Queen Anne’s Lace, June 2014

The last of the photos from our visit to Castlemartyr Estate features Queen Anne’s Lace or cow’s parsley, a plant commonly found in the Irish countryside. I love how this delicate flowery plant lends itself towards photos taken with a large aperture (this was taken at f1.8 with my 50mm) with the greenery fading away in the bokeh.

Other photos from Castlemartyr Estate: Sunset in the Woods and Woodland Paths.

Queen Annes Lace, Castlemartyr Estate

Castlemartyr Woods, June 2014

 

 

 

Sunset in the woods of Castlemartyr Resort, Cork; June 2014

After a blogging break during the summer which extended all the way into October, an epic backlog of photos has been sitting on my computer waiting for some bad weather to start sorting and editing them.

Torrential rain is currently battering Cork (no flooding please!) and it feels appropriate to start the backlog with this sunset lit shot of the woods in Castlemartyr Resort.

 

Castlemartyr Woods

Operation Get Fit

I’ve been on a fitness kick this summer. I lost all motivation earlier this year but recently I sat down and looked at the actual reasons why I’ve been avoiding exercise and even managed to dispel some of the BS I tell myself about fitness.

I dislike being outside in the cold and rain, and also struggle with being outside in the blazing heat. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind it once a week but motivating myself to run outside 3 days a week is never going to happen. I also don’t feel safe running in Cork after dark during the winter. So I joined a gym for the first time in my life, it was an obvious solution that also allows me to take gym classes, strength train and swim.

As part of this get fit challenge, I signed up to 2 races in July and haves starting practicing yoga again.

Bank of Ireland Runway Run at Shannon Airport 5km

This race venue has to be the most unique race I will run on this year as this was the first runway race in Ireland  The route took us from the main terminal in Shannon Airport along their runway and then back along one of the taxiways. I managed to speed along the course to finish in 30:39, only taking one break to walk for a little bit.

Fit Magazine City Series 5km Cork

Ugh, I hate running in the early morning. I don’t like eating breakfast and fueling myself for early morning exercise is always a struggle. The route took us along the Marina through Blackrock village to Blackrock Castle, and then back again. My official chip time was 32:39 and I know I can improve on that time next time I run in that area.

Himalaya Yoga Cork yogainthepark

I have taken a couple of yoga classes with the Himalaya Yoga studio here in Cork and was delighted when I heard they were starting outdoor yoga in Fitzgerald Park in aid of Cork Simon Community. The classes are worth skipping my Saturday morning lie-in, and are manageable for a beginner like me. It is also very inspiring to see more advanced people in difficult poses that I cannot imagine being able to do! I also love that these classes are doing something I feel strongly about – a local business using a local facility to give back to the community.

I love getting back to working out and feeling fit and healthy, and have definitely noticing the difference it’s making to my body and my health!

Grocery Budget Challenge Weeks 3 & 4

I meant to write this post last week after we finished up the grocery budget challenge but I was distracted with visitors all last week.

Even though we went over budget in week 3 again, it was a much better week than the previous week we went over budget. We went over budget by €40.10 with a total spend of €140.10, and much of the overspend was on restocking our freezer with meat and buying some basics which had run low. I may have overindulged again on the treats but it is so hard to resist ice-cream when it’s so warm outside, and we also bought a few beers to drink at home.

We had loads of Indian and Greek food in week 3, much of which was vegetarian which I loved but himself was desperately looking for some meat by Thursday evening. In our meal-plan for that week, we ate chickpea curry (4 servings), spaghetti carbonara (2 servings), spanakopita (4 servings), baked pork with yoghurt and cardamon (2 servings), moussaka (4 servings), wholegrain couscous with chicken and courgettes (2 servings), sausages sandwiches for Saturday and Sunday lunch, and the most beautiful piece of pork belly complete with crackling for Sunday dinner.

What really struck me about week 3 is how well we planned it, we made a meal plan on Monday evening, bought groceries on Tuesday and just stuck to the plan. Everything we had in that meal plan- packed lunches for 3 days, breakfasts to eat at work, a packed dinner for me on Friday night as I was travelling for a 5km race that evening, snacks to eat at our desks – just happened.

Amount Veg & Fruit Carbs Protein Dairy Treats Lunches Caffeine Other
€140.10 €24.94 €16.00 €28.60 €9.74 €17.07 €6.00 €13.34 €24.33

Week 4 was pretty much spot on as well. We only spent €60.12 as I had done a grocery shop on Sunday afternoon which meant that we only had to buy a small amount of groceries. At this stage, it seems that €17-ish is our standard spend on junk food and treats, and it is something that we need to work on.

I brought in lunch every day that week, and every dinner was cooked from scratch apart from a lazy Sunday dinner of pizza. The meal plan for that week was leftover pork belly from Sunday dinner, chicken goujons (2 servings), chickpea curry (4 servings), spaghetti carbonara (2 servings), spaghetti alla Norma (4 servings), chilli con carne (4 servings), more sausage sandwiches for brunch, pizza, loads of smoothies and 1kg of fudge.

Amount Veg & Fruit Carbs Protein Dairy Treats Lunches Caffeine Other
€60.12 €16.25 €4.77 €3.67 €6.41 €17.28 €0.00 €6.76 €4.98

So the total spend for the 4 weeks was… drum roll… €391.13… just within the €400 budget. I was absolutely delighted to see that we were under the limit. The budget covered 20 meals a week for 2 people over 4 weeks, so 160 servings of food with all snacks and drinks included.

I was worried that we would end up feeling deprived and eating cheap carbs to bulk out meals but we ate like kings for the 4 weeks. I really thought hard about how what we should be eating and how to get as many nutrients as cheaply as possible. We ate so many vegetables and so much protein in those 4 weeks. Honestly, I think this is the best my diet has been for months, even with the occasional treat.

Even now that the challenge has ended, we are still concentrating on bringing lunch to work as often as possible. We are cooking most dinners to be brought in the next day for lunch as leftovers. Meal planning and only buying what we actually need is also key to keeping our budget under control, especially as we have limited storage space. We managed to limit our food waste pretty well, mostly because we only bought what we needed and used up leftovers as we were bringing in lunch and snacks most days.

I’m going to keep going with watching our budget (won’t be blogging about it though) and I’m also planning on doing a no junk food month/ no spend month in a while.

Robin Redbreast

 

 

You really don’t see much wildlife around the area where I live. The only animals I ever see are the stray cats hanging out on our fire escape and the noisy nest of pigeons living in the next building, so imagine my surprise when I saw two robins hanging out on our balcony on Saturday evening.

One of the birds was quite shy and flew away when I opened the apartment door. The other fellow was so calm, and stayed on the railings as long as I stood relatively still and made no sudden movements or noises. It was a beautiful moment with nature in the middle of a busy city, and I really hope they come back again for another visit.

Robin

Art of the Brick

 

 

 

 

I’m very late posting this photo from The Art of The Brick exhibition in the Ambassador in Dublin which I attended in nearly 3 months ago! Some of the artwork from Nathan Sawaya is absolutely mind-blowing, even when you simply consider the amount of lego bricks which go into making even one of his sculptures. It might be finished its stint in Dublin but I would wholeheartedly recommend checking out his work on his website.
The Art of The Brick