On the 7th of July we relocated our premises after 2 years in Church Street to Carter Square. At the time I had recently found out that I was pregnant and the prospect of moving seemed like a mammoth task. However, every cloud and the move has been fantastic for the business.
One of the huge advantages to the move is the addition of the small but tasty tea room. This was something I'd always planned for Lúnasa but the facilities weren't there in Church Road and so the move was the perfect opportunity.
I had done business and retail for many years and the food aspect of the business, while I'd had some experience with it, I found it very daunting. I knew what I wanted to do good tea, superb coffee and homemade cakes and soup. And I'm very happy that I've achieved it. I can tell my customers exactly what is in my soups because we make them all and try to make them as health as possible. We can't say the same about our cakes but they do taste good!
The thing I love most about the Tea Room is the social aspect. I've lost count of how many people I've sent to Erris Head and how many maps I've given out. I love to see familiar faces and give them their choice of Farmer's Friend or Buzz Bomb (our Irish roasted coffee). We've had our cooking club and now for the summer have our family cook outs.
One huge thing for us which I love is the personalised gifts. It give us the chance to make something every day which I could get lost in. And there are lots of exciting things happening there. We now have lots of disney designs to add to the already huge selection that we have.
So two years on we are still changing and moving. The new premises reduced the space for the classes and the up-cycled furniture but thankfully we've recently figured that out as well. And I'm extremely thank full to all the customers who continue to support our business and spread the word about us. Without you we wouldn't be here 4 years on. Time is flying and the next 12 months will certainly be a huge personal challenge and I try and juggle my expanding family with my expanding business. I've been lucky to find some great people to work with me and help achieve my simple dream and they will tell you we don't stay still for long and there are more exciting things to come.
I look at this funny website that tells me what days are celebrated on each day and each month and it tells me that May is photo month.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and looking at some of the amazing photos taken over the almost 200 years that photography has been known to man, it may sometimes seem that a picture can be worth ever so many more.
Photography has been around for 200 years and what used to be a sign of wealth, getting your photo taken, it's now a way that people broadcast a view of their lives to the world. The earliest surviving photo of nature was taken in 1827 by the French inventor Nicéphore Niépce. At that time, it took days of exposure for a photo to be ready.
Over the years there have been some iconic photographs, the horrors or war, amazing acts of humanity, and over the years I've taken thousands of photos of my own. The tragedy of the new digital age is we rarely produce a physical photograph. I still have all my old developing equipment and my plan is to get back to it some time soon.
As I'm sorting out my belongings In readiness to move house later this year I keep getting distracted by all my photos. Places I've been, people who touched my lives, projects I did and all those wonderful memories I picked up along the way. Life is busy and you get caught up in the everyday and looking back at photos helps me remember - even just looking back at photos of Francesca.
Photo Month is a time to appreciate all the things photography has done for humanity and continue that glorious tradition, so get out your camera and your photo albums, share them with your friends and get celebrating! And here are a few of my photos to share with you including one of the shop moons ago from Mary Needham x
People ask me what my businesses and I hesitate for a second. It's hard to describe it in a few words when there is so much that we do. So I usually say a craft and gift shop with a little tea room which I often think doesn't really do it justice.
I guess the ethos of the business is about the value that goes into something that is handmade over something that's massmade in a country far far away where the workers probably get very underpaid in very poor conditions.
As life becomes a faster pace and IT becomes more and more involved in it I think it's a really important to take time to appreciate the value of what is around us. It's crazy that so many kids in the world today don't know the milk comes from cows and eggs come from chickens.
They think it all just appears in the supermarket.
I often wonder if I would be able to survive on produce that was only made in Mayo. Could we go back to the olden times where we didn't use imported goods and things that we got we knew where they came from.
We try and put people back in touch with things that are handmade. It's always great to see the satisfaction when people realise that they've just picked up a gift that was made in the county or the town or that they have just painted or sewn something and made it themselves.
And I take great pleasure when I serve someone and I can tell them that everything they are eating is made in Mayo. The scones are made in the shop with butter milk from Balla, the jam is made in Westport, the butter is made in also from Balla.
And so for Mayo Day this weekend I just want to celebrate some of the fantastic things that are made around the county that we sell in the shop.
Well we've almost survived what is deemed the most depressing day of the year - the third Monday of Jan. I suppose we are still a few weeks from pay day, the festive high is over, and the money has run out so we are using up all the food in the freezer. And if that wasn't bad enough with recent world events, Brexit, Trump and all the recent celebrity deaths this one could be the most depressing yet.
And just to top it all off tomorrow is 'Drop your New Years Resolution Day'. But don't be sucked in. Apparently only 8% of people stick to their resolution so if you've made one and you have made it this far....don't give up now. Or maybe defy it and make a new resolution or revisit the one you were trying to keep. Don'e be so hard on yourself - especially if it's something about eating healthy and you just scoffed chocolate to cheer yourself up on Blue Monday.
This time of year is a great time to get out and do something new and social. It's easy to lock the door, light the fire and shut yourself away from the world but that's ok for a day or two but any more than that isn't good. Get out and try something new - there is Sean nos dancing classes on and we are starting a cooking club.
A cooking club is a group of people who gather together on a regular basis to take on a cooking project or explore an new cuisine. But really, the main reason is that there's enormous fun to be had when a group of people gather together, roll up their collective sleeves, and get something delicious done.
We are going to try and meet up once a month and try healthy meals. Our gatherings will be around eight to twelve people and our skill levels mainly amateur.
We will meet at Lúnasa and information will be on the Lúnasa Club Facebook page. Rosaleen will organise the night, figure out how to scale the recipe to make enough for the group, organize the shopping, and figure out equipment needs and the group will help cook it.
Finally the day arrives when we gather, cook, and make a merry mess. Before we depart we clear up and then go on our merry way.
Before the night depending on whats cooking you will be asked to bring some things with you but as a rule always bring an apron, a knife and a chopping board.
When we were kids on Christmas day we would open presents, go to mass, eat our dinner about 12.30 and then sit down to watch TV. My mam would want to watch the Queen's speech and the rest of the family would groan. She would point out that she never watched anything else on TV and so we would conceed and sit through it. As I got older I found I was sitting down to watch it myself the same as the other traditions we have at Christmas only now with Sky plus so the Queen can fit around our day. After mass, visiting family and a huge dinner we sat round and watched herself.
I suppose you don't get to 90 in any walk of life without gathering pearls of wisdom and this year she talked a good bit about inspiration. 2016 has been an amazing year for us yet for many around us the end of the year can't come quick enough. At this time of the year we are looking ahead to the new year and looking for inspiration. The Queen said that the word 'inspire' literlly means 'to breath in' and this week is the time to pause and take a breath, think about the highs and lows of the closing year before we get too caught up in what we want to do in new year. All of us in our own way will have overcome, achieved and to the rest of the world have done something extraordinay (even if to us it just felt ordinary).
Our recent run of workshops and courses reminded me of one of the things I hoped to achieve through Lúnasa and one of the things, that for me, was hard to find when I first moved here. It was simply a regular coming together, not necessarily to learn, but simply to meet, to enjoy, and maybe to expand my social circle. So with that in mind I will be doing some events in 2017 that will achieve this starting with out swishing event in Jan. More about that later but for now a few days reflection and a final quote from Mother Teresa, from this year Saint Teresa of Calcutta once said 'not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.'
Seasons greeting to you and your loved ones x
The second of Feb is Candlemass day. To be honest before we moved to Belmullet I'd never heard about it. So I used my friend google to find out what it's all about and found out it's the mid point of winter - between the shortest day and the equinox. It's a nice thing to mark because everyday after gives a promise of Spring which will be closer than autumn!
On these dark winter nights it's nice to have something to look forward to. I read that there are some superstitions about the weather on this day and the signs for things to come for the rest of the winter. I'm not sure how much attention I would pay to that but it gave me an idea of a nice project to do with the kids.
Making candles is an easy project for all the family. Simply buy the wax sheets, warm them up slightly with a hair dryer or in from of the fire which make them softer and easier to roll. Place the wick in the middle and roll. It really is that simple. The great thing about is as well is that it's made from beeswax. Many candles these days are made using paraffin which is a by product of petroleum so it releases toxins when you burn them.
More candles are made with soy which is a more natural product but the purest is the beeswax. This is because beeswax is a natural air purifier. Beeswax releases negative ions when it burns and as pollen, dirt, pollutants and all the other junk carry a positive charge, the beeswax neutralises all these things. (This is the same idea used in air purifiers and water filters that use negative ion technology).
Burning beeswax has been suggested to help with conditions like asthma and allergies due to the purification nature. So on the 2nd of Feb if you are going to light a candle maybe make a beeswax one! And if you are looking for something to do with the kids this weekend that's where we can help with out candle making kit!
Click here for our candle making kits
Do you remember when you were kids and you used to make paper fortune tellers...you know, pick a colour. Or when you made paper aeroplanes - we didn't realise it but we were doing origami - making things out of paper.
I remember the day I discovered origami. I was working in the south of France as an Au Pair when I was 18 and I went out for Chinese with my host family. On the table were this fabulous water lilies napkins under the glasses and I was fascinated to see how they were done. I took several home and after many attempts I worked out how to do it. I've never forgotten and still use it to decorate the table for dinner sometimes.
Origami comes from the words 'ore' meaning folding and 'kami' meaning paper and I think it has it origins in Japan. I only recently learned that traditionally in Japan they would use Washi paper for origami, a paper made from fibres of the tree bark and it's tougher than normal paper.
It was while I was having a conversation about Washi tape, something that's coming to the store in the new year, which is basically strong sticky tape made from the bark of bamboo or hemp and has the most fabulous design on them.
I think in traditional Japanese origami you didn't use cuts or glue but now the term seem to refer to all type of paper folding. It's amazing what you can make from a flat piece of paper. I've mentioned before that I believe doing something creative, whatever it is, is a great way to relax and relieve stress. What's brilliant about origami is you can use it take a break and use the paper off the printer or the napkin off the table. A great way to loose yourself for as little or as long as you like.
Want to try it? Come along to our seasonal origami Tuesday and learn more. It's great fun - it will have you in creases!! ha ha ha
There's a saying 'if you do what you've always done, you'll get what you always got' or something along those lines. I'm just back from the play 'Home' and I'm in awe that someone who I see regularly behind the counter in the hardware shop wrote the play that I've just seen.
I've never written anything of great length but I can only imagine the vision, commitment and creativity it took to get from - 'I'd really like to write a play', or 'I have this great idea for a play' to putting it together in a four night production.
I saw a static that 81% of people think they have a book in them but 97% of them will never finish it. I know it's not the same as writing a play but the odds are huge because to complete a piece of writing is a huge achievement.
Doing something you love and are passionate about is such a incredible thing and it's within us all to do it - maybe we just have to find our talent. That's the easy part. Listen to people around you they will be commenting on what you are good at, or maybe there is something that you find really easy that other don't or something that you really enjoy. Is there a subject you can't stop talking about?, maybe it's connected to your hidden talent and if all those things fail just ask people around you.
The hardest thing is putting yourself out there. A book, a painting, a play, whatever it is once you know you can do it you've got to not worry about what people might think and just let your talent shine.
The play was set in Nottingham. I'm not sure what to call that - is it my home town? It's where I grew up anyway. It was set in the Vale Pub. If it's the same one I know it's still there on Mansfield Road. I'm not sure if the Irish Centre has survived though. The last time I was there it was closed up, the signs of a dwindling community now mostly second generation of the generation that stepped off the boat.
As a child of 4 and 5 I went there for my Irish dancing lessons and fell asleep in the tin whistle lessons while my sister learned how to play. It's where I first got drunk at 15 and had to be taken home by my big sister and it's where as a young professional adult I ended up most weeks sticking to the dance floor and ordering warm drinks. Happy memories over a lifetime but as usual I digress down memory lane.
As I was writing this this advert came on - it's a powerful message that brought a lump to my throat but with a wonderful message. So I will leave you with a final thought and and this message... 'incredible things happen when you believe' #believeinyourself
I was having an usually bad night with Francesca and when she woke up again at 4am and I eventually got her back to sleep I went out of the room to have a cuddle with the dogs. As I was sitting at the top of the stairs I saw out of the skylight a plane passing by and it gave me such a strange feeling.
I, of course, got very curious and wondered if there was a plane tracker like you can with the ship. I'd more or less dismissed it thinking that in this day and age with all the security that can'r be possible - how wrong was I.
The plane I think I saw was the TOM145 Orlando to Manchester. It's possible it could have been the UA110 New York to Heathrow but if the map is right I think it was the TOM145.
I noticed there was another plane coming in over us soon the AA722 Philadelphia to Dublin. I did't even know it was possible to fly to Phili from Dublin so I sat at the top of the stairs looking but couldn't see it. However, something else happened. I heard it! In the still of the night too late for the neighbours kids to be out, to early for the rest of us to be up I could hear the plane over head.
As I'm sitting here writing this I can tell you that the place I just heard was the TOM797 Cancun to Birmingham. Wouldn't that be nice.
Soon after on the map the AA716 Philadelphia to Munich and the DL116 Atlantia to Stuttgart look like they had a bum fight but some traffic controller dude somewhere was all over.
I was thinking about all the people on the flights. Tired and smelly and looking forward to getting back on ground after being on the plane for 8 hours from Cancun. And when I've been sitting on flights, sometimes watching the monitor as it tracks the flights, it's never occurred to me that someone on the ground is tracking us too, looking up at the plane in the night sky.
I then remembered a recent conversation in the shop about a theory on what was actually coming out of the planes. A google search revealed (I sound like the BBC) there the "Chemtrail Conspiracy' has at times made headline news and the theory is so popular it has it's own Wikipedia page.
It made me feel really strange. As someone whose passion in life has been travel it felt like a reminder of a familiar world. And as I've been wrapped up in teething babies, committee issues and internet orders this week it was a wonderful reminder of the world that's out there. Belmullet is a wonderful place but it can be easy to feel cut off from the rest of the world with it's remoteness. And it's a self fulfilling, when you start to think your options are restricted I suppose it's natural that it's followed by restricted thinking. A perfect example for us is recently our travel destinations have become about locations from Knock. We talk about going to Mexico and seem to talk ourselves out of it again as an 8 hour flight sandwiched by a 4 hour car journey or worse doesn't have the same appeal. Living near London afforded us a level of global freedom we didn't appreciate at the time. However, tonight has been a good reminder that everything is still possible, we just have to work a little harder at it. So the next time I'm wondering where to go I'll look at the flights going over Belmullet and figure out how to get on it....Tahiti here we come.