneys (aka Primark) rocks!  It is my favourite shop in the whole wide entire all of the world.  Everyone needs a Penneys near them.  Ok so their underwear doesn’t really fit me anymore.  But I love their homewares.  Everyone needs 249 tea lights, right?  And those lovely little paper lanterns for your picnic table umbrella.  I could spend an hour in the accessory aisle before I go shoe shopping.  And now they do make-up.  What’s not to love?

Have you anything to add?

Wednesday 4 March 2015

My Robot Au Pair

It's not real, that's what!!!
This morning I was finishing what was possibly the nicest cappuccino in the world when Smallest Boy had the best idea a four year old could ever have.    

Brendan:  Mammy!  You need a robot.  You should get a robot!

Me:  That’s a great idea!  Where would we get one?

Brendan:  In the robot shop!  And he would do stuff.

Me:  What kind of stuff?

Brendan:  He would sweep your floors for you.

Me:  (Getting excited) And what else?  Would he cook?

Brendan:  He would.  You could teach him.

Me:  I could, I suppose.  What else?

Brendan:  All the stuff.  He could do all the stuff.  But he wouldn’t get hungry coz only humans get hungry.

Me:  Where would he sleep?

Brendan:  Robot’s don’t sleep!  They have a controller thing to turn them on and off.

Me:  What would his name be?  I know!  We could call him Robert the Robot.

Brendan:  No!  He will be called…………………………..Friendly Robot.  So Juno won’t be scared of him.

Me:  Okay.  What else would he do for me?  Keep talking about that.  I liked that bit.

Brendan:  He could drive the car for you!

Me:  Good idea.  Keep talking.

Brendan:  He could maybe help Daddy cut the grass!

Me: He could.

Brendan:  Wait!  Wait!  No!  I changed my mind.  I don’t want a robot.  We’re not getting a robot, Mammy. Sorry, I changed my mind.  No robots.  Can we go now?  I want some jellies.

And just like that my au pair disappeared into the ether.

Monday 2 March 2015

Chicken Curry My Kids Will Actually Eat!

I can’t believe it.  I have stumbled upon a chicken curry recipe my boys actually ate.  One of them even asked for more.

I was so happy I decided to ignore my complete oversight in defrosting only four chicken breasts and not six as the recipe called for.  Because in another tippin flippical moment I fully expected them to turn their noses up at it like they usually do.  I didn’t want to be looking at a pan of chicken curry for two days and it’s not the type of dish that would freeze well.

So of course, they all decided this was the nicest thing they had ever tasted (except for chocolate, soft mints, ice cream and pancakes) and I ended up having one bite sized piece of chicken coz I gave the rest to my boys.  I blame the Kiddi Pharmaton.  More about that later.

Here is the recipe really quickly.  It’s called Edwards Fruity chicken curry and I got it from a Woman’s Way magazine a few years ago.

6 chicken breasts
2 cloves of garlic (I used about 4)
1 red chilli (I used dried chilli flakes)
1 medium onion (I used 4 shallots)
1 tspn tomato puree
2 tbspn mild curry powder
1 tbspn flour
1 pinch turmeric
1 pinch ground cumin
Pinch crushed chilli flakes (I omitted this)
A squirt of ginger from a tube because I didn’t have the real stuff.
200ml pouring cream/coconut milk (I used the milk)
1 pint chicken stock

You can add 2 tbspn mango chutney.  I forgot about this.  50g sultanas.  Forgot these too.  And all the veg you want such as peppers, mushrooms, carrots, courgettes etc.  I just used a red pepper as my kids would pop into a million pieces if I suggested vegetables.

A garnish suggestion is 50g flaked toasted almonds, 2 tbspn natural yogurt and freshly chopped parsley or coriander.  Again I forgot this part/didn’t have them.  I improvised towards the end and added a hefty teaspoon of Thai red curry paste as I felt it missed something.   

I did it all in a casserole pot on the hob but the recipe suggested 180 degrees in an oven at 50 minutes.

I chopped the chicken into slices and browned them before adding the shallots, garlic and peppers. (If you opt to go the oven route, keep chicken breasts whole, just brown them)

Then I spooned in the tomato puree and stirred to ensure it coated the meat.  Followed closely by the curry powder, flour, turmeric, cumin and ginger.  I found this mixture was very dry and it began to stick to the pan so I added a few splashes of stock to make a thick paste.  This worked fine.  I added the rest of the stock followed by the coconut milk and stirred really well.

I needed to add a little more flour as the curry was very watery but this brought it all together very nicely.

Basmati rice was also suggested but I made do with a couple of boil in the bags.

With recipes like this I find you can add your own touches along the way.  Nothing is set in stone.  Reading the recipe again as I type it out, I decided the mango chutney and natural yogurt would have made a delicious addition.

You could also add a nan bread.  And wine.  Wine would be gorgeous with this.  Either before, during or afterwards.

Or now.  Wine would be nice now. 

Excuse me…………………………………

Oh, enjoy the curry.