Category: 2018

A Weekend in Donegal

SOLIS LOUGH ESKE

After a very last minute ‘we should go away this weekend’ thought early last week, I popped onto LastMinute and found a deal for Solis Lough Eske Castle & Spa for one night. The technical staycation was an alluring idea allowing for a quick two and a half hour drive and the avoidance of any airport hassles that come along with normal vacations. The castle was as it was advertised, peaceful and beautiful with amazing customer service.

We took a lovely nature walk after lunch down to Lough Eske. There’s a makeshift boardwalk that stretches for about a quarter of a mile along the edge of the lake. The sun was ever so slowly setting which made for some mysterious looking photos, haha.

Hughie’s favourite part was the five star restaurant where we tried ox tail and pork cheek. He nearly had to roll me back to the room. I couldn’t even finish my wine I was so full (and that says a lot). Missing dessert in a Michelin award winning restaurant wasn’t an option for me, so we shared the chocolate sphere which is melted by chocolate sauce to then expose the a Bailey’s filling accompanied by cookies and cream ice cream that Hughie ordered. It was all so dreamy.

I didn’t bring my phone into the room with the pool and sauna room (obviously) so I don’t have pictures of it. However, it’s attached to their spa where they give massages, facials and all the other lovely pampering girls dream of. We just stuck to a quick swim and the sauna which are included with the stay.

DONEGAL TOWN 

A ten minute drive away is Donegal town, sharing similar village vibes to Newport, Mayo with a big centre that then splits off into three different directions. Both are lovely bustling town centres worth visiting. If you visit both, you’ll understand what I mean about the town centre. In the Diamond of Donegal town, you’re a step away from shops, the beautiful church and Donegal castle which is where we stopped into.

DONEGAL CASTLE

The castle costs five euro per adult. You’re given an information sheet about the history of the castle when you enter and then let to roam on your own. If you like history, there’s a little museum set up on the top floor. I was more so there for the exploration and taking photos. To be honest, I can’t stand tours. I need to do my own thing.

I’ve been exploring and photographing Irish castles and ruins since I was 15 and won’t be stopping anytime soon! I was definitely impressed with Donegal Castle.

I visited Donegal last year for a drive along the coast and mountains. It’s breathtaking scenery makes it a standout county. Probably one of the prettiest I’ve seen! And I’ve been to the majority of the 32 counties. Waterford, Leitrim and Carlow might be the only ones left awaiting me.

Hope you enjoy Donegal if you visit!

x

Another Autumnal Adventure

In America going all out and decorating festively for fall is the norm. Pumpkins on doorsteps, Halloween displays all over the front yard, etc. Christmas time is like this too (maybe even more extreme? Americans what do you think?) but we aren’t there yet! I’ve seen a few nice autumnal displays in shopfronts around Belfast and I think it’s safe to say I’m the only resident in my area that’s decorated outside their door. I now have three pumpkins on my little porch and I’m sure the neighbours might think I’m insane!

The New Englander I am, I missed apple cider today at a place like this. I waltzed around with a coffee instead.

Our friend Kavina joined us for a Sunday at a local farm just outside of the city. Literally only twenty minutes away! I had scouted out a pumpkin patch online and didn’t realise it was one of the busiest petting zoos in Northern Ireland, haha. We were surrounded by parents desperate to keep their screaming children busy and happy. And we were definitely the only people there without kids!

*Skirt is New Look. 

I don’t believe in photoshopping so you’ll have to deal with actual people in the background of my photos😮 (I think people are really going overboard with photoshop on Instagram but I’ll save that rant for another time).

We saw so many lovely fuzzy creatures, pet some black Labrador puppies, and even met a very angry boar who was frustrated with Hughie being too near him and his girlfriend and tried to jump the low gate. We had mini heart attacks. The angora bunnies really captured my heart.

There wasn’t too many big pumpkins around. I grabbed this medium sized one and he needs a scrub. He’s joined the other pumpkins outside my door now! 🧡 My plan is to carve them and MAYBE make soup. I’ll put tealights in the jackolanterns for Halloween but I’m not exactly sure if there’ll be trick-or-treaters around this Wednesday! I’ll get candy just in case…

Such a fun day!! Hope you’ve had a fantastic weekend and are gearing up for a good week ahead!

x

A Redhead American Favourite: Green Angel Skincare

Green Angel has been a favourite of mine for over a year now. It’s a line of products that I’m excited to wake up and use and I don’t say that about many! When I went home to America for Christmas last year I brought some for my mom and she instantly loved the products too and put them on THIS year’s Christmas list. If she’s good Irish Santa might pack some in my suitcase for her!😉

The new luxury line consists of fresh Irish seaweed (rich in iron, iodine, trace elements and vitamins) products like cleansing lotion, facial toner, moisturiser and body oil. All of which are so refreshing and leave your skin feeling nourished and clean. Each Green Angel product is made with natural and organic ingredients too which adds an element of relaxation, and for myself, the assurance that I’m not putting anything dangerous on my face or body. In fact, everything I’m massaging in, is benefiting and nourishing my skin. In the little routine I’ve developed with this line, I use the gentle cleansing lotion then remove with a warm wet cloth followed by spritzing toner to remove any excess dirt and then finish with the seaweed moisturiser (my favourite!). The other day I forgot to put on primer and just had the moisturiser on underneath my foundation and it stayed surprisingly really well so that’s also a major plus for all makeup wearers.

Also I must say, the new packaging is really gorgeous. It’s definitely an excellent Christmas present for anyone, for those of you who may be potentially shopping around already or seeking inspiration!

As always, I love supporting quality Irish brands and I can’t say enough good about Green Angel! Their award wins speak for themselves!

Definitely a ‘bedside staple.’

x

*Kind thanks to Mary and Chris at Green Angel for gifting me these products. Really happy to work with a great brand again!

4 Places to Stop Outside Belfast (Co. Down)

There’s a lot to see in Northern Ireland. Taking it all in is an ongoing adventure I force my boyfriend into exploring alongside me at least once a month (bless him – he secretly likes going though). I love cruising around with the radio on knowing I’m going somewhere to just roam about and take photos and be in nature in Ireland. I’ve said it before, it’s soul fuel for me!

We have ticked plenty of charming places off the list at this stage and yet there’s still so many to see. We have gone to MOST of the big touristy destinations. The one lacking being the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge (a couple posts back though you’ll see we were in the village where it’s located which is a VERY worth a visit).

This past weekend my original idea was something pretty close to Belfast. So we picked the Bangor area. We stayed in a little seaside B&B there last December and really enjoyed our time but didn’t explore the surroundings which is something a little different and definitely not as popular. There’s some seriously cool homes out that way that I enjoyed pointing at and imagining life in. I also felt particularly lucky that I saw at least twenty gorgeous dogs throughout the day. Not joking when I say I got even luckier with eight of them being sausage dogs!!! One of my absolute favourite breeds.

Places in/near Bangor

Helen’s Bay – We drove along Helen’s Bay on the main road right by it and it was pretty! But it’s also apparently a lovely beach to walk. I’ll have to go back.

Bangor Harbour – Right in the town and extending outwards, there’s a walking path for yourself and your favourite furry companion, a playground for kids, and if head into the town centre, some really great bars and restaurants.

Crawfordsburn Village – A very classy unique little village composed of a main street that’s lined with some of the nicest cars I’ve seen. If you’ve been to Cape Cod I’d compare Crawfordsburn as the small scale Chatham of Northern Ireland except no ocean. It’s tiny and there’s not much to do but it’s really really pretty and totally unlike any place I’ve seen in all of Ireland. I wish I had taken a photo of it but give it a Google if you’re interested!

Crawfordsburn Country Park – We came here kind of by accident. While driving I spotted a little sign where it looked like people were going for walks and I suggested we go there on our way back. When trying to find it, Google Maps took us here and we rolled with it. And I’m so glad we did because the foliage in the forest was spectacular. It made for some colourful shots. However, I don’t believe my Canon or even iPhone could do the vibrancy justice. It was so bright and beautiful!

So, if you like day trips and you’re in NI maybe seeking somewhere a little different, here ya go! (:

Let me know on Instagram where some of your favourite lesser known spots are!

x

Feel Good Vintage Vibes & Belfast Photoshoot

A bit of glamour came into my life last month when Una of UW Brow Studio Belfast asked me if I’d model for her ‘Feel Good’ photoshoot collaboration with photographer Katrina Taggart. It was a fun filled evening with the girls who made me feel extremely comfortable in Katrina’s studio, located on the Lisburn Road right next to Bob & Bert’s coffee. I was their doll for the evening! They dressed me up and styled me and we had a blast.

Vintage Vibes

I do everything really simply and naturally. Makeup, outfits, jewellery…everything! So it was a huge treat to sit and be pampered to hair and makeup and some really fun clothes that I’d never normally select myself. We went for a vintage look.

The Photoshoot Package

If you’re a Belfast lady or are trying to think of a fun gift for one, here’s the craic! The package valued at 95 per person starts with you being greeted with prosecco. If this doesn’t make you feel comfortable in front of the camera, the girls will (: They are both so lovely and passionate about what they are doing. Once in the studio, Una will do makeup for an hour followed by a shoot directed by Katrina after. You’ll be given plenty of direction and can pick any style of shoot that you want! Perfect for Christmas presents for yourself or a friend! 

Check them out and book your session here:

Katrina Taggart Photography

UW Brow Studio

*Post in collaboration with Katrina Taggart Photography and UW Brow Studio

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Interview & Review with Sana Naturals

I’m so excited to share this brand. Firstly, because it’s an absolutely fantastic company I can’t say enough good things about. I’ve been using the products everyday since I got them and I noticed the difference in how my skin looked and felt within a few days. And secondly, it’s my first interview on Redhead American! Kasia, the owner, is a really interesting and inspirational woman. I’m delighted to share her insight into her Irish brand.

Sana Naturals are handmade in Ireland and based in Cavan.

What I Tried:

The products are all natural and smell divine. I’ve incorporated them into my daily skincare routine, which says a lot! What I really loved was that they have such various uses. That’s a massive perk of natural products. And Sana Naturals gets even better, they are eco-friendly.

Serum: it can go on your face, a drop in your foundation (really makes a difference!) and as a cuticle treatment.

Balm: this can be used on your lips as moisturiser, your hair for styling, and even on a pregnant belly for preventing stretch marks.

The Interview with Sana Naturals creator Kasia O’Reilly:

Where did you find the inspiration for your brand?

The love for nature has been passed down by women in my family for generations. Growing up I’d spend days in my granny’s luscious garden picking wild plants, digging clay from the rich Polish soil and making herbal potions. This passion has naturally developed into natural skincare, especially as I struggle with problematic skin. It’s dry and oily in places, easily irritated and prone to breakouts. Years ago I didn’t realise that additives in skincare may cause these skin problems.

Straying from the trend of a complicated skincare routine with endless list of synthetic laden products I took a back to basics approach and I started formulating with the Earth’s treasures such as wild plants, botanical oils, healing clays etc. After all they’ve been cherished by women since ancient times for their healing and beautifying properties. Sana Naturals eco-friendly skincare was born out of passion for nature, offering highly concentrated botanical products so you can have a healthy glowing skin with fewer products and fewer steps involved in your skincare routine. The formulas are free from nastiness and are handcrafted to be kind to sensitive skin and kind to the Earth. It’ s a win-win for both our skin and the wellness of our planet.

Where do you want Sana Naturals to be this time next year? Any specific goals?

Getting positive feedback from ladies who tell me that my skincare treats helped them feel good in their skin again makes me incredibly happy. It’s an inspiration and the motivation for what I do. Of course, I’d like to sell more products nationwide and start exporting abroad but the main goal is to share the beautifying magic of plants and minerals to help women heal and nurture their skin, bring them joy and a peaceful mind and inspire them to reconnect with the healing powers of nature.

What has been your biggest milestone so far with starting Sana? 

To finalise launching Sana Naturals was the biggest challenge. I worked in a corporation before and didn’t have much time to focus on pursuing this dream. I was working on it at weekends and nights. Everything was ready in 2015 but then my little boy was born with reflux that seriously affected his sleep therefore the project was further postponed. The products were finally released in 2017. This was my major milestone.

How has the experience of starting a small business in a place like Ireland been for you?

Starting a business isn’t easy as you take a huge leap of faith stepping into the unknown. I pour my whole heart into every jar and bottle and receiving support and positive comments from clients is incredibly encouraging. The help and support of the Cavan Enterprise Office has been absolutely invaluable and I find Ireland very friendly and supportive of small businesses.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give a new Irish brand just starting off? 

To be honest I’m not yet an expert by any means as I’m still learning, but I would say to just follow the dream, move one step at the time while enjoying the journey and and hope for the best.

What’s your favourite product from your range? Tough to pick I’m sure! 

Tough to pick indeed. I spent years perfecting that velvety texture and divine scent of the Heavenly Balm that offers the ultimate, luxuriously self- indulgent replenishing skin treatment. It’s my first product and an all over saviour for dry skin and hair.

The multitasking Serum is a lightweight cocktail of botanical oils and for me it’s an absolute skin saver that helps heal and restore the natural healthy glow. All the products are versatile and designed to compliment each other but these are the two that I can’t live without.

Thank you so much, Kasia! I can’t recommend her products enough. 

Find out more about Sana Naturals and shop the brand:

Website: https://www.sananaturals.ie/

Instagram: @sananaturals

Facebook: Sana Naturals

Pinterest: Sana Naturals

What’s in your skincare bag?

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Irish Brand Alert: Crann Co. Sunglasses & Watches

I’m really happy to have worked with Crann. Co who are a fantastic up and coming brand who are Irish owned and operated. They sell hand made wooden watches and sunglasses made from Irish wood. If you dont know Gaeilge, ‘crann’ is Irish for tree, hence the wooden aesthetic. All their products have and Irish name. I’m all about repping Irish brands and this is a cool example of a brand that has taken a product and made it truly Irish. So naturally, I love it.  It’s the little cultural touches that make it special!

Plenty of Irish bloggers are rocking their pair online. So here’s little ol’ me in mine. I love how lightweight they are. Also am a big fan of the tortoise shell. Not a sunny day, but a warm overcast one requiring some sunnies.

*I’m wearing the Bo frames in these photos. Sunflower field is outside Ballymena, Antrim. It costs £2 to get in and walk around the maze is £1 for a sunflower of your very own. See more on my Instagram here.

“During my time living and traveling south east Asia I had seen wood items for pretty much everything but what really caught my attention was the sunglasses and watches because I’m a watch freak! I love the idea of them being handmade from Ireland and just beautiful simple and timeliness. From over three years ago I guess I have been building up the courage to start a new business. I think building a brand is hard but it’s so rewarding and Crann is no different. For the brand I wanted to make match my love of nature, travel, being Irish and sustainability… Yes, it’s a weird mix but I believe that’s what makes a brand stand out, being different and standing for something. I come from a marketing and business background so I love building something fresh and new but the product side is something very new for me. I needed to learn a lot about product design and development so it took me quite some time before launch testing suppliers and designs until I had every product right. As every item is handmade and I wanted each item to be  unique so getting this right was had but I’m so proud of what we have created!”  

– Crann Co. creator Eoin

Check out Crann Co online:

Website

Instagram

Slán (sorry couldn’t resist),

July Favourites

Hello and happy August!

Overall, I’ve had an amazing two months here in Belfast! I feel like I say this in nearly every post but, time flies so fast and it’s hard to believe it’s another month gone! I lost a little motivation this month with the blog and took some time off. Conveniently, I was also locked out of my account and “broke my website.” It’s fixed now though, thank goodness! I had a phone call with someone I had been looking to connect with for awhile which put me back in the blogging game and reminded me why I’m doing this and why I started. The phone call resulted in something you’ll see later this month or next!

Anywho, July has been a fun month and I thought I’d share some of my favourites of all sorts. It’s really the little things that make me happy. I’m going to pick a thing, a food product, a past time and a place.

  1. FOOD – Halo Top Ice Cream

    My friend Niall told me about Halo Top ice cream and one VERY lucky day I saw it at Tesco, where it hasn’t reappeared since that week. So, I jumped on the bandwagon and then started seeing it all over Instagram. It’s popular for a reason. I got cookie dough which is only 360 calories for the entire tub with limited sugar and high protein. It takes the entire guilt out of ice cream. I went through two tubs that week and have been scanning my local Tesco’s frozen section in hopes of it being stocked again ever since. This is their website.

  2. THING – Indian Block Print Co. Stationary

    I LOVE stationary! It’s something I get nearly every Christmas from my mom. I’m always drawn to the stationary aisle of Marshall’s and TK Maxx (TJ Maxx in the US) and can’t remember a time where I wasn’t doodling or writing in some sort of journal. Indian Print Block Co. really caught my eye because it wasn’t just a notebook with a design, it’s a design with background and meaning. Usha, the creator behind the company, is an amazing example of someone honouring her roots. Something I like to think I do too with my parents being Irish. Indian Print Block Co. is based in Birmingham, England, where Usha operates her business from her home while juggling being a mother and a wife!
    “When I was a teenager, my parent used to take me to India every few years for a family holiday… and the highlight of every holiday was the road trips that we took to Rajasthan. My dad would take his open top Jeep, and drive for about 4 hours from Harayana, where dad was from, to Rajasthan, where my mum came from. We used to drive through mountains, deserts and old forgotten towns, and I would know we were near Rajasthan when I started seeing local women in their bright and block printed outfits… I always loved these trips and was mesmerized by the whole Indian culture thing, as someone born and raised in the UK, It was a world away from what I was used to. I always knew I wanted my kids to experience a bit of that culture from back home, but unfortunately both my parents passed away before I had my two girls…So I did the next best things.. I brought a little of that culture and designs into their lives in the UK, through my business ‘The Indian Block Print Company’… by using traditional Indian stamps in all my designs and products. Maahi, my 4 year old, already loves my notebooks, and wants to take them in her bag to school when she starts in September.. and Zia, who is 8 months old, loves sitting next to me and looking at the bright colours products and gemstones that I use. I still want to take them on road trip to India when they are older, but until then, I will try and bring a bit of the culture and colours that I love into their lives through my business.” – Usha for RedheadAmerican.

    Links for Indian Block Print Co:
    Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Etsy

  3. PAST TIME – Marriage Games

    An absolute hoot! Marriage Games is raved about online by many and has great reviews. I won’t say too much and give it away but it’s a fun way to pass time with your other half and/or another couple.

  4. PLACE – Tollymore Forest Park

    A follower suggested checking this spot out. It’s about an hour’s drive from the city in Down and almost like being in another little world. I compared it to Narnia on Instagram (C.S. Lewis is from Belfast!). We took the red path and it was fairly easy going. Very pretty.

    Hope this post opens your eyes to something or somewhere new!  Have a wonderful August!
    x

Hidden Gems in Northern Ireland

Thanks to my lovely followers for NI suggestions. Without your suggestions I wouldn’t have stumbled upon some really lovely places.

Basically, one person suggested the Gobbins. So I gave it a quick Google and thought ‘yeah looks great’ and we got in the car in the afternoon and went. To our surprise, it’s a three and half hour intense hike along the cliffs that require boots and helmets and bus to and fro the information centre. Do your research, guys!! However, and ever-so fortunately, the woman at the information desk directed me to a few more casual spots that my flip flops could handle.

Portmuck Harbour

Twenty minutes away from the Gobbins is Portmuck Harbour. A pretty little place hidden at the bottom of a very teeny tiny narrow Irish road that opens into a parking lot set right near the sea. There’s some stairs that lead up to a point where you can grab some nice photo ops. I love some of these photos so much and will probably cherish them forever. I had a really great day.

Skenaghan Point – Brown’s Bay Beach

And the second spot only less than ten minutes away is Skenaghan Point, Browns Bay in Islandmagee. It actually is right near the actual Gobbins walking path. One day I will do the Gobbins! But it certainly wasn’t that day in that new ASOS top. We went up a little path to the right of the water and you could stay on path but somehow we veered off into a field of sheep who scurried away from us as we walked up towards the cliff’s end. Stunning views and a lovely little walk. One of those spots that makes me go, “Ahhh I love this country.”

So! Those are two spots I hadn’t heard of, no one suggested, and no tourists really seem to go. Hope you enjoy if you visit!

X

Loving What Makes You Different & Hair Care Routine

Heya! Hope you’re enjoying this hot Irish weather. God knows my hair’s volume is.

As part of my brand’s name is ‘Redhead’ I thought I’d share my current hair care routine. I’ve recently made the pledge to myself to take VERY good care of my hair which includes daily vitamins, eating healthy fats and washing it less. Obviously it’s not good to wash it everyday so I am currently washing it every other day and am gonna challenge myself to try every two days to keep more natural oils to keep it healthier. Brb, going to stock up on Baptiste dry shampoo. I’m hoping since I’m publishing this to an online audience maybe this will motivate me to achieve this and let you know how it goes…

I’m also showing you a girly summery OOTN I wore to an event I was invited to at Lunn’s Jewellers in Queen’s Arcade for David Yurman’s new collection. I had an amazing time! There’s more photos on my Instagram from it.

*Dress is from New Look over a month ago in the Belfast Donegall Place store. I can’t find it online, sorry 🙁 Bag is Charming Charlie

LEARNING TO LOVE WHAT MAKES YOU, YOU. 

It took a longgg time for me to accept these red locks. I hated them growing up and wanted to be blonde and have shiny silky hair that a brush could elegantly run through without getting awkwardly caught on vicious tangles. Princess Mia Thermopolis style! I dreamed of her transformation from frizzy big hair to smooth. So it took some years and a lot of products, some upsetting haircuts and heat styling tools but I really am at peace with my hair. I actually love it! It makes me stand out, which is why I chose the name ‘Redhead American’ for my blog. Those are two things I’m known for being since I moved to Ireland. It distinguishes me from the rest. Learn to love and embrace what makes you different!

CURRENT ROUTINE

I’m currently using Aveda’s ‘Be Curly’ set which I got at Christmas from my boyfriend’s sister which was super kind. Hence, this is not a sponsored or collaboration post. It’s natural ingredients are super gentle on the hair while defining and enhancing natural curls and it’s pretty great.

Smells good, works good, looks good = pleased Redhead.

I use a GHD hair dryer I’ve had since first year at Maynooth and it works brilliantly. Then brush out with a Tangle Teezer. These are actually game changers and really help my hair avoid damage that normal brushes usually offered and leave it softer.

Thennnn, if I’m feeling like I want more defined curls, I leave my hair the slightest bit damp after blowdrying and add in the Be Curly ‘Curl Enhancer’ serum. I usually always wear it down and let it do what it wants, only straightening fly-aways and my fringe/bangs. Occasionally I straighten it for a night out to change things up but I avoid putting a lot of heat on my hair. And for that I use a GHD again.

Before I go I’d like to mention my hair looks different from one day to the next. It’s honestly uncontrollable but this shampoo seems to give me the most steady results! This is definitely the shampoo I use the most.

And, voilà! That’s my hair.

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