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 and I met the love of my life) 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.

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 bout 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




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 ❤



On Hope

The following is a very short piece I wrote on the topic ‘hope,’ which was the theme of the Women Who Write’s February meeting. (A wonderful monthly group that started last year.) I had been despairing on the facebook page that maybe I wasn’t a woman who writes. I began to worry and run out of time and I even took to twitter to ask people what hope meant to them. I was glad to have the discussions with people, and I ended up being really emotional in a good way! Hope is one of my favourites.


I find hope in the usual places; crossed fingers and candles for job applications, a fresh notebook, an unopened letter. First messages, meetings, coffees. Anywhere there is possibility. The new year and spring time are hope’s favourite dates in the calendar.

I’d like to deliver hope to the unusual places too.  Oh, to stand at the end of the bridge like a gatekeeper. And place a little parcel of hope in the pocket of any son or daughter who feels they can’t go on. It would warm their heart and slow their feet. It would provide just enough light to see a way through for the next few hours, until the next phone call, the next conversation. It would whisper of love, family, friends and future.

My 7-year-old brother said hope is waiting for something that you are looking forward to. My colleague said hope is not quite a wish, not a strong as a prayer, but a strong want.  My philosophical friend said somewhat pessimistically, ‘…of little use in and of itself: can be as stifling and paralysing as it can be inspiring to action. Grasped at in a void, you’ll probably take nothing more than self-delusion and disappointment from it.’ In these hopeful conversations, I heard the story of a young woman who died last year, after a battle with brain cancer which spanned her whole adult life. She somehow managed to stay positive through years of pain and setbacks. Ten years ago she named her miracle baby Hope. Now her friend says he can’t think of Hope without thinking of Emma.

In these treacherous Trump times lies are being told. You’re not good enough. You don’t belong. You can’t cope.  A foundation of faith, hope and love is vital. Of these beautiful triplets love may be the greatest, but there is a lot to be said for hope.


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!


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!



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.



Hello 2017

Happy New Year, blog. I’m full of hope, as ever. I really like the feeling on New Year’s Eve especially, and the promise of a bright clean new year full of possibilities. Thank you so much for reading in 2016. It’s been sporadic enough, I know. Perhaps I will try not let fear hold me back in 2017. My desire/ reluctance to write is laced with fear I think. Also, I have said it before but I like that my blog is my one link to writing when there is nothing else going on.

This year I have went to a few warm, funny, gifted meetings with Women Who Write. I have done a bit of freelance feature writing with a local newspaper, got some decent blog posts in, and wrote many a letter (snail mail!) for my friends and family. There was also a lot of writing involved in my Mammy’s recent 50th birthday celebrations, which went sooo well and she loved.

Today I read and was inspired by this article on Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year.

I got a little sad before I went to party with my two best friends last night. Yes. 3 person party. It was amazing. Just basically this: that I have been stuck in a rut for a few years and EVERY new year I hope that things will start falling into place. They have not so far! But don’t get me wrong I am extremely grateful to have a job, a brilliant family, wonderful friends and a good life. And my hoping is unfazed. I have to adjust my attitude, I know. I often have the feeling that I need to DO SOMETHING but I am still figuring out what.

I have been single for almost a whole year now, which is a first for adult me. I am not sure that I have made the most of it at all, but I definitely needed this time. I’m not pining for someone, although I do talk a good deal, and I think I am comfortable being on my own for now. I joke that my bullshit detector is finally working after all these years. I think I am going to be able to work out quite quickly if someone is just not treating me with enough respect, or I can’t see it going somewhere. The way of the world is not usually the way that I roll! So it’s difficult, it is, but relationships are important to me. And playing the game is not something I’m willing to do, soz.

Well that kind of went off on a tangent, but I am glad I was able to write something, however small, to start off the year. Thanks again for reading. A very, very happy and hopeful 2017 to you.

From The Gate of the Year by Minnie Louise Haskins. 




P.S Look at these persoanlised blog earrings my beautiful bride to be Ruth got me for Christmas. I love them! So thoughtful. ❤




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! 


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.


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


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.

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!