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 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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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?

Alternative CV – A creative writer type

Craving creativity.

A trained journalist with a degree in English and a little bit of Philosophy.

Passion for books and reading and words. A logophile.

A love of listening to people’s stories.

Social media bug arising from a desire to connect and reach out to people.

11 GCSES with a smattering of starred A’s.

3 solid A Levels.

A need to avoid retail.

Six years experience in a busy Opticians which was customer orientated, retail and reception and more.

A hard worker, a friendly face, a good team-mate.

A keen learner, a curious discover, creative minded.

Appreciator of beautiful things. Clean designs.

Fan of old fashioned snail mail for correspondence.

Volunteered happily at children’s book festivals ( a volunteer manager!) and children’s summer schemes.

Six months placement experience at a busy local newspaper. Plenty of by lines I could show you.

An award for excellence in Journalism.

Three years solid creative blogging.

Genuine person with a lot to give!

Confidence newly blossomed in the last few years.

Give me Journalism. Give me publishing. Give me a book review job. Give me means to write a novel. I might break my retail rule to sell books for now. The wishy washy Arts have my heart.

Let me use my strengths and loves to earn a wage and be dignified. Allow me to grow and find my way and feel fulfilled.

Half tongue in cheek. Half serious. Get in touch allusive UK creative head hunters!

References available on request. Also normal CVs.

Picture from here.
Picture from here.

 

Fiona

Derry, Ireland

fionamc55ATbtinternetDOTcom