Wednesday, 19 October 2016
Moms if you are tired trying to pretend you have it all sussed.
If you are sick of having to juggle it all.
If you are stressed out every day and get sick as soon as you take a holiday,
URBANMAMA is for you.
This is a coming together of like-minded women who want to make a change, or lots of changes.
I have devised this programme to take you step-by-step to a simpler, more authentic life.
Easier dinners, inspiring you to eat well every day.
Sleep strategies, helping you sleep sounder, waking refreshed.
Exercise tips and yoga class, stretching those tired limbs, feeling energised.
Stress management techniques, from journalling to therapy, with mindfulness and boundary-setting thrown in, we will look at it all.
I will help you prioritise what changes YOU need to make in your life, right now.
I will give you tools to make those changes.
And it will continue in an online group so you can check in with us as you integrate these new habits.
You do it in your own time, in your own way.
Check out the website here for the full information and tickets, there are still a few places left.
It is happening in Dublin now, but coming to Wexford, Galway, Limerick, Cork and wherever else you want it! Email me at niamh (at) thewellnessclinic.ie if you want it in your area.
And for those outside Ireland it will be online as a course in early 2017, so watch this space!
URBANMAMA - empowering you
Tuesday, 13 September 2016
Thank you for your continued support, I see you've been checking the blog and interacting with me on social media, but you haven't been rewarded with a blog post in ages, so here it is with my apologies for the delay. I'm going to talk about launching my new baby The Wellness Clinic, as this has been consuming every waking moment for the last while. Maybe some of you have start-up businesses or are thinking of starting up, so I hope you get some inspiration here. Or if you are just wanting to know where the hell I was read on...
I have had a huge month, a great month. I launched my nutrition service The Wellness Clinic and have been working with some private clients both in person in my holistic centre, and via Skype. These clients came through word-of-mouth which is going to be my main source of referrals I think. People want a recommendation, and to know the person they are going to see is trustworthy especially when it comes to their health and wellbeing.
While seeing the clients I was setting up all my systems of paperwork, record-keeping, contracts etc so there was so much administration as well as client hours. It was brilliant to finally get working with clients and I realised this is my dream job, I love the detective work as I analyse someone's habits, and I love helping them tweak them to make healthier choices. A week or two into my clinic I began seeing clients in a holistic centre in Dublin City.
The room I have is perfect for my needs and is a good central location. I like that it is also handy for me to drive or get the bus to, minimising my commute as the baby still wants mama as much as possible.
I finished and launched my website online here if you want to take a look. I finished and launched my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for The Wellness Clinic too. On Instagram I've a hashtag on the go every weekend where I share wellness tips on Instagram, it's #wellweekend if you want to follow and upload your own well weekend pics. On my Facebook page here I have daily self-care tips for busy mamas, so please "Like" that and you will get them. They're all things I learned myself the hard way and want to pass on. My Twitter handle is _thewellnessclinic
I also created my first group workshop Urbanmama and launched the event online, tickets are available on my website on the relevant page, and sponsors are already sending lovely things for the goody bags. This will be on Sunday October 23rd and is a day-long event for women to learn self-care tools. There will be yoga, nutrition and wellness presentation, mindfulness, food demonstrations and tastings, a delicious healthy lunch. Ladies will leave with goody bags containing self-care items and a printed wellness pack with all the notes and recipes from the day's talks and classes. This will be a monthly event and I can't wait to get it started!
Last week I exhibited at a local health fair, which was a great networking experience. I spent the week beforehand finishing up my printed materials, banner, signs, business cards and recipe/wellness cards, and baking up a storm to hand out tasters. My theme was "Skip the Sugar" and nearly everyone I spoke to said how sugar is a major downfall in their diets, so I'm glad I was on track with that one.
|The back of my head at front right. Can you tell I'd been wearing a hat?!|
I attended my first networking talk with the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) last night, which I subsequently joined and will attend their talks and events. The speaker was really motivational and just sharing ideas with the other ladies there gave me some valuable insights. There was tea and coffee, artisan sandwiches and a glass of wine afterwards which made the event really welcoming. I hope to get to know the ladies there and make some great contacts in all areas of business, you never know what you'll learn from people.
I have been booked for some talks in my local community as a result of the health fair so I am working on my presentations for them. I will be giving a talk in City Hall at the Over 55s showcase in a couple of weeks, so I'm theming a talk for nutrition for that age group, with recipes and wellness cards too, which need researching, design and printing.
I'm sponsoring some recipe cards to go in goody bags for an upcoming conference in the maternity sector which will be a good way to get my name out there, so they are being designed and printed soon. I am possibly doing a food demo at a baby fair in the next month, so I'm planning for that and will be showcasing easy baby led weaning foods and healthy snacks for mamas and children to make and enjoy together.
Wow, when I see it all written down, it's huge! I'm sure in a few months I'll be ticking along at a slower pace, but for now it's the season of new beginnings and I'm trying to take all opportunities that come my way.
My husband had the last month off work so I made sure to be as productive as possible in that window. I had a lot of the above work in motion, but I really concentrated on it when he was around. We did still enjoy family time, and had some fantastic fun-filled days out to places of Irish heritage, i.e. Kildare heritage festival, the Hill of Tara, Abbeyleix Vintage Toy Exhibition, a day on the Dart from Greystones to Malahide... The baby girl is walking but still in the sling and I'm loving the cuddles :)
I had my hair cut into a short bob and woah, was it short. I've never had the wind whistle round the back of my neck like that. It's regrowing and I'm nearly happy with the length again, but I needed a good chop as the self-cut layers just had to go. I'm painting my nails constantly now and feel they are a little reminder to take care of myself. I went on a bit of a shopping spree and now have a new capsule wardrobe for work which I will try to photograph for another blog post.
It is hard going back to work after 5 years at home. Things have changed. Social media is a great way to market yourself, but it's all new to me. The last time I had a boss and colleagues was 9 years ago as I was self-employed after that. I do miss the camaraderie of having colleagues, so this time around even though I am self-employed again I am making sure to have a network around me.
The Women in Business network (LEO) will give me at least monthly check-ins with other businesswomen in Dublin. I am beginning a series of "Start your own business" talks this week which are run by Dublin City Council once a week. Although I have a clear idea of my business model I am still lacking skills in marketing, finances etc so I am looking forward to these.
While I was in training I reached out to a businesswoman I really admire in the U.S. called Sheree Clark. Her company Fork in the Road is very inspirational to me and I am now glad to say I count her as a friend and mentor. I think this is key for me so I stay motivated. It can be a lonely road working for yourself and Sheree has been very generous with her support. I am also in a closed Facebook group of Irish nutritional professionals and I find that invaluable for ideas, support and advice too.
It's not all work around here though. I am trying to keep a balance of social and spiritual time for myself. I am trying to keep up with my friendships in real life too, seeing friends with my children for playdates, or meetings of my women's circle which are either on the Full or New moon each month. These are quite spiritual gatherings and I love the bonds we are forming. We have begun to introduce creative meetings of this Red Tent, the last meeting was in my holistic centre and we painted and drew, inspired by Lucy Pearse's book The Rainbow Way.
I am watching the Great British Bake Off for light entertainment each Wednesday with my family, I bake some healthy-ish treats and we cuddle up and watch it all together. I get together with my neighbours and watch Poldark on Sundays too, which involves cake again, it's all about the cake!
Home educating began in earnest in mid-August with new workbooks, new online programmes (Khan Academy) and Daddy got the kids off to a great start. Now my dh is back in work I am taking the mornings to bring the kids out in the fresh air, autumn walks, museums, creative centres etc, and the afternoons will be at home so I can do my admin work while they read, draw or play. I would rather get my work done in the morning and be free for the rest of the day, but the kid's friends are in school, so it makes more sense to get out with kids during that time, so they can be home for playing in the neighbourhood from 3pm onwards.
Evenings are when I see clients / take Skype appointments and go to my talks. I do find my head is buzzing still at 10pm, so I stay up late watching Friends reruns and having a cuppa with my dh and usually hit the hay around midnight/1am. I sleep in with the baby until dh leaves for work about 9am, so I am getting enough sleep, but I know I need to get to bed earlier in general.
That's how I'm juggling it all at the moment. It is a juggle though, and I'm conscious that I can't do everything. So apart from preparing healthy meals and laundry, I'm not doing any other housework. Dh does the kitchen every day and cleans the whole house about once a week, but I'm dreaming of a cleaner in the long run.
Tonight's dinner was really tasty and took all of 15 mins prep time not including cooking. At 4pm I spent maybe 10 mins chopping veg and threw it into the slow cooker with some butter and salt to roast. I used a small pumpkin, aubergine, onion, garlic (left whole), broccoli and mushrooms -the last of the organic veg before I go shopping tomorrow. Roasted them on high until about 6pm when I boiled a bag of brown rice pasta (more nutrition and less stodge than wheat), stirred through some Sacla tomato pesto, grated cheese in the processor and that was it. Delicious and enough left over for tomorrow's lunch.
Ok I'm breaking all my own rules here about being on a screen in bed so I will take my leave. Lovely to be back blogging and I hope to meet some of you in person at the Wear a Hug Fair.
Thursday, 11 August 2016
|Mango muffins with turmeric|
Apart from adding a half-teaspoon to our smoothies, I've used it in some different ways which you may like to hear about. Above are my own recipe mango muffins, with turmeric as an addition, giving a great vibrant yellow colour to them. In them are oats, spelt flour, 2 eggs, some sour cow's milk, butter, pre-soaked mango (from a bag of dried mango), cinnamon, salt, a little honey and baking powder.
Above is a lentil curry with lemon rice - basmati cooked as normal, then with butter, lemon juice and turmeric added to give it an amazing taste and more health benefits. This began as a slow-cooked vegetable casserole one day, to which I added curry spices and lentils the next day and just chopped in spinach for the last minute of cooking. I love my two-day dinners and always make them differently. My picky 5 year old just eats the rice, so I'm happier giving him lemon rice with all the added nutrition than plain old basmati.
For my son's recent 5th birthday I kneaded turmeric into white icing for the yellow beak for his Angry Bird's cake (a chocolate paleo cake with chocolate ganache - sounds nicer than it tasted). So no yellow food colouring was needed but I still got a great yellow effect. The black was liquorice and the red was a jelly sweet. Blue was shop-bought fondant.
I also make a turmeric tea with boiling water, turmeric, honey and a little milk and cinnamon, it's really soothing on the tummy if someone feels like they have a bug, and a great detoxer for the liver if you feel you've overdone it. Nice before bedtime too. I recommend it as a kitchen staple to my nutrition clients, it's a wonder spice!
How do you use turmeric in your household?
Tuesday, 9 August 2016
I love skirts and dresses but Ireland in summer does not call for them every day, nor even every week. So this blog post will be all about the trousers, and I'll do another one on skirts/dresses if/when the weather merits it and I get some photos.
I love me some skinny trousers. I remember when they appeared about 10 year ago. I thought "OMG" (actually that phrase wasn't coined then) so I thought "Oh my god, how unflattering, they show off all the upper leg largeness and do nothing to balance it out like my good ol' bootleg jeans".
I avoided skinny jeans for a year or so, then I tried a pair on and it was instant love. I bought them even though they were well above my usual budget. These were skinny medium blue jeggings from Silence and Noise in Urban Outfitters. I wore them to work (teaching in a secondary school) with boots and a blazer and was never so comfortable. Freed from the constricting waistband of traditional jeans which at the time were low to mid-rise, I loved that these jeggings held in my stomach and smoothed over my hips giving me a lovely shape with no muffin top. They also hid my tattoo which was another bonus in work.
And the love affair has continued. I've owned many a pair of jeggings. The original ones did me about 6 years before they wore out. I've had some from Vero Moda but found the material too thin and it stretched and went baggy. The best ones I've found are from Marks and Spencer. I have their jeggings in navy and black, and have them in a couple of sizes to fit pre- and post- baby butt. In summer I turn them up to show my ankles and wear them with a blouse, as below:
Or I wear them with a t-shirt and blazer like below:
I've kind of stopped wearing Converse with everything these days. The laces are a hindrance with baby in tow, but they're also a bit too casual, as I'm preferring to dress a little more formal this year. Call it maturity, call it old age, call it what you will, I just feel a bit too scruffy in Converse to be doing my daily stuff, so I keep them for park days or really casual days where I am in leggings and a lycra skirt.
I think studying this year has made me "up" my game clothes-wise, I definitely concentrate better when I feel I'm in "work mode" and I dress the part. Since I've begun building my business this has helped too, as I will grab an hour here or there during the day to make calls / work on my laptop or meet with prospective clients, and the last thing I want to have to do is change during the day. So I just get dressed once each day, in an outfit which will take me anywhere, and I'm done.
Case in point: I wore the above outfit to meet a client the other day. I felt dressy enough to be in "work mode" but still comfortable for all the other things the day threw at me (playground, cooking, baking a cake for a late birthday celebration for baby). Yes, those are NOT skinny jeggings above, well spotted. I'd been wishing to get back into these summer trousers and I finally did. They needed a heel so I wore my new Clark's sandals which have seen me through the summer really well. And you can never go wrong with stripes, eh?
I'm slowly rebuilding my wardrobe in my current size, and I'm looking to invest in good quality items which will last me for years. However my budget is small so for now I'm looking in charity shops and online sales, and I will replace the items as I can.
So my summer daily outfit is usually:
Skinny trousers / jeggings
A blouse (sometimes with a nursing vest underneath for warmth)
A light scarf around my neck
Sandals (either my Saltwaters or these yellow Clarks ones)
A blazer if it's cold
And I'm not carrying a handbag when I can help it. I love putting my phone, keys and cash into a trouser pocket and walking out the door. I change the baby's nappy before we leave so sometimes don't need to bring one if we'll only be out for a couple of hours, and I keep nappies in the car too. It's all about downsizing, as with 3 kids my mind is pretty busy keeping them all safe when we're out and about, let alone remembering what it is I want to buy in the shops. I do always pack a snack bag if we're going somewhere for the day but it stays in the car.
What are you loving to wear this summer?
Thursday, 21 July 2016
A few months ago I came across a really simple recipe for banana-oat cookies using just those ingredients, mashed together and shaped onto a baking sheet. I made a batch, my boys liked them, but I didn't. I found them a little tasteless, but I loved the idea behind them. No measuring (yay), no sugar or wheat flour (double yay), my 5 year old finally eating oats (triple... I'll stop now). These have lots of fibre and you can add any fruit, nuts or seeds as you like.
|Delicious with a glass of kefir.|
Into a large bowl I put a banana, some pre-soaked mango pieces (I originally soaked them to remove the sulphur dioxide preservative which is not a healthy thing to eat), cinnamon, a little vanilla extract (not vanilla essence) and a pinch of Maldon salt. I added some jumbo organic oats and smushed it all together with my bare hands (kids would love this but I wasn't in the mood for the mess).
My mixture was too wet so I added more oats and when it was at the sticking-together-but-not-wet stage I shaped it into balls and flattened them onto a hastily greased baking sheet. Halfway through shaping them I remembered I'd wanted to add sultanas, so I did, mixing a handful into the last of the dough.
About 20 minutes in my oven (at 180'C? the thermostat headed for the hills a long time ago) and they were golden, crispy around the edges and kind of soft in the middle. Baby liked them, the boys did too, and I ate my own and all the leftovers.
These would be a great snack on the go, and should keep for a few days in an airtight container. You could even make a double batch and freeze half in a large sausage shape, wrapped in greaseproof paper, then all you need to do at a later time is defrost, cut into slices and bake.
The rest of the soaked mango was turned into muffins, I'll share that in a separate post. For now, get yourself some bananas, some oats and get smushing!
Wednesday, 13 July 2016
I'm all for low maintenance these days. My kids can be grubby, my house can be messy, but I try to get myself groomed every day before I leave the house, and I usually succeed.
I'm going to take you through my low maintenance grooming routine so you too can be inspired to look presentable every day if you so wish. I find this has a knock-on effect and helps me feel good too.
I cut my hair myself and I don't colour it, I'm still growing out the bleach from 2 years ago after my "pink phase". Though everyone asks did I get balayage and says it suits me, so I may keep bleaching the lower parts. I have slightly wavy hair, and I hate styling it. I look weird with it up, or half up, so I just leave it down, a bit of dry shampoo and the odd scrunch with wet hands keeps it looking ok. Totally low maintenance. About once a week I shampoo and condition it and let it dry naturally and that's it. No products, no nothing. No brushing either. The dirtier it gets, the better it looks, that's a fact!
I was thinking about this earlier. In my pre-baby days I used to paint my fingernails most mornings, to match my outfit. Now I paint my toenails a deep coral and it does me most of the summer, I just add more when it gets chipped. (OPI brand, it's really hard-wearing on my toenails). My fingernails are a different story. There is no point me painting them these days, it never lasts even 24 hours without chipping plus I don't have the time to be removing and repainting it. I've also been reading about the dangerous chemicals in nail polish, so I think minimising my exposure to it is only a good thing too. Carrie from Sex and the City never had hers painted anyway...
Luckily I'm fair, so a lower leg shave does me a couple of weeks. Underarms too, that's all I do. I don't get near enough to a beach to warrant a bikini, and if I did I'd not do any hair removal, I have some vintage bikini bottoms which are modest enough not to need it, if you get my drift.
I don't wear any, haven't in years. Kind of like going "no poo" with your hair (google it) I don't seem to need deodorant much these days, plus I eat a better diet, which has something to do with it too.
Em... I wash off yesterday's makeup each morning with a little oil on a cotton pad, does that count? Then a small amount of organic face cream or face oil before my makeup is reapplied. I use a little body oil on my legs after shaving, and to keep my feet soft, but don't use body lotion as again the ingredients are not optimal for health. As I'm not soaping myself all over in the shower, I'm not washing off my body's natural oils so lotion isn't needed.
The baby was playing with my foundation recently and I haven't seen it in over a week, so I've gotten used to a bare face with a little concealer around the eyes, eye makeup (brown liner, dark grey mascara and brown brow pencil), lipstick and blush/bronzer. I have a bit of a tan and love wearing less in the summer anyway. If I am dressing up a bit more I'll wear some darker eyeliner, another coat of mascara and redder lipstick. My whole makeup routine takes less than 5 minutes and I'm used to doing it with baby in one arm.
Don't wear any, sometimes a dab of lavender essential oil. Normal perfumes and perfumed products disrupt your hormones, so I'm happy to do without. Especially while breastfeeding, I think it's important the baby gets to smell me, not my products.
I'm paring back my wardrobe as I lose the baby weight, so the clothes that got me through the last year are going back to the charity shops from whence they came. What I'm aiming to be left with is a capsule wardrobe which works year-round. It's going well and I'll blog separately about it.
That's it, I'm probably the lowest maintenance I've ever been except for my year in Oz where I eschewed razors and wore Thai fisherman pants with bare feet, thems were the days pals.
Saturday, 2 July 2016
|Just off the boat from Inis Oirr and I'm laughing at having to walk like the Hunchback of Notre Dame to keep baby's head from lolling back as she slept - lost the hood of the sling.|
|At the wedding: counting our winnings, we guessed the length of the speeches to within 60 seconds. 75 euros paid for us to stay another night on the island!|
|c/o panoramio.com Cliffs of Moher|
The Supermarket Cafe gave the kids a board game to play while waiting on lunch, a lovely touch. There are great places to eat in Doolin, all tastes are covered, including gluten free, vegan and plain ol' fussy (me).
We drove to the nearby town of Ennistymon one day and had a slap up lunch in Ginger Lou's, you have to visit if you're there. Lou herself is on the floor (as in working there) and the food is all locally sourced with gluten free, dairy free etc. options and an amazing brand of Baobab coffee (the decaf is decaffeinated with sparkling water, not chemicals, tastes like the real deal). We met a local artist and spent a while chatting with him and seeing his art works, it's a really artistic town. I bought some herbal teas in a health food shop to bring home as a souvenir and the kids enjoyed ice-creams in the newly opened O'Connor's ice-cream parlour.
Back up to McGann's B&B, we had two rooms for our use, one had a double and single bed with ensuite, the other had the same but a kitchenette and small seating area with patio doors and a view to die for. My photos don't do it justice, but sitting up in bed you could see out in 3 directions at the Atlantic, Inis Oirr, beautiful fuchsia in bloom, green fields and some other holiday homes. Tony gave us a warm welcome, cereal for our breakfasts, fruit for the kids and offered us a lift down to the town. He is the local taxi driver too.
|Proper free-range eggs :)|
|I could fit one of these in our small city garden, couldn't I?|
Three lovely hens were wandering around the garden and Tony dropped in the most delicious eggs to us one day for our breakfast. The baby's favourite thing to do was to stand inside the patio doors shouting at the hens. There was a petrol station across the road with groceries and fresh produce on sale, plus a lovely weaver's shop selling Irish knits and tweeds, I had my eye on a few of them.
|The entrance to our accommodation|
|Me and Tony in his Rambling House|
Contact Tony on 087 242 2950 for more info or find him on Facebook here. If you just want to stay in his property like we did, his Airbnb page is here.
We'll certainly be going back, Doolin has loads to offer and we only scratched the surface. The cliffs of Moher were gorgeous both in the sun and in the mist of a drizzly day. This is a really magical part of Ireland, and it certainly had me wondering if a move to the country would be a good option for our family. The trad session in the pub on our last night was really memorable, lots of old and new songs for us to enjoy, chatting with other families and everyone passing round the baby like she was a box of chocolates at Christmas!
Back to reality today, but I'm trying to keep the Doolin magic alive a little longer. I bought a tin whistle and I'm YouTubing some trad tunes so the next time I'm near a seisiun I'll be able to join in!
*This is a sponsored post but as always all opinions are my own.