Unhappy New Year

So I think it’s safe to assume New Years Eve is cancelled this year, at least cancelled as we know it. Unpopular opinion maybe, but I’m so glad. I don’t get excited about getting dolled up after a week of eating more cheese than all of the mice in the country combined. The thought of squeezing myself into an LSD (little sequin dress) actually gives me nightmares. I also haven’t drank any alcohol since August so the a hangover that was sure to accompany me with celebrations will now stay firmly in my past, and maybe somewhere in my future but not in 2020.

Another reason I’m glad is I just don’t have the stamina for long drinking sessions these days. Alcohol triggers migraines, dancing for long periods exacerbates pain and booze also has a tendency to induce hangxiety, anxiety brought on and influenced by the onset of a hangover. I hasten to add, I’m also one of those people that needs a drink on a night out, otherwise I’m just happier in my pjs, so that’s where you’ll find me on this night in.

Kissing and hugging at midnight is not allowed with social distancing measures in place and so we probably won’t do much of that either. Maybe a mulled wine and more cheese to celebrate the beginning of another undoubtedly difficult year. On New Year 2019 I was 17 days away from getting married. I was eager and keen to start the new year off with a bang but this year I don’t think I’m alone in saying, I’ll be glad to see the back of it.

I’m not one of those people that moan about everyone’s New year new me posts, because I think if setting yourself new year goals helps you reach them, then just do you. It’s nobody’s right to shit on your parade. For me personally, I find I usually set myself up to fail so that’s why I’ve kind of done away with resolutions, but I’m definitely not opposed to them. I’ve recently gone from being someone with a chronic illness to someone with a chronic illness who is clinically vulnerable to covid, so I feel like the main resolution for me needs to be to look after my health better, again let’s not apply too much pressure, somedays getting out of bed is hard enough.

It’s a weird, weird time. Phrases like ‘when this is all over’ and ‘unprecedented times’ have become so ingrained in societal vocabulary I’m struggling to not grit my teeth at the sound of them to be honest.

I wanted to include some positives in this post because there have been a few for us as a family, but I kind of got berated for talking about being happy recently, as though I was boasting and aside from the initial feeling of reprimand, I get it. For some, maybe even most, this will have been the worst year of their entire lives and I by no means think it’s been a good one, I’m just trying hard to hang on to what I’m grateful for, it’s helping me cope amidst the chaos to be honest.

I’m thankful that I got to get married. I’m thankful I got to see my little girl start school, and I’m thankful to have people to love and to have people that love me.

But – I also want to say that if all you’ve done this year is survive, if all you’ve done is put one foot in front of the other, if you’ve struggled, if you’ve broken down, however you’ve coped. I’m glad you’re still here. I hope in 2021 we can all be less judgy. We don’t know people’s individual circumstances, so before posting about people not social distancing make sure you know for a fact those people aren’t bubbled up. Before you berate someone for not wearing a mask, make sure you know they aren’t exempt for medical reasons. I’m not saying their aren’t dickheads in the world blatantly flouncing rules making things harder for all of us trying to do the right thing, of course there are, but there are sometimes just people, using methods of survival that we have absolutely no idea about.

I, like everyone else want people to follow the rules to ensure this shit show is over quickly, but I don’t believe warring with each other is the way to get there. We can blame each other until we’re blue in the face but it won’t make an unhappy year any happier. I’m trying very hard to ditch the blame next year and accept some of the things I can’t change, and learning when to challenge and when to mind my own business.

Whatever your New Year looks like, if you have a vision board bursting with ideas or you’re just winging it, I hope that 2021 is better for everyone everywhere. We all deserve that.

This blog can also be read here: House21

Married AF

So, a  week ago, I did it. I gave up my maiden name, the one that’s always been the same as my Mum and Sister.

The one that’s seen me through years of happiness and heartache. I could of kept it, of course I could, but I wanted the same name as my daughter and if we’re being honest, I like how it sounds. I feel like I outgrew Steph Skelton a long time ago (if you know me, you’d get this) but it was the only name I had, so I was stuck with it.

Anyway – I’ve decided to write a bit about the wedding, why we decided to go away on our own and do it in private without an audience, and whether I feel like it was the right decision.

When we actually decided to go ahead and get married, not when we got engaged, but when we agreed to tie the actual knot, we decided we couldn’t be bothered to try and please anyone.

We didn’t want to invite people for the sake of it. We didn’t want to spend money we didn’t have (later we found out it’s impossible not to) We didn’t want to feel obliged to invite people we didn’t like, and most importantly, we wanted to make it solely about us. I was met with bouts of criticism over my decision. People told me I’d regret it, people couldn’t believe we weren’t taking our daughter, but the opinions we really cared about on a whole were positive.

Some of my friends have said they wished they kept their own weddings small, most of them supported our decision to do it exactly how we wanted.

So, do I think it was the right decision? ABSOLUTELY! One hundred percent, the best decision I have ever made. It was THE best day EVER. The ceremony wasn’t drawn out, but it was heartfelt. We had each written our own vows and they turned out to be almost identical. Cute eh? It was lush. Our only two witnesses were the photographer and his wife and they both cried, even tho they hadn’t met us before that day.

Love literally powered the day, as well as laughter.

I have so many funny stories, but because we are having a party in 2 weeks I’m trying to save them for that. I promise to come back to the details.

We walked the streets of Dublin in full wedding attire with a photographer in tow and a pint of Guinness never far from hand. It was magical. We chose Dublin because it was one of the first places we visited together and now we return every year on Shaun’s birthday. The people of Ireland are naturally, much friendlier than us Brits, and we didn’t buy our own drinks all night!

Suffice to to say we were drunk, and Saturday was spent in our suite all day with 3 lots of room service.

I can’t wait to celebrate with our family and friends but I’m glad the ceremony was just for us. It’s a time only we will be able to reminisce about, and one that nobody was able to dampen or disturb. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, I just mean we got to concentrate on the people whose day it was, ours.

I don’t regret not taking our daughter, she will be at the party which she is classing as the ‘proper wedding’ and one day I hope she will find it romantic that her mum & dad we’re so in love they wanted to do it their way. So no, I don’t regret our elopement (it wasn’t a secret) one bit. I am looking forward to seeing everyone and doing the traditional parts of the wedding like speeches, cake cutting and a proper first dance.

I also feel like getting married has recovered some of the confidence I had recently lost. I’m overweight, and I’ve been battling with it for some time.

However, that day, I felt sexy, I felt beautiful and even looking back at pics in my undies with my gunt squeezed into Spanx before I got dressed (see attached) I feel content.

Shaun looked handsome AF. We laughed so much and it’s a bubble that I wish I could lock myself inside forever.

I made no secret of the fact I was worried about getting married. Cold feet if you like. I wanted Shaun to want to marry me, but the closer it got to the big day I wasn’t sure I was ready. It felt final somehow, and I was unsettled. I didn’t want to get married unless it was a fairytale, but life ain’t a fairytale is it?

That said, I think it’s the closest I’ll ever get to being rescued on a white horse. (Even if we had a chauffeur that talked non stop about his divorce) 🤣

I will cherish these memories for a lifetime and I will try and hold them close in future when Im feeling stabby.

PS: If you follow me on socials, photos are sure to spam your life, both wedding & wedding party ones are very much still to come. Getting married and feeling content has taught me to care a lot less about what other people think and spend more time caring about what I think about myself, and right now, I’m happy with me.

Life without a girl gang

I’m always sharing posts about girl power and women supporting other women, but the truth is I don’t have a close girl group. I have lots of girl friends, but not a specific group of friends that all hang out together, are part of the same brunch club and babysit for each other’s kids. I didn’t grow up within a strong female friendship circle because most of my growing up was tarnished by bad decisions and mental health struggles. I also had a hormone imbalance that meant I developed physically at a different pace to my peers. When you’ve got tits at 10 and are buying sanitary towels with your lunch money, awhile your mates are still playing with barbies, it can be hard to fit in. Overwhelming at times, and I felt left out often, as a kid. I was a bit of spoilt brat too, but (and I’m not making excuses) I was genuinely finding growing up hard.

This isn’t a woe is me post though, on the contrary, I have a lot of friends dotted all over the place and that’s kind of nice really as it gives way to variety. I’m also a bit of a loner. For someone as insecure as me that probably comes as a shock to a lot of people, but it’s true. I actually love being alone now, crave the time to think in peace. It’s not very often as mums we get total alone time, but that doesn’t mean it’s not needed now and again. I love to write, as you know, and writers tend to be pretty solitary, as well as creatures of habit. In my professional life I’ve learned to embrace change but I’m still struggling in my personal one and again, I get overwhelmed when things are changing in my home life at a pace I can’t cope with.

Anxiety means I’m always thinking the worst case scenario and that can make making friends hard work. People get fed up of my insecurities. I have some great friends who have known me a long time that get it. They know me so they accept me in all my mentally muddled glory. They know when I’m being off it’s usually because I’m worried about something, and they appreciate my sensitivity when they need someone who’s good at listening, or someone who will always remember their birthday.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t like a closer knit circle of women around. Especially since becoming a mum. I definitely envy girls who have been friends through school or uni and have each other’s backs. Groups where there’s no jealousy or feeling left out because everyone’s always invited. I do sometimes feel left out in my adult life too, but I’m not naive enough now to believe I don’t contribute to it. I don’t immerse myself in groups very well. I avoid chat on the school run and when I do find myself in group situations I attach to the person who I think will judge me the least, then I might later find out they’re boring or they’re the gossipyest (I know that’s not a word) so I’ll back off rather than get to know everyone else.

Trust is a massive thing for me and if I feel I can’t trust people I tend to just give up. And so I know I’m responsible for a lot of the reasons I don’t have these strong cliques. But with this in mind I’m more than grateful for the friends I do have, the girls that get me, are the ones that will say nice things behind my back and let me cry and scream when my kid’s driving me insane or Shaun hasn’t put the bins out. (yes I’ve cried about that before, I have a hormone imbalance, remember… I cry!)

I also have some really close male friends who take the piss out of me for being such a diva, but also spur me on when I need to ‘man up’

I like to believe that life gives you the people you need but I’m not sure that’s always true. It’s certainly given me people to learn from, and people who have helped me grow. It hasn’t given me a really close girl group, and whilst I sometimes wish it had, instead it’s given me loads of strong women who I love and I’m creating my own girl gang one diva mum, sister, friend & daughter at a time.

It’s not your wedding.

I’m getting married, to my best friend, in January. We gave ourselves 6 months of planning only, and here we are 3 months into this planning and of course stressed beyond belief but equally excited.

I decided to do a little research for this blog by speaking to ladies who are already married about the things that stressed them out the most during planning, and the majority of answers were the same. Friends or family (or both) who didn’t fully support them. Mother in laws being too interfering, some even said their own Mother’s drove them mad. I feel lucky I’ve not encountered problems with either Mum or MIL both supportive of our decision to go away and get married on our own. Also on the list of things causing chaos was sweating the small stuff, colour schemes, and table decs etc and this I really relate to. I’ve collated some of the answers I collected and added in some of my own experience so far to create this blog but the disclaimer is that not everything I’ve written is from personal experience even though most of it is written in first person narrative.

Everyone has their ideal day mapped in their minds. It’s something we are programmed to dream about since day dot, or at least it was if you grew up female in the 80s/90s. When I first started envisioning my wedding it was a lavish affair. But, that was when I was imagining marrying someone else, who paid me zero attention so the only way to draw any would of been to make myself centre of it. Don’t get me wrong every bride deserves to be centre of attention on their wedding day, but what I mean is, during that relationship that would of probably been the only time I was centre of his anything unless it was amidst a screaming match.

Now I’m marrying my best friend and I’m always centre of his world, and him mine. He is a douche bag, who infuriates me with his horizontally relaxed ethos and lack of ability to make a decision, but he also puts up with me and my unhinged personality so I’d say we balance each other out. Yin and Yang if you will.

When we got engaged it was special. As you imagine it should be, a Christmas affair in a lovely stately home style hotel, with a roll top bath and hot tub on our balcony. When we eventually made the decision to get married two years after our engagement, it was special on another level because we both decided there and then that we wanted it to be just about us. There was no pull as to who wanted what, because we wanted the same thing. So when we tell you we’re going away to get married on our own, We’re not inviting you to give us your opinion on why we should do it differently. In fact the first time I heard ‘I wouldn’t do it like that’ (and believe me I have heard it, more than once) I was quite shocked and remember thinking, good job it’s not your wedding then love!

Wedding’s are occasions that vary in design, expense, cultures, lavishness and numbers. They are unique to two people who have chosen a way they wish to cement their love. Sounds cheesy but that’s the long and short of it. Let them have it their way. Weddings are important and the fact you’re being invited to share in celebrations with people, means they think you’re important too! One of the common themes these brides found when planning was, they were made to feel guilty in some way for some of their choices.

I thought before writing this that it would go without saying, to not to make the bride and groom feel bad about their decisions. Whether it be because they haven’t managed to organise their hen and stag doo around your family holiday. Or because they have chosen a main course you’re not keen on for the wedding breakfast. Or because their dream venue isn’t somewhere you’re able to get to on foot. Your mum is moaning auntie Doris who’s 86 (and whom you haven’t seen for 20 years) won’t like the music you’ve chosen for the first dance. And why haven’t you invited your dad’s cousin Jeff and his wife, just because you don’t see them ever doesn’t mean they wouldn’t want to come. So you’ve invited that person but not that person?

Don’t make the happy couple feel awkward for not inviting the boyfriend or girlfriend you’ve only been seeing for 5 weeks, or your child. Because there are probably 30 other short term boyfriends and girlfriends not invited and 100 other kids staying with babysitters.

When asked how they came to choose their preferences of not inviting these people the common answer was along the lines of: It’s not because they hate your kids, it’s more likely to be because they don’t want you to have to be a responsible parent at their party.

It’s not because they don’t like your new partner: it’s probably because they don’t know them and by inviting them they may have to sacrifice inviting people they do know and love for affordability or space reasons.

So they haven’t put on a coach for you to get home. Sorry about that, the money has probably gone on welcome drinks instead, or maybe bridesmaid dresses, or wedding favours. It’s one day in their lifetime (and yours) you may have to spend a bit more than usual on getting to a gathering they’ve organised.

Another common denominator amongst things that upset the bride were, bridesmaids moaning about their dresses, guests not bothering to R.S.V.P (it’s stressful when we don’t know average numbers) and people being too casually open when giving their opinion on your choices.

You don’t like the colour scheme, has she not seen Wedding House? Gold doesn’t go with pink for goodness sake. The wedding dress isn’t something you’d be seen dead in, and what do you mean she’s doing her own makeup? ON HER WEDDING DAY? You wouldn’t do it like that would you? Maybe you’re already married and you did it differently, or maybe it’s not what you’d choose for your upcoming nuptials but this day, this day your friends’ have chosen, gone to great lengths to plan and invited you to share, it isn’t your day is it?

Maybe, like me, you’re a bride who’s a bit disappointed in the groom’s lack of interest in colour schemes and balloon arches, and you can feel bridezilla creeping in as the date draws nearer…. I mean for fuck sake can you just paint some pine cones and help me! A friend of mine recently said to me in a bid to chill me out, that maybe it’s because all he’s interested in is making you his wife and shouting about it with a toast of his favourite tipple. (What a lovely way of looking at it.) He’s marrying you, try and remember that!

According to the women I asked there is never a day where a woman feels as insecure yet equally as confident, as that of her wedding day. I may change my opinion post wedding as mine hasn’t arrived yet, but how I feel now as a bride to be is more on the insecure side and it doesn’t help when I have everyone asking me if I’m on a diet for the big day, no I’m eating my way into my dress thanks, fuck off.

If your a friend of the Bride’s she may be feeling like this too. Don’t add to her rollercoaster of emotions by giving your opinion about her choices unless it’s helpful, or she asks for it. To say you don’t like the bridesmaid dresses she suggested for you is not only in bad taste but it’s also not about what you like. Unless it looks atrocious because it doesn’t fit or it’s totally the wrong shape for you, the colour and style doesn’t have to be yours, because it’s not your wedding. A bit like when she gives you 3 months notice for a dress fitting you can’t make and you’re compelled to tell her you’ve had to ask your mum to have your kid for an hour or you’ve taken a half day at work. She doesn’t need to know that and deep down you know she’d do the same for you without making you feel bad about it. Have you ever heard of groomsmen moaning about the dates of the suit fitting, or the colour of his cravat? She’s chosen you to be part of her big day because she loves you, and because you love her you’ll let her have what she wants for one day in her life. She’ll return the favour for you, because that’s what friends do.

Weddings mean different things to different people but to everyone I’ve asked they’ve all said important things for them were having their friends and family celebrate with them, and loving the person they were marrying. They all said they wished they didn’t get so irate about flowers and table plans, but put their foot down about the things that’s were important to them. They just wanted to have fun and realised nothing small mattered on the big day.

Newlyweds want you to be sincere in your presence. They want you to get behind their marriage and root for them! Cheer from the sidelines and pat them on the back in taking the next step with their relationship. They’re in love, so help them celebrate that by being their cheerleader. Even if on your day your dream is as different to theirs as land is to sea. For just one day be part of someone else’s dream.

Frank Bruno

On Saturday the 2nd March I had the pleasure of attending an evening with Frank Bruno. Being an avid boxing fan I was excited to hear about his bouts against the greats, such as Mike Tyson and Bone Crusher Smith, and of course his amazing win of the title against Oliver McCall. When these fight’s originally occurred I was very young so didn’t watch them first hand, I do however remember Mike Tyson Vs Frank Bruno 2. Purely because it was strange to have this on in my nan’s house, but there she was up late in all her glory on the date of 16th March 1996 with a Tia Maria in hand, watching this brutal rematch that would see Frank defeated a second time by the animal that is ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson. Hearing Frank speak honestly about these fights often with huge respect for the other fighters was fascinating. Even after the grudge match with Lennox Lewis, Frank regarded him with respect. He also talked about current fighters such as Chris Eubank Jnr and Tyson Fury.

But for me, the most fascinating, heart wrenching and humbling part of the evening was hearing Frank talk about his battle with Mental Health and how he started the Frank Bruno Foundation, in a bid to ‘knock out’ the stigma that still surrounds mental health today. Frank spiralled into a depression after retiring from the great sport and following the break down of his marriage. He was victim to phone tapping and harassment from the media that made him feel as though he was ‘going mad.’ He was eventually sectioned for the first time in 2003. For years following this he suffered a long and debilitating battle with mental illness and described it as his ‘toughest fight.’ When asked how he overcame his demons, Frank’s reply was ‘I haven’t, but I fight very hard, I use fitness and determination to keep me going.’ I think that’s a really important message for anyone who thinks mental illness is some kind of excuse or elaboration, and believe me, sadly those people do exist. I urge those people to read Frank’s latest book Let Me Be Frank and then decide if you still feel this is some glorified publicity stunt. This is a man who has battled with some of the toughest men in history, but found battling with his mind so much tougher. You have to admire his strength and determination as well as his courage to speak out.

After the show on Saturday we had a photo opportunity with Frank so you can imagine my excitement. I patiently awaited my turn, thinking in my head of something to say, it was probably going to be the one and only time I got to speak to him so I wanted to say something memorable. Frank talked during the evening about his battle with antidepressant medication and how he was now 4 years medication free, I wanted to tell him about my own battle trying to withdraw from the same type of drugs, but there wasn’t enough time. All I was able to stutter when my turn came around was ‘Frank, I’m so excited, shit, everything you do for mental health is amazing’ and I truly meant it. For someone in his stature use his voice to promote health and well being for people who suffer mental illness is truly commendable. We all battle demons from time to time but we tend to put celebrities on pedestals or misunderstand their motives. Frank now has his own charity in The Frank Bruno Foundation and that charity works hard to really help sufferers. He makes no excuses for his illness, blames nobody for his failings and refers to his dad as his ‘hero’ it was a truly inspirational evening and I felt privileged to have been there, obviously I paid a premium for that privilege but it was worth it. It’s a night I will probably remember for the rest of my life. I think I may have found a new hero myself.

His parting line after being asked ‘ Who hit you the hardest Frank?’ Was ‘The Taxman.’ What a legend.

How does your sleep space affect your sleep?

I’ve recently decorated my bedroom, which you’ll know if you follow me on Instagram, because of course I’ve uploaded obligatory progress pics.

It’s been a long time coming though, and before we’d painted last week I was actually becoming quite depressed by my surroundings. This happened to me in our old house also. I’d given up on trying to make it look nice and allowed clutter to take over, subsequently my mind became cluttered too. It sounds cliché tidy house, tidy mind and all that jazz, but actually I believe it to be true. If you suffer from anxiety like I do, it’s likely you too are sensitive to your surroundings.

Dark colours can really affect my mood and prior to painting we were living with this awful dark pink, and some ghastly girl’s wallpaper! It was just too busy. Excuse the mess but that’s what I mean, it was a state!

We sold our bed, and before we could find one that was low enough in height to fit under the window,(because of our room’s weird layout,) we were sleeping on a mattress on the floor.

Once the bed situ was sorted and the room was painted, it was time for my fav part. Adding the colour! I chose grey carpet and decided the accent colours would be grey (standard if you know me) and the ever fashionable blush that seems to be doing the rounds in everyone’s gaff at the mo. Pink is actually a really positive colour, and for most people brings a sense of joy and calm. Of course the shade of pink is important, hence me swapping that atrocious dark and dusky pink for some lighter, softer tones.

A huge mirror is also a must as it gives off so much light as well as giving the illusion the room is bigger.

Still left to do is personalise! The walls are bare at the mo and definitely need a few signature photos and prints donning them. I have to say though, even with Shaun’s snoring, I slept so much better last night. I woke up relaxed too, and I’ve actually spent all day up here writing today as it’s just such a nice calm space now.

So if like me you are starting to climb the walls of your mind, a colour change and de clutter might be exactly what you need!

I don’t always believe in feng shui or other spiritual advisory’s but in this case it’s really worked for me. Give it a go, and if it doesn’t work at least you’ll have tidied your room!

Product details are:

Mirror and lampshade The Range

Bedding, love cushion and table lamp George at Asda

Bed and voile panels Amazon

And finally the blind Blinds2go

In Dublin’s fair city.

My favourite City in the world. Ok so I haven’t been to that many, but it’s still my fav.

Having visited 5 times now I consider myself a bit of a pro, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite places with you and give you a bit of a low down on what’s worth the money and where really isn’t.

You’re bound to of heard of Temple Bar. It’s literally the heart of Dublin if you’re a tourist. And it’s a fun place to be. After always staying close to Connelly Station on the other side of The River Liffey, we chose this time to stay in an apartment in Temple Bar itself, which is great for exploring the city but also pretty noisy, and you should bear in mind if you do this, that it is a tourist attraction and you’re sharing it with other tourists. Culturally though, you miss out on some of the City’s authenticity if you spend your whole trip in Temple Bar so make sure you venture across town too.

One of the most infamous pubs in Dublin’s Temple Bar, aside from The Temple Bar, is Oliver St John Gogarty’s. It’s a huge bar that hosts live music from about 12 lunchtime, all day everyday and is definitely worth a visit if just for photo op value. However, they are specifically aimed at the tourist industry and because of that fact you’re looking at around €8 a pint and €7.50 for a shot of your favourite spirit, then add €3 on top for a mixer. It’s also often aimed to target hen and stag doos so expect a lot of those. Whilst it is a great pub and the music is good it gets very busy and the wait for a drink and food can be long!

However just along the road you’ll find The Auld Dubliner and The Old Storehouse, both of which are great bars with real Irish singers and bands, smoking rooms, and a cracking pint of stout. A little further again and you’ll find The Porter House. One heck of a bar, with a whole menu of its own brewed stout and ales, bear in mind they don’t sell Guinness (I know) but they do do a fab Porter which is just as good. And what’s even better is if you buy 6 you get one free so if there’s a group of you it’s a great place to indulge. They also have live music every day, and for me, that’s what Ireland is all about.

Further up on the main road away from the hustle and bustle is Peadar Kearney’s, a typically traditional Irish pub, with the sport on, a singer and a slew of friendly locals happy to welcome you. On Saturday night we visited and they had an Irish Singer who sang everything from The Dubliner’s to Oasis and The Beatles, and even ABBA, all round great entertainment.

The Guinness Storehouse should 100% be on your list of MUST visit places. It’s amazing, the worlds largest pint glass. Even if you don’t like Guinness, the view alone from the gravity bar is a good enough reason to visit. It looks out over the whole city. St James Gate should be on the top of your list of places to see at least once in your lifetime.

The Jameson Distillery is also another must visit if you like an Irish Whiskey of course. While the home of Arthur Guinness is a whole day out, with bars and booze on every floor, not to mention the shop, the Jameson distillery will only take you an hour to walk around and you’ll come out three sheets to the wind.

It’s not all bars, whiskey and Guinness though, although obviously that’s a big part. Dublin has some really great places to visit on foot. Dublin Zoo, is set in Phoenix Park which is the largest green space in any Capital City in Europe. It has a huge collection of animals set in an ‘African Plain’ style environment, even elephants are free to roam here at Dublin Zoo.

Trinity College is a great building to see if you’re an architecture fan and it also houses the book of Kells. An interesting artefact if you’re a history fan.

Whilst you’re sat enjoying a Guinness, you’ll have heard ‘Molly Malone’ sung by one of the many Irish singers you’ve heard on your trip. The Molly Malone statue sits in Dublin’s shopping quarter on Grafton Street. Another one to tick off the bucket list.

St Stephens Green which is a stones throw from Trinity College, is a beautiful park to wander around during a winter morning, and feed the ducks whilst you’re at it.

A few things to remember when travelling across the city, if you’re on your own or in a couple, The Luas is your best friend, use it. Taxis are cheap though so if there’s 4 or more of you, you can travel by car for small change. Another thing to remember or if you’re on a budget, is Dublin can be walked on foot too, the Liffey has a canal path and of course if you’re part of a couple you’ll be wanting to put your lovers lock on the Ha’penny Bridge.

One of Dublin’s most iconic landmarks and here’s a fun fact for you: The Ha’penny bridge was actually cast in Shropshire England in 1816.

So I’ve rambled on about places to visit and drink, but you’ll be wanting to line your stomachs too so, for breakfast, I’d recommend pretty much any of the hotel’s as they all do a fab Irish Breakfast, we’ve stayed in The North Star, opposite Connelly station several times and their breakfast is fantastic.

Boxty’s in Temple Bar do a great American/Irish breakfast with Boxty’s special potato pancakes.

Lunch in The Guinness Storehouse is also great, any of the cafes or restaurants serve good hearty Guinness inspired food.

But our favourite, and it was our third visit this time, is Ciao Bella Roma’s. THE best Italian I’ve ever tasted and that’s not an exaggeration. Authentic, huge portions, the meat is something else and it’s not too expensive.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not cheap but for the quality of food it’s good value, also all the Italians eat there so that tells you something. The service is great too.

Do feel free to message me if I’ve missed anything. Don’t forget to Visit Carroll’s whilst your there and pick up some tacky souvenirs, the Irish love them, and everyone needs a fridge magnet of the Ha’penny bridge.

Enjoy xoxo

Resign And Redesign

I’ve made a decision to follow a different path this year.

I’ve resigned from my full time job because truthfully, being a mum of a toddler, a fiancé and having a FTJ (minus 7 hours, but let’s not get petty) with a chronic illness, for me, just isn’t working!

I’ve tried to make it work for us as family but it didn’t.

I was off more than I was in, I’d work one week then be laid up in bed the following. Ciara would get sick, childminders or Nanny would get sick too.

I have been breaking myself trying to keep up.

Forever falling helplessly behind on all the things that matter and scrambling to finish the things that really don’t.

Begging people to understand and let’s face it, people don’t understand unless it’s happening to them.

Yes. We will be skint.

No. I can’t ‘afford’ to give up work.

But I’m not giving up work.

I’m just doing something differently to how I’ve always done it.

Let’s think about the definition of work….

Is it just work if you go everyday and get paid a monthly or weekly salary? An hourly or day rate, for your services?

Because to me, work is effort you put in to something, that in turn benefits or rewards you.

So yes, that could be a 9-5,

or it could be parenting or caring for a relative, it could be looking after your health to make you feel better physically, mentally or both, It could be dancing, singing, admin, relationships, IT, scrubbing floors, bar tending, being a footballer or CEO and so on…..

Work is, whatever YOU think it is.

So yes I’ve left my job, but I haven’t left behind ‘work.’ I still have so much work to do. More now than ever, in fact.

I need to work on my health in a big way this year as any improvement will determine whether or not we can try for another baby, and expanding our family is important to us. (I know, I know, I hated being pregnant, don’t remind me I’m trying to pretend I can’t remember how fucking crucifying it was!)

It also determines how well I’m able look after the family I’ve already got.

I’ve decided to try and do more of what I love too, and as if you haven’t guessed, that’s writing.

I get that it probably seems like becoming an author is a silly pipe dream, but why can’t I at least try and make that dream a reality?

It’s MY dream after all! I’m also studying copywriting and marketing so I’m trying a transformation of sorts.

Do you ever wish you’d followed your dreams, but were put off for different reasons?

I’ve noticed sadly, that some people only push you to follow your dreams when they are following their own, or they’re already living theirs. Sometimes even the people closest to you resent your success.

But, it’s not without sacrifice of course! We are sacrificing an ‘almost’ full time salary in order for me to be able to do all of the above. That means the day trips every weekend and lunches out, full package cable TV along with sporadic weekends away, will all have to be reigned in.

Some of them will have to go on the back burner indefinitely.

And I need to be shopping smarter and budgeting better. (I plan to blog about this so stay tuned.)

People skint themselves all the time to follow a dream. To study, undergo fertility treatment, cosmetic surgery, a new business venture etc etc

So why not sacrifice mine for better health?

It will also mean I get to provide my own childcare for the most part and that was an expense that was leaving us at a deficit financially most months. Since mums accident and not being able to lean on her as much physically, I haven’t been able to keep to a 9-5 routine 4 days a week, so everything has suffered. My work, my parenting, my physical health and to the biggest effect my mental health too.

Ciara’s at an age now where I miss so bloody much as it is and until she starts school I want to spend as much time with her as possible.

Of course I’m not in a place financially that allows for me to not bring in a wage at all so I will need some form of paid job that fits in with our family (let me know if you know of any going)

I realise whilst writing this I’ve been trying to justify my decision, to both myself and you guys, I really wish I didn’t do that so much. I shouldn’t have to! Whatever I choose is my choice isn’t it, but the roots of self doubt are imbedded deep, and it will take more than a eureka moment to change that!

So this is the path we’re following for now. Maybe in 6 months I’ll be pulling my hair out, my health might be better and I’ll be back at work full time with a half finished book on my idrive 🤷🏻‍♀️ but until then, I plan to enjoy the extra time doing things I love that don’t cost any money.

So with new found positivity, I’ll be sharing my tips and experiences about how to get the best out of life on a smaller budget.

Please let this post make you think about your own dreams and aspirations.

Decide how badly you want them because even if you don’t make them all come true, just deciding to try is an empowering feeling.

I’ve already sent off a few written pieces to be looked at for features in online magazines and blogs.

I won’t say which ones in case they tell all me to politely get fucked, but please continue to share my blogs, like my page and posts, subscribe to my wordpress account etc.

What ever it is you do, however little will be going a long way towards making my dreams come true 💓 So thank you and keep stopping by. Here’s to 2019 Divas, the future is now!!

New Year, New Me

Are you ready for the influx of ‘new year, new me’ posts on social media?

Are you a hater instead of a goal chaser?

A realist rather than a dreamer?

I used to think I was a realist, but I’ve come to learn lately I rather like being a dreamer. Why shouldn’t I believe for the 20th time that this year I am actually going to lose the weight?

Why shouldn’t I be dead set on spending some more time on self care?

Why shouldn’t I convince myself I am going to be a better friend and make more effort with people in 2019. Why. Shouldn’t. I.?

I don’t tell myself ‘shut up Steph, you know you won’t change’ because if I start saying that, I’ll believe it, and if I believe it, I have zero hope. I need hope to survive and so do you! I need to hope that one day I’ll be able to afford to give my family the life they deserve. I need to hope that one day there’ll be a cure for Fibromyalgia and I’ll no longer have to survive in the prison that is my body. I need to hope that soon I’ll be strong enough to live without medication so Shaun and I can try for another baby. I. Need. Hope.

And whilst I may be saying this all over again at the end of 2019, what does it matter, if it helped me start off the year right? Next year maybe I really will go on a diet. Or maybe I really will get my dream job. Maybe I really will be able to survive without medication.

Maybe – just maybe 2019 will be my year. Or yours. Or Sally’s at number 45.

Is the reason we roll our eyes when people post ‘New Year’ status updates and goals, really because we haven’t succeeded in achieving our own goals?

I think there’s a good chance that’s part of it, in my case anyway. Because of this, my ‘New year, New me’ resolution is definitely going to involve stopping comparing myself to others, especially those on the internet. When you write a blog your following is a huge part of whether or not your blog is successful, but it doesn’t have to define your life. I’ve always sought validation in some form or other, so for me the new year is going to be about validating myself, because I actually do quite like me. I just need to tell her more often.

Whatever your New Years ressie is, I hope you’re successful. If you don’t have one, that’s ok too. If you’re content as you are I’m genuinely happy for you! And on that note I’m starting early and wishing you all a Happy, Healthy, Wealthy, 2019!

Blessed Christmas

How perfect do you want your Christmas? I want to FEEL the magic. I want to see the excitement in my babies eyes. Don’t we all?

This is Ciara’s first year of being

‘In the know’ accept she’s been out of action for 2 days with a fever. Just as we thought today was improving, she woke 2 hours after going to bed in a night terror that lasted 30 minutes, and she’s still awake now, not looking too special or likely to meet sleep any time soon!

I’m tired, I’m feeling the stress, Shaun’s tired, he’s stressed and he’s feeling my stress, poor bloke! I’ve not made the pudding for Christmas Day.

I’ve not wrapped those last few presents or put together Ciara’s main present.

I’ve not even washed my fucking hair yet, and we all know you need to wash it at least two days before the big event, so that’s me already set for a bad hair day this Christmas.

We’re off to see Santa again tomorrow and by the looks of it none of us are up for it.

Me with my pain, Ciara with her fever, Shaun with his sore throat and cold.

I’m considering cancelling Christmas all together.

The only one remotely excited about it, is our scout elf Fergus Frostypants, and even he’s dubious after coming face to face with Chibs the Bengal.

But of course we won’t cancel Christmas, and even if we are all on our last legs we’ll still be together. As much as this is all pissing me off and making me want to cry, is it really important?

What’s most important to me really, is having my people with me, happy, healthy, and smiling. Whether it’s for 5 minutes during present opening before one of us goes back to bed to wallow in a sick pit, or 5 hours with Christmas dinner and party games. They are all I need to wake up to this Christmas. The food will still get eaten, the presents still opened and my hair will eventually come into contact with a shower head and some Argon oil, but if that’s not tomorrow or Monday, well I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

Whilst I was mid freak out about an hour ago – I thought to myself, there’s so many people that won’t have their loved ones with them this Christmas. So many people who won’t eat a Christmas dinner let alone get a pudding, and even more people that don’t have anyone to spend Christmas with at all.

I will forever be grateful that I have my team with me, every day of the year and we never go hungry. So for that reason I’m feeling totally (I hate this word but it’s fitting) BLESSED. ❤️❤️

Just wanted to point out not to pay too much attention to the minor details and just enjoy the people you’re with.

On that note I’m off to try again to get my girlie to sleep so I can get an early night and at least pretend to have my shit together.

Merry Christmas guys. ❤️