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Clearing out the Chrimbo cobwebs

After a gluttonous December, it was time to get out and about! Hubbie and I decided against a mountain hike due to the recent storms and flooding.

We hadn’t been to St Anne’s park in Raheny in months so we headed there for a long walk. St Anne’s park is the second biggest park in Dublin (the biggest is the Phoenix park). After a brief walk around the park, our hunger pangs brought us to the Red Stables. We wandered around the market stalls until the waft of pizza, crepes and coffee became too irresistible.

With full bellies and a renewed energy, we walked through the park to Dollymount Strand on Bull Island. The recent flooding was evident but thankfully we could still walk along the beach. From the Northern road entrance, we turned left on to the beach and walked as far as we could without getting wet!

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Howth and Sutton in the distance:
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We walked 14.5km in total. Not a bad start to my 2014 exercise plan!

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Sweet 2014

3 days in and I am struggling to keep to my “healthy” resolution. A pub crawl around Dublin certainly didn’t help! A stash of cakes (chocolate ganache, 3 types of Christmas cakes, chocolate biscuit cake) and tins of Quality Street/ Roses also definitely does not help. Particularly post-pub crawl.

Surely some ganache, Christmas cake, popcorn and a chocolate Santa could be considered a “treat”?!

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Dingle and Slea Head

Last August, I spent a weekend in the Gaeltacht area of the Dingle Penninsula. It truly is a beautiful place, far away from the hustle and bustle of Dublin. The Lonely Planet describes Dingle as an unforgettable beauty with an “ever-varied and multihued landscape”. The town’s many pubs and cafe/ restaurants add to the town’s charm.

The highlight of our visit was a cycle around Slea Head. Our route was about 26 miles. We started in Dingle town, passed through Ventry, around Slea Head, Ballyferriter, and back to Dingle. We stopped at the beehive huts and a little beach along the way. We had lunch in Ballyferriter, where a toasted sandwich was most welcome! We also visited the hostel where I spent my Gaeltacht weekends in school.

Slea head

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View from "The Plough" b&b

Racing in Dingle

The following morning, spa treatments at The Dingle Skellig hotel were well-deserved.

Still yearning for more, we drove up Connor Pass. The views were amazing!

Mt Brandon

Recommended restaurants that we visited: The Old Smokehouse, An Canteen, and (of course) Murphy’s ice-cream!

Finally, a quick drink at Tom Crean’s South Pole Inn in Annascaul¬†helped us on our way home ūüôā

PS: Also worth a mention is the beautiful Inch beach. We stopped there for a bite to eat on our way to Dingle. It is about 30 mins from Dingle town.

Tea, Roses and Kardashians

I’m confined to the couch with a throat infection. I’m feeling sorry for myself. I’m stuck between total relaxation to allow my body to recover, and the urge to clean the growing mess that is my apartment.

There are three things keeping me sane over the last few days. Cups of tea help to soothe my throat. Chocolate roses always go down a treat. (I tell myself I need to finish the tin before my new super-healthy lifestyle begins in January.)

Yesterday I spent my time alternating between online shopping, daytime tv, and snoozing. Who would have thought that Kendall Jenner’s “low key” sweet sixteenth would involve a rooftop party, fire- eaters, an appearance by rapper Tyga, complete with a full security team?! I guess that is low key when you compare it to the Barbados trip alternative.

Today, I’m feeling slightly better. Not enough to tackle the messy apartment. I will remain on the couch, a carefully chosen location, within arm’s reach of a cuppa tea, roses, magazines, and the tv remote. After all, my recovery in time for Chrimbo celebrations is a top priority!

“Is married life any different?”

After two months (14 days and¬†8 hours…), I’m settling in quite well¬†to married life. My dress is dry-cleaned, presents opened, thank you cards written (almost!), and my wedding album (ordered online – the professional album can wait)¬†is¬†on my coffee table. As the blissfully¬†amourous¬†honeymoon period continues, I get asked one question at least once a week: “Is¬†married life any different?”

Wedding day

Married life¬†IS different. I find it hard to put into words so, in my¬†true style, I made a list….

  1. Our evenings and weekends are free from wedding plans. I no longer spend every waking moment thinking about bridesmaid dresses, flowers, mass booklets, and menu tastings.
  2. When listening to friends’ wedding plans, I secretly feel relieved that I don’t have to¬†make any decisions about¬†which transport, photographer, band to book/ which songs, prayers to choose/ who to thank¬†in my speech.
  3. I call himself¬†my “husband” instead of partner/ boyfriend/ toyboy. (I’m still getting used to this. When people refer to my “husband”, I tend to look around to see who they could be¬†talking to before I realise it’s me.)
  4. When we visit my parents, we get to sleep in the “married side” of the house. Initially, I was miffed at my stuff being moved out of my childhood room, but now see the move as an upgrade!
  5. I tick the “married” box instead of the “single” box.
  6. People ask all about our plans to start a family: “are you going to start soon?” “Yes, we’re planning a BIG night tonight!”
  7. We now have a joint bank account. (This could be a good thing or a bad thing – more about this later)
  8. We will now spend every Christmas together. (We just need to decide where we will spend our first Christmas!)
  9. We discuss our future together – Will we save for a house? Will we go on a holiday? How many (perfectly- behaved) children will we have?
  10. I feel more grown up. And secure.
  11. Most importantly….. as a wife, I command much more respect from the general public ūüôā

Do you consider married life to be different? Why?

Shin splint shenanigans

About a month ago, I realised I had the dreaded shin splints. I don’t remember ever having shin splints before.

At first, I felt a little pain along my shins. I didn’t think much of it and put it down to the (extremely high) heels I had worn for a night on the tiles. A few days later, during a 5k run, the pain became worse. I googled “cures for shin splints” and discovered the common cure is REST, REST and more REST.

Some claim to have a miracle quick cure, which involve golf balls and a yoga mat. I decided to REST for a week and reassess my shin situation.

Two weeks later, I felt a little better. Just on time for the Colour Run (more about that later!). Unfortunately, this 5k walk only aggravated my problem. At work the next day, a colleague kindly advised me to splash out on a new pair of runners. My beloved runners have supported me in numerous runs. In fact, they have supported me for much longer than the recommended 6-12 months/ 500 miles.

So you know what this means…….. SHOPPING!!!!!!! The only proven instant cure for shin splints ūüôā

Brownie in a Mug

My colleague sent me this recipe recently and I just had to share!

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1 mug

¬ľ cup flour

¬ľ cup sugar

2tbsp cocoa

Pinch of salt

3tbsp spring water (but I’m sure tap would be fine)

2tbsp olive oil

(ice cream for on top!)

Add all dry ingredients to mug

Stir in oil and water

Mix until it’s like a smooth batter (approx 30 seconds)

Microwave for a minute and a half (depending on wattage could take more or less though so may need to adjust)

Keep an eye on it in case this happens! Oops!

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Let it stand for a minute or two.

If necessary, stir in more flour or water, depending on the desired consistency. The brownie should be moist when cooked.

You can also try this recipe with cinnamon or vanilla.

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The perfect lasagne

My mother’s lasagne has always been a favourite dish of the family’s.¬† When I go home, it’s what I look forward to most!¬† I’ve tried to make a few adjustments to the recipe but it’s hard to beat perfection.¬† However, I may have succeeded to equal such a dish tonight.

I started by cooking the veg and mince meat.  (I added carrots, which she typically omits)

I added stock, tomato puree, white wine, and seasonings.  Then I let that simmer for 40 minutes (which conveniently coincided with a phone call from my dad).  My other half set about making the white sauce Рmilk, butter, flour, grated cheddar and fromaggio.  I then layered the meat sauce, lasagne sheets, and white sauce.  A topping of sliced tomato and grated cheddar finished it off (the wine, fromaggio and sliced tomato being my adjustments)

Unfortunately, I had forgotten about a salad accompaniment so coleslaw and sliced cucumber made a good alternative (as well as a glass of wine!)

Girls who run are more FUN

As one of my New Year resolutions, I challenged myself to run a race (of any distance) every month this year.¬† In 2009,¬†I ran two half-marathons but I’m not looking to run that distance again in the near future.¬† So I tried to find a¬†not-too-strenuous run (and proscrastinated if I’m honest).¬† I had gone for¬†a few¬†runs, played tag rugby, taken pilates, aerobics and combat classes so I don’t feel too guilty exercise-wise.¬† At the same time, I wanted to get¬†my¬†bum in¬†gear and back into running!

My first official run of 2012 was last Tuesday evening.  The Docklands run took place in Dublin city centre, starting across the river from the O2 arena.  Luckily, it was a dry sunny evening (you never can rely on the Irish weather).

It was a 5k run so should have been easily¬†do-able for me.¬† I¬†even got in a 5k run with my sister at the weekend.¬† However,¬†my¬†slight nervousness¬†prior to the run, combined with waiting around (I could have done 5k twice in that time!), put me off.¬† When the run eventually started, I¬†kept with¬†the¬†pace of the crowd (which always seems to happen to me) and my running partner (who¬†is naturally fitter than I am).¬† This was slightly faster than my usual pace and I knew I wouldn’t be able to sustain it.¬† I completed the first 2k in about ten minutes although my usual pace is 6 minutes per km.¬† When I saw the 2k sign, I knew I needed to slow my pace.¬† I let my running partner¬†stride ahead of me and settled into¬†a more¬†comfortable pace.¬† I passed the 3k mark at 16:22 and (eventually!) finished at 28:03.

I was happy to finish under 30 minutes but realised I have a lot of training to do before the Docklands 8k run¬†on 19th June.¬† My last year’s 8k time¬†was 45:06 so I hope to beat that and make it a PB!¬† Watch this space….

Hair today…

Having finally bought a GHD straightener only a few months back, I was devestated to learn about the damage it’s doing.¬† I know it seems obvious that moving two hot plates along your hair is damaging but I thought hey, how else would I possibly tame my mane?

Last weekend, I took a trip to Steel Magnolias hair salon in Stoneybatter. I was a bit nervous about going to a new hairdresser but fed up of ‘production line’ experiences at big salons. Luckily, Shelley put me at ease immediately.¬† I got a wash & cut and then she set me straight on ehhh straighteners:-)¬† She advised that I go cold turkey on my GHD & blowdry instead. My GHD was doing more harm than good & undoing the benefits of my weekly treatments. So I let her to it… Even though mousse &rollers were involved, I must say my hair looked great with volume and a ‘natural’ flicky curl at the ends. Shelley challenged me to try blowdrying for 2 weeks & I would notice the difference in my hair’s condition.

So here I am, five days in and it’s killing me not to grab my GHD before work. I blowdry my hair at night after a shower & it looks reasonably okay after 40 minutes of moussing, applying rollers & wishing I had a third arm to do the back of my head.¬† The¬†following morning, I resemble someone who has been dragged backwards through a bush (Think crazy cat lady from the Simpsons).

This morning, I gave up trying to fix it & just tied it back. It has to get easier than this!¬† I’m going back to Shelley this weekend to get highlights done… hopefully I will pick up a few more tips then!

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