Saturday, January 31, 2015

12 Months Of Happiness | January 2015 ♥

At the end of 2014 I decided to set a goal for myself - to make 2015 my year for positivity and living life to the full and I'm happy to say that January has been a fantastic month for me and my little family. I am taking inspiration from a lovely blogger, Angelic from Simply Sinova and am introducing a new series to my blog - 12 Months of Happiness. This series will serve to document everything that has made me happy each month. These posts will act as a fabulous reminder of all the great things I've experienced and had happen to me during the year and I think posting these will really contribute to my key word of the year, positivity! 2015 is the year I choose life, positivity and complete happiness. Here are some of the things that made January an amazing month for me and mine...

Nothing makes me happier than time with my little family. This month we've had lots of time together as Jacek has had some half days from work. We've also had our first family day out of the year to the beautiful Blarney Castle and gardens. I love seeing my boy spending some quality time with his Daddy, he misses him so much when he goes to work.

January has brought so many pretty things this way and I just couldn't help but capture them all on camera. I encountered two seasons in one day and just had to photograph the beautiful yellow daffodils in Blarney Castle and Gardens. I also got my hands on Lush's prettiest bubble bar ever (in my opinion anyway!) Unicorn Horn! Pastel swirled rainbows adorned with stars and silver glitter - if that's not pretty I don't know what is! I also saw these pretty pink table painted with a cupcake and heart tree with bluebirds in Hippetys on mine and Jacek's trip to Dublin, review to come on that gorgeous cafe soon!

January has brought me lots of special moments with my darling son. This has been his last full month as a one year old, something which I'm quite emotional about it has to be said. This month he had his 1st day at playschool and is absolutely loving it. We also had a lovely time at Fota House and Gardens together where we had some mother and son quality time, getting out of the house that day was just what we needed. My boy also turned 23 months old so I took him to his favourite place, the beach, to get his monthly pictures, I love how I captured my little Aquarius down by the sea.

January brought some new additions to my makeup collection and some where a complete surprise! I received the beautiful Artistry Little Black Dress palette which is such a luxurious looking palette - I love it! It has eight gorgeous shades which I think are perfect for both day and night wear. I also received some gorgeous goodies from IsaDora from their new Nude Essentials Spring Makeup 2015 collection. I received so many things I was seriously in awe. I've already used the foundation and it's amazing. I also received a gorgeous new fragrance from one of my favourite brands Yves Rocher, it's their Comme Une Evidence which I think is the perfect scent for Valentine's Day - I know I'll be wearing it anyway!
 January has been quite a romantic month for my other half and I. We had our first trip away together since 2013 when we went to Dublin for the day to see Slipknot and Korn. We did lots of sightseeing and he even bought a lock for us to put our own love lock on the Ha'penny Bridge. He also surprised me with a dozen beautiful red roses for no reason at all. I also prepared a little romantic treat for him too (post to come on this next week) and sang my little heart out to him during Korn's Freak on a Leash... "something takes a part of me, you and I were meant to be...". I'm so grateful that after over three years together romance isn't dead between us.

I really can't believe that it's the last day of January 2015 already, the month has absolutely flown by! My family and I have lots to look forward to in February and I can't wait to see what else it has in store for us. The positivity shall continue in full force!

Friday, January 30, 2015

How I Teach My Son About His Culture & Heritage | The Irish Edition ♥

 If you didn't know already my son is tri-national. I am, of course, Irish and he was born in Ireland. His father was born and raised in South Africa but comes from a Polish family, so our son has a whole host of culture and heritage to embrace from his three nationalities. Although Jacek's family are Polish he classes himself as being South African, he's knowledgeable in South African history, is interested in the politics and loves everything about his home country, however, he is fluent in Polish and loves learning about the homeland of his family so he has a lot to teach our son about these two countries. I have taken on the responsibility of teaching our son all about Ireland and the Irish history and culture, even though Jacek is probably more knowledgeable about all landmarks here as he's visited a fair amount of them! It's very important for us to teach our son about where he comes from, the history of where his ancestors came from and help him to embrace the three nationalities which he possesses. 

 Ever since he was a baby we've taken our son on days out to many Irish landmarks and castles. He's seen more of Ireland in less than two years than I did in twenty! He has so far been to Cork, Clare, Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny. He's been to Bunratty, Blarney, Barryscourt, Desmond and Kilkenny Castle. He's also been to Reginald's Tower and the medieval museum in Waterford and Charles Fort in Kinsale. We have plans to take him to visit more scenic places and heritage sites around Ireland and more castles throughout the summer.

 Tyler Lee is still quite young so the biggest resource I use to teach him about Irish culture is books. I love to read him Irish fairy tales and legends for his bedtime stories and he actually loves to listen to them too, he's as quite as a mouse, laying in his bed when I'm reading to him. The books which I'm especially fond of reading to him at the moment are The O' Brien Book of Irish Fairy Tales & Legends, Pocket Irish Legends and Irish Fairy Tales, the cover of the last being my absolute favourite as a lover of rainbows. Irish legends and fairy tales can be quite sad but I loved these stories as a child so it's lovely to be able to read them to my own son. I hope he loves them just as much as I do. He also has a little picture book called How To Be A Viking which is great for teaching him about the Viking invasion of Ireland. The newest addition to his Irish library is Leabhar Mór na bhFocal Gaeilge which is an amazing book for learning the Irish language. It has pictures of so many things and the Irish word for it written under it. I've actually been using this book to teach Jacek a little bit of Irish too. I think this book will be a great resource for teaching him Irish.

 I got him a little Viking hat to add to his dressing up box, I think it'll be a fun prop for him when he's a bit older and is interested in learning about the Viking era in Irish history - I know Jacek has plans to bring him to Dublinia, the Viking museum in Dublin one day. Of course, no Irish child's dressing up box would be complete without a little leprechaun hat and I picked up this sweet little headband version for Tyler Lee for Saint Patrick's Day last year, he actually loves wearing it and it's nice to have paddy-whackery things like this purely for teaching him about leprechauns and the colour green.

Having a little toddler I love dressing him up in adorable outfits and the newest additions to his wardrobe are these super sweet Irish themed pullovers from Funny Monkey. He has the Little Viking pullover to match his dressing up hat and I love the bright yellow colour. He also has the Maith an Buachaill pullover which is good boy in Gaeilge, I love it! The light blue colour is gorgeous and perfect for spring time. I love having these Irish themed pullovers as part of his wardrobe, they're so fun, bright and great for a little Irish boy to be sporting.

Finally, no Irish child's room would be complete without an Irish themed teddy. This is Paddy, Tyler Lee's gift from mine and Jacek's trip to Dublin earlier in the month and he loves him. He's particularly interested in his pea cap. It's lovely that he has a little shamrock on there too.

These are just some of things I've picked up to teach my son about the Irish side of his heritage. I think they're all rather sweet, especially for a little toddler. I have no doubt that I'll pick up some other things, especially more books, along the way as he grows up. I also have a tin whistle for him but to be honest I can't stand the sound of him tooting it around the house constantly so it's tucked away for safe keeping until he can learn a tune! It's so nice to have these things around his room to help him learn some things about Ireland and some words as Gaeilge (in Irish) too.

How do you teach your child about their culture and heritage?


Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Guide To Blogging ♥

 This is my guide to blogging, I stress the word 'my' as, as always, these opinions are my own and these are just the factors which I think make for a good blog and happy blogger. I first posted this guide in November 2013 and I feel as though I've grown as a blogger since then, but these ten things I recommend to other bloggers remains the same. These ten factors are things which I have learned from my almost two years of blogging (Dolly Dowsie's 2nd blogiversary is March 27th!), things I have stumbled across, found useful and think are important when it comes to my blogging experience. I wanted to share them with you as some people have asked me what I think makes a good blog/blogger, etc. so here are ten points which I think are essential to blogging, in my humble opinion.

1. Blog for you. I put this point as number one as I think this is the most important factor when it comes to blogging. Yes we all want to be popular, if you say you don't then you're lying, simple as that. People blog in the hopes that someone will read their words and agree, support, admire, etc., but ultimately you should blog for you. It's your blog so enjoy the process of preparing a post and writing about a particular topic that you enjoy. There's no point in wanting to be a beauty blogger and giving it a go if you have no interest in beauty at all, it's sure to say that if you're not into something you're not going to enjoy writing about it much and subsequently your posts may not be very engaging or interesting. Always read back on your past blog posts and think would this be something you would read if it was on someone else's blog or in a publication? Your blog is solely yours so make it you in all respects.

2. Explore different genres. If you're like me and have a wide variety of interests then don't be afraid to evolve your blog and explore different genres in your spectrum of interests. My blog began solely as a beauty blog but after time this got quite boring for me so I decided to delve into the world of lifestyle and parenting blogging and you know what, I absolutely love my mixed bag of a blog now. Every post I write I enjoy and it's great to share so many things that I love about the world. It also means that I have a wide variety of topics that I can write on so I never get bored with the possibilities of a post and the direction which it might take.

3. Interact with other bloggers. Being a mixed bag blogger I am involved with different blogging communities, I have to admit that I have a slight penchant for my fellow parenting bloggers though, they just get me. No matter what your blog topic I can guarantee that there is a blogging community for it, whether it be on Twitter, Facebook or some other social platform there are many Twitter chats, Facebook groups and now even Google+ groups where you can discuss different topics with your fellow bloggers, gain advice, swap links and read some great content. I have even been lucky enough to become friends with some of my fellow bloggers and it really is such a wonderful thing to make friends through your hobby. Hopefully I'll see some familiar faces at Britmums Live in June!

4. Write about what you want when you want. There is no limit to how many times you can post a day, if you have something on your mind and just have to share it with the world then do so. Your blog should not be constrictive to your creativity so write about what you what whether it be how you're feeling, a topic you would like people to be aware of, a new fashion trend, etc. I've found that some of my 'spur of the moment' posts have actually been my most popular, perhaps my thought process was easily distinguishable in these posts and that's why people like them the most, who knows?! Yes it's always good to have a bit of a set schedule to your posts but hey, if the inspiration takes you and you just can't wait to publish a post then why should you have to? It's YOUR blog!

5. Use your social media. My blog has almost every social media account you can think of and I use the majority of them to promote each post I publish. The way I see it is, if you don't promote a post then not many people will be aware of it and lets be honest, the majority of us bloggers write for people to read our words and be made aware of something. For example I always promote my posts on Pinterest but apart from a couple of repins I've only ever had a handful of hits from there, I will, however, continue to promote my posts on Pinterest as I think it's a great resource for bloggers, even if it may take months for someone to visit your blog!

6. Ignore the haters. There will always be people in life who don't like what you do and instead of simply clicking off your blog they will feel the need to leave a nasty comment or even go to the extreme of starting a 'discussion' on you on a pathetic forum, as discussed in my previous blog post, Blogging - What's the Problem?. In my opinion it's better to ignore these types of people, usually the more they see how upset you are the more they will continue to berate you. Pathetic people like this aren't even worth the effort of a reply. People are very brave when they are faceless words on a screen, I can guarantee you that they are probably the meekest person in reality who wouldn't have the gaul to say something nasty to someones face. Turning off access to anonymous comments and reviewing each comment before allowing it to be published is a good way of counteracting troll comments being left on your posts.

7. Remember the aesthetics. A good blog is ultimately about the quality of writing and how engaging, informative and interesting it is to readers, however, people notice a blog with their eyes first and if I'm honest, when I see a blog which looks quite sloppy, is riddled with spelling mistakes and has blurry pictures it really puts me off reading the blog and I usually won't come back to it. It only takes a few minutes to perfect these things. Blogger comes with a spellchecker, use it! I understand that lighting may not always be fantastic for taking pictures but these can easily be edited with a free photo editor such as Picmonkey. If your blog looks as appealing as your writing is then I think it really helps to entice new readers.

8. Enjoy what you do! For me this is one of the most important aspects to blogging - enjoy it! There's no point in doing something if you don't like it, otherwise it will end up as a chore, something which you feel you have to do and this is not the case at all. If you ever feel like blogging is taking over your life in a bad way then take a step back, maybe even take a break for a few days and re-think your blog, reevaluate what you want to share with the world and refresh your mind. A hobby should always be enjoyable and if you find it to be a hindrance or chore in your life then maybe it's not for you.

9. Turn off Captcha. If I can urge you to do one beneficial thing for your blog then it is to turn off Captcha! I cannot stress to you how annoying it is to come across a great post and want to leave a comment but then be confronted with a dreaded word and number riddle which in most cases are too blurry to decipher and may take more than one try to get correct, it just puts me off leaving a comment at all and usually if the Captcha doesn't work on first go I just give up and click off the blog althogether - sad but true. Nobody has time for Captcha, fiddle around with your blog settings and turn it off! If you moderate comments on your blog then there really is no need for it at all.

10. Remember why you began blogging. I began blogging as I began experimenting more and more with makeup and decided that it would be fun to share these quirkly looks with the world even though I am far from being a professional makeup artist, it was all about the fun for me. I had never even thought about getting freebies through blogging or being paid for posts and even now these factors don't cross my mind but I have seen bloggers become rather obsessed with the benefits aspect of blogging rather than the enjoyment of writing the blog itself. If someone begins a blog purely for the chance of getting a freebie you should not be blogging, simple as that.  Recently I have spotted the same bloggers over and over again asking for PR contacts and the chance of freebies in a particular Facebook group, they are newer bloggers too. I have to admit that this is one of my biggest bug bears. If you do want to delve into the world of blogging as a job I think you need to treat it as such and remember that the perks will come in time after you have earned them. I don't think anyone should enter the blogging world and think that freebies are their God given right, you should build up your audience, concentrate on your content and show the brands you want to work for just what you can do for them. Of course, you can always feel free to say no to an offer if it doesn't fit into your blog criteria and don't fall into the trap of being a blogger who will review just about anything just because it's free - that's not a good direction for a blog. Also, I will say that you shouldn't become too caught up in statistics, page views, subscriber numbers, etc., yes these milestones are fantastic to reach and really give a boost to a bloggers confidence but these things should be a bonus to blogging, something which you should absolutely love whole-heartily anyway.

Once again I will state that these are just my own personal thoughts when it comes to blogging. I'm sure others will agree or disagree with my views but hey, this is my blog and my little space to air my thoughts, isn't this the point I'm making above?

Do you agree with my points?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lush | Valentines Day Collection 2015 ♥

Yesterday I just had to pop into my local Lush store to have a browse at their new Valentines Day collection 2014. I had seen some pictures of the collection on some other blogs and was dying to get my hands on a few of the products, especially the Unicorn Horn - who can resist anything to do with unicorns and rainbows? Not me! I have to admit thought that I was quite taken aback on just how expensive the collection was, everything was €4.25 and up which I do think is quite expensive for a bath product, one bath bomb which I had to leave behind as I just couldn't justify the price was €8.75, I just couldn't pay that for something which didn't even have bubbles.

Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar
When I first saw this online I thought it looked amazing and when I finally saw it in person I thought it was the prettiest bubble bar I had ever seen! I would absolutely love if Lush would make this part of their permanent range because I'd be buying it every week! Please Lush Gods add this to the permanent range! Unicorn Horn features pastel rainbow swirls, stars and lots silver glitter - what more could you want in a bubble bar? This is one of those products Lush comes up with once and awhile that really is too pretty to use, but I can never resist anyway... It really does smell amazing and contains lavender, ylang ylang and neroli oil for a calming and dreamy bath time. I've already used one and the bubbles are amazing - review to come soon.

 Lonely Heart Bubble Bar
This is a sweet and slightly small bubble bar which is described as red but I think it's more of an orange colour, encased in golden glitter it's the perfect little luxury for a Valentines inspired bath. Lonely Heart contains ylang ylang, bergamot, jasmine and lemongrass for a soothing and zesty bath. I love the golden lustre on this, a feature of other Lush products I've used in the past and it always makes the water look magical.

 Floating Flower Bath Bomb
It has to be said that I'm much more of a fan of Lush's bubble bars rather than their bath bombs, purely because I like a nice bubbly bath, however, I do love flowers so I couldn't help but pick up this pretty Floating Flower bath bomb. I have high hopes for this bath bomb as the lady in the shop said it was responsible for her having the loveliest dreams after using it just before bed - I hope I have the same experience! It contains ylang ylang, jasmine and cyrus oils which give a gorgeous, strong scent to this bath bomb.

Heart Throb Bubble Bar
Heart Throb reminds me of a little macaroon, only heart shaped of course. It has two separate red parts with a layer of golden glitter in the middle and it really does look like the perfect bath product for Valentines Day. This bubble bar should turn the water bright red so I'm looking forward to that. It also contains shea butter which will be perfect for leaving my skin super soft.

 Phoenix Rising Bath Bomb
Finally I picked up Phoenix Rising which isn't part of the Valentines Day collection but I couldn't help but pick it up anyway, the purple colour is so pretty! There's a slight hint of gold in this too and I think it'll make for quite a luxurious, purple bath.

Will you be picking up any of the Valentines Day collection to give yourself a pamper in the lead up to the day of all things love or even on Valentines Day yourself?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My 1st Years | Blue Spot Storage Bag ♥

You may have seen me mention My 1st Years on the blog before, they offer the most beautiful items and gifts for little ones, each which can be personalised and they are also my sponsors for Britmums Live in June. I am in love with the range of products which My 1st Years have to offer, especially in their nursery section and I recently got my boy their Blue Spot Storage Bag for keeping his cuddly toys tidy in his room. The boy has just too many cuddly toys but he loves each and every one so I can't really put them away or give them to the charity shop so finding a stylish storage solution just had to be done.

The storage bag arrived in a beautiful Tiffany blue box with a white bow, the traditional and beautiful My 1st Years packaging, I absolutely love it and I actually use their boxes from my previous orders for storing Tyler Lee's baby items and keepsakes. The storage bag was wrapped carefully in tissue paper, the way My 1st Years package their products make them perfect for gifting to people.

When I first saw the storage bag I knew I had chosen the right one. I had been torn between this beautiful baby blue colour and a navy one with stars but went with the blue, seeing it in person with it's little white dots I knew it would fit in with the bright colours of Tyler Lee's room perfectly. I love the quilted design it has too, it looks like something very special. I've now seen they have a grey storage bag with stars as part of their new range so I now need this one for our living room - thanks My 1st Years! The storage bag is a generous size, it has plenty of room for keeping some bulky toys in as well as soft toys and blankets. It is soft and has handles which is great for bringing it easily from room to room, I know I'll end up bringing this downstairs during the day so that my boy can have his toys close to him for playtime.

I got the storage bag embroidered with 'Tyler' in white lettering. You can get My 1st Years storage bags embroidered with anything up to 12 characters and with this storage bag in particular you can choose up to three fonts and colours for the text. I went with the white as I thought it would blend in with the colours on the bag well.

I absolutely love this storage bag, it's stylish, beautifully made and the perfect size for keeping all of my boys precious things. It's such a lovely addition to his room and as I've said I now need to go and get another for our living room. You can purchase the Blue Spot Storage Bag and browse the other great products My 1st Years have to offer on their website.

Do you like the look of this new addition to Tyler Lee's room?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Things I Want My Son To Know ♥

 Dear Tyler Lee,

It wasn't until I held you in my arms for the first time that I realised just how much of a massive and important new life journey we were about to embark on together. You made me a mother, a role which I am forever proud to hold but also one which was the scariest of my life to comprehend, I didn't know how I - slightly irresponsible, care-free and laid-back Fiona could be responsible for another human being, especially one as little as you were but somehow we made it work and I couldn't imagine my life without you in it, it's safe to say you completed me, you were the missing piece to my puzzle. There are some things I want you to know, things which you must always be aware of because I would never want you to think otherwise or differently about these things. So, my son, this is my letter to you and the things I want you to know most in your life.

That my love for you is unconditional. It doesn't matter what path you take in life, how many fights we have, however many days we spend apart, whether you live on the other side of the world or just next door (the latter I am most definitely hoping for by the way), I will always love you. You will forever be my baby, my first born, the boy who made me a mother and my love for you is never ending. You hold such a special place in my heart, no one compares to you and I don't think anyone ever will. No one in the world means more to me than you do and I hope you remember all of this long after I am gone.

That it doesn't matter what your sexual preference is, I will always love you. It doesn't matter to me whether you're straight, gay, bisexual or any other label they come up with between now and the time you grow up, as long as you're happy then so am I. Please also don't feel under pressure or the need to tell me about what preference you have either, unless you want to of course, it won't change a thing between us, only make me applaud you for being so open with your love life to me. Whatever preference you have it doesn't change you as a person and doesn't make me love you any less, I will love you always.

Don't be afraid to be yourself. Whether you're an extrovert who has a penchant for unique clothes or an introvert who likes nothing better than to hide behind a great book in a library don't be afraid to be who you are. Don't let anyone try to change you either and don't change any aspect of yourself just to fit in with a certain crowd, if they don't like you for who you are then they don't deserve your company.

Always remember where you came from. If you end up as a mega successful man living in a huge mansion in some beautiful, exotic place in the world please always remember where you came from and be thankful for all you've achieved. Remember your humble beginnings on a small island in Ireland and the place who made you who you are.

Surround yourself with positive, fun people. I've always thought that boys made friends easier than girls and I hope that's true for you. Surround yourself with positive, fun people. Steer clear of the back-stabbing, two-faced, wet lettuce types who want nothing but to bring you down. No one needs negative people in their lives, let alone my boy and I want you to have a lot of fun times in your life with fun, happy and like-minded people.

That you reap what you sew. I was told as a teenager that you'll always reap what you sew so, for example, if you study hard for a big exam and try your best you'll come out with fantastic results, if you slack and put in no work you'll fail. This theory is correct for all scenarios in life, if you work hard you can reap the rewards no end and have the satisfaction of knowing that you worked for everything you gained too.

That you are handsome, inside and out. You are the most beautiful boy I know, not just because I'm biased as your mother either, even if you weren't my son I'd fawn over your beautiful golden curls, your big, deep blue eyes and your tiny, perfect little nose... okay I'll stop now, I don't want to be one of those embarrassing mothers (although I totally am!). You not only have beauty on the outside but you have a beautiful soul too. You're friendly, caring, loving and out-going, you're a joy to be around, so please never change from your handsome self.

The value of money and saving. I wish this was a life lesson I learnt at an early age so this is one I really want you to embrace - know the value of money and how to save. Your father is fabulous at saving, money burns a hole in my pocket as soon as I get it so hopefully you'll take after your father more in this case. I want you to know how great saving is, how amazing it feels to have money for all the things you want to do in life and how great it feels being able to buy the things you want without having to beg, borrow or steal (don't ever steal by the way!).

Knowledge is the most powerful weapon you can have. I will try to educate you in your early years as best I can but please carry on educating yourself throughout your life. Knowledge is the most powerful thing you can have in life, you can truly inspire, win over and help people with your knowledge. It will be your best asset in life if you learn to nurture it and explore the wealth of knowledge this world has to offer you.

You will make mistakes in life and that's okay. Everyone makes mistakes in life, it's part of human nature, It's how we learn and grow and although these mistakes may seem like the worst thing in the world at the time you will get over them and be a stronger person at the end of them all. I will try my very best to be there for you through these mistakes, guide you and help you in any way I can, you just need to confide in me and let me be there for you.

Never regret anything. This links to the above piece about mistakes, to live with regret is not to live at all and I know this from my own personal experience. I never want you to feel regret, it's the worst feeling in the world. I want you to look at things positively and think if those things never happened then you wouldn't have the life you have now. Putting a positive spin on things really makes a huge difference to how you live your life.

To always remember the happy times and smile. A time will one day come when your father and I may no longer be here, when that time comes I don't want you to be sad, I want you to smile and remember all the happy times we had and all our adventures - you'll have a million pictures to look back on so you have no excuse not to really! I want you to laugh when you think of all the silly things we did, laughing is so much better than crying and you can be guaranteed that wherever I am up in Heaven I'll be looking down on you. You are forever in my heart and soul.

That I am here for you, always. It doesn't matter what age you are, whatever you need to talk about, whatever time of the day it is, I am here for you, always. All you have to do is come to me, get in contact with me however you can, even if it's just for a chat, even if it's just so you can hear someone tell you how proud they are of you, I will always be here. Never forget that.

My darling boy, these are the things I want you to know. I have no doubt that there will be other lessons and words of wisdom I shall pass on to you along the way, but right now, three weeks before your second birthday, these are the things I really want you to know in life. I hope you'll remember my words and embrace them throughout your life. I'll have to print out this page and stick it in your scrapbook so you can read my words whenever you want, whenever you need to reflect and need a bit of guidance and reassurance that everything will be okay. Mama knows best and is always right, I learnt that from your Nana.

I love you LeeLee, always remember that and never change.



Two Seasons In One Day ♥

Winter and snowdrops in the background, spring and daffodils in the foreground.
On Saturday my boys and I visited one of my favourite places again, the magical Blarney Castle and gardens. I had been wanting to go up there again to take a few snaps every since I had received my new camera for Christmas and I'm delighted with the images I captured there on Saturday. I want to be more creative with my photography this year, I want to capture not only moments but colours, places and the emotions of people around me in their full glory. Capturing people is my favourite type of photography, I just love capturing a moment in time from someone's life but this year I'm trying to push myself and capture the beauty of the world around me in images too. The above image is one of my favourites that I captured, it shows winter and it's snowdrops in the background with spring and it's daffodils in the foreground. I cannot believe that in January the buds of spring are already blooming but I was delighted to see them, there's no better sight than the splash of yellow colour that daffodils bring, it signifies that spring and it's warmer weather are on the way.

 Walking down one of the avenues of the grounds I was greeted by little white snowdrops blooming through the dead leaves of autumn and winter. Snowdrops are one of my favourite flowers, I think they're so dainty and pretty so I had to stop and take some pictures of them to remember the prettiness that winter can bring. In the distance, right at the end of the avenue, I noticed a splash of yellow colour, the photographer in me just had to go and investigate.

 When I reached the very end of the avenue I was greeted by a sea of gorgeous, golden daffodils in full bloom. I couldn't believe how many of them there were. I've always loved spring, ever since I was a little girl. There's something so magical about the season which makes it stand out from the rest for me. I love the colour it brings and all the new life. I think it also helps that my birthday is in spring which makes me like the season even more, and Easter of course with all it's chocolate. I love that I was able to capture two seasons in one photo and in the aspect which I did too - winter in the background and spring in the foreground, it just shows a glimpse of what's to come, a new season full of growth, colour and hopefully warmth!

I'll be sharing some of my other captures from Blarney Castle and Gardens later in the week as part of my Guide of Cork but I couldn't help but share these beautiful blooms first. I shared the first picture on Instagram and people couldn't believe that daffodils were in bloom already, it seems spring has arrived in Ireland far quicker than it has anywhere else.

What is your favourite spring flower?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

W7 In The Night Palette | Review & Giveaway ♥

Lately I've been loving the W7 range of eyeshadow palettes, not only are some of them amazing dupes for the Urban Decay Naked palettes but they offer twelve great quality eye shadows for just €8 - such a bargain price! After Christmas I picked up the In the Night Palette, I spotted it in my local pharmacy and couldn't resist the gorgeous smokey shades it has to offer. The palette comes encased in a pretty purple tin and it has a party vibe to it with the shadow names having a magic and party theme to them and I have to admit I really do love the names.

In the Night offers a gorgeous range of shades from silvers to violets with dusky and coppery tones in between. All of the shades are quite blendable and can be used together to create a range of smokey eye looks perfect for nights out. However, I also wear some of these shades on their own and think they're fine for everyday wear too, I think this palette has great versatility when it comes to the shades it has to offer, which is impressive considering the absolute bargain of a price is costs. 

 The twelve shadow names, from left to right in the palette are Dusty, Wonderland, Summer, Atlanta, Abracadabra, Top Hot, Razzamataz, Lady Luck, Laura E, Party Pooper, Gate Crash and Bologna. My favourites out of the shades are Wonderland, Summer, Abracadabra and Lady Luck - as usual I find myself preferring the lighter shades in the palette. The eye shadows have a shimmer to them which is great for the party theme the palette has, being completely honest I much prefer shimmer shades to matte.

 The colour payoff from the shadows is great, as you can see from the swatches. I use every shadow in the palette apart from Bologna as I just find it too dark for me but that's just personal preference, for €8 I really don't mind not using one shadow from the palette. In the Night is a palette which really does offer something for everyone, the shades it has are suitable for both light and dark skin tones and a variety of bold and subtle looks can be created using them all too. I've seen this palette and the other W7 palettes in various pharmacies around my city but it's also available here for just £4.99.

When I got my palette I also picked up one for one of my lucky blog readers. I thought the In the Night palette would make a lovely little Valentines giveaway prize - perfect for dolling yourself up for a date or if you're heading out for a night with the girls. This giveaway is open worldwide and will end on February 2nd, giving me the perfect amount of time to post to the winner in time for Valentines Day. You can enter via the Rafflecopter below and best of luck to everyone who enters!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What do you think of the W7 In the Night Palette? What's your favourite shade? 

Shopping For Home Items On A Budget ♥

My £2 bargain cushions and £18 bargain bedding.
 Partaking in budget shopping is one of the great challenges of the material world, particularly if you don’t know how to do it. It might seem easy enough in theory, but in practice it can feel a lot like searching for a ten-dollar Lamborghini (in other words: impossible). The issue lies in not knowing exactly where to look, which is one of the perils of having too many options! But once you know where all the bargains live, the road to reduced spending will feel considerably less steep. Here are a few tips on how to shop for home items on a budget.

Online Sites
Online shopping is often the most cost-effective and time-effective way to shop. You might also prefer this option if you are trying to save money on petrol, train fares, or other expensive means of transportation. Say you are shopping for authentic bedding products, but they are simply out of reach. An online store that specialises in such items, such as MiniJumbuk, can have your wool quilts, blankets and other bedroom items shipped to you before you know it, without you ever having to leave the house. If you would rather buy the item in person, there is always the option of seeing it online first, instead of having to trek all the way to the store only to be utterly disappointed with what you find. Online membership and email alerts will also give you the upper hand because you’ll be the first to know when a sale is on or a price has been reduced.

Markets and Yards
Markets are perhaps the most accessible form of budget shopping, simply because of the way in which they do business. You see the item, you like it, you pay in cash and you leave. No strings attached. But the most appealing thing about the markets is that they tend to be unbelievably cheap, which is why debit card systems are rarely needed. You should also take advantage of any yard sales in your area, because they tend to be initiated for purposes other than to earn money, meaning the prices will be very generous (sometimes even free!)

Specials and Sales
Depending on where you’re shopping, prices are often reduced later in the day. If you’re grocery shopping, keep an eye out for any specials because chances are they’ll be everywhere, particularly during the festive seasons. Make sure you also find out when the major stocktaking sales are in your area. These tend to follow Christmas and the end of the financial year but, in many regards, sales are constant. Clothes, for instance, have clearance sales at the end of each season. As soon as the summer stock’s in, the winter clothes couldn’t clear out faster. So don’t miss out, as they say.

When shopping on a budget, it is important not to think of yourself as cheap. There is nothing cheap about spending with care, and having a budget will open your eyes to this notion. Budgeting gives you a chance to better your organisation skills and to be a more sensible shopper in general. Consider the above options and you’ll have more affordable home items than you’ll know what to do with.

Do you find it easy to shop of home items on a budget? Where do you find most of your bargains?
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