Monday, July 31, 2017

Me & Mine {July 2017} ♥

It's been a bit of a strange month for us as a family, with a mixture of highs and lows filling up our days. To be honest, I'll be glad when we get past August, are settled in the new house we're going to live in for the next eleven months - I won't say 'home' as it's going to feel anything but home, it most definitely will not feel like 'ours'.

The current house we're living in is now filled with boxes and things strewn everywhere, yet to be decided whether or not they're coming with us and what box they belong in. Throw in two wild children and you can understand why this past month we've been trying to get out of the house as much as we possibly can.

We've visited a lot of places this month and I've even gone on some 'just mummy and us adventures' with the boys, finding the confidence to drive to another county all by myself. We've gone to Leahy's Open Farm, Ardmore Open Farm and Ardmore Village, had a lovely night's stay at Killashee Hotel, went to the Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens and had a lovely afternoon strolling around Lismore Castle Gardens, where these shots were captured - thank goodness for tripods!

We have at least one more definite adventure planned for August but I hope that we're able to keep up the traveling and sight-seeing for another while yet.

This month Jacek is loving:
The new season of Game of Thrones
Having a night away 
Seeing the Japanese Garden
Having a lovely dinner at Killashee 
Getting some lie-ins

This month I'm loving:
Having lots of days out
Having a relaxing facial for the first time - I need to visit the spa a lot more!
Enjoying a yummy afternoon tea
Taking lots of photos and sharing our adventures on the blog
Finding gorgeous vintage clothes for Beau

This month Tyler is loving:
Balamory - he wants to go on holiday there
Playing with our neighbours little girl out in the garden
Lots of ice-creams
His new Peppa Pig toys
Playing Sylvanian Families

This month Beau is loving:
His Leapfrog house
Splashing in the tide
Crawling and doing roly polys on the grass
Getting up to absolute mischief and putting things down the toilet!
Watching In the Night Garden and Twirlywoos

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Irish National Stud & Japanese Garden, Co. Kildare ♥

This week we went on a little family adventure up the country, where we stayed in the beautiful Killashee Hotel and took a trip to the Irish National Stud and Japanese Garden for the first time.

The Japanese Gardens are somewhere I've been wanting to go for years now (ever since I saw that little red bridge symbol on Winning Streak!) and I'm so glad I finally got to visit and with my boys in tow too. I think it's lovely that we're able to visit all these sites together, our trips will make for great memories in years to come.

To be honest, we weren't too bothered about the National Stud and as it turns out, I only spotted two horses when I was there - not that I was openly looking for them though.

Our main attraction to the place was getting to see the Japanese Garden, so once we had paid to get in that was the first place we went.

The garden itself is gorgeous and has a very calming atmosphere to it - even though I was trying to run after my four year old most of the time!

There are many stops along the paths where you can pause and take a minute to take in the beauty surrounding you. The garden is laid out in such a thoughtful way and it really is such a lovely place to be in - I'd gladly return one day in the future just for the atmosphere of the place alone.

There are two paths you can take, one is the easy path which is suitable for buggies, wheelchair users, etc. I firstly went along the easy path as I had Beau in his buggy, whilst Jacek and Tyler headed off through the rocky path.

The other (and more adventurous!) path, the rocky path, leads you through flowers, trees, shrubs and up and down rocky alcoves. It was actually a lot of fun discovering all the different areas of the garden by this path, but you definitely need to have your wits about you going around it as there are so slanty stones to be careful of along the way.

The most iconic part of the garden is of course the red bridge and thankfully we were able to take a few pictures here whilst there was a lull in the crowds coming into the garden.

The garden also boasts a lovely tea house, the veranda of which you can walk around and a little waterfall, which you walk across the front of on stepping stones.

Tyler and I walked across the stepping stones together and we both got through okay. Then he decided to go back along again and ended up stepping into the water - the joys of exploring with young children, we feet for the day!

It's a beautiful spot and I'm so glad I finally got to visit. The rocky path is a real treat and there's lots of look out points along the way to take in the beauty of the garden.

I was worried that the Japanese Garden might not be a suitable place to bring children, after all, I'd associate the place with quiet, tranquility and zen - the total opposite to my children, but it was fine and they actually really enjoyed their time there.

Tyler had a great time going up and down the rocky path - faster than any of the rest of us too I may add, the boy has no fear. He thought it was a great adventure! My heart is never in my mouth with him anymore because he's well able and he loves venturing off in front of us, eager to explore.

The grounds of the National Stud are beautiful, boasting a lake surrounded by willow trees with ducks and swans in it, lots of flower adorned buildings and there's also St. Fiachra's Garden, monastic cells and black abbey - all of which we didn't get to see as we were tight for time before having to drive back home to Cork, but this only gives us an excuse to visit again.

As I said, we weren't actually to bothered about seeing the horses, but for horse lovers you can walk around the stud farm, passing the paddocks to view the stallions, mares and foals.

In the Sun Chariot Yard - where the foaling unit is also located, there was face painting and pony rides for kids, which are in included in the price of the entry ticket - this is great as days out with the kids can get quite costly if you have to pay for all the 'add ons'. The line for the face painting was significantly shorter than the pony ride one so we opted for that. Tyler loved getting his face painted as a tiger. It was a shame we couldn't wait in the pony ride line, but I'm sure he'll get a chance to ride one again at another time. He absolutely loved his pony ride in Leahy's Open Farm.

There's also an Irish Fairy Door Company fair trail around the National Stud, which is great for little ones who love fairies and all things magical. Tyler had great fun spotting the colourful little doors along the way.

He was most impressed though by the playground, which as playgrounds go, really was fantastic. Beau also had a great time on the swings there and there were chairs for parents to sit on outside a little cafe, which was sadly closed.

Before we left we stopped by the restaurant before we headed off home in the car. The prices were okay in there, €25 fed and watered us all and left us ready for the long drive ahead.

I wish we had had more time to spend at the Irish National Stud and Japanese Garden, it really is such a lovely place and we all enjoyed it. Next time we find ourselves in Co. Kildare we'll definitely pay the place a visit again.
The Irish National Stud and Japanese Garden are open for 9 months of the year - they close in the winter. Tickets are €12.50 for adults and €6.50 for children - children under 4 go free. If you book online tickets are €1 cheaper. I'd highly recommend a visit!

 *This is not a collaborative post. We paid for our own entry into the Irish National Stud and Japanese Garden.


The Psychology of Colour Guide ♥

 * This is a collaborative post

Back in my university days I studied psychology and have always been interested in how the mind works and how people think, but one aspect I never really looked into was the psychology of colour.

Today I'm sharing this Psychology of Colour guide from Thomas Sanderson, to show how colour can affect your mood and feeling within your own home. It's amazing how much colour can actually influence us.

For example, did you know that having shades of red in a kitchen can make you feel significantly hungrier? I guess that's why my boys are always looking for food! Also, the brain releases more serotonin when around yellow, so it really is a happy colour!

As we live in a rental property, our walls are painted in whites and magnolias, so I use soft furnishings and artwork to give hints of colour in each room.

I have a keen interest in all things interior design - I am constantly finding inspiration for my dream home and pinning decor ideas away on Pinterest, so this guide gave me some food for thought. Hopefully you find it interesting and helpful when it comes to decorating your home too.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Our Family Stay At Killashee Hotel, Co. Kildare ♥

Early this week we set off on a much needed family break to the beautiful Killashee Hotel, Co. Kildare. Ever since our holiday to Jersey back at the beginning of June I've been longing for us to get away again and since I've been dying to see more of the sights around Ireland, I was delighted when Killashee Hotel offered us the chance to visit.

Jacek and I have previously visited Killashee Hotel last year and it was such a lovely place that left a lasting impression on us, so we were delighted at the prospect of returning, this time with our boys in tow.

The hotel was just as we remembered - welcoming, stunning, charming, with beautiful grounds to stroll through and large, spacious bedrooms to relax in. Killashee is very family-friendly and we were glad to see other guests there with children too - safety in numbers and all that!

Our room was large enough to fit the four of us - Beau in a travel cot, Tyler on a camp bed (which Beau thought was a trampoline!) and Jacek and I in a four poster bed. The bathroom in our room was absolutely massive, possibly the biggest bathroom I have ever seen and with a shower and separate bath, it was a perfect space for the boys and us to use.

Another lovely touch to our room was the welcome plate we received from the hotel with chocolate, strawberries and a little cake. The boys devoured the chocolate and strawberries!

We had a long drive from Cork to Kildare and the only thing really keeping Tyler sane was the prospect of enjoying a play in the playground once we reached the hotel, so after checking out our room and dropping our bags we went out to the grounds for a walk.

Our first stop was the butterfly garden, which is a beautiful spot to sit and relax in, with a lovely view of the fields in one direction and of beautiful Killashee Hotel itself in the other.

We spotted lots of lovely butterflies there enjoying all the purple flowers and this butterfly in particular had a stunning pattern on it's wings - I don't think I've ever seen this type of butterfly before.

Killashee Hotel boasts a lovely little fairy trail and Tyler enjoyed spotting the fairy doors and houses along the way. However, once we reached the playground, we were disappointed to see it under construction and we had a very upset little boy for the rest of our outdoor time that afternoon.

Even roly polys on the grass with his baby brother couldn't cheer him up. Tyler is the type of child who loves his visits to the playground. I have been informed that the playground at Killashee will be reopened on August 8th, so it will be available for use to families who visit after this time.

Tyler did love sitting in the summer house though and pretending it was his house. He took great fondness to the yellow chair in there. It's decorated really nicely in there with lovely tiles and a patchwork of wallpaper on the walls, making it a great place to enjoy, especially in the summer months.

After the disappointment with the playground, we decided to take the boys to the indoor playroom, which we remembered from our previous visit. However, when we got there Tyler was left disappointed once again as there were no toys up there bar a dolls house and a lorry - which Beau swiftly took off with. It's such a shame as I remembered the room being great from our last visit and it's such a great space for the kids to play in too, but Tyler became bored after five minutes and the only thing to cheer him up was the promise of cake.

I have been told that the reason for the lack of toys in the indoor playroom was that they were downstairs in the camp room - the kids camp running in July and August.

We decided to take the boys for afternoon tea and were delighted to find out it was being served in the conservatory as this is such a gorgeous, bright space looking out to the grounds. Our afternoon tea arrived quickly - with ice-cream and cookies also being served to the boys. You can also read about our afternoon tea experience last year here.

I enjoyed a glass of prosecco with my afternoon tea and the whole thing was really delicious - I especially loved the apple and rhubarb battenburg, so yummy!

After our afternoon tea I headed to the Villa Spa to experience the new Elemis Biotec Firm-a-lift Facial treatment. The spa was just as welcoming and relaxing as last time I had visited and the lady doing my facial was so friendly and she immediately put me at ease. The facial was amazing! It's actually done using a mixture of hand and machine movements across the face, which help the skin to absorb the product. The facial also helps lift the contour lines - great for my chin area and I could see a visible difference in my skin after my treatment. I'm now wanting to visit the spa on a regular basis, the relaxation was just what I needed. The Elemis Biotec Facials are €115 for 55 minutes and, in my opinion, are worth every penny.

In the spa I also got to experience the relaxation room after my treatment and was given some refreshing sorbet and water to enjoy whilst I was there. This time around I didn't get to visit the hydro-pool as I had stupidly left my swimming costume at home, but the place was just as calming and relaxing as I had remembered it to be.

We arrived at the Bistro restaurant for dinner at 7 and I was panicking a bit as Beau is usually in bed at this time and we don't really take the boys out to eat all that much, so I was worried that they wouldn't sit down and eat! However, the people serving us took our orders quickly, brought a colouring page and crayons for the kids and our food arrived very quickly.

The boys had a trio of melon for starters, which they both devoured. The also had chicken goujons and chips for main which they also enjoyed. Jacek had the ribs for starter and the bass for main, both of which he really enjoyed and I had the vegetable soup and the Bistro burger, both of which were very tasty and left me feeling full. We had to abandon our plans of having dessert as the boys started acting up, but we were impressed with the food in the Bistro and the service was great.

We all had a very comfy nights sleep in the room - the four poster bed was amazing! I was surprised with how quickly the boys settled considering we were all in the one room, but they were absolutely fine - thankfully!

Breakfast was served in Turners Restaurant and there was a wide selection of food available - a buffet as well as a menu you could order from. We opted for the buffet as we wanted to feed the boys quickly. They were able to tuck into fruit and have sausages and croissants afterwards too. I loved that there was such a variety available for breakfast, and I think it's great that Killashee offer this.

Killashee Hotel offers a kids club between half nine and twelve in July and August, we didn't bring Tyler to it though as he went for a morning nap when Beau did - he must have found the room very comfy!

The hotel also has a swimming pool, which is located in the leisure club on the hotel grounds.

Killashee Hotel is a gorgeous place to stay as a family. We really enjoyed the grounds, the afternoon tea was delicious (and surprisingly manageable with two small children!), the room was spacious enough to accommodate us all, the food was lovely and the staff were very friendly and helpful.

It was a shame about the playground and the indoor playroom, but hopefully these will be finished/upgraded soon.

Killashee Hotel also offers a 10% discount for shops within Kildare Village and two for the price of one visits to many attractions situated near the hotel, including the National Stud and Japanese Gardens - which we visited before we went home (I'll share our experience there in another blog post). So whether it's a spot of shopping or family days out you're looking to enjoy, Killashee Hotel really does offer the perfect place to stay within the Kildare area.

*We were guests of the hotel and our stay and meals were complimentary. We paid for the afternoon tea ourselves. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own.
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