The last week has been a rough ride. The word “triggered” gets tossed around a lot these days but that is what happened at the end of last week; someone let me down and it sent me back to past feelings, back to a past life. My anxiety was the worst it has been in a while. Most of the time, it just hovers; it’s there but it doesn’t stop me doing things. Well this was different, this was debilitating. I am grateful for my ability to soothe myself, for my ability to work through those emotions and come out the other end quite quickly. It took me a few days but I was able to move forward and get back to myself, maybe a slightly more battered version, but myself none the less. I’m grateful I was able to have a productive week and I’m grateful I could find comfort in the small things again. But I’m also exhausted, physically and mentally. It’s so tiring having to take hits because other people can’t handle their own emotional baggage. Sometimes you don’t want to be grateful that you made it through, you just want to have not had to go through it at all.
DOGS ARE GREAT
I love dogs. That’s all.
PLANNINGAS SELF CARE
I’ve been doing a lot of planning this week, mainly planning future trips. I have a work trip next week and then I’ve off to Wales do the fastest zip line in the world. The timing is actually quite nice, as I need a bit of a distraction after the last week. I’ve also been planning a big trip for next year that I think I’m going to book next month.
I enjoy planning. I don’t do it deliberately but I think it is a form of self care for me. It’s important when you take an emotional knock to be kind to yourself; I can be kinda hard on myself when I feel I’ve been unproductive, but I need to remember that sometimes being productive means just making it out of bed. I like to focus on things I enjoy doing as they’re easier to get done and I can start to feel like I’m accomplishing something. I think planning is also good because it forces me to focus on the future, not the past.
GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE
I am trying to be conscious of my consumerism so I hate to advocate retail therapy but last week I just needed reasons to get myself out of the house so I decided to head into town and peruse the shops. I’m not really a physical shopper anymore, I mostly shop online. But it was nice to see things in person, get some inspiration and mostly importantly, just move my body and be out in world with other people. I tried on a bunch of stuff in & Other Stories (on a side note, while retail therapy may be nice when you’re feeling down, being in a changing room with a bunch of stuff that doesn’t fit or look good, doesn’t do much to help your mood. 0/10 would not recommend). I ended up just getting these earrings (well, I also bought an umbrella but that was a practical purchase) and I’m very happy with them. After, I went to a coffee shop with the intention of working on this blog, but I ended up watching YouTube videos. I know I could have done that at home but again, there was something nice about being out in the world. I wasn’t quite in the mood for socialising but just being around people made me feel a bit less anxious, less isolated. I also took myself on a couple of walks and while they were sometimes a bit of a struggle with my anxiety, I was glad I did them.
I’ve really been trying to make more eco-friendly, ethical and sustainable choices when it comes to my clothing but I have to be honest, I’ve found it really challenging. There are so many people online who share tips and show you how to do it, and it sounds great. They’re often really enthusiastic and make it seem so accessible; but I’ve found in reality, it’s a lot trickier. I hate to be negative with this post, but I just find that sometimes the people online talking about these things can be so full on that people watching can become disillusioned. So I just wanted to share some of my struggles in the hope that people can relate. These set backs don’t mean I’m going to stop trying but we need to be realistic with what real options people have.
One option is shopping in charity (or thrift) shops. Now, in the United States, I can see this being a viable option because the thrift stores are so big and have a large variety of sizes. However, in Ireland, second hand shops can be very small and I often have a lot of trouble finding anything I like, let alone anything that fits. I went to 3 different shops a few days ago and literally didn’t fit 1 thing that I vaguely liked that would fit. I do plan to do more research and see what vintage shops Dublin has to offer to see if I have better luck with them, but currently, the idea of only buying clothes in charity shops is just not an option if I want to like what I’m wearing.
Another suggestion people put forward to reduce the amount of clothes you’re buying is to do a clothing swap with friends. Now, maybe I’m alone in this, but my friends are all very different sizes and have very different styles. I could probably swap/share some items of clothing with one or two friends, but that’s about it. I can imagine if you’re in any way bigger than the majority of your friends, this idea would sound really horrific. Another option is to simply reduce the amount that you buy. If you have to buy something from fast fashion, at least make sure you’re shopping smartly. I have had more luck with this one and am really trying to curate a wardrobe that I love and wear. I have also tried to invest a little bit more in the pieces I’m buying.
I have also been trying to find sustainable brands that I like. They’re great when you find a good one, but there are downsides. They tend to be more expensive, have limited sizing and have far less options. Also, living in Ireland, I generally have to order online, and the shipping and returns can be expensive. However, I have found a few shops that I like. The top and leggings in these photos are from ENA Apparel (the top is available here, I don’t think the leggings are available at the moment but there is a flared version here). They are sustainable and eco-friendly, but unfortunately they don’t ship outside the United States. I bought the socks I’m wearing in the first photo in an eco friendly shop in Copenhagen called EcoEgo. Two other eco-friendly brands that I’ve found that I love are Miakoda, who do loungewear and are based in New York, and Monkee Genes, who make jeans and are based in the UK.
As I said at the start, I don’t want this post to be all negative. Every little change can help, and at this point, we just need to make sure we’re having the conversations. But I think we need to acknowledge that some people don’t have the same amount of access to more sustainable and ethical options, whether that’s due to their location, size or financial situation. In particular, it strikes me that I’m a size 12-14 and I struggle with most of these options, so I can imagine if you’re even a bit bigger, you would really have a hard time finding any kind of sustainable option. Hopefully as the movement gains more popularity and people become more aware, we’ll see an increase in options.
As I said in my previous Marrakech post, it has actually been a while since I was in Marrakech but I love the photos so much, I didn’t want to waste them. I was slightly worried about how easy to was going to be to be vegan, or even vegetarian, in Marrakech, you just never know when you visit other countries, but I didn’t need to be concerned. There were always lots of vegetarian options, and it was not difficult to be vegan either. They are really into their fresh vegetables and cous cous, and I am here for it.
I’d seen this place multiple times on Instagram and wanted to check it out. We were super lucky with what table we got (it is probably a good idea to make a reservation during busier times) and had the most fantastic view while the sun went down. The food was delicious and there was lots of choice for vegetarians and vegans.
We LOVED this cafe. The vibe and the view were just amazing. You can sit up on the roof, and although it can get pretty hot if you’re not under the shade, the view was so cool. We actually ended up going back here a second time because we loved it so much. As with most places we tried, the food was just so fresh and flavourful.
I should also mention the tea. Morocco is famous for mint tea and you can get it everywhere. They serve it to you in a glorious silver teapot with small glasses and like to pour it from a height. It is delicious, but be warned, it is not the same as mint tea here in Ireland, it is actually black tea with mint in it.
This place is a little on the fancy side, but we went here for our last night and I loved it. The dishes were quite simple, but full of flavour. We did sit outside, but they don’t quite have the same view as some of the other places; I still really enjoyed the vibe though. There was a big group of local people sitting near us who we never saw order anything but they just kept brining them food; it was interesting to watch.
I’ve been watching this vlog on YouTube recently made by a Chinese woman who lives in Australia. I don’t know her name and I can’t understand what she’s saying but that doesn’t seem to matter, the point of the her videos is to convey a mood. They are just very calming and focus on small everyday things. She does everything very intentionally, taking time to put flowers in a vase slowly or lay her food out nicely. Her videos have made me take note of the small pleasures that are easy to miss when you’re rushing around and pay attention to the mundane sounds that surround us daily.
The other day, I sat out on the steps in front of my building in my tracksuit bottoms, with my natural curly hair and no make-up, and just enjoyed the way the light hit the ground. I listened to the cars passing, as well as the silence in between each vehicle. I watched people going by, paying absolutely no attention to me. I felt the warmth on my skin and inhaled the fresh air. It was just a nice moment, it wasn’t spectacular or new or groundbreaking. But it was peaceful, it was soothing.
This post has been a long time coming. It’s been quite a while since I was actually in Marrakech but I still wanted to share because I love these pictures. I went with my friend and his cousin, and we had a great time! It was particularly helpful that my friend’s cousin is fluent in French (sidenote: I would definitely recommend picking up a few French phrases in preparation for heading to Marrakech). It was an incredibly interesting city, so different from anywhere I’d been before.
Here is an overview of my favourite things that we got up to:
This is probably one of the most iconic places in Marrakech. Well, it’s definitely one of the most iconic on Instagram anyway. It’s where the designer Yves Saint Laurent lived for years and there’s a memorial for him and his partner in the garden. The gardens are simply beautiful. They were very busy but there was still an element of calmness and serenity as soon as you walk in. There’s a large variety of flora and fauna, and the blue house is truly striking.
This was hands down my favourite thing I did while in Marrakech. There are a bunch of different companies that do quad biking but we went with Dunes & Desert. They were absolutely great and I would highly recommend them, they were just really friendly and just made us feel so safe. We were picked up from near our hostel and taken out into the desert. We were given a safety talk, suited up and started practicing on the bikes. We then had a photoshoot (you could buy the photos after if you wanted, they were pretty cool so we did end up purchasing them), and then we headed out on our adventure. One of the staff members led up in a line, with another staff member at the back. We stopped twice, once was just a quick break to take a few pictures, and the second time we were given tea and bread. It was so much fun and a really cool experience, I would definitely suggest it to anyone heading to Marrakech.
The souks are the markets. They are probably what Marrakech is most known for and they are insane. They seem to just keep going and there is a constant hustle and bustle. I’m not really a haggler so I found the experience very overwhelming but it was very interesting to see. I would definitely recommend going further into the markets, as the ones at the front are very touristy, more expensive and I found the people were pushier. I would also suggest having a bit of a google to see roughly what prices you should be paying for things and tips on how to haggle.
LE JARDIN SECRET
This wasn’t a place I had heard a lot about but my friend and I had a few hours to kill and wanted something that was relatively close and relaxed. We did a bit of a google search and ended up at Le Jardin Secret. It’s easy to pass and not even realise it’s there, being near the centre of the city and with the entrance along a narrow street. You can’t tell from the outside that there is a hidden oasis of calm just behind the door. We walked around for a bit and then just sat and enjoyed the scenery and the serenity. It’s smaller than Jardin Majorelle, but it was a lot less busy when we were there. There is a cafe/bar and a tower you can go up (for an additional cost) to see an amazing view of the city. It’s not the most impressive place I’ve ever been but something about it made me fall in love. I would definitely recommend a visit if you’re looking for somewhere to escape the chaos of the city and just breathe for a few minutes.
WHAT TO WEAR?
I wanted to finish up with a quick note on what to wear if you’re a woman, as it’s something I struggled with before going. It’s going to be quite hot so keep that in mind, but I did find that I was more comfortable when I was more covered up than I normally would be in a hotter climate. It’s really annoying to have to do it, and honestly I didn’t do it out of respect for the culture; if I was going into a place of worship or something like that, I would understand having to cover up and abide by their rules if I chose to enter, but on the streets, sorry no, I don’t care; it should be my choice what I wear. HOWEVER, I personally felt it made me feel safer and more comfortable to be a bit covered for a number of reasons. I didn’t feel like there were boundaries when it came to my body, if I’m honest. On the first night, we were out quite late getting food since we had gotten in late and a guy came right up behind me and properly grabbed my ass. As you can imagine, after that I was a bit on edge. Because of how people are dressed around you, you draw more attention to yourself the more skin you show. And there are people waiting to take advantage of tourists; some of the guys there do this trick where they act as if they’re helping you and then, regardless of whether or not you even accepted their help, they ask for money. Once we refused and the guy tried to start a fight with my male friend. Thankfully some local woman stepped in and helped us. We genuinely did met a ton of nice helpful people, but there are also a small number of shitheads who are just looking for their next victims, so it’s best to try and stay off the radar as much as possible.
So, having said of that, what did I actually wear? I didn’t show my legs, I had some very light linen trousers and a flowy midi skirt. I then wore either a t-shirt or a tank top with a scarf (that I bought in the market). When we were inside the tourist areas and restaurants, I felt okay with my shoulders out. And I did wear shorts when we went quad biking because I knew we were going to be with tourists and people who are used to tourists the whole time. I did get told to put on a jacket by a random man in the souks when I was wearing a high neck tank top with a scarf over my shoulders. I definitely saw people wearing less clothing on the streets and in the souks then me, and they seemed fine, but I just didn’t want to have to deal with the additional attention. It’s frustrating but it’s a personal choice, I guess.
Marrakesh was a crazy place. It was such a different culture and honestly I think it took me a few days to adjust. I did start to love it though once I had gotten my bearings. I think my main tip would be to do lots of research when you’re looking for a place to stay and consider paying a bit more for somewhere nice. I didn’t like where we stayed and I think that impacted how I felt mentally, not having a place I felt safe and relaxed to come back to after the chaos of the city. Also, I would suggest going in a group, even if it’s small. I would not have felt safe on my own (and I travel by myself a good bit). Other than that, I would definitely recommend visiting Marrakesh and I would like to go back some day.
I am a little obsessed with budgeting, is that weird? I’ve recently gotten really into watching budget videos on YouTube and I find them so relaxing. There are lots of different budgeting methods out there but I tend to gravitate towards the Dave Ramsey method. I do think it can be a bit overwhelming to dive into any of the methods though, so I hope this post will be a bit more straightforward and less intimating. I can be a little intense about budgeting (I generally check my bank account a couple of times a day, even if I know nothing has changed), but if I’m honest, I’m not always great at sticking to my budget. I usually do okay, but it’s still a learning process. Budgeting is a skill, one that needs to be practiced. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t do too well at the beginning. You just need to jump in and keep swimming, even when it gets a bit stormy.
MAKING A BUDGET
I think the most important thing is to actually write out a budget so you know exactly where you’re money is going to go. The Dave Ramsey method says you should allocate every single euro (or whatever currency you use) you earn. I usually follow this for the most part, but I’m not super strict. If possible, I like to give myself a little cushion in my account, just in case, ya know? I get paid monthly, which I know some people hate. I’ve never known anything different though and I actually quite like it. However, because I only get paid once a month, I just do one big monthly budget. If you get paid twice a month, I would suggest breaking you budget down by paycheque, so you know exactly what you are paying from each one.
Here are the steps I follow when creating a budget:
Write down all your bills, how much you expect them to be and when they are due. This will include rent, electric, internet, phone.
Next, write down all your other expenses. This may include: groceries, any recurring health or beauty related appointments (nails, therapy, chiropractor etc.), money for eating out etc. It may help you to start by tracking what you spend money on a couple of weeks before making your budget so you know exactly what you need to budget for. I always include a miscellaneous category which would be for beauty products I may need (such as shampoo, moisturiser etc.) or anything non-essential things I may pick up through-out the month. You can be more details here if you like but I prefer board categories.
Add up everything you have written down in step 1 and 2, and any money left over should be allocated to your sinking finds. Sinking funds are basically saved money that is allocated for something very specific that you know you will need money for in the future. For example, I start a Christmas sinking fund in May, so I put a bit of money away each month so I don’t have to worry about it when it gets to December. I usually always have a travel sinking fund since I like to travel. Other sinking funds you might need: insurance, birthday presents, any upcoming big purchases etc.
Savings – As well as my sinking finds, where I put money aside for very specific things, I also have a saving account where I put money aside for nothing in particular. I very very rarely touch this money. This is my emergency money. I have a direct deposit that comes out of my account for this and I treat it like a bill. As in, in my budget, it comes under my list of bills. I think this helps with the mindset of not touching this money. I also can’t add money into this account other than the monthly direct deposit so I know when I take this money out, I cannot replace it.
Cash – At the beginning of each month, I take out money for everything I can pay for with cash. So for me, this is usually my grocery money (I have a separate purse I use for grocery shopping), as well as money for my nails and therapy. I also take out the money for my sinking funds. I have a place where I organise my sinking fund money and make sure it’s labeled so I know exactly what the money is for. I like doing this because it means I know I have money for everything covered for the month. For example, if I don’t have therapy until the end of the month, I know I have the money set aside for it and don’t need to stress about how much money I have left in my current account when the appointment gets closer.
Revolut – If you haven’t heard of it, Revolut is a banking app. You can pay for more features but I just use the free basic functionally. They send you a debit card (you only pay for shipping) and it’s super easy to top up and keep track of your spending. They also send you a notification on your phone every time you spend money. They are some features I don’t use, such as setting spending limits and analysing how you spend your money, but I do use it for my “going out” money. Each month, I put money on it that I’ll use for eating out, grabbing a drink, going to the cinema, that kind of thing. I like that it’s separate from my current account so that it’s super easy to see how much I have left. It’s also great to use when travelling, particularly within Europe. I used it exclusively last time I was in Copenhagen and Stockholm.
Evaluate – Make sure you evaluate your budget each month before making a new one. If you’re constantly over spending in a category, maybe you need to increase the amount you’re assigning to it or look at ways you can reduce how much you spend.
Well that’s it folks, that’s how I budget. I honestly think the best way for people to figure out their own budget is to look at a bunch of other people’s and take the elements that work for you. If you want advise or just want to chat about budgeting, feel free to reach out to me, I honestly love talking about all things budgeting.
Towards the end of last year, I visited Copenhagen for the first time and fell completely in love. One of my friends from my masters course is from a town about 45 minutes away and she came into the city to be my personal tour guide for the weekend, which was absolutely amazing. It’s a very walkable city and my favourite part was just wandering streets and taking in all the pretty building and incredible street style.
Nyhaven is the area surrounding the canals where you will find those colourful old houses that Copenhagen is famous for. There is a great buzz to soak in around this part of the city; when I was there the canal was lined with Christmas markets but I imagine it’s also great in the spring/summer with people hanging out in all the restaurants and cafes.
Freetown Christina is a commune that is open to visitors. There’s some shops and galleries in there, along with Pusher Street, which is exactly what it sounds like. There’s no hard drugs, but weed is freely available. It should be noted you’re not supposed to take pictures, particularly near Pusher Street (we did get in trouble for taking the picture above) but it’s a super cool place that has an interesting history and ethos. I had heard about it because Lukas Graham is from Christina and it does seem to be a fairly popular spot. It is safe but probably best to visit during the day.
THE KING’S GARDEN
The King’s Garden, also called Rosenborg Castle Gardens, is the oldest park in central Copenhagen. We didn’t actually go into the castle but we had a wonder around the garden (which is free). The Palace is beautiful and even in winter it was so nice to stroll around the garden and stare at the pretty building.
Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park that is beautifully lit up at night. I was there at the end of November so they also had Christmas markets set up. Unfortunately my friends weren’t up for going on the rides so I can’t tell you how they are, but I loved walking around and seeing the different displays.
THE ROUND TOWER
We decided to do the Round Tower because it wasn’t that expensive, and I thought it was great. You do have to walk all the way up, most of it is sloped hill with some stairs at the end; but the view is worth it!
Right beside the Round Tower, you will find a hotdog stand and oh my! They have a vegan dog and it was SO GOOD. I got the French bun (which is circular) with ketchup, and while it looks interesting, it was actually delicious. And so genius! I’ve never had a bun that went the whole way around. It was perfect for someone like me who doesn’t like toppings, just give me plenty of ketchup and I’m a happy bunny.
I absolutely LOVED Copenhagen. The people where all so nice and the street style is so inspiring. It was genuinely one of my favourite cities I’ve ever been to and I would highly recommend it. It was so nice just wondering around and I would love to live there for awhile at some point in the future.
Last time I was in London, a friend of mine recommended checking out SkyPod Bar at SkyGarden. She recommended making a reservation and I’m so glad we did (note: it’s free to make a reservation, however you do have to give a card for them to charge a cancellation fee if you don’t show up). When we got there, we stood in the queue for a few minutes because it wasn’t clear what we were supposed to do. However, some people came along and walked past the queue because they had made a reservation so we followed them and walked right up to the desk. After checking in, you have to go through security but it was pretty quick and easy, and we took the lift up to the bar. There we were shown to our table.
The views are super cool, but the bar itself was also really interesting. It was a large open space, with tons of plants lit up and windows everywhere, including the ceiling. The cocktails are expensive, but that is to be expected in London (or anywhere these days). They had plenty of choices and I thought they were pretty good so I didn’t mind paying a bit more for them. We sat at our table for a bit and had a few drinks, before going for a wonder around. There was music playing but it wasn’t too loud and we were able to have a conservation, which I really appreciated. There was a small dance floor with people dancing but mostly everyone was just hanging out chatting and the vibe was very laidback. They limit the amount of people they let in so it never gets too crowded, and while I’m sure that’s annoying if you’re waiting downstairs, it’s really quite nice when you’re up there and you have so much space to wonder around without being squished like in most bars.
I’d highly recommend checking out this bar if you’re in London. The views alone are worth a look, especially at night.
Check out these other post for fun things to try in London:
Dressing for special occasions is always difficult. I find weddings in particular to be quite tricky. There are all these rules that may or may not apply, depending on the vibe of wedding. Okay obviously white is off limits but all my go-to outfits are black and I never know whether it’s okay to wear black or not? Some weddings are fancy, some are more casual, some are more traditional… You want to look nice, but you don’t want to draw attention. It’s a bit of a tightrope.
I’ve recently discovered how much I love wearing high waited trousers (this does not include jeans; I know so many people love high waisted jeans but I don’t get it? Mid rise are so much more flattering, no? What I am not getting?) Anyway, crop tops and high waited trousers are my new jam and I loved being able to wear a fancy version of this combo with this suit that I bought a couple of years ago from TopShop. I wasn’t sure if the top was too casual but I think it works because of the interesting neck line. The small peak of stomach breaks up the look and makes the suit more flattering to my figure.
The cool thing that I’ve discovered about suits is that they’re easy to make more casual when you wear them separately but pop them together and you have a more formal look. I like this concept because I don’t really have a lot of formal events to go to, so any fancy stuff I have in my wardrobe very rarely gets worn. You have to keep it though, for that once a year that you need something a bit more jazzy. But with a suit, you can actually get more wear out of the pieces, especially if you have an office job; just throw on the suit trousers with a jumper or the blazer with some dark skinny jeans and voilà!
I got some hearts on my nails just for a bit of fun but I think they’re pretty cute.
Hopefully this helps if you’re looking for some inspiration and don’t want to wear a dress!
One of my New Years resolutions this year is to be more adventurous. By that I mean putting myself out there more, focusing on trying new things and having as much fun as possible. I know this may seem like a weird time to be thinking about New Years resolutions but this is normally the time that people start to lose sight of them. I was never really one for resolutions until last year, where I really took time to make a list in my bullet journal at the beginning of the year and made a point to check in with them every month. So this year I wanted to do the same thing.
For some reason recently I’ve felt such a a strong urge to just do things. I want to explore more, try more new things, have more life experiences. I’m not 100% where this feeling has come from; honestly it’s quite new to me. I never had a rebellious stage, never went through that stage where you go a bit wild and do some crazy things. And that’s okay. Those kind of things never appealed to me when I was younger. I was happy just doing my thing, hanging out with my friends and playing board games. I was probably a bit boring but that’s what I enjoyed. However recently, I’ve wanted to start being a bit more crazy. Now, I don’t mean I want to go completely off the rails. But I want to be a bit less of a home body.
I think in the past, I’ve sometimes held myself back from being a bit reckless for two reasons. Firstly, I genuinely enjoy being at home. I always have; so it’s never really been a case of regretting not going out, I don’t really get FOMO. But I think sometimes I hold myself back because I don’t have confidence in my ability to do things. I’m generally not great at doing practical things. Or at least that’s how I think about myself, reality or not. I’m not very strong (yet, I have just started going to the gym), I’m not very good at sports and I absolutely freeze up when people watch me do anything, even something I know how to do.
But it’s a vicious circle because I don’t feel confident because I don’t have the experience of putting myself out there, but because of that I don’t put myself out there and build that confidence. It’s also a bit trickier now that I’m a little older. For starters, I’m an adult with responsibilities. I don’t have kids but I do have a job and rent to pay. I also constantly seem to have errands to run. What is that about? Why does adulting involve so many errands? Also, a lot of my friends are more interested in staying in nowadays. And that’s perfectly fine, it’s just unfortunate that my timing is off.
So in order to see through my New Years resolution, I’ve been making a conscious effort to do two things. Firstly, I want to try at least one new thing every month. So far, I’ve tried skiing, sledding, a pottery class and ridden on the back of a motorcycle, just to name a few things (some things are better left off the internet haha). I’m also planning a trip to Wales in September to go on the world’s fastest zip-line and hike up Snowden. And in May I’m doing a fundraising challenge with my dad, where we’ll be sailing from Cork to Southampton on a tall ship. I’ve really focused on finding new things to try and actually giving them a shot. The second thing I’m doing is saying yes when my friends ask if anyone is up for the cinema, to get a drink, to hang out etc. Yes, I am here and I am up for anything.