29 Things I Have Learned

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Hello, in honour of turning 29 today (what!) I came up with 29 things that I have learned so far, which may be of use to you. I’m hoping for a low-key celebration involving family, Gap coffee co, friend catch ups and hopefully cake.

  1. Worry is pointless. Though that barely stops me. Worry unsettles your mind and really takes over. Stop worrying! Easier said than done and I struggle with this every day.
  2. In times of hard stuff, self care is important! I know it’s a buzz word at the moment. But I love when people say ‘Be gentle with yourself’ You really should. I like lattes and cake in pretty cafes, getting lost in a book, spending time with life giving people and the occasional massage.
  3. TRUST YOUR GUT. It can be hard to do, but deep down you know. Please listen.
  4. A loving family is priceless. When everything has gone terribly wrong, they are there for me. So many people don’t have that and I’m grateful.
  5. Hard and horrible life events can be overcome. Things are changing daily. Stuff is happening behind the scenes. Trust, take another step.
  6. Josh Ritter is the best songwriter in the whole world.
  7. You don’t have to be nice to men on public transport or customers in work who are being inappropriate/ in your personal space or making you feel uncomfortable.
  8. Kindness is so, so important. And you will get it back if you give it away.
  9. Reading is a magical gift. Words can soothe, distract, educate, amaze.
  10. Social media is exciting, addictive and fascinating. It can be a major curse too. A necessary evil. Be careful.
  11. It’s ok not to know what you want to do with your life. I feel upset and confused about this all the time. But enjoy the journey and keep moving forward. If you can’t see where to go next, bloom where you are planted.
  12. Grannies are so very special. My Granny Mc was my biggest fan. My Granny Breslin had the most amazing story and raised a big, beautiful family. I lost them both in 2017. But I feel them with me, and love doesn’t go away.
  13. Being a bridesmaid is a beautiful honour.
  14. If you don’t ask for and demand respect in a relationship, you won’t always get it.
  15. RuPaul’s Drag Race is the only and best trash TV that I watch (on Netflix). The transformation of men into beautiful drag queens is amazing. And it’s so quotable. “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Truth, queen.
  16. The days are long but the years are short.
  17. Big families are cool. I always say it’s only good at Christmas, but I think as a support system even for future it’s a definite comfort.
  18. The truth is the truth, even if everyone else believes a lie.
  19. We are all addicted to our phones. It’s so bad for human connection. And won’t end well.
  20. Giving your time to someone is one of the most powerful and special gifts you can give. Children and romantic partners will especially appreciate it.
  21. Walking away from busy roads, preferably in nature is a zillion times better than walking along a main road, when ‘out for a walk.’ Walking is great for getting out of your head a bit.
  22. I know I will probably go on about it forever, but a personal, old fashioned letter in the post is both beautiful to receive and joyful to post.
  23. “Was she crazy? Or did he make her crazy?” Oh I hated when my friend said this, in response to how a boy I cared about described his ex. She is so right though. I have definitely acted so crazy, but only in response to upsetting and disrespectful behaviour pushing me over the edge.
  24. Going out for breakfast is such a lovely way to cheer yourself up and ease into the day. Underrated.
  25. If a door is completely shut in your face, no matter how disappointed or upset you may be, trust that God will open another.
  26. Life is a balance of holding on and letting go – Rumi
  27. If you don’t go out of your comfort zone, it gets smaller and smaller. If you step outside every day, eventually it stretches until you’re doing things you never thought possible. (I have this is theory but not often practice)
  28. I should always try to write more. I have taken to writing down thoughts and feelings, but I’d love to finally start writing something properly.
  29. I have arrived at this age, 29, feeling rather defeated. It’s been rough the last month especially. Truly don’t know where or what I would be without people who love, support and don’t judge me too harshly. I have almost descended into cliches and quotations here, but I’m taking one day at a time, trying to see the next step. I’m home again, in every sense of the word. This birthday seems scary and very serious but I’m also grateful for a new start. A fresh year, what could be nicer?

Thank you for the birthday visit! I can scarcely believe I am 29. Comparison is the thief of joy so I’m not comparing myself to any other person, at least for today. I’m healthy and I’m loved. I hope you have a beautiful day, maybe we can celebrate soon. Much love x

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7 Year Itch

They seem to get closer and closer together, but I’m writing this with two minutes to go on the 7th birthday of my dear old blog Life Lyrics and Lemon cake ! Although we had a meagre 2017, (I lost two beloved Grannies ) I’m still proud of my wee section of the internet, and I’m glad I have this platform should I see fit to use it. I have higher hopes for writing for 2018, and I am hoping to make exciting changes to my life really soon, and I want this blog to be there as a testament to that.

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Birthday Card by Happy Jackson

My writing has been virtually non-existent in recent months…years. I know that writing is something important to me, I just wish I could find my fire. Maybe I still have to do a bit of living first?! Half a shelf of beautiful blank notebooks have me thinking.

I have finished my first book of 2018- The Power by Naomi Alderman. Impressive! It took me a while to get through, mostly because of life being busy and my visitors from Germany.

I’m now reading Three Things About Elsie by the wonderful Joanna Cannon. (I’ve loved her blog since forever!) It’s just gorgeous and thoughtful so far. It also has pictures of Battenberg on the cover ! So I hope to have a few reviews soon.

This is my 218th post. I still don’t have a specialised niche. thank you for reading as always about books, letters, love, life, friendship and Josh Ritter.

Also a funny lemon cake story from last year, while in a freezing Strasburg with P in November, we went into a cafe bar for coffee and I was too shy to really use any of my GCSE French (Sorry Monsieur Gallagher). I was asking the lovely French waitress for a slice of lemon meringue in my dirty Derry accent while the half German rolled about laughing and she wondered what in the world I was talking about. I still have to work on my Universal English skillz.

I’m attempting the ‘curly girl’ conditioner-washing method on my hair for a couple of weeks. So far, oily scalp is the problem as I knew it would be, and my hair isn’t going curly very much. There were years when I was about 16 when it really did curl up with no effort! Does anyone have any experience/advice? I wonder should I give up or try to persevere. This is random information, but since we were catching up …:)

Anyway, happy 7th birthday to the blog! Thank you to my readers. Please stay with me on my 2018 writing journey. The internet can be lovely place for creatives sometimes.

How to Support the Writers + Artists you Love

Fi

x

Another Blogiversary: 6 Years

I am proud and amazed to note that today January 27 marks the SIXTH Anniversary of this blog, Life, Lyrics and Lemon Cake. I can’t tell you the comfort and connection I have received from writing and getting feedback from my little thoughts and words. Thank you so much for reading, whether you are old or new! It’s meant so much.

I have talked about it before, but I still remember clearly the ‘launch’ of my blog in Melrose Street 2011, my second year at Queen’s University. When my housemates (and besties!) were so supportive and meticulously went through and commented on all the blog posts I had been secretly publishing.

I have never had a ‘niche’ for my topics. It’s made it harder but I just try to be honest and maybe write something that will help someone, or make them think ‘me too.’ So it can be difficult if I’m feeling a bit down or not myself. My lovely good friend Ruth mentioned that I hadn’t been blogging much lately and I voiced my fear that I didn’t want negativity to leak into my posts.  I like to be positive and helpful and I didn’t really feel up to it. I hope that can change soon! The writing sometimes helps in and of itself.

I was so inspired by female bloggers back in the day, and as a person who really wishes to WRITE blogging seemed attractive. I’m glad I did it.

My friend Aisling suggested I choose 6 significant posts. I had a little wander down memory lane. It’s strange as always to see mentions and traces of old flames, for example and I almost have the urge to purge like one does with facebook! But this is all part of my story and perhaps better to be preserved in full. Do you know I have had a few recent requests not to be written about recently too. Ooh the power!

I didn’t put too much thought into this, just trusted my gut and highlighted 6 posts that I feel proud of or are worth a mention again. Also those archives are vast! And a little scary, ha. 6 posts for 6 years!

  1. Traps 

This is an article that almost broke my rule of no ranting. But I think it’s very appropriate in this week with all the amazing feminism examples around us. Just really about not having to be nice to creeps when they have you cornered! I have linked to an excellent article by Daisy Buchanan.

2. Slow Burning: The Electric Michelangelo

I like to read, and therefore write book reviews, and this was one that really stood out last year. I still have a quote pinned to my wall. ‘But sometimes what choice have we? Life conspires to plant us in the funniest of gardens, where the trees need an especial form of tending.’ Beautiful book by Sarah Hall

3. Send Some Happy

There are actually several posts regarding one of my favourite subjects and past times, snail mail! Really enjoyed collaborating with Zoe on this.  See? The friends you make through blogging. Like minded letter writers!

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4. Josh Ritter! On Meeting Your Heroes

Hey, we couldn’t do this without mentioning THE reason for the ‘Lyrics’ in LLL? This made me smile to read how excited I was. Still so proud to be Josh’s biggest fan. I was very proud of my more recent celebration of the main man’s 40th birthday. Keep on rocking, Josh!

5. Ode to 15 Journo Students

An important time in my life, that NCTJ accredited Journalism course that I left my job for in 2013. A lot changed for me that year. I got to test out my writing skills in a different way, I drank an awful lot and I made a few firm friends.

6. Trust Your Gut

A somewhat scary, raw one for me to post. But I had to do it. Some of it maybe is too much, and things have changed a little, but this lesson was a hard one learned over many years of trying and failing to be happy within relationships. I really hope it was able to help someone!

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Are there any posts that have stood out to you? Is there anything you would like to see?

So, lets all have a slice of lemon cake and a coffee the next chance we get, and thank you sincerely from my heart to yours for your support for these 6 years. It means the world to me when people mention my blog in ‘real life’ or even old fashioned comments. And I feel better for having this little corner of the internet and a connection with you.

 

Magazines To Make You Happy

The only magazines I buy are ones that don’t push beauty or fashion or promote female body shaming. I have never been interested in those type of magazines. What’s that line from Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) ‘Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.’

I totally agree. Lately I have been spending a little more money on these, and gaining so much comfort and joy and inspiration.

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Despite these particular covers, neither of these magazines dwells on woman’s bodies and how they should look at all.

Flow magazine is my especial favourite. A magazine for paper lovers, one back issue claimed. I thought it was going to be about crafts, but the pages are made from different weights of paper, you always get a free wonderful gift, in paper form, this time it’s a Tiny Pleasures Art Journal. I have a little flip calendar that I had to press out and loop on a ring by my bedside and the daily thoughts, advice and illustrations brighten my day no end. I sometimes Instagram them under #366daysofflow via @thebadactress. I love Instagram. In fact I think I may have first heard of Flow through @miekesmakes.

‘Celebrating creativity, imperfection and life’s little pleasures.’ In this issue, the gorgeous letter from editors Irene and Astrid celebrates the ordinary. There’s an article within this issue from Flemish psychiatrist and professor Dirk de Wachter. It’s a Dutch magazine, so I think translated into English quite recently so you get to discover all kinds of experts and creators who you would normally have no way of finding. Anyway I can’t wait to read Dirk’s article which is quoted here, ‘The coincidence of fate, finding without searching, noticing the little things and being open to whatever crosses your path: that’s where the beauty of life can be found.’

This is a beautiful magazine inside and out, so far I have found a lovely thoughtful article that talks about when we are feeling unhappy, we tend to think we need to make drastic changes in our lives. ‘But solutions can often be found in small things, and much closer to home.’ Also a celebration of rain, a story of how a journalist lost all her pictures including baby pictures on her hard drive, and how bad of a loss was it really? And the art of good conversation, and how the writer craves deep conversations. (Me too!)

It’s the most wonderful, different and amazing magazine, four per year. My work stocks it, and you can subscribe or order individual issues at flowmagazine.com

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Oh Comely is next up. Again, a beautiful quiet magazine, this one is printed in London. So many curiosities here, and I gobbled it up on my little propeller plane to Edinburgh recently. The girl beside me was reading Marian Keyes’ Under the Duvet on her ereader and I really should have made friends with her. I was hoping I looked cool with this magazine.

There is a lot of white space on the page, and the white cover make it feel clean. There are beautiful illustrations and interviews. I especially enjoy the readers letters. There is actual photographs of the snail mail the magazine receives which I find charming. There was a letter and illustration from a girl who is like my soul sister @cerezinspring. I feel exactly like you about snail mail!

I loved this article by Lara Watson about Freya Stark (Women who changed the world) It reminded me of you, Abbye.

Stark took advantage of her gender to experience the aspects of women’s lives hidden from her male counterparts and, when she wanted, to bend the rules. “The great and almost only comfort about being a woman is that one can always pretend to be more stupid than one is and no one is surprised.”

I remember the first time I saw this magazine in a WHSmith in Belfast there was a piece where all this strange stuff had been put through the post, maybe a banana that looked like a gun, icing sugar that looked like drugs etc to see if they would reach their destination. And then just silly things too.

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Illustration By Meera Lee Patel

Other articles I enjoyed was ‘Cocktails: A brief history in six drinks’ by Jason Ward. ‘The main ingredients of Sex on the Beach are peach schnapps, vodka, melted Rubik’s Cubes, a Wham! cassingle and orange juice.’ A piece on climbing trees as an adult, and a beautiful article by Becky MacNaughton called The Adventurous Aisle in which she writes ‘You can learn a lot about a person in a supermarket, you know.’ ‘I decided I loved him in a Tesco. It was partly in the way he spent a little too long choosing a fabric softener.’

I used to have a subscription to this magazine, I think I will again.

I felt more warmth towards those than I thought, thank you for bearing with me! And do check out these magazines, I don’t think you’ll regret it. Magazines still sell surprisingly well, one of the biggest jobs at work is ‘The News’ and they work really hard and get through a big pile of magazines every week. I am obvs also a ‘Hero’ gang member of Standard Issue, Sarah Millican’s ‘no bullshit’ magazine. Love that also. Happy reading!

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

A Visitor for the Funky Kitsch Inn

I have been meaning to post this all week, just a little busy so hoping it’s not too late. Wonderful local cupcake company The Kitsch Inn and cake extraordinaries Funky Cakes last year merged to make The Funky Kitsch Inn, which still stocks and creates fabulous and yummy creations but now runs a studio which welcomes birthday parties, workshops, hen do’s, afternoon tea, guest visitors and events where you will learn techniques to create stunning cupcakes and yummy treats.

Just over a week ago they welcomed celebrity of the vintage wedding cake world Tracy James to their studio for several masterclasses. The classes were booked up straight away and a busy, amazing and rewarding week was had by all at The Funky Kitsch Inn.

I wrote this piece about the visit :

Cotton & Crumbs arrive in Derry!

This week saw worldwide renowned ‘Cotton & Crumbs’ cake creator Tracy James host two sold out cake decorating classes in Derry.

Tracy touched down in Northern Ireland for the first time, choosing The Funky Kitsch Inn cake studio in Derry-Londonderry to deliver a series of cake decorating master classes. Her next stop is Barcelona!

 

Cotton & Crumbs is an award winning cake company based in England. Tracy is renowned worldwide for her vintage inspired cake creations; setting the trend in wedding cake and cupcakes. When she isn’t baking the next many –tiered delight she travels the world, teaching the tricks of the trade to cake bakers and hobbyists.

 

Laura Cairns from The Funky Kitsch Inn said ‘Tracy is an inspiration to small cake businesses; the ease with which she has grown her home based business to achieve world wide acclaim is beyond impressive. Having been self taught, she teachers her skills with pride and passion and we are utterly delighted to have her here in Derry.’

 

The group in the Tracy James master class with their handiwork at The Funky Kitsch Inn, Derry. Photo from Cotton and Crumbs.
The group in the Tracy James master class with their handiwork at The Funky Kitsch Inn, Derry. Photo from Cotton and Crumbs.

 

Anticipating the week of specialist cake crafting, a status on The Funky Kitsch Inn Facebook declared, ‘What Tracy doesn’t know about sugar flowers isn’t worth knowing!’

 

Comments from participants of the master classes have been flowing in, The Rowan Tree Cakes said ‘I’m very happy with the results of my course at Funky Kitsch Inn in Derry by fabulous Tracy James from Cotton and Crumbs.’

 

Iliana from The Rowan Tree Cakes, Ballymena commended and thanked both The Funky Kitsch Inn and Tracy James saying it was ‘a fantastic experience.’

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Some of the final creations from the masterclass. Thanks to The Rowan Tree Cakes for photo.
Some of the final creations from the masterclass. Thanks to The Rowan Tree Cakes for photos.

 

She said, ‘I found the class extremely helpful for bakers like me trying to improve skills and give to their cake a modern make over.
I was impressed by the level of detail and finesse that Tracy put into every petal and piping on the cakes.
I definitely took a lot in from this course, it was a refreshing experience overall.’  (The Rowan Tree Cakes )
Check ‘The Funky Kitsch Inn’ Facebook page to see photos of the workshop and finished cakes from the special Cotton and Crumbs master classes. There were lots of regrets from people who missed out on the workshop this time, but keep checking the page for more classes, competitions and maybe Tracy’s return!

 

https://www.facebook.com/thefunkykitschinn

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cotton-Crumbs/47401303755

 

Halloween cupcakes from The Funky Kitsch Inn:

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They also designed my blog’s first anniversary cupcakes that I treated myself to! Two years ago now. Why ever not?!

These still get talked about in my house! Yum!
These still get talked about in my house! Yum!

 

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

Thank you very much to my good friend Miss G at Time to Talk Beauty for the nomination AND the snail mail package all in the one day. I am consistently amazed at her dedicated daily blogs about all kinds of beauty related treats and treatment. We met through blogging and became friends on twitter and met up a year ago and haven’t looked back!  Delighted to have been nominated, not least to get me blogging again.

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The rules:

– Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.

– Put the award logo on your blog.

– Answer the ten questions they have set you.

– Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.

– Nominate up to ten new people.

 

Miss G’s Questions for me:

1. Why did you start blogging?

As a reader, I found blogs endlessly exciting and interesting. It’s just reading in a digital kinda way. I also got a great sense of connection and community from blogging. I wanted to scratch my eternal writing itch and be a part of that community.

2. What is your number one beauty product?

Hmm. I’m really not one for beauty products but maybe tinted moisturiser/Garnier BB Cream. I can deal with only that if I have to and it’s my base for any make up I do wear.

3. What do you spend more time on before a night out; hair or make-up?

Probably hair as I’m not great at either but I have a make up routine at least. My hair is a bit wavy and frizzy so it does need some work. You will usually find me persuading my sister or Mammy to plait it or fix it some way for me.

4. Who are your fashion and beauty heroines / muses?

I actually have no idea. Um. I loved Chantry’s character in the recent great ‘What If’ film, she was played by Zoe Kazan (Who kinda looks like Zooey Deschanel). I like a cutsey dress sense. And natural make up. 

5. If you have a favourite film, what is it and why?

Maybe I should reassess, but I think it’s ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ it’s just a love story, two people meant to be together no matter what crazy stuff they do. In a presumably futuristic world they impulsively ‘erase’ the other from the memory. It needs to be watched at least twice. Wonderful cast and incredibly clever story.

6. What is the best shampoo you’ve ever used?

Probably that ‘spensive Aussie stuff. I love the smell of it! 

7. What is your favourite city?

I’m going to say Edinburgh… Just to stay in Miss G’s good books. The film ‘Midnight in Paris’ makes me crave to see Paris sometime, maybe that would change my mind??

8. False lashes, mascara, or both?

Mascara. Don’t have the patience and dedication for false lashes. I had them once for a wedding and I liked the effect though!

9. What is the best lip balm you’ve used?

I used to love the Body Shop ones when I was younger. In the colourful tubs. Mandarin flavour!

10. What is your current mood?

Hopeful. The best way to be. 

My Nominees

Butterflies and Roses

Girl in the Gloaming

Paper and Salt

Lupus in Flight

Little Grey Box

 

My questions for them:

1. Do you have a make up must-have?

2. How are you at ‘doing hair’ ? Tips?

3. What is the last book you read?

4. What is your favourite dessert?

5. What’s the last song lyric to strike a chord with you?

6. Who would play you in a film about your life?

7. Do you think the theatre is still relevant?

8. What does blogging mean to you?

9. Is social media a blessing or a curse?

10. A telling question, ultimately is what you do for a living important?