Monday, 29 June 2015

                                                                        June Favourites

I have such an affinity for favourites posts. Whenever I read them, I’m always scrambling for my moleskin to jot down a new hidden gem. I love discovering what other people have been enjoying over the past month; whether that be a new book or a concealer that makes me look less like Brain from Pinky and the Brain (Side note: he was for sure the inventor of “resting bitch face”!) Without further ado here are all the things that have floated my boat/tickled my fancy/rocked my socks over the past month.

Starting with beauty, this month I’ve been loving two products in particular. The first one is a perfume from the perfume bar, Ydentik, located on 35 Princes Street. The one I’ve been liberally spritzing throughout June is 212 Fierceness, a dupe for the well-known Fierce by Abercrombie and Fitch. I’ve been wearing Fierce for years and years. It’s definitely my signature scent; in fact friends and family can often smell me before they see me as I lash it on! Fierce is technically meant to be a cologne…but f$ck the patriarchy, this is the 21st century and I’ll smell like a man if I want to ;) I joke! It’s just that I find a lot of women’s fragrances to be unbearably sweet and I like the warm, almost spicy undertones to Fierce. I just tell myself it’s unisex and move on (insert Friends joke here regarding Joey’s confusion over the word “unisex”!) The only downside to the Abercrombie fragrance is the price tag; Fierce is an apt description! A 50ml bottle will set you back around €66. Ydentik offers fragrances that smell exactly like their high-end counterparts, but for a fraction of the cost. A 55ml bottle of 212 is just €18.99 and I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between it and the Abercrombie one. It’s also really long-lasting, so if you’re in the market for a new perfume, pop into their shop or have a browse on the website for more info.


On the same vein of beautifully scented things, this month I’ve discovered perhaps my favourite dry
shampoo. It’s from the Ruth Crilly collection for the brand COLAB and it’s the London fragrance. Described as “a classic yet contemporary fragrance of bergamot, musk and magnolia”, it’s wonderfully fresh and really revitalizes your hair, without leaving any tacky residue or making you look like you’re going prematurely grey! The range also comes in mini edition, which would be ideal for travelling or going to a festival. I picked mine up from Penneys.


June has granted me considerably more free time than I’m accustomed to after college finished up for the year. SO MUCH MORE TIME FOR ACTIVITIES! ;) I’ve made some new discoveries in the world of television, music and literature that I’d like to share with you. The first of which is a programme I have absolutely been glued to called Penny Dreadful. I came to hear about the show as one of my closest friends actually featured as an extra on it (I know all the cool kids!) I’m usually not one to get too hooked on television programmes, with the exception of Friends and Breaking Bad. I don’t even really watch that much tv. When I heard about the plot, I was even more sceptical…horror/fantasy isn’t really my cup of tea. I didn’t know how a show set in 19th century Britain, with such an extensive range of characters including, Dr. Frankenstein, witches, a werewolf, vampire/demon hybrid m’bobers and Dorian Gray could really transpire to be a gripping or convincing show…but it really is! The show’s title refers to a popular British publication from the 19th century that focused on the dark and the sinister. Penny Dreadful is in its second season on Sky Atlantic, shown every Tuesday at ten o’ clock. I highly recommend you go and catch up on the first season and continue onto the second. Just prepare to devote your entire day to saying “Just one more episode!”…You have been warned!

I’m never without my earphones, whether that be on the walk to work, tidying my room or even going to sleep. I’m therefore always on the hunt for new artists and this month a friend (same one that’s in Penny Dreadful…she’s certainly a keeper!) recommended me to the band Public Service Broadcasting. The London duo combine public service announcements, archive news and propaganda with a variety of music, often electronic, which normally I’m not the greatest fan of, but the modernity of the sound really enhances the antiquity of the spoken word. The old with the new really blends well to create something so unique. PSB often use extracts from particularly famous speeches, such as the one JFK gave at Rice University on the 12th of September, 1962 where he declared the rationale behind the first lunar exploration programme. For someone with a particular affinity for English and History, I find powerful speeches like this, which have endured the test of time, utterly fascinating. They offer a snapshot of history to the modern audience. A blend of both emotive content and exquisite cadence lends to the creation of an epic piece of history and firmly consolidated longevity. What I love about Public Service Broadcasting is the transportive quality of the music. You become immersed in the narrative. Some of my favourites from the band are “The Race For Space”, “Go!” and “Waltz for George”. Have a listen on their website!

The best book I've read throughout June has to be The Girl On The Train, by Paula Hawkins. Lauded by literary critics of late, Hawkins' book centres on three female protagonists, all of which are inextricably linked. Rachel, who narrates the lion's share of the book, has been pushed to the periphery of society. With a burgeoning alcohol addiction and a failed marriage, Rachel takes the same time train every morning and evening under the pretence of going to work to conceal from her roommate that she has actually been fired. Everyday the train stops at a signal in front of a row of cosy suburban houses and Rachel gazes in on the peaceful domesticity, pining after the life she once had. She takes a particular interest in a young couple, inventing herself a little narrative about their lives and places them on a pedestal. One day, she witnesses something which tarnishes this image of serene perfection and which later Rachel feels has a connection to the disappearance of the woman in the relationship. The trio of narrators, Rachel, the woman who has disappeared, Megan and Anna, Rachel's ex-husband's new wife, layers the narrative with different perspectives, yet none of them can be fully trusted. As the situation intensifies and the disappearance turns into a murder case, Hawkins tantalises the reader with a slow build up. I really don't want to divulge too  much for those who may wish to read it, but it really is fantastic! As many people have noted, the book has definite Hitchcockian tones to it and the language is clear  and concise (perhaps owing to the fact that the author began her career as a journalist)  but not without style. If you want to distract your mind, definitely check out this thriller!

I’ve also made some wonderful discoveries in the world of snacks throughout the month of June. During the sunny days we’ve been enjoying, I’ve looked no further than the Del Monte Raspberry Iced Smoothie Lolly. They’re made with real fruit and don’t contain any preservatives or artificial colours/flavours or sweeteners….surely that warrants me having an abundance of them throughout the month, right?!

In the evening, with a cup of tea, I’ve gotten hooked on the Nakd Berry Delight Bites. These are very healthy, as they only contain dates, cashews, raisins, raspberries, a little rice floury and a hint of natural berry flavouring and that’s it. By George, they’re delicious! They come in two flavours, my favourite is the berry version, but the cacao version is quite nice too. I picked mine up from Centra.

On the not so healthy (yet equally delicious) side, I’ve been loving Orchard Thieves on sunny days! It tastes far more appley than most ciders and is super refreshing!

I hope you have enjoyed my mixed bag of favourites this week. Here’s to new discoveries in July! Hope everyone has a lovely month and thanks for reading.

Until next Monday,


Monday, 22 June 2015

City Slicker

So last week I spent a substantial amount of time in a new part of the city and it gave me a new found appreciation for just how pretty some areas of Cork are. It can be quite quaint, what with the old red bricked buildings, undulating hills and charming little churches. As well as this, there is a plethora of unique cafes and enticing spots, if only one knows where to look. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beer holder beholder ;) Here is my perfect day out in the city!

Wake yourself up and get a great start to the day by heading to Café Gusto located on Washington Street. This is one of my favourite cafes in the city, especially for breakfast. The premises was converted from an antique shop in the summer of 1941 and the café still retains a retro vibe, all black and white tiled and their signature bike parked outside. As well as this, the staff are super friendly and the ambiance is really chilled. I love sitting by the window, tucking into some porridge and tea and watching people pass as the city begins to wake up and come to life.

Gusto has a great breakfast selection, from porridge with a variety of toppings to granola and Greek yogurt to a power breakfast smoothie. It's also quite affordable, so I can manage my affinity for going out for breakfast on a regular basis without too much difficulty! Have a browse on their
website and check it out if you haven’t already been :)

If the sun is out, there is no better place in the city to head than Fitzgerald’s Park. For someone who’s (to put it mildly!) quite highly strung, I find being out in the fresh air and large open spaces a big stress alleviator. The park has a tangible atmosphere of tranquillity that feels like an instant tonic to the spirit. The lush vegetation, pretty bridges and ubiquitous smiling faces make any day a little brighter.


When I have free time, one of my favourite things to do is grab a take away salad from
Rocket Man, sunnies and my earphones and I might as well be on the Costa Del Sol for all the relaxation it brings me! I particularly love sitting on the benches by the waterlily-adorned pond and watching the world go by :)

It's really nice to see the park being utilised to its full potential with the exciting events occurring throughout the summer season. Check out the happenings here :)

When it comes to dinner, you'd be hard pressed to get me to go anywhere other than Wagamamas! I have a mild obsession and have vetted all friends/family to ensure they share this love (just about joking on that one!) Pretty sure I'm known by the staff in there as "number 41 girl" because I always order the same thing, Yasai Yaki Soba (stir fried vegetables and noodles). They also do lovely juices and a refreshing homemade lemonade. Check out the full menu here for any newbies out there. The service is so quick and the staff are just the bees knees :)

Somewhere which isn't talked about enough in the city is Triskel and it's just a hidden gem. Every time I go there I find myself mesmerised by the beauty of the place. The eighteen century church was originally of Anglo-Norman construction, until it was destroyed in the siege of 1690 and reconstructed in 1725 with the beautiful Romanesque architecture that's visible today. In 1978, the church ceased to be a place of worship and is now used as a venue for small scale gigs, as a cinema to screen antique and indie films and as a gallery to exhibit visual art. I absolutely love going to the cinema and attend quite frequently. Recently I went to see the Derry born musician,
SOAK play there and it was just magical. The acoustics there were so smooth and it felt so intimate. If you haven't heard of her before, do check out her music, both her style and sound is very unique. Triskel's manifesto is that they aim to "facilitate works of excellence in Music, Visual Arts, Cinema, and other art forms. We want to make these works as available as possible to everyone", which I think is really admirable and something which I feel they definitely achieve. Have a sconce on their website to see upcoming events.


If Cork does one thing well, it's pubs! Of course there are the really well known, well frequented ones, but I prefer the well established golden oldies. My favourite of the lot is Tom Barry's, located on Barrack Street.



It's well worth the trek up the hill and ideal for a quiet few drinks with a couple of people. Although quite small in size, the pub has an extensive heated beer garden to the rear and more often than not, a fire lighting inside (could that be more up my alley?!) It almost has a domestic feel to it that's really enhanced by the friendly bar staff. It's the perfect way to round up the perfect day in Cork :)

Until next Monday's craic,

                                                   Amy. x

Monday, 15 June 2015

Felicity of Expression
"Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another." - Napoleon Hill

The idea that words inflict no wounds is, to me, ludicrous. I try to live my life by the golden rule, the words of wisdom from the big man himself. I am of course referring to Albus Percievel Wolfic Brian Dumbledore and his particularly apt life quote, "Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it". Mind=blown.

Language is simultaneously an art form and a mathematical equation. In perfect synchronicity, these give rise to linguistic masterpieces; poetry, songs and books that inspire, console and uplift us. Assembled in a clumsy combination however, words can strike a chord, and a bum note at that.

Unlike a physical attack, a hurtful remark does not leave the victim outwardly damaged, but is equally detrimental to the individual's health. Vulnerability, insecurities and doubts can be massively exacerbated when an external source critiques what may well have been an internal worry. If you tell someone something often enough, they will inevitably start to believe it, so why would you want this to be something negative? Why would you want to be the reason someone feels they are not smart enough, not pretty enough, not good enough? From Ellen DeGeneres' famous catch phrase "Be kind to one another" to the Dali Lama's message, "Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them", the promotion of kindness is everywhere, endorsed by many, but on a daily basis are we mere mortals practicing this? Whether we chose to acknowledge it or not, on some level the opinions of others do matter to us. I think it is particularly difficult in this country to know when teasing jibes turn into hurtful comments. "Banter" is something which is imbued in Irish culture and is all well and good, great in fact, as it means no one takes themselves too seriously, but I think it is vital to know when to lay off and not to cross the line into spiteful territory. Some things, once said, cannot be unsaid and cannot be unheard by the object of the criticism. By the same token, I am not encouraging people to be disingenuous. I am merely encouraging people to be mindful, be aware.

In saying this, I am fully aware that things I may have said in the past may have caused others offence but I will continue to endeavour to select words that remedy rather than injure. In short, no one truly knows what sequence of words will trigger someone else into a spiral of doubt and self-questioning, so my point is, just like the label on a box containing fragile objects: Handle with care.

Amy. x

Monday, 8 June 2015

Confessions of a Breakfastoholic
"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.”
― A.A. Milne
My main man, Winnie was on the money with his views on breakfast, I heartily concur! I absolutely love having breakfast and always give myself plenty of time in the morning to sit down, read a little or listen to some music, and tuck into something delicious. I find the routine comforting and am always at my least anxious in the early hours. I never skip it, in fact I’m more akin to Pippin in The Lord of the Rings looking for “second breakfast”! Being a creature of habit, I alternate between three different options and rarely stray into new territory! Below are the details of the big three!

Option One: Green Mint Smoothie
This has to be my all-time favourite smoothie. Inspired by a Madeline Shaw recipe, it contains mint, spinach, banana and unsweetened almond milk. I find it a great one to have in the morning because of how calming and refreshing it is. Mint is great for aiding digestion and is also a natural stimulant, giving you plenty of energy for the day ahead. The spinach gives it a lovely green colour and also blends really well; if it’s good enough for pop-eye, it’s good enough for me! I feel like bananas have gotten a bad rap of late because of their sugar content. I must admit, that up until about a year ago, I was an ardent banana-avoider, simply because I wasn’t educated enough about them. I didn’t understand that not all sugars are created equally and fructose, the naturally occurring sugar in fruit is broken down much slower than some of its counterparts. It also does not spike insulin, meaning you avoid the sugar rollercoaster (that’s for the evening when I have my barrel of tea accompanied by a purple snack/a galaxy salted caramel bar/copious amount of chocolate hobnobs!) Anyway, enough rambling, here are the ingredients and instructions for the smoothie:
(Serves one…quite generously!)
  • 4-5 leaves of fresh mint (or more depending on preference)
  • Generous handful of spinach    
  • 1 frozen banana (you could just use a fresh one, but frozen makes the smoothie lovely and cold and extra refreshing)
  • 400ml unsweetened almond milk (I’d recommend using unsweetened over sweetened here as the smoothie turns out too sickly if you use sweetened.)
.......This is awkward...blend! Serve in a little jar with a whimsical straw if you want to feel all Cath Kidstony!
Option Two: Baked Oats:
Oats are definitely my most loved go-to breakfast. They’re inexpensive, healthy and rocket fuel for the day ahead! Recently, I watched a segment on Ireland AM about a woman of a hundred years old. When asked for some life advise, she said the diet she lived off all her life is porridge in the morning and red wine at night, a diet I could certainly conform to and a true testament to the benefits of oats. I love them in any way shape or form, but the reigning champion has to be baked oats! If you haven’t tried baking your oats before, do give it a go. Although it does take slightly longer, it really enhances the flavour and is well worth the wait. The bananas get much sweeter and the blueberries get more tart. In this recipe, inspired by author and blogger, Ella Woodward, I use a combination of spices, fruits and nuts to create a delicious petit dejeuner. It’s all down to personal preference however; if you don’t like blueberries, use raspberries or if you don’t like nuts you can leave them out entirely, it’s up to you.
Ingredients (serves one):
  • Half cup oats
  • A splash of almond milk (sweetened or unsweetened will do)
  • Handful of walnuts
  • Handful of blueberries
  • 1 banana
  • 2tsp cinnamon
Preheat your oven to about 180 degrees celsius. Measure out a half cup of oats and place them in a bowl. Add boiling water until the oats are just covered. Set aside for a few minutes. While the oats are soaking, whiz the walnuts in a blender/food processor for only a second or two (they should still look crunchy). Alternatively, you could just finely chop them. Add the nuts, along with two teaspoons of cinnamon (or more if you'd like) to the oats. Chop up half a banana and add this to the mixture. Add the blueberries, a splash of almond milk and stir. Pour the mixture into a small baking dish and chop up the other half of the banana, placing it on top. Bake for about 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool for as long as your patience will tolerate and enjoy!
*Tip: Some grated nutmeg is also really lovely in this recipe. You can find it in most health food shops, in the English Market, or sometimes in Tiger on Patrick Street. Occasionally, I also like to add a dessert spoon of maple syrup. I use an Irish brand called Louis' Maple Syrup which is a really high quality one, with no additives or preservatives, just 100% pure maple syrup. Until recently, I was unaware of the fantastic health benefits of maple syrup, I just thought it tasted delicious, but it actually contains fifty four antioxidants and is also a good source of zinc and riboflavin, which aids the metabolic process. Anytime I have it, I think of the episode of Friends, where Ross goes do-lally on maple candy, so it gets more of a bonus for giggle value.

Option Three: Layered Yogurt:
This one is super quick, healthy and delicious. It’s also a nice one to make if you have people over for breakfast (which I often do as my dinner making skills are lacking!) It can be adapted according to taste, but my go-to combination is Greek yogurt, blueberries, banana, chia seeds and granola. It’s preferable to soak the chia seeds overnight, but you can do it in the morning, just leave them about fifteen minutes. For such a tiny seed, they’re generating a lot of talk and the moment and for good reason; chia seeds contain a multitude of vitamins and minerals, like OMEGA 3, calcium, iron and magnesium. They are also a good source of fibre and protein, quite the all-rounder! You can eat them on their own (they’re entirely tasteless) but they digest quicker if you soak them in liquid. When you prepare them this way, they puff up and grow in size, just don’t be put off by the texture *insert Irish mammy voice here, they won’t kill you!
  • Chia seeds soaked overnight (2 parts liquid to 1 part chia seed)

  • Yoghurt of choice (I mostly use Liberté)

  • Blueberries

  • Banana

  • Granola or Golden Linseed Crunch (available in Aldi)

  • Honey
*Tip: If you want to be extra fancy, it's really nice to add a vanilla pod to the yogurt.
Starting with the chia seeds, add some to a glass, then add some banana, granola, yogurt and repeat the same process adding the blueberries in the next layer. Drizzle honey on the top and enjoy a fancy pants breakfast ;)
I do hope you've enjoyed this weeks post. I see it as my life's vocation to convert non-breakfast eaters and to show them the light of day, so hopefully I've had some success ;)
Until next Monday,
Amy. x

Monday, 1 June 2015

Spring/Summer Looks

My goal in photographs is always to look nothing like myself! You know someone has taken a decent photo of you when even your own father doesn’t recognise you (as was the case with several of these photos) so first and foremost a huge thank you to my girlies who snapped these shots during our getaway in the ever stunning Courtmacsherry!

With the summer months upon us, I felt my wardrobe was in need of a mini update, so predictably off I trotted to Penneys. My first look is head to toe Penneys finest! It’s a little out of my comfort zone, but it’s always fun to experiment with clothes. Worst comes to worst, just untag the grim Facebook photos and move on! Like the penguins in Madagascar would say, “You didn’t see anything!” Anyway, back to business, here I’m wearing a black bralet with lace detailing, cream high waisted culottes, cat-eye sunnies and chunky heels from a few months back. With both I sized down as the bralet is elasticated and the culottes sit quite high up on the torso. I think this outfit would be perfect as an evening look on holidays, with maybe a leather jacket thrown over it. It’s really simple and comfortable to wear, which is always the most important thing. I paired it with a berry lip and similar nails to introduce a little colour.

Here are the details: Bralet: €3.50 Culottes: €17 Sunnies: €3

I love this second look because the t-shirt I’m wearing was designed by one my closest freundlings, Alice Coleman. It features a ballpoint pen drawing of a polaroid camera printed on an American Apparel t-shirt. I absolutely adore it as it reflects my affinity for photography and all things old fashioned :) Under the name One Curious Chip, she sells through a company called Society Six. My bias aside, her designs are genuinely next level. They seem so unique and innovative, yet retain a charming old-school characteristic. She has an array of designs available and sells both canvas prints and apparel. The site also does free shipping quite frequently, so look out for that! Sticking with the retro vibe, I paired the t-shirt with high waisted light wash denims that are slightly mom style. This would make a cool casual look, but if you wanted to dress it up a little, you could throw on a duster coat and some shoe boots as I’ve done here.

T-Shirt  $22 (€20) Duster Coat (Penneys): €15 Shoes (Timberland): €116

 I love a good pinafore dress and this one from Topshop is really comfortable to wear and an easy colour to pair different things with. There’s something slightly Alexa Chungish and old-school feeling to a pinafore dress, two things which are always ok in my book! Underneath it, I put the same t-shirt as featured above and threw on my faithful Timberland shoe boots. They’re part of the Earthkeeper range, a philosophy for which I have the upmost respect for. What it means is that the shoe is partly composed of recycled material. The outsole, for example is made of 15% recycled rubber and the mesh lining on the inside of the shoe as well as the laces are made from recycled PET (the stuff plastic bottles are made of). As well as this, they are very comfortable to wear (I walk the legs off myself in them!) due to the natural shock absorbing qualities of the rubber and the padded collar around the ankle. I’m wearing last season’s model, in the black colour but the Spring/Summer version is a gorgeous tan colour, which equally I adore! At the moment, they are 20% off* on the Irish website, down from €145 to €116, so do check them out if you are interested.
(*correct at time of publication 01/06/15)

Pinafore Dress (Topshop): £36/€50 Shoes (Timberland): €116

The last look is very simple, but perfect for a beach trip. It features a white crop top from Penneys and some really lightweight, comfortable shorts with a paperbag waist. I sized up with the shorts as I always think it looks more flattering if there is a good deal of space around the legs. They have a tie around the waist to adjust accordingly. I paired the look with a bright red look to add a little colour and tried not to grimace in the photo because the water was SO cold!
Crop top (Penneys): €3 Shorts (Penneys): €11

I do hope you have enjoyed my very first blog post, thank you for giving it a little read! Until next week,

Amy. x