Drinks with Colleagues: Disaster or Delight?

So this week’s big question: when Friday afternoon rolls around should you slink off home to your life far away from work or should you round up some colleagues for a boozy session in the local pub? It’s a complex one, a minefield full of hidden explosives awaiting detonation but it is also potentially the most satisfying end to a stressful week.

The negatives to such an arrangement are easy to spot. A quick cocktail with some nice nibbles in a fancy bar by the river invariably leads to weird looking green shots hours later, as a colleague requests “Blanket on the Ground” for the third time!!!! And you know, although you try to block it out, that you are about to lose half of Saturday to the couch and bad TV, as you resist the urge to eat your way through the hangover.  It all starts out classy but the trajectory is invariably downward.

You have to see these people in a professional environment on Monday morning. Being too honest, drinking too much, rating the physical features of your co-workers or explaining what you really think of them can quickly seem a lot less hilarious in the cold light of day.  Monday morning blushes can be the cloud to the de-stressing drinks silver-lining.

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Over-sharing is an inevitability when there are cocktails involved and decisions about how much of your personal life or past experiences you want to share with co-workers can be made in haste and inevitably repented at leisure.  Chronic over-sharing can definitely be a feature when you combine Friday evening tiredness with free-flowing beverages and it is hard to sensibly consider “How much do I want my colleagues to know about my life?” and “How much do I really need to know about theirs?” when you are halfway through your third Gin and slimline.

Finally, when work is what you have in common, not discussing work at length is extremely difficult. Moaning about all that is wrong with the place we spend the majority of the week, and the people who we share that space with, can at times be draining. I love my job but so much less time can be spent celebrating it than criticising it. Not the glossiest end to a week that was probably largely successful.

And so littered with potential pitfalls, why do I go so regularly for drinks with my workmates? And why are they often my favourite part of the week?

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Firstly, because we are all so much more than the mask we wear for work. We have more sides to us than the parts we play on that particular stage and we are unquestionably more emotional beings than our professional persona gets a chance to reveal. I love to know a little bit more about people, to see the different faces of each human chameleon, to feel like we have connected as people, not just as professionals. We are humans, not robots, and hanging out without our professional armour leads, I feel, to greater empathy and understanding. One particular colleague has the most endearing ability to wear every single emotion on her face, but most of us hide a lot of what we feel, having been socialised to not let the face betray too much of the heart. Friday evening socialising sees the masks slip a little and this is something I think we should welcome.

A second reason to socialise with my colleagues is that I really like these people.  I have loads in common with them, we know huge numbers of the same people, we live in broadly the same geographical area, our careers are identical and generally we have similar values.  And yet our paths to where we are today have been very different, our personal lives are varied and the age range makes it technically possible for some members to be parents to others! Therefore you have both homogeneity and diversity within one circle. This definitely brings something special to the table; the conversation is never forced, the laughter never scarce and the harmless gossip seems never-ending. For all the possible negatives, my experience has been that when we sit and unwind friendships blossom – and this is surely what living is for.

Finally, I suffer from intense FOMO.  If I am not there, what am I missing?  What do they say about me when they are out without me? How much of the aforementioned workplace gossip will I miss out on? And how will I cope without hearing that one great secret that inevitably slips out as tongues begin to loosen?  Yep, I really struggle with being left out of the fun side of our working life. And so all in all it is a definite yes to drinks with colleagues, they may even inspire your next blog post. Harmless fun with people who, come Friday evening, transform from co-workers into simply friends xo

 

 

 

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A Night in the Glen of Aherlow

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“How you live your life is up to you. You have to go out and grab the world by the horns. Rope it before it ties you down and decides for you.”

This post is well overdue but allows me to relive a particularly enjoyable evening, spent in a little place that felt along way from everywhere in the best possible sense. It was during the Easter break and while on the road from one place to another, my husband and I enjoyed an all too brief overnight stay in the depths of the Glen of Aherlow, Co. Tipperary.  We made a last minute (and I do mean last minute) reservation at Ballinacourty House and it was the epitome of rural relaxation.

The welcome on arrival was warm and sincere and the house itself exuded rustic charm. It is an old building so the floors squeak, the heating needs to be on high (and it was) and there is character everywhere.

We checked in and headed straight to the restaurant as it was late and we were starving. The menu seemed retro – think 1980’s Sunday lunch – but the execution and presentation of each course was modern and accomplished. The tempura battered prawns to start were exceptional, the mango salad a perfect accompaniment. A large, hearty bowl of soup was polished off on the other side of the table without complaint either.

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We followed this with rump of lamb and turkey and ham for mains. Neither would normally feature in my evening meal selection but for a late dinner, after a long trek, on a Sunday night they somehow worked perfectly – tasty, homely and comforting but cooked by someone who clearly knows what they are doing.

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And there is no day in my life that cannot be improved by a crème brulee and this day was definitely going in the right direction. The chocolate brownie calling to me from my companion’s plate was not a disappointment either and you have to love when you get both the cream and the ice-cream without even having to ask.

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A couple of coffees later and all that was left to do was tumble across the moonlit courtyard and fall into bed.

It was a wonderful evening and so great to wake up fresh and full of life the next morning to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding area. It was simply stunning. This sightseeing came after a full Irish of course. It is no surprise that there has been a need for a diet these past few weeks!!!

Looking for a rural retreat – I recommend giving Ballinacourty house a go – simple and serene xoxo

 

Fun, Fitness and Fashion – great blogs to browse.

Just a quick post this evening to share some blogs that kept me entertained during what turned out to be a long, lazy and mostly healthy weekend.

I loved reading about Rosemary Mac Cabe’s personal style journey.  In fact I just discovered this blog and I am completely hooked.  I think it’s because she really nails the tone – she’s an accomplished writer who does colloquial effortlessly and honesty fearlessly.  Inspired, I even invested in a mini ASOS haul to launch my own journey towards a more streamlined wardrobe that suits my life (and shape) today. For every item I keep, I am aiming to send three old ones to the charity shop. And when I spotted that this jumper which Rosemary had linked now had 75% off, I decided to at least try it on for size. If it works it can wait patiently in the wardrobe until the autumn days close in. Because when the temperature drops a cozy wool jumper is always welcome!!!

Image 2 of Shae Soft Wool Boucle Shoulder Detail Jumper

The next blog I have been voraciously reading is fast becoming a favourite. I have been a little obsessed with Lorraine of Real Italian Foodies for years now (I don’t know her or anything) and find it hard to be in the vicinity of Limerick without taking a detour to La Cucina. However, after a brave and inspirational battle with breast cancer, Lorraine totally overhauled her diet and fitness regime and this saw the birth of a new blog, Healthy.Fit.Bella.  I wasn’t aware of it until I started tweaking my own diet and I stumbled across it.  It has fab clean eating recipes that are refreshingly simple to follow. Check it out if you follow a similar food plan, I plan intend to cook from it all week and see how it goes.  The chicken cashew stir-fry was tonight’s successful start.

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Last week I really enjoyed discovering Lily Pebbles. She has a really cool blog and an even better YouTube channel. She does some great make-up videos and because I am not the most confident with make-up her step-by-step tutorials are great viewing for me. It’s quite old but I really enjoyed her morning routine for busy women. I would love to try the Sarah Chapman Morning Facial but it may be just a little beyond my price range for an everyday product. I do however need to purchase a new concealer and given its blog popularity I think I am going to try the Nars version. The fact that she recommends the Clarins Lip Perfector, my sister-in-law’s favourite, also reminds me that it is a product that deserves a chance.

Finally for tonight, I am becoming a little obsessed with A Little Obsessed. Sabrina Babo has created a lifestyle blog that is perfectly suited to my taste. It has a little of all the things I love and not too much of any of them. So if you are after a healthy pick-and-mix of beauty, wellness, fashion and travel then this may be the blog for you.

I hope you get some time to sit and read, maybe with a big cup of green tea in some comfy pjs. Let’s ease into the week with a smile xoxo

Easy Like Sunday Morning

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It has to be one of the best feelings – waking up refreshed after a great night’s sleep to the sun shining on a perfect Spring morning, knowing that it is still the weekend and reality can wait for another day.  I have just had a healthy but decadent breakfast (so good I forgot to take a photo to share) of pancakes with caramelised banana, Greek yoghurt and  berries. It was simple to make but tasted really good.  Have a go!!

Healthy Wholemeal Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of wholemeal flour
  • I cup of almond milk
  • I egg
  • A little pinch of salt
  • A drop of vanilla extract

Method:

Simply whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl and fry in coconut oil until golden brown on both sides.

I had two pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and I fried a banana in a pan until golden and placed it in the middle. I topped it all off with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and a handful of fresh raspberries. Delicious.

Raspberries, Red, Fruit, Cup, Dessert, Food, Berries

Appetite sated, it is time for a little light exercise and so I am off to the forest with the dog. Time to enjoy the last of the daffodils and the cuteness of fields of spring lambs.  But maybe, like Wordsworth, the memory of beautiful mornings can help get us through those days when we are fit for little more than lazing on the couch daydreaming.  Of course Wordsworth had no instagram so he had no choice but rely on the pictures in his mind for his escapism. Was he any worse off I wonder??? Could we all do with a little more time to remember and reflect??

Have a great Sunday whatever you get up to, and take some time to notice the fresh flowers and the beauty that surrounds you xo

Simple Steak Salad

So the healthy eating is going pretty well this week, and I feel surgically attached to a mug of warm water and lemon, so all in all I am feeling pretty virtuous (she types as she cheerfully ignores the complete over-indulgence in food and alcohol at the neighbour’s dinner party last night!!!). But because I love food I spend lots of time trying to keep my meals interesting and varied – life might be simpler if I was happy to eat a chicken breast and broccoli every night. This week’s greatest triumph was a very simple and so delicious steak salad and there was enough left over for the next day’s lunch – happy days!!!!

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What makes this simple salad worthy of a full post?  Firstly, the fact that the dressing was completely oil free and yet still became the star of the show. Secondly, it took fifteen minutes to make and it yielded dinner and lunch….what’s not to love?

I started with quite a large sirloin steak which I marinated in a little sesame oil and garlic for about an hour (while the dog and I went for our walk). Then I simply seared it for a couple of minutes on each side while I made the dressing and assembled the salad.

For the salad I tossed a bag of organic leaves in a bowl with some diced yellow pepper, spring onions and cucumber. Then I added some finely chopped coriander and basil before topping with the well rested slices of beef and some roughly chopped cashews. Now it just needed the dressing and it couldn’t be easier.

In a bowl I simply combined a spoon of organic honey, the juice of a lime, a finely chopped garlic clove and red chilli and a few drops of fish sauce. Whisk it all together (or shake it up in a jam jar) and drizzle over the salad. Dinner is then ready to serve.

I only dressed the salad I was eating and kept a little dressing in a jar for the following day so the lettuce all stayed crisp.  It was delicious both days and while I prefer it a little warm, the cold beef remained surprisingly soft and succulent. Healthy, happy food xoxo

5 Things I Am Loving Lately

Just a quick post about some of the things I have been loving this past week.

1. Belfast

WP_20160409_12_35_22_ProI am old enough to remember when the prospect of a city break in Belfast would have been an odd choice at the very least and a downright dangerous one in times most troubled. For many years of my life it was a city that dominated the news for all the wrong reasons, tearing itself apart with wave after wave of sectarian conflict.  This Belfast and the Belfast I had the pleasure of experiencing over the past few days are almost irreconcilable in my mind.  It was a wonderful weekend in a city that seems to be celebrating food, culture and great shopping in a spirit that is relaxed, vibrant and above all welcoming. I will do a full post at some stage but in a nutshell I can think of few cities that I have enjoyed more.

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2. Some Healthy Inclusions

Having aimed for a bit of a lifestyle overhaul (and then abandoning it completely for most of the weekend) I discovered a few things that made it all a bit easier. I seriously limited my caffeine and carb intake and discovered that I am far better with warm water than cold. Wanting to prioritise my hydration, I armed myself with my cute new ceramic cup (a sweet gift from a friend) and spent much of the week sipping hot water with lemons and limes.

I also included The Happy Pear’s Granola in my breakfast rotation, a really good option for when there is just no time to make your own.  It contains oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cashew nuts, coconut, raisins, goji berries, sunflower oil, molasses and agave syrup. I like mine with fresh berries and Greek yoghurt.

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Finally, I have included a cup of this organic Night Time tea to my unwinding routine before bedtime.  I have no idea if it is in anyway linked but I have been sleeping great.

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3. Reading from the Blogosphere

I really connected to Laura’s post on blogging as the opportunity to be creative, write through feelings of stress and clarify my thoughts have been huge gains of this undertaking for me.  I also agree that blogging shapes my life a little now as the search for material to include here makes me keen to seek out new experiences and adventures. All very positive – I only wish I had a little more time.

4. A Fashion Fix

I picked up this little mini-skirt from Urban Outfitters for when the weather finally gets a little warmer and a little brighter. I am thinking that with a cream/ ivory top and some matching heels it will make for a cute outfit for a summer’s evening.

I am also both lusting after and saving for these New Balance grey and emerald trainers – can’t wait until they are mine!!

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5. A Little Light Reading

“You only have one life, but if you live it well, that’s enough. The only reality is now, today. What are you waiting for to be happy?” – The Japanese Lover

I really enjoyed this novel, that had little nuggets of wisdom sprinkled all through it. It was beautifully poetic and had a wonderful sense of character. Give it a go xo

Healthy Eating – a bit of a diet overhaul!

After two and a half weeks of indulgence, today marked the beginning of a pre-summer health kick for me and although I deferred exercise to tomorrow’s to-do list, I made a good start at overhauling my diet. I drank more water than normal (although still way less than I should), limited myself to two cups of coffee (a major reduction on my normal daily intake) and returned to cooking in coconut oil.

Fruit, Vitamins, Health, Sweet, Bananas

Breakfast was a rushed all fruit affair but it all got better from there. Lunches for the next day or so are a green soup and seed bread. I am a fan of Indy Power’s healthy eating blog The Little Green Spoon and adapted both recipes from this site. The soup, Little Green Goddess Soup, is made with Kale, Spinach and Broccoli and has a lovely velvety texture as it is finished off with coconut milk.  It is filling and tasty and has to be good for you – just look at the main ingredients and the healthy, vibrant green colour?

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Now being a huge fan of a crusty baguette, I am not going to stretch credibility by saying that Super Seed Bread was delicious but it is gluten free, dairy free and packed with goodness so I am pretty happy that it will help me in my quest to look and feel a bit better. It was also really, really easy to make.  Here’s mine just out of the oven. I am not ready to sacrifice the butter just yet though!

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I stayed with The Little Green Spoon for dinner inspiration too and made grilled chicken skewers served on a bed of It’s always sunny quinoa and scattered with toasted pine nuts. The chicken was marinated in chilli powder, paprika, cumin, garlic, greek yoghurt, lemon juice and a little olive oil.  The marinade kept the chicken breast lovely and moist and added great flavour to what can be a somewhat bland meat.

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It was quick, simple and delicious. I think The Little Green Spoon could provide much inspiration in the days to come and its lovely to see an Irish healthy eating blog doing so well and reaching so many of us in a positive way. If you haven’t already discovered it, I would definitely recommend taking a look.

Now, all that remains for today is to unwind with a good book and try my latest herbal tea acquisition – hardly a rock and roll lifestyle but a happy end to a healthy day xoxo

Laughing with Lucy

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Relax, relax I did not just have a secret baby although one has just entered my life in a pretty major way. Six weeks ago my sister-in-law delivered to the world the most beautiful baby girl and little Lucy became a part of all our lives. She is adorable in her innocence and perfection, although the workload she has heaped upon her new mum and dad is pretty phenomenal.  While this is not totally unexpected, Lucy is a first child to her parents, a first grandchild to both sets of nanas and grandpas and a first niece to all the brothers and sister-in-laws, so you can well imagine both the excitement and the steepness of the learning curve.

IMG_0870Already I know we will not get to see her half enough, as she changes daily, and considering she is a six-week old, who can’t walk or talk, she still manages to brighten up the entire room with a smile. I am ridiculously excited that I get to be a godmother to this little treasure and in a strange but fabulous way it has made me stop and re-evaluate things a little. What values would I like her to see in me? Will I be the kind of role model she deserves? Will my husband and I be the kind of uncle and auntie she likes to hang out with? Pretty deep thoughts to be inspired by one so little.

But she is perfect, at least when she is not screaming the house down, and deserves a world full of people who want her to have a life of love and laughter. To paraphrase Sylvia Plath, a world where she experiences lullabies, colour, ducks and “the zoo of the new”. Things that teach her, entertain her, amuse her and help her grow into a fabulous little girl – which given how well I know her mum and dad, and seeing how they fell instantly in love with her, seems completely inevitable.

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And watching the new mum and dad develop into their new roles has been every bit as fascinating as watching Lucy take her place in the world.  They are phenomenal. It is probably the world’s most high pressured job and there is no option to clock out at the end of the day. Everything is new, everything is confusing and they are, I assume, terrified of getting anything even a little wrong in case it makes this child, now the most important thing in the world, even a little uncomfortable. But they just get on with it. In the sea of gifts and wrapping paper, pink dresses and babygros, visitors and cups of tea are three people learning to be a family. And from where I am standing, they are winning every day and Lucy is one very lucky little girl.

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