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Healthy Days: Spinach and Berry Breakfast Smoothie

This has been a back-to-work week with me settling into a lovely relaxed schedule of teaching. Really, it’s been a shock to the system to not be doing a full time conservatory performance degree as well as working. So I’ve been continuing to love cooking and grocery shopping is no longer tear-inducing stress! Possibly I should be trying to fill my hours a little more diligently but right now from the *health* point of view, this is amazing.

Yesterday was the first day that I felt ‘I NEED CAKE!’ It has since transpired that I’m fight all the back-to-school bugs that come into my music room! So at least there’s a reason that I’m craving sugary food. I admit that I ate a brownie yesterday and a scone today, but now that I’ve figured out my craving, I’m going to make some soup and drink a ton of warm honey and lemon!

Carrot and Lentil Soup

Carrot and Lentil Soup I made for dinner on Thursday! Served with steamed purple sprouting broccoli and garlic.

On Thursday I has such an amazing food day! Attending the Mahon Point farmer’s market I swerved my usual salad stall and tried the offering of My Goodness, Cork’s raw vegan foodies. For €6.50 I had just the BEST lunch I’ve had in ages! Raw seed crackers, pickled daikon radish, sundried tomato and coriander pesto flavoured seed patés, bean sprouts, carrot salad, a seed burger and mixed green leaves all with a fresh apple cider vinegar-based dressing. It was beautiful and kept me munching for ages! I will definitely be having this again! Definitely satisfying. 🙂

Vegan Raw Mezze Plate by My Goodness, Cork

              Vegan Raw Mezze Plate by My Goodness 

In the last few days I made a load of Deliciously Ella’s superfood bread and flavoured it with some lovely autumnal cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  Another highlight of the last few days was this delicious breakfast smoothie:

 

Blackberry - Spinach Smoothie

A great way to use up the autumn harvest of blackberries!

Spinach and Berry Breakfast Smoothie
-2 handfuls of blackberries
-2 handfuls of spinach
-2 heaped tbsp soya yoghurt
-1 tbsp milled flaxseed
-a few strawberries
-water

Berry-Spinach Smoothie

Useful way to use up blackberries!

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Healthy Days: Autumn Blackberry-Apple Sponge Pudding

Sometimes you’re just hungry, aren’t you. Not just hungry but, like, HUUNNGGRRYYY. And those are the times when you (I) start rifling through the cupboards and start eating baking ingredients. So, because it’s day 6 of #100healthydays i decided to pre-empt this unfortunate reflex by having a hearty lunch. I adapted this recipe from the BBC Food website which you can find here. Instead of the 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil I used 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and I added Ballymaloe Jalapeno Pepper Relish.

Vegan Falafel Recipe

Fresh coriander and chili pepper from the garden!

 

vegan burger

The finished product!

I ate two of these gorgeous burgers for lunch and I’m so glad I did because I wound up not having a chance to eat again for another 7 hours. My body is not use to such famine! The protein and fiber in the chickpeas must have really done the trick. This recipe is definitely a keeper and it barely cost anything! The coriander and fresh chili I used came from my garden, the cherry tomatoes and organic cucumber were ends of boxes and the brown pittas were on the cusp of expiry (tomorrow is shopping day.) I had used dried chickpeas, too, so they were extra-thrifty!

After a salmon and vegetable dinner, I prepared a blackberry apple sponge pudding which was possibly the most delicious thing I have ever created. I used dark muscovado sugar which gave it the most incredible deep, rich caramel-apple flavour!


Autumn Blackberry-Apple Sponge Pudding

Autumn dessert

The taste of autumn.

Filling:
– 5 or 6 big cooking apples, peeled and sliced
– Two handfuls of blackberries
– 1 tablespoon of honey
– 2 tablespoons of dried fruit
– 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
For the sponge:
– 4 oz butter/vegan margarine 
– 4 oz dark muscovado sugar
– 1 egg of 1 flax egg
– 6 oz self raising flour

Method:
Keeping the blackberries aside, combine the rest of the filling ingredients in a pan and stew on a gentle heat until the apples soften adding a little water to stop burning if necessary. When the ingredients have softened transfer to an ovenproof dish and stir in the blackberries.

In a separate bowl cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and a dash of your choice of milk and beat until combined, adding a spoon of flour if necessary to prevent curdling. Finally, add the rest of the flour and mix until smooth, being careful not to over beat the batter.

Cover the filling with the sponge batter and spread carefully over the top. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes or until the sponge is cooked through.

Enjoy!

yummy dessert

It didn’t last too long in my house…

Right, so that’s my food diary apart from porridge with banana and pb! I also went for a 45 minute walk and saw some nice greenery. 🙂

fitness

Brisk wood walk!

 

river

Enjoyed a river view on my outing!

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Healthy Days – Rhubarb challenge!

It’s day 2 of the 100 Healthy Days and I feel it went ok today! I mean, in terms of food I ate a little more than yesterday but i’m still loving having time to cook (see food diary below!)

Today I had to figure out how to use up a bunch of rhubarb while still making healthy choices. The problem being that generally rhubarb needs a ton of sugar to make it palatable. I decided to use strawberries and cinnamon to sweeten the filling and to drastically reduce the sugar in the topping. 


Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble

Low-sugar rhubarb-strawberry crumble.

Homemade and warm from the oven – and lower in sugar!

Filling:
– 1 bunch rhubarb, washed and chopped
– 1 punnet strawberries, washed and hulled
– half a teaspoon of cinnamon
– 1 tsp honey (optional)
Topping:
– 100g/ 3½oz plain flour
-75g/ 2½oz butter/vegan butter
-50g/ 2oz rolled oats
– 2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar

Simply stew the filling ingredients together until the fruit has softened. Transfer this filling to an ovenproof dish.

Blitz the flour, butter and sugar together until breadcrumb-like in appearance. Stir in the oats. 

Cover the filling with this topping and bake for approximately 30 minutes at 180C.


I’ve been thinking a bit about the other elements to this project that I need to tackle. For one thing, I need to learn to turn out the light early and just go to sleep! No Tumblr or Facebook last thing at night. I think being responsible at bedtime will be very important for gaining more energy, fighting off winter bugs and keeping my appetite under control! 

Aside from that, I’ve booked in with an osteopath for the pains in my neck, side and knee that have been plaguing me for a while (…9 months…) I’m looking forward to getting it dealt with! 

Today met with my friend Áine for lunch/coffee in town. I decided to eat at home and just have a juice and a coffee when out to try to optimise my healthy eating potential!

Food diary:
-porridge with cinnamon peanut butter and banana
-Homemade roast vegetable soup, two slices of seeded rye toast.
-Beetroot, raspberry and orange juice and a skinny cappuccino. Brazil nuts.
-Veggie spanish omlette with rhubarb and strawberry crumble with a tablespoon of creme fraichefor dessert!

 

Roast Vegetables for Soup

Roasting a selection of vegetables left over from yesterday’s dinner for soup.

Homemade veggie soup

Nothing beats hearty, thick soup on a rainy autumnal day!

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"I Can Never Leave The Past Behind"

My hair was MADE for the 80s.

2012 began with a trip to the 1980s. My friend Estelle had an 80s themed hen party in Clonakilty, West Cork. It was definitely the most fun hen party I have attended! Everyone was lovely, we played games like “make a dress out of toilet paper” and hit the various bars in Clon. I must say, it was much more fun than a night out in Cork, which is always crowded, loud and generally yucky. We accidentally wandered into a 1920s themed club, which was SO MUCH FUN!

This was my background ALL YEAR 🙂

Of course, next I had to claim back the limelight for my birthday party in mid-January. I was so lucky that so many of my friends traveled from the UK to come and dress up as Disney characters in this house we rented for the weekend. At the time, my ickly doggie Millie was on the cusp of death, which did rather make things more stressful for me, but I still feel so privileged that my friends came and spent the weekend with me!

It was in February that Conor and Estelle got married – what a fabulous day! There was a TONNE of music, from a long lost Baroque hymn to a metal cover band. My sister, Alison played the cello and I made the cake. I can hardly believe it’s been nearly a year since the wedding! The cake took three days to make and was comprised of 120 chocolate and red velvet cupcakes, plus one giant cupcake at the top and I made myself a cupcake print dress to wear on the day. Conor and Estelle are such a lovely couple and have so many wonderful friends! A great day was had by all.
Also in this month, Alison and I went to Cobh to enjoy a night of free dinner and free accommodation thanks to a prize Alison had won! We went to Gilberts and ate until we could eat no more before falling into bed and eating breakfast in their penthouse the following morning!
In March, the inimitable Miss Ellie Murray turned the big one-eight! For a few days, our group entered the episode of Gavin & Stacey which has, up to very recently, been Ellie’s life. It was there that Ellie and I embarked upon a walk to Costa, wrote a violin part for our song about Sherlock, watched Father Ted before rocking up to a rugby club to boogie the night away for her birthday party. Pam and Mick took us out for dinner and treated me to a very British pie in a pub. It was delicious. 🙂

The in the days after the party, Ellie brought us to Cheshire to a tea room that was IN a cathedral. Not in a room in a cathedral – the WHOLE cathedral was a tea room! I gasped. It was amazing and shocking!

Creepy Amy clone.

We also went to ‘The Lady Lever’ for tea and a cake. It was there that Kylie and I shared one of my top cakes of 2012 – a delicious carrot cake. (Ellie and Cathrin shared a “chocolate cloud cake” which was also very impressive.) It was here that I came across the painting to the right, which looks UPSETTINGLY like me as a child. I showed the picture to my dad and sister upon returning home and both are as astonished and weirded out as I am. I feel like Homer in the episode with Mr Sparkle…

Torc Waterfall, Killarney.

Martha took a short trip to Killarney in April. It was there that I went on a run that is, to this day, the most special and beautiful run I have experienced. I went just after the sun came up, it was cold, crisp and dry and I ran around a lake into Muckross grounds. There were so many trees and fields, and it was just serenely quiet. On the way back to where we were staying, I walked through the ruins of an old chapel and grave yard that was dappled in sunlight through the trees. Even though I know it was public, it felt so hidden and secret. Definitely one of my stand-out moments of 2012.

Later on that month, I began working in Bantry, West Cork. Bantry is far, far away and I taught there two days a week on top of my own teaching in Cork. It was such a strange place and so weird to go and stay in a B&B once a week but it was really fun to get to listen to podcasts and music, and to read in the time I wasn’t working. I met a lot of very nice people there, too! 🙂 When I arrived to teach piano, this sign was waiting for me! —>

In May, I was completely delighted to welcome two of my dearest friends, Kylie and Melinda to my home for a relaxing few days. We went into Cork and examined the wares for sale, drank hot chocolate and the introduced me to Spaced for the first time. I also invited them to a special tea party followed by a trip to see Avengers Assemble with Martha and Orla.

In June, so much happened! Far too much for me to recount here, but most of it occurred within one week. Bevin came from America and so we spent a week showing her some of the more more exciting parts of England – like London, Warwick Castle, London, Southend-On-Sea, London and some other places.

Emilieee ♥

Here is a picture taken directly after the moment I got a phone call saying I was being offered a place in 3rd year of a BMus performance degree programme. So glad I was with my friends when it happened! 🙂 It was at approximately the same time that we saw the Olympic flame run past the window, too!

Ellie at Electric for a scone and a spot of knitting.

I was so happy in July because Ellie-Murray came to stay with me for four days! We sat down, we ate yoghurts, we went to see Dark Knight Rises, we went shopping, to Blarney Castle, we drank tea. It was a jolly lovely holiday. We even went to the Cork Food Festival and toured the food, eating our way around Cork, essentially, and basking in the evening sun.

At the end of July (the 31st, to be specific!) Lucy, Mel, Emilie and I went to Leavesden Studios for Harry’s birthday. It was lovely, we got to see all the beautiful props from the films and it was awe-inspiring to see even that small portion of all the work that went into the films. At the same time, Lucy and I shot a video for LeakyCon 2012 which meant that by the time the tour was over, we really NEEDED to go to TGI Friday for a cocktail. 😉 Emilie kindly invited me to stay with her while in London, and I got to experience London during the Olympics (It was weird and quiet!)

Post launch party, the support team has a breather.

Immediately after our Harry Potter adventure (in August,) I took a train to Macclesfield to stay with Laura and Cathrin for their birthdays. They were also releasing their first Goodnight Astor album. We had a lovely few days of watching Gavin and Stacy and listening to the musical hits of the 80s, 90s and 00s before their show.

Apart from going back to college, September was an important month for me and a few of my friends, as we were fortunate enough to go to the launch of The Casual Vacancy. After an interview and Q&A, the occupants of the Southbank Centre were able to meet J.K. Rowling to have their books signed. Here is the seemingly rather innocuous of the very thing occurring…

October was a whirlwind of college work and teaching. I joined the 21st century and bought an iPhone.

On the 30th of November to the 2nd of December my friends and I travelled to Edinburgh for the Snow Ball and Lucy’s 30th birthday. We dressed up as action heroes and villains for Lucy’s birthday.

The next day, we went to the Snow Ball. Laura, Cathrin and I were performing with Harry and the Potters, Riddle TM and the Pumpkin Pasties.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope your year was fabulous and you’re all ready for 2013! I’m going to have to go off and think about my new year’s resolutions! One will definitely be to blog more! 🙂

x

5

Crochet, flowers and summer time!

St. Brigid Anemones

Huge weights have been lifted off my chest. Tonight I feel lighter and less restricted than I have in months. As of today I’m down to teaching one day per week until the end of June, though I’m still studying and going to lessons for various music exams and auditions coming up.

The decision to fill this summer with as few travel plans as possible came quite naturally after an intensely busy travel year last year. Since Christmas I’ve sorely felt the need of a nice quiet sit down on my own. There will, of course be adventures with friends in the UK, but for my health and sanity, I need a few weeks of calm, baking and crafting.

My fabulous Cork KnitUp group has begun again after a slow start to the year and I am enjoying it so much! About two weeks ago, the lovely Hilary taught me to crochet and it’s really pulled me though these tough final weeks of work.
On Saturday we had our biggest turn out yet with around eight crafters coming! I’m really looking forward to the group every Saturday and it’s motivating me to finish projects!

For my birthday I was given a Cath Kidston crochet cusion kit by my friend Orla so that’s what I’ve mostly been working on for the last fortnight. I can’t wait for it to be finished and on my bed. :)Tonight after walking my dog, the neglected packets of seeds that I bought weeks ago called to me. I planted at least 48 sunflower seeds, lettuce, love-in-a-mist, cornflowers and nasturtiums as the sun went down (and the midges came out.) I’m loving the garden right now. The dozens of bulbs I planted in the spring are finally coming into bloom and it’s so satisfying!! My herbs are doing really well too and all of the fruit bushes are heavy with unripe berries!

Singing-wise, things seem to be going well. I had a lesson today,though I was quite worried about it beforehand because I didn’t feel I’d done enough practice. I hate the feeling that I could have put more work in. This week was CRAZY with teaching and exams, though, so I really didn’t have more time. This week I intend to put in consistent work every day. I’ll need to do an hour every day of actual singing.
I find that when I’m out running, most of what I think about is singing. Posture, breathing, mouth shape, facial muscles, placement of breath, meanings of songs and ideas for compositions and concerts are all on my mind for the 50 minutes that I spend out of the house. I think that must be the reason why I’m improving despite not having enough time for long practices.

Having this week’s lesson over with is contributing to my feeling of lightness. 🙂 I am so content right now. It’s late, but I don’t have to be up for any particular reason in the morning, other than to run. 🙂 Leisure!

How are your summers coming together, blog friends? Will they be chilled out, or jam-packed? (Mm…jam..)

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Song of the Provinces


On Wednesday (28th April) the choir I sing in, the Fleischmann Choir, opened the Cork International Choral Festival with the Cork School of Music Orchestra. Under the leadership of our conductor Dr. Geoff Spratt we performed Song of the Provinces, a piece written by Professor Aloys Fleischmann himself.

The wonderful thing about this musical work is that it requires audience participation. After the melody is taught, the audience must join in with the choir several times. It’s amazing how it came together on the night. Putting it together with the frankly EPIC orchestral accompaniment in rehearsals was one thing, but to hear the audience join in for the main melody was just unbelievable. It gave me shivers and I couldn’t keep the grin from my face.

I think Prof. Fleischmann was there in spirit, singing with us. He had admirable views on the importance of choirs in communities and it’s undeniable that the the sense of community in the City Hall on Wednesday was at its strongest while everyone sang together.

Below is the video of the performance. Watch Geoff conduct the audience, I love that!