27 March, 2014

Is Blogging a Young Persons Game?

The lovely Abi and I at the recent Country Attire blogging event.

During the week I attended a lovely blogging event at the Hard Rock Cafe in Manchester city centre. I met some lovely bloggers that I had never come across before and got chatting to some whose blogs I was familiar with. It's always nice to meet the person behind the blog.

During my time at the event, I couldn't help but feel I was one of the more older participants present and perhaps didn't quite fit into the 'Manchester blogging demographic' mould. A demographic which increasingly feels like you should be under the age of 23, a student and a blogger who mostly blogs about fashion and beauty and has won numerous awards and accolades from the likes of Company magazine. After having lots of 'get to know you' chats with these great ladies, I found that many of them had only got their blog up and running in the last year or two and already they were receiving amazing feedback, huge interaction and readership, a flurry of sponsorship and invites to all sorts of fantastic events and blogger related activities. The green-eyed monster in me had been sparked and I was more than a little jealous.

Don't get me wrong, even though I have been blogging on and off for a number of years, I haven't exactly followed 'the rules' when it comes to building up a dedicated following. I've blogged on and off for months on end, moved from being a crafty blog to one with a wide variety of lifestyle topics, changed the name (just a little, mind) and dipped in and out of the blogging world with varying levels of commitment. This has probably confused readers, lost me some followers along the way and not at all helped in building up a brand of sorts.

However, given all of the above, I am wondering about whether blogging is becoming more of 'a young persons' game and whether the demographic of those reading blogs are in the 'Under 23' bracket? Is there an older demographic of sorts, out there wanting to read content that is more than beauty posts and outfits of the day? I'm not for one minute, bashing these type of posts. I do love and enjoy reading them. I vicariously live through some of these posts. Heaven knows I've bought numerous items because they were recommended by a beauty blogger (Benefit Erase Paste anyone?) and I've lost count of the amount of times I've skipped on down to Primark / Penneys simply because I've spotted a 'must have this item now' item in a haul post or vlog.

Personally, I do find it increasingly hard to find awesome 'must read' blogs created by those who are around the age of 28 and over and I find it difficult to find content and posts relating to my life experiences and topics that I instantly want to know about and can immediately relate to. At present, I want to read about developing a career, how to save ka-jillions of pounds in a short space of time, learn 50 things that you must do in your 30's and more! I want the same content written for those in their 20's tweaked, developed and produced for me.That goes for outfit posts too. I'm not sure I have the body / look to be pulling off dungarees and bowler hats, so perhaps outfit posts for those who feel Topshop is no longer for them maybe most welcome? I find myself increasingly drawn to Next of all places and standing out like a sore thumb when I enter River Island. I didn't always feel this way!

It also goes without saying, I'd love to find said content written by those who are within my age range and can relate to all of my woes above. Surely I'm not alone in feeling a little old in the world of bloggers? If so, maybe I'll go and set the 'over 30's trend'. An outfit of the day for those who are not quite 'over the hill' but also still young enough to get asked for ID now and again. I better go and started raiding the wardrobe and start practising my posing. You  know, those poses where it appears I'm unaware I'm being photographed as I casually look into the distance, looking all melancholy and the likes! It's gonna take a lot of practising.

I'd love to hear your thoughts below!

25 March, 2014

A few notes on Motivation and Willpower

Motivation and Willpower are qualities that don't come naturally to me. I'll be honest about that. Motivation and Willpower can be non existent in my life when it comes to exercise, getting sweaty and generally working towards improving my overall health. Take this morning for example, the gym bag had been packed the evening before, a healthy lunch sitting in the fridge ready to be popped into my bag and my gym gear laid out, ready to be worn.

The alarm sounded and the boy was quick to inform me that it was raining and pretty miserable outside. I groaned a little and groaned a little more at the thought of walking to the gym in the cold rain. Old Rebecca would have stayed in bed, slept for another 45 minutes and hit the snooze button on numerous occasions and then would have felt guilty for the rest of the day for not working out. I most likely would have promised myself that I'd start again tomorrow and then take comfort in a croissant or other fancy, French pastry. But that would have been ok, because I starting again tomorrow. 

This morning was different. After my mini groan and moan session, I asked myself a question. I asked myself "Do I have to get up and workout or do I get to get up and workout?" The answer was simple, I get to get up. I have the opportunity every single day to get up and do something with this body of mine. I am not inhibited by illness, disability or anything else closely related to that. I am able bodied, I am healthy and I should use it and use it well.

Now this little piece of inspiration didn't just strike me all of sudden this morning. In fact, I heard it while listening to Irish radio one morning last week. I didn't need to be in work until midday and so I enjoyed a leisurely morning, listening to Today FM, a slow breakfast and the dulcet tones of Ray D'arcy. On this particular day, I found myself listening to motivational speaker and marathon runner Gerry Duffy. He was providing a wealth of advice to those who had recently decided to sign up for a charity half marathon race being organised by the radio show itself. Numerous callers rang in and emailed their queries and Gerry together with Ray went through as many as possible. It was an interesting listen.

One potential half marathoner submitted a question about motivation and finding the will to run and train on the days they needed to do this. Gerry, a man who completed 32 marathons in 32 days and 10 iron mans in 10 days simply said "For me it's a case of, Do I have to run or do I get to run?". Mind.blown! He continued to say that over the years he has met numerous people who were not in the fortunate position of being able to get up and run whenever and where ever they wanted. As a result, those of us who can throw on some running gear, get out and run should appreciate how lucky they are. As soon as his segment was over, I threw on my gym gear and did one of my many 10k training sessions, just before work that morning. I don't have to convince you I felt a million times better for doing so and my day was much more productive.

This morning, when feeling like I would have much preferred to snooze a little longer, I asked myself that question once more. I quit the moaning, pulled back the covers and got going.

So, next time you're procrastinating on something, ask yourself
 'Do I have to [insert task here] or do I get to [insert task here]?'

image: Taken by my iPhone on Valencia Island, Summer 2013 and edited by me

24 March, 2014

Lucky Rainbow Designs

Way back in 2009, I originally started this little blog as a space to document and share lots of crafty things that I was creating under the umbrella name of Lucky Rainbow Designs. Accompanying the blog was a Facebook page, an Etsy shop and a big and full craft room in my little bungalow in Ireland.

I did well and made lots and lots of bespoke cards, created a range of wedding invites and was approached on several occasions to create custom orders. I was also involved in two pop up shops in Limerick and loved creating and selling my mini works. 

Over the years, the blog evolved and I found that I was interested in writing on a range of topics and enjoyed reaching out to other bloggers and reading their brilliant blogs too. I became interested in sharing more of what I did in my daily life and found that those reading the blog did too and slowly, the blogging gates opened a little wider. 

With my move to the UK, the craft room was packed up and I had to make the decision of what to chuck, what to donate and what to keep. I had invested alot of money into my craft space and I had every gadget, punch and piece of paper you could think of, so I was little heart broken packing everything into boxes. However, I found a little solace donating items to my friend Ruth of Nice Day Designs. I knew she'd give them a good home.

With that, I shipped over items to our new Manchester home and at present, many of those supplies are still stored in those boxes waiting to see the light of day and begging to be created into something new. I don't have a big empty craft space to decorate this time round, however I'm not letting it stop me from creating a mini, more organised space in our box room. The only irritating aspect to this is that I have to pack everything up when we have visitors stay.

With this, I'm bringing back the feature of sharing my crafty pieces on the blog, however my Facebook page Lucky Rainbow Designs will be space the where the majority of images will be stored and of course, my Etsy shop will reopen once I've enough lovely stock. The great thing about being in Manchester is that I have more time to concentrate on this area of my life and so I can create and experiment with all those wacky ideas I once dreamed about and jotted down. I'm hoping Lucky Rainbow Designs can evolve under the banner of 'The Lucky Rainbow' and that you will enjoy these future posts. For further information and links, check out the following links and I hope to see you along the new Lucky Rainbow Design journey.

Lucky Rainbow Designs Facebook page

12 March, 2014

The Grateful List #3

The third post in this series, The Grateful List allows me to stop a while and appreciate the little things. This week, I'm mostly grateful for....

- Sunny days; We've have a few sun filled days here in Manchester and suddenly everyone is in a much better mood. I've even had to dig out my sunglasses just to enjoy those precious rays of sunshine! They are very much welcome and the Vitamin D levels are topping up nicely.

- Visits from friends; This week two friends paid a visit from Ireland. Lovely to catch up, show them some sights, enjoy nice food and even nicer cocktails.

- Local sounds; We live near a small river where geese have made it their home. Every morning around 07:30am I hear them flying over our apartment and past our kitchen window. I've developed a real fondness for them and reminds me of the times when a family of swallows would return every year to a nest in my back garden in my previous home in Ireland.

- Our balcony; Our apartment comes complete with a balcony and naturally its a lovely place to eat breakfast or enjoy a glass of wine when the sun is in full force.

- Running; I'm nearly two weeks into my 10k training and I haven't missed one session. I've really enjoyed running outdoors, increasing my running time and listening to some awesome music while I pump the pavement.

05 March, 2014

Looking after your skin in your 30's

Folks, I'm in my early 30's (31 to be exact, if you're asking) and I'm not embarrassed to say that I'm often told I look younger. In fact, two weeks ago, on a busy Friday evening, I popped into a supermarket to buy a bottle of wine as a weekend treat, and low and behold, the whipper snapper behind the counter asked for ID. Oh yes, this gent thought I looked UNDER 18. Day, made. Instead of being annoyed for not being able to purchase said bottle of wine, I smiled and thanked him for the compliment and left the wine behind. I then skipped home believing I looked and still was 18 and popped into another supermarket. The other supermarket were more than happy to believe I was a fuddy duddy!

It did get me thinking about the reasons behind why some people think I appear younger. Make no mistake, I have been cleansing, toning and moisturizing with all sorts of brands since the age of 14. My mother told me it was important and it provided a good base when applying make up and so I kept this routine up. Cleansing, toning and moisturizing with rigour and then applying orange foundation topped with Rimmel Heather Shimmer lipstick. I was a babe.A total babe.

I also stay well out of the sun. I don't posses the ability to tan and so when I venture on sun holidays I stay firmly in the shade and in the past 5 / 6 years, I've ensured that  my moisturizer includes sun protection also. Even in winter and on cloudy days, I have that stuff smothered on my face.It's my religion.

On top of this, I remove my make up, without fail every night. I once read that you age an additional 8 days by not removing your make up at the end of the day and before bed. My fear of growing old, combined with this information, always ensures I have a supply of cotton wool and cleanser. Don't get me wrong, I have missed the odd evening, usually after a drunken night out way back in your early twenties. But, 99.9 percent of the time, I am a slave to this routine.

Genes also, must play a factor. I came across a photograph recently of my mum in her early 30's and close up, it was like looking at myself (except with shorter hair). It was a little scary actually as growing up I was always compared to my fathers side of the family and not my mums. Some days when applying make up, I feel like my mum is reflecting back to me in the mirror. The older I get, the more I am looking like her. However, this is a good revelation. She's 54 this year, and has excellent skin with very little lines or wrinkles. She hasn't evaded the aging process altogether, however compared to some women in their 50's who I know well, she's definitely come out on top. Go mum! Clearly she has been cleansing, toning and moisturizing too!

My skin naturally falls under the category of dry. When I pop out of the shower I immediately have to cleanse my skin, otherwise it feels tight and uncomfortable and I detest that feeling. The skin on and around my nose can especially suffer, often looking a little more red than desired and also proving difficult to cover when trying to find the perfect foundation. Personally, the best way to cover it up, is to allow time between shower, skincare routine and application of make up. If I rush this sequence I end up looking a tad worse for wear.

Water and a great, healthy diet is always connected to great, plump skin. Since January, I've been working hard to follow a Paleo diet / lifestyle (more on that in up and coming posts!) and I've noticed a fantastic change in my skin. Some tiny lines have plumped up, spots have disappeared and not returned and even the boyfriend commenting that my skin was looking amazing. (Not like him at all!). I'm not fantastic at drinking enough water (*reaches for bottle of water*), but I'm working on it. This makes me believe, even more that an awesome genetic make-up is a vital and lucky contribution to young skin.

So, to conclude - whether you're a skincare junkie or a soap and water kind of gal, it's important to have a good, clean routine especially now that we're all getting a little older, and if I could suggest one thing it would be, of course, to cleanse, tone and moisturise! Just stay away from the orange foundation.

*Oh and if you're in your early twenties and reading this, appreciate the gorgeous skin you have now, trust me, around age 28 you'll start to notice a few changes!*

04 March, 2014

Positive (Fitness) Quotes

Just as much as I love a positive quote, recently, I've needed the odd positive fitness quote to spur me on and get my butt out of bed in the mornings. The bright blue skies hanging over Manchester in the mornings are now helping me more than ever in my quest to work out before work, but a little quote now and again, honestly does put a pep in my step.

I have days when lifting weights or adding another 10 minutes on a treadmill feels hard. I want to stop running, quit and leave, but if I remind myself that it will be worth it, then those few words can push me further and longer. It also helps that I'm starting to feel and see some results. Be they small, they are great. My thigh muscles are becoming firmer, there's alot less jiggle going on these days. Getting there of course involved alot of the dreaded squats, but as well as it being worth it, it also gets a little easier.

So whether fitness is your long term goal or perhaps you have another finish line in mind, just know that while it won't be easy, it will be worth it.

03 March, 2014


Breaking Bad on Netflix. I now understand why the whole world and its mother was addicted to this series. Netflix has been my channel of choice lately and most evenings you can find the boy and I in bed by 9.30pm with three episodes lined up to watch. Just started Season 4, so no spoilers folks!

More fitness magazines. One day I'll come across an article that will inspire to ditch my bad eating habits forever. That hasn't happened. However I do also know that I don't need an article to inspire me, I just need to stay committed myself. Willpower and determination never were my strong points. I'm also doing some 'Manchester Gym' research. My current gym is packed to capacity some days and waiting around for machines just 'ain't my thang!'

Not enough healthy food. Through most of January and early February I was the Paleo eating champion of the Paleo eating world. (Did you see my Instagram feed, huh??) I fell off the wagon about two weeks ago and I'm slowly jumping back on. Dam you Twix Xtra bars and your two for one deals!

About far away places and hoping the boy and I can get some funds together for a holiday this year. We're also planning some UK getaway trips. I'm itching to visit Brighton, Devon, Edinburgh and the Lake District - Easter perhaps?

Big, better, brighter blog posts. I've been enjoying engaging with the Manchester blogging scene and meeting some new faces. Such a lovely, talented bunch and reading their posts and the ways in which they engage with their readers totally inspires me to blog better! Watch for MegaMarch - where I attempt to blog every day! A blogging first for me!

Lush! Dear Lush, I love the fact that you are present in the new city that I moved to in September. I can run along to your store and happily purchase three bath bombs for around £10 and each one will be guaranteed to provide an hour of happiness on any day of my choosing. A bath bomb + hot bath = DA BOMB! (See what I did there!) Ah Lush, sure you're just great.

I've just signed up for my first Color Run - again in Manchester and taking place in July. I'll be a running rainbow folks, a rainbow!!! Time to start running again too. I also plan on running the BUPA Manchester 10K run in May, so erm...I better get my training socks on for that one.

A big, chunky, bright pink, huge woolly scarf that I got for the bargain price of £3 from Primark. Yay for mini deals and grabbing a bargain. I also purchased a fluorescent pink rain jacket in preparation of my running training.

About a career. Always thinking about a career. I can never escape those thoughts and the path I have taken or will continue to take. It's all a foggy mess!

Last Sunday I volunteered with a group of students who every weekend prepare a range of foods and pass them along to the homeless community in Manchester. An eye opener to say the least but also an enjoyable and humbling experience. An experience that makes you appreciate how lucky you really are and the roof over your head.

Brighter Manchester mornings and stunning blue skies. I literally feel more happy inside. The Spring flowers are starting to appear around the city and everything feels new to me. Long may it continue.

02 March, 2014

The Stormy Teacup

This will be a long post, but a worthwhile post and as part of #MegaMarch, this post has the potential, I hope to inspire you a little. To show you how strangers can help others towards a goal and contribute to making someones dream come true or even bring it that little bit closer to them.

You all know I hail from Ireland and for 13 years I lived in a city called Limerick in the Midwest. I moved there to attend my dream of going to Art School. When selecting a school, I never paid much attention to the city I would be living in. I just wanted to study art. I didn't think about the degree at the end of four years or the possible career path, I just wanted to draw and meet like minded people along the way. Over the years, I made great friends and shared accommodation with them. One such friend was a gem named Therese who studied Printmaking. I concentrated on Sculpture so we didn't share many classes together, but I would pop over to her studio every now and again and hang out. By doing this I met some of her fellow classmates and one such person was Ruth Crean.

After our degrees ended, I studied for another year, training as an Art Teacher and after that went into the big bad world of third level education. I occasionally would bump into Ruth in Limerick as we had both decided to base ourselves there after our degrees ended. She had her finger in many creative pies including running an arts and crafts stall every Sunday in the centre of Limerick city. To my shame, I didn't know she was doing this until she was two years into running this project. A year or so later, I was delighted to hear that Ruth has secured a place in Limericks famous Milk Market. A hot spot for foodies and creatives and a haven of footfall. This I was sure would help her business Nice Day Designs thrive all that bit more.

A few more years passed and I often swung by the market for chats with Ruth and I was always envious of her freelance life. I knew it was a difficult life, constantly making things and coming up with idea after idea in order for her business to thrive and importantly for the bills to be paid. But she did it, every day and every weekend without fail. While I was miserable in my corporate-ish, suit wearing job, Ruth was knee deep in creativity and expanding her business by engaging with every customer who passed by her stall and undertaking any aspect of social media she could. The woman is a pro at social media and marketing her product.

Ruth also introduced me to Etsy and soon I had my shop up and running and was selling my handmade items. I never had the time to make the volume of stock Ruth did, but I enjoyed the process of creating, photographing, listing, selling and posting my items to many corners of the world. 2011 arrived and so did the Cat Dig Festival in Limerick. Ruth, being the entrepreneur that she is always has been submitted a proposal for a pop up Etsy shop and invited all the local Etsy sellers she knew of. I received that invitation too and promptly signed up. Ruth turned a grotty space into a chic, vintage style shop and I and a number of sellers volunteered our time. I loved working there, I loved selling mine and others items and in no time, Ruth had negotiated with the landlord that we could stay for longer than a weekend. In fact, we got to stay for one month, rent free!

After a month, the shop closed it's doors but we were all buzzing on the fact that it was very well received by the public. Etsy even recognized Ruth's efforts. Fast forward to November 2012 and Ruth is in talks with the council to secure an empty shop space in the heart of the city. There was (and still are) so many shop spaces that a scheme was created were artists were turning these bare, slack spaces into working studios, galleries and now, a craft shop. Leading up to Christmas Limerick Craft and Design opened and when I tell you Ruth begged, borrowed and stole anything she could to get fittings for the shop, she did. As well as balancing her market stall, she pulled together a team of incredible volunteers and opened a shop. Again, I sold my items there and volunteered my time in any way I could. I took great pride working there, enjoyed interacting with every customer and felt volunteering at weekends was the very least I could do. Honestly, it didn't feel like work in comparison to the work Ruth had put in. I loved that place and together we made plans for the future. The shop was hugely successful, it brought new life to an otherwise dull and quiet area of the city and together a mini Christmas fair was created that year. It was simply amazing.

Less than 8 weeks into the shop being up and running, the council contacted Ruth. Someone was interested in purchasing the shop. For real. This was one of the stipulations, that in the event a buyer wanted to buy the shop and pay proper rates (less than we as a team were paying) then we'd have to move out. The shop that had previously been empty for five years was now in demand. Simply put, the new energy that Ruth had brought to the area hadn't gone unnoticed. A buyer wanted in and in January, the shop was packed up. It was a sad day.

In the Summer of 2013, Robert and I found out we were moving to Manchester and in September as you know, we moved. In December the opportunity arose again for Ruth to open Limerick Craft and Design from another location and like the trooper she is she organised the whole thing from start to finish. From contacting every single artist and creative, to setting the shop floor up to organising its finances, the woman and her incredible enthusiasm did it all and all during the busy festive period. A time when her business is at its peak! Of course this year I couldn't be a part of it, but I dropped her a line to say I would have volunteered at a drop of a hat. If anything, volunteering introduced me to a whole new world of creative people I would not have had the chance to meet otherwise. This alone made me happy. The shop closed again and Ruth and her army of volunteers packed everything up, for the second time.

About a month ago, I saw Ruth hinting at another project on Facebook. I had no idea what she was up to this time round and knowing Ruth it was something innovative and something exciting. She, of course, didn't disappoint. The short version goes something like this. While having a conversation with friend about great teas and there being no where to buy them in Limerick, the idea of opening a art cafe struck her and in true Ruth style she decided she would make this a reality. Known for working into the wee hours, she and her friend Martins began their research and left no stone un-turned. A short period later, she dazzled the Facebook community with her idea and let us all know that she had launched a crowd funding page in order to raise €6,000 in one month. Normally this task would put anyone off, but not Ruth. When she has an idea that she knows can work, she makes it happen. She puts every ounce of energy she has into that idea and makes.it.happen. The Stormy Teacup will not just be a place to drink lovely teas and eat cake but also a permanent place for local artists to sell their crafts. Determined not to give the crafting a community a permanent space, Ruth has gone the extra mile. Once again.

Having witnessed her in action, I know how determined she is and I also know she deserves every ounce of success this project would bring. I lived in Limerick for 13 years and understand deeply how well received The Stormy Teacup would be and believe it to be a hugely important opening not just for the city but for Ruth too. As a write this, they have 7 days left to raise just under €800. Remarkable that they have raised over €5,000 in 23 days - flipping amazing actually and based on the generous donations of hard earned cash from friends, family and strangers.

Reading this, you may know not or have ever heard of Ruth Crean or her lovely crafts from Nice Day Designs, but if you met her, you'd love her. She always has a warm smile for you, a great story to tell and a chunk of creative advice to go with it. She will share with you her love of books, crafts and a good pint, but most of all she's a lovely friend. If you believe in karma and helping a fellow creative out, you can donate here.  (If anything, it's worth checking this page out for the painstakingly amazing animation she made!) Below are some links to everything you need to know about Ruth and her awesome business Nice Day Designs. She also writes a mean blog which is a wealth of information!

7 days and less than €800 to raise. This can be done!

01 March, 2014


Holy crap it's March. Lets make it Mega!! 

Two months ago I started my year full of plans and of course some have slipped, but only a little mind you! Only a little. I'm still eating better and working out more than ever but I  need to get the eating less / working out more balance just right so that more results can be seen in the form of smaller clothes. I'm getting there. Baby steps folks, baby steps.

One of many goals was to blog more and blog better. I think and hope I'm writing better content and I hope those reading all my posts are feeling that too. Perhaps it's radiating off the screen? Maybe you're discovering content more relevant to you and hopefully posts in which you can relate to and also learn from. 

With that in mind, I'm introducing to you MegaMarch - a month long Lucky Rainbow event full of blogging activity. A post a day for 31 days. Something I haven't tried before and a little challenge for me to tackle. I'll be sharing every post across the usual social media platforms using the tag #MegaMarch. Feel free to join in and share some of your #MegaMarch posts too. As usual you'll find me tweeting away on Twitter, sharing my posts and discovering the posts you have lined up for March.

So, lovely friends, I hope to see more of you swing by here in March and of course don't be afraid to share your posts also whether you're a new or old blogging friend. Now, time for me to get out of PJ's and transform myself into only of those organised humans.
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