Lovely Life of Earth

 

Saturday morning started off with a big disappointment for me. I’d been in touch with the lovely people at New Lanark about paying a visit to the world heritage site there and much loved Christmas Experience event that they put on every year. It was to start off what has now become a very busy build up to Christmas for me before I skip off to Dublin to spend the holidays with my family. But when Saturday dawned with high winds battering my building and as we heard on the radio “too many road closures to mention”, it was quickly decided that the trip to New Lanark was just not going to be a possibility . Which was a real shame. However, to salvage the morning myself and the girls went for a little breakfast instead and my eyes were opened to a new gem in Glasgow…

Bakery 47

I’m always the last to know when it comes to trendy new places so most people living in the South Side of Glasgow are likely aware of the little treasure that is Bakery 47. But I just found out so I’ll tell you anyway! This is a gorgeous, bakery and cafe with a small but delicious and reasonably priced menu. They sell all manor of cakes and bread but like any good bakery I could see that if you want to get what you need you’d better get in early. At around 11:30 when we were ready to leave I could see a bit of a queue gathering – clearly this place is loved among the locals. I had a beautiful warm mince pie with almonds and vanilla cream. The pasty was melt in the mouth and a little bit flaky which made it perfectly light. And while no mince filling will compare to my mum’s homemade fare Bakery 47s was pretty close. Even more than the mouthwatering food though, the service there was fantastic – you can tell that there is a lot of love behind that little spot and I had a lovely time there.

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Back to the Gym

While I’ve clearly been sampling the plenty of festive food, I’ve been working out more this week than I have over the last couple. This is a massive cop out but the poor weather has been putting me off running. At the end of the day, I have a demanding full time job and while I’d love to get up at 5am and run, my body clock just doesn’t work that way even though I wish it did. While I find running a great way to unwind, getting soaked and blown about the place and risking a fall just isn’t what I’d call a relaxing end to my day! Yoga and home exercise just weren’t cutting it so I’ve joined a local gym. And I love it (yes, I am one of those sad people who likes gyms). It’s good to have the option of classes again too. Although on Monday I went to an abs class and forgot my water bottle like a total chump – seriously, running sweatily over to the water fountain during the much needed rest periods was a nightmare. Lesson learned!

 

Books

Living well is as much about diet as it is exercise and I’ve been trying a few recipes from Madeline Shaw’s book Get the Glow. There are some nice simple meals in here like the spiced salmon and cucumber, and the almond pancakes which I made for my parents last week on their visit. The chia pudding has also been a breakfast staple for me over the last while. However, as you can probably tell from my bakery trip, I’m merely dabbling in Madeline’s healthy diet as I’m not in a position to fully commit to it just now. If I’m honest, the premise of the book is great but if you’re a person who incorporates regular cardio workouts into your regime – which I think people really should if they can – I don’t think that sticking to her diet is actually possible. For me, delicious and skin clearing as it is, I just don’t feel like it gives the carbohydrates and energy I’d need regular meaningful workouts. For brekky, smoothies and ideas though it’s great to have on hand.

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I went on a little Waterstones binge last week and as a minor sci fi and general space geek, Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth caught my roving eye pretty quickly. Reading about life in space is fascinating but even more so is how a person gets there in the first place. The drive, ambition and preparation that goes into a life’s work of making an aspiration a reality was both inspiring and encouraging to read. I particularly love his philosophy on being prepared for every eventuality and the way he rubbishes positive thinking alone as a means of getting what you want. There’s a saturation of “inspirational” people out there who, for the life of me I just can’t figure out why people think they’re inspiring. It’s refreshing to read about someone who has worked hard for success that is not only personal but used to educate and benefit everyone. Give this one a read!

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Like Chris Hadfield I want to make the most out of the time I have and make it count. So rather than letting the crappy weather get me down (much) I’m in the gym, eating cakes (sorry Madeline) and of course getting into the festive spirit. Take that Scottish weather!

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The excitement of putting up our first tree!

Jen

Go For It: Crafting

I’ve associated crafting with taking a step backwards for a long time. Think about it, when you read the word, did you automatically think of being back at school, or something you did with your mum or nana? Going deeper, I actually just associated it with an antiquated way of thinking. Pfft women crafting, go back to the fifties! The truth is though, quite a lot of my friends are wonderfully creative knitters, sewers, origamists (no, that cannot be a word) and one is particularly talented at making fantastic creations out of Tunnocks tea cake wrappers! All educated, intelligent hard working women who love to craft. So over the past few months I’ve gotten down off of my high horse and given it a go.

What I’ve found is that taking an old jar and making a new use for it, or going for a long walk with your friends to collect some Autumn leaves to press is relaxing and fun but also feels kind of productive. It’s just a pleasure to see something you actually made around the house and know that it’s completely unique to you!

For me, my favourite thing about crafting is the social aspect. Two of my friends and I meet for craft and wine nights and solve the problems of the world over some good food and felt. Only recently my friend Emer invited me to a Laura Ashley crafting event to launch their range of crafting kits in Glasgow. Sitting with a group of lovely women, drinking tea, having a giggle and eating mouthwatering cakes at the Butterfly and Pig all while violently stabbing our felt creations into shapes (some with more success than others) was a brilliant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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I liked using the crafting kits from Laura Ashley because even though I’m not particularly good at crafting, having everything that I needed gave me a bit of confidence. I’m quite pleased with how my little creations turned out!
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Before even going to the event I had bought someone (I’ll not name names in case they read this) one of the Laura Ashley apron making kits for Christmas. I thought it would be something fun and a bit different for the Christmas stocking. I’ll include a link to the website here if you want to take a look at their stuff for a gift (or maybe a little self gift…).

For me the key to crafting is that it does take you a step backwards. But not in the way I’d thought. When you’re with your friends, laughing at your concoctions or by yourself with your masterpiece, crafting gives you bit of time to step back from yourself, your schedule and all of the noise to immerse yourself in what’s in front of you.

So my recommendation is to give crafting a go. Have you ever tried it? Leave a comment below and tell me all!

 

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Blogger Recognition Award

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I’m really thrilled to have been nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award by Clare. He blog is a wonderful mix of food, fitness and honesty and I’d recommend that you read it.

Why did I start a blog?

Well, firstly I haven’t been blogging for very long. 11 months to be exact. But like most of the things I do, before I actually did it I had a really good think about it (serial planner right here!) I live in Scotland but I’m from Ireland. I’ve been here since 2013 and in that time I’ve met wonderful people, they’ve moved away and I’ve met more wonderful people. Saying goodbye is never easy. I love to be around people who are a positive influences and I knew that I’d have a very small circle come January (I’m not very good at making new friends) and that I’d be losing some of the fun and joy and encouragement of those around me. Now one thing I could do nothing about. You can’t conjure up new friends or make people stay where they are when they are clearly moving on to bigger and better things. But I could do something to keep me positive and creative. And although it wasn’t the same as having actual people around me, I thought a blog all about my goals and being healthy and positive would be the perfect way to bridge that. So I decided that I would start writing. And I would start writing in the New Year, as a New Years resolution, and that I would write about things that make me feel good, like running and being healthy and trying new things.

So that’s what I did.

11 months on I’ve been kept the resolution.

And kept in touch with the people who moved away.

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Bringing Beth on her first trip to Ireland
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Meeting Audrey in New York this year

And I made some wonderful new friends too.

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The crafting coven shopping for our Halloween costumes

If I were to give a piece of advice to new bloggers it would simply be to blog because you enjoy it. It’s okay to take a break when you’re not enjoying it and remember that this is your space so write about what’s important to you.

So, now I’ve told you a bit about me, what about you?

I’d like to nominate the following blogs:

Born to Plod

Tina Kivela

The Long Run to Boston 2016

Tangerine Wallpaper

Sneakerdrive

Just Like A Woman

Green Wolf Pack

Jotterizing

Twenty Something on Coffee

Happy to Be Me

The Happy Healthy Kiwi

A Whole New Resolution

Kirsten Walsh

Gessica Albu

Living By Vogue

If you blog appears in the above list, here are the rules of the Blogger Recognition Award:

  1. Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to. You cannot nominate yourself or the person who has nominated you
  2. Give a brief story of how your blog got started
  3. Give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers
  4. Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog
  5. List those you’ve nominated in the post and comment on their blogs to let them know you’ve nominated them.

Thanks for reading.

Jen

An Active Girl’s Guide to Being Sick

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Whether we like it or not it’s gotten to that point in the year when we’re starting to focus our energy on the festive season. Over the coming weeks there’ll be more parties, travelling to see loved ones and of course, love it or hate it, the inevitable pressure of gift buying! Which is all well and good, but coupled with the dark evenings and damp weather found in this part of the world burning the candle at both ends can take it’s toll on our health if we’re not careful! I’ve been thinking of doing a post about getting sick since it happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I’d been fighting a sore throat and sniffles on the Monday and Tuesday but woke up on Wednesday with swollen glands, light sensitivity and an aching body. I had to take a sick day from work. The timing was terrible. But I felt pretty awful. The thing about sick days is that, like a lot of people, I’m just not good at them. And by that I mean I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. Well duh Jen, just try to get better you say! But the guilt dear reader! The sick day guilt is real! I felt bad that I was taking a day to do nothing but when I thought about actually doing something like cleaning the flat or cooking a nice meal, it just made me curl up into a smaller ball in my bed!

So I thought about what I could do to feel better, but also would feel like I hadn’t totally wasted the day. Here’s my advice if you find yourself struck down with a Winter flu:

  1. Get Some Comfort Food: If you can manage a small trip to the shops or have someone at home who can pick up a few things for you, treat yourself to some nice teas, lots of fruit and a little sweet to help boost your mood. Weirdly I had a huge craving for Marmite the whole time I was sick! Having lots of little snacks will get you into the kitchen and keep you moving while also keeping your spirits and energy up to help you fight the flu.
  2. If you have to exercise, keep it light: A lot of us are of the mind that sweating out a flu is the best thing for it. At some stages I’d agree but if you’re bed ridden, trying to get a run or ab workout in really isn’t going to help you. If you’re feeling up to it, it can be nice to do something to keep the blood flowing. I recommend checking out Yoga with Adrienne, I did her Yoga for When You Are Sick video and it was so kind and comforting. It was just what I needed.
  3. Talk to Someone: One of the worst things about feeling sick is that it makes you feel really crap and down. I’m one for feeling sorry for myself when I’m not well and it was nice to give my big brother a call to catch up and take my mind off things when I wasn’t feeling so good. If there is someone you haven’t chatted with in a while, evening if it’s over a long overdue message rather than a phone call, why not do it when you’re on your sick day?
  4. Fresh Air: During this time of year air quality can be a bit rubbish with all the heating and clothes drying and candles burning. If you’re up to it, a very short walk while you’re well wrapped up can feel really good. When you’re not able for it, opening the window for a few minutes or moving from the bedroom to the living room can shift the stagnant air and help you to feel a bit fresher and hopefully better. I often have a big bowl of  boiled water in the room to purify the air. If you’re blocked up, a dollop of Vicks in the hot water can help to clear you up too!

For me the best advice when you’re feeling sick is just to do what feels good and take care of yourself. I hope this post has been useful to you, but mostly I hope that you stay healthy this Winter.

Four Reasons to be Cheerful

Saturday, for me had to be a day to switch off. It was one of those classic November days in Glasgow where the rain is pouring down and while the juxtaposition of the orange leaves and the gray sky is pleasing to the eye, it’s not actually weather that you want to be out in if you can avoid it. So I totally avoided it!

I find it pretty hard to sit about and do nothing for a day but I needed this. The last week has been packed with things to do and I needed a day to just chill out.

I had to take a rest week from exercise this week because I was getting over a cold and I’m glad I just focused on Yoga and stretching rather than doing any cardio. Taking a day off on Saturday was a good chance to reflect too on what I’m thankful for this week:

Fireworks and Fun: So one of my favorite things about living in Scotland is that not only do we have Halloween, there’s also Guy Fawkes! I love the fireworks and this year I went to see the big display in Glasgow Green. I’ve done this every year since I moved here and it’s become a tradition now. This time me, Chris and my friend Naomi went to West Brewery for mouthwatering outdoor burgers and beer (well, hot chocolate for me – I had an early start for an event the next day). I had some friends over to the flat last week for Halloween and even though I was getting over a cold it was such a fun night. The girls and I dressed up as trolls and we danced the night away. It was the most effort and make up that I have possibly ever worn but we truly felt like magical creatures! I was pretty reluctant to take my wig off at the end of the night if truth be told!

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A Day in the Snow: I organised a work event at the indoor slopes in Braehead and it was a great day out. As with any event there was a huge amount of preparation in the lead up to it but it was a pleasure to get 70 people out of the office and onto the slopes. Seeing a day come together like that is always really rewarding and while the lead up was exhausting – I was up till all hours the night before making last minute edits to the presentations and doing arts and crafts! – it’s just worth it every time in the end. I feel very lucky to be able to do things like this in my job.

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Narcos: I am obsessed with this show on Netflix. Narcos is based in late 1980’s Columbia during the war on drug baron’s and the rise of Pablo Escobar. If gritty drama, intelligent scripts, history and subtitles are your thing, check this one out!

Crafting: Okay, I’m a self confessed Winter hater but these cold evenings in are starting to grow on me a bit. I’ve been a bit more creative around the house have started recycling old jars for storage and adding a few little touches to brighten the place up a bit. My two friends and I have been getting together for little craft nights and it’s been a lovely way to spend a dark weeknight. It’s nice to have some homemade comforts around the house and while I’m definitely not an artist or really remotely talented when it comes to crafting I like having some pieces that are just my own little concoctions! Plus creativity, friends and wine are always a winner in my book.

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Book perfectionists look away now!
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So I cannot take credit for the hand knit stag cushion you see before you. My friend in the US sent this ti me as a housewarming gift and I absolutely love it. I just wanted to show it here because I'm so proud to have something so unique in my home. While I'll never have this level of talent she's definitely inspired me to be a bit more creative!

So these were the little things I was thankful for this week.

Are you a crafting novice like me? Do you have any recommendations for good series right now – because I’m getting through Narcos at an alarming rate -?