Mixed media river reeds wild flowers

Join Us! Art Challenge on Facebook

COME JOIN US!!!! I joined a Daily Art challenge on Facebook for the month of June. I didn’t think I would last a week, and I had *many* good excuses to give up… But I didn’t. Some days it was bloody hard, but more often, it gave me the impetus and the energy to keep going. I surpassed all my expectations and continue to work daily.
But, I miss the connection, the challenge, the pushing myself daily… And so, I’m starting a new challenge. A Weekday Art challenge: Mon-Fri every week, starting next Monday, 21st of July. Post your work to my Facebook page; and for all the participants, I’m starting a page specifically for the challenge, so we can encourage, enjoy and connect with the work we produce and each other.

Why not join us?! A two minute sketch daily will improve your drawing skills no end; a little colour study will teach you so much: the emphasis is on DOING, doesn’t matter what, just that we DO daily. It will start as a small snowball and become an avalanche

Join the group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1432296300385789/


Life Is Good

I’m feeling really blessed. Life is good (despite the lunar crazy that comes around the full moon) It’s peaceful and joyful (apart from the fairly-regular screaming/ hair pulling/ howling dramas that James and Grace indulge in: best friends one second and the next looks like a scene from “Gladiator”)

Our smallest baby is so easy, smiling, placid and content. She sleeps; as in, several hours together a night: I’ve had full nights sleep since she was born (unheard of!!) I regularly wonder is it because she’s the sixth, there are always arms to hold her and I’m so much more relaxed (I’m getting enough sleep!) or is it just her. Probably a bit of both.IMG_6549

So while I’m counting my blessings, I want to give thanks for the enormous kindness I’ve been shown since Anna was born. And I want to show you some of the handmade gifts of great kindness that have been given to me (us) (I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things, but while baby sleeps and no one is throttling each other, I’m photographing what’s closest to hand)

I love anything handmade: and I obviously attract great handmade-y friends as the photos below attest!!

The day I came home from the hospital, there was a table of loveliness laid out for me: flowers, cards, and this:Ruby Robin Boutique- Lichen necklace I have made no secret of how much I love  Ruby Robin Boutique‘s work, and even more so because she uses bits of lichen and moss in her jewellery. I love it. This is filled with lichen in a copper terraium locket pendant. Even the packaging is drool-worthy. I had cried with utter relief from the moment I left the hospital, and this made me cry a little more. With delight, I hasten to add!! (I am married to the kindest person I know)

And then came more: cards handknitsthe most beautiful handknits (Bernadette, Tara, Susan and Nicola: *heart*); cards (my sister Eithne from Cardroom Delights made the card on the left and top right, Vanessa the one on the bottom right); the CUTEST pair of crocheted Converse thanks to the lovely Helen from The Busy Mamas and my blog-friend Joanna painted this painting for me. This was a photograph of the first time I had held Anna, and I treasure it. Thank you Joanna!knits painting

*I am surrounded by blessings*

choose joy


Over a month ago, my friend Jane from That Curious Love of Green asked me to join in an art challenge for the month of June, through Arna Baartz Artist Facebook page. I immediately agreed and promptly had a loud internal voice roaring at me “you did what?!” I was so close to backing out, hey, I had several brilliant excuses, least of all the teeny babe attached to the boob a lot of the day! But then I thought I’d give it a go, play each day by ear…

And I did. And a few funny things happened.

Firstly, I allowed myself the time. I stopped feeling guilty for allowing myself the time. And I starting creating, breathing life into so many ideas in my head. I had been slowly- slowly- working away, when I had time in order to work up a series of paintings to make into cards and prints. And, frankly, I rarely had time, or allowed myself the time, or enough time to make it meaningful, until the challenge. And so, after 30 days? I have a huge body of paintings and drawings, more than I could have dreamed of.


I now continue to give myself time, and continue to produce plenty of work.

I’m allowing MY work to BE “work”. For me, it’s important that it’s a “thing” that has an end result, rather than just a “thing”, if you get what I mean! (I then don’t feel so guilty)


I’m accepting that even if I never gave myself “the time”, the house would still be a mess. There are a lot of us. There is, at any given time, someone drawing, chopping paper, glueing, painting. At the same time, there are farms, train tracks, fairy kingdoms and Legoland being recreated on our floors. We generate a huuuuge amount of mess, bitty pieces of paper, fantastical games and awe inspiring creations. There isn’t one without the other. Added to this conundrum, I hate housework. I find it soul destroying, despite trying to see it in a more “mindful” way. It stops me from being creative, frustrates me because I never have enough time to finish, irritates me because no sooner than I have cleaned/tidied/organised something, there is something else that’s needs doing. And then I procrastinate, and I do a bit of this and a bit of something else, and nothing ever gets done. Now I’m giving myself TIME, and what needs to be done, gets done… May take a bit longer, but, oh well…!!

James blog

So I’ve decided to surrender:

~I’m surrendering to the constant mess: it’s a sign of creativity, a home that’s alive;

~I’m surrendering to not feeling guilty: it’s pointless, and a time waster. I don’t get any more done by feeling guilty, in fact, I feel I get less done as I spiral into complete procrastination;

~I’m surrendering to allowing things to unfold organically: literally going with the flow;

~I’m surrendering to switch off the Other Voices in my head. The voices that I fancy to belong to my mother, my husband, my friends, telling me what I “should” do. These are purely imaginary and stem from my feeling guilty over what I “should” be doing;

~I’m surrendering to allowing myself the time to create: it gives me joy and energy, and that affects everyone in the house;

~I’m surrendering to knowing, viscerally, that joy is a choice, so I’m choosing joy.

blog surrender

(I buried James’ placenta under a rose called “Bobbie James”… (thanks Dorothy!) This year, it has sprawled magnificently, and produced masses of flowers. James loves the fact it’s “his” rose. The other day he was telling me that there were “hearts” all over the yard. When we went to investigate, we realised that each petal of every flower is in the shape of a perfect white heart. We are surrounded by hearts. I need to keep remembering that)

Return To Woodville

We made a return visit to Woodville Walled Garden last Thursday. Our lovely friend Dorothy volunteers her gardening skills there; and recently she has been working on the roses. Knowing how much I love roses, she messaged me to say how beautiful they are at the moment. 2Fergal and I had been saying for ages we would go, but every weekend is caught up; so on a warm June day, the children and I set off in the morning. It wasn’t as sunny as the day before, thankfully, or we would have been burnt to a crisp, as we spent hours in this hidden treasure near Loughrea, Co. Galway.4

Marie (the head gardener), Dorothy and I firstly had a great chat, while drinking tea and eating cake in the stables, which have been converted into a little gift shop, tea rooms and museum. 1Then they gave us a tour of the garden, which is visually and fragrantly beautiful. A real feast for the eyes… For me, the roses were the star of the show, but there is so much to enjoy here: shrubs, fruit trees, herbaceous plants, abundant flower beds, archways, pond, doves… The boys and Grace played croquet on the croquet lawn, and James ran at speed up and down the pathways. Anna nestled in close to me and slept snuggled up in the sling.5

I’m looking forward to visits throughout the year, as it has been planted to take advantage of all the seasons (even when we went for Snowdrop Weekend in February, there was so much to see)3

What a really lovely day out in the most gorgeous of gardens.

June Art Challenge… A Few More

We are fast approaching the end of June and the June Art Challenge. I haven’t missed a day yet, I’ve surpassed all my expectations!! Due to the most extraordinarily busy few weeks, it was a bit hairy some days; I did a few black and white drawings (not sure if they actually took any less time) and two days I had to post a photo I had taken rather than a painting. But I’m hoping things are calming down a bit and I’ll paint to the finish line (if there was ever a sure fire way to jinx myself it’s by stating that!)

While it has been really tough to carve time to make art, it has been extremely pleasurable and I’ve discovered a lot in the process (I feel this merits a blogpost if I can articulate myself enough)

For now, I’ll leave you with the continuing artworks:









Blue lady

you are so loved

You are so loved 2


June Art Challenge

I had expected I would put this post up on the seventh, and every week thereafter, but I have been so intensely busy that that didn’t happen… So I’m posting all these paintings here, my first eleven (ten, actually: my second was a work in progress which turned into the fourth) Everytime I post one, I think: yay! I haven’t missed a day yet!

Check out The Nest’s Facebook page for more details… we are over a week into the challenge, why not join in?colour outside dark centre blues choose joy Blessed Be let it be leaves over landscape 2 photo irises you are loved


Life is Full

As you can imagine, life is very Full here. Our smallest Little One is almost eight weeks old and at last I’m feeling like we are starting to settle into our rhythm again. I always find it funny how it takes a few weeks or months for things to settle after a new baby arrives. We stretch the sides of our family to accommodate another little person, in the same way as my body stretched to fit around them for the preceding nine months. And in that stretching, everyone has to jiggle themselves around a bit, change a little, find where they can fit themselves back into the family jigsaw. I think we are almost there… We still have days when there’s someone needing more time, energy and presence, but then, I guess that’s always the way!1

Anna is being loved and adored as all babies should be and we are besotted and enjoying every second of this warm, quiet, smiling ball of softness who is getting more alert and cuter by the day (she is looking at the birds landing on the feeder outside the window, only about two feet away. When I change her here, she watches them flying back and forth. At the minute, there seems to be great courting going on around our bird feeders so there are little male chaffinches strutting their stuff for a female. It’s hilarious to watch)2

My energy is back, after a long pregnancy hiatus: I always feel that bursting-to-capacity creative energy after having a baby, which is a huge relief since I grind to a halt in the last few months. I’ve been painting and drawing almost every day, working towards producing sets of artworks that I’ll produce as cards and prints (that’s the grand plan anyway) I’ve agreed to take part in a 30 day challenge on Facebook, the challenge being you draw or paint something every day. At the moment I’ll have no problem, but, my life loves when I am definitive about something: it likes to throw a few curveballs… Just for the craic of it…

This June, I’m hoping to clock in here much more too: (I might even post my daily piece of art to get me back in the swing of things!) I have composed, -at mad hours of the night and small hours of the morning-, what I imagine, at the time, to be blogposts of great literary note… except I can never remember what I was writing about, much less what I actually wrote in my head when I wake up hours later.

I imagine, in the morning, while eating my porridge and racking my brain to remember even one line of genius, all those amazing, life-changing blogposts that must be floating around in the blogpost graveyard in the sky…


This Is Not For The Faint Hearted: Gloop

Let me just warn you, read the following with “children doing the experimenting during balmy days in the back yard” in your head, because this kind of play- indoors- is not for the faint hearted… or those with any pride or joy in a clean kitchen.

I’m part of the Irish Parenting Bloggers group, and it is through them, I usually find some great ideas to bake, cook and make. Naomi at Dr. How’s Science Wows is normally my go-to for interesting and fun experiments (one of my favourite sites: I regularly attribute all sorts of wonderful ideas to Naomi for no other reason other than if its interesting and fun, it’s more than likely to be from there!) Recently, a new blogger has joined our group, Ciara from Our Little House In The Country. Ciara has a blog full of great activities to do with your children.  This “Gloop” recipe has been one I have been thinking of making for ages. I bought a bag of cornflour for this very purpose months and months ago, so when I spotted it on Ciara’s blog, I decided to make it, today, while it was dry and sunny and Grace and James could do it outside rather than on my recently-cleaned kitchen floor. But, just as we compiled our ingredients and I had them all fired up to play with this Gloop, the heavens opened and it poured, and poured and wouldn’t stop.blog gloop

So we set up on an old towel on my recently-cleaned kitchen floor, and I watched the destruction of my kitchen my children engage in, what is termed in these modern times as “sensory play”; known, in the olden days as: “making a mess”. Whichever way you want to label it, they had great fun: I filled bowls of things for them to mix through: rice, oats, mixed spice, sugar, salt, flower petals, cooking oil, effervescent viamin C tablets.


Afterwards, when Fergal (kind man that he is) helped me tidy it up, there was quite a bit of adult-sensory-play: wow, that stuff is amazing. Soft and liquid when you run your fingers through it, hard as a brick when you hit or push it. The mixed spice made it smell delicious too (although I didn’t experiment with how it tasted. Unlike James. Bleuuugh)


Two Weeks Ago

Two weeks ago, I woke early. Lay in bed. Felt a pop and a gush of water (thank goodness I had been using the waterproof under-sheets!!) I lay there in shock for a few minutes: our little baby had decided to make an entrance two weeks early. Two weeks in which I had planned on finishing packing my bags (I know, I know), airing babygros and vests, finding a good book to read when I was in hospital. After being mithered with strong false pains for weeks, I didn’t have as much as a twinge. All my fanciful imaginings that this baby would swoop into our world at speed before a Caesarian section could be performed (I have had three previous C.S.) were dashed: this was my third baby to turn from head down to an unstable lie as soon as the membranes ruptured. So I had a bit of a cry at what lay ahead, took some Aconite for shock and concentrated on my GentleBirth affirmation: “I am prepared for whatever path my birthing takes” (I did the GentleBirth self hypnosis programme whilst pregnant, and cannot praise it highly enough. I give all the credit for the fact I was feeling completely calm and didn’t cry the entire time I was in theatre) (the lack of tears was a great relief for everyone I’m sure. It’s a bit unnerving to have a wife or patient who can’t control her hysteria while on a narrow operating table)


We headed to the hospital and that afternoon, Anna arrived into our world: tiny, unbelievably soft and perfect. It was all very calm, very gentle and very happy.


Unfortunately, I had some complications (nicked bladder) which for normal people would have been a bit of a setback; for me, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Ten days ago I wouldn’t have rated my chances of sitting here typing this too highly; so with every fibre of my being, I feel utter and complete relief and gratitude for my care while in hospital (I attended Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. The midwives were outstanding in their kindness and care, as were the care staff and doctors); for my family who leaped into action and rallied around, minding me and our children; for friends who prayed and prayed and prayed some more and supported us, and for Homeopathy: I am really so blessed. IMG_20140417_185021

I am only home a few days and well on the road to recovery. I have another bit to go, but I’m okay. I’m writing this with a very small, miniature human tucked under my chin (where she likes to nuzzle to), kissing her with every tiny sigh and moan (every ten seconds or so) so it’s hard to feel anything but utter joy.

I’m happy to forget the nightmare that was: I’m here, I’m home, my husband makes me tea and scones in the morning and tells me he loves me and I’m beautiful even though I feel battered and gunky and I’ve tubes coming out of me and weird complaints; my older children spend their time lavishing our Little One with love and kisses; I’m alive, -I’m alive!- and getting well, and feeling positive and grateful and so very, very blessed.


This time two weeks ago feels like an instant, and in another way, an eternity. So many times every day, we hold our teeny baby and marvel at how incredible and perfect she is, and how, hard to believe, she hasn’t always been with us. Oh, the smell! The softness! The utter deliciousness of a newborn! Welcome home Baby Anna  xx