Four Years of Lemon Cake

Yesterday, my little corner of the internet turned 4. Four! So I’m feeling all inspired to breathe some life back into her!  It does NOT seem like three years ago since I ordered those cupcakes to celebrate a year of blogging.

Fourth-Birthday                                                                                                                                                                      photo from here. 

Life Lyrics and Lemoncake has been a great comfort and outlet for me. At the time of taking the plunge I was living with my besties in Melrose Street in Belfast, starting the second semester of second year at University. I was obsessed with blogs, and loved creative and personal writing from Dooce, Ernie Buffalo, Keris and Fluttering Butterflies to name a few. I loved book blogs and insights into inspiring women’s lives. (I’m only noticing the fact that I love blogs by kick ass women and this delights me.) I began on January 27, 2011 but kept it to myself for a month or two until I had published several posts and had something that people could sift through a little. I remember clearly sharing the link on social media one night and A and C sitting on opposite sofas as they did, reading and commenting and supporting me. Happy times. Thanks girls.

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When I feel that a career or even significant writing step is far away, blogging is always a silver thread that connects me to the art, however loosely. I have never felt under pressure by my blog or stressed about producing something. Maybe I should be stricter in order to have a more regular output, but there is something comforting about just being my own boss and only writing about something I feel moved to.

Blogging has allowed me to have interesting conversations, make several great friends in all kinds of surprising ways, take part in features and events such as the current #sendsomehappy with Zoeprose, boosted my confidence at any recognition and allowed me into the exciting and lovely community of bloggers.

blog1image from here.

Sometimes my mammy says to me when I am despairing yet again that my English degree and my Journalism course hasn’t really led me anywhere … that maybe my job isn’t going to be writing, it could be something I do on top of that, and I think I would be happy with that. I just want to make my writing stronger, more regular and more creative. I have this itch to write and achieve something in writing. And if I can continue to make connections with readers and fellow bloggers then that is wonderful and worth it all.

Thank you for reading and supporting me at any stage of these four years, I have a fire in my belly about a new start and lots more words for us to share. I’m on my fourth book of 2015 and have seen some brilliant programmes and films recently so perhaps some reviews at least are in order?

As a present for my fourth birthday, do you want to win some handmade earrings and snail mail paraphernalia? Check out my previous post and my Instagram. #sendsomehappy

Send Some Happy! For the love of letters…

I’m very excited to begin a blog series based on a shared love of letter writing and snail mail with the ever inspiring Zoe from Zoeprose. I found her blog by chance several years ago, and I’m pleased to say we have become friends and have exchanged letters, cards and surprises. She’s kicked us off and shared her letter story here: (Check it out, she’s very inspiring!)

I have gushed about my love of ‘snail mail’ here, here and here, so I just want to share some thoughts about what #sendsomehappy is about.

Each post Zoe and I will add a little challenge, if you feel so inclined to join us in sending happy post. It will probably be something fairly simple- we are all busy people- but a way to encourage you and us in our post sending. Share your thoughts/ pictures by using the hashtag #sendsomehappy on twitter or instagram.

Clearly, in this digital age time is of the essence and we panic at the time it would take to sit down and do something as thoughtful and fiddly as penning a letter. However, if we do make the effort to squeeze in half an hour or so, it will mean all the more to the happy recipient who knows you took some time to think about them.

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I do believe that I was quite possibly born in the wrong decade. It’s no secret that I cling to things like paper books, printed newspapers, old fashioned telephones, records, library tickets and stamps. I love the old fashioned feel of writing a letter. It’s not immediate, it takes time, it’s slow and thoughtful. Although he scared me and he was a hard critic (and I was awful) I always will remember Carlo Gebler, who taught us Script Writing in final year of University in 2011/12 making us post our finished scripts to him. He said nothing is really finished in an email, as you can always tinker and edit it. But if you have to physically print it, put it in and an envelope and post it to the tutor’s home address, there is a definite sense of finality there!!

I always wrote to my cousin from we were 10 or 11. Her postcode on the other side of town was so similar to mine I often got them confused! My paternal Granny, my beloved Granny Mc always wrote to people, relatives and friends and nuns and priests in England, and while I was at University I wrote her a few letters because I knew she would appreciate them. We wrote back and forth, and although we are in the same town again I should probably pick up the pen.

I made a very good friend at university, that’s Abbye and we are both obsessed with letters. She sends the most beautiful packages, and she has the most elegant handwriting, and she’s always going on travels and sending me beautiful postcards and treasures. Grateful for her friendship and mutual snail mail appreciation. Also: one very amazing emergency chocolate package!

Finally, myself and my aunt/godmother write to each other quite regularly. Again, we made a proper habit of it while I lived in Belfast, but then she said that she enjoyed it so much that we shouldn’t stop. Recently I had reason to reflect on ways she’s influenced me (for her big nifty nifty birthday) and corresponding is a big one. The letters are things to treasure, and I have had such good advice and comfort from them.

Competition, check out my instagram/ twitter @thebadactress - simply get sharing your snail mail adventures on instagram/twitter usinng the #sendsomehappy hashtag!

Competition, check out my instagram/ twitter @thebadactress – simply get sharing your snail mail adventures on instagram/twitter usinng the #sendsomehappy hashtag!

I love the keepsake nature of letters. They are something physical and personal, and reading them makes you feel close to the person who wrote it, who last held it in their hands, and crafted it just for you.

There’s a wonder tied to envelopes and packages. I wonder who it’s from? I wonder what it is? When a business or company handwrites the envelope there is crushing disappointment that someone hadn’t written you a personal message.

I have to say being the sender is just as rewarding as being the receiver! I feel conspirative and a bubble of excitement as I walk to the post office.

So, #sendsomehappy ! You will make someone’s whole day. Let’s not make letter writing a lost art. It IS an art, and one that should be held dear and nurtured in these often anonymous times.

Challenge: To simply buy a book of stamps. Just so there’s one less excuse not to send that letter. The possibilities. Six ways to #sendsomehappy

Grab the button:
Send Some Happy
<div align="center"><a href="https://zoeprose.wordpress.com" title="Send Some Happy"><img src="https://zoeprose.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/send-some-happy-button.jpg" alt="Send Some Happy" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Thank you for reading. Let me know how you feel about snail mail, and if you’ve been inspired today. Join the conversation with myself and Zoe #sendsomehappy

A little late look at the lemoncake year of 2014

So, being late as seems to be the usual case for me, I just wanted to wish you all a very Happy 2015 filled with wonder and adventure, and love. I also feel the need to recap my year a little, so if you’re with me. 2014 you were a good year for me in all the ways that matter.

On 6 January I signed up for Slimming World. Typical new year thing to do. I attended the wedding of good friends on 27 December 2013 and I think it was the photos of that which finally prompted me to make a change. It was difficult the first few weeks and I had to change quite a lot. I lost 3.5 lbs the first week and continued to do quite well. My Mum helped so much by cooking me the slimming world chips, which are just spuds and 1 calorie spray, almost every day and making healthy spag bls and curries which arent from a jar. By May 2014 I had lost about 2 stone. I never quite got to my target weight of 9.5 stone but I was very close a few times, and I have managed to more or less maintain (Afraid to look at any scales after Christmas!) But I am much happier with my shape and size, I have gained a bit more confidence and appreciated the compliments. I would recommend Slimming World to anyone. There are no tricks really, and it’s surprising the things you can eat which are ‘free.’ Perhaps when the last selection box is empty I will dust off the book and go back to counting my syns to lose that last bit of weight.

2014 was the second semester of the NCTJ course in Journalism that I took the risk and left a job to do. I deepened friendships with the amazing class of 13/14, and firmly believe that they were the best thing about the whole course. There were about 16 of us and we were a tight group who got along brilliantly and bonded over many drinking sessions and iNews editing. You can read about them here. I continued with my placement at the Derry Journal and interviewed people, wrote up stories and had many pieces published. I faced a lot of fears and surprised myself more than once. At the end of the year I received an award for excellence and I got called back to do some shifts for my newspaper a few months after my placement.

Molly was a new friend this year. Don't know what I did without her!

Molly was a new friend this year. Don’t know what I did without her!

About March time I made some tough decisions. It led to big changes in my personal life. It was a long time coming, and I coped surprisingly well. Like a wise lady once said to me, sometimes it’s not about chasing what you want, it’s about distancing yourself from what you definitely don’t want.

March also saw me taking on a video project for the journalism at the Humdinger! Children’s literature event. I don’t know why I didn’t fuss, I just got up there and filmed and interviewed a few authors and illustrators and chatted with the lovely Dog Ears team. That weekend I returned to volunteer at their main events and they made me Volunteer Manager on their busiest day. My proudest moment is probably collecting Tony Ross (Of Horrid Henry fame) from his hotel and befriending him, his posh accent and his cravat as we walked through Derry to his event in front of a packed St. Columb’s Hall. He was a dote, and I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t interview him on camera!

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I loved my visit to my great friend Time to Talk Beauty in Edinburgh at the beginning of the year. It’s a beautiful city and she and her fella were generous and fun and wonderful to spend time with. I’m dying to go back and I was so happy to see her in Belfast in the summer for Biffy Clyro.

I watched my sister graduate with a Cardiology degree, and shortly after get an amazing post at a Belfast hospital as a trainee Perfusionist. She is going to be put through her Masters and goes to London once a month for training. Not even jealous….

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I struggled with my own career after my placement and course ended. I applied in Edinburgh and London, thought Belfast with my sister was the answer for a while. So disheartening to receive radio silence when you are more than qualified. I wasn’t even sure what I wanted anymore. I had no job for what felt like a long time. I worry what people think more than anything. I hated thinking people were pitying me or exasperated at my slow progress compared to others. There’s a hint of ‘When is my break?’ I even did an Alternative CV the week I had to ‘sign on.’

My fairy godmother is better than yours.

My fairy godmother is better than yours.

I had a surprise, a kiss out of the blue. Someone who had been literally sitting opposite me for most of the year, but who I had failed to ‘see.’ I decided to ‘go with it,’ most unlike me, and it has been the most beautiful, unexpected blessing! I have been constantly surprised and delighted, sickeningly happier and I just haven’t looked back. I’m grateful to him for being brave, and I’m just dying about us. He got me a typewriter for Christmas. Need I say more?

Babies were born to friends, congratulations Cathy, Kelly, Sara and Laura. I am delighted for you all.

Baby Cara Rose and me. Love this little one! Know her Mummy since we did altar serving together many moons ago.

Baby Cara Rose and me. Love this little one! Know her Mummy since we did altar serving together many moons ago.

It’s been harder to see friends, but there have been treasured times of deep conversations into the night (my favourite), support, inspiration and love even from afar. You know who you are !

I got a Christmas job, on top of the casual job I had been doing. The hours were good, it’s basically a book shop, the people kind and the atmosphere pleasant. I have recently learned that I shall be kept on beyond the Christmas period, and although I said never retail again, and I can feel people’s disapproval, I am comfortable here for now. I am grateful for the work and I take each day as it comes. I try to brighten someones’ day and be as helpful as I can. I’m growing in confidence and keeping my creativity alive in ways not just through work. I’d appreciate your support as I try to navigate my life as best as possible.

Four special people turned fifty in the last month or two. Including my Daddy today! Congratulations you inspirational folks. I love you! Thank you for being a great part of my life.

(I lost about 600 words from this and am trying to rewrite. Aghh)

My last few days of 2014 and the Christmas period were some of the best days. I have enjoyed spending what time I was not in retail with my big, mad young family and my G and his family. I have just felt surrounded by a bubble of love (and chocolate!) and haven’t stop smiling.

It has ended perfectly.

I have no idea what to expect from you, 2015 but plenty of adventure, happiness and love for us all please. I intend to write. Blog posts and maybe other things. I need to! Thank you for supporting my little blog. And for bearing with me today. Let us go forth with hope. Happy New Year!

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