Wellbeing

On my podcast this week I share the tips that I have and some words about my own journey (and struggle) to/ with happiness. An ongoing journey where I have to stop, re evaluate and reset every once in a while.
Creativity and healing   Before I utter the words “ I am an artist” it is more than likely that I say “I have three boys” as my opening line.   Our three children and their thoughts, habits and activities shape family life. My career as a professional painter and educator has grown organically around the boys.
Rather than ramble on as to the reasons why we may need these 7 tips right now, I’ll just let you scroll and apply as needed. Stay safe and stay home.  
  This morning on my coffee break I went to see my 71year old Mum at her work. Like most of us in  Northern Ireland, Scotland and England we are anxiously waiting for the inevitable closure of our schools. So, I thought I would take her for a takeaway coffee before she is potentially quarantined and while my children remain in the classroom.   To be honest taking the time to visit her was a relief from news articles about coronavirus on what’s app groups and the general noise of panic.
My widowed Mother exclaims every time I write a blogpost about grief or sadness “ why do you torture yourself Alyson?”. She knows that I weep as I write. Some say it is cathartic to help me come to terms with my own grief from a young age, others say it is self serving. Yet, six years into my writing it feels bigger than that.
You had a turbulent day in work, a fraught journey home and now you’re sat on the sofa in your jeans and sweater after devouring some pasta with your hubby. You pop each wary foot into your slippers with the wool as light as marshmallows around your heels.

There is a reason we all take photos - so we can remember moments.

Another is so we can compare and contrast. A great example of this is on any fitness journey (my postpartum journey being an example of this and you can read here) we are so focused on the change in routine we sometimes forget to look at the results as we go along.
I posted recently about how I learned to smile with my mouth closed four years ago.  I noticed that my friend effortlessly smiled without showing her teeth and I wanted to to the same so I would stop scrutinising my crooked teeth when the photos were printed. I have a beauty spot above one side of my lip so always felt my smile was "wonky” anyway then my teeth were crowded on the top left and the crushed pegs on the bottom of my mouth made me self conscious. Don't get me wrong, if you see me from a certain angle and a distance you can't notice, but we all have our "thing" that bothers us don't we?

It’s hard for me to pinpoint a time in my life when anxiety hasn’t reared its head in some shape or form.

From primary school worries about being the smallest in the class to the torture of bullying for several years; through secondary education in an all girls school to career worries at university; and finally to post-natal depression and a diagnosis of generalised anxiety disorder almost 5 years ago.

I had written this article for a magazine but after watching The Grinch UK with my boys today, I thought there may be some of you who will appreciate it now, in early November....
One son was at Cubs for the evening, another was playing with his wooden train track and the last was mumbling about no charge in the iPad. I had my biggest number of print orders on my art website that week and was amidst the hustle of making myself and my husband a late dinner. Stir-fry and prawns. Nothing too tasking. Without warning or reason the tears settled into the creases of my eyeliner. Thoughts of Dad rushed as I lifted the kids empty plastic cups off the table. The table he bought with his first pay cheque. Now a battered table and, when moved it almost loses a wooden leg. Yet, it holds meaning and it is one of the ways to be close to my Dad who died when I was seven. The older I get the more I cling to the physical elements where he once breathed life. The character of a man still lingering through this wonky table or white bulb light that hangs above my kitchen breakfast bar. A white light bulb light box with the words ‘duneight services’across it. This was the petrol station Dad owned with my, also deceased, Uncle Tom. Memories of him on every crevice and corner of my home. I pass such fixtures everyday and my eyes do not flicker, nor does my heart pull. However, in this instance, while the cinnamon candle burns and the Christmas advertisements begin to ring out on the television, I feel grief in all it’s force. And I cry. Tears flowing. To the point where my two year old asks “did you bang your knee too, mummy?”. Uncontrolled and wet. Wet soppy tears and a yearning for my Dad to be sat with a cup of tea and his oil stained hands from mechanic work at the table he used to own. A need for him to talk about the weather or to lift one of my sons into the air for a shoulder ride. It’s a pain I cannot put lightly into sentences but one that I have learned to let exist. In the busyness and the rough and tumble of being a business woman, a wife and a mum, I no longer reject these emotions and this… well, sadness. So much of my life was spent telling myself that I was “lucky “ because dad died of natural causes instead of being murdered or killed suddenly. Other times I had myself convinced that one parent being alive was all I ever needed and that grieving Dad was my way of looking for pity. But that is not the case. I don’t want attention or pitying eyes on me when I have these moments that stop me in my tracks as I boil potatoes on the hob. I don’t need hands on my back patting me. I just need that fleeting moment in time to remember who is missing so much of my life. Who no longer sits at the table at Christmas. My beautiful cousin died in January and this Christmas we will be without her on Christmas day. After both of our fathers died the two families and widowing mothers merged. Even after we had our own children everyone still continued to mash together like a herd of cattle to share Christmas shloer and cut the turkey. I remember a few years ago as I took the annual self timer shot of our family one of us commented how we have to do these things because “you never know what the next year will bring”. And its true, isn’t it? A few days, hours or months can change a whole lot in our lives. So this Christmas, if you dread the radio playing “the bells are ringing out for Christmas day” or, you find yourself slapped in the face by grief as you bundle the kids to send them to the school nativity. Please afford yourself that time. Tears can be wiped and make up retouched. But memories and moments in the short spaces of stillness that we give ourselves, cannot be replaced. Allow your mind to take that journey of engaging with the smells and sounds that once were. The ones that remind you vividly of the person you miss with all of your heart. Your life is all the richer for keeping the ones you have lost at the forefront. Talking about them, wearing their sweaters (or Dad’s boiler suit like I do when I paint. ) and playing their top 10 tunes on the hi fi that sat in their bedroom. Grief doesn’t disappear but it does linger and I’ve learned that it, in itself, can be a good thing. A two minute window when we are forced to stand still while the world spins - It’s ok to feel sad this Christmas. When your tears are wiped and your laughter returns you will be all the more merry for it!
If you have listened to any of the podcast interviews that I have been privileged to be a part of in the last month (She said club interview here and Best of Belfast here) then it will not be a secret to you that I am bringing out a workout programme!! I have admired and known Gareth for a long time. He is one of those physio type people (technical term for his profession is below) who I can spend two minutes with complaining about my sore shoulder and within that short time he uses his clever brain to fix it. Not in a freaky way but in a methodical genius way.
A psychologist I am not but a living breathing, emotional, reactive human being I most certainly am. Therefore, my blog allows me to share thoughts, some of my life and my (mainly personal) findings in relation to this topic of art and fitness. It is something I am so passionate about and excited to share with you. In this post we will discuss how art and fitness are linked and how they will improve your overall state of mind.
It's pouring with rain outside my studio, the lads are back from School and the babe has woken from his afternoon slumber.

To be fair I could reach for a glass of chilled white wine despite the short week I have had but failing that( it is not yet 3:30pm)  I have satisfied my need for a slurp with a Holly's coffee takeaway coffee.

I met Stefanie through Mike McCommish and we got along royally! She never stops smiling, laughing and inspiring online and offline. She personal trains clients with such genuine enthusiasm and care. Stefanie holds fitness, food and fashion afternoons in Podium 4 sport which you should keep an eye out for. She is also an athlete with a powerful personal drive for getting better and stronger. 

“ The emerging woman ... will be strong-minded, strong-hearted, strong-souled, and strong-bodied...strength and beauty must go together.”Louisa May Alcott

From Fifty shades of grey ( Jamie, I’m sorry, as lovely as you are, these movies are terrible) to the more serious cases in and out of court around sexual harassment, women are at the centre.
In response to my first blogpost of 2018 which you can find here -10 body shifts you need in 2018- tell me, what have you done for your self care routine since you read it? Share in the comments below as I am also in the position where I want ALL the change and want it ALL now - yoga in my life, less meat (I have actually managed that for two meals this past week) , stretching etc etc. However, no matter how good our best intentions are, often we feel overwhelmed and rather than start small (which is was what I suggest we do in the blogpost) we rush in. So, share your achievements even if they are one less meeting in the work diary or a stretch of the legs after dinner. I want to know and to support you as you allow self care to be a part of your world. In relation to self care I mentioned that I am attending physiotherapy for six weeks with Maura of Smart physio.
We first tried this recipe after the birth of one of our boys. My dear friend Hazel made it for us one of the nights we, no doubt, needed it after attending to a newborn amidst the mayhem that comes with adding sprogs to your brood. I have a feeling it originated from Jamie Oliver but can't find it online. See his other sausage recipes here. The tastes and flavours stuck with us and we have been making it ever since. There are a number of reasons for it appearing on our weekly menu- the first being how easy it is. The second that the kids eat it (they pick out the leeks sometimes but everything else they eat) , the fact that the leeks re punchy in flavour, the sweetness of peppers and the rich saltiness of the whole dish is delicious. Then of course the affordability of the ingredients. I grew up in the countryside where potatoes featured heavily in our dinner choices and they are so versatile and economic, they along with the sausages make up the bulk of the recipe.
This space on the blog is where I have the pleasure of introducing you to experts in the wellbeing industry. My last blogpost states how I feel about 2018 - this is the year I want you to invest in YOU. Be yourself, show yourself self care and invest in your body. The experts I feature can help and inspire you! Remember my self acceptance e bundle can viewed here. This notion of self acceptance rests at the core of my work - helping people to know themselves and to love and accept their traits and all the goodness they have to offer the world. Enjoy April's interview and all that she has to say and to educate us on. As she mentions, because of the internet April is able to do consultations and connect with people all over the world. No matter where you are you can follow her by scrolling to the bottom of the post and finding her social media tags. I love the colour and fresh approach to April's instagram posts - glorious food pics!
The new year can create a shocker for people, for any of us in fact who want to strive for better but feel bombarded by so.much.information. As you will see on my social media channels and if you were to meet me in person  you will quickly learn that I am an advocate for self-care. This means that I am not going to tell you that you need to change. Of course you are perfectly entitled to change physical parts of your body if you so desire this year (I have recently entered the world of lash extensions - WoW. Obsessed.).   If altering something or working towards losing weight or gaining muscle makes you stand a little taller or breathe a little deeper then I am all in. I want you to be YOU! Prioritise getting to know yourself over everything else and the rest will follow.
My late Father was a mechanic. He (from what I remember / have been told) was a warm, compassionate and vibrant business man who could turn his hand to any car.
I met Lisa through a mutual friend and have been following her amazing venture, Vibe Academy. I will let her tell you all and I cannot wait to show you the dance workout she has choreographed for us. Hip hop vibes are always going to be a winner in my world!
Name: Lisa Kernoghan
Age: 38
Occupation: Choreographer and Business Owner
Location: Belfast based with campuses and mobile workshops across the country
In case you missed it, for the month of October I am raising funds and awareness through sales of my art work (you can purchase the linked prints here) and here on the blog for two main charities - Fintan's fund and Cancer focus NI. The blogposts will showcase stories and you can learn about why these local charities do what they do. Rachael's story is incredible! Rachael thanks for joining us on the blog. In a few lines can you tell us your story and the motivation behind Fintan's fund.
For the month of October I will be giving 20% of sales from four of my art prints (priced between £10 and £30) to four charities related to tackling cancer. Will you join me? I kind of hate using the word ' cancer' because of what it means and how it sounds to so many of us who have been affected either directly or through a family member or friend. My good friend Laura changed cancer to " the melt" for the months following her diagnosis and I think that sums up the sinking feeling as those words resonate. So, with tears rolling down my cheeks and my hand firmly on my heart, I am going to use my little corner of the internet to promote the fight against all things cancer here on my blog and across my social media during October.
I am so pleased to introduce you to Caroline who resides, bakes and raises her squad of four kids in Monaghan. To kick off the back to School mayhem she has this delicious treat recipe for us that we can rustle up in no time. Protein bites are so popular on the blog that I know you'll love it and that is why I asked Caroline to share one from her new business, Healthy bites. All the links to her artistry can be found in the short interview below. Enjoy and thank you to Caroline for sharing her wisdom! 
I started David Lloyd gym when I was pregnant with our third boy. I figured the money I would save on not drinking  prosecco for nine months would be better spent on something I would use and love!! I have had gym memberships in the past but this was a big move for me and one I am so glad I made. Due to hyperemesies (read about my experience with it in this post) and a number of other pregnancy complications I had to stall my membership for a few months. When I was seven months pregnant walking with an established waddle I returned to David Lloyd and Nathalia was one of the many smiling faces I met on my morning visits. She and her bump (now called Nico featured in the image below) were on the cross trainer. We exchanged words and pleasantries about our pregnancies and that was that. I was blissfully unaware at this stage about what a star Nathalia is in the fitness world and how close all the gym girls would become. We have a great little network now and I am so excited to have Nat on here.
You would be forgiven for thinking I have gone all beauty based on here. This post is more a response to the many e mails and private messages asking about my skin routine. To be honest these enquiries baffle me as I don't view my skin as anything special and I am pretty basic when it comes to make up or, in fact, cleanliness!!

Visual artist Aly Harte opens debut exhibition  27 May – 23 June ­­­­- City Artist. Country Born. Sea Inspired Belfast visual artist Aly Harte exhibits a collection of her latest works inspired by the beautiful seascapes of Irish coastlines both north and south. City Artist. Country Born. Sea...

  Having worked out a few times at David Lloyd with Mike it has reminded me, once again, that small significant movements in personal fitness can make all the difference when wanting to get results. In case you are new to the site head over here to read all about Mike. The blogpost includes his back ground as a professional rugby player as well as his love for family time and all about his personal training. The resistant band routine above is all about making deliberate moves and executing them well. No fancy jumping around just straight forward movements performed well. I have added in another workout below with kettle bells that Mike showed me and we did after the band session. It was such a hit on my instagram and I know you will love it too.
I played hockey (briefly) in School with Mike's sister Kerry but I had never met Mike until his wife Rebecca and I got chatting at the School gates and over on Instagram. Many of you will recognise him from his days as a professional rugby player. He has a wealth of knowledge because of his background in fitness and I trust him when he gives advice on nutrition and workouts. As I say so much on the blog, I enjoy meeting professionals in the field of sport and wellbeing because they have an insight into a world I only know a glimpse of. I love to learn and you can learn a great deal about moving forward in your own fitness journey after reading what Mike has to say.  
If you spend more than five minutes on my blog you will know that travel is a huge part of what makes me tick, that along with my family life, prosecco,  coffee, fake tan and box sets. When you break down my happy places into little parts they will, when put back together, resemble a puzzle packed with stories about experiences which have shaped my life and my career. So, when the chance to add to my travelling experiences came along I was delighted to be spending some time in Alicante Spain.
Stephanie and I have memberships at David Lloyd and we love to train together. I think it stems from a similar interest in workouts that are based on fun and often high intensity. See more on my instagram. We are both in a postpartum frame of mind so gaining a positive attitude towards our bodies is at the centre of our training. This is good when we workout together for encouragement and accountability. Over the course of the past few months we have pushed and challenged each other in sharing our circuits with one another (as well as sharing our soundtracks!) Such a fun friend to have! Stephanie makes us gym girls her protein banana bread and post workout bites from time to time which is so generous and just delightful to have with coffee, especially for me, when I finish my work upstairs in the cafe at David lloyd.
I have been hunting Ian and his expertise down since the blog started over two years ago! Ian and I played hockey for the same University and when I met my husband a few years after Uni it turned out he also knew Ian from playing Ulster U21 hockey together.

Photographs by Jayne Lindsay photography at Pineapple studios Belfast

This detox was set as a challenge (my husband’s idea, not mine) for personal reasons not related to weight or to body image. If you want to see before and after shots of me then see my postpartum posts here and here. Basically I wanted to feel better and to give my body a chance to cleanse after what feels like a year of drinking wine whenever I want, consuming a bag of fruit gums or sports mixture every other day. Or at least that's what it felt like. I just wanted a change and with most things in my life, I tend to go all in or not at all. I wanted discipline and I wanted to see how it felt waking up on a Monday morning not having had even one glass of red wine the night before while watching Luther . Side note – have you watched Luther? It is the scariest darkest programme I have possibly ever watched. The main character is played by Idris Elba who is just gorgeous. Perhaps that is what keeps me watching rather than the intense storyline that I tell my husband keeps me addicted!?! (I have a boxset blogpost here if you are like us and watch them from start to finish then have NOTHING left to give but a gapping black hole where your box set once lay).
Welcome to the "Five minutes with..." feature on my blog. A showcase for raw talented folks in the fitness and wellness industry. Claire started out as a follower of my wellbeing instagram account which I later merged into my business one to keep everything a bit more streamline. Her ability to run marathons fascinated and impressed me! Furthermore, like me, Claire has three young boys so we instantly bonded and haven't looked back! Claire lives in Scotland but the beautiful world of social media keeps us in touch regularly, if even just to send each other pictures of our Friday night wine and box set in front of the tele, or, to cheer each other in our fitness journeys. Enjoy the inspiration and fun Claire oozes with her practical and honest approach to life.
My postpartum body is a topic I didn’t think would become such a part of my blog but the lovely thing about this space is that I don’t have to adhere to sponsorship deals in order to get the "right content” or to say a certain brand a million times over. I can follow my audience and showcase my own journey so you in turn get to know me, a little bit about my family and my business. 
It's been a while since we had an expert of the month feature on the blog so it is great to be back with smiley and motivatiional personal trainer Hayley People. I first met Hayley when she worked with one of my best friends Holly (who I have mentioned on the blog before ) in a clothing store in Belfast. As far as I could see Hayley was always in great shape. It has been refreshing and insightful to read her story about becoming a personal trainer and changing her lifestyle. She works with clients on the PT front and also teaches reformer pilates which I have yet to go to but know I will LOVE! Anyone Belfast based fancy doing it drop me an e mail and we can book in together.

The picture above I am on one of the new pieces of equipment in my gym, David Lloyd Belfast. Wearing a Better bodies outfit.

It comes as no surprise to my regular blog readers that my life revolves around a few simple things- God, my family, my friends, travel and without a doubt exercise! You can read about my health and sickness journey here. One of the main influencers for the name of my blog was my Darling Granny Edna who passed away a year ago this week. She was, unlike myself, not a gym addict but she lived well. By that I mean she didn't drink alcohol ( at least not during my lifetime.), she picked salads over carbs (not that she would have seen it that way. Her love for heinz salad cream over scallions, cucumber, iceberg lettuce and garden tomatoes ran deep) and she drank lemon and hot water every morning along with her porridge which was steeped from the night before (she was on the bircher overnight oats before any of the rest of us!). Perhaps living consciously with regards to my health is in my genes, who knows? Either way I love it and I'm passionate about sharing my journey with you. Now, let's talk you! I am so aware that social media has bombarded you with "new year new you" slogans and "get fit quick" diet plans or exercise routines. I'm sure I am not the first to break it to you - There is no quick fix.

Healthy breakfasts.

I have always been an advocate for breakfast, it may be my favourite meal in the day. Although saying that, I love a cold meats platter lunch, or a steak dinner or a pizza. Nonetheless, a good start to my day includes a decent breakfast. The further I get into eating whole foods and nourishing foods for my body, the more intrigued I am about the variety of good stuff out there which can be sourced locally and/or easily in our larger supermarkets. I asked my instagram followers to share their favourite healthy breakfasts and I have included their recipes amongst the other links.
Holy heavens I can finally breathe! What a whirlwind year with so many adjustments and stages and fun. Career wise I made the shift and invited another member onto my little team in the studio. Stephanie is an interior design and architecture student who helps me to process orders and has added so much flare to the design side of my business. All the info you receive inside your prints has been made by Stephanie. I give her a project and she flies with it. We added another babe to the family, little Abraham. With having all these lads and no girls in our brood I was determined when I found out he was due in April, to at least share a birthday month with one of them so I was thrilled when he arrived four days after my birthday on the 30th. A small but a significant thing, for me. My Grandmother, who this blog is named after passed away in February which really shifted life. My mum's side of the family are a close bunch but Granny was the glue that held us altogether. I can't help but cry when I see amazing carol singers giving up their time to go to old people's homes, something that Granny, even in her years of dementia adored and sang along to. Christmas can be a tough time, right?
Having professionals on the blog is so special. I love hearing about new products, learning techniques and gleaning information from those I am fortunate enough to meet through this little space in the blogosphere. I had the pleasure of bumping into Mary Jane at the North coast over the Summer.  She talked with such passion and knowledge that she didn't stand a chance of escaping my offer for her to feature on Darling Edna! (Sorry Mary Jane) Before I hand it over to Mary Jane, I want you to know that I am SO excited for what she is going to bring to your table. Advice, gentle guidance and clear cut facts that you can take away today and live by. Enjoy. Mary Jane
I can see the eye rolls as this post airs. Finding itself disappearing into the plethora of "postpartum blogposts " and "weight doesn't matter" memoirs. Nonetheless, I have my own audience and ultimately I am speaking to you my dear friend. Women who have stuck with me through this journey of self discovery, who have engaged with me and sent e mails or texts about their own struggles. Those of you who stop me in the shops to say you started a kettle bell class after seeing my video, or made the decision to commit to two instead of three nights a week pilates classes when you realised it's just not possible to do it"all". I love being surrounded and inspired by women like you, in my repertoire, who consistently let go of the need for the "perfect body" as defined by our air brushed society. Seeing self worth as a better guide than any scales or numbers on a machine - you my darling are who this is for.
Aly's elephant print from the new abstract collection can be found and bought here. It is special edition and comes in two sizes. Well this is a turn of events. My weekend wellbeing turned into weekend winners to now not even airing on a Sunday, and is now called weekly wellbeing! But that's just how life is over here right now. I have been thinking a bit about this blog and it's purpose over the past while. Often reminding myself that business, as with most things in life is seasonal. So, my busy period with art will pass no doubt when I establish working with my assistant/ helper Stephanie in the studio. Non hurried Time in my kitchen will once again reappear and rest won't take as much of a priority when the baby grows a little bigger (ok, it probably will never take less of a priority, but you know what I mean.).

We're knee deep in golf viewing with the Ryder cup tonight. 'Third Green' Irish Open special edition print above is available here.

How was your weekend? We had a great one spending time as a family achieving very little. Myself and the three boys watched the movie 'Brave' yesterday after we walked and scooted to the local park. Four of the five of us then ventured to the local TK Maxx (!) and my eldest who knew it was a rarity for his Mum to clothes shop was quite vocal about the experience saying "This is pretty boring, who does this Mummy?". Shopping has always been viewed as more of a chore than a pleasure in my mind, and we were only in for trainers. So despite my rummaging through the rails ( that's what TK Maxx is there for, right?) I got a pair of Reeboks and a pair of yoga leggings (what a surprise!) then scampered out of there. Oh yeh and the baby got a coat for the colder mornings on the School run. A large food shop excites me more! In case you don't follow my various social media sites; twitter, Facebook and Instagram which is shown below and in your sidebar, you may have missed the excitement that my artwork features in this Season of The Fall. A BBC thriller which stars Jamie Dornan.
This week has been a blur of wonder and chaos. I had wholesale orders, met with friends visiting from London, sold originals like hot cakes, and finally set up times for my assistant to come work. Progress guys, progress! Sometimes I can't see the wood for the trees with all the cool things that are happening yetI  would be the first to tell someone that "the first year of a baby's life is the trickiest", so I'm remembering that. The wee man needs me and in many ways all I want is to be with him so opportunities for walks are taken and cuddles stop me in my tracks. I am really excited about this weekend's wellbeing links for you just because I had time to read the cool and/ or funny links and enjoyed them so much.
 

My special edition Golden gate bridge is now LIVE on the shop, click here.

I am pretty behind on making this post for you as it is 5pm on Sunday evening but I had an AMAZING week and fun weekend that it is worth being a little off track for. I hope you have had a good one. Last week somehow I managed to be organised which for me (our family) is by no means the norm. Work and play were on high demand for every one of us (my kids have a better social life than me sometimes!) so I had no choice but to knuckle down and apply myself!

The champagne special edition print is now LIVE on my shop! Buy here

I know I  say it a whole lot but a weekly post with a dates means that I have flash backs of sitting pregnant in March making them and then almost fall off my sofa when I see it's five months later. Time flies doesn't it!?
If you've been around my blog for more than 48 hours you will know that I love NYC (I even have art prints here and here you can buy of NYC). I talk about it a whole lot- sorry. It so happens that I have around 30 great friends who live there so my connection to the city itself is not based on tourism but more on community and a love for some of it's people. As a result of visiting there two or three times each year I get asked quite a bit about places to visit. I am not always sure how to respond as we do many of the same routes and eating when we visit various parts of the city- mainly downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Soho and Midtown. Often I visit NYC and spend so little money or I don't even darken the door of a clothes store. This is mainly because I really just love the vibe of the city and to see our crew of friends, all of whom I met because of Camp Treetops. This was a camp I worked at when I was 18 and re visited to work at last Summer with my boys (read here). So maybe don't view my rough guide as your first and foremost but all of the places I recommend here I have tried and loved and can make your visit so so fun!

The set of three city break A6 prints can be bought here for just twenty pounds.

Well hey there September! Happy Sunday to you and thanks as always for checking in on this weekly post of links and recipes from around the globe. Another one of our friends from Camp is visiting with us after a stint he had in Greece. From seeing his photos I am DYING to go some day. Have you been and if so did you love there?
I am SO excited to finally have figured out a snack recipe using the chocolate protein powder that I just can't deal with in my smoothies.It is too fake tasting for me. I make a protein shake using a shot of espresso, scoop chocolate protein powder, almond milk and dates which is nice but not great. It's like an iced mocha, I guess. Peanut butter has managed to feature in my last two recipes but after years of finding it all too sweet, I am a complete convert. It is packed with sugar though so I have just bought this which is the same taste in smoothies but a third of the sugar content. If you would prefer you could use almond butter instead of peanut butter to cut out additives but in terms of protein I think it's the difference of about 0.5 of a gram. However, I am new to the numbers game with regards to protein so don't take my word for this. The balls themselves have approximately 4.5 grams of protein so double them up if you want a whopping 10 grams (!) of protein post workout.

Back to School this week! My Belfast Royal academy print + other School prints can be found here 

Happy (UK) bank holiday weekend!

I start painting again tomorrow when my husband is off School and thankfully don't have any Sunday night blues because of the lovely four and a bit months with our "wee chicken".

The boys and I enjoyed our time at the North coast of Ireland with my Mum and came home on Thursday to start thinking about School, uniforms, routine etc!

I hope you're having a good one.

Wellbeing links below

Just when you thought life couldn't get any better, I pop a recipe for clean drinking (aptly named by my sister in law after she visited and we made her some) in your inbox- boom!

The above print of Portstewart promenade can be bought here on my shop

Hello from the sunny North coast of Ireland! The boys and I have been with my Mum and despite the lack of roasting hot sun, we are still having a ball. Ice creams on the promenade, Barry’s big dipper and an endless amount of outdoor activity, mostly of the sand and water kind. Here are the two big boys with their buckets and spades- sure isn’t it what it is all about!?

The original of the Bushmills whiskey print above was featured on million dollar listings this week in a lush Soho apartment!

Finding material for this spot on the blog rarely poses any problems for me.

I love sourcing the info and to see how you enjoy it through the links clicked.

I have been in a real transition period with breastfeeding  and co sleeping this past week. We have the baby on formula instead of my milk two times a day and he has even ventured into his own room.

All is going very well and third night in I found that I was able to sleep more sound than I have in a long time.

I know that the time when a baby moves into their own room can be a controversial issue. For our family though, before six months has proven to work.

Saying that I loved my co sleeping days and stand by that they are a fab way for Mum and baby to get great rest in the early stages when feeding is so often.

My enthusiasm for all the changes was instinctively spurred on by the wee man, or so I felt. I enjoy the three months stage when their little personality kicks in, and for us it showed Abe sitting for longer watching his brothers, being interested in food and seeming happy to go to bed at 7pm when his brothers did. All cues that he was growing up- weep!

In other news

Today we are visiting Dunluce Castle. See the print here.

The beauty of having had my summer in the U.S as an eighteen year old is that I made so many friends who are from a really big yet very close community. I just got back from New York last week and already have another Treetops friend staying with us for a few days. She has travelled from San Francisco and it is wonderful to have her presence in our home!

There is nothing like a friend visiting to get you out and about, and to embrace our wee Northern Ireland.

Some links for you

The Special edition irish open print can be purchased here.

The weekly posting of wellbeing stuff seems to make the months fly by!

Here we are with August approaching in the blink of an eye, and we will be thinking of the retun to School and the updating of uniforms. Abe and I returned from the States on Tuesday after a decent five hour delay and a change of connecting flight. It was remarkable how it wasn’t unti lthe last leg of the trip (our flight from London to Belfast) that he and I both broke.

There was a lovely screaming and poo incident on the plane

Him not me! I even shed a wee tear when my bugaboo pram didn't arrive home with my other suitcase. Do you know this buggy? I got it for my first born eight years ago and it is fab.

I have never had to buy a little foldable buggy as the Cameleon is so versatile and adaptable.

It is crap on the beach though so if you know you’ll be doing beach walks, get a carrier! I use this one. And I got my pram back in the end!

I am so inspired after my trip to New York so keep an eye out on my shop for new prints coming soon.

Your weekly wellbeing food and words below

Well we're having a ball in New York! See more of my NYC print here. Abe and I arrived on Tuesday and have been visiting friends in the city and also up state New York- what a lucky baby! This is us right now as I finish this...

The Balanced rocks print above is from my trip to New York aged just eighteen. It is where all of my friendships in NYC stemmed from and you can read about our family experience back at Camp Treetops here.

This week Abraham and I head to New York city for a few days.

The main reason for the trip is to introduce the baba to our friends but I have one or two work meetings scheduled which I can't wait for!

That's the thing with this slow pace "maternity leave".

Having the space to process what is best for my business and where to go with everything in September is gradually becoming apparent in my mind. I don't feel rushed or as worried as I sometimes can be. It's the love/hate relationship that comes with being a self employed person.

But I am thankful for all the learning that comes with the challenges !

This blog has been a super way for me to see what you, my audience like to read and to see.

As I always say,