alt=

Nine free things you can do at home during quarantine

A lot of us are housebound or partially housebound these days as COVID-19 fear grips the nation.

Some of us have to stay indoors due to self-isolation, self-restricting or quarantine, while others are working from home or caring for children or both.

Being stuck at home isn’t a lot of fun and normal hobbies like sports, going to events, having lunch or coffee with friends and my personal favourite, perusing charity shops, go out the window.

I have had a taste of it previously and I thought I’d share how I survived my very own housebound experience.

Almost three years ago, I broke my ankle badly. I needed surgery and was in a massive amount of pain and on medication for weeks.

Luckily, I was able to work from home but I was living by myself at the time and was very fearful of hurting myself again.

For the first two weeks, I didn’t even dare leave the house to go to the shop as I was afraid of falling off my crutches…

alt=
My crutches

As the summer wore on, I worked, watched plenty of Netflix and gradually gained the confidence to get out and about. But there were also many difficult days and my mental health was at an all-time low. I spent a lot of time in floods of tears due to the effects of the medication I was on, loneliness and the feeling of helplessness.

I was also massively reliant on my boyfriend and our relationship hit a rough patch halfway through the summer. Coupled with this, I was also dealing with the sudden death of a beloved friend earlier in the year.

It took a long time for me to recover both mentally and physically but there were some activities that helped me pass the time and feel better.

All of these things are free to do and can be easily done from the comfort of your home.

1.Exercise

As I was on crutches, exercise didn’t seem like an option but once I got used to them, I found going out for short “walks” built up my stamina.

If this isn’t an option for you due to self-isolation/restriction, try some light weights. Obviously, if you’re sick/at risk, don’t do anything without seeking medical advice.

I found doing some shoulder presses and upper body weights in the evening a good way to unwind after working from home.

2. Experiment with cooking

Again, if you aren’t well, not a suitable activity but if you’re OK, trying a new recipe or even just experimenting can be enjoyable.

alt=
Pancakes at Moak

I made lots of random dishes over the summer and also found some handy substitutes, i.e. one day, I was craving pancakes but had no flour so I crushed porridge oats with a hand blender to make a “flour”.

3. Care for your plants/try growing a plant

If you have houseplants, now is the perfect time to show them some TLC.

Even low-maintenance cacti need a little attention.

alt=cacti
My beloved cacti plants

If your plants need watering, put them in the bath or shower and drizzle them tepid water or cooled pasta water which is rich in starch and good for your plant pals (just make sure it hasn’t been salted).

alt=
Lamp and cacti plants

If your plants are getting too big for their pots and you have a spare, you can repot them and watch them bloom.

You can also prune your plants as necessary and move them around to make sure they get adequate sunshine. Or if you’ve got some seeds and a sunny spot, see if you can grow something.

An avocado plant is an easy one to grow at home, all you need is a pit and a glass of water to start.

4. Learn to sew/knit/crochet or any creative hobby

I learned to bake, sew, crochet and knit both in school and at home, yet I hardly ever do any of those things now.

If you have a ball of wool or some clothes that need some basic alterations, why not have a go at mending them yourself?

alt=
Sewing the buttons back on to this vintage shirt

If you don’t have any experience, look for online tutorials.

You could also clear out your wardrobe while you’re at it! And keep your unwanted clothes for the charity shops/recycling.

Other things you could try are painting, decorating your house or just a simple upcycling project.

One upcycle I enjoy is after a candle burns out, pouring in hot water to clean out the wax and repurposing the jar for something new.

So far, I’ve used one as a key dish, one as a toothbrush jar and one to display seashells in as a decoration. Or you can just recycle the glass!

Creativity is a wonderful way to channel your energy and I’ve always found it helps me feel calm.

5. Try a new beauty trend or hairstyle

If you’ve always wanted to shave your head/dye your hair a crazy colour but were too scared to, now’s your chance.

Or you can just let your hair/eyebrows/roots/nails/body hair grow out during quarantine.

Self-care can work wonders for your mental health but don’t pressure yourself to be overly groomed at this time.

Try on some crazy makeup/ a bold nail colour/ a different hairstyle/an outfit you’re unsure of, whatever makes you happy!

6. Find a book you need to finish or haven’t read before

Reading is a wonderful escape from the stresses of life and I was lucky enough to be in a house full of books at the time of my injury.

Most of them weren’t my own and I’m a pretty voracious reader so I read whatever came to hand.

I did never finish Love in a Time of Cholera though….

There are lots of virtual book and movie clubs starting out on social media so reach out and see if anyone wants to form one with you. Who says reading is a solitary hobby?!

7. Life/money admin

Yes, it’s boring but there is a certain satisfaction in deleting emails from your inbox.

If you’ve yet to file a tax return, bite the bullet and do it now. Don’t go with one of those companies who offer to do it for you, they take a percentage of your hard-earned cash and the process is simpler than it sounds. You can file online at Revenue.ie and there’s lots of information about allowances on the Citizen’s Information website.

If your employer pays any expenses for you as part of your job, now’s the time to submit them also or sort out your bills.

Cancel any old standing orders or direct debits or subscription services you no longer need and see if you can switch any of your utility bills to save some money. Switcher.ie is a great resource.

8. Make a plan to look forward to

A lot of people have seen their summer plans go out the window, with holidays and weddings called off and festivals and concerts in jeopardy also.

But you can still make a plan to do something simple, it could be going to your favourite restaurant/bar when it reopens, a day at the beach or a road trip in the future.

I had a holiday booked at the end of summer 2017 and thinking about that helped me get through the bad days.

This year, foreign travel isn’t looking so likely but I’ll be looking into staycation ideas at home.

9. Learn a new language or skill

Want to brush up on your Junior Cert French or learn to speak as Gaeilge properly? Hop over to Duolingo and start a course.

If languages aren’t your thing, check out the free courses on Alison.com and LinkedIn also sometimes have courses.

Hope you all enjoyed this post and perhaps found something you’d like to do at this difficult time. Remember, if you’re unwell, don’t push yourself to do anything major, stay in bed and watch Netflix or rest if possible.

Please remember to keep to social distancing and look out for those who are most vulnerable at this tough time. Thanks for reading and leave me a comment if you’ve any quarantine activity suggestions.

Edel

 

 

 

 

 

alt=

Wardrobe cull, mending and altering my clothes

How many items of clothing do you own that would be “perfect” if they were altered/repaired? That skirt that’s just a little too tight (or loose), the shirt missing half its buttons or the jeans that you constantly have to roll up?

The best outfits are not always expensive or trendy, rather they are the ones that fit us well and are most becoming to our body type.

I had over a dozen items of clothing in my wardrobe that didn’t fit well or needed to be mended or altered. Having recently moved into a much smaller apartment, it seemed like the perfect time to do a wardrobe cull/audit.

Shoes – I ended up giving away five pairs that didn’t fit well to the charity shop, a pair of snakeskin boots that were too small, another pair of ankle boots that were uncomfortable, a pair of cheap runners and two pairs of too-large heels.

alt=
New Look snake print boots which were too small for me

Jackets – A lovely tweed vintage jacket that I bought on impulse but never really wore as it was a size 14 had to go as did a cream embellished one which had lost some of its trimmings.

alt=
The tweed jacket

T-shirts/tops- I spent €25 on a Levi’s t-shirt in Spain when they were all the rage but it was really poor quality, it was very thin and had faded a bit so it had to go also. I also let go of a gorgeous navy bodysuit that no longer fit me.

Jeans/Leggings: I donated two pairs of jeans, white ripped ones that I wore approximately once a year and black mom jeans that never really fit well.

I also donated an impractical pair of lace-up black leggings that I hardly ever wore.

Handbags – I own an insane amount of bags and after much deliberation decided to part with a tiny impractical bag and a floral crossbody that I loved but rarely used.

Skirts- I owned two beautiful leather skirts that no longer fit but I was reluctant to let them go.

I brought them to a seamstress to see if they could be let out but unfortunately, it wasn’t possible.

The zip in the black one below broke the last time I squeezed into it! And looking back, I can see it’s too small for me…

I replaced the zip but realising they would never fit me again (bar developing some kind of wasting disease), I gave them to a fashion-loving friend where they will have a good home!

If you can’t bear to give away a much-loved item to the charity shop, then why not give them to a friend or family member?

Another too-tight suede skirt made its way to the charity shop after I learned it could not be altered either, leaving me with 17 fewer items in my overcrowded wardrobe.

Mending and fixing

I have a good collection of vintage shirts and blouses and while I wear some more frequently than others, one paisley print beauty was sitting forlornly in the back of my wardrobe.

I bought this a few years ago in Lyon Loring in Stoneybatter but discovered after a couple of wears, that the buttons were prone to snapping off and almost all of them fell off.

I kept the buttons and the shirt but never got round to fixing it until one day I took it back out of the wardrobe.

I came up with an interim solution of wearing it under a pinafore so no-one could see the missing buttons.

alt=
A slightly blurry close up of the blouse

Eventually, one quiet Sunday, I sat down with a needle and thread and gathered up all of the buttons to sew back on.

I wanted to use the original buttons as they are really pretty and thankfully, I found all of them bar one.

I always wear my collar open so I didn’t need a button for this, leaving me with just the right amount for all the missing ones.

Before I replaced the missing ones, I went back and sewed the remaining ones tighter so they wouldn’t fall off.

alt=
Paisley print vintage blouse

I ran into a small bit of bother when I realised the button openings were so small only the thinnest needle could pass through them but luckily I had a very thin small needle that did the job.

alt=sewing>
Sewing the buttons back on

Ta-da, my blouse was as good as new and having washed it twice since my stitches have held up nicely.

I intend to wear this blouse a lot more now, with jeans as below or underneath my black pinafore which contrasts really nicely with the black in the blouse.

alt=
My lovely vintage blouse as good as new

Mending and fixing up items can be a pain, especially in this day and age when we are used to everything being instantaneous.

Getting a professional to do it is the ideal option, however, alterations can be pricey, sometimes costing almost the same as a new item.

If it’s a tricky job or an expensive item, I’d advise going to an alterations place such as the Alterations Centre on South Anne Street. I had a dress altered here before and I was really happy with how it turned out. I’ve also used The Zip Yard for alterations and they have branches around the country.

If it’s something like sewing on a button or stitching a ripped seam, why not have a go if you have basic sewing skills? If you don’t but can’t afford alterations, then look up YouTube tutorials for help.

Or you could ask a friend or family member who’s handy at sewing but make sure you do them a favour in return!

My little DIY project has inspired me to see what else in my wardrobe could do with some TLC and hopefully, I’ll get more wear out of what I already own.

alt=
Brooding in black

As well as mending clothes, replacing the heel tips or resoling your shoes will help them last longer. I’ve several pairs of leather boots and good shoes that have lasted me years with repairs.

It’s better to buy expensive shoes which will last longer than a cheap pair which won’t be worth mending.

Outfit: Black trench coat: Daisy Street at Asos: £34.99/ €41.14

Vintage blouse: about €15

Jeans: Topshop €55

Belt: Charity shop €1

Earrings: Penneys €3

Total cost: €115.14

Hope you all enjoyed this post and Happy New Year! Thank you for reading and supporting my blog. If you would like to follow me on social media,  check out my Instagram and Facebook page.

Edel

 

Confidence, courage and community: What 4 years of blogging has taught me

When I began my blog in 2013, I was so broke, I didn’t even have a smartphone, never mind a camera or any other blogging equipment.

I had a part-time job which I didn’t like very much and as I’d moved to Dublin from Galway a few months beforehand, I didn’t know many people in Dublin.

I had a lot of free time and needed an inexpensive hobby to entertain myself with.

I thought about starting a blog years before but was afraid to “put myself out there.” Eventually I decided to just go for it, because I had nothing to lose.

I soon realised blogging was rekindling my passion for writing and it made me feel excited.

I’d completed a psychology degree in 2010 but since leaving college, I’d floundered.

I had done some subbing in a school for autistic children and I also worked in a summer camp for special needs children abroad but I found the work very emotionally draining and was deeply unhappy.

When I started my blog in 2013, I was working in retail but that certainly wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life.

When I began blogging, I found it helped me in various aspects of my life.

 1.Confidence

Although I am very outgoing and have never had problems making friends or chatting to strangers, I sometimes suffer from a lack of confidence in myself and my own ideas and opinions.

At this point in my life, I would go out of my way to avoid talking about my personal life with other people, as I didn’t want them to know I worked in retail and wasn’t as successful as some of my friends.

I was also suffering from extreme anxiety, particularly at work. After enduring severe bullying in a previous job, I found myself unable to articulate myself properly to managers in work.

I would find my hands shaking during routine work meetings or speaking to managers one-on-one.

When someone criticised my work, I would take it very personally and feel as though I was being bullied again.

Once I began my blog, I had something I enjoyed talking about and I gradually began to feel more confident in myself and my own abilities.

I still struggle with anxiety and low self-esteem from time to time like many people, but blogging helped me regain a lot of the confidence I was missing.

2. Career

When I was younger, I was determined to have a creative career. Being from a rural background, there was a lot of pressure to go down a traditional route, like primary school teaching.

I cannot tell you how many times people tried to dissuade me from pursuing my interests and tried to steer me towards teaching. (No shade to all the amazing teachers but I would have made a REALLY terrible teacher!)

Ever since I was a young child, I loved fashion and art and hoped to pursue fashion design. After spending the year after Leaving Cert doing an art portfolio course, I wasn’t quite so sure and decided to study psychology instead.

However, once I began writing about fashion, I knew I had found something I really wanted to do.

It also rekindled my interest in writing about other topics and media in general. I began to write other pieces for online magazines and really enjoyed it.

A few months after I began my blog, I realised I wanted to do a postgraduate course in journalism.

It took another two and a half years for me to get my act together and save the money and while it was extremely tough, it was also the best thing I ever did.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQdrcm8DKuR/?taken-by=joyofblogs

I’m now working as a digital journalist and while I’m now 29 and slightly older than some of my colleagues, I also have experience in other areas on my CV.

Before I found my current position, I had applied for a LOT of jobs and at the interviews, the interviewers were always curious about my blog.

It certainly helped me get a previous internship and my current job and I am very grateful for that.

3. Community & Friendship

At first, I used to just tweet my blog link into cyberspace or sometimes share on my own personal Facebook page.

Needless to say, I didn’t get many clicks, apart from a few from curious friends.

I joined several blogging groups on Facebook, including the Irish Bloggers Group. Here I found an amazing community of bloggers, blogging about diverse topics and openly sharing personal experiences, such as mental and physical health problems, relationships and bereavements.

I learned many tips from other bloggers here and all about the basics of blogging. What I didn’t know, I researched.

Then in 2015, I met some blogging friends in real life. I’d joined Girlcrew and noticed a post about forming a blogging meetup group.

The day I met my blogging friends sticks out in my mind for several reasons.

Earlier that day, I’d been to an inquest into my dad’s sudden death a year before. It was a very sad and difficult day and I thought about skipping the meetup.

But once I got there and met the founder Sinead (SineadSocial) and the other bloggers, I was so excited to chat to other people about blogging and share blogging tips and stories.

I left feeling happy and I’ve gone on to become good friends with other bloggers.

They are Sinead, who coaches other bloggers on starting a blog, social media and blogging resources, Kathryn (ViolinKit), who shares my love for vintage clothes and thrifty finds and Ciara (Irish Travel Key), who is passionate about travelling abroad and day trips in Ireland.

Then there’s Martina (From the tiny flat), who blogs about healthy eating, exercise and training on her blog, Senan (Oakleaf Adventure) who blogs all about outdoor life and Eadaoin (Firechild Photography) who is an avid photographer.

Meeting these people was crucial to my enjoyment and knowledge of blogging.

I’ve also connected with some lovely fellow bloggers online who I’ve never met but enjoy their content.

My blogging journey has been very positive in general but I have experienced some jealousy and resentment at times. Blogging can also be lonely, so having a supportive group of blogger friends makes all the difference.

I’m so glad I have my blogging friends and I’d recommend anyone who wants to learn more about blogging to join the Girlcrew Bloggers.

4. Perseverance

There were several times in my life when I felt like abandoning my blog. I was filled with self-doubt when I compared my humble blog to that of prolific bloggers. I had thoughts like “I’m no good at this”, “no-one will be interested” and “I don’t have enough followers.”

Counting followers, clicks and hits and comparing your blog to that of others will only make you unhappy. If you admire another blogger, see what you can learn from them but never try to copy their content.

It’s good to keep track of your followers and hits on your blog so you can assess what type of content your readers enjoy most but don’t let that take over.

In 2014 I contemplated completly abandoning my blog. My dad had just died and I hadn’t posted in several months. I was very upset for months afterwards and I found daily life a massive struggle.

I found it hard that life around me was still going on as normal while my life seemed so empty and sad.

Gradually I began posting again and although I was still dealing with the bereavement for many months afterwards, it helped having something I still cared about.

I’m so glad I didn’t give up on my blog as it proved crucial in helping me find work in the INSANELY tough media industry.

While my blog is still quite small, it fills a huge part of my life.

It’s a hobby, something I can put on my CV, it has taught me so many skills I never would’ve learned on my own (SEO, basic code, basic photography etc.) and I’ve also enjoyed some moderate success.

In the first year of my blog, I made the long-list for the Irish Blog Awards and in 2015 and 2016, I was delighted to be shortlisted for Best Fashion category.

I’ve also had the pleasure of attending some amazing events and meeting interesting people in the worlds of blogging, PR and media at these.

I used to think I couldn’t blog because I didn’t have the best equipment or loads of money for clothes and I have a tendency to look awkward in photos.But in reality, it was only my own fear holding me back.

I can never keep a straight face while posing for a photo so if I take an #OOTD it’s usually with a big cheesy grin on my face.

Although the world of fashion blogging can be competitive, I’ve found my niche with thrifty style.

Hope you all enjoyed this post and thanks for bearing with me on this one.

Don’t forget to check out my InstagramTwitter and Facebook page here.

Edel