Home & Life · Uncategorized

Country Blog Retreat NI

It seems like ages ago that Tiny Little Lessons suggested that we go on an Instagram Retreat. I liked the sound of it but didn’t have a clue what to expect or who would be going and if I would know anyone or not. We booked our tickets anyway and I looked forward to it even if I was a little apprehensive about meeting so many new people. In the weeks leading up to it there was alot of surfing the net for something to wear and booking appointments to get nails done etc. When Sunday 24th September rolled around we loaded up the sat nav with the location and four of us set off on our road trip to the beautiful surroundings of Larchfield Estate.  Even though it is only 30 minutes from home I had never been to Larchfield before and I have to say I was so impressed with how beautiful it is. From the picturesque gardens & courtyard, to the fabulous orangery & barn, to the stunning guest cottages and Myrtle the glamping truck, the attention to detail was just perfect. It was all a real feast for the eyes and many, many photos were taken. I apologise in advance as this post is going to be photo heavy since there were just so many things to look and and drool over.

We started off the afternoon with welcome drinks and nibbles in the Orangery provided by Panacea Drinks, Clearer Water and Graham’s Bakery. They are three local companies and their drinks and food were really good and I will definitely look out for them in the shops now.

From the Orangery we headed into the barn which was decorated beautifully and all set up for afternoon tea. It was lovely to be able to put faces to the Instagram names and everyone was so friendly and chatty. After an inspiring talk from Anna from Blossoming Birds  we went on a photo walk in the beautiful gardens of Larchfield Estate. There were plenty of props at hand from giant balloons and letters to lovely lanterns. It was funny seeing so many Olympus Pen cameras every way we turned and boy were there so many opportunities to get some amazing photos. Here are some of my favourites.

After our walk we headed back into the barn for Afternoon Tea which was catered by French Village. The food was amazing and it looked so good no one wanted to be the first to lift something and ruin the photo ops but we forced ourselves 🙂 No words can do justice to how delicious these treats were so I will let the photos do the talking.

After lots of eating and plenty of chatting, we heard from some more inspiring local Instagrammers and bloggers. First was Kerry and Tara from Sisters and Sons, followed by Mel Wiggins and then a panel with Rachel from The Breton Bird, Laura-Ann from All That’s Pretty and Anna from Blossoming Birds. All had plenty of good advice and tips and lots of food for thought. We had a short break after this so it was off into the grounds again to have a look at the gorgeous cottages and Myrtle the glamping truck and to take lots of photos of course. First up is Myrtle. Wouldn’t you just love to spend a night here! You even have your very own sauna.

Next up is the cottages. All of them are absolutely gorgeous and I would happily stay in any one of them and be very happy indeed. The decor is flawless and the little touches and attention to detail are so perfect. It made me want to go home and redecorate the whole house.

After tearing ourselves away from the fabulous cottages it was back into the barn to hear from Andrew (@littlewoodmr) and Colin (@father_of_the_birds) with a light-hearted look at what life is like as an Insta-Partner.

All too soon it was time to depart Larchfield Estate with our goodie bags filled with treats and offers provided bygreat graet sponsors.

 

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Goodie Bags from the Country Blog Retreat NI (photo copyright @recklesskav)

 

It was an amazing afternoon spent meeting new people in fabulous surroundings, being fed delicious treats and hearing inspiring words. Thanks to Emma from Life at the Little Wood   (@littlewoodlife) for organising it all, can’t wait till next time.

I will leave you with this quote from Brene Brown that Mel Wiggins reminded us of

“Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, shame.”

In her book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection‘ Brene says that “I’m not very creative’ doesn’t work. There’s no such thing as creative people, and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t. Unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.”

I love this reminder not to let fear stop us releasing our creativity, to go full steam ahead and live our best life on our own terms. We will make mistakes as we go and that’s OK, just learn from them and move on. I’m definitely going to print that quote out and post it somewhere I will see it everyday.

Do you have any quotes that inspire you daily?

Home & Life · Uncategorized

Decorating for Autumn

When my kids were smaller I used to have fun being OTT decorating the house for Halloween, the scarier the better. Now that they are older and not that interested in it anymore I was missing the decorating, so I decided a couple of years ago that I was going to decorate with an Autumn theme instead. I have picked up bits and bobs over the last few years and I’ve also made a few things, and each year I bring out whatever bits take my fancy to make the house all cosy and autumnal. I love all the rich reds, oranges, golds, greens and browns that this time of year brings. This year I have added a little leaf garland to the fireplace, added some orange candles from IKEA and put them in with some of the other pretty little things I had and I am pretty happy with the result. The red wall in my main room always comes into its own at this time of year and makes the whole room look very cosy and welcoming.

Decorate your home for Autumn with RecklessHen
Decorate your home for Autumn with RecklessHen

I have picked up bits and bobs over the last few years and I’ve also made a few things, and each year I bring out whatever bits take my fancy to make the house all cosy and autumnal. I love all the rich reds, oranges, golds, greens and browns that this time of year brings. This year I have added a little leaf garland to the fireplace, added some orange candles from IKEA and put them in with some of the other pretty little things I had and I am pretty happy with the result. The red wall in my main room always comes into its own at this time of year and makes the whole room look very cosy and welcoming.

Autumn Decor by RecklessHen
Living Room decor with an Autumn feel by RecklessHen

This year I made a few things to add to my collection. I made an Autumn printable that you can download here and I crocheted a few pumpkins too. You can find the tutorial for them here. I also bought a new candle that I spotted in TKMaxx. It is a lovely orange pumpkin spice scented candle that says ‘Give thanks with a grateful heart’ on it and the gold lid has the cutest, teeny, tiny pumpkin on it. I love it.  You can see it in some of the photos below.

In the rest of the house I added in some Hydrangeas from a friend’s garden, a jug full of Gerberas, some silk autumnal leaves, some greenery from my garden and some nuts and conkers. I love to settle down at night with the fire on, the candles lit and do some crocheting or knitting while the wind is howling outside and I’m all cosy indoors.

When it comes to looking for inspiration online for my Autumn decor a few of the places  I love to check out are Pinterest, Country Living, Martha Stewart, Pioneer Woman, Here Comes The Sun and Ideal Home. I also find that garden centres can be full of inspiration. I don’t know much about plants myself but their fabulous displays mean I don’t need to as I can just pick plants that are in their displays and know they will work in my autumn decor as well. We have some amazing garden centres here in Northern Ireland and three of my favourites are Creative Gardens, Camerons and Hillside Nursery. Here are some of the photos I took this year when searching for inspiration.

And did I mention that they all have lovely coffee shops and it would have been rude not to take the time to sample the coffee and cakes while I was there 🙂 Speaking of coffee, when RecklessHen went on a roadtrip the other day we stopped off at Starbucks for our first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season and Heather delved into her large handbag and out came some handmade autumnal props ready for an Instagram photo. The pattern for the leaves and acorns is from Just Pootling and the conkers were just made up as we went along.

Autumnal crocheted props
Autumnal props for our Pumpkin Spice Latte

Do you decorate for Autumn? Where do you get your inspiration from?

Home & Life

5 things I’ve learned

I have read so many of those ‘things I have learned’ posts over the years and I always find at least one thing in those lists that I completely get. I was thinking about that the other day and started to make a list in my head of what lessons I had learned in my five decades, and I actually surprised myself when I realised that I had learned some big lessons in my own life. Lessons that totally reinforced what I had read and heard from so many people. It made me ponder about how we can live in different cultures, have very different lives and yet we can have similar experiences. So I decided that I was going to commit my list of things I had learned to paper (or screen to be completely accurate). This is just my list, I’m not saying it should be yours or telling you how to live your life, it is just my observations on my journey so far.

Anyway here goes my list of 5 things I have learned, in no particular order……..

  • My mother really was always right, or at least she was right a heck of a lot of the time. The friends she didn’t like turned out to be crappy friends. The decisions she questioned often turned out to be mistakes. The time she wanted to spend with me would be time I looked back on now and treasured. When we are young we think we know it all and I wish I had realised then what I know now. That her advice came from experience and love, that she didn’t want me to make the mistakes she had, that she was only trying to make my life easier. What I would give now to have just one more hour with her. So lesson number one is LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER.
  • Tea really does make everything better. Now I am not a big tea fan, I’m a latte lover, though I take it with only one shot of coffee and most people say it tastes more like warm milk but that is beside the point. The point is that I have never really got the tea makes everything better thing. I’ve always thought that’s a bit tough on us coffee drinkers and how on earth could a cup of tea make anything better. But I was thinking about it yesterday and I suddenly realised that it’s not the tea that makes everything seem better, its the fact that usually we will be sitting down and sharing that tea with a partner, a friend, a parent or someone else important to us. It is the being with the other person that makes everything seem better, like everything will be OK and no problem is too big to solve. Perhaps I am the only person who didn’t really get this and you all knew what it was about, but I am a very literal person so to me it was really saying that tea actually made things better. Now I can’t believe I didn’t see what it was all about yonks ago. So lesson number two is DRINK TEA (EVEN IF IT’S COFFEE).
  • Friendship is a two-way street. Now it is inevitable that in the course of our hectic lives juggling a million different things that sometimes the street will be busier one way that the other. That’s OK as long as the traffic still flows both ways. If it turns into a one-way street that is not OK. If one of our friends lets us do all the work, always being the one to call, to organise to meet up, to ring for a chat then that person is not really a friend. It can be hard to step away from a friendship but when it is not adding to your life or making you feel good then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate why you are friends with that person. So lesson number three is BE A GOOD FRIEND.
  • Life is too short for regrets. This has been my mantra for the last 22 years. I lost someone very close to me through illness back then and in those final days one of the things that she said that really stayed with me was that she had no regrets about her life. I knew instantly that I wanted to be able to say that too and that if I kept on the path I was on that would never be the case. So I gave up my job to become a stay-at-home mum and moved closer to my parents as my dad wasn’t well. It wasn’t easy, to be honest it was really scary stuff, we were doubling our mortgage and halving our income at the same time but it felt right and I have never regretted it for a second.  For me all decisions are made using the ‘will I regret it’ measuring stick. I have found that, even when something doesn’t work out, I have no regrets now because I know I made the best decision for me. I am not saying that would work for everyone, we are all different, but for me it works. So lesson number four is REGRET NOTHING.
  • Don’t waste time worrying what people think of you. It really is true that the people who mind don’t matter and the people who matter don’t mind. It doesn’t matter if you are not wearing the latest trend, are overweight, too short, too tall, too bossy, too quiet, don’t drive the right car, don’t live in the right area, didn’t go to the right school, don’t work in the right job, don’t mix with the right crowd. All those things are just ‘things’ and the people who judge you on them have warped values and empty lives if that is all that matters to them. What matters is how you treat people and what you give back to those around you. It is better to really rock at being you imperfections and all, than striving to be something you are not to try to please people who will always find something else to judge you on. Hold your head high, dance to your own beat and let them shove their judgements. So Lesson number five is  (to quote Dr Seuss) “TODAY YOU ARE YOU, THAT IS TRUER THAN TRUE. THERE IS NO ONE ALIVE THAT IS YOUER THAN YOU”

Phew, so that is my 5 lessons and if you got through all that well done.

What would your 5 lessons be?

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