Miss G is 40




Today is a very special day. One of my most loved friends is 40! I am thinking of her all day, we are separated by some distance Derry- Edinburgh and I’d give anything to be giving her a big birthday squeeze and maybe clink a couple of cocktails. I tried to think of something a little bit special for her, so I came up with ’40 friendship things’ about her and me to celebrate the occasion. We have a special link to WordPress. We have been talking for maybe 6 years? And met for the first time IRL in 2013. Anyway. I know she is sometimes quite shy on social media so I hope this is cool, but she is someone so special to me, and my little way of marking the day. So, Happy Birthday my beautiful, loyal and generous friend. I love you very much. Please celebrate your 40 wonderful years with your whole heart, until we meet again!

40 friendship things

(A friendship that started on wordpress)

  1. Discovery through our blogs, she has a kick ass, impressively regularly updated beauty blog, that she can choose to link you below if she wants to! Inspiring, helpful and impressive stuff. Blog hero. I think she was the first to start leaving comments for me, from her blog to mine, maybe searching NI !
  2. Which leads me to… Love for NI, Belfast, and maybe someday Derry! We have had so many wonderful times here due to this, including at least 3 outings to Belsonic, a brilliant bus tour of the Causeway Coast, (I had never been through the Glens of Antrim) days and nights in Belfast, so much fun and discussion.
  3. Cocktail appreciation, homemade mojitos in East Lothian, and fancy expensive ones in the Europa hotel, where we felt scraggly and under dressed but happy, not to mention creating wonderful cocktails behind the bar at a beautiful bar in Manchester with her lovely hens.
  4. Snail mail, including postcards from places we have visited without each other, and lots of long letters when we were getting to know each other. She even asked me an important question by post which was a beautiful surprise!
  5. In -jokes and laughter by the bucket load.
  6. Breakfast discussions over coffee and sugary cereal. Mostly when her and her now-hubby are generously hosting me in lovely Scotland. But sometimes over hotel breakfast or that amazing apartment in Belfast. And oh how we miss each other in the first days back to reality, after.
  7. Music and lyric appreciation. The first dance at her wedding by the National was a killer ! “you know I dreamed about you/for 29 years before I saw you/ You know I dreamed about you/I missed you for 29 years.” – (Slow Show) I also in turn torture her re: Josh Ritter who she has seen live too! Coincidentally.
  8. ‘Getting married’ in Camera Obscura in Edinburgh, long before her husband popped the question. We got little rings and everything!
  9. Crying at the Europa Bus stop/ Edinburgh Airport when we are parted.
  10. Her loving appreciation of her beautiful home city of Edinburgh. It easily rubs off to captivated visitors.
  11. She;s my so called ‘Catfish friend’ – because we communicated through twitter and wordpress only for so long, I was vaguely nervous about meeting in person in Belfast in 2013. My mum was convinced she was a ‘big man’ and my brother was on standby (Sorry!!!)
  12. For some reason we had many an important life discussion in Pizza Express in Belfast. Boyfriends were voted out indirectly and wants and needs came into focus.
  13. A natural beauty with the best figure, this girl has a dressed down, relaxed style generally that actually makes me feel so much more comfortable being around her and allows us both to focus on the priorities!
  14. Book club jealousy. Sometimes they have cocktails at her group! No fair!
  15. Hair tips. Volumise! And have you tried conditioner washing?
  16. Whatsapp, email, text message, blog comments, retweets… invaluable digital support!
  17. Really similar world views! But still plenty to dissect and chat about.
  18. Open top tour love, and many lovely and hilarious bus experiences due to this.
  19. Belsonic freezing happiness! Suade, Stereophonics, Foy Vance.
  20. Late night drive-thru Krispy Kreme runs! That is all.
  21. A most loyal friend. Hard to find.
  22. We both went the journalism route at one stage, we both blog and we both want to write. I’d say we both have a flair! Her most definitely. Scribbling sisters.
  23. Luca’s ice cream sundaes. Belly bursting but in the idyllic town of Musselburgh and sometimes bittersweet a few hours before I went to the airport.
  24. We both have the most special Grandmothers in heaven whom we continue to love always, and who had a positive and meaningful impacts on our lives.
  25. Over thinking twins We understand each other as we are each as bad.
  26. Coffee appreciation.
  27. The patience and encouragement I feel from Edinburgh. Even when I feel my life is stagnant or I might be doing something crazy, she is calm and understanding. I only hope I even partly return the favour.
  28. Road trips, including in the party bus, Claudia and Bertha. Are the names right?
  29. Hotel Adventures. Ten Square, Belfast gets a special mention. Beautiful setting for our chats and food!
  30. Constantly inspired by her packed schedule of gigs and plays and events.
  31. Book gifting, swapping recommendations, reading the other’s review and chatting about words, it’s always a pleasure and I trust her judgement.
  32. Introvert issues. We usually have a story to tell or a quirk that’s wordlessly accepted!
  33. That hen do. A special little happy weekend of new friends, old friends, relaxing and escaping, city life, drinking and eating and shopping and pretending it’s #notahendo to the Airbnb man in Manchester.
  34. The German language. She speaks it brilliantly and her mother was a teacher, I want to get to that place and beyond!
  35. Overcoming our fears. We both recognise that we must, and we encourage the other ! We can do it.
  36. She is the most loving cat Mum of Mirren who is a beautiful girl I like to visit.
  37. Social media queen. Always handy with a hashtag and good photographic evidence of the event! I’m definitely partial to social media myself, heck we met here! But she does it so much better.
  38. Moments that we are forever bonded by : Fire friends?! And our car being attacked by zombies at a Drive-In cinema.
  39. The age she got married at. What a beautiful wedding, inspiring bride, gorgeous speech, breathtaking venue…Krispy Kreme donut cake, view of Edinburgh castle, walking to the chapel, being led by a big Piper, and best of all standing beside her as a bridesmaid, I couldn’t have been prouder! And so grateful for the beautiful honour that it was.
  40. So, on your 40th birthday my dear friend, I am so sad not to be there and I do hope you understand, but more than that I am so happy our digital and then real paths crossed, that we trusted our friendship senses and set out on this slightly long distance adventure. When we see each other the words tumble and the tears of laughter roll, we take life by the horns and we don’t give a shit what anyone thinks. I love it! And I truly do appreciate all your constant generosity and surprises, your support and your checking in with me through all my real trials and my over thought dilemmas. It’s truly my honour to know you, be inspired by, celebrate and cry with you and look forward to the future of our friendship.

Celebrate you as hard as you can! I hope we can have a cocktail soon. So much love rushing to you in Edinburgh, and hopefully a little box in the post too ❤




Happy Birthday Josh Ritter! 40 Lyrics

So, the most joyful of 40th Birthdays to Josh Ritter, the best singer/songwriter, lyrical genius, happiest smiling performer, political commentator, novelist, sound tracker of my life! Anyone who knows me knows of Josh, because I am such a fan of all his work, and have been for many years. Age 16 I was swept away by the lyrics on a random CD my first ever boyfriend gave me, it was a copy of 2002’s Hello Starling, and from the first song, Bright Smile, I was captivated. The music has gone in many wonderful directions since then, but I have to say that one little pretty song has always held a special place in my heart.

There’s been 5 albums since, I have had 11 or so years of listening to this wonderful wordsmith. I have never found any lyrics or music that spoke to, comforted me in difficult times and buoyed up my successes like the works of, or should I say the Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. I think I have saw him in concert here in Ireland 10 times, and met him on a handful of happy occasions. My favourite time was the porch of the Empire Music Hall in 2009, during my first month or so of University. We bonded over Muriel Spark if I remember rightly.

My bestie Aisling and me bumped heads trying to hug Josh after one of my first times seeing him in Letterkenny, probably in 2007. My Mammy still feels a little ill when she listens to Kathleen because she was pregnant with Ellen when she listened to the album a lot and it calls up the morning sickness. Josh was there when relationships came and went and the words surrounded me on my best and worst days. Every workplace I was in or class I took I always converted a few to the Book of Ritter! To the point of being teased.

I have made so many memories, and met some good friends. This music has really enriched my days and I’m not doing it justice here.

As part of the celebrations, to let the birthday boy know how much all his songs are loved and appreciated, I bullied  requested that my friends and family help me out on a little lyrical project. Aisling gave me the idea of my 40 favourite lyrics, and I loved that idea, so these are at least 40 significant lyrics (I probably could go on forever.) And then to make it interesting, I assigned different people in my life some lyrics to hand write, and decorate as they saw fit. There are some works of art here. I think I might finally get an idea for a tattoo…

These lyrics all mean something to me, so take a wee minute to be inspired. 

In no particular order, I give you 40 lyrics from the man of the moment, Idaho legend Josh Ritter! Happy Birthday, Josh. Thank you for writing such rich and magical poetry to music. These songs have genuinely made a big difference in my life.

I think I will let the lyrics mostly speak for themselves. It’s only little snippets, but I strongly advise you chase the song up and give it a listen. Enjoy!



Beginning how it began, Bright Smile.

@thebadactress is now my username for most things… including Twitter. Where Josh follows me! Huzzah.
























I find more and more depth to this song every time. Considering ending the world just to stay in an underground bunker with your love…











A magical story of a ‘cursed’ Egyptian Mummy falling in love with an archaeologist.






















Beginning of relationship questions and wishes!























Like, what a compliment… and Ellen did a great job of the mini Aurora Borealis.




A beautiful story song that gets me right in the feels every time. Also cleverly inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s Annabel Lee. The first time I heard it I assumed it was an old cover of a classic song.










A definite ‘up there’ for my favourite song.








This song was a bit of a commentary on the Bush administration 10 years ago… but so apt today.











If you’re familiar with the next line, Jacob (7) drew a blackbird, a starling and winter being over by spring flowers. Awww.




Joy to you, Josh, wherever you are on your 40th Birthday. You have done the music world, and the world in general so much good by being here. Thank you for keeping me company through music, and offering so much inspiration through your words. Keep doing what you’re doing, and please come back to Ireland when you can.

Happy Birthday!

Fiona x

Huge THANK YOU to my artistic contributors who were put under some pressure! I am so impressed and I owe you :

A. Breslin

Dr. A. Duffy

L. Gilmour

C. Lafferty

R. Harley

Dr. M. Montague

E. Mc Callion

J. Mc Callion

P. Mc Callion

S. Rooney

M. Turner

C. Tracey

And an extra special thank you to A. Nelson who really made me want to get my friends involved cause of her calligraphy skills. Beautiful! 

Birthday Bubble

I turned 27 on Saturday, and am somewhat disturbed by this. However, after two nights out I think I have hit a bit of a depressive stage today. I have been feeling so loved and spoiled all weekend I thought I would let it spill into a blog post.

I had to work on my birthday, just from 2-7 (27!) and I did try to swap it, alas. But in the morning I was spoiled with a coconut cream finger, and many paper creations from Ellen and Jacob. Well really just Ellen. Jacob gave me 70 cents from the windowsill. Ellen who is 9’s masterpiece was a big map with a 3D library, a ‘gorgeous garden’ made from a Graze Box and our house complete with 10 family members. There was a really cute note on it saying I didn’t have to keep it if it was too big.

After my sweaty shift manning the stationery department, I rushed home and enlisted my lovely visiting Belfast sister to do my hair and make up which was happy days for me. She had bought me some lovely make up from Soap and Glory which we tried out. We have become really good friends of late. We don’t contact each other that much when she’s not at home, but we have late night chats and laughs when she’s back, we are weirdly similar and different, and herself and her boyfriend are so good to me and our family.

I got several lovely cards and packages, and because people know I love snail mail they probably feel under pressure, but they are not and it was a lovely surprise. Thank you Ruth, Mammy, Abbye and L! Too kind and generous. What funny, pretty birthday parcels.

Caoimhe and me had already had quite a good week of events, she got me a ticket to Lisa Hannigan in Belfast for last Sunday, which was beautiful and then we had the time of our lives at Sarah Millican on Tuesday! Still laughing about that. We are both more and more determined to make the most of it and it is working out well for now!

So, I was ultimately late to my own birthday night, but five of us went to Claire’s house to have a few drinks including pink prosecco before heading out. Two are friends for 16 years, one about 8 years and one is a new friend.

We got carried away and had such a laugh, and a serious conversation about sexism in the workplace. We celebrated being 27, some being single, that pHD, we took selfies and learned about snapchat. And this is what is so important to me about friendship, and in particular female friendship (one of my favourite subjects and indeed things) all of us have difficult things happening in our lives, some really hard stuff for some of my best friends that I know of, but there is just a constant circle of support, and closeness and yes, love. This often gives way to the best laughs, and teasing. There is nothing like it. We left it so late to go out that we weren’t sure where to go, but you know what? It didn’t matter. We got a wee corner to dance in and everyone was happy and I mostly remember laughing!

Aisling, the George to my Fred had sent me this quote which I love;

The best kind of friendships are fierce lady friendships where you aggressively believe in each other, defend each other, and think the other deserves the world.

We met some interesting people as we weaved our way home, and my friends looked after me really well! Plenty to tease me about in future, I am sure but that’s ok!

I dragged myself out of bed after a few hours to do the Foyle Hospice Walk/Run and it wasn’t that pretty, but it was for a good cause and I got to see Ruth and baby Luke and properly meet her sisters and mum so it was all good.

A power nap and some Chinese food later, Claire and Aisling decided on Sunday Sips so away we went again! Quieter drinks in Claire’s and the bar later. But we all felt happy and I really appreciated the friendship and the love bubble.

I think I just really wanted to get my gratitude on, and really appreciate all the kindness that has been shown to me over the last few days, but really all the time with these girls! Again as I always say, I am at a bit of a funny place in my life, and I at least thought I would be married off by this stage, and making a bit more money but I really am trying to be appreciative of the wonderful gifts that I do have, and keep hoping. I did have a huge disappointment, and a mysterious bouquet of flowers within a week so I guess anything could happen, ha.

This could be our year! And I will get by with a little help from my friends.




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.


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


Double Birthday

September is a big month for birthdays for me. I have already had a handful, a cinema trip with little sisters and a night out or two for friends’ birthdays. All those Christmas babies… ewww! 😀 (9 months after Christmas…)

Today is a very special day, on 23 September 2009, my BFF Aisling turned 21 and my little brother Jacob was born. I had just started my 4th day at Queens University, a few years after everyone else.

So today, my beautiful friend is 24. She’s a phD student and works so hard – she is doing super important work on Alzheimer’s research and it’s a cause very close to her heart. I’ve known her since the very first day of secondary school in 2000 and even though the distances have kept us apart over the years we have never lost contact or stopped loving each other! I am jealous of her good looks and her tattoos. I hope we are friends for the next 12 years and beyond! Happy 24th Birthday, George! P.S It’s Bruce Springsteen and KARL PILKINGTON’s birthdays today too!

If we could all give a wee donation to The Alzheimers Society and maybe follow them on Twitter: @alzheimerssoc, we would be giving her a lovely wee birthday pressie by helping her research continue AND we’d be doing a very good thing. She’s good like that. (Don’t worry Aisling, I will still get you a present!)

Next we have my little brother Jacob. Or Jake-meister as I like to call him. I can’t believe he’s 3 years old today! He came along to our huge family after 5 girls in a row, so he was a great wee surprise, even though I can’t admit to be that excited about his arrival beforehand, being 20 years old. I’m child no1, we have a brother who is child no.3, then it was lots of wee sisters before we got to the Jake-Meister. He is sometimes a little confused and thinks he is a sister, I reckon. All the dolls have gone to his head. You know how little kids pull their arms out of the sleeves of their coats, hang them on to their heads by the hood and then run around pretending their Superman? Jake used to do that and pretend it was his long hair, tossing it from side to side. Lately he has been watching the Batman cartoon and it was a sigh of relief when he loved the Batman figure I got him and Mr. Potato Head. I would have got him a Barbie if M let me. He is a wee light in my life and I love him to pieces, Happy 3rd Birthday Jake!

I’m lucky to have such great people in my life to celebrate with.


There are five sisters. She is the Middlest.

Direct quote from The Middlest Sister.

My sister was 12 yesterday. I am the eldest and she is the fifth of eight children. I was a few months shy of 11 when she was born, and I think I was the most enthusiastic about feeding her and carrying her about and ‘looking after’ her for Mum than any of the other babies that I remember. She was a millenium baby (I wonder if that will mean anything someday?) I made my Mum promise no more, 5 was more than enough. She agreed with me at the time!

Now I feel a little pang of sadness at the distance between us. I don’t feel that I really know her. She has started secondary school this year and has seemingly got a good bit quieter, grumpier, serious. She wears some make up and sometimes even tan on her legs for school. This makes me worry that the all girl school puts her under pressure to do these things. I can talk to my Mum easier than I talk to her about these things. Her clothes are cheap and cheerful like the rest of us, but always pretty and fashionable, and even something I’d wear, grown up without being unsuitable. Chinos and long cardigans and headscarves and coolness.

I was greasy haired and big eyebrow-ed, wouldn’t think of make-up for a good few years, very uncomfortable in my skin and massive school blazer… at that age. I suppose I didn’t have 3 elder sisters to mimic but she is streets ahead of me on the cool scale. 

Things she does reminds me recently so strongly of myself… What really struck me as I mooched around home the last few weekends, as I never usually do… was that she listens to the charts on Sundays on a Cd player/radio. It’s not as fun as it sounds, if you’ve ever listened to them… it goes on for hours, but I did it too, sometimes. When I was that age, children were cruel and I didn’t have a clue about music. It was really a worry and sore spot for me because I felt people laughed at me for not being able to sing along. I remember asking my cousin to teach me the names of the members of Westlife in a Virgin Megastore in Scotland, and I remember crying when my aunt bought me a Spice Girls necklace because I didn’t know anything about them and I felt I should. I wonder if she is hanging around waiting through the Top 40 all Sunday afternoon because she wants to, or because she is listening carefully for the secrets of growing up and fitting in, that are as closely guarded as this week’s number one.

The girls in our house have all kind of paired off, and this sister would be closest to Marie, my 14 year old sister who is currently at the same school. I am only realising this now, really, about the girls as I write this. The two boys… well my brother at the same University as me, keeps himself to himself, wouldn’t be caught dead with any of us. Jake-meister is adored by all at 2 years old and has cuddled his way into everyone’s clicks. We are very close as a general rule but we’ve divided off temporarily and by no means exclusively in this way for now.

Anyway, I think age 12 is the age I should try to reach out a hand to my sister, she maybe could do with the been-there-done-that comfort, if we can break the awkward barrier. I’m not feeling like a very good big sister of late.

To new beginnings… And better showings of love! Happy 12th Birthday Grace.

'Five Sisters' by Paula De Leo

Happy Birthday Mum

From her birthday last year

A wee Christmas 45th Birthday for my lovely Mammy today. Despite the fact that Christmas Birthdays are a Rip Off I am hoping she has a lovely day. She does SO much for us, it’s actually not very fair. And she probably won’t do anything to celebrate, 8 children and 4 days before Christmas will do that… I will chip in to help though, even though these essays are surprisingly NOT doing themselves. I hope she knows how much I appreciate her, and even as a 22 year old woman I’d be lost without her.

I bought this wee gift book, and despite the horribly cheesy floral design, this page rang so true that I choked up in the middle of WH Smith:

It's a Helen Exley giftbook and it looks like they've updated a lot since whenever WH Smith ordered this...


Here is the cutest photo of Jacob yesterday when he helped wrap up his present for Mum - I let him have the socks I got her - and then I helped him hide it under his cot for today!

Happy 45th Birthday Mammy! Maybe I will print this out for you since you don’t use computers. I will teach you some day… when you have time!