Friday
Aug112017

You are Beautiful

Listen to my latest BBC Radio Ulster Thought for the Day - you are beautiful know who you are 

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Saturday
Jun032017

q&a with artist and yogi Caol McDonald

 

Caol McDonald is a  artist, yogi and a wonderful person.  Many evenings I have thoroughly enjoyed whiling away the hours in conversation with him. Even a quick conversation on the stairs of flow makes me wish we had more time to chat.  Caol is full of wisdom and his eye for light is thrilling.  He has a gentle spirit with the strength of a warrior that really sees what is around him.  You can connect with him  on Facebook and Instagram and buy his art on his Esty shop from FlowCo and Souk Belfast, practice with him at Flow Studio Belfast and other places - check out his Facebook page for details of classes - I highly recommend you make taking one high up your to do list.  The painting Caol did for me inspires me to keep lifting up.

 

Who are you, what’s it like being you…

My name is Caol, a 27 year old creative type, yogi by day and painter by night with a passion for exploring the great outdoors

Where are you from, where are you based…

I live in the heart of Mid Ulster N.Ireland, currently based in Cookstown


Talk about your work ... How do you find inspiration?

As an artist my work is my voice, what comes from within; I have doodled and created art for years and that voice is still growing. I’ve lived in Ireland all my life, and it being a small island, it’s possible to journey and discover your surroundings become changeable landscapes from mountains and forests to oceans and cliff views easily, the lens through which my mind perceives this world has been predominantly a visual one, my inspiration comes strongly from the raw Atlantic islands scenery and the concept of the human spirit, and it’s always been my passion to try and communicate and strengthen the bond between Humanity and nature.

I am simply a secretary to my own sensations, living a life through colour, and through the resulting expressions I paint and record on paper I aim to help re-establish our connection to the natural ways of the world.

More recently I have been taking this visual lens on an internal exploration of the landscapes of human nature through yoga, and drawing parallels between these conceptual, internal landscapes and the external environment and listening to how both yoga and art can inform how one sees the world.

 

What are your future plans ..

In an ideal situation I hope to find a place where I can be self sufficient by teaching yoga, creating and to live ecologically here in Ireland.

who you are inspired by ...

Creatively…artists such as Brandon Boyd or Jose Parla to name just two, also people who are living for a living, people who are kind and who live compassionate lives to each other and the world we live on.

Describe your space ...

There is always a cup of coffee in hand, a candle lit and an open window

A non-negotiable in your life is ...

Having a quiet moment to yourself each day, even (especially)if it’s simply to enjoy a coffee. 

Most encouraging words you have ever heard ...


While not necessarily the most encouraging I’ve ever heard, I was recently shared words written by Nikita Gill from my Mother that struck a chord

“You carry both lightning and thunder in that space between your bones and soul, become the storm you are hiding from, a hurricane does not run from the rain”


Your work life philosophy is ...

You weren’t born to pay bills and die, make room for enjoying life. 

What is your favourite smell ...

Petrichor…the smell of the earth after rain. (…or morning coffee)

Who do you like to listen to, what’s playing just now ...

My tastes in music vary but currently I like Nahko Bear- Great Spirit


Best meal and your favourite three ingredients ...

I’ve wanted to for years but only recently I have been eating a plant based diet; for just almost a year now, it took time for me to longer miss my old favourites I thought I couldn’t do without. Now my most often ate meal is roast chilli broccoli with some form of tofu, … but my favourite food is 100% peanut butter, I could eat that all day!

Three things or products that have changed your life...

The addition of my dog to the family tribe instigated my proactivity towards a plant based lifestyle, yoga has taken me to Asia and back, offered growth and opportunities to connect with some of the best people I now call friends and colleagues and of course Art.

How do you relax ...

Meditation…whether that be the traditional method, yoga or meditation via art

What makes you happy, where’s your happy place ...

Adventuring into nature with fresh air, places away from daily routine where you can take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the world, I’m particularly drawn to the Irish Coast and the wild power of The Atlantic.

What do you most value in your friends ...

Individuality of character 


What are your favourite words, what are you reading, just now ...

As somebody who lives with the constant urge to communicate or convey sensations…ideas and concepts, whether that be to other people or simply to myself via meditating or painting or writing, a few words I happened upon this year resonate with me

“Make ceremonies out of the air, and breathe upon them"

I conceptualise this phrase visually, as an artist or a yogi plucking inspiration from anything, what they see, hear and experience or from their own mind and using it to create something wonderful. A painting, a memorable day out or a great savasana!

As for currently, in terms of books; I have an obsession with the works of J.R.R Tolkien and I just finished rereading The Silmarillion (a grand prequel to the more popular Lord of The Rings or The Hobbit). I also am keenly following any news articles or social media stories about the current political and environmental protest happening in America, where the Native treaty lands of the American Indians are under threat by Oil companies, I feel the Earth is an island and we have nowhere else to go, we need to protect what we have, Water is Life.


Share some words of wisdom ...

I came across this a while ago, I’m unsure of its author but I love it;

“You think in your idle hours that there is literature, history, science behind you so accumulated as to exhaust thought and prescribe your own future. In your sane hour you will see that not a line has yet been written; that for all the poetry that is in the world your first sensation on entering a wood or standing on the shore of a lake has not been charted yet. It remains for you; so does all thought, all objects, all life remains unwritten yet”

 

 

-------------------------

Thank you Caol, it was a joy to have your at our place.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Saturday
Jun032017

q&a with makeup artist and Curvy Chic Bridal owner Rebecca Bryson

Rebecca Bryson is one of the most talented people I know she is an artist in the truest sense of the word.  The way she looks you in the face and the using magic from her box of tricks brings out all your natural beauty when she paints your face with her makeup is remarkable.  Rebecca is an incredible professional makeup artist and I recommend her constantly to brides and others needing their face done for any occasion.  She is also an entreprenuer and recently opened Curvy Chic bridal and the dresses there are heavenly.  You can connect with Rebecca on Facebook, Twitter, Insta and on her website. Or Curvy Chic Bridal on their website, Facebook, Insta and Twitter.

Who are you, what’s it like being you ...

I’m Rebecca, I am a hair and make up artist and own the only plus size bridal boutique in NI. It’s very busy being me! lol

Where are you from, where are you based ...

I’m based in Belfast, I was born in Northern Ireland, but grew up in New Zealand, returning to NI 10 years ago now.

Talk about your work ...

Primarily, I am a hair and make up artist specializing in Bridal and Editorial. I spend most of my days with brides helping them create their perfect wedding look or, working with other creatives coming up with exciting fashion looks. Secondarily, I run the only Plus Size exclusive bridal boutique in NI, Curvy Chic Bridal, helping curvy brides size 16+ find their dream wedding dress and the joyous experience of trying them all on! 


What are your future plans ... 

I’m building my empire! Lol. I love working in the bridal industry and fashion, and I want to keep building both my businesses, then retire with Colum and our dog Holly somewhere warm! In the meantime, I’ll keep my head down and keep working, I’ve recently been invited along with 39 others, for a masterclass with world renowned fashion make up artist Pat McGrath, so hopefully that will be a huge boost to my career!

How do you find inspiration, who you are inspired by ...  

Colour, I’m a huge colour fan, I love seeing how colours mix, how they go together, even how they clash! I often find inspiration in the colours of flowers or raw pigments. I also love instagram for finding great make up inspiration as so many leading artists share their work.

Describe your space ... 

I have a studio space in my house, I think it’s meant to be a living room, but I lived the carpet and painted the floorboards a soft grey, which goes perfectly with my black and pewter chandelier and crystal wall lamps, and as I love colour so much, I have a big multicoloured art deco rug to bring in a gorgeous range of rich colours. 

How are you feeling today ... 

I feel great! I have just finished with a make up trial and I’m waiting now for my next Bride, who is coming to try on dresses, all the while planning make up for Ruth McGinely for the BBC proms. 

A non-negotiable in your life is ...

Family time. I absolutely must have time with Colum and our dog Holly, it fills me back up!

Most encouraging words you have ever heard ... 

I don’t know that I can pin point a certain quote or saying, but, I find others careers very encouraging, I think, if they can do it, then why can’t I? 


Your work life philosophy is ...

You reap what you sow. I work hard now, so one day I won’t have to!

What is your favourite smell ...  

Fresh flowers, particularly roses, I always have at least one vase of fresh flowers in the house. The popcorn smell Holly gets when she’s been sleeping. Colums beard oil. The last two bring me such comfort.

Who do you like to listen to, what’s playing just now ... 

At the minute I’m listening to Adele! I have a hugely eclectic musical taste, so it could be anything from Rage Against the Machine to Debussy just depending on the day!


Best meal and your favourite three ingredients ... 

Probably quite a simple meal, but Colum makes the best fried rice I’ve ever tasted. I love fresh vegetables, Sesame Oil and Avocado.

Three things or products that have changed your life... 

My MacBook and iPhone, as terrible as that sounds, it has given me the ability to work on the go.  Our dog Holly, she brings so much joy to our life, she’s an absolute rascal but has such a huge personality. 

 

How do you relax ... 

Spending time with family, taking Holly for walks, and going out for yummy meals!

What makes you happy, where’s your happy place ... 

My family, spending time with friends. I love being wrapped up in a bunch of blankets all cozy with Colum and Holly!


What is your favourite journey, where in the world would you like to visit ...  

A few years ago, I drove from San Franciso to LA, down highway 101, it was beautiful, the California coast is really stunning! Colum and I would love to visit South America, somewhere neither of us have ever visited. 

What do you most value in your friends ...  

Honesty and reliability. I have learnt, epically with running two businesses, that your friends can be such an amazing support structure, so it’s vital that my friends are open and honest and reliable. 

What are your favourite words, what are you reading, just now ..

I’m ready a make up book at the minute! It’s called Face Paint: The Story of Makeup, by Lisa Eldridge. It’s fascinating for a makeup junky like myself! My favourite quote is “ I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you”, we have it on our living room wall.

Share some words of wisdom ...

Oh Gosh, I don’t feel qualified enough to give any words of wisdom! Lol. I would probably say, don’t give up. It’s cliché I know, but there is nothing more true. You will come up against challenges, some easy, some desperately hard, ask for help, there are people out there that WILL help you and get you on the path you want to be in. But whatever you do, don’t give up. Keep pushing!

 

-----------------

Rebecca, thank you for joining us at our place.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle - Life Remarkable 

 

 

 

Saturday
Jun032017

The first BBQ of Summer 2017

In the North if we lived our lives by the weather we would never do anything.  Our wee country is most known for having four seasons in one day.  I remember a flight back from Chicago where my seating companion was so excited to be heading over to visit the country she told me she had even packed for our weather bringing thermals and flip flops.  We grew up hardy weather rarely ever stopped us doing anything unless it was life and death dangerous and that included BBQ's cooked in waterproofs under huge golf umbrellas.  Rain! Pa.  That is not going to put us off and it shouldn't put you off either.  Especially with the yummy Spirit of Summer BBQ range in Marks and Spencer.  


Thick wedges of Halloumi cheese cook quickly on the bbq and are delicious on their own for veggies or shared with the adults to have on top of burgers.  They do disappear quickly so always get much much more than you think you'll never.  There is never any leftover Halloumi.  Slices of Halloumi tossed with rocket and the Marks and Spencer Hasselback garlic potatoes are delicious add a squeeze of lemon for a big of zine.

Chicken when cooked properly on a BBQ is always incredible.  The sweet smoke and crisp skin with succulent chicken meat pulled off bones is a little bit of heaven.  The Marks and Spencer Spirit of Summer range have lovely chicken bravas tenders with a rich alioli and some seriously smoky and sharp Louisiana Barbecue Chicken Flatties.  

Sausages are the staple of the Northern Irish BBQ, they are easy too cook, relatively cheap to buy, and taste fantastic.  Marks and Spencer Grill Range, have created a new sausage, using outdoor reared British Pork, which has been smoked while it is cured.  These are big juicy sausages, flavoured with sage and nutmeg, and with a very high meat content – 85%, which in the sausage world is unusal, considering some sausages only have 50% meat.  

These firm and weighty sausages suit their name ‘Posh Dogs’, we served them in the new Posh Dog Sub rolls, with mustard, ketchup, and salted coriander onion.   I like to cook my sausages until they go a deep walnut brown, and start to caramelise around the edges.

Burgers and slices of grilled pineapple go togther perfectly. 

Salad is a key BBQ ingredient - I make a huge tossed salad with mango, chive flowers, pomegranate seeds, cos lettuce and lots of coriander, tossed in a mustard and honey dressing.

 

When you BBQ don't stress with perfect table settings or lots of washing up load up on Marks and Spencer plastic wine glasses and disposable cutlery - you won't regret it!  The wine peaking through in the background is one of my favourites Marks and Spencer Marlborough  Silver Frond vibrant dry Sauvignon that is bursting with ripe gooseberry flavours.  A herbal aromamatic nose with undertones of luscious fresh lime and crushed nettle palate, it is fun and sparkly.  M&S winemaker Jeneve Williams made this wine with local winemaker Andrew Blake of Giesen, sourcing grapes from a number of prime vineyards to really show off the quality and clarity of the region’s fruit.  Grape Variety: 99% Sauvignon Blanc, 1% Pinot Gris.

 

Get out and get the BBQ lit - have a fabulous summer!

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

Wednesday
May102017

Marks marks 50 years in Northern Ireland

Marks and Spencer believe good food comes from good ingredients.  Northern Ireland's first M&S opened in September 1967 and this year they mark 50 years in this place.  For half a century the firm has supported our agriculture here by working with local suppliers to produce products for them.  Ireland and the North of Ireland supply worldclass beef, pork, venison, chicken, turkey, potatoes, bread and eggs to Marks and Spencer.

Marks and Spencer have just launched two new products developed and produced in Northern Ireland.  A new range of skinny, gluten-free sausages made by Finnebrogue Artisan and a new range, produced by Karro, Cookstown which includes popular fresh pork lines including loin steaks, pork fillets, crackling leg joints, rib racks and belly strips.

Marks and Spencer are also showing their commitment to the next generation of farming in Northern Ireland through their 'Farming for the Future Awards' run at the Balmoral Show 2017.

One of the many reasons we collaborate closely with Marks and Spencer is because of their relationships with local producers here in Northern Ireland and their commitment to working with them to provide worldclass products.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Sunday
Apr092017

Pro Tips - Easter Egg Hunt 

 

An Easter Egg Hunt needs great eggs to find - and it helps if they are chocolate, children adore chocolate.

Marks and Spencer have a wonderful selection of bright metalic foil covered, chocolate eggs which are about the size of a large regular egg.  

The Marks and Spencer's eggs come in bags of 15 or in the fun packaging of egg trays with 30 eggs.  Inside the foil are smooth milky chocolate hollow eggs.  These eggs are absolutely perfect for an outside or inside Easter Egg Hunt, as the shiny foil keeps the chocolate clean, as well as protecting the surfaces inside your home.

How to have an Easter Egg Hunt

  1. Decide on the who, when and where - invite children and adults - make sure to define times on the invitation
  2. Remember Easter Egg hunts aren't just for children, involve, parents, friends, family or even have a hunt just for adults - it is hilarious how competitive everyone gets
  3. Decide whether you are having a theme - ie do you want everyone to come in an Easter Bonnet, or Bunny Ears, or simply a fancy dress costume
  4. Decide whether your Easter Egg Hunt will happen indoors or outdoors (if outdoors, always have a rainy day plan, as to where you will hold your Hunt inside)
  5. Decide whether you are using real eggs, chocolate eggs, or plastic eggs

As well as using actual egg sized chocolate eggs, it is great to use these soild tiny Milk Chocolate eggs from Marks and Spencer in order to mix things up a bit with the search, and provide extra eggs to find.  The 1/2 eggs are filled with a delightful smooth sweet caramel.  I recommend hiding them and scattering them across the grass.

I am loving these little chickadee bags to collect chocolate easter eggs in during the egg hunt!

 

How to have an Easter Egg Hunt

  1. Decide on the who, when and where - invite children and adults - make sure to define times on the invitation
  2. Remember Easter Egg hunts aren't just for children, involve, parents, friends, family or even have a hunt just for adults - it is hilarious how competitive everyone gets
  3. Decide whether you are having a theme - ie do you want everyone to come in an Easter Bonnet, or Bunny Ears, or simply a fancy dress costume
  4. Decide whether your Easter Egg Hunt will happen indoors or outdoors (if outdoors, always have a rainy day plan, as to where you will hold your Hunt inside)
  5. Decide whether you are using real eggs, chocolate eggs, or plastic eggs
  6. Decide you going to have winners and losers, are you having other prizes besides the chocolate eggs  - colouring books with pencils, or crayons - Note real eggs should be hard-boiled no more than three days in advance and kept in the fridge in a tightly sealed container until ready to use.  Make a note of where you hide real eggs, espcially indoors as you don't want to have to do a smelly-egg hunt of your own later.
  7. We used these pretty foil covered chocolate eggs from Marks & Spencer, in large and small sizes, which are made of the most delicious milk chocolate
  8. Define your hunts boundaries, to stop your house or garden being ransacked by little feet, or sticky hands - inside keep children away from stairs, sockets, bathrooms and kitchens.  Outside keep children away from prized flower bushes, water, slippery rocks, hidden drops, steps thorns and neighbours gardens
  9. Choose the drinks and snacks to accompany your Easter Egg Hunt for children and adults - we recommend sticky sausages, and chocolate popcorn. And of course lots and lot of Marks and Spencer Easter Eggs.
  10. When the Easter Egg Hunt is over, what will you do with the children, its good to have some games on hand, like egg & spoon or three legged races, cricket, volleyball or rounders planned
  11. Have some children's films /  Disney DVDs on hand to allow children to watch after all their activity
  12. Make sure you buy lots of these delicious eggs from Marks and Spencer - buy more eggs than you think you will need, allow for up to ten eggs per child
  13. Have tissues and wet wipes on hand, as you never know with children around when you will need them
  14. Make or Buy some Easter Egg Hunt signs


On the Day of the Easter Egg Hunt

  1. Hide the eggs in a designated part of your garden or in choosen rooms indoors
  2. Give the children pretty wicket baskets, or felt baskets for the eggs to be collected i
  3. Tell the children how long they have to collect the eggs
  4. Let them hunt for the eggs with their friends and parents
  5. Allow them to count their Egg treasures and eat one or two
  6. Play Games and serve nibbles

 

Happy Easter everybody!

 

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

Sunday
Apr092017

Easter Fun from Marks and Spencer

 

Marks and Spencer hollow milk chocolate eggs in a traditional egg carton are fun and sparkly for Easter.  They come in sets of 30 eggs and are brilliant for Easter Egg hunts. 

 

They also work really well as gifts from teachers to children or if you have any little people visiting your home this Easter, they will love to pick an egg for themselves.

 

 

These Marks and Spencer cloth chick bags are filled with milk chocolate jewel foil covered easter eggs.  The bags are firm favourites with children who can use them during an Easter Egg hunt and fill them up too the brim with chocolate.

The little Marks and Spencer jewelled eggs because they are covered can be hidden all around the garden for children and adults to find.

These little jewel eggs are filled with beautiful smooth milk chocolate, and the half eggs are filled with rich runny caramel. They are addictive - I challenge you to eat only one!  Opened out of their net bags and filling coloured glasses they make beautiful hostess gifts, or Easter presents.  I like to fill glasses with them and leave them all around the house on Easter Sunday for people to nibble throughout the day.

These Marks and Spencer wobble tins are filled with chocolate chip shortbread.  The tins are bright and cheery; great fun for little children who can push the tin and watch it wobble.

My favourite themed egg from Marks and Spencer for children is this dinosaur who sits proudly atop of speckled eggs.  Lots of little boys and girls will love this on Easter Sunday.

These little praline eggs are for adults and some older children wrapped in sparkling gold, they are easy to eat.

These little half egg chicks are filled with gooey caramel.

Easter is a time to celebrate, new life, the triumph of life over death, light and the joys of Spring - I hope you have a joyful day full of celebration.

Happy Easter,

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable